distraction, faithful, Holy Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Distracted: Changing the Soil in Our Hearts to Allow God’s Good Work

The Parable of the Sower is still very applicable today. Our hearts can become distracted, blocking the good work God is trying to do in us. We must work to make Him first in our lives! 



Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! […] 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, so no fruit is produced.

Mark 4:3-8 & 18-19, NLT

The Parable of the Sower is still applicable today. Our hearts become distracted, blocking the good work God is trying to do in us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #faithful #distractions #scripture #devotional

Conviction

We recently read this parable in Sunday school. I’ve known this parable since I was a little girl, but this time it hit me in such a different way. When Jesus explains the meaning of the parable to His disciples, He tells us the seed is God’s word and how His message is received in different ways. We looked at the four soils as representing people’s hearts: hard (footpath), unfaithful (rocky), distracted (thorny) and then faithful (good soil).

I’ve always felt I had a heart of good soil… I’m a believer. I’ve stayed faithful to the Lord since He disciplined me 9 years ago. I’ve produced fruit in my life by doing good deeds. I couldn’t help but feel convicted though. Upon honest self-reflection, I’ve allowed my good soil to slowly become thorny soil.

Fertile Soil

Jesus spoke in another parable that more accurately describes the condition I’ve allowed my heart to become.

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Luke 12:16-21, NLT

Dodie wrote recently about altars in our lives. We can tend to not focus on where we are, in our relationship with God because we are too busy looking back at past mountaintop experiences. This was so convicting because I knew it was true for me. I look back at the time when I was very sick and was walking so closely with the Lord. I long for that closeness again. However, He hasn’t gone anywhere! He promised that He is always with us and will never leave us.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

John 14:16, NLT

I Have Wandered…

So then the crux of the matter is… if He’s never left me, if I’m no longer close to Him, I’m the one who has wandered. I have allowed the cares of this world to interfere in our relationship and choke out the beautiful closeness we once had. They may not even be bad things. I used the example of greed above, but in my life, even doing good things for the Kingdom has been a distraction from spending quality time growing in Him.

Foster care and adoption, homeschooling, activities for my kids, cooking healthy meals for my family, volunteering at the church, blogging for Oh Lord Help Us, dating my spouse: none of this matters if I’m letting Him slide off of the throne of my heart and life! I get so busy trying to do all things and be all things to those around me, I forget WHO I should be dwelling in, resting in, and growing in- Jesus Christ, my Savior!

Distracted Works

I know this is a common struggle for many of us women who have been serving Christ a long time. We start to lose our passion and forget He is our first love. We get distracted by new and seemingly more exciting ventures than reading our Bible and meditating, praying and fasting.

These basic spiritual disciplines are absolutely our lifeline, though! Without them, the fruit of the Spirit that were once quite prevalent in our lives, rot away. We will become unloving, joyless, unrestful, impatient, unkind, not good, unfaithful, harsh and without self-control.

As I reflect on my behavior in my heart and home the last few years, I can see it. A steady decline in my Christ-like behavior and reactions and an increase in selfish, unloving, worldly reactions. Ladies, we must fight becoming distracted. We must guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Remember, we can be holy as He is holy, but it doesn’t happen without any effort on our parts. He told us in the Word:

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Jeremiah 17:9, NLT

We must fight becoming distracted and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We can be holy as He is holy, but it doesn't happen without any effort on our parts. Click To Tweet

Loyalty

If you reflect today and find your heart of once-good soil has started to become rocky or thorny or even hardened, I pray you will turn from your sin and repent. Bow down before our merciful and loving God and ask Him to take our hearts of stone and give a heart of flesh. That we will return to our first love and allow Him to once again reign supreme on the throne of our lives. As we do this together, He will continue to finish the good work He began in us, and we will see the fruit of His Holy Spirit in our lives once more!

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:10-11, NLT

The Parable of the Sower is still applicable today. Our hearts become distracted, blocking the good work God is trying to do in us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #faithful #distractions #scripture #devotional

Vincent Burkhead

inspiration, motivation, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, Christian, mentoring

Inspiration: Find Lasting Motivation in The Word of God

What inspires you? Usually, the only obstacle standing in the way of motivation is ourselves. At the end of the day, the only source for lasting inspiration is found in the Word of God.



You know that person you see every now and then? It’s comforting to see them, and for some reason it feels right. You know who they are and you’ve heard a lot about them, but you haven’t ever spoken to them. You’re not afraid of them, but there is some intimidation. You’ve never sat down and gotten to know them. This is the perfect picture of how I view God.

