Tag Archives: Christian growth

Part II – Casting the Seed: The Difference Between Spiritual Poverty and Abundance

“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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Revised: The Power and Prudence in Waiting on God

***Please be advised that the draft version of this post was published in error this morning. However, please enjoy this final version. To God be the glory!

As I sit at my desk, peering out at the hazy skyline of Atlanta, my mind drifts to a journal entry that I wrote after meditating on Psalm 40 and thinking. That memory reminded me specifically about waiting for God.

While I don’t know all of you, I believe many of you need to be encouraged in hope and in truth today. God hears your cries for help. He knows exactly what you need, and when you need it. Do not grow weary in waiting on Him. He is the Almighty God for a reason.

Let’s dive right into a small fragment of Psalm 40, followed by a few thoughts to ponder on our own before the Lord.

 “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the LORD. Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD, who have no confidence in the proud, or in those who worship idols. O LORD my God, you have done many miracles for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” Psalm 40:1-5 NLT

Allow me to encourage you if I may. There will be a season for God to lift you out of the mud and mire of life’s difficulties and pain, but you must trust in Him now. God is good, and He desires good. In times of trouble, the temptation to run from God and to run towards something else (such as self-dependency, another person, habit, or item) is very real. Avoid this temptation through the grace of Christ (remember that Jesus was tempted in all areas without sin, so He understands). Seek His will for you. You will never make a poor decision by trusting God for anything, no matter what the circumstance may be. God is good, and God is for your good.

When it comes to David and the benefits he received in waiting for God, there are four quick points that we can all be encouraged by:

1.David was lifted out of despair by God. God relieves the anguish that David feels (while being pursued to death by his enemies) by removing David from challenging situations (either physically, mentally, and/or emotionally).

2. God sets David’s feet on solid ground, meaning that He provides a place of refuge and safety away from the turmoil. God gives David a new perspective (whether that is literally a new, physical place or a mental shift in perception). God does the impossible in a trying situation.

3. God steadies David as he walks. Not only does God direct David’s steps, but He also brings incredible stability to David’s life as he explores this new place of trusting Him.

4. God places a new song of praise in David’s mouth. God fills David’s heart with a renewed peace, wonder, hope, and joy that causes David to overflow in praise to His faithful God.

As Christians, you and I still serve, love, obey, and pray to the exact same God that David did thousands of years ago. Think about this truth for a moment. If God is just and faithful, and He does not change, then how in the world could we dare to believe that He would rescue and restore King David (one of His own) but not us? If we are praying to God and seeking His face, God hears us. While we cannot determine when He will answer or what He will say, we can know that He does hear and He does act. You and I must trust in God for His perfect timing, and believe with all of our hearts that He is in fact, good, trustworthy, and faithful (because He is). God has no favorites (Rom 2:11). He loves us all the same, and remember that Jesus died for the entire world because He loves mankind so much (John 3:16).

Be encouraged, beloved. Draw close to God and seek Him. And know that just as God delivered David, He will also deliver you. Blessings quickly follow after suffering has been surrendered to the Lord. To God be the glory!

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Reconciling the Differences

American psychiatrist Morgan Scott Peck, author of the popular book A Road Less Traveled, states that, “The overall purpose of human communication is – or should be – reconciliation. It should ultimately serve to lower or remove the walls of misunderstanding which unduly separate us human beings, one from another.”

Jesus is the perfect example in demonstrating the heart behind reconciliation. Humility provoked Jesus to leave His heavenly domain to reconcile mankind with God the Father. As ambassadors for Christ, reconciliation must become an integral part of our daily living.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Reconciliation is the solution to division or strife, which can include racism, class-division, religious warfare, and relational rejection. However, only by first being reconciled with Jesus Christ can we reconcile with others. The grace of God is present and sufficient for us, and we’ve each received an honorable call that will impact us for eternity.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

But what about reconciling with non-believers? Is it permissible to allow strife and rejection to exist with these fellow colleagues, family members, or acquaintances? Hear me out on this: If someone we care about rejects Jesus Christ, we must not reject loving them in return. Because the choice for someone to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord is their choice; it’s not ours.

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John3:16-17

As ambassadors for Christ, our formula is quite simple. We must love others as Jesus loves others (believers and non-believers), and we must allow God to work out everything else. Because He is the Creator of all, He knows every detail in the hearts of believers and non-believers alike (which we cannot see). In His great love, He will guide us in what to do and how to act. Keep in mind that repentance and salvation are the byproduct of Christ’s love and kindness, and love  covers a multitude of sins. Gentleness is what people respond to in Christ, not rejection and fear.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?” Romans 2:4

Pay attention to this, beloved. I have come across many hurt people who have been rejected by the very ones who should have been consoling them, loving them, and leading them to the truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus set boundaries in establishing who He would personally invest significant time into (the 12 disciples) and those He would share deep intimacy with (James, John, and Peter). However, He was still in community with those who didn’t revere Him as the Son of God.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent’.” Luke 15:1-7

Without Christ, we ourselves could have been in the same place as the family members that we find disagreeable, or the colleagues who are “so worldly” that we cringe when hearing about their weekend. We must focus on truly hating only the sin (just as God does as a Holy Creator) and loving the sinner (just as Jesus did when He hung on the cross). If we hate both the sin and and the sinner, we do not represent Christ. Because all mankind bears the image of the Creator, we are all valuable to God.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:14-18

In order to fulfill the Great Commission, we must be willing to reach out to everyone and anyone in real need. Therefore, making disciples out of all nations means that we must forsake discrimination and rejection of those who are different than us.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

Here’s some food for thought:

What if we grabbed lunch with our atheist family members and treated them with dignity and respect, instead of pushing ideas on them (trying to be the Holy Spirit)? Or what if we grabbed a cup of coffee with our homosexual neighbor, trying to get to know them and and truly valuing them as a person? Or conversed in the break room with our Muslim colleague, first understanding where they are coming from, and then asking God what He wants you to do or say?

Instead of criticizing these people or avoiding them like the plague, we should take a real interest in loving those Jesus deeply loves. In the past, the Lord has specifically asked me NOT to say the name of Jesus while building certain relationships. Often times, in the very beginning we do not even need to say a single thing because our behavior will say more than enough.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” Galatians 5:14

Who can you be reconciled to today through the grace of Jesus Christ? Know someone who would be encouraged by this message? Please pass this along through our various social outlets below. And thank you for choosing His Daily Dose!

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