Don’t Quit! Finish Well.

When you are at the door of a new dimension in your life (promotion, ministry, emotional victories, financial victories, etc.), you will have EVERY OPPORTUNITY to get offended and cut off the work of the Word of God that is going forth in your life. Mark chapter 4 states, “… these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful…” SOLUTION: DON’T GET OFFENDED! Allow the promise of the Word grow in heart and produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the labor that causes you to enter into His R.E.S.T – Revealing the Everlasting Savior for Transformation. You have the answer; walk in it!

Advertisements

Conditions of the Heart – Part 2: The Enemy Steals the Word

birds eating seed

“Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. … [Jesus interprets the parable] The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them” (Mark 4:3-4, 14-15, NASB).

The first section of this parable is significant for many reasons; all of them cannot be brought out in a single blog post. In this study, however, I will outline a few of them.

First, Jesus teaches his disciples that there is a scenario in which the Word of God cannot transform the heart of a man. For believers, this is a hard saying. Jesus does not reveal this truth to discourage His disciples; on the contrary, He reveals it to arm them with knowledge and understanding of how the Word of God works. In this instance the Word is stolen by the enemy before it can begin to take root; therefore, there is no chance of the Word transforming the heart of this man. This is tragic if not corrected, but there is an answer.

Second, Jesus reveals the plan of the enemy of the soul. His plan is to steal the Word out of the heart before it can take root. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NASB).  The birds represent the enemy of the soul by stealing or devouring the seed which is the Word of God. How does the enemy steal it before it takes root? He steals the Word from those who have distracted and disengaged hearts.

Third, Jesus reveals this is an immediate action. Something that takes place most likely without the knowledge of the one that is to receive the Word. During the distraction, the enemy must immediately steal the Word; because the shortest amount of time and the smallest amount of faith can cause the Word of God to take root because the Word of God is alive and powerful.

The first scenario of this parable is easy to overcome. One only needs to take the time to pay attention to the Word. The way to accomplish this is to mediate on the Word.“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8, NASB) And further, ”

Mary chose to sit at the feet of the Master and learn from him, undistracted by every day affairs. Even if the Word is not understood, as the disciples did not understand the parable; the student of the Word should sit at the feet of the Master, take heed, and meditate on the Word; then, the Spirit of God will reveal its truth so it can take root in the heart.

The Condition of the Heart

Of all the parables Jesus used, the parable of the sower in Mark chapter four is most compelling. Even Jesus said, “…Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable” (Mark 4:13, New International Version)? Therefore, Jesus considered this parable to be a foundation of understanding how the Word of God transforms lives. By understanding this parable, the believer can receive the Word of God, and bear fruit which is pleasing to God up to 100 fold increase compared to what was initially sown. Here is the parable:

Sowing the Word

The parable begins with a farmer that scatters seed onto the ground.

birds eating seed

Some of the seed lands near the ground and is eaten by birds.

Stony Ground

Another part of the seed lands on rocky ground and although is sprouts quickly, it is burned by the sun.

thorns

The third portion of the seed lands on soil that is full of thorns; therefore the sprouts are choked and can bear no fruit.

good ground

The final portion of the seed landed on good, fertile ground. This seed bears fruit 30 times, 60 times, and even 100 times what was sown.

Jesus taught several concepts that are fundamental to a successful Christian walk in this parable. First, he explained that one who is disengaged from the Word of God cannot receive it; thus, the enemy of the soul will steal the opportunity of the Word growing and transforming the heart. Next, Jesus explained the vital importance of going through the process of transformation with the next two examples. One, because the heart was full of wounds of hurt and offense, the power of the transforming Word of God was destroyed. Two, when one is focused on the cares of this life the Word of God will grow but will not bear fruit. Finally, Jesus explained the benefit of receiving the Word of God in the heart for transformation. It will produce fruit that gives glory to the Father 30 times, 60 times, or even 100 times more than the original seed that was sown.

In this text, the focus is the condition of the heart. When the human heart is hard, rocky, or thorny, it is unable to reap the benefits of the Word of God; therefore cannot be transformed into what God has originally designed. In contrast, when the heart is pliable, and can reap the benefits of the Word of God, then it can produce more fruit than can be imagined to give glory to God; even 100 times more.

Find the condition of your heart in this parable; allow God to transform you by receiving His Word.

It’s Time

“Mom! Is it time yet?!”

No matter what the situation, inevitably my boys ask me this question. My boys are teenagers now, and so that means that they have more and more questions, pushing their boundaries as far as they can. Some days they show an increase in responsibility, other days they make assumptions that cause mistakes…huge mistakes. But both scenarios are profitable for their learning and maturing process.

I remember when each one of my children walked the first time, rode their bikes the first time, swam the first time. In those firsts were some mistakes, and some scraps and falls. Every time they learned something new and compensated for the previous fall. And every time they tried again. Every. Single. Time. In children, there is this ability to always try. No matter how difficult or how many times they have fallen; they will get back up and try again.

So when is it “time” for the first time for a baby to speak, or a walk? When is it time for a child to ride his bike without training wheels? In this natural sense, it always seems that the child’s physiology is ready before they understand they are ready mentally. But if I as a parent never let my children fall down, they would have never learned to walk.

Likewise, in spiritual things, if one never exercises the use of his/her Spiritual graces then s/he will never understand the power that is available in Christ. Does this mean that one learning to use his grace will never make mistakes? Absolutely not! S/he will make many, and learn from them all.

It is the responsibility of the seasoned ministers to encourage upcoming ministers to use the grace that is given to him/her by the LORD. When should s/he use it? The answer is NOW.

There is an example of this in the Scriptures with prophets Samuel and Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 1, God Himself calls Jeremiah into ministry. Jeremiah resists by saying, “Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth” (Jeremiah 1:6 New American Standard Bible). But God charged him further, “But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak “(Jeremiah 1:7 NASB). The prophet Samuel was so young serving Eli, he was not even aware that the LORD was speaking to him until Eli made it known.

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him. So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy. And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (1 Samuel 3:7-9 NASB)

When Eli discerned it was the LORD that called Samuel he did not say, “When God tells me what He wants, I will tell you.” But instead, he instructs Samuel on how to answer the voice of the LORD and to listen. Further in the passage, Eli encourages the young prophet that he indeed heard the voice of the LORD after Samuel shares the prophecy with him even to his own demise.

In both instances the instructor encouraged the student to reach beyond comfort and pull on the grace of God and do what he was called to do. This natural course should also be happening in our churches; though it is not so.

So often, I have ministered to upcoming ministers that feel they are ready to act upon the grace and gift of God and yet they feel they are waiting… But in reality God is waiting on them. Elder ministers need to find this “young ones” and encourage, feed, and release them into their call as not to lose an entire generation of ministers in the body of Christ. Anything less is a misuse of authority.

So if you are wondering if you are ready to act on your call, the answer is YES! If you are wondering when you should begin to do what God has called you to do, the answer is NOW! Don’t delay one more day. Do it NOW.

If  you need a safe place to activate your gift we have just the place