Hidden Treasures

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by BJ Robinson

The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. Matthew 13:44

Hidden Treasures

Years ago through a cheap dollar-store Bible I found the hidden treasures in God’s Word, and it changed my life forever. They say out of your deepest wounds your greatest ministry will come. People often wonder why God allows such pain and heartache on earth. I found out through my own that it is to draw us closer to Him, and He sent me His Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and He delivered me.  It all began with a broken heart, a dollar-store Bible, and an unconventional method, but God is in control, and He knows what He is doing.

There was a time in my life when I was broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. When all seemed lost, God delivered me. Hidden Treasures is the story of that deliverance.

This book is based on a true story. Sure I believed in God. I was reared in a First Baptist Church. I attended Bible School as a child. Years ago, I even taught Sunday School. I married my first husband, the father of my children, in a First Baptist Church with a wedding blessed by the preacher who married us.

When I fell, God refused to allow His child to be snatched from His hands. Writing this book is my ministry. They say one is to tell the story of salvation, and I am telling mine through this book. Yes, I was saved many years ago in a First Baptist Church and baptized with water, but I did not have the deep, personal relationship with God then that I now enjoy. Jesus is my best friend. At the worse time in my life, I turned to God and His Word to see me through, and I thank God I did and that He delivered me and comforted me when I felt so lonely, lost, and empty.

He gave me a new beginning. God has his own plans for me. I prayed about the decision that would change my life. Lord knows I was scared, but I stepped out in faith and trust and found hope and courage again. The cover of the book is the setting of my wedding to my present husband. Once again, I was married by a preacher, but this time not in a church building, but outside with God and His creative nature. My first husband has a home in heaven. He was sent as a blessing to me when I was very young, and God used him to deliver me from a bad home situation and show me what a real family and church life was like. He drove a church bus, and I was a Sunday School teacher. I loved the big, family dinners after church at my mother-in-law’s house, and they have been an inspiration for some of my stories. This book is the story of meeting my present husband and our romance. It is also the story of my deliverance in more ways than one.

Introduction to Hidden Treasures 

Hidden Treasures

Many people meet conventionally or traditionally, but my husband and I would’ve never met if not for the Internet and new technology. A little beeping message delivered electronically brought the two of us together. Though we were worlds apart and in different states with over 700 miles between us, technology closed the gap and our love flourished as we messaged each other and developed a long-distance courtship.

I felt he was safe to correspond with since we were so far apart. Ironically, that distance melted, and we grew closer until we ended up engaged.

I have to say that online romances can be dangerous and were even all those years ago. In today’s world, they can be even more, so as my long-distance romance blossomed, he warned me, “There are a lot of weird people out there. Be careful who you talk to.” I urge people to do the same, especially in these days.

He asked if he could call me one Sunday evening, and I said yes. That one little yes led to many more. He phoned exactly when he said he would. The moment I answered the phone and heard his voice, it was as if there was some sort of unexplained connection between the two of us. I loved his voice. It was as though we’d known each other for years, and we couldn’t get enough of talking to one another. Neither of us wanted to hang up and let the other go.

I reminded him that he was calling long distance several times, but he had no concern about the phone bill and told me not to worry, that he was paying for it. We ended up talking to one another all night long, and I do mean all night. He’d phoned early Sunday evening.

During the time we talked a thunderstorm and wind raged. Out went my lights. He told me he was staying on the phone with me until they came back on, and he did. At the end of that phone call, we knew we had really connected in more ways besides a phone and a computer, and we decided to meet in person.

It was a cold, rainy, January night when my husband placed the phone call that would change both of our lives drastically and quickly. A year-and- a-half later, we were married on June 30 in a New-York pond ceremony at his father’s home in Frewsburg, New York. The North and South met over an Internet connection and a phone line and connected, and I married my sweet prince of a husband, a Yankee.

Our life together has been wonderful, and I have no regrets about the chance I took. I knew the moment I heard his voice on the other end of that long-distance phone line that I had met my soul mate. His voice was so soothing. Yet, it thrilled me to the very core.

There was something about his voice and our immediate connection the moment I heard that wonderful voice. Some people believe in destiny. Some believe in fate. I believe in a higher power, God, and that it was all meant to be because things just seemed to fall into place despite the odds against us. A lot more was working besides telephone lines that January night.

A cold, rainy January night brought sunshine and a June wedding, and I moved to the Sunshine State to be with my real-life prince charming. Fairy tales do come true when God is involved. He blesses people and brings them together. He answers prayers, and He delivers. I should know because he delivered me when I earnestly turned to Him in prayer and read a Dollar Store Bible. He sent His comforter to heal me, and He gave me strength and courage to try again and move forward with my life.

