The Nature Of Seeds

1 Corinthians 15:37-38 says, “And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain–perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.”

These two verses are in the context of explaining the resurrection. We can apply it to ourselves in spiritual sowing. Mark 4:26-29 is a parable about seeds.

It says, “…The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground…the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head…”

Jesus explained His coming death and resurrection in John 12:24. It says, “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

He correlated it with us dying to SELF. Luke 9:23 says, “…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

How do we die to ourselves like a seed that goes into the ground and dies in order to produce a harvest? One way is written in Galatians 5:16. It says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Another way is Romans 8:5. It says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

Dying to self starts in our heart. The seeds we sow into our heart affects our thoughts which become a harvest of words, actions, and attitudes. Therefore when we ‘program’ our heart by hiding God’s word in it, our thoughts will act on that truth. When a temptation to entertain a fleshly thought arises, His truth within will slay it. Dead. No response.

As we hide His word in our heart, it is like the farmer who sows seed. We won’t see immediate results, so we might give up our discipline. Yet, God gives His hidden word a ‘body’ that pleases Him, for it is His word within our heart that sprouts up, and produces a harvest that glorifies Him.

Jesus Is Lord

Yesterday I started reading in 1 Corinthians 12. The Holy Spirit stopped me at verse 3. It says, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God called Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”

As I pondered this verse, it gave me another arrow in my gospel quiver. It is a great test. We can see fruit or no fruit in another person’s life, but only the Lord knows a heart. Many believe in God, but Jesus drew a distinction. John 14:1 says, “…you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

1 John 4:1-2 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.”

The question becomes, ‘Is Jesus Lord in your life?’ To be Lord means that we submit to His will over ours, we acknowledge His Presence in every aspect of our lives, as well as His divine orchestration and control over all. Psalm 97:9 says, “For You, Lord, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.” David said it this way in Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”

David wrote Psalm Psalm 18 and Psalm 63. His words came from his heart of devotion to the Lord. Psalm 18:1-2 says, “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 63:1 says, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”

Psalm 42:1 was expressing the plight of a deer panting because it knew that if it couldn’t get to water it would die. It says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” Verse 2 says, “My soul thirsts for God for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” When Jesus is our Lord, our heart will pant to be with Him.

In the end, all unbelievers will have to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Philippians 2:10 says that every knee will bow. Verse 11 says, “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Revealing The Hidden

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us…” There are things that we may never know in this earthly journey.

Mark 4:22 says, “There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.” The Lord knows every thought in its conception. He knows it even before we process it.

There are events in our past that caused emotional pains, traumas, fears, or upheavals. Some we processed, but the ones we stuffed still affect us. They seep into our present. Knowing this, one way I pray for myself everyday is that the Lord will open my eyes to see beyond the visual, the obvious, and the obstacles.

My friend and I were walking around 11:00 the other morning. All at once there was this high pitched screeching. My friend said, “It’s a Kill Deer.” We stopped and the momma tried to lead us away from her nest in the little rocks. She went into an incredible dance to lure us away as we peered into the rocks. We saw one egg. I took pictures. The next day we went by and she was gone. There were three eggs. The eggs looked like rocks among rocks. Yet, when I compared the first day picture with the second day, there were two eggs on the first day. We didn’t see the hidden.

There is another aspect of God’s hidden. I love these two verses in the Amplified. Psalm 25:14 says, “The secret (of the sweet, satisfying companionship) of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its (deep, inner) meaning.”

1 Corinthians 2:9 says that we have not seen, heard, nor understood the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. Verse 10 says, “Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the (Holy) Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God (the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny).”

The truth of how and why God hides things is revealed through our intimate communion with Him. It is not laying on the surface in plain sight. It is truth nested in truth. As we spend time with Him, He opens the eyes of our understanding. He reveals Himself in ways that we have never known before. When our heart is ready to receive, He will reveal the hidden.

Do you see a bunch of rocks or can you see what is hidden in them? Look for the three Kill Deer eggs. They look like rocks in rocks. This is a lesson in seeing beyond the obvious that goes with my blog

Infallible, Irrefutable, Unconquerable!

Do the words infallible, irrefutable, and unconquerable remind you of the gospel? 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

It has (Greek:dynamis) power to bring instant change from death to life, and from darkness to light. The devil hates the gospel! 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

What happened to Saul of Tarsus when the Light of the Gospel penetrated his world? Acts 9:20 says that he immediately preached Christ. Verse 21 says, “Then all who heard were amazed…” They heard him, but questioned how it could be.

