Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

A Heart by the Side of the Road

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

In the Bible Jesus tells a story about a gardener planting seeds in different kinds of soil.  There is the soil by the side of road, the rocky soil, the thorny soil, and the good soil.  If you know anything at all about gardening, then you know that the soil you plant seed in needs to be well toiled with good fertilizer so it is rich and nourishing to the seeds.  This rich soil is also nourishing to weeds, and it takes a lot of work to keep the garden maintained. In our lives, the soil represents our hearts.  Just as the gardener is responsible for keeping up with her garden, we too are respondible for our hearts.

So,  what do each of these soils look like you may be asking?  Lets take a look at the soil by the side of the road.  This soil is hard and packed down; it has a crusty surface with weeds popping up all about. When our hearts have by the side of the road soil, we too have become packed down with the busyness of life.  We may quickly pour in God's Word in the morning, but by the time we have walked out the door for work, we have forgotton all that we read. The seeds we continually plant inside our heart have nowhere to root because the soil is too hard due to the continual stimulation.  When the seeds we try to plant do not have a deep root system; it is easier for the enemy to steal them away from us.  He will tempt you with lies in hopes of replacing the truth of God's Word.

If you find that you are immersed with God's Word, yet nothing is rooted, you may have a heart with soil by the side of the road.

If you find that you forget what you read in God's Word as soon as you closed the Good Book, then you may have a heart with soil by the side of the road.

If you find that it is a challenge to hold on to love, peace, hope, self control, etc then you may have a heart with soil by the side of the road.

If these things are true for you, ask your Father to cultivate the soil of your heart. He will help you. Your heart does not have to stay on the side of the road, for Jesus is here to lead you elsewhere.

Next week, we will discuss the soil with rocks.

 

 

 

 

Sources: Havilah Cunnington/Radical Growth

When God Gives You a Dream

 

Has God put a dream inside your heart?  Something that you just know you have to do, but it feels out of reach, like a dream?  Is he calling you to do something that looks or feels impossible for the current situation that you are in?  When God gives a dream, he continues to bring it to our minds over and over again. He is relentless in pursueing our potential! 

When I first heard God whisper dreams about me, I didn't really believe them. He continually put the thought in my mind that I would speak, yet being a speaker has never been my top gift. The thought of speaking has been a daily thought for over 20 years, and now it is a dream God has developed within me. He has patiently walked with me through all the side-trips and distractions, gently reminding me of the dream. The impossible dream.  It's not the only dream God has presented me with, there are others, and I've danced around those as well.  Sometimes I've run ahead, lagged behind, avoided, interceded, or revised. Always, God brings me back to the original dream, his dream meant for my life.

Has God given you a dream for your life?  Have you told anyone about it?  Does it feel like an impossibility? Let me encourage you and remind you that God will not let his dreams go to waste.  He has perfect timing and he steps in to nurture his dreams at the right time and bring them to fruition.  His relentless love for you carries every dream into possible.  

When You Desire Purpose

 

 

 

And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.

John 17: 3

Do you know why you are here? I looked up the word purpose and the first definition is: the reason for which something exists. So, why do you exist? What's the real purpose of your life day after day? Do you think about it as you go about your routine? The daily chores? The play, kids, work, friends, etc?
In John 17, I'm reading that eternal life is to know God. He did create us, afterall, so it does make sense to me that he would want us to know him. But, it's not just because God wants us to know how great he is. God wants us to know him, so we can know ourselves and when we know ourselves, we know our purpose.
You see, there's a lot of issues that come with not knowing God, which in turn means we don't know ourselves. Issues like, self-rejection, bitterness, jealousy, and criticism. Pretty tough issues, all of which drive us away from our purpose and build walls between us, God, and others.
God created us to experience his love, to be fully accepted and known by him. Not perfect, because no one is perfect. But safe in him. When we experience God there is nothing between us, he is our Person, our Go-To. He is our Safety net, and we just know he will be there, because he always is. When this happens, we begin to experience purpose in life, and love for the person God made us to be. We learn to love the beautiful, unique, creative creature he molded, and we are able to see the purpose of our time here on earth in knowing and loving him and sharing him with others.
Do you know him? Are you living your purpose today?

When You Need Directions

Have you ever felt lost in your life, with no sense of direction, or fulfillment?  Maybe a feeling of emptiness and waywardness?  I have.  And, I spent several years trying to fill those places with useless activities in hopes of finding a solution.  For me, I was searching for something, but didn't really know what it was. There was an internal clawing inside my heart and soul that would never let up, but only led me in a spiral of senseless circles, until I surrendered.

In Isaiah 58:11 of the Passion Translation I was reminded of my senseless journey, and how God scooped me up and brought me direction and refreshment.  Listen to what this verse says, it's really amazing:

"Yahweh will always guide you where to go and what to do. He will fill you with refreshment even when you are in a dry, difficult place. He will continually restore strength to you, so you will flourish like a well-watered garden and like an ever-flowing, trustworthy spring of blessing."

So, he promises to guide his people where to go and what to do.  He is promising direction.  When I think about how treacherous the path of life can sometimes be, these words feel very good to me, I want a guide.  I am thankful for this promise.  I've lived without claiming it, I don't want to go there again.  Have you asked Jesus to be your Guide today, have you claimed this heavenly promise as your very own?

He will take our emptiness and fill us with refreshment! And, when we start to weaken again, he will give us more strength, so we are able to thrive, and because we are thriving we will be a blessing!  

Who wouldn't want this?  This is like winning the lottery every day, except better.  Those dry, difficult places can be very long and painful. I've been in many of them. God does meet us there, and hold us tenderly with his nourishment, and he does bring us to the other side of the pain.  

Today, may the God of direction be in everything we do and say. When difficulty overtakes us, let us call out to him for his continual strength to pour through us and restore us in the thriving, abundant blessings he created us to be! 

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