Once I wondered where all the fairy tales had gone, but with a higher power blessing you from above, anything is possible. I found fairy tales do exist, after all. Never give up on love. It may be the next message to find its way across your computer screen and beep you into an awakening of the world around you. With God, anything is possible.

Prologue

Sometimes Being Strong Means Letting Go

The young man looked down at his mother. She lay on a hospital bed in the emergency room of the local charity hospital. He didn’t like what he saw one bit. It had been no picnic growing up, watching his mother hide black eyes and bruises.

He remembered the day she finally got tired of hiding them. She looked forward to the Fourth of July. They were planning a camping trip, and she loved the river. She ended up spending this fourth with two black eyes, just as she’d spent Christmas several years earlier. Another holiday. More black eyes. He hated to see holidays come. But this was the day his mother finally stopped hiding behind her sunglasses.

Thoughts raced through his mind as it flashed back through bitter memories and scenes from the past. She didn’t deserve this. No woman deserved this at the hands of any man.

“Mom, I’ll find him and tear him apart for this. He can’t get away with it any longer.” He held his mom’s small hand and tried unsuccessfully to brush the tears from her eyes.

“The Lord is my vengeance, Son. He’s not worth it. God will take care of him in His own good time.”

The youth’s eyes clouded and spilled over with tears. He fought to hold them back. He was a grown man now, and he wasn’t supposed to cry. He had to be strong for his mother’s sake.

He could hardly believe this was the same woman, speaking with such courage, through black eyes, pain, and bruises. Black eyes and all, she still faithfully trusted in the good Lord above to see her through. She read her Bible daily. He knew she prayed to God daily, too. He heard her. Ever since he was small, he’d heard his mother pray. She always believed in the power of prayer. Sometimes it was so hard to understand why the Lord was talking so long to make things better for his mom though.

***

The nurse came into the room and gave his mother a shot. She handed her a prescription. He knew they were getting ready to release her. The hospital had called him to pick her up and bring her home.

He could only hope and pray to God that his mother would come to her senses this time. She just had to be the strong woman she could be. She needed to be strong enough to let that man go and not let him come back into her life. Sometimes, letting go was the hardest thing to do. He knew it’d take a lot of strength and courage on his mother’s part. She needed to put the past behind her once and for all. She needed to live for the future.

Dear, God, he prayed, give her the strength and courage to end it this time. Please let her have some peace on earth and a good life before she dies.

Finding the Courage to Start all Over

Two lonely people meet via computer technology, and the world becomes a much less lonelier place. Though they’re worlds apart, each living in different states, over 700 miles between them, they connect over ICQ and become friends before becoming engaged.

Uh oh, beeped the little yellow message in the ICQ window, and his name appeared online. That’s how it all began, with just one beeping, little yellow message. Spring was an independent woman who had been hurt by the man she’d considered her soul mate. She was afraid to love again, afraid of getting hurt. Each time she gave it all, her heart, the man trampled it until he broke it, and she didn’t want to go through that pain and heartache again. Yet, here she was not being able to get enough of chatting with Bud by sending ICQ messages.

He’d been hurt too when his marriage ended, and he didn’t care to experience that pain and heartache again either. Both had children by previous marriages. Spring’s were all grown and gone, but Bud had a six-year-old daughter. Did Spring dare to love again? Did Bud?

Being states apart wasn’t the only way that they were worlds apart. Did Spring dare to give this romance a fair chance? She had a well-paying job, earned her own way, was her own woman, and was totally independent of any man at the time. Yet, could she dare to be a woman of the age of technology and face the real worlds apart that stood in their way?

These were all questions that ran through her mind constantly, and she seemed to have no answers. After all, her mirror never lied. Would it be possible to find and achieve love and happiness finally, or would it only lead to more pain and heartbreak? She was totally and completely in love, and she knew it with all of her heart. She could only hope and pray that she wouldn’t regret giving her heart away once again.

Bio

B. J. RobinsonB.J. Robinson writes sweet romance, historical romance, short stories, and contemporary romance for the Amazon Kindle. She writes in various genres to provide reader choice. A mother of five and grandmother of thirteen, she hugs her children and grandchildren with prayer and will be blessed to see two more graduate from high school this year. She loves animals and flowers and is also a fur-baby mom to a golden cocker spaniel named Sunflower, a golden retriever named Honi, and a husky named Cherokee. She is hard at work on Hidden Treasures, and it is coming soon! Watch for it. If you would like to check out the selection of her work, please check her Amazon page at http://www.amazon.com/B.-J.-Robinson/e/B007DNJIKU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1458731934&sr=1-2-ent

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Gracious Dealing

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by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

And the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest. (Deuteronomy 15:18)

An Israelitish master was to give his bondservant liberty in due time, and when he left his service he was to start him in life with a liberal portion, This was to be done heartily and cheerfully, and then the Lord promised to bless the generous act. The spirit of this precept, and, indeed, the whole law of Christ, binds us to treat people well. We ought to remember how the Lord has dealt with us, and that this renders it absolutely needful that we should deal graciously with others, It becomes those to be generous who are the children of a gracious God. How can we expect our great Master to bless us in our business if we oppress those who serve us?

