Parable of the Sower: The Second Soil of the Heart-Persecution and Offense:Whose Brand do You Carry? Part 2

Persecution: Pursued With Intense Hostility

The second thing that causes the seed of the Word of God to be uprooted from our hearts and wither away is persecution. The Greek word for “persecution” means to chase and follow hard after with hostility. It is to pursue an enemy and was the word used for chasing criminals. There is an intensity of effort, urgency and diligence in the pursuit. Picture a manhunt vigorously pursuing a fugitive with bloodhounds who are tracking the scent as they furiously attempt to capture the criminal. It is to hunt like an animal and to run swiftly after something. The word was used in the Old Testament to describe Pharaoh and his army’s pursuit of the Israelites before their destruction in the Red Sea. This shows the intensity of the pursuit even to their own deaths.

Persecution also means to harass in a manner designed to injure, vex, grieve or afflict. It can be a program, process or agenda designed to oppress and destroy a belief, idea, or pattern of conduct from living in the human heart. As a legal term in the ancient Greek world, it meant to prosecute. A form of the word even meant “the prosecutor.”

The comparable Hebrew word to “persecute” in the Septuagint means to beat down, subdue and bring to extinction. Persecution is a persistent beating down of the heart by a relentless pursuit to subdue and control it. Persecution wants to make the Word of God extinct in the human heart.

Persecution in Scripture always arises when the Word of God is believed and begins to grow in the hearts of people. The kingdom of darkness is after the Word of God. The Devil stands as the ruthless pursuer to discredit the Word of God and uproot it from living in the heart. The Devil stands as the harsh prosecutor who is always presenting his false evidence against the Word of God so the human heart rings out a verdict of rejection. This slick prosecutor is the master of deception and weaves cunning lies against the truth. He persuades heart to be full of unbelief and disdain for God’s holy Word. This is the epicenter of all the Devil’s spiritual, mental and physical persecution. His mission: kill the Word of God in the heart. Never allow it to take root and flourish.

The Devil’s target is always the Word of God and his opening statement in the trial of our hearts is the same one he used in the Garden of Eden- “Did God really say?” This strategy has been so successful in eradicating God’s Word from the hearts of millions with the blistering heat of doubt and unbelief.

Jesus Christ: The Focal Point of all Persecution

Persecution arises out of the violent clashing between two spiritual kingdoms. The Word of God is the mighty weapon of one kingdom and the despised enemy of the other kingdom. The heart is at the center of this fierce battle. The intensity of this battle was raised to a new level the moment Jesus Christ, the Word of God in the flesh, was born. The Book of Revelation speaks of this.

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:4b-5, 7, 9, 12b, 17, NASB)

Jesus Christ is the focal point of all persecution because He is God’s plan for redemption. He is the Savior, the Great Shepherd, the second Adam, the Alpha and the Omega, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the life, and the door to God’s kingdom. He is the great restorer, healer and deliverer who crushed the head of the serpent and his kingdom of darkness, exposing all of the Devil’s schemes and strategies. He restored everything that Adam and Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden and conquered sin and death. He opened up the prison door so any person can come to him for eternal salvation and be freed from the chains of Satan’s kingdom.

Jesus Christ came to dwell in our hearts as his permanent home, not as a visitor, but as its Lord. He is the great transformer of the human heart, and he desires to make our hearts into his image, so that the words, thoughts and deeds that flow out of them represent Him.

Jesus Christ declared in John 18:36 that “my kingdom is not of this world” and in John 14:30 “the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.” The prince of this world, Satan, desires to mold our hearts into the image of his kingdom. He wants to exclusively rule from the throne of our hearts. This is where the kingdoms violently clash and the battle rages for control of the heart. As a Christian, if we take our stand in Christ, and live rooted in Him, we become a rebel to Satan’s kingdom. We become the hunted and the persecuted as he makes war against all Christians who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the testimony and witness of Jesus Christ.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:18-20, 25, ESV)

You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. (Luke 21:17, ESV)

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23, NASB)

I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. (John 17:14, NLT)

My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:11-12, ESV)

The world system, orchestrated by the Wicked One, hates the heart where Christ lives. We have Christ in us, the hope of glory, and wherever we go and whatever we do, Christ is to be manifested and seen as alive in us. We are the living representatives of Christ upon the earth, His ambassadors in the midst of the kingdom of darkness. We are to shine as brilliant lights in every dark corner of this world. This brands us as a traitor to the world system, a citizen of another world, as we belong to God, not Satan.

Christianity brings intense hatred and persecution because it is the magnificent testimony of Christ’s complete victory and Satan’s humiliating defeat. It is a painful and miserable reminder to the Devil that his kingdom was soundly defeated at the cross and eternally routed in the triumph of Calvary. Words fail to describe the Devil’s depth of hatred for Christ and the Word of God.

Spurgeon said in his sermon Persecuted but Not Forsaken:

There are two things that are inconceivable in length and breadth. The first is the love of God to His people, which is altogether without limit. And the next is the hatred of the devil, which is and must be finite, for he is only a creature, but still, it is as great as it possibly can be. We have no idea with what determined vehemence Satan hates these who belong to Christ! He will do anything he can in the hope of destroying one of them. He goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.[i]

The Greek word for “hatred” in John and Luke means to pursue with hatred, to detest, to have extreme hostility towards, and to abhor. This great hatred is what fuels the persecution of Christ and the seed of the Word. The heart built by God can withstand all persecution and hatred by the enemy, and stand boldly in Jesus Christ, no matter how hot the heat becomes. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, not a hair of our head will be scorched from the fiery furnace of persecution, and we will not even smell like smoke, when our hearts take an immovable stand for God and the integrity of His Word.

Eric Ludy in Wrestling Prayer: A Compassionate Communion with God says:

Jesus Christ-the rightful king of every human soul … has received his anointing. It is accomplished. He is the King. But this anointing was a “renegade anointing.” The horn of oil was poured upon His Head in the heart of Lucifer’s dominion-Earth … Our rightful king has not yet taken His throne upon the physical earth … there is a bounty upon all who would identify with Him … If there ever was a time to rise up and join our King, it is not when He has entered into the fullness of His glory and all knees are bowed unto that person. Rather, it’s now, in the season of persecution. This is when the true motives of the King’s followers are proven … To identify with Jesus is to prove a traitor to the governments of the world system. To stand with Jesus is to stand against Lucifer, sin and the flesh. You cannot stand with darkness and light simultaneously. To acknowledge Jesus as King is … to live as one of the hunted.[ii]

Branded for Jesus Christ or the World?

From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:17, NASB)

Is our heart branded for Jesus Christ? The brand was the mark of ownership on the body of a soldier or servant. According to ancient oriental usage, slaves and soldiers bore the name of their master or commander. It was branded into their bodies so there was no doubt who they belonged to. The Apostle Paul also bore the physical scars of service to Jesus Christ left by many beatings, imprisonments, and hardships he endured as a good soldier and faithful slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are we willing to be branded for Jesus Christ so that wherever we go, this world knows beyond any shadow of doubt that we belong to Christ. Or does our heart shrink back, refusing to bear the mark of the hated, despised and hunted in this world. How do we respond to the pressure that the world exerts on our heart to conform or be labeled as an outcast? Whose brand will our heart bear?

No Fear: Shaking the Gates of Hell

We must never allow persecution to cause us to fear the enemy. We can overcome the world by our faith in Christ as greater is the power and authority that is in us, than the power, authority and evil that is in the world. We always triumph in Christ. We are God ordained super conquerors in Christ. We are immovable, untouchable, invincible and fearless in Christ. Our heart cannot glorify God when it is full of fear of the enemy and ignorant of who we are in Christ. Victory not defeat is the battle cry of Christianity.

Later the seventy came back full of joy. “Lord,” they said, “even evil spirits obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” returned Jesus, “I was watching and saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning! It is true that I have given you the power to tread on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the enemy’s power—there is nothing at all that can do you any harm. (Luke 10:17-19, PHILLIPS)

Our heart no longer has to be the playground of the enemy. God has given us mighty power in our new birth in Christ to trample the devil’s kingdom and overcome the enemy. Nothing can harm us when our lives are rooted in Christ, and we walk in the authority of the Word of God. Spiritually we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ and all things of this world and the kingdom of darkness are under our feet. By the grace and mercy of God, this is a position of immense power and authority in Christ.

