Farmers of the Word

unrecognizable ethnic farmer walking on path between rice plantations
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“Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” Matthew 13:3

Jesus walked down the rocky hillside to the sea below. A throng of people followed eager to hear what the teacher would say. Would he tell them a new story? Heal the sick? Call out the Pharisees? No matter they all wanted to hear him.

He begins, “Behold, a sower went forth to sow.”

We don’t know much about the sower, the one planting the seeds. He seems a bit careless  – losing seed along the way, some among rocks, and others in the thorns. Any good farmer knows if you want the best crop, the ground needs cleared of rocks and weeds. And the hard ground needs plowed. Otherwise planting reaps little to no harvest.

If I had been this farmer, I would have felt discouraged, maybe even tempted to quit. I know how disappointing it is to work in a garden only to have the racoons and deer eat it. That’s when I need to hear Paul’s words to the Galatians in chapter 6, verse 9 –

“And let us not be weary in well doing:

for in due season we shall reap,

if we faint not.”

We, who are followers of Christ are called to be sowers of the word of God.

“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord …

Go ye into all the world,

and preach the gospel to every creature.”

2 Corinthians 4:5; Mark 16:15

One plants the seeds, another waters them, remembering it is God who brings about the harvest. Keep in mind, not all seeds will yield a crop.

Lack of crop may come through careless planting –  not preparing another to receive the seed of the Gospel.

  1. The ground may not have been broken up – a heart hardened by circumstances beyond their control takes time, friendship, and love to prepare it to receive God’s word.
  2. Or it may have rocks of misunderstanding from false religions and the world’s philosophies needing removed by hearing the truth in love.
  3. Or the weeds of worry may choke out hope of anything better, requiring time invested in deeper teaching of the word and a faithful friend.

Hosea chapter 10 verse 12, explains how to prepare the heart for planting the word.

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;

break up your fallow (hard) ground:

for it is time to seek the LORD,

till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Weeds sown in the heart are no different than those planted in our gardens. It takes time and diligence to overcome. But a harvest is promised through seeking the Lord till he comes and rains righteousness upon us – upon the seed of his word.

“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:

it shall not return unto me void,

but it shall accomplish that which I please,

and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree,

and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree:

and it shall be to the LORD for a name,

for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Isaiah 55:10-13

One final word of encouragement to all you farmers of the word.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren,

be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,

forasmuch as ye now that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

What seed are you planting? It determines the fruit you will harvest. More on that next time.

My Heart’s Prayer and Praise

blogsunset-585334__340“Let the words of my mouth,

and the meditation of my heart,

be acceptable in thy sight,

O LORD,

my strength, and my redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14

Our Father in heaven;

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

Hearken unto the voice of my  cry, my King, and my God;

for unto thee will I pray.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD;

in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”

Psalm 5:1-3

Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in thy sight

”O Lord, open thou my lips;

and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.”

Psalm 51:15

Let the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight

“The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever:

the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth:

he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live:

I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

My meditation of him shall be sweet:

I will be glad in the LORD.”

Psalm 104:31-35

O LORD my strength

“I will love thee, 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 buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I will call upon the LORD,

who is worthy to be praised:

so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”

Psalm 18:1-3

And my redeemer

“For I know that my redeemer liveth,

and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

And though after my skin worms destroy this body,

yet in my flesh shall I see God:

Whom I shall see for my self,

and mine eyes shall behold, and not another;

though my reins  be consumed within me.”

Job 19:25-27

“I am he that liveth, and was dead;

and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen;

and have the keys of hell and of death.”

Revelation 1:18

Father for all you are; my God, my King, my Lord, my Redeemer who lives –

”I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart;

I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.

I will be glad and rejoice in thee;

I will sing praise to thy name,

O thou most High.”

Psalm 9:1,2

What is your prayer and praise, your heart’s meditation of the Lord? Offer it to him with thanksgiving. He will hear and your meditation will be sweet.

With Purpose of Heart

blogcross-792538__340“Barnabas…Who, when he came,

and had seen the grace of God,

was glad, and exhorted them all,

that with purpose of heart

they would cleave unto the Lord.”

Acts 11:23

Frank lived with a new heart, a strong healthy heart. It added good years to a life well-lived. His new heart gave him power to enjoy days. It gave him a new purpose and perspective. The best I can remember, one day with tears filling his eyes he explained, “I’m living for what is important. We only have a little time to love our families. I want to make the most of it.” And he did.

When followers of Christ receive the new heart we spoke of in our previous post, we receive those things Frank found with his new physical heart – his gift of life.

We receive power to live a new way.

“But God be thanked,

that ye were the servants of sin,

but ye have obeyed from the heart

that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Being then made free from sin,

ye became the servants of righteousness…

For when ye were the servants of sin,

ye were free from righteousness.”

Romans 6:17,18,20

The power of Christ in our new heart gives us the victory over sin. We are deemed righteous and have been given the power to live it out.

We gain a new purpose with our new life. It’s fulfilled by determining in our heart to cleave to the Lord.

“O God, my heart is fixed;

I will sing and give praise,

even with my glory.”