What a benediction is here set before the liberal mind! To be blessed in all that we do is to be blessed indeed. The Lord will send us this partly in prosperity, partly in content of mind, and partly in a sense of His favor, which is the best of all blessings. He can make us feel that we are under His special care and are surrounded by His peculiar love. This makes this earthly life a joyous prelude to the life to come. God’s blessing is more than a fortune. It maketh rich and addeth no sorrow therewith.

The above is from Faith’s Checkbook by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. If you would like an ebook of Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening click on the image below:

Morning and Evening

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own wisdom. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your path.

Either you trust the Lord or you don’t. There is no middle ground. If you don’t trust the Lord in all things, how can you say you are trusting in Him? We flee to Him with those things that are too big for us and try to handle things which are within our ability to handle. Is God only able to handle the big things? Or, is He so big that he doesn’t care to be bothered with the little things? Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord with ALL things in his heart.

When we depend on our wisdom, we often don’t do things right. There is so much we don’t know about life and what is before us. We base our actions on what we know, and our knowledge is very limited at best. It is always in our best interest to trust the Lord and not depend on our own wisdom.

When we seek the Lord’s will in all we do, He will direct our path. We cannot expect the Lord to guide us if we don’t seek Him out for guidance. If we are constantly seeking His will, we can be assured that we are in His will for us. He never lets those who are seeking His will wander around outside His will for them. He will lead us on the only path that leads to eternal life. He will not let us lose our way, but we must be willing to let Him lead us. Jesus is the only way to God; every other path leads to hell.

If you do not have the will to trust the Lord with all your heart, you will not know what it is to be led the Lord in all you do. You cannot have it your way and expect to be on a path that pleases God. You will never find your way home to heaven by walking on the path laid out by you.

We are not wiser than God. Let our heart’s desire be, “Where He leads me, I will follow.”

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Blindly Planting Flowers: Writing Without Condemnation

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by Suzanne D. Williams

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rm 8:1)

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there is a lot of it in the church, and frankly, at times, I’d rather talk to my unsaved friends than self-righteous saints. Instead of gentle guidance to obey Christian “rules” … jump this high, but only on Sundays … with them, the smallest infractions become the cost of one’s soul.

But look at who Jesus hung out with. A collection of rabble-rousers. Look at who he ministered to. The sick and dying. The outcasts. Those society had ignored and overlooked.

In writing, these ministers of sanctification come out with their red pencils to circle every transgression. How dare a hardened criminal, say a curse word? How could a mail-order bride have sex with her husband? Or a teen in a book fall short of grace and drink or pop pills?

Cabbage-patch Christians, I call them, ensconced in their overstuffed pews, uncomfortable with anything but the bubble they’ve wrapped themselves in.

I grew up in the church and was blind to it until I reached my twenties when I realized how hard I worked to earn grace by walking the straight-and-narrow line. THAT ISN’T HOW THIS WORKS, FOLKS!

We don’t EARN salvation. It’s a GIFT. And we follow Christ, as best we know how, allowing Him to change our likes and dislikes, so that we stop cursing, we dress better, we act kinder. THAT is the process I want my books to describe. Characters with flaws who change from the inside and love others because they have so much God in them.

And here’s the kicker. Not every story needs a Bible verse wrapped around it. Some stories are simply for entertainment, but you know what? That doesn’t make them NOT Christian. I am a Christian. My belief in God affects every word I write, every character I create. God help me from becoming one of those who forget, and instead of blessing the unfortunate, I’m spending all my time finding offense.

Pseudo-Christians, who step aside because someone different from them gets a little too close, afraid the “spots” of the world will jump off and infect them.

No, if you’re full of God, then you change others, not waste breath worrying others will taint you.

And that goes for characters. Personally, I don’t like cursing in books and I don’t drink and I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage. But to avoid all of those in my writing hampers my abilities. The garden of life is full of weeds. That’s the harsh truth.

In order to depict good, I must show the bad.  And not sit around, with my eyes closed, blindly planting flowers.

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Suzanne D. WilliamsAbout The Author:

Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://www.feelgoodromance.com or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SDWAuthor.

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The Turkey Story

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by Lisa M. Prysock

Disastrous moments may strike, but one never knows how much joy the memories of something gone wrong can bring us in the midst of the situation.  It’s all in the attitude with which one views the circumstance.  The example that comes to my mind is a story I should probably share at Christmas time, but for some reason it’s on my heart and mind to share it now.