We are to be on the offensive as a soldier of Jesus Christ, taking back territory for the kingdom of God and delivering souls from the power of Satan to God. We should be shaking the very gates of hell because of the triumphant Christ that lives and moves in our heart. The Devil wants to keep us bound in our old grave clothes with little knowledge of what was accomplished on the cross of Jesus Christ. For our heart to rise above the hatred of the world and the persecution of the enemy’s kingdom, we must know who we are in Christ.

A.W. Tozer in I Talk Back to the Devil: The Fighting Fervor of the Victorious Christian says:

The Devil makes it his business to keep Christians in bondage, bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in their own grave clothes … He knows that if we continue in this type of bondage, we will never be able to claim our spiritual heritage … Satan has been in this business of intimidating and silencing and oppressing the people of God for a long, long time … I am sure it is not glorifying to God that Christians should be so intimidated and silenced in our day … Satan is an old dragon that defies us to this hour. He is saying to Christians, “I defy you—what are you going to do about it?” … This has to be the secret of our praise and enthusiasm—Jesus Christ is our Overcomer! In our own strength we cannot overcome anyone or anything … It is for us to trust wholly in the Lord Jesus. This is the only way in which we can conquer fear and live in blessed victory … through Jesus Christ I am the victor! … Brethren, God never meant for us to be kicked around like a football … when the devil starts tampering with you, dare to resist him! I stand for believing God and defying the devil-and God loves that kind of courage among His people. If you are still wrapped in grave clothes and great fears lie upon you, it is time for you to dare to rise and in sweet faith in the risen Jesus Christ declare: “I will not take this any longer. I am a child of God-why should I go mourning all the day? Will God answer? “All right my child,” He will answer as the burden rolls away, “I have waited long to hear you say that. Jesus is Victor and in Him you overcome!”[iii]

Cast off forever the old grave clothes from our heart and pledge to God that we will never be intimated, frightened or silenced by the Devil or his kingdom ever again. We must defy the Devil daily by standing firmly in Jesus Christ, the Overcomer, and never allow our hearts to be uprooted from him because of the scorching heat of persecution. God has given us the victory in Christ and promises to deliver us from every single persecution that is ever thrust upon our heart by the roar of the enemy. Our cry in persecution should be like the wonderful song in Psalms 44 for when we depend on God, persecutions will bounce off the protective shield that God has built around our heart. No enemy can contend with God Almighty.

You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. (Psalm 44:4-8, NLT)

Surprising Source of Most Persecution

To help protect our hearts from falling into this second soil, we must know the strategies of the enemy regarding persecution. The Devil is very subtle as persecution often arises from our close inner circle: our churches, fellow-Christians, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, professors, neighbors and community. Persecution will test where our true loyalties lie. Is our heart rooted deep enough in the Word and Christ to withstand the questioning, ridicule, mockery and disdain of many in our inner circle? We so often think persecution of our faith simply comes from the secular world and outsiders. However, it is eye-opening when we realize the source of most persecution, as the Bible gives us hundreds of examples so we are not fooled.

The great majority of persecution comes from religious people who are entrenched in religious systems and doctrines. If we stand up for truth in a number of churches, we are going to get persecuted. It may be surprising to learn that throughout history many of the ruthless persecutors of the Word of God and Christians came from within the church. Look at the persecution of the Inquisition where the church went after its own with reckless abandon and tortured, maimed and killed them in some of the worst ways ever imagined.

The devil loves religion because it has nothing to do with the true God and is an easy façade to hide his deceptions. Look at our Savior as the constant persecution to his ministry was from the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests and scribes, who were the religious elite of his day. The religious establishment that was supposed to represent God, hated Jesus Christ, and viciously persecuted him culminating in his torture and death. The great religious men and their corrupt system crucified their Messiah.

God takes off the mask of man-made religion in the Bible and reveals its true heart as perverse and full of darkness. It breeds evil and will stop at nothing to protect its existence and doctrines even to the point of trying to eradicate the Word of God and all those who stand upon it. God places a huge neon sign in Scripture that says “BEWARE!” when it comes to the religious systems of people who do not know God or love Him. There is a tremendous persecution today from the zealous proponents of Islam around the globe from people whose hearts are sold out to a religious system borne of this world and the kingdom of darkness.

Persecution also comes from the inner circle of our family, friends and close associates whom the Devil craftily influences to shake our faith in God and His Word. Under the scorching heat of this inside persecution, many hearts begin to wilt and become uprooted from the Word of God and Christ. The devil often uses those we love and care about to shoot a fiery missile into our hearts.

I think of Job and his three friends who were miserable comforters in his time of distress. Also look at Jesus Christ as a vivid example, as he received persecution from his family, his followers and even one of his inner twelve disciples. When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem near the time of his crucifixion, great multitudes of apparent followers and disciples cried out “Hosanna (save us please) to the son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord even the king of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!” This whole multitude rejoiced and praised God with a loud voice. Many of these people had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out from the grave and had heard about this great miracle. The entire city of Jerusalem was moved and the multitude declared “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee!”

Surely this multitude would never turn on Jesus and persecute him. Jesus should be able to count on their support in his greatest hour of need. Yet in just a matter of days, this same crowd of apparent followers and disciples, when Pilate said “Behold your King!” cried out, “Away with him, away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him!” They joined in the persecution and demanded Jesus be put to death. How quickly the hearts of his followers and friends viciously turned on Jesus. How fickle are the hearts of men and women when it comes to their commitment to God and Jesus Christ!

John 7:5 states that Jesus Christ’s own family did not believe in him and there came a dramatic moment in the gospels when his mother and family showed up at his door in attempt to halt Jesus’s ministry and forcibly take him home. They thought he had lost his mind.

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21, ESV)

The Greek word for “seize” means to take hold of forcibly, to take into custody and arrest, to continually hold back, to hinder and restrain, to prevail and rule over, and to take into one’s possession. The Greek word for “out of his mind” means to be out of one’s senses, to be insane, to be deranged, and to be driven out of his mind. It was the word used when wine turned sour causing one to disfigure their face because of the taste. The word was also used when you felt someone was bewitched or demonized.

His very own family, which we know from the later verses in this chapter, included his mother and brothers, pursued Jesus to his house with the firm intent to forcibly take him into custody and restrain him from ministering again. They believed his actions flowed out of insanity, confusion and derangement. They may have even felt he was bewitched, possessed or demonized, like the scribes who at the same time accused him of being possessed by Beelzebub.

This is his own mother and brothers who fell into the trap of persecuting Jesus! Jesus had become like sour wine to them and they were determined to put an end to this insanity and become the guardian over Jesus. Could our heart withstand this type of persecution from our own family who wants to arrest us? Could we withstand them wanting to commit us to a mental institution because they think we are insane or even worse possessed and bewitching people? Jesus shared with his disciples that this is a common occurrence to those who stand for Christ and refused to budge off the Word of God.

Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But not a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls. (Luke 21:16-19, NLT)

Our hearts must be so rooted in Jesus Christ that the hatred and mockery from the religious establishment, world and even our friends and family does not turn our hearts away from God to the path of least resistance. Jesus Christ is to be the bedrock and firm foundation of our heart so that we can withstand the beating storms and pressures of life. Jesus Christ must captivate every thought, be infused into every action, and be interwoven into every word that comes forth from our heart. When this happens, a great transformation of the heart takes place in the midst of this crooked generation. His heart becomes our heart, His love becomes our love, His fearlessness becomes our fearlessness, and His strength becomes our strength as we become the true and radiant reflection of our Lord in persecution.

Tribulation and persecution have a tremendous impact on the heart as they are either going to make the heart stronger or weaker in the Lord. They will either cause the heart to have abundant joy, deeper faith, more confidence and greater love for God or cause the heart to be resentful, bitter, discouraged, apathetic and hateful toward God. The Devil uses tribulation and persecution to uproot the Word of God from the Christian’s heart. The Devil uses tribulation and persecution to turn the Christian’s heart against God and betray Him. The Devil uses tribulation and persecution as powerful tools to eradicate the Word of God from the heart and place it in a condition of rebellion and disobedience towards God. The Devils uses tribulation and persecution to get the heart into a condition of spiritual barrenness where it is not producing fruit for the glory of God.

Our hearts must be diligently prepared and fortified in the Word of God and our faith must be strong, unmovable and unwavering in confident trust of our God and His Word. This will enable us to stand boldly on the truth when the storms of mental pressure and persecution roar against the heart like a fierce hurricane.

