Changing Landscapes?

Soil, hard with clay and stone. Creates a landscape barren. Barren, dry, plain, and forlorn.

But with a shovel, some dirt, sweat and possibly tears – seeds can be fallen to bring about hope.

Planting seeds of promise. Promise of refreshing fruit.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (1)

“If it dies, it produces,” produces and multiplies. Life and fruit overcome. Life then, overcomes the weeds.

Soil prepared and seeds planted, required sun and water surrounded – the “kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” and a miracle springs up before our eyes.

Fragile, tender – however, life’s there!

Promise of a flower, a tomato, or pear. Fruit of self-control, and gentleness, and care.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” 

“Jesus, You see my struggle. May I determine to focus on Your eyes. On the cross, You, the Lamb of God, willingly laid Your life down for me – that I might overcome, and be made free.

The struggle, the strain. Who likes “to die?” But the promise of newness- the guarantee of life. I will fix my eyes upon Jesus, and ask that You be magnified.

Magnify Your splendor. Magnify Your grace. Magnify Your steadfast love. No longer barren, but now a beautiful landscape.

A landscape of hope. Earth filled with color. Land providing sustenance. Fruit in multiplication- spread to splash this world with color.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, . . .”

the fruit of love is spread all over.

(1) John 12:24, NIV


Is there comfort in our affliction?

“God, it’s comfort your people need. With bleeding hearts and righteous anger at injustice, we are in need… Your people, Your children around the world are in need…to see You. “Oh soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness to see? There’s a light for a look at the Savior. A light so abundant and free: (From the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).

Turn the Light on Lord God! For ‘You are our Shepherd’, we may be in ‘need’, but we are not in ‘want’ when we are enveloped in all that You are. “This is my comfort in my affliction,” we now know what it is, but we need You to speak, because it is written that the ‘comfort in our affliction’ is Your Word.

“So, ‘speak Lord, Your servants are listening.’ Help us to hear Your voice and remember. Remind us what’s true!
I have overcome this world in which you have great trial and tribulation, be of good cheer and do not fear.” (John 16:33, my paraphrase).
“Lord today’s tribulation is spoken of so clearly in Your word, in the Book of Revelation written so long ago. It’s the voice of the martyrs. We can hear the voices in the vision written by John, “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying,
“How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” (Revelation 6:9-11).

Yes Lord, help us remember the voice of the martyrs and shine that light…that light for a look at the Savior.

“Whoever declares openly -speaking out freely- and confesses that he is My worshipper and acknowledges Me before men, the Son of man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him before the angels of God.”( Luke 12:8, Amplified). This is My word. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Rev. 22:16).

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book… And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Rev. 22:7,12,13).

Comfort comes by the word of His testimony. Jesus speaks:“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.(John 16:1-3). “But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you at the beginning…” (John 16:4).

Comfort comes by the words of testimony, even of one of the disciples, recorded for us to read in the book titled, ‘Jesus Freaks’ by DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs. Comfort comes from the story, “Andrew, Peter’s brother, Greece 66AD, Not Afraid of the Cross, (pgs 149-151 in ‘Jesus Freaks’), not only must ‘their stories be told’ which is the heart of the Voice of the Martyrs, but the stories need to be heard and read and remembered over time:

“Andrew boldly looked the governor in the eye. ‘it is good for you, the judge of men, to first know your Judge who dwells in heaven,” he said, his voice ringing with the force of truth. “After you know Him, then worship Him, removing from your mind false gods and blind idols.” Christians all over the empire were being executed in obedience to a decree from the Roman Senate. Peter had been crucified a year earlier, and before this year would end, six more of the the original disciples, including Andrew, would be executed. Of the twelve, only John would remain on earth.

Andrew had voluntarily come to face Aegaeas, the governor, to persuade him not to persecute the many Christians Andrew had brought to the faith in the city of Patras. 

Andrew’s words angered the king. “Are you the same Andrew who has overthrown the temple of the gods and persuades men to be of that superstitious sect which Rom has now commanded to be abolished?”

Andrew answered, “The princes of the Romans do not understand the truth. The Son of God, coming from heaven into the world for man’s sake, has taught and declared how those idols, whom you so honor as gods, are not gods, but rather cruel devils, enemies to mankind. They teach the people to do things that are so offensive to God that He turns away. In serving the devil, people fall into all kinds of wickedness, and after they die, nothing remains for them but their evil deeds.”

“Enough!” the governor commanded. “Do not teach such things anymore or you will be fastened to the cross with all speed.”

Andrew answered, “If I were afraid of the death of the cross, I would not have preached about the majesty, honor, and glory of the cross.”

The governor then pronounced sentence, “This man is starting a new sect and taking away the religion of the Roman gods. I hereby sentence him to death by crucifixion.”

As Andrew was brought toward the place of execution, he saw, from afar off, the cross prepared for him. Instead of the fear that might be expected, fervent love for Jesus rose up in his heart. He cried out, “O cross, most welcome and long looked for! With a willing mind, I joyfully come to you, being the disciple of Him who hung on you.” As he neared the cross he said,” The nearer I come to the cross, the nearer I come to God; and the farther I am from the cross, the farther I remain from God.” 

For three days, the apostle hung on the cross. As long as he could move his tongue, he instructed all who stood nearby, encouraging them, “Remain steadfast in the word and doctrine which you have received, instructing one another, that you may dwell with God in eternity, and receive the fruit of His promises.”

After three days, the Christians asked the governor to take Andrew down from the cross and release him to them. But Andrew, hearing their plans, cried out, “O Lord Jesus Christ! Don’t let Your servant, who hangs here on the cross for Your name’s sake, be released to dwell again among men! Please receive me, O my Lord, my God! You I have known, You I have loved, to You I cling, you I desire to see, and in You I am what I am.”

Having spoken these words, he committed his spirit into the hands of the heavenly Father.” (Jesus Freaks,  of Andrew, Peter’s brother).

Perhaps the old hymn, “That Old Rugged Cross” was  first written in Andrews heart, lived out by his example, and today we are changed in our view of it by his testimony. In the midst of the pain, and heart ache, we  begin to more and more ‘cherish that old Rugged Cross’,and ‘cling to that ‘ol rugged cross’, and rejoice in the fact that someday, we will exchange it some day for a crown! How do we know these things to be true?

The powerful word of the Lord! That is how we draw near to God! We’ve got to know Him, we’ve got to remember! Remember what?…Remember these things: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed,

having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. Therefore…

We are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore…

We make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

This is comfort.”Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…” But what does Jesus say about our enemies? Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”(Matthew 5:44 NIV). “But God this is so hard,” we reply in our pain. Remember the cross, ‘that ‘ol rugged cross, Jesus was crucified and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).  “I will cling to the ‘ol rugged cross,’ and exchange it someday for a crown!”