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Archive for February 26th, 2018

The Power of the Soil

from JO’s sermon tonight:

you can have a good seed that’s healthy, strong, full of potential, but if it’s not planted in good soil, it’s not going to become what it was created to be. the problem is not with the seed; if it’s planted in soil that’s full of rocks, weeds, thorns, it may grow some, but it’s not going to produce what it should. it may survive, but it’s not going to be healthy. it’s the same principle in life; you’re a seed, full of gifts, talents, potential, but if you plant yourself in unhealthy soil, hang around friends that compromise, pull you down, if you’re in an environment that is limited, with people that tell you what you can’t become, you won’t see the growth that you should. not because there’s something wrong with your seed; you’re made in the image of God. the problem is with the soil; the rocks, thorns, weeds, are choking the life out of your seed.

Jesus told a parable:

Matthew 13:3-7 (NIV)
3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

all the same seed; what made the difference was the soil. the thorns are things like friends that keep causing you to compromise. the weeds are those coworkers that sit around and gossip all day. the rocks are those family members that tell you how you can’t break an addiction. if you hang around negative people, they’re choking out your seed. those friends you’re tempted to party with, they may be fun, popular, but what you can’t see is, they’re a weed, keeping you from flourishing. the environment you put yourself in is extremely important. no matter how good the seed is, it’s dependent on having good soil. you have to be selective with whom you give your time, energy, attention, to, because people are contagious; you’re going to catch what they have. if your friends are prejudiced, you’re going to become prejudiced. if your friends have limited thinking, they don’t have any goals, motivation, that lazy mentality is going to rub off on you. you’re going to become like the people you continually associate with.

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

don’t hang around people that don’t have anything you want; if they’re not making you better, inspiring you, causing you to grow, then you need to make some changes. pull up those weeds. quit hanging around thorny friends that bring out the worst in you, talk you out of your dreams, cause you to compromise; their negativity is contaminating your soil. your destiny is too great to waste it with people that are not adding value to your life. “what if I hurt their feelings?” what if you miss your destiny? what if they choke out your seed, keep you from blossoming?

it’s not enough to just focus on self development; you have to focus on soil development, on what’s around you, influencing you, you’re spending time and attention with. are you putting your seed in good soil, or is it being contaminated by what you watch, think about, who you’re spending time with. what you’re unwilling to walk away from is where you’ll stop growing. if you know a person is pulling you down, but you won’t make a change, you’ll get stuck where you are. your seed can’t grow in bad soil; if you don’t get rid of the wrong people, you’ll never meet the right people. here’s the key; God will never ask us to give something up without giving us more back in return. and sure, you may go through a season of being lonely, but what will happen is, God will give you new, better friends, that push you up instead of pulling you down.

in the scripture:

Genesis 12:1-5 (NIV)
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you… 4 So Abram went… 5 He took his wife Sarai, [and] his nephew Lot

he was only supposed to take his immediate family. before long:

Genesis 13:7-11 (NIV)
7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s… 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”… 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company

and then:

Genesis 14:8-16 (NIV)
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines… 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions… 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them… 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot

he spent all this time and energy on a problem that he would have never had if he would have left Lot behind in the first place.

some of the challenges we face are because we didn’t leave who God told us to leave. what’s interesting is, the name Lot means “veil or covering”; when you leave Lot, what you know you’re supposed to leave, the veil will come off. you’ll see things you’ve never seen: new friendships, opportunities, talent, levels. are you holding on to what God asked you to let go of, someone, something, that’s pulling you down, keeping you from your best? your seed can’t flourish in a negative environment; that’s keeping you from growing.

when I say leave, I don’t mean you have to go make a big announcement, “you’re contaminating me, I’m done with you,” I mean start spending less and less time with them. if you have a bunch of weeds, it’s choking out your dreams, vision, character. at the office, that person you eat lunch with that’s always complaining about the boss, jealous of coworkers, mad at their spouse; they’re a weed, contaminating your soil, keeping you from flourishing. and yes, they’re made in the image of God, they can change, but until they do, you shouldn’t let them pollute you. I’m nice to everyone, but I don’t spend my time with everyone. I’m selective about who I allow in my life: I don’t spend time with negative, critical, jealous, small-minded, can’t do it, bitter people. I value what God has given me too much to put my seed in bad soil.

we have a responsibility. God has given you a gift; He could have created anyone to be alive at this day and time, but He chose you. your seed is full of potential, greatness, can set a new standard for your family, break generational curses. what God has given you is extremely valuable. do your part; keep your seed in good soil.

sometimes we wonder why we feel like we’re shriveled, not growing, “God, why aren’t You doing anything?” check your soil; has it become contaminated? who are you spending time with, what are you giving your attention to? you can’t watch the news all day and live a positive, faith-filled life; after about twenty minutes, you’ll be depressed. pay attention to your environment; what are you taking in all day?

we have enough negative things in life that we have no control over; be selective about what you do have control over. driving to work, put on something uplifting; music that inspires you, a message that builds your faith. keep your seed in good soil. at home, don’t leave the TV on all day, chatter, noise in the background; that’s your soil. this is the reason some people aren’t growing; they’re talented, have potential, but their soil has become contaminated. you have to protect your seed.

when you face difficulties, more than ever you need to keep your mind filled with thoughts of faith, surround yourself with people that speak hope and life, agree with what you’re believing for. you can’t afford to have people that are negative, discouraged, telling you how you may not make it, “my grandmother died of that same thing”; do yourself a favor, stay away from people like that. don’t let them pollute your soil.

