Monthly Archives: July 2013

Casting the Seed – Part Two

six seedlings growing from soil

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Yesterday, we introduced two people from the story of ‘The Sower’ found in Matthew 13. One individual either rejects the Gospel (an atheist) or has never been exposed to God’s truth. The other receives Jesus, but bases the relationship on emotions rather than biblical truth. In both situations, roots aren’t established and fruit isn’t produced.

The most significant factor in determining whether God’s seed will take root, flourish, and produce a crop (without being snatched away from the enemy) is the very foundation to which the seed is cast.

And that foundation is our hearts. Through this passage, I believe God the Father is challenging us to take a much deeper look into the true condition of our hearts.

Will you accept that challenge?

Let’s continue the story.

In Matthew 13:22, Jesus introduces another individual in His teaching: “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

This is the third person of the story.

Personally, I believe this is where many Christians are today, and please hear me out on this. First, this individual is in a much better place to receive God’s word. The foundation of their heart isn’t rock, where only shallow plants can grow, but it is actually soil. This person is not only a believer of Jesus Christ, but they also carry a desire to heed to His instruction (as he receives the seed and hears the Word).  Yet, there’s another seed that’s been cast onto this same heart, and over time this foreign seed produced a bundle of thorns.

Thorns hurt. They prick us and slow us down. When they aren’t uprooted, they will indefinitely choke the very fruit we are trying to produce through the Word of God (the seed cast by Jesus).

What’s happening here?

The enemy cast his own seed onto the heart of this believer, and it unfortunately sprouted into a bushel of death. Thorns are strongholds. They are lies that we believe about ourselves that prevent us from becoming the men and women God has called us to be.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Every sin in mankind can always be traced to a seed sown by the enemy that has taken root in the heart. This is why an individual can attend a wonderful church service and feel on fire for God, but still struggle with alcoholism or a porn addiction. This is also why an individual can desire God’s truth, but still idolize money and the approval of man by splurging on excessively expensive items that aren’t true needs.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Thorns are what keep us from reaching our highest potential through Christ.

And in one single prayer to the Most High God, those harmful thorns can be completely obliterated. It’s all a choice. And it’s ours to make.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6

“In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.” Psalm 143:12

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

In closing, this last individual discussed in Matthew 13:23 is living the life God intended for him, which is where we all want to be.

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”

Through the grace of Jesus, we all can yield an abundant crop lasting well into eternity.

Will you allow Him to purge your heart so His seed can grow, producing a harvest of righteousness in you?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

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Casting the Seed

Casting the Seed on Rocks

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”

Matthew 13:16

While meditating on the ‘Parable of the Sower’ this morning, the Holy Spirit revealed divine revelation intended for the hearts of His beloved (including mine).

Many of us are familiar with the concept of planting a seed (the word of God) with the intent of producing a harvest (fruit of righteousness), but what if God is making a deeper point? What if He’s lovingly (as a Good Father) trying to demonstrate a truth that can impact us for eternity?

The Sower found in the story is God Himself (planting seeds through the following vehicles: other people, the Bible, songs, nature, and words of insight through prayer). We can rest assured that God will be consistent and that He is good.

Yet it’s equally important to be aware of our enemy: Satan himself, who seeks to snatch (through lies, strongholds, condemnation, and temptations) the very seed God has planted. Unfortunately, he is also consistent (until the battle of Armageddon occurs and his fickle self is defeated) and indescribably evil.

These two familiar points are often observed when we read this parable, and we can count on these two constants in the equation of planting and producing.

But why exactly is there inconsistency in whether the seed is immediately snatched, is choked by thorns, or yields a crop that is a hundred times that which was sown?

It’s us. We’re the difference.

And it’s our hearts that are the very soil on which God consistently sows and the enemy consistently seeks to thwart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

The story begins in the 13th chapter of Matthew, verse 18 stating: “Listen to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away that was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

This is the first person of the story.

Likely, this is an individual who has either never heard the Gospel or has rejected it (such as an atheist). They are not in a place to fully “understand” the Good News (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) that has just been shared. I imagine this person’s heart is like a shiny slab of marble – it’s so hard, it’s impossible to penetrate.