Have you ever seen a picture of a palm tree during a hurricane? It is so deeply rooted in the ground that the fierce winds and rain can bend and toss it, but it is not uprooted and destroyed? Our heart must be like the palm tree that does not become uprooted from the Scripture and our faith in Christ when the devil tries to squeeze, crush and intimidate us with tribulation and persecution.

Tribulation and persecution will test how deep our relationship is with God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Tribulation and persecution will test the lordship of Jesus Christ and bring to light who really is the lord of our hearts. Tribulation and persecution will put our faith on trial and determine its depth, purity and genuineness under its fire. Tribulation and persecution are the environmental testing grounds to analyze the soil sample of our heart, as they will show the condition, content and category of the soil.

As a wise farmer, we must diligently prepare the soil of our hearts so that it is fertile ground for the Word of God to develop a deep root system. The root system is to be nourished by the living waters of the Spirit of God allowing the life of the seed of the Word of God to grow strong in the heart. Then the tender crop can endure the blistering heat of persecution and tribulation. We will have great joy at harvest time as we reap the most beautiful spiritual fruit that the world has ever seen. We will never cease from yielding fruit as long as our root system is strong in Christ. Each persecution and tribulation thrown at us by our enemy only makes us stronger because we abide in Him.

The Dangerous Condition of Offense

Persecution and tribulation not only harden the heart against God and destroy a weak root system, but also can cause the heart to enter a dangerous and deadly condition. The Bible uses one word to describe this toxic condition and that is offense. Offense is a deadly disease of the heart that causes it to be ensnared by the enemy. We must guard against our heart from ever becoming offended or we are headed for enormous trouble spiritually. An offended heart always betrays our Lord in word, thought and deed. An offended heart stands in opposition to the Word of God. It is a fertile growing ground for evil as it produces the fruit of bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment. An offended heart is spiritually barren for God and will never produce fruit for the Lord. It is where the love for God has gone ice cold. An offended heart is full of envy, strife, and hostility. It is disobedient and rebellious against God and His commandments.

If our heart is offended, we cannot love, trust and serve God Almighty. If our heart is offended, we cannot do the work of His kingdom with the compassion of Christ. The sin of offense has plagued Christianity throughout its history causing massive division in the Body of Christ. Christian brothers have despised, hated and killed other Christian brothers. Churches have split, and thousands of denominations have formed. Christians have been tortured and killed and have fallen into apostasy and forsaken Christ, all because their hearts became offended.

Time and time again Jesus taught his disciples not to allow the heart to enter a state of offense. He instructed his disciples about the persecution and tribulation that would be coming, fueled by the hatred of Satan, so they would not be offended. Jesus knew what offense could do the heart.

Offense caused the twelve disciples to forsake the Lord and scatter in fear when Jesus was seized and crucified. Offense caused Peter to repeatedly betray the Lord and deny Him. Offense caused John the Baptist to doubt that Jesus was the Christ, as he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he was the Messiah, or should they look for another. Offense caused Judas to betray His Master for thirty pieces of silver. Offense caused King Saul to repeatedly attempt to assassinate David, God’s chosen King. Offense caused the Pharisees, Sadducees and other religious leaders to despise Jesus, plot his death, mercilessly beat him and finally put him to death by crucifixion.

How Will You Respond to Offense?

These are humbling lessons in Scripture especially if we think our heart could never become offended in our Lord and betray Him. God set these examples in the Bible as a solemn warning as many of God’s top men fell into the trap of offense. Jesus Christ warned that it was impossible that offenses not come (Luke 17:1). The critical question becomes how are we going to respond to offense? Offense often rides into the heart through a negative reaction to persecution and tribulation. Blessed is the person who is not offended in Christ and the persecution, tribulation and hatred his name brings (Matthew 11:6). We must be the watchmen on the lookout that the sin of offense never enters the door of our heart and make its home there.

The Greek word for “offended” is skandalon and it means to entice to sin, to distrust and desert, to cause to stumble, to cause to fall away and cease believing, to cause annoyance and displeasure, and the laying of a trap to capture. Skandalon referred to the trigger of a trap on which bait is placed. When an animal touches the trigger to eat the bait, the trap springs shut, and the animal is caught. The animal is enticed to its destruction. The trigger is what enables the trap to work and suddenly catch the prey in its deadly snare. The trigger allows the trap to be lightening quick and swiftly ensnare the poor animal before it even knows what happens.

Offense is that deadly to the health of the heart. It is the trigger that the Devil uses to suddenly capture and turn the heart away from God and keep it in a constant state of agitation, bitterness, envy, unforgiveness, and indignation. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing how suddenly and quickly offense can consume the heart and completely destroy any fruit for God.

When used in a moral context, skandalon indicates the enticement to conduct that will ruin a person. Offense always ruins the heart for God and corrupts its moral fiber. Offense is the breeding ground for sin as it is the gateway for sin to destroy the witness of the heart. Offense thrusts the heart into the danger zone where the toxicity of the kingdom of darkness begins to infiltrate its inner chambers and consume it. Offense is the trigger for the bait of Satan, and it opens the door of the heart for Satan to enter and captivate it. When Satan is allowed to enter our heart through offense, he immediately begins to uproot and discard any tender plant that has been growing from the seed of the Word of God. The heart is then held prisoner by Satan to do his will and to conform to his evil characteristics.

Offense causes the heart to stumble and fall away, wandering around in spiritual blindness. Offense always destroys relationships as more have been devastated by offense than almost any other attitude of the heart. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus is shattered when offense dominates our heart. Our relationships with our spouses, our brothers and sisters in Christ, our children, family and closest friends are ruined by offense. Offense is the great thief of relationships and the great destroyer of love. Offense always causes love to wax cold as selfishness, bitterness, and resentment raise their ugly heads. The desire for revenge, the desire to hurt, the desire to get even, and the desire to elevate oneself and put others down, all flow out of an offended heart.

Offense is one of the great stumbling blocks of the Christian walk and one of the great diseases of the human heart. Offense is a wall builder that tries to keep God out. Offense erects prison bars around the heart, and the longer the heart is in a state of offense the harder it becomes to win the heart back for God. Our heart cannot live out the new life we have in Christ when offense reigns in our hearts.

A brother offended is harder to be won over than a strong city, and their contentions separate them like the bars of a castle. (Proverbs 18:19, AMP)

Every shred of offense must be completely eliminated from our hearts so it does not take root and contaminate it. Not one vestige of offense can remain because it is like yeast in bread, as it will spread quickly and envelop the entire heart. We must not delay. We cannot hesitate. We must not procrastinate. Offense requires immediate, urgent action by the Christian believer. All offense must be uprooted and thrust from the heart before it destroys the seed of the Word of God from growing and producing fruit. The prison walls of offense must be torn down before it becomes a stronghold in the heart. Offense always seduces the heart into sin and it must be ruthlessly eradicated or its disease will spread like cancer throughout the heart. Jesus taught his disciples in no uncertain terms that if any offense existed in their lives, it must be radically and quickly eliminated. To allow offense to remain gives the devil a foothold in the human heart.

Jesus Christ: The Rock of Offense

Every person will one day come face to face with the rock of offense Jesus Christ. How will our heart respond? Jesus Christ will either bring bountiful joy and immeasurable love into our heart or he will cause our heart to be offended. These are the only two responses. Which path will your heart choose? How our hearts respond to the Rock of Offense is the most important decision we will ever face because this single choice will affect everything we do for the rest of our life and determine our eternal destiny.

When Jesus Christ stands at the door of your heart and knocks, asking us to turn from our selfish ways, take up our cross, forsake all and follow him, will you be offended? When Jesus Christ knocks on your heart and says, “I purchased you with my own blood on the cross, you are mine and I want your life” will your heart be offended? When Jesus Christ says, “Stand with me as the light in this dark world and you will become the number one enemy of the kingdom of darkness; you will be hated, despised, mocked and ridiculed by friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and public opinion,” will the rock of offense caused you to be offended and stumble? Will offense cause our hearts to turn away from the Lord Jesus for he is simply asking too much of me?