Think about what would happen in our country were the gospel preached nationwide. The gospel is the hope of this nation! 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season…”

There are folks with evil intent who are seeking ways to uproot our nation’s foundation. Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost, and to burst apart the sin-shackles that imprison them.

Paul wrote in Galatian 2:4 that falsifiers were spying out the liberty they had in Christ. That sounds like present headline news. Verse 5 is to be our stance. It says, “To whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue…”

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Let us be about our Father’s business.

Rising Above Past Rubble

Nehemiah 4:10 says, “…there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.” The past destruction seemed impossible because they lost sight of what God had done. He prepared the way for them through a pagan king who provided what they needed materially, as well as Nehemiah to lead them.

2 Peter 1:9 is very insightful for us. It says, “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness…” What were ‘these things’ that lacked? Verse 5-7 listed the character qualities to add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

Verse 8 says, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Verse 9 continued to point out that the lack comes because we forget that we are cleansed from our old sins. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is a great reminder when we feel buried in the rubble from our past. It says that old things have passed away. Our sins were borne away by Jesus’ death on the cross.

When we lose sight of the cross our focus will be drawn down to our impossible piles of past rubble. We rise above our rubble by standing on the wall of our salvation.

Watch now how that worked in the lives of the Jews who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah 11:31 says, “So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs…” Verse 40 says, “So the two thanksgiving choirs stood in the house of God…” One group of folks went to the left and the other group went to the right. They stood on the wall that they had built. They corporately lifted up their voices to the Lord in thanksgiving!

You can rise above the rubble of your past. Lift up your heart with songs of thanksgiving to your audience of One. He is the One we worship. He dug us out of the pit of despair, and the miry clay. He set us on the solid foundation of salvation. Psalm 40:3 says, “He has put a new song in my mouth–praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”

Despair Is Rooted In Lost Hope

Have you ever lost hope? The children of Israel did. Ezekiel 37:11 says, “…Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off.”

The disciples lost hope. There is a great narrative in Luke 24. It was after Jesus had died on the cross. Two men were talking as they walked back to Emmaus. Jesus joined them. Verse 16 says, “But their eyes were restrained, they that they did not know Him.”

He asked them why they were sad. In verse 21 we read where their hope was laid. It says, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel…” Their hope was shortsighted. He rebuked them, and then gave them a great discourse. Verse 27 says, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

He captured their attention. When He started to leave them, they invited Him to stay with them. He broke the bread and gave it to them. Verse 31 says, “Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…”

Despair is enemy-flak that obscures our vision. The enemy wants us to keep our eyes on our broken expectations so that we lose hope. The Lord uses our trials to develop character that will sustain us. He has called us to endure so that He is glorified.

Romans 5:3-4 says, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Verse 5 clearly stated that it was hope which wouldn’t disappoint.

Our hope is our eternal anchor. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 

Jesus’ disciples missed it. They did not understand, though He told them repeatedly. They bemoaned that He had died and their hope was dashed. Yet, it is through His death, burial, and resurrection that all who believe will gain eternal hope that is sure, steadfast, and immoveable.

Centering Defeats Discouragement

In war times they used flak to obscure the bomber’s target. The enemy of our soul uses the flak of discouragement to keep us from God’s purpose.

We see this played out in Nehemiah 4. As soon as they started rebuilding the wall, their enemy became furious and very indignant. They mocked the Jews. Verse 2 says, “…What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves?…Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish–stones that are burned?”

I published an ebook called, “Reviving Burned Stones: rejection recovery.” The Jew’s enemy was using words as flak to discourage them. In verse 4 they put their focus on the Lord and cried out to Him. It says, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!” We can use this verse right now for our national situation.

The flak began to wear them down because they focused on their impossible circumstances. Verse 10 says, “Then Judah said, The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is no much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.” Nehemiah marshaled the troops. Verse 18 says, “Everyone of the builders had his sword girded at his side AS he built…” The work continued because they were armed with weapons.

2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” God’s word hidden within our heart, and coming out of our mouth, will keep us focused on Him and not our circumstances.

As we fight on our knees, the flak of discouragement will clear out so that our target is clear and distinct. We come in the opposite spirit. When the enemy shots fiery darts filled with poisonous lies, we counter that flak through our focus on the Lord. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. We stand behind our door shield of faith that will instantly quench those fiery darts.

