“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown.” Mark 4:14-15
In jesus’s teaching of the parable of the sower, he illustrates the seed landed on four types of ground, producing four different results. ‘The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and snatch it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have get in situations or face problems that test them or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things(work… etc), so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good or fertile soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted. The seed of God’s Word can’t fail. The Bible tells us that ‘it always produces fruit’ (Isaiah 55:11 NLT). So if God’s promises aren’t being fulfilled in our lives, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What kind of soil am I?’ Are we a surface person – thin-skinned and easily offended? A shallow person with no spiritual root system? Are we thorny ground? Are ‘the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things’ choking the spiritual life out of us? Or are we rich, fertile ground that produces results? Let’s check the soil of our heart.
Take some time to check the soil of your heart and ask God to help you have a heart that’s open to Him.
Read back through Mark 4:1-20.
‘He lifted me out of the pit of despair.’ Psalm 40:2 NLT
Ever heard someone’s story of how God lifted them out of a challenging situation, and turned their life around? Stories like that are pretty powerful, and hearing them can increase our faith. One that stands out most for me is of prominent pastor Wilson Bugembe. We realise that if God can do it for them, then He can do it for us too. Maybe we’ve already experienced that amazing turnaround in our lives. David experienced it. He said: ‘I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of destruction, out of the sticky mud. He stood me on a rock and made my feet steady. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many people will see this and worship him. Then they will trust the Lord’ (Psalm 40:1-3 NCV). When we’re not stood on a firm foundation, it’s hard for us to stand. But God takes us out of the mud and puts us on a rock. He is our firm foundation. Jesus spoke about this too. He told the story of the wise and foolish men who built their houses. The foolish man built his on the sand, while the wise man built his on the rock – the rock was the solid foundation so that when the storm hit, the house remained standing. We need to be on the rock if we’re going to survive the storms of life. But even when we end up in the sand, the pit, the mud – God doesn’t leave us there. He lifts us up, puts us back on our feet and stands us on the rock. And our story of breakthrough and transformation brings Him glory when we tell others what He’s done. He is an amazing God.
Get to share that amazing story of how the lord has lifted you out of the pit, lets lift praises to Him.
‘I take pleasure…in the insults…I suffer for Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT
When we’re insulted, we have a few options. We can retaliate with a stinging comeback, hold a grudge for ages or see it as an opportunity to grow. It can be easy to dwell in bitterness and self-righteousness when we’re hurt. We ask ‘Why us?’ and ‘How could they do that to us?’ instead of asking ‘How can we grow from this?’ It takes a shift in our thinking and our attitude to be able to consider growth in the face of pain. Paul reached a place where he could say: ‘I take pleasure…in the insults…I suffer for Christ.’ Most of us probably aren’t quite on the same wavelength with Paul yet, but with time and practice it can happen. We too can find the good in the bad, the positive in the negative. Speaking of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, one author writes: ‘God sometimes manipulates the actions of our enemies to make them work as friends in order to accomplish His will in our lives. He can bless you through the worst relationships, ones that are painful or negative. The time, effort, and pain we invest in them aren’t wasted because God knows how to make adversity feed destiny into your life. I can’t stop hurts from coming, or promise that everyone who sits at your table will be loyal. But the sufferings of success give us direction, build character, and in the end you find grace to re-evaluate your enemies and realise that they are friends in disguise.’ So next time someone hurts us, instead of holding a grudge or retaliating, let’s see them as friends in disguise and take pleasure in the fact we can grow in our character through it.
Has someone hurt you recently? Think back to how you responded, If it was with retaliation or bitterness, ask the Lord to teach you how to respond with love and replace the bitterness with an understanding of how you can grow with love.
Life is better when you are happy, but life is at its best when others are happy because of you: Be faithful in touching other’s hearts. Be an inspiration. Nothing in nature lives for itself .Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruits. The Sun does not shine for itself and Flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. We were all born to help each other. No matter how difficult the situation you find yourself in, still do good to others.
That’s how I look at leadership, doing everything to ensure the development of the people you lead. An interesting analogy has been running in my head for a couple of months and been thinking about a carpet, what’s it use and what value does it add to any place where it has been placed.
So growing up, a carpet for me was that small thing that’s placed either at the entrance of the door or in the sitting room, we used it to clean our legs before could get into the house and also while in the house, we were always told by our mother to sit on the carpet considering that our clothes were dirty so could not put our bu dirty bum bums in the sofas. With time, I realized that the carpets would be used for only the dirty- cover purpose, and looking at leadership for me, it’s more less like that, a leader is that person who raises up the challenge and cleans the dirt of the people that he leads. He goes out of his way and comfort zone to ensure that the people he/she is leading are being brought up or developed into better people. As leaders in this generation, we ought to do the dirty work in order for us to see the better society we all wish to live in.