There is a passage to this effect in scripture, and it runs like this: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame’. It is you who believe in him that he is “precious,” but to those who disobey God, it is true that: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.’ And he is, to them, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.’ Yes, they stumble at the Word of God for in their hearts they are unwilling to obey it—which makes stumbling a foregone conclusion. But you are God’s “chosen generation,” his “royal priesthood,” his “holy nation,” his “peculiar people”—all the old titles of God’s people now belong to you. It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of him who has called you out of darkness into his amazing light. In the past you were not “a people” at all: now you are the people of God. In the past you had no experience of his mercy, but now it is intimately yours. (1 Peter 2:6-10, PHILLIPS)

There is no place for offense in the Body of Christ. We are God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of believers, and His beloved children, sanctified and made righteous, in Christ. God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Jesus Christ is not the Rock of Offense to the Body of Christ, but the head of it, and the captain of our salvation. Every member of the Body of Christ is filled to overflowing with the fullness of Christ. Offense only arises in the Body of Christ when our hearts are unwilling to obey the Word of God and rise up in rebellion against it. Offense causes us to stumble when we reject the Rock of Ages from being the Lord of our hearts.

There is no middle ground when it comes to the Rock of Offense. Partial obedience to the Word of God is one of the greatest sins of the church, as is vividly illustrated by the tragic fall of King Saul and the loss of his entire kingdom. The Rock of Offense demands all of our hearts, not just a part of them. The Rock of Offense requires more of your time than just an hour on Sunday. The Rock of Offense demands to be the center of every single activity and life choice we make. The Rock of Offense does not want a lukewarm, half-hearted, and tepid devotion to Him. He demands a 100 percent commitment of wholehearted love and dedication. Nothing less is acceptable. He wants living sacrifices, consecrated and fully given to Him with nothing held back. We cannot draw lines with the Lord Jesus Christ. Does this offend you? Is this too much for our hearts? How will your heart respond to the Rock of Offense?

How do we keep our hearts from being offended and ultimately betraying our Lord? How do we keep offense from establishing even one root in our heart? How do we make sure our heart is pure and completely free of offense? A wonderful verse in Psalms gives us the great remedy against offense.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165, KJV)

The Hebrew word for “love” is ahab, which means to desire, long for or breathe after anything. It means to delight in with great love. It is the love and deep longing of relationship. To breathe after something is to have an intense desire to pursue it with the whole heart. It is the same word used in Deuteronomy when the children of Israel are exhorted to love (ahab) the Lord God with all their heart, soul and might, and is used in the Song of Solomon to describe the intense longing, desire and love between a bride and bridegroom.

It brings a picture to my mind of longing for something so deeply that you pant for it. It is the deep and earnest feelings of the heart that produce a passionate desire for someone or something. This intense longing for God and His Word is illustrated in other Scriptures.

My soul is consumed with longing for thy laws at all times. (Psalm 119:20, NIV)

I opened wide my mouth, and panted; for I longed for thy commandments. (Psalm 119:131, ASV)

How I delight in your commands! How I love them! (Psalm 119:47, NLT)

Oh what love I have for your law! I give thought to I all day long! (Psalm 119:97, BBE)

I run the way of thy commandments, for you have given me freedom of heart. (Psalm 119:32, NJB)

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1, NAU)

We must have an intense yearning and deep love for the Word of God, greatly desiring that it lives in our hearts, if we are ever going to stop offense from taking up residency. We must seek after God’s commands with every breath. We should pant to feed upon every precious truth contained in Scriptures. We should adore the Scripture and let our hearts bask in the beauty, majesty and power of the Bible.

The Bible is supernaturally charged with the life and power of God Almighty and it will absolutely change, alter and transform every heart where it resides. We love Scripture for when we devote time to read and study it, we encounter the magnificent God of the heavens and earth in intimate detail.

Eric Ludy in the Bravehearted Gospel says, “Most Christians ‘respect’ the Bible, but very few treat it as precious, drink in its every word as if it were the dew from heaven, and cherish its every thought as though it were, in fact, divine.”[iv] When we crave God’s Word like we crave physical food. When we delight and mediate upon it, hide it in the depths of our inner being, and treasure and obey it with relentless passion, then our hearts have great peace. In the state of peace, nothing can offend our heart or cause it to stumble. Nothing! Not one thing can shake our hearts and agitate them when we love God’s Word with great desire. Offense cannot penetrate the shield of peace built by the great love of Scriptures in our hearts.

The reason why there is so much offense in the church and the world today is their hearts have no peace. They have no peace because they have no respect or love for God’s Word. They have no awe of the authority and power of Scripture and the Bible becomes just another book relegated to the dust-covered bookshelf.

Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace

Every jot and title in the Bible testifies as to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Without Jesus no person on earth can ever have true peace. If Jesus Christ lives in our hearts, and we seek his instruction daily through the Word, then we will never be offended in Him. The Rock of Offense will bring great peace to the heart of any person who turns to Him and accepts his mighty work on the cross.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means wholeness, completeness and soundness. It is a harmony and unity of heart and soul because of a restored relationship with God, our Father. It is an inward and outward tranquility, a quiet assurance, and a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the symphony and harmony of life, in which you enjoy all that is good because of your right relationship with God. It’s the freedom from being disturbed, agitated, stressed and troubled. It is the absence of discord, strife, and anxiety. It is to be at ease and calmly unaffected by circumstance. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, and satisfaction in life.

There is absolute security, safety, and victory at the center of peace. It is the absence of inward conflict, condemnation, and torment, and rather a state of rest, calmness, and quiet confidence. Offense cannot live and make one stumble in this type of environment. The heart cannot fall into the trap of the enemy and become disturbed and offended by tribulation or persecution when peace reigns in the heart.

True peace is complete oneness and unity with God where there is a wonderful mutual sharing of the enjoyment of that bond. God is the source of all peace, and we have peace because of our relationship with Him. His peace is our peace. His wholeness is our wholeness. His soundness is our soundness. His completeness is our completeness. No man or woman can ever have peace without a vibrant, living fellowship with our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t buy peace, we can’t medicate peace, and we cannot manufacture peace. We cannot produce true peace from some mental gymnastic exercise, self-help book or seminar. It is impossible to have peace apart from God, and it will never be manifested in our hearts without a great love for the Word of God and a passion to live it. Peace cannot live in a heart full of unbelief.

Peace and offense cannot co-exist together as either the heart is going to be offended or be at peace. We must never allow our hearts to become indifferent, uncaring and unloving concerning the Word of God for then we open the door to the sin of offense.

The Devil is constantly trying to get our heart to doubt the integrity, accuracy and truth of the Word of God with his sly questioning, “Did God really say?” Satan’s whispering is relentless as he tries to remove the Bible’s worth in the human heart by diminishing its value and credibility. He twist its words and throws contempt at its message. He wants to get the heart in a state of offense and to do so he must uproot any vestige of the Word of God from the heart. An offended heart is insulted by the Word of God in writing—the Bible. An offended heart is also insulted by the Word of God in the flesh—the Lord Jesus Christ. An offended heart refuses to conform to the pattern of Scripture and refuses to allow Jesus Christ to exercise his lordship over the heart.

It is easy pickings for Satan to fill us with offense and all its bitter fruit if our heart does not delight after Scripture as the greatest treasure on earth. The Bible reveals the very heart of God and how can we not gaze upon it with great love and adoration for it is the honorable and worthy message of our King.

Jesus illustrates the second soil of the heart and its tragic consequences in Mathew 7.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27, NIV)

If we hear the Word of God as it is sown in our hearts and obey it by putting into practice, our hearts will be built upon the awesome Rock, Jesus Christ. When the storms of tribulation and persecution fiercely beat upon our heart, and the winds howl ferociously against us and the waters arise all around us, we will not crash and burn because the foundation of our heart is built on Christ and the living Word of God.

However, if we hear the Word sown in our hearts, but we do not love and obey it, but rather are offended and refuse to put it into practice, we are the foolish person who builds our heart on sinking sand. When the fierce storms of tribulation and persecution relentlessly beat on our hearts and the waters dangerously arise all around us, our lives will come crashing down in a great and dramatic fashion. The heart will be shattered into a hundred pieces and blown out to sea for it had no root and foundation in the Word of God.

Is our heart built on the Rock or on the sinking sand? Is Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace or the Rock of Offense to our heart? Is the Word of God the Word of peace or the Word that offends? The condition of the soil of our heart will be determined by these crucial questions. The true test will come when the storms of tribulation and persecution arise from the dark sky and violently beat against our heart. Then we will find out what our heart is made of. Then we will find out whether our heart is built upon the Rock or built upon sinking sand. We will find out the true condition of the soil of our heart.

[i] Charles Spurgeon, Persecuted by Not Forsaken, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on March 8, 1883.

[ii] Eric Ludy, Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 99-101.