The opposite of discouragement is courage. We gird up our hearts with courage. We encourage those around us to continue fighting through truth. We are God’s army that marches forward without fear because we are following our Triumphant Leader!

Centering On Focus

When I was young, my boy cousins taught me the power of a magnifying glass. First they demonstrated how you could catch leaves on fire by focusing the glass under the sun. When they fried a worm I lost interest.

Yesterday I used my magnifying glass. I had started to put chia seeds in my batch of pancakes. I noticed something odd so put it on the counter and took a picture. I enlarged it and there were ‘bugs’ on something foreign. I got out my magnifying glass to center in on those critters.

A magnifying glass enlarges something so we can see it more clearly. Think of Psalm 34:3 says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-47 says, “…My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Here is the Strong’s definition for esteem: to make great, to enlarge, to magnify, to increase, to make conspicuous, to extol, to show respect.

When we center our focus on the Lord, we magnify Him. The brightness of the Son’s glory shines upon our heart to bring inner transformation. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Yesterday, when I magnified the ‘bugs’ my focus was on them. I could not see anything else. My stomach reacted. However, I took them to the Ag Dept. and they confirmed they were just chia seeds stuck to a piece of plant. NOT bugs. The Lord used them to teach me His lesson on focus.

When we center our focus on Him, the things of this earth will go out of focus. When we focus on our trials and complexities, they get bigger and magnify themselves in our thoughts, words, and actions. Let us magnify the Lord together. Let His deep work of inner transformation be a testimony that will glorify Him.

Unobtrusive Humility

James 3:13 Amplified says, “Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his (good) works with the (unobtrusive) humility (which is the proper attribute) of true wisdom.” We know from this verse that humility is an attribute. When we allow the Holy Spirit to conform our thoughts, purpose, and actions to God’s will and ways, we will exemplify Jesus’ attribute of humility.

Ezra is a great example for us. He lived in unobtrusive humility. It was woven into the fabric of his life. He was in the lineage of priests that went back to Aaron. He had favor with the pagan king who supplied what was needed to restore the temple for worship.

Unobtrusive means not forward but modest. Ezra 8:21 says that Ezra proclaimed a fast, “…that we might humble ourselves before our God…” Why? He wanted them to seek out God’s way for their journey.

There was another reason. Verse 22 says, “For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horseman…” He was a man of heart integrity. The verse went on to say, “..because we had spoken to the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all those who seek Him…”

Verse 23 says, “So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” Ezra’s humility led the others. When we lead in pride, no one will follow.

Here is the key the Holy Spirit showed me. Pride does not rise in a humble heart. The reason I am uncomfortable to confess someone else’s sin as MY own is because of pride. Why? I think that I would not do the sin they are doing. Yet sin is sin.

Recalibrate to the truth. Jesus bore the sins of every human being. He identified with our sin as His own. He took our place. Isaiah 53:12 says, “…because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Ezra 9:6 says, “…O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated…” Ezra identified himself as the sinners he was interceding for. He understood the principle from God’s word. He was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses. 2 Timothy 2:15 calls us to be skilled in God’s word, that it might direct our hearts into a lifestyle of humility.

The Heart Of An Intercessor

Ezra 7 recorded another group returning to Jerusalem from captivity. King Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to go and take them. Ezra 8:21 says, “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.”

Verse 31 said that the Lord delivered them from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road. In Ezra 9:1 the leaders told Ezra that there had been intermarriage with the pagans. Ezra responded. Verse 3 says, “…I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.”

Verse 6 was his prayer. Notice how he included himself though he was not part of the sin against God and His commands. It says, “…O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” Verse 15 says, “…Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”

It is good to remember that when Achan sinned, everyone of the children of Israel were affected. They could not stand up against their enemies. We are in this situation right now with our nation. The heart of an intercessor is humble. They stand in the gap before God on behalf of another (Ezekiel 22:30). They acknowledge corporate sin as their own. 

The result of the intermarriage in Ezra’s day was for the men to put away their pagan wives and children. What do we need to put away in our personal lives, in our states, and in our nation? That answer is too big. What we can do is keep our hearts humble, and confess those sins as though they are our own. Ezra and Nehemiah are great examples for us. We must fight on our knees with bowed hearts.