One year my mom prepared a turkey for our Christmas Dinner.  It was all ready to roast in the oven except for needing a little extra thawing time.  She washed it carefully, buttered it, seasoned it, stuffed it, and placed it in a roasting pan.  She then placed the roasting pan aside.  Now, at the time, our kitchen was very small.  Thinking back, I don’t know how she managed to prepare the many delicious meals she prepared over the years in that tiny kitchen.  For lack of counter space and having a full refrigerator filled with pies, Waldorf salad, green bean casserole, and all of the other wonderful trimmings to go with our holiday meal, mom placed it on top of the fridge to finish thawing.  In retrospect, that was probably not a very good idea as we were about to discover the next day.

Mom went to work the next morning while our turkey was roasting in the oven.  As we were on school break and being latch key kids, my sisters and I were to keep an eye on the delicious feast and stay in the house.  A few hours later, we were alarmed that we couldn’t smell the usual delicious scent of roasting turkey.  Our noses were overcome with a different smell altogether.  Something not quite right was roasting in that oven.  I phoned Mom at work and explained the situation.  She decided we should throw it away as the house was being overcome with the petrifying smell of a bird gone wrong.

Throwing out a large and very hot turkey is not as easy as one thinks it will be, as I was soon to experience.  We quickly realized the turkey would melt the trashcan liner and that throwing it away inside the house wouldn’t rid the house of the awful smell; even though we had a lid for the trash can and had opened the windows to air things out.  We quickly realized we had to find a way to dispose of the turkey outside.

I was about the age of eleven or twelve.  That turkey weighed about one-third of my own weight at the time.  I barely had the strength to get it to the front door.  My plan was to throw it out in the woods, about a hundred yards from the front door.  For some reason, I don’t think I had thought of using our outdoor trash cans, which might have been ideal at least temporarily.  Maybe they were full at the time.  We just knew that smell was putrefying and we had to get it out of the house.

By the time I managed to carry that extremely hot and heavy pan to the front door, I was losing my grip on it.  The hot pads slipped out of my hands and yes, you guessed it!  S-P-L-A-T!  That turkey slid right off that pan and onto the front porch!  I was splashed by hot turkey juices that burned my skin a bit.  Now there was no way to enter the house without stepping over a huge turkey and sliding around in hot turkey juices and squishy stuffing.  By now, I was becoming a bit desperate.  As I looked down to survey the situation, there was stuffing, a turkey gone splat, and turkey juices all over that front porch and the door threshold.  I also quickly realized just how greasy and slippery turkey juices are when they first come out of the oven, and believe me when I say this particular instance was no exception.  The whole area was a slippery, hot fiasco. Everything at my feet was steaming hot and burned to the touch.

How to pick up a large, hot turkey on the ground without sustaining injury is another matter that there is no handbook for.  I realized I was going to have to be creative.  That horrible smell was still wafting up into our faces and the heat was so intense it was going right through our hot pads.

“Go get the shovel…” I heard myself say to one of my sisters.

One of my sisters brought the big metal snow shovel from the garage and the other helped me roll that turkey onto the shovel.  We were laughing so hard we could barely manage this task either.  This was not only hilarious at this point, but absolutely hysterical.  Somehow, amidst the laughter, we managed to roll and push that steaming, hot bird onto the shovel.  Then we had to pick it up together, and run it carefully so as not to drop it… to the woods.  We were kind of hoping a neighbor might have come to our aid during this unbelievable scene at the time, but at the same time… I admit we were kind of hoping no one saw us.  One sister took one end of the shovel and I took the other while the other looked on from the front porch fiasco.

We never made it into the woods, but we did make it to the edge of the woods before that turkey slid off the shovel as we were carrying it.  There it landed again.  S-P-L-A-T!  This time it landed in the grass.  We were about five feet from the edge of the woods and five feet from someone else’s driveway (which we’d had to cross over to get the woods).  We decided this was the best we were going to be able to do and left it there.  We made a run for home where we had a big, slippery mess to clean up at our front door.

The next day, our grandparents came to Christmas Dinner as planned.  Mom had replaced the turkey with a lovely meat and cheese tray.  It wasn’t the same, and we were all a bit disappointed, but there wasn’t much else we could do about it.  As Grandma got out of the car, we pointed to the remains of that turkey, laughing, trying to tell her about what had happened in-between our fit of giggles.  She looked amused and puzzled, but she managed to understand our story and laughed heartily with us.