[iii] A.W. Tozer, I Talk Back to the Devil: The Fighting Fervor of the Victorious Christian (Camp Hill: WingSpread Publishers, 1972), Kindle Edition, 185.

[iv] Eric Ludy, The Bravehearted Gospel (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 167.

Excerpt from Tim Rowe’s The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life, available on Amazon, Kindle, IBook and Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

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What is Your Mirror in Life?

What do you see when you look in the mirror? How often do you see your reflection in a mirror? Some studies say that the average person looks in a mirror 8 to 10 times a day. Other surveys say it could be as many as 60 to 70 times a day, whose image do you see? And what is our mirror? There are multiple mirrors in this world. Which one do you believe shows your true self? Mirror of social status? Mirror of wealth? Mirror of success? Mirror of television? Mirror of the media?

We are always beholding something. What are you looking at? What are you beholding? There is a principle in the Bible that we become what we look at. Where are your eyes focused in regard to who you are and your purpose in life? A. W. Tozer said: God wants us to recognize that human nature is in a formative state and that it is being changed into the image of the thing it loves. Men and women are being molded by their affinities, shaped by their affections and powerfully transformed by the artistry of their loves. You become what you love? You become what you chase after. In the unregenerate world of Adam this produces day by day tragedies of cosmic proportions!

The eye is the critical foundation in repairing and restoring your true image. The ear is the important key to building our image to reflect how God sees us but it all begins with the eye. The eye needs to be looking like a laser to what God says we are and that is revealed in the Bible. It is the real you and our true image.

James 1:22ff: Don’t I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves. The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness.

Another translation: If some fail to do what God requires, it’s as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. 25 However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.

The Bible is a mirror that lets us see ourselves as God sees us.

The fundamental purpose of God’s Word is to give us true self-knowledge; it is a real mirror, and when we look at ourselves properly in it we see ourselves as God wants us to see ourselves. The assumption behind this is that the purpose of God’s revelation is for us to become transformed, to become the people God wants us to be, but this is impossible until we see ourselves as we really are. The problem with the distractions of this world, we have amnesia, we forget who we really are as God sees us and often do not have the slightest recollection of what the mirror of God’s Word is showing us.

2 Corinthians 3:17,18: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Psalm 34:4-8: I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

We reflect what our eyes are focused on. Our image is determined by what we look at with our eye and hear with our ear. Don’t forget what the Word of God says about you or the world will delude you and beat down your true identity. Our eyes are critical to our spiritual growth.

The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life
open towards God. Trust Him, commune with Him, study His word, meditate and think about it. Build it into your heart so it can tear down the strongholds of wrong images in your mind. Be passionate about your relationship with Him. Christianity is about relationship with God. The relationship is reciprocal and mutual. No other religion claims this.

God is not a duplicator. Of the seven billion people on the planet earth not one has the same fingerprint. God is not a duplicator, a copycat, and a counterfeiter, but God is a Creator; God is an originator: God is a visionary. God only has one you. No one can ever be you. God only designed one you. He only has one blueprint that he masterfully used to make a masterpiece called you. God has designed you wonderfully unique and awesomely made as a true original. God has the most spectacular design for your life that is absolutely breathtaking and specific down to the littlest detail.

 

Who knows you better than God? He has loved you since the foundations of the heavens and earth. He created you. He formed you. He made you. He has had plans for you since the sun’s first morning light.

Psalm 139:15-18 (NLT): You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Jeremiah 29:11-14:  11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Seek God and His plans. Know how precious you are to God. Know you have value to God. Know you have a future and a hope. It all starts by knowing your identity in Christ and seeing from Scripture who you really are.

Look at the true mirror. Behold your God! Behold His Son! Behold your salvation and birth as a son! Behold who you really are!

I John 3:1.2a: Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. Our heredity on the Godward side is no mere figure of speech—which explains why the world will no more recognize us than it recognized Christ.Oh, dear children of mine (forgive the affection of an old man!), have you realized it? Here and now we are God’s children.

Have you realized it? You are God’s child, His son through the finished work of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:4-7: In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[c] for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone 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 jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Satan, the god of this age, main goal is to blind you so you cannot see the light of the gospel, cannot see who you are in Christ and cannot see your worth to God. God has shined in our hearts and when people see us they should see a reflection of he glory of God.

Devil-the one who constantly throws accusations through you and about you, so you dwell on the wrong image of yourself. He is called in Scripture the deceiver, the accuser, and the father of lies. He wants you to look in the wrong mirror and become discouraged by what you see. He wants you to think you have no worth, and no value. He wants you to see sin instead of the Saviour from sin. Your value begins with the price God paid for you, which was to offer His only begotten Son Jesus to take your place on the cross; to suffer the torture and pain of the cross so your sin is paid in full and before the court of God you are declared not guilty. This is unfathomable love for you. Christianity is about reconciliation, restoration and transformation.

We are His image bearers. The fullness of God dwells in you as A Christian.

What does the mirror say?

World says you are rejected and ugly.

The mirror says you are lovely and accepted as His beloved.

The mirror says you are chosen.

The mirror says all the fulness of God resides in you.

The mirror says all your sins are forgiven.

The mirror says you are a new creation in Christ.

The mirror says you are justified by the blood of Christ and are at peace with God.

The mirror says God is your heavenly Father and you are His son by the new birth.

The mirror says you can cry “Abba Father!” to God.

The mirror says you are blessed all spiritual blessings in Christ.

The mirror says you are born again and seated in heavenly places with Christ.

The mirror says you are sealed with the holy spirit and have received the gift of holy spirt at the time of the new birth.

The mirror says you can energize the exceeding greatness of God’s power when you believe.

The mirror says you have been made righteous and completely complete in Him.

The mirror says you are an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ.

The mirror says you have an inheritance in heaven that is undefiled and will not fade away and is reserved in heaven for you.

The mirror says you are God’s most treasured possession.

The mirror says you are God’s masterpiece.

The world rejects all these truths and wants you to conform to their image. The world says your worthless and of no value. The world says you are a failure, a nobody, discarded and abandoned. Who do you believe? What mirror are you looking at?

Romans 12:2: Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

Do not be conformed to this world. Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Think according to the Bible and not according to the world.

2 Timothy 3:16,17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is God-breathed. He only wrote one book. Its words are spiritual life. Its words vibrate with energy and power. It is an immeasurable wonder that God has given us an inspired book containing the truth about himself and his ways and what he wills for our lives.

Often, we hear that God is silent or God does not care. “Don’t say God is silent when your Bible is closed.”

I don’t know who said or shared it first, but it’s clear this simple statement resonates with many, at least it has with me. These ten words rebuke our fear that God might be inactive or uncaring in the brokenness and messiness of our lives, and reminds us that he cares, he sees, and he speaks. But too often, we’re just not listening and our book has remained closed.

God is always ready to speak into our lives. We simply need to listen, tuning our ears and hearts to what he is saying in the book he inspired. When we open the Bible, we find more than 750,000 words breathed out by God himself for us.

Matthew 4:4: But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,  but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Attention to diet is becoming more and more recognized as essential to nutrition and growth. A low condition of bodily health is produced by inattention to the laws of nature as to suitable diet….A low condition of spiritual health is produced by improper feeding or neglect of necessary food, which is the Word of God…The root of all evils which abound in the spiritual sphere at the present day lies in the fact that the Word and the words of God are not fed upon, digested or assimilated, as they ought to be.

Our physical diet is important, but what about our spiritual diet? How much of the Word of God are we feeding upon, digesting, and assimilating into our heart and soul? If we ever want to be spiritually strong and excel in our gifting before the Lord, we cannot neglect the spiritual food of the Bible.

Jeremiah 15:16: Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.

I Peter 2:2,3: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

I promise you that if you set sometime aside every day to read and meditate upon the Scriptures, your life will be energized and transformed by the mighty power of His Word. There is life in the Word, and it will change the heart to become more like Him. There is light in the Word, and it will extinguish the darkness of everything that may hold us in bondage. There is comfort in the Word, and it will overcome the worries and fears of this age. There is wisdom in the Word, and it will guide our paths into the right way and help us avoid the obstacles set up to distract us and make us fall. There is healing in the Word, and it will restore our mind and body in complete wholeness. We need to open the book and let it speak to our heart. Pray that God enlightens your understanding and directs you to the words that you need to hear and believe. Just be faithful with being in the Word, as you will begin to realize that the more time you spend in the Word, you will begin to crave, desire, and cherish the time that it is just you and God in the Word. We cannot stand effectively for God without it. If we spend two minutes a week in the Word and twenty hours in front of the television, our spiritual lives will be out of balance.  We will be anemic and weak spiritually, as our hearts will be receiving little nourishment from the words of God.  It is like trying to put your life together without the training manual of life provided by your Heavenly Father.

