What are you planting?

If you have read the last few blogs, I have written about preparing the soil of our hearts for good seed to grow. Last week, I wrote about keeping our hearts so that the enemy can’t sneak in and plant weeds that we will have to pull up later. This week, I am reading and thinking about the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven  is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Jesus was talking about the kingdom of heaven.  But I will apply this principle to our hearts. When a farmer goes to the trouble to prepare his fields for planting, he doesn’t just go through and throw out random seeds to see which ones will grow. He plants what he desires to harvest. Not just tomatoes, but those big, red juicy delicious ones we have in South Georgia in the middle of summer.  I love Tennessee, but the tomatoes don’t compare to the ones I grew up with in Georgia.  And then there are the peas, so many varieties, and butter beans and squash and okra and cucumbers and corn and watermelons.  I digress–I think I may need a vegetable garden instead of just flower pots–but back to the point.

We must be intentional about what we plant in the soil that we carefully tend in our hearts.  What do we want to reap in our lives?  More faith instead of fear and worry?  More joy?  More peace?  Then we must carefully plant seeds that will cause these trees to grow in our lives.  Don’t be random in your time that you study scripture.  Prayerfully figure out what needs to grow in your life in this season and study the scriptures, memorize those scriptures and pray those verses.  And watch as trees begin to grow in your life of faith and hope and joy and peace and blessing that will astound you.  The intentional seeds that you plant in your heart will bear fruit in you life for years to come and change you in ways that you can’t imagine.  What are you planting?

Dull Hearts

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and felt like they weren’t really listening, couldn’t see what you were saying, and, most of all, didn’t seem to care?

We all have.

Hopefully, we will give the person the benefit of the doubt and try again, but if this trend continues, it will kill or certainly minimize this relationship for us.  None of us like to be in relationships like this.  Neither does Jesus.

In Matthew 13 after he had spoken to the crowd about the parable of the sower, his disciples asked him why he spoke in parables.  In verses 13 to 16, we find the answer:

This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

What a terrible dilemma.  I actually looked up “dull.”  It means lacking interest or excitement or brightness. So the question is this: how do we approach Jesus as we come to him each day to read our Bibles and pray? Do we have dull hearts weighted down with the busyness and many distractions of this life, and ears that don’t really hear because we are not really listening, or do we come in awe and wonder and a sense of the great privilege it is to know Him and to be known by Him and to be able to hear from Him?

Jesus I pray that we would come  to you each day with hearts that are tender and excited and wholly yours and ears and eyes that are open to hear and see what you will say to us.

It’s time to plant

It’s summertime in Nashville. Time for me to plant my flower pots that sit on the fireplace on our patio. These pots should have been planted already, but due to a hectic travel schedule, my gardening is behind this year.

I am not much of a gardener. I just don’t seem to have the knack–or the interest, to be honest–in working in the garden. Maybe it’s too hot. Maybe I just don’t know what I am doing. Probably a combination.

But I do love my flower pots and they add much needed color to our patio, so I plant them most years.

I will go to Home Depot next week and buy fresh soil, some flowers that the nursery has already started for me, some Miracle-Gro, come home and put it all in the pots, water it, and they will be so lovely. Instant gratification pots. They will grow more during the next few months and fill out, but I can have beautiful pots in a matter of a few hours.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could plant good seed in our hearts and yield results so quickly as well?

We know it doesn’t work that way. In Matthew 13, Jesus is in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and speaking to the crowd on the shore.

“And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:3-9

If we want our hearts to be good soil, we must prepare our hearts daily to receive the word.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Just as a farmer must carefully till the hard soil in his field so that the seeds will have good soil, we too must allow God to gently till the soil of our hearts so that we can plant seeds in good soil, seeds of faith and hope and love and trust and courage and protection and provision -all promises in God’s Word. And then we must sow, faithfully sow the promises of God into our hearts daily as we read and mediate and memorize and pray through Scripture. And then we wait with great expectation for the seed planted in good soil to produce a rich harvest in our lives.

Jesus, I pray that we will be faithful to daily allow You to till our hearts and prepare good soil and may we be faithful to plant Your word in our hearts every day.

A Day by the Sea

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.

Matthew 13:1

A day by the sea. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

But if you read Matthew 12, you see that Jesus already had a rather busy day. He started out in the grain fields with hungry disciples who ate. Then, He had to deal with the Pharisees about what was lawful on the Sabbath. Then He went to the synagogue where He healed the man with the withered hand. By this time, the Pharisees conspired against Him and planned how they would destroy Him.

Jesus was aware of this and withdrew from there, with many following him, and He healed them ALL.  Next, He healed a blind, mute, and demon-possessed man. More Pharisees to deal with. Then they ask for a sign.  He tells them about Jonah and the queen of the South.

Steve and Deborah Murrell, "Following Jesus"
Steve and I on the sea of Galilee

Like I said, Jesus had a busy day.

So now He goes out of the house and sits by the sea. He probably needed time to regroup. Pray. Talk to His Father. Rest. Be alone.

Guess what happens next?

Matthew 13:2 says, “And great crowds gathered around him, so that he got into a boat and sat down.  And the whole crowd stood on the beach.”

While the Pharisees were conspiring against Him, these people followed Jesus.  They wanted to be with Him, be near Him, and learn from Him. So many missed Him–another blog about that–but these people followed Him.

I want to be one who follows Jesus every day.  I want to “gather” around Him and listen and hear what He will say to me as I study the Word and pray.  Jesus, may we be like these people who followed You to listen and learn and draw near.