To this day, my sisters and I can’t tell that story without laughing the whole way through.  We’ve had so much laughter in the retelling of it.  The turkey story has turned out to be one of the funniest memories my sisters and I have shared over the years.  Even Mom laughs with us!  It has brought us more joy than if we’d had the usual, ordinary, mundane holiday feast.  I suppose we could have let it ruin our holiday and had a good cry about our Christmas Dinner being ruined.  We didn’t though.  We just laughed and laughed about that turkey incident!

There are two morals to this story:  1) Never thaw your turkey on top of the fridge!  2) If you have something that seems disastrous happen to you, just keep on making the best of it, look on the bright side, find the humor in it if possible, and very soon the sun will come out and shine!

Author Biography

Lisa M. PrysockLisa M. Prysock lives in the countryside of beautiful, rolling Kentucky just outside of the greater Louisville area near horse farms and four board fences with her husband of 19 years.  She homeschools the two youngest of their five children (three grown).  She and her husband live in an average, two story, Colonial style home they are continually updating– with a funny looking Heinz 57 dog; an adorably dainty lady cat; two teenagers; a vegetable garden; numerous flower beds; and a tree house undergoing a remodel.  When not in teaching or writing mode, she is teaching herself to play the piano and violin.  In regards to that, she laughs:  “It’s a pretty painful process, but I’m truly enjoying it!”

Lisa loves all things old-fashioned and has adopted a slogan of “The Old-Fashioned Everything Girl.”  A few of her interests and passions include doll houses, long dresses and hats, gardening, reading the Classics, butterflies, swimming, walking, working out, cooking, sewing, crochet, cross stitching, arts and crafts, scrapbooking, decorating, and drawing.  Recently, her husband remodeled a room in their home with a picture window overlooking a valley which contains a creek and wooded area, transforming the space into a serene and sublime writing office/sewing room.  “It’s a great source of peace and inspiration for me… and pure joy not to be writing from the busy kitchen amidst the household chaos on a laptop.  Growing teenagers eating every five minutes makes for a constant stream of happenings!”

Lisa is an Amazon bestselling author of To Find a Duchess, an Inspirational Regency Romance; a Victorian Christian Romance Series which includes Hannah’s Garden:  a Turn of the Century Love Story and Abigail’s Melody; and ‘The Lydia Collection,’ which includes The Redemption of Lady Georgiana (a Ruth love story of modern day Regency proportions), Protecting Miss Jenna (an Antebellum Era Christian Romance Adventure), and Persecution & Providence (a ‘Jane Austen-ish’ mail order bride story from the Pioneer Era).  She is also the author of a devotional/Bible Study, Arise Princess Warrior and recently released The Shoemaker, an Old-Fashioned Regency Christmas Romance.  Lisa writes clean and wholesome literature that shares her faith in Jesus Christ.  She is a member of ACFW and Louisville Christian Writers.  You can find out more about Lisa at:   www.LisaPrysock.com

Links: 

https://www.facebook.com/LisaMPrysock

https://twitter.com/LPrysock

www.LisaPrysock.com

 

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Understand this Parable or Understand None of Them?

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by Mary C. Findley

339px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Sower_(Le_semeur)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

James Tissot, “The Sower,” Brooklyn Museum. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

In Mark Ch 4 is the parable of the sower. Many people focus on Jesus’ ministry to sinners and the unclean and say how loving and inclusive He was. They say we mustn’t judge people, can’t know their hearts, etc. Just as a side note, lepers, the woman with the issue of blood, the woman who wept and anointed Jesus’ feet — Jesus accepted the touch of these people and they were cleansed by Him, not left “unjudged.” In more than one case, he commented that sins were forgiven and that people had faith for that to happen. But that’s a side issue. Back to the main discourse — the parable about which Jesus said, paraphrasing, “If you don’t get this one, how will you get any of my other teachings?”

But the Parable of the Sower is Jesus’ analysis of man’s heart, since that’s what the soil is. He sows the seed equally, if we take the parable at face value. It’s the reception by the soil that is the focus. The ground may even have received equal amounts, though we’ll talk more about that later.

The parable is about the reception by the soil. It doesn’t even say there were different kinds of soil. Just different conditions the soil had gotten into. It doesn’t even say whose “fault” it was that the soil got that way. Seed came down on it, so there was potential for all the soil regardless of condition. The soil isn’t blamed or excused for its circumstances. It’s given seed. It’s supposed to be soil and do what soil does. Give seed a medium in which to grow. Later on in Mark 4 Jesus says that the sower himself doesn’t really understand the process by which seeds germinate and grow in soil. The soil does it without effort. It’s just the vessel into which the seed is placed.