People go through the journey of life looking for something that is useful, profitable, or advantageous for their life. They diligently search for principles of life that will help them accomplish their goals and make their life worth living. Nothing they could ever find is more useful, beneficial, and profitable for life than the God-breathed Scriptures. This Word of God boldly proclaims that every word contain in Scripture is profitable, and in the Greek this word means: useful, profitable, serviceable, helpful, beneficial, and refers to that which yields advantageous returns or results. It provides something that someone needs to attain a certain goal. God has set a wonderful purpose for us in our generation, and the Word of God is the vital tool that equips us to accomplish it. The benefit and usefulness of the Bible is fathomless and is so great that it cannot even be measured by human means.

A.W. Tozer said, “The Bible is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking.” God wants to speak to us today, and every day, through His Word. God’s word is not simply “once spoken.” God’s word is always “now speaking.”

We silence the sound of God’s voice in our lives when we leave our Bible on the shelf. Many have shared another popular statement: “Complaining about God being silent when your Bible is closed is like complaining about not getting texts when your phone is turned off.”

God is always speaking to us through His Word. But the Bible is clear we need special, God-given ears to hear him. The Scriptures call us to have “ears to hear” seven times in the Gospels, and seven more times in the beginning of Revelation. Unclog your ears from the noise of the world and listen intently to what He has to say.

Martin Luther rightly declared “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold on me.”

Hebrews 4:12a: For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective];

The Word of God lives and abides forever. It cannot be destroyed, diminished or overcome. It cannot be superseded. It will never fade or become obsolete. It is words from the heart of God and the power of God lives in every syllable. It is the Creator of the heavens and earth, your Heavenly Father speaking. It is life-giving communication.

We all want to know who we are. We seek and search and try to “find ourselves.” Many of us have taken personality tests and other assessments. But as helpful as those tests can be, have you ever stopped to ask, “What does God think about me? Who does he say that I am?”

In all your years as a Christian, have you asked this question about who you really are? God has a lot to say about what he thinks about us — a whole Bible full. But if we could summarize it in a short space, here’s how it might sound.

You Are Valuable

I am the Creator and you are my creation. I breathed into your nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). I created you in my own image (Genesis 1:27). My eyes saw your unformed substance (Psalm 139:16). I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). I know the number of hairs on your head, and before a word is on your tongue I know it (Matthew 10:30Psalm 139:4). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

You are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). I have given you dominion over all sheep and oxen and all beasts of the field and birds of the heavens and fish of the sea (Psalm 8:6–8Genesis 1:2628). I have crowned you with glory and honor as the pinnacle and final act of the six days of creation (Psalm 8:5Genesis 1:26).

However, from the very beginning, you exchanged the truth about me for a lie. You worshiped and served created things rather than me, the Creator (Romans 1:25). You have sinned and fallen short of my glory (Romans 3:23). Just as I said to Adam and Eve, the penalty for your sin is death (Romans 6:23Genesis 2:17). And in your sin, you were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). You were children of wrath, living as enemies to me (Ephesians 2:3Romans 5:10). You turned aside from me. You became corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:2–3). What you deserve is my righteous judgment (Psalm 7:11–12).

And yet, in my great love, I gave my unique Son, that all those who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). While you were still sinners, Christ died for you. While you were still hostile toward me, you were reconciled to me by the death of my Son (Romans 5:810). Sin doesn’t have the last word. Grace does (Romans 5:20).Now everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved (Romans 10:13). You who have believed are born again (1 Peter 1:3). I have adopted you (Ephesians 1:5). You are children of God, heirs of God (1 John 3:2Romans 8:16–17). You are no longer orphans. You belong to me (John 14:181 Corinthians 6:19). And I love you as a perfect Father (1 John 3:1Luke 15:20–24).

You Are New

In my eyes, you are a brand new creation. The old has passed away; the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sin is no longer your master, for you died to sin and are now alive to me (Romans 6:11Ephesians 2:4–5).You are finally free from the slavery of sin and death. There is now no condemnation for you (Romans 8:1–2). All your sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9). All your unrighteousness has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:79). You are now righteous in my sight with the very righteousness of my perfect Son (Romans 4:5).You’ve been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). You’ve been justified by faith (Romans 5:1). You are utterly secure in me; nothing will be able to separate you from my love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). No one is able to snatch you out of my hand (John 10:29). And I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

You Have My Spirit

You not only have a new Father, but also a new family of brothers and sisters (Luke 8:21). You are now part of the people of God (1 Peter 2:9). And together the life you now live is by faith in my Son (Galatians 2:20).Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. He is the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). Christ is in you by my Spirit, and you are in Christ (John 15:5Colossians 1:27). Stay close to Jesus. Abide in him (John 15:4). For your life is found in him (John 14:6Colossians 3:3–4). To live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).Don’t live by your own power or understanding. No, live by my Spirit within you (Zechariah 4:6Proverbs 3:5). Remember, I have given you the Holy Spirit to be with you and in you (Romans 5:5John 14:17). The Spirit will guide you into all truth, help you to obey me, and empower you to do my work (John 16:713Acts 1:8Galatians 5:16).

You Will Be Transformed

As you seek me and see more of my glory, I am transforming you into the image of my Son (2 Corinthians 3:18Exodus 33:18). One day you will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet sound (1 Corinthians 15:52). When Jesus appears, you will be like him, because you shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2Romans 8:29).You will be delivered from your body of death through Jesus Christ, and your dwelling place will be with me (Romans 7:24–25John 14:3). And I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore (Revelation 21:3–4). You will drink from the spring of the water of life without payment, and I myself will make for you a feast of rich food and well-aged wine (Revelation 21:6Isaiah 25:6). You will enter my rest, inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you, and step into fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Hebrews 4:9–11Matthew 25:34Psalm 16:11). But most of all, you will see my face and be with me where I am (Revelation 22:4John 14:3).

You Represent Me

“Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. He is the author and perfecter of your faith.”

Therefore, walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1). You are no longer darkness, but light in my Son. Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14). I have called you (2 Peter 1:3). I have chosen you (Revelation 17:14). You are now a saint, a servant, a steward, and a soldier (Romans 1:7Acts 26:161 Peter 4:102 Timothy 2:3). You are a witness and a worker (Acts 1:8Ephesians 2:10). Through Jesus you are victorious (1 Corinthians 15:57). You have a glorious future (Romans 8:18). You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). You are an ambassador for my Son (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I have only scratched the surface on what the Bible says about you. God is very personal when it comes to you. He thinks about you all the time. He cares about you immensely. Open the book and let Him speak to you and show you who you really are!

The greatest tragedy in life is when we turn our backs on God’s design and purpose for our lives. This tragedy hurts the heart of God for He knows what could have been. The story that never came to pass; the beautiful masterpiece that was left in the box. The awesome calling that faded away. He has written a beautiful story for our life, but when we pick up the pen and try to write the book ourselves, everything falls apart and crumbles before our eyes. Pray to God. Talk to God. Ask God to show you day by day His design and function and purpose for you on this earth. Pray to God that you fulfill every jot and tittle of it. It is glorious. It is immense. It is adventurous. It is the best. This purpose always has at its fabric that you have a heart of service to God and others. It begins with salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and the new birth. No one can accomplish their destiny without the Lord Jesus Christ. God is with you every step of the way and He will help you, strengthen you and guide you into fulfilling His purpose He has for you in your generation. Don’t ever waste your potential, your purpose and your design on things, paths, ways that God never intended for you. Be all that you can be for God. Every cell in your body was designed for you to fulfill your purpose that God knew about before time began. Let God make your life count and ring as a gem of God’s glory throughout the halls of eternity forever. Every moment counts; every day counts; every week counts; every year counts, but we live with God one day at a time.

Romans 10:11: For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

The glitter of the world with its man-made theories and philosophies will always let you down. It is like building your life on sinking sand. God will never disappoint. God will never let you down. Faith is a gateway to recovery and discovery. The truth about who you are will set you free. The Bible opens the prison door and obliterates self-condemnation and self-hatred. It enables you to love yourself because it shows you how much God loves you and what He has done for you.