We’ve heard the stories about a being who created the universe, did awesome things, and set up eternity. Also, we’ve heard about a guy, who came and died for us so we would be clean and precious in God’s eyes. We even have mutual friends that want to see Him as a King. Your neighbor who loves Christ more than life itself. Or your cousin who talks about God like He’s their best friend.

With this in mind, I have to ask myself, how often do I spend time talking to the One who literally put the stars in the sky? How often am I reading the words He said and wrote for me? Well, let’s just say, thank God Almighty it’s okay to be a work in progress.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

Usually, the only obstacle standing in the way of motivation is ourselves. Here is where you can find lasting inspiration. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

The Struggle of Distractions

Too often, I overlook the magnificence of the Bible. God Almighty, our Lord, our Savior, not only came back to save us, but He spoke to us. And we have access to that! We shouldn’t be able to put that book down!

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

2 Corinthians 4:1

Yet, we’re constantly fighting for the inspiration to read it. Inspiration, I think, is quite a universal struggle. I’ll speak only for myself when I say this, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way. I don’t like being told what to do. Truthfully, I prefer to do things on my own time. You know, be the captain of my own ship; the queen of my kingdom.

Even now, as I sit here writing, I find my mind wandering to the things I’d rather be doing. I hate to admit it, but I find myself displaying this mindset in a vast majority of my daily life. Homework. Chores. If it’s not on my list of things I want to do, I’ll probably complain about it. I don’t want to overstep here, but I think it’s safe to assume that a lot of us struggle with this major lack of inspiration.

The most frustrating part for me in particular is the fact that I don’t necessarily want to be like this. I want to have a clean room. I want to make mom smile by washing the mountain of dishes while she’s out running errands. Mostly though, I long to know the God who has repeatedly pulled me out of darkness. Yet, I find myself pushing Him to the back burner. How then are we supposed to overcome our own flesh and do these things we don’t really want to do?

I long to know the God who has repeatedly pulled me out of darkness. Yet, I find myself pushing Him to the back burner. How then are we supposed to overcome our own flesh and do these things we don’t really want to do? Click To Tweet

Aha! Inspiration

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

And that is simply it. The answer to all our problems. It’s simple. Perhaps not as easy as we’d like; but simple. God makes all things possible. Don’t have the motivation to go to work today? Ask God to give it to you. Don’t have it in you to deal with your screaming children? How about your mom and dad; or brother and sister? Ask God to not only quiet their minds and hearts, but yours as well.

Talk to Him, pray to Him, and learn and grow to love Him as He loves you. Saying it this way may make it sound so simple, but it truly is that simple. He loves you. Not because of anything you’ve done or will ever do. We’ve heard that said time and time again.

For myself, I often skim across that truth. Trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I am truly, unconditionally loved and that there’s nothing I can ever do to lose that love, blows my mind. We should never be able to get over that. This is our motivation and inspiration.

Usually, the only obstacle standing in the way of motivation is ourselves. Here is where you can find lasting inspiration. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture reference is from the ESV Bible.
consumed, need, choices, ego

Consumed: Too Many Choices Distract Us From What We Truly Need

Our culture is consumed with satisfying our needs however we deem best, but we still crave more. We are created to to be filled by Christ alone.



I’ve been asking myself the same question for the past month. It’s that scene from You’ve Got Mail where Kathleen Kelly says, “I’m wondering about my work and all. I mean, what is it that I do exactly? All I really do is run a children’s bookstore…” Except I exchange bookstore for ministry. Couldn’t anyone do this job?

There are days when my heart and flesh fail. I want to get through a Sunday morning with zero hiccups and have so many volunteers I have to turn people away. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. He shows me how need leads to Him being able to show up at the last minute and save the day. God really likes to do that because He gets all the glory!

Our culture is consumed with satisfying our needs however we deem best, but we still crave more. We are created to to be filled by Christ alone.

Consumed: Too Many Options

It’s easy to slip into the show up, fill up, go home mentality. It’s like an entire generation of pirates, “Take what you need. Give nothing back.” Every day presents us with scads of choices. Do you want a small or medium latte?  Would you rather have chicken or hamburgers for dinner? Should you go with highlights, balayage or a solid color at the salon? Our options are abundant. When we walk through the doors of our churches it’s enticing to bring those expectations with us.

Options have been a thriving part of western society for the last few generations. As a result, self-absorption is now an inbred disease. We’ve all seen adults acting like toddlers, right? When they don’t get their way they whine and moan. Maybe you are that person. I’ve certainly digressed to infantile behavior on more than one occasion. It wasn’t pretty. I’m glad you weren’t there to see it.

Some churches succumb to giving tantrum-throwers a watered-down gospel that neither convicts nor produces change. At best, it offers a gold “I went to church today” sticker. Maybe we saw a few friends and got goose bumps during one of the worship songs. In our society we are easily bored. If something doesn’t dazzle us we’re on to the next thing.