Roads are hard. They are intentionally packed down and cleared off and made the way they are for a purpose. But a dirt road is still, after all, dirt. Potentially seeds could grow there. And plants can take root and give soil strength and firmness, too, preventing erosion. But we learn here that Satan can take away a message God spreads from certain kinds of hearts. That sounds scary. Why doesn’t everyone get saved? How can God let that happen — let the Word get snatched out of someone’s life? Seems like it’s more up to the soil than to Satan. Maybe it has to do with humility and not fighting for your autonomy.

Jesus quotes the Old Testament and says people are hard-hearted about receiving the Word. They see and hear but they don’t perceive and understand or take it in and truly receive it. The hardness of heart thing has bothered people since Pharaoh. Seems like it’s on us not to get the process started and then it won’t be an issue. Stop arguing about the past. It can’t be changed. And stop dwelling on other people’s experiences and how God may or may not have dealt with them. Focus on your own soil. Be prepared to change if you need to so that you can receive what you need to do what you’re supposed to do.

Soil among the rocks is weak. It has trouble sticking together. It’s distracted, unfocused, pulled in different directions. Soil among thorns is letting those distractions take root and steal resources. It’s focused on things and externals rather than on the seed. There’s no room left for a good crop. The bad one’s taking up too much space.

Good soil doesn’t work. It just is. It hears and accepts and fruit comes naturally. No effort.

306px-Silver_Lamp_Stand,_late_300s_AD,_Early_Byzantine,_Syria,_silver_-_Cleveland_Museum_of_Art_-_DSC08360

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. Public Domain. Photograph by Daderot. Wikimedia Commons

Note that right after the sower comes the lamp. We seem to have backwards ideas about this light. It will shine. We don’t make it do the shining. All we can do is diminish it. We don’t have to work on getting it to shine. We have to avoid covering it up. Seems silly that anyone would, but Jesus wouldn’t tell us this parable if it wasn’t a problem. We are all worried about doing the shining. But what we really have to do is stop being an obstacle. Like the soil just has to be soil and then the seed will grow, we have to be the lampstand, not the bushel basket, and the light will do what the light does. Why would we be a bushel instead of a lampstand? Maybe we are afraid of what might come to light? What secrets might be revealed? We shouldn’t be. And everything will come out, anyway. Bushel basket thinking won’t even work. The light will shine even if it has to burn through the basket. Might as well get out of the way, get under that light, and lift it up like a good lampstand.

Back in the sower parable, Jesus says people hear but don’t understand. He wants us to have understanding — soil that receives and gives the seed a place to sprout, and lampstands that let the light shine. Next Jesus goes on to say that we are like a vessel — a measuring container, like the bushel basket — and some have different capacities. I once heard a sermon about the Old Testament passage where Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall. The pastor said, more or less, that “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” was kind of like saying “Pint, Pint, Quart, Half-gallon.” No wonder the king couldn’t figure out what it meant. If you’ve ever followed a recipe, you know that you use different measuring utensils to get different quantities of ingredients. So it is with people who hear the Word. They’re different containers and they have different purposes in completing the recipe of God’s plan. Two cups of flour is not better or worse than one half teaspoon of salt. It’s just different. Like the parable of the servants given different amounts to invest, they weren’t better or worse because they got more or less. They were just different.

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Image by Alex Sartori. Public Domain. Pixabay.

You are the soil, the lampstand, the container. Your capacity determines what happens to what you receive. The parable says “when the soil permits” the crop will germinate, grow, and mature. Moving on to the parable of the mustard seed, we learn that the seed can be tiny but the yield can be enormous in shade, shelter, support, and sustenance.

Here’s a final question. Jesus calmed the storm at the end of Mark 4 but he chastised the disciples for lacking faith. Did He expect them to calm the storm themselves? No disciple or apostle ever performed a miracle that calmed a storm. Just wondering why, when they did so many others. That would have come in really handy when Paul suffered shipwreck. God has His purposes in all things, but I just wonder — why did no one ever calm a storm? What kind of soil, or lampstand, or vessel would that take? — Post by Mary C. Findley

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“Wave” by User Counselling. Pixabay. Public Domain.

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 3:3-4 Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.

I have known those who are loyal and kind and those who aren’t. Those who are loyal and kind hold a very special place in my heart. I count it a privilege to know them and thank the Lord for bringing them into my life. I have friends like that who are both Christian and non-Christian. My life is very rich because of them. When I speak of them, I have nothing but endearment in my heart for them and I want nothing but the best for them. I want to treat them well because of my love for them.

I want to be that kind of a person as well. It is my prayer that others will know me to loyal and kind. It is not something that comes naturally for most of us. However, anyone can become that kind of a friend if they are willing to put forth the effort to do so. It all begins in the heart; the more we live in relationship with Christ, the more natural and easy it becomes.