I was at youth explosion two months back and I was definitely excited about the things that were happening. Believe me you, everything was so funky and loud that it got me dancing and jumping up and down and oh yes, the groove was on. I was asked to help out the guest experience team which many of us would simply call the ushers. That meant that I had to welcome guests and usher them to their seats. It was very amazing how everyone came in with a smile and to those that were visiting for the first time they had this look on their faces that showed amazement.
Through all what was happening I was amazed at a very little girl who is about 8/9years old. When the explosion started, she simply and confidently walked to the front (I mean the very first line) without even asking anyone where she could seat or second guessing herself and wondering which seat would be suitable for her. This left me thinking and questioning my confidence and also if I know my place in life. Do I know that even in the heavenly places I will be received with songs and so much joy? We are kings and princes in the kingdom of our heavenly father who has not only blessed us but given us all things pertaining to Godliness and life, God has given us a heavenly heritage.
We are royals in his kingdom and this means that we must enjoy all things just as they have freely been given to us. I think it’s very important for us to know that God wants the best for us and that we should be like that young girl that doesn’t wait to be told where to sit but actually know her place and that doesn’t matter in any gathering. We ought to walk out with our heads held high and with great confidence that we are His children and so have to take the right seats where we belong.
Shamgar was able to save Israel from the Philistines. The Bible tells us that ‘he once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad’.
He had not a spear or iron weapon… In this day of bullets, bombs, tear gas….. he would be deemed carrying a stick. It is laughable indeed. The goad is a traditional farming implement, used to spur or guide livestock, usually oxen, which are pulling a plough or a cart; used also to round up cattle. It is a type of long stick with a pointed end, also known as the cattle prod.
Shamgar had an ox goad and God deemed it enough for Him to glorify Himself through, to show Himself mighty and rescue a people He called His own. In the midst of the chaos, tough time, where is your goad? Each of us has something God had placed in our hands; therefore its not a matter of WHAT is yours and My goad, but where, Where have we put the ‘goads’ that can be used to rescue a person, communities, ….? What gifts and skills do we already have that He can use? The Bible says: ‘God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another’ (1 Peter 4:10 NLT). Maybe our gift doesn’t seem to fit the calling. Shagmar’s thoughts were of deliverance of a nation from the attack of the philistines and the tool he had was enough. In that moment we see passion turned into action. That was all God needed – a willing heart.
The ‘six hundred philistines’ before you and me may be ignorance, poverty, sickness, …. real desperate situations, that need rescuing. What you have in your hand is enough for God to use to cause deliverance and redemption.
Shamgar used something that would normally be used to guide animals, to deliver Israel. The things we have available to us may not seem like the natural things to help us do what God’s calling us to do, but are our hearts willing that He uses them? All He asks of us is to hear His call, step out and obey Him. It may take us a lot of effort, but when we realize that it is not in our own strength to subdue, our hearts will be more yielded to His instruction. The Bible tells us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (take a look at Philippians 4:13). So when we hear the call, let’s use our skills and give it everything we’ve got, relying on His strength.
Write a list of all the gifts and skills you think you have. Ask God to help you use them in whatever He calls you to do.
‘So that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.’ James1:4 CEV
James writes: ‘Be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything’ (vv. 2-4).
Trouble isn’t something we’re usually glad to have. In fact, we probably try and avoid it, or pray for it to end quickly. When life brings us to a low, we can become low with it and get tired waiting for a good season to come along.
How often do we question God’s goodness and nearness?
How often do we end up asking God ‘why’?
But James tells us that through tough times we gain endurance and spiritual maturity. Paul in Romans encourages us to continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next’ (5:3-4 MSG).
Our faith grows when it is put to the test. Tough times require us to really trust God and lean on Him for support. We start to realize that we can’t control everything, and that, ultimately, God’s the One in control. We may not get answers to our ‘why’s’ but what we will get, if we ask, is a ‘how’. God will show us how He can use the situation we’re in to develop us into who He‘s created us to be. So when we’re facing trouble, let’s not become discouraged and frustrated but instead KEEP FOCUSED ON WHAT GOD CAN DO THROUGH IT.
Next time you’re tempted to ask God ‘why’, ask Him ‘how’ instead.