Yet, the Sower still sows, just as the enemy still snatches.

But, just as marble is fashioned by God’s very hands (as part of His creation), so is the human heart. And God has a brilliant way of reaching the heart of man. Pay attention to the point He is making here: “this is the seed sown along the path.” We’re all on a journey towards eternity, but multiple seeds of God’s truth sown are often required before we’re able to receive Him as our Savior and live a life of righteousness.  Praise be to God who is slow to anger and never gives up! May we emulate His perspective towards unbelievers in our own lives!

“And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” Job 28:28

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” Psalm 145:8

The story continues on in Matthew 13:20 -21: “The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

This is the second person of the story.

The biggest difference between this individual and the first is that they believe in Jesus. Perhaps they’ve even gone as far as accepting Him as their Savior. There is a definite measure of understanding of the Good News as they “receive” the seed. This person takes hope in the God’s word and begins to experience an overflow of joy (a fruit that only comes from the Lord).

I imagine this individual thrives in an environment where “good feelings” flourish. Examples of this can be found in the “prosperity gospel” (If you serve God you will have whatever you want) or hyper spiritualism (always seeking a spiritual high yet having no depth of relationship with God).

The danger in these situations is that the relationship with God is based on emotions, which are fleeting. As soon as opposition to their belief in Jesus or the truth appears, they cringe in despair and retreat to their former way of life. Why? Because the seed of God’s truth had no place to take root. Just as a tree needs deep roots to survive the storms of life (without  toppling over), we also need the same stability in our spiritual lives.

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” Proverbs 24:10

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 27:12

“The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.” Proverbs 14:18

“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15

Where are you today?

Tomorrow we will discuss a “heart with thorns” and a “heart yielding righteousness.”

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Choosing Thanksgiving

Choosing Thanksgiving Photo

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Being thankful requires us to take action.

In fact, a heart of thanksgiving is the product of intentional choices – a mind that deliberately focuses on the positive thoughts (even in the midst of discomfort or suffering) and a mouth that speaks praiseworthy, life-giving ideas (versus complaining and grumbling).

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think of such things.” Philippians 4:8

So, what’s the big deal in being thankful?

Well, for starters, it deeply pleases the heart of God. It’s like an early morning “pat on the back” for His holy provision of the countless blessings He chooses to bestow upon us – the breath in our lungs, the God-given ability of our bodies to fight off infection, eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, clean running water, bees to pollinate the fresh crops we eat, and the fact that Earth is in the exact proximity from the sun to sustain life and keep us from being consumed by its fiery rays.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalm 100:4

Thanksgiving shows God the admiration He deserves. And it’s a reminder that we’re nothing without Him which keeps us humble.

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

Secondly, thanksgiving ushers in a spirit of freedom. Our own human minds often serve as a main source of oppression. Christ not only died so we can have eternal life, but He also died so we can live in freedom.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

When our thoughts become engulfed in the details of our own lives (our financial problems, our health concerns, our relational issues), we can easily become enslaved by pessimistic thinking (focusing on what isn’t going right and becoming blind to the needs of others). Yet, the same can be said when we focus on the problems of others (complaining and criticizing the character of others, or leaning on strength of self rather than God in any area of ministry), and are unable to freely enjoy all God has given us.

Thanksgiving gently forces us to take our eyes off of ourselves and onto God. And we can never go wrong by gazing at Jesus.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:16

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

This morning, feelings of being overwhelmed and discouraged started to envelope my heart. And within minutes after brewing my hot cup of tea, God lovingly reminded me to focus on the positive. He suggested that I focus on His goodness, specifically His sovereignty and the redemptive healing He alone ushered into my life. Not surprisingly, His advice was nothing less than brilliant. Soon my dry, parched soul began bubbling over with a refreshing spring of praise.

“Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Deuteronomy 6:12

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgements He pronounced.” Psalm 105:1-5

God is good regardless of our circumstances.

What has God done in your life that prompts you to be thankful?

                                             “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

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