SOWING AND SHARING

(Mark 4:3-4) “Listen! 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.” (NIV)

When Jesus commands us to listen, our ears should be attuned. Here Jesus was addressing a crowd on the shore from a boat. These verses begin a famous parable known as “The Parable of the Sower.” The Prime Sower is God, who dispenses “the word” (Mark 4:14) through the faithful (2 Corinthians 9:10). Who are the sowers? All of us are – not only Christian pastors, authors, and speakers.

In that day sowing like this was a common method of farming. A sower would take seed and go “out to sow,” preparing various types of soil to receive the seed. What is so profound in this parable is the assumption that seed will indeed be sown, no matter the condition of the ground. No matter the soil, our delight is to sow the Word.

(Ecclesiastes 11:6) “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” (NIV)

In short, our duty is not to leave the sharing of the Gospel, the Word, to the “professionals” or to neglect sowing on soil we don’t deem profitable. Our duty is to scatter on every heart and mind that with which we come into contact, never withholding our hand. The joy of sowing, of participating in God’s work, is given to each of us.

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THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF PEACE

For most people “turning the other cheek” would be easier in a physical attack than in an emotional or verbal one. It is a natural human instinct to retaliate, to defend ourselves, to justify our decisions. We know that unity is a necessity for following Christ; we are to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit” (Eph 4:3). Yet, when someone brings an accusation against us that strikes too close to home, we leap to arms to defend our decisions.

In contrast, we see something striking in Jesus’ actions before He went to the cross. As He is accused, He is “silent” (Mark 14:61). As He is beaten, He says not a word. As He is mocked, He gives no response. I think there is something for us to learn from His response.

Jesus bowed His head, He listened, and “he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed” (Mat 27:14). Why was Jesus silent? As the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6), He understood that conflict requires two combatants. Though there is a time to fight, here’s the bottom line: the easiest way to avoid conflict is usually to consider our response carefully in advance and/or to give no response at all – rather just to listen.

Silent, cheek turned . . . we observe perhaps the most practical example of a crucified “self” as we look to Saviour’s model of humility. Pray today for the strength to hold your tongue and to act wisely when offended.

Worship

The apostle Paul said, “. . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Jesus Christ taught that it is the Father’s will “that all should honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him” (John 5:23). God defined His purpose for us: “. . . I created you for my glory . . . .” (Isaiah 43:7).

At the very beginning God said, “. . . Let us make man in our own image . . . .” [Genesis 1:26].
To live for the glory of God, to reflect His image by our thoughts, our words, our actions: this is what it means to worship God. It is when we are doing this that we are truly fulfilling our purpose to honor Him.

May this life attitude and action of worship be true of you today.

Abiding and Abounding

(John 15:7) “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”

Someone has said this, “We are as valuable to God as our faith is. God builds our faith through challenges.” Let me ask you, have you become complacent in the Christian life? Then start looking for someplace you can step-out in faith and do what you think you cannot do. None of us want to come to the end of our lives only to realize we’ve really done nothing with it. God has given us the power to make a difference in the lives of others. As we grow older our eyes and our minds grows dimmer, but our hearts don’t have to grow colder. Become accustomed to listening to God and knowing when He is speaking and being willing to do what He asks you to do. Step out in faith, and walk in the way of His purpose and with the abundant provision He has already promised.

The Way It Works

(Proverbs 11:24-25)
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

I believe that giving is proof that we have conquered greed. When we give, our gift tells God that He is first in our lives. It says, “I’m totally confident that He is going to meet my needs and add blessings to my life.”

When we plant a seed in giving, it goes ahead of us to rearrange tomorrow in our favor. If we’re not sowing seeds with generosity, we are robbing ourselves of the harvest. The verse says, “It is possible to give away and become richer. It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything.”

Make giving your style of living. Remember that God will get it to you . . .
if He can get it through you. That’s the way it works!

CELEBRATING RESURRECTION

resurrection-1

To Christian believers Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are days on which the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ are celebrated. On the first “Good Friday,” Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth in Galilee in northern Israel , was executed by crucifixion by the Roman authorities. Jesus was crucified and buried. His tomb was closed off with a huge stone which was sealed with the Roman seal, and Roman soldiers were placed on guard to prevent the removal of His body.

From a human perspective, that should have been the end of Him. It should also have put an end to all of His claims to be God. Death, after all, would surely prove that He was just an ordinary human being . . . nothing more. But it wasn’t the end. Just as Jesus had repeatedly predicted, He rose from death to life. By this resurrection all of Jesus’ claims to be the eternal Son of God, equal to and one with God the Father, are validated. By this resurrection all of his promises to give eternal, spiritual life to those who receive Him are confirmed. By this resurrection God verifies that His just judgment on human sin has, for those who believe in Jesus, been fully met in the death of this One perfect substitute and representative. Because of this good news, we rejoice in and celebrate resurrection!

LOVING AND LIVING

(Mark 10:45) “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

If you love the Lord, you will love people and be willing to lay down your life (your comforts, your personal rights, your schedule, your resources, etc.) for them. Read the Gospels, and you can’t escape the fact that the Lord’s first love was always people – people of all races in all situations, whether powerful or not, acceptable or not, young and beautiful or salacious and stained, . . . even children. How many destinies were changed when He stopped and stooped to bless them? That’s the difference between Christianity and the radical rebels of religion in our time. Their god sends their sons to die for him; the God of Christianity sent His Son to die for us.

The early church understood this. They shared everything. They were even willing to sell their possessions to take care of another (Acts 2:42-47). Rather than thinking of their own needs, they thought of others first. Amazingly their own needs were taken care of in the process. That’s how it works. Their willingness to humbly serve one another also brought them favor with outsiders, who were then introduced to God’s love.

When you give yourself to God, you become committed to what He’s committed to – loving people. God didn’t come to the Garden of Eden to tend His prize winning grapes. He came to tend His children. Jesus didn’t come to erect public buildings, shore up retirement accounts, write a literary masterpiece, or win an election to serve on the school board. He came for hurting people, to put their lives on track and to give them joy. If you’ll learn to love like He loved, you’ll live the incredible kind of meaningful life He lived.

Monday Manna