Notice that it is possible to lose what we should have by nature. Loyalty and kindness can go away from us if we are not careful to protect and keep them. If we allow selfishness to rule our hearts, we will cease to be the kind of a person that others will cherish as a friend and that will please God.

In order for our nature to change, we must be committed to the process of change. We must deliberately seek to be loyal and kind. It may not come easy at first, but the more we do it the easier it becomes. It is within the character of every child of God; all we have to do is to let Christ rule the heart. We must diligently seek Him and strive to please Him. We must let the Lord transform us and wear the transformation like a necklace around our necks. Godliness must become the norm and not the exception in our lives.

He who is loyal and kind finds favor with both God and man. If you are struggling in this area of your life, ask the Lord right now to change you. You will be glad you did.

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Who Removed the Nails?

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by Lynn Mosher

Whipped…lashed within an inch of His life.

Mocked…crowned with thorns.

Slapped…beard ripped from His face.

Bound…nails pounded into His flesh.

Ridiculed…garment gambled for at His feet.

Pierced…in His side, and in His heart.

He sighed His last breath…

“It is finished.”

Now, it is time to bury Him.

But who will take Him down from the cross?

Who removed those gruesome nails from Jesus’ body?

Walk with me and let’s see…

Evening approaches. Clouds blush in the western sky as the sun begins to slide into the distant hills. It’s Preparation Day, the day before Sabbath.

A somber atmosphere hangs heavy in the city. Hearts sting from the ghastly sight of Jesus body being nailed to a cross as a common criminal.

But now, who will take down His body? He must be buried.

Appearing with boldness before Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus is Joseph of Arimathea. A rich man. A prominent member of the Sanhedrin. A secret follower of Jesus, waiting for the kingdom of God.

What? Says Pilate, as he summons the centurion. Jesus is dead? The centurion replies in the positive. Pilate then gives Joseph permission to take Jesus’ body and bury it.

The day is growing short. Joseph rushes to the market for some linen burial cloths. Nicodemus joins him, helping to carry one hundred pounds of burial spices.

Hearts throb while lungs heave in their chests as the two men flee toward Golgotha.

Joseph takes a deep breath. Remove the nails? How can I do this?

Tears of deep grief fill his eyes and spill onto his cheeks. With trembling hands, Joseph extracts the bloody nails driven for the sins of man. First, from Jesus’ feet.

He finds a nearby ladder and timidly climbs up. He releases the cords of hate that tied Jesus’ wrists to the offensive cross beam. Next, he struggles to remove the nails…from one hand, then the other.

The Savior’s lifeless body plunges into the arms of Nicodemus.

Kneeling beside Jesus’ body, the men delicately wrap each linen strip with the spices around His body. Their arms and legs strain from the weight as they then carry Jesus to a newly hewn tomb in the garden.

After laying His body inside, the men back out of the tomb, bowing in reverence. Joseph rolls a large stone against the entrance of the tomb. The men walk back to the city in silence.

It is finished. Or is it?

From His feet, Lynn

http://lynnmosher.com

Lynn MosherBio:

At a time of physical upheaval in 2000, Lynn Mosher felt led of the Lord to take up her pen and write. With this new passion, she has embraced her mission to reach others through Christ-honoring literature, encouraging them in their walk and offering comfort through the written word. Lynn lives with her hubby (since 1966) in their Kentucky nest, emptied of three chicklets, and expanded by three giggly grand-chicklets, and an inherited dog. You can find out more about Lynn by visiting her website http://lynnmosher.com

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Oh The Sanctuary!

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by Rebekah Beene

The GPS took us straight to the church in Benton where the retreat prayer team meeting was being held. When we arrived I read the text: meet in the room behind the sanctuary. Well, there were two buildings behind the sanctuary. We weren’t sure where exactly the meeting room was. So we drove around the building to the back of the sanctuary. All we found was a locked door on the side. Finally we went back to the front and I got out of the car.

Once inside I peeked into the sanctuary thinking I’d find it full of Wednesday night activity. But there I found what I was looking for – a group of women I met at last year’s retreat. We went into a small room that really was at the back of the sanctuary and had a wonderful meeting.

We had to go where we’d never been before. It took a bit of seeking and searching. And I had to get out of my comfort zone (the car) and venture into the sanctuary to find what I was looking for.

Oh beloved, God is speaking to our hearts this morning. He has given us an objective. It is to meet with Him in the sanctuary! He’s called you and me to intimate relationship with Him. We might find it difficult to carve out time for this – but God says come away with Me.

He wants you to know this morning that you may feel that it’s foreign territory – to go where you’ve never been. It might seem strange to seek and search for Him. After all you’re saved. And you’re busy. There is much to do in your life- family, job, household, children, activities and church. It’s enough to make anyone’s head swim. But He says if you will dare to venture into the sanctuary of His Presence you will find the peace that so often escapes you. You will also find the help for the difficult moments, the answer for the hardships and the rest you long for.