Consumed: What We Need

Hold up! The gospel is dazzling! The Christian life is never boring! So what are we missing?

God takes our lives and changes our story. He fixes our mess and changes our want-to. Jesus doesn’t charge us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness so everything we need might be given to us. No; He said He will give us all the other things we need.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10, ESV

The early days of my faith were just that—faith. I professed Jesus Christ as Lord and by faith I continued to claim Christianity. But now I have come to know and believe the love God has for me.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16, ESV

Our culture is consumed with satisfying our needs however we deem best, but we still crave more. We are created to to be filled by Christ alone.

He is the One and only. I want to be done toying around like this faith owes me something for being a long-standing member. Need motivates. Rapidly consuming and moving on to the next thing seems to merely produce more clutter. And don’t we all long for a simplified life?

His love heals the self-absorbed ego and enables us to notice and be sensitive to others around us.

Timothy Keller


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

Need leads to God being able to show up at the last minute and save the day. Click To Tweet

Our culture is consumed with satisfying our needs however we deem best, but we still crave more. We are created to to be filled by Christ alone.

 

Evan Dennis


We are messy people who make messes, but God redeems those messes and makes us beautiful.

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messy, beautiful, shirt

What Are You Running From?

In this post we are discussing the temptation to run away from difficult circumstances and instead change our perspective so that we see that the Lord is pursuing us.



I’m a runner. I’ve been running since I was 14. It is a part of who I am that I love. It is my stress release, and my sanity. Trail running, road running, short, long, fast, or slow. I love being out there experiencing every inch of my journey.

I’m also a runner. I’ve been running my entire life. It is a part of who I am that needs to change. It causes stress, and threatens my sanity. When things get tough, I flee the scene. I hate putting myself out there experiencing the difficult parts of my journey.

When my husband and I moved away from our hometown, my mother was very ill. Fighting to stay alive actually. A month after we left, she was gone. Being in a new city, with a new job, no friends, my “therapy” was to run. That was when I trained for my first marathon. A couple years ago, after my second miscarriage, I told myself I didn’t care. That it was ok because there were other things I would rather be doing. I ended up running my 15th, and fastest, marathon after that.

Now don’t get me wrong, of all the things people can do to cope with grief, running is a pretty healthy one. But eventually I needed to stop running. I needed to deal with the pain. I needed to let God catch me before I totally shut down and shut Him out.

Disclaimer: There are times in life when it is necessary to run away. For instance, God told Joseph to get up in the middle of the night and to flee Egypt with Mary and Jesus. We are not always supposed to stand and fight like David did with Goliath. But even if we do need to flee the scene, we must allow our hearts to see that the Lord is moving us in order to pursue us and to bring us closer to Him and to believe that truth.



“Runners” are people who…

Avoid situations by removing themselves from people or places that make them feel uncomfortable.

This could be walking away from relationships that become too close (leaving us feeling vulnerable), or too difficult (not wanting to deal with the pain of solving conflicts). Or we stop going to church/stores/events/etc. because something or someone offended us. We can’t live life hiding from everything. Eventually we will run out of people to hide from and find ourselves all alone, with God still pursuing. Eventually we will come face to face with Him.

Stay busy to distract themselves so that they don’t use mental or emotional energy that will cause them to feel pain.

This could be letting ourselves be consumed with work, or hobbies, or even good deeds. This can be a fine coping mechanism for short periods of time, but running from pain and heartache will eventually leave us drained with nothing else to give. Eventually we collapse with exhaustion. Eventually we look up to see that God is holding us while we rest.

Try to answer their own prayers, being impatient with God’s timing.

This may seem like a way to tackle things head-on, but it’s still running. Only, instead of running away from God, it’s running ahead of God. We end up lost in dark, confusing places. Eventually we have to call out asking for guidance. Eventually we will see the path that leads to His peace.

 


What if…

When things get tough, instead of trying to escape, we stayed still and let the Lord meet us in our place of suffering?

When circumstances arise that feel like we are being attacked, we saw them as opportunities for Jesus to pour out love on us?

When matters seem to be forgotten by God, we waited (and waited, and waited…) instead of fixing things ourselves so that we could see His incredible power?

 


 

Does this mean that the pain we experience isn’t real? Nope. It means that that real, gut-wrenching pain we feel is going to bring us into a deeper relationship with our Savior if we allow it to.

Does it make it easier? Nope. At least not in that moment. But it does give us hope, and hope is a beautiful thing.

Do you believe that God is pursuing you?

Running…but God has pursued you.

 

runner