It all begins with the call to salvation; the invitation of Jesus Christ to come and see. He is the Way, He is the Truth, He is the Life. Only he has the promise of life that is in Christ for now and for all eternity. You will not thirst again when you come to him for he is living water and holds the keys to eternal life.

I Timothy 2:3-6a: This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…

The transformation of who we are, the restoration of our true image begins with the new birth in Christ. Repent of your past sin, turn to God, confess Jesus as your Lord, believe that God raised him from the dead and receive the gift of eternal life and complete salvation. This is the new beginning for our lives and then we let God build us through His Word. Think of yourself as God thinks of you. No other opinion is important. Look in the mirror of the Bible, the God-breathed Word to see the real you, the one that Jesus gave his life for. You have immense worth. You have immeasurable value. You are God’s treasure put on this earth to shine as a light. Never let the world convince you otherwise. Take God’s hand in this new adventure. Know that God loves you more then you will ever be able to comprehend, and He is here every moment for you. He is for you. He is your refuge. He is your strength. He is your helper. He is everything we ever need in life. He will never abandon you, never forsake you and never leave you. Now is the time to return to your loving Heavenly Father. Now is the time to make Christ your Lord and to be set free from every bondage and every prison that holds you captive.

Numbers 6:24-26: 24 The Lord bless you and keep you;25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;26 the Lord lift up his countenance[c] upon you and give you peace.

 

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Tetelestai-It is Finished!

“IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30note) which can also be translated “PAID IN FULL!” THREE words in English, ONE word in Greek – TETELESTAI! The GREATEST WORD from the GREATEST MAN on the GREATEST DAY in all eternity! One word, but no word ever uttered has so changed the history and destiny of mankind. In Latin tetelestai is rendered with two words “Consummatum est” (It is consummated!) Jesus spoke 7 times on the Cross (Lk 23:34noteJn 19:36noteLk 23:42noteMt 27:46noteJn 19:28,30noteLk 23:46note). TETELESTAI was Jesus’ next to last word and was followed by “Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” (Lk 23:46note). “IT IS FINISHED!” “Yes, indeed/Finished, ev’ry jot/Sinner, this is all you need/Tell me, is it not?” (Ira Sankey)

As C H Spurgeon says TETELESTAI conveys

“an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop. It would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. IT IS FINISHED is the most charming note in all of Calvary’s music. The fire has passed upon the Lamb. He has borne the whole of the wrath that was due to His people. This is the royal dish of the feast of love.”

J C Ryle wrote that

“It is surely not too much to say, that of all the seven famous sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more remarkable than TETELESTAI.”

A C Gaebelein adds

“Never before and never after was ever spoken ONE WORD which contains and means so much. It is the shout of the mighty Victor. And who can measure the depths of this ONE WORD!”

A W Pink writes that

“Eternity will be needed to make manifest all that TETELESTAI contains.”

Matthew Henry described TETELESTAI as a “comprehensive word and a comfortable one.”

Charles Simeon adds that

‘since the foundation of the world there never was a single word uttered, in which such diversified and important matter was contained. Every word indeed that proceeded from our Saviour’s lips deserves the most attentive consideration: but TETELESTAI eclipses all. To do justice to it, is beyond the ability of men or angels: its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, are absolutely unsearchable.”

Clearly to contemplate TETELESTAI is to come to the realization that “the place whereon we stand is holy ground.” May the Holy Spirit help us to comprehend and to handle rightly “this text which is at once so small and yet so great!”

It has been well said that Christ’s RESURRECTION is the Father’s “AMEN” to His Son’s declaration “IT IS FINISHED.” Looking at the Cross we see the work of redemption completed. Looking at the open tomb we see Jesus’ finished work fully accepted by the Father. The payment required for sin is death (cf Ge 2:17noteRo 5:12noteRo 6:23note) and when Christ said TETELESTAI, He was saying that the sin debt was “PAID IN FULL!” If you believe that dear reader, His righteousness has been credited to your account (Ro 4:3noteRo 4:24noteGal 3:6-7note). We owed a debt we could never pay. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe! Tony Evans says “All the funds necessary to pay for our total redemption were put up by Jesus Christ on the Cross.” Or as Warren Wiersbe put it “He took my bankruptcy and covered it with His solvency.” He didn’t just make a down payment and then expect me to keep up the installments. “But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26note). His empty tomb and His resurrection are indisputable testimony to the fact that the Father accepted His Son’s payment for sin on our behalf, as our Substitute. Thus TETELESTAI is not a cry of defeat of a dying Man, but a cry of triumph of a Living, Life Giving Redeemer, a divine proclamation that the WORK OF REDEMPTION had been fully, finally and forever accomplished (cf Jn 4:34noteJn 17:4note).

Spurgeon adds

“What a grand utterance (is “Tetelestai”)! Now are we safe, for salvation is complete. The (sin) debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever, by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the Tree. There was the cup; Hell was in it; the Savior drank it—not a sip and then a pause—not a draught (a single act of drinking) and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the Law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade (“continuous heavy gunfire”) of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition—there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God (Beloved, do you believe these great benefits are yours in Christ?). Sheathed is thy sword, O Justice! Silenced is thy thunder, O Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs and pains and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own beloved (1Th 1:4note) and IT IS FINISHED. Christ has paid the debt which all the torments of eternity could not have paid. Once again—when He said, “IT IS FINISHED,” Jesus had totally destroyed the power of Satan, of sin and of death. The Champion accepted the challenge to do battle for our soul’s redemption against all our foes. He met Sin. Horrible, terrible, all-but omnipotent Sin nailed Him to the Cross. But in that deed, Christ nailed Sin also to the tree. There they both did hang together—Sin and Sin’s Destroyer. Sin destroyed Christ and by that destruction Christ destroyed Sin.”

TETELESTAI is the perfect tense (see below) of the verb teleo which is derived from telos (a goal achieved, a consummation, a result attained) and means to bring something to a successful end to or to its intended or destined goal. It does not mean just to complete a task but to carry it out fully, to bring it to the finish or to perfection. It follows that Jesus’ cry of TETELESTAI is a word of finality. The idea is “It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!” His work of redemption is complete and nothing needs to be or can be added to it. Sin is atoned for (Heb 9:12noteHeb 10:12note), Satan is defeated and rendered powerless (Heb 2:14-15note1Jn 3:8), every requirement of the Law has been satisfied and God’s holy wrath against sin has been satisfied (or propitiated) (Ro 3:25noteHeb 2:17note1Jn 2:24:10). Redemption is eternally secured. We are reconciled in Christ’s “fleshly body through death” that we might be presented before God “holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” (Col 1:22note). Speaking of Christ’s cry of TETELESTAI, Frank Boreham makes the interesting observation that “This divine self-satisfaction appears only twice, once in each Testament. When He completed the work of Creation, He looked upon it and said that it was “very good,” (Ge 1:31note) when He completed the Work of Redemption, He cried with a loud voice TETELESTAI! (Jn 19:30) It means (in essence) the same thing.”

THE PERFECT TENSETETELESTAI is in the perfect tense which describes a PAST completed act with PRESENT effect, emphasizing that the past completed event of Christ’s death on the Cross has ongoing, even permanent effects. Jesus’ sacrifice may have occurred in time and space, but its results will last for eternity! In other words, when Jesus declared “IT IS FINISHED”, He was saying that His mission to redeem sinners had reached its intended goal and that the benefits to the redeemed would last throughout eternity. Erwin Lutzer adds that “This means that my sins are on Jesus, not on me. Yes, there is sin within me but not on me. My sinful nature keeps luring me toward sin, and even in my best moments my works are tainted with selfish motives. But legally, I am accepted on the basis of the merit of Jesus. Figuratively speaking, I have a new set of clothes and a clear record in heaven. The righteousness of Jesus has been (forever) credited to my account.” All that truth in one Greek tense! Beloved our Redeemer’s ransom payment is sufficient for this life and the life to come! May God enable us by His Spirit, to live victoriously in light of the truth of this “Word of the Cross” (especially the great word “tetelestai”) which is the “power of God” to us “who are being saved (daily by the Spirit)” (1Cor 1:18note).