There’s more in the sanctuary! All the delights of your heart are found in the Presence of the Lord! He calls with such loving words of affirmation – He calls you beloved! He beckons you with delight! He says you are His chosen! He says He finds joy when you and He spend time together.
The rat race has no hold on you once you find your way to Him. Life in Christ is more than heaven someday- it’s heaven come down and dwell in your heart! This divine visitation is a must for those who want to do more than just survive. His love requires you to leave the mundane lifestyle and go for the extraordinary supernatural life in Christ! This one move – going into the sanctuary, having fellowship with your King – will change everything! This is where strength is imparted and instructions for living are given. It’s your right to live in His Presence and your gift to be swept away in Holy Spirit anointing.
God loves you and He’s for you! Rejoice that He is with you and give thanks that you can live supernaturally as you seek His face and learn to love His Presence for the rest of your life!

Song of Solomon 2:10 My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with Me.” 

Psalm 45:11 Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor Kim, for He is your Lord. 

Psalm 36:8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.

About the Author:

Rebekah Beene

In a Christian Women’s meeting in 1983, Rebekah was given a prophetic message that she would write books. Several years ago she began writing stories about special holiday memories and travels, sharing God’s love and care through each story. God has gifted Rebekah with the ability to look at the natural and see the supernatural. Both Rebekah and her husband Danny have a heart to share the Gospel and the riches of life in Christ to everyone they meet. They have served in the local church and in ministry to motorcyclists. Danny is an ordained minister and they both have been Bible study teachers for many years. Rebekah also speaks at women’s retreats and conferences. Her tag line says it all “God loves you and He’s for you”.

My website is http://rebekahbeene.wordpress.com

My first book in print is Oh Beloved! Live in the Light of His Word.
Link to buying the book via paypal is on the website.
As well a link to purchasing the ebook on Amazon is there too.
I’m also on twitter @rebekahbeene, tumblr http://rebekah-beene.tumblr.com/
and of course facebook as Rebekah Beene (Warren) I included my maiden name for old friends.
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Jesus, Jesus, There Is Just Something About That Name

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by Mary Hamilton

The Bible tells us the name of our God is a strong tower, a refuge in time of trouble. We sing of the beauty and power of the name of Jesus, our savior. But what does that really mean?

I’ve always struggled to understand how a simple name can possess power or be a source of strength, or even a refuge. Maybe that worked in Bible times when names embodied a person’s personality and character. Maybe it was true for Old Testament Jews whose reverence for God prompted the use of other names to keep from speaking that holiest of names. Even when scribes copying scriptures came to the name of God, they laid aside their quill or writing utensil and took up a new one only to discard it as soon as they’d finished writing the Name.

Is it because we’re so accustomed to using God’s name in everyday speech that it’s difficult to imagine it having such power and authority? Do we hear it so often it doesn’t carry the weight it did with Biblical believers?

Recently, I pondered all this while singing a song in Sunday worship about the beautiful name of Jesus. My mind wandered back several years to the summer my son left for Marine boot camp. I’d seen and spoken to my first-born nearly every day for the last 18+ years, but suddenly he was gone and there’d be no communication between us for weeks. One three-minute phone call to let us know he’d made it through the first few days and then silence during what was likely the most momentous time of his life to date.

Excruciating, to say the least. Making it worse was the intellectual idea we had of the physical, mental and emotional stress he was undertaking. We’d been told the first communication we could expect would be a letter advising us of his new mailing address. Each day, we eagerly checked the mail for one week, then two weeks. Somewhere around the third or fourth week after he left, the letter arrived—a form letter, copied so many times the print was pale and slightly blurry, not easily read. But down at the bottom, my son had scrawled his signature. It was the only evidence we had that he was still on this earth, that he hadn’t simply disappeared.

I cherished that letter with his signature for another week or two until his first handwritten missive arrived. During that waiting time, I remember telling a friend, “I’ve never been so happy just to see his name!”

And suddenly there in that worship service, I understood the power and preciousness of a name, of The Name.

May you find strength, power, comfort and encouragement in that Name that is above all names.

Mary HamiltonBio: Marine Mom and award-winning author Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series (where kids bring their baggage to camp and let God carry it). Her experiences during twenty years of living at the camp, as well as people she knew there, inspired many of the events and situations in her novels. She’s a member of AFCW and CAN, and when not writing, she enjoys knitting, reading, photography and spending time with her family. Mary and her husband live in Texas.

Find out more about Mary and connect with her here:

Website: www.MaryHamiltonBooks.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/maryhamiltonbooks

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nIjPxi

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/mlhamiltonauthor

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