Psalm 108.1

As Daniel and his three friends stood firm in Babylon, may we stand firm in our resolve.

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat…

be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 1:8; 3:18

May we determine, fix, stand firm to cleave to the Lord and bring him glory.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,

ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Herein is my Father glorified,

that ye bear much fruit;

so shall ye be my disciples.

As the Father hath loved me,

so have I loved you, continue ye in my love.”

John 15:7-9

Our purpose is wrapped in a new perspective. We see the eternal rather than the temporary and know our lives have meaning.

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth,

but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life,

which the Son of man shall give unto you:

for him hath God the Father sealed…

Therefore my beloved brethren,

be ye stedfast, unmoveable,

always abounding in the work of the Lord,

forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

John 6:27; 1Corinthians 15:58

We have reason to labor. There is reward. Frank went through much to get his new heart. He reaped the reward and enjoyed it for a time.  Another had to die to give Frank new life. Christ died to give us new life, eternal life. Our reward is now and forever as we live in his power, steadfast in his purpose, and with an eternal perspective.

How has your life in Christ impacted the way you live and see the world?

 

The Heart We’re Born With

brown handmade heart on pastel surface
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My husband’s brother-in-law’s family passed a defective heart to many of its sons, him included. As time passed his defective heart weakened to the point the only remedy would be a new heart. In the beginning of time God created us with a perfect heart both physically and spiritually.

“So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God created he him;

male and female created he them…

And God saw every thing that he had made

 and, behold, it was very good…”

Genesis 1:27,31

God created us with a heart built for him. He filled it with his love, his glory, his image. He created us with his power to love as he loves, exercise wisdom through knowledge, reflect his glory in living. God sanctioned his creation with the words, “very good.” 

It was very good until the man and woman God made in his image chose to believe he wasn’t very good. At that moment the glory of God – the light of life the Lord created within them – departed their hearts, leaving them with an empty hole.

“All things were made by him;

and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

John 1:3,4

An empty heart does not remain empty long. It hungers to be satisfied, filled with something. A new image- the image of the creature-  now occupied the heart once filled with the Creator’s image.

“In the day that God created man,

in the likeness of God made he him;

Male and female created he them; and blessed them,

and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son

in his own likeness, after his image…”

Genesis 5:1-3

From that point on every person born carried the heart defect of Adam.

“Wherefore, as by one man

sin entered into the world, and death by sin;

and so death passed upon all men,

for that all have sinned: “

Romans 5:12

With God’s glory departed from our hearts our love is flawed, our wisdom is foolish, and our life ends in death. God revealed the symptoms of a heart devoid of his glory.

What God once deemed very good he now saw –

“that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,

and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart

was only evil continually.”

Genesis 6:5

What he saw, “grieved him at his heart.”

Adam and Eve’s disobedience opened the heart once filled with God’s goodness to all the evil of Satan. It sounds hopeless but there is a cure for the defective heart.

My brother-in-law received his heart transplant when doctors first started practicing the procedure. It gave him a new heart one that extended his life for around 20 years – 20 good years. But the best transplant didn’t come from the doctors. His best and most needed one came before the physical one. It’s the one God performs and offers to all who seek a right heart with him – the one he originally created us with.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God;

and renew a right spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

God answers that prayer with his promise.

 “And a new heart also will I give you,

and a new spirit will I put within you:

and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,

and I will give you an heart of flesh.

And I will put my spirit within you,

and cause you to walk in my statutes,

and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

Ezekiel 36:26,27

He restores us to whom he created us to be by giving us a new heart filled with his Spirit.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ,

he is a new creature;

old things are passed away;

behold, all things are become new…

I am crucified with Christ:

nevertheless I live; yet not I,

but Christ liveth in me:

and the life which I now live in the flesh

I live by the faith of the Son of God,

who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20

We have been recreated with a new heart filled with God’s purpose and glory.

“For we are his workmanship,

created in Christ Jesus unto good works,

which God hath before ordained

that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10

There is the defective heart every person is born with and will die with if a new heart isn’t received through Christ Jesus. In the new heart he restores his love, power and glory in us. Here we find life.

Which heart are you living with?

The Praying Heart, Part 3

DSCF0328Night had fallen. The death angel would soon appear. Jesus would face his greatest temptations. He would suffer betrayal, arrest, abuse, accusations, mocking, and crucifixion. He would experience separation from his heavenly Father. Yet, Jesus lifted his eyes toward heaven  and prayed for himself, for his disciples, and he prayed for you and me.

We were in his heart that night when he prayed –

“Neither pray I for these alone,

but for them also

which shall believe on me through their word.”

John 17:21

He prayed in complete confidence his work on the cross would not be in vain but would reach beyond the Jews and around the world. It would reach to all who –

Shall believe on me through their word…

“Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed;

and the number of the men was about five thousand…

For the scripture saith,

WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON HIM SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:

for the same Lord over all

is rich unto all that call upon him. For

WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD

SHALL BE SAVED.”