one time:

Mark 5:35-42 (NIV)
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said… 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James… 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus… 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around

why did Jesus make them leave? he could have healed her in front of everyone; he’s God. he was showing us the importance of having the right environment.

people, if you allow them, can talk you out of your dreams; their doubt, negativity can rub off on you. you have to set some boundaries; “I love you, but I’m not going to let you poison me. I have a destiny to fulfill; I’m going to love you from a distance.”

this is what happened with the Israelites. Moses sent 12 men to spy out the promised land; 10 came back and said:

Numbers 13:32-33 (NKJV)
32… The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, had a different report:

Numbers 13:30 (NKJV)
30 … “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

but the negative report from the majority, the 10 spies, began to spread throughout the whole camp; before long, all 2 million Israelites were discouraged, complaining, saying, “Moses, let’s go back to Egypt, to being slaves.” God had promised them the victory, but they never did make it in, because their soil was contaminated; that seed couldn’t grow in that negative environment.

the people you surround yourself with are extremely important. don’t hang around can’t do it people, not able to people; “yes, I know God promised you, but I don’t see how you can get well, meet the right person, break that addiction.” stay away from people like that. find Joshua, Caleb, not people that will throw water on your flame, but people that will fan your flame, join their faith with yours, and say, “if you believe, count me in; I’m going to believe with you.”

the critics, naysayers, are a dime a dozen. 10 of the twelve spies were negative; that’s about average. 80% will tell you what you can’t do; you have to find the 20% that will tell you what you can do. the majority, most of the time, won’t see what you see; they won’t encourage you. you have to find the minority.

your soil is just as important as your seed. you may have had just the opposite: people that didn’t support you, instead of telling you what you could become, they told you what you couldn’t do. the good news is, that doesn’t have to stop you; your seed is still alive. if you will get it in a different environment, with can-do people, with possibility thinking, with friends that inspire you, your seed will take root and begin to blossom; you can still reach the fullness of your destiny.

this is what Elisha did. he was out working in the fields, a farmer, no doubt from a limited background, didn’t look like he had much of a future, but the prophet Elijah came by:

1 Kings 19:19-20 (NKJV)
19 … Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.”

Elisha saw something in Elijah that he wanted; the favor on his life, how Elijah was doing great things. he connected with him. for years, Elisha served Elijah: he waited on him, would bring him food, he wouldn’t leave him:

2 Kings 2:2-9 (NIV)
2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”… 4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”… 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”… 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

if Elisha would’ve stayed out in the fields, in that limited environment, with the friends he grew up with, he would have never seen the double; he had to get his seed in the right soil.

you need people in your lives that are further along, have a bigger vision, are more successful, well-off, in one sense, people that are out of your league; you have to be exposed to new levels before you can go to new levels. if you’re the smartest one in your group, your group is too small. if you’re the most successful, you need to get a larger circle. don’t be intimidated by people that are further along; be inspired. find some good mentors. connect with dreamers, people that have a bigger vision. glean from them; that’s good soil.

does your vision increase around your friends, or decrease? do you leave challenged, motivated, inspired, or are you discouraged, negative, drained? I’m not saying that every friend will inspire you, but you should have one or two that light a fire on the inside, push you forward. if you only invest in people at your same level, you’ll get stuck there. find a mentor, somebody that’s gone where you want to go. just as the wrong people will pull you down, the right people will pull you up.

in Acts 3:

Acts 3:2-8 (NIV)
2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

notice, Peter wouldn’t let the man stay down. he didn’t give him a choice; he prayed for him, and then pulled him up. you need some friends like Peter, that won’t let you stay down. when you’re in the pits, can’t get up by yourself, not people that will get in the pit with you, “let’s tell sad stories together, feel sorry for ourselves,” no, people that will pull you out of that pit, love you so much they won’t let you stay addicted, depressed, miss your destiny. not just people that pray, but they pull you up. get up, there are new levels. you’ve been hurt; get up, God has beauty for those ashes. you lost something; get up, God’s about to restore. you went through a disappointment; get up, a new beginning is coming. you’re still single; get up, the right person is on the way. you’re struggling in your finances; get up, God’s going to open the windows of heaven. you need people that will pull you into your destiny; sometimes, you can’t go to the next level without somebody pulling you up. if you surround yourself with people just like you, there’s nobody to help you up; you have to get around somebody stronger, more successful, free, so they can lift you. lame people can’t help lame people up; addicted people can help addicted people up.

maybe you need to change who you’re spending time with. God has some Peters waiting for you. He’s ordained people already to lift you up. don’t sit around in some kind of dysfunction with other dysfunctional people the rest of your life; your seed can’t grow in that soil. stay away from people that are enabling the dysfunction, tell you where you are is where you’re always going to be. don’t believe that lie; your seed is still alive, when it hits the good soil, you’re going to see things happen that you never dreamed would happen: you’re not going to stay addicted; freedom is coming. you’re not going to struggle in your health your whole life; wholeness is coming. that lack, not having enough, is not your destiny; in good soil, you’re going to see abundance, overflow, more than enough. now do your part; start pulling up the weeds. get rid of those thorny friends, people that are pulling you down. be selective with what you give your attention to all day. if you’ll keep your seed in good soil, you’re about to blossom. Peter is about to show up and pull you to a new level: increase, promotion, freedom, healing, wholeness, the fullness of your destiny.

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