Acts 4:4; Romans 10:11-13

Jesus set his heart on me, upon you, and all who would believe. His desire for us was and is that we –

“all may be one… I in them, and thou in me…made perfect in one… the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (from John 17:21-16)

Jesus wants to pour his love into you and me.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;

yet  not I, but Christ liveth in me:

and the life which I now live in the flesh

I live by the faith of the Son of God,

who loved me, and gave himself for me…

Galatians 2:20

This is the glory Christ wants to share with us.

“Father, I will that they also, who thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory …

“But we all, with open face

beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory,

even as by the Spirit of the Lord… 

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,

hath shined in our hearts,

to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God

in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,

that the excellency of the power my be of God, and not of us.”

2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6,7

In Jesus’s prayer he reveals his heart for you, me, and the world. He has chosen us to reveal his glory to the world through his love living in our hearts.

He wants that –

“the world my know that thou (God) hast sent me (Jesus), and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me…that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26

Jesus declared the Father’s love and glory to us. He has left us with the awesome privilege of declaring his love and glory to a world sitting in darkness. We are the church, the body of Christ filled with the Spirit of Christ – a spirit of love and glory. May we walk as one with Christ until at last Jesus’s final desire is met that we may –

be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory …

And our voices will join that of the multitudes –

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude,

which no man could number,

of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,

stood before the throne, and before the Lamb,

clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands:

And cried with a loud voice, saying,

SALVATION TO OUR GOD WHICH SITTETH UPON THE THRONE,

AND UNTO THE LAMB.”

Revelation 7:9

As Christ held us in his heart before we were born, he keeps us in his heart now and forever. May we –

“walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,

and hath given himself for us

an offering and a sacrifice to God

for a sweetsmelling savour.”

Ephesians 5:2

What feelings or thoughts run through your mind when you think of Jesus praying for you that night?

The Praying Heart

silhouette image of person praying
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Little whispers and groans could be heard from squirmy children when the pastor asked my great uncle to close the service in prayer. They knew he never hurried his prayers. For me, I can still hear his voice as he called on his heavenly Father. A hush came into my heart the children’s whines couldn’t drown out. He unashamedly expressed his heart’s love for the Father and the Father’s love for him. His prayer revealed his relationship with God. It’s sad to know most heart-felt prayers are done in private.

I am thankful for the apostle John’s record of one of Jesus’s last prayers. We can learn much about his heart from that experience. Jesus begins his prayer in John 17 for himself. We can follow his example. For it is good to meet with the Father personally before moving to prayer for others.

Jesus’s betrayal and death loom in his heart as he begins-  

“Father, the hour is come:

glorify thy Son,

that thy Son also may glorify thee:”

Earlier that week Jesus explained the road to be taken for this prayer to be answered.

“And Jesus answered them, saying,

The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Verily, verily, I say unto you,

Except a corn of what fall into the ground and die,

it abideth alone:

but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

He that loveth his life shall lose it;

and he that hateth his life in this world

shall keep it unto life eternal.

If any man serve me, let him follow me;

and where I am, there shall also my servant be;

If any man serve me,

him will my Father honor.

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say?

Father save me from this hour:

but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Father, glorify they name.

Then came there a voice from heaven, saying,

I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

John 12:23-28

Before glory came the cross – the sacrifice of self into the Father’s plan. With the submission of self comes the Father’s promise of honor. Jesus knew the road of suffering ahead. Yet, his heart followed the Father for he knew the Father. He asks us to do the same remembering the Father’s promise.

Jesus kept his eyes on this promise as he continued to pray.

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh,

that he should give eternal life

to as many as thou hast given him.”

John 17:2

Jesus knew what was his in the Father.

“Therefore doth my Father love me,

because I lay down my life,

that I might take it again.

No man taketh it from me,

but I lay it down of myself.

I have power to lay it down,

and I have power to take it again.

This commandment have I received of my Father…

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…Believest thou this?”

John 10:17b,18; 11:25,26b

Jesus held the promises of the Father in his heart. He trusted the Father’s authority, power, his word. He trusted his love.

Jesus knew his suffering carried purpose.

“And this is life eternal,

that they might know thee

the only true God, and Jesus Christ,

whom thou hast sent.”

John 17:3

Jesus’s purpose was to make the Father known. Ours is the same.

“No man hath seen God at any time;

the only begotten Son,

which is in the bosom of the Father,

he hath declared him.”

John 1:18.

Jesus’s heart for the Father completed his work.

“I have glorified thee on the earth:

I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

John 17:4

Jesus’s heart was set on pleasing the Father through the work the Father ordained for him. Is ours?

“Jesus saith unto them,

My meat is to do the will of him that sent me,

and to finish his work…

But that the world may know that I love the Father;

and as the Father gave me commandment,

even so I do.

Arise, let us go hence.”

John 4:34; 14:31

Jesus’s heart was for the world to know the love of the Father through him. His obedience proved his love.

Jesus could do what he did for his heart longed for his true home where he would be reunited with his Father.

“And now, O Father,

glorify thou me with thine own self

with the glory which I had with thee

before the world was.”

John 17:5

Looking into Jesus’s prayer we receive a glimpse of his heart – a heart set on glorifying the Father- a heart set on the eternal. I wonder what our prayers would reveal about our heart?