Observe how the word TETELESTAI was commonly used in the ancient world:

(1) SERVANTS:

Servant used TETELESTAI when reporting to their master, “I have COMPLETED (TETELESTAI) the work assigned to me”. In another ancient secular Greek text we read of the example of a father sending his son on a mission. The son was not to return until he had performed the last act of the mission. When he did return from a successful mission, he used the word TETELESTAI to report to his father that he had accomplished the goal. As Jesus Himself testified “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to ACCOMPLISH (teleioo – also derived from telos = goal) His work. I glorified Thee on the earth, having ACCOMPLISHED (teleioo) the work which Thou hast given Me to do. (And so He laid) down His life for His friends.” (Jn 6:38noteMk 10:45Jn 4:34noteJn 17:4noteJn 15:13note)

(2) PRIESTS:

Priests would examine animals for blemishes before they were sacrificed. If the lamb was faultless, perfect, and acceptable, the priest would say, “TETELESTAI!” Jesus is the Lamb of God Who alone was “without sin” (Heb 4:15note, cf Jn 1:29note1Cor 5:7note). As Peter testifies we “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1Pe 1:18-19note)

(3) ARTISTS:

Frank Boreham writes that “When the painter or the sculptor had put the last finishing touches to the vivid landscape or the marble bust, he would stand back a few feet to admire his masterpiece, and, seeing in it nothing that called for correction or improvement, would murmur fondly, ‘Tetelestai!’ ‘Tetelestai!’” “IT IS FINISHED!” All the Old Testament “pictures” (types) of Messiah were fulfilled in Christ and were only a “shadow of what is to come; but the substance (reality) belongs to Christ.” (Col 2:17note). The death of Jesus on the Cross “finished the picture” of redemption, a masterpiece which had been in the Father’s heart “from before the foundation of the world” (1Pe 1:20note2Ti 1:9note).

(4) MERCHANTS:

In ancient times when a promissory note was paid, the one holding the note wrote “TETELESTAI” across it. A deed to property was not in effect until it was dated and signed, and when this was accomplished, the clerk wrote “TETELESTAI” across the deed. When someone had a debt and it was paid off, the creditor would write “TETELESTAI” on the certificate of debt signifying that it was “PAID IN FULL”. It is reported in several secondary sources that several years ago, archaeologists digging in Egypt uncovered the “office” of an ancient “CPA.” In this office they found a stack of bills, with the Greek word “tetelestai” inscribed across each bill – “Paid in full“! (See next paragraph which gives historical support for the interpretation of tetelestai as “paid in full.) When Christ gave Himself on the Cross, He fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law and our “sin debt” was PAID IN FULL. The OT sacrifices covered sin but could never take sin away. Jesus accomplished what all of the old covenant sacrifices could not do. “In eternity the Son gave the Father a “promissory note” that He would pay the price for humanity’s redemption (see Heb 10:5–7note). On Calvary the note was PAID IN FULL. TETELESTAI!” (H H Hobbs) As Spurgeon said “There is no mortgage on the saints.” Wayne Grudem adds that “If Christ had not paid the full penalty, there would still be condemnation left for us. But since he has paid the full penalty that is due to us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1note).

Documentation of Use of Tetelestai Meaning Paid in Full – Some writers question whether tetelestaiwas ever used which the meaning “paid in full“, stating that while this is frequently quoted as a fact, no original ancient sources are ever given. That is a fair critique, but I think there is Greek papyri evidence to support this common explanation as recorded in the following 1896 work by Grenfell and Hunt entitled New classical fragments and other Greek and Latin

On page 78 we have a section entitled “L. Second Third Century A. D. From the Fayoum” (Fayoum is in Egypt) where we read that “The 14 papyris grouped together are receipts for various taxes paid by persons transporting goods on baggage animals from the Fayoum to Memphis and vice versa across the desert road.”

Continuing on page 79 we read “The formula in these 14 papyri is with some variations as follows. It begins with the abbreviation tetel. (which in one case, f2, written out in full, tetelestaidia pules(“through the gate”), followed by the name of the village; then comes the name of the tax of which there are three varieties, etc. (page 79)

This ancient manuscript substantiates that tetelestai was occasionally used to mean “paid in full” in secular (commercial) settings.

(5) PRISONERSFYI – While the following illustration of Tetelestai is “attractive” and sounds Biblically reasonable, I have been unable to document that this description was the actual practice in Roman prisons. Therefore one might want to either ignore this illustration or use it as an illustration but with a qualifying explanation. The esteemed pastor Adrian Rogers used this illustration in at least five messages, but unfortunately he did not reference a specific resource.

When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, he was thrown into prison. A “Certificate of Debt” listing all his crimes was nailed to his cell door so that anyone passing by could know what he had been accused of and the penalty assessed. When the prisoner had served his sentence and was released from bondage, the indictment was taken down from the door and the judge who had put him in prison would sign the indictment and write across it the word TETELESTAI. The freed prisoner was then given this document and if questioned as to why he was out of jail, he could point to the indictment across which the judge had written TETELESTAI. He could rest in safety and security because the word TETELESTAI guaranteed his deliverance and his liberty. The charges for those crimes could never again be brought against him. He would never be a victim of “double jeopardy” (having to pay for the same crime twice). When Jesus cried “TETELESTAI” on the cross, He was saying that anyone who places his trust in His sacrificial death on their behalf, receives in essence a “certificate of debt” with the inscription of “tetelestai”, indicating that all their “crimes” (past, present and future) against God have been PAID FOR IN FULL! In light of this truth, Paul could write that because our debt was PAID IN FULL by Jesus, God “has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out (Greek = completely obliterated) the condemning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the Cross. And then having drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us, He exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in His final glorious triumphant act!” (Col 2:14-15 Phillips-note) Erwin Lutzer adds that “On the cross, the justice of God was fully satisfied when our heavenly Substitute paid the great price of ransom. As Spurgeon put it, we can stand with confidence despite the thunder of the law and the lightening flash of justice, “for we are safe beneath the cross.” He paid the very last cent of the wages of our sin.”

Beloved, Satan may accuse us of “high treason” against God (read Rev 12:10note), but now and forever “we have an Advocate (paraclete) with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1Jn 2:1-2note) Who cries “I object” to every accusation of the Adversary, to which the Father says “Objection Sustained!” Yes, when we sin, we need to confess and repent in order to enjoy fellowship with God (1Jn 1:9note), but our our eternal salvation is never in doubt or subject to “double jeopardy” because Christ has once and for all time cried “TETELESTAI!” Beloved child of God, if you have a sin regarding which you find it difficult to accept the Father’s full forgiveness, let your mind dwell on the truth of “TETELESTAI,” and then put that sin on God’s ledger and write “Paid in Full” next to it! The truth inherent in the word TETELESTAI should give every believer great assurance, comfort and peace that all of our sin debt, past, present and future, is PAID IN FULL and there remains no sacrifice to be paid! There is nothing we must or even could contribute to the remission of our debt, except receive the “free gift of eternal life” by faith (Ro 6:23bnote). Jesus “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Heb 10:12note). As the hymn writer E M Hall put it “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”

Andrew Murray writes that

“every day that our confidence grows fuller in Christ’s FINISHED WORK must see our heart more entirely yielding itself like Him, a whole burnt offering in the service of God and His love.”

Spurgeon says that

“The general religion of mankind is “DO,” but the religion of a true Christian is “DONE.” IT IS FINISHED is the believer’s conquering word. INCARNATE LOVE has fulfilled His self-imposed task. Jesus, as the Substitute for sinners, was condemned to die, and He died that He might finish the work of our redemption. Your sins have sustained their death-blow, the robe of your righteousness has received its last thread (cf 1Cor 1:30note2Cor 5:21note). It is done, complete, perfect. It needs no addition; it can NEVER suffer any diminution. Oh, Christian, do lay hold of this precious thought. I may not be able to state it except in weak terms, but let not my weakness prevent your apprehending its glory and its preciousness. This thought is enough to make a man leap, though his legs were chained with irons, and to make him sing, though his mouth were gagged. We are PERFECTLY ACCEPTED in Christ, and our justification is not partial (cf Ro 5:1noteRo 5:9noteRo 8:30note). It does not go to a limited extent, but goes the whole way. Our unrighteousness is covered. From condemnation we are entirely and irrevocably free. ‘Consummatum est. The work is done, redemption is accomplished; the salvation of My people is forever secured. Sin will never be mentioned against them anymore, forever. Oh, wondrous deed of Deity! Oh, mighty feat of love accomplished once for all!”

J C Ryle encourages us to REST our souls on the finished work of Christ (Heb 4:10-11note) noting that

“We need not fear that either sin or Satan or law shall condemn us at the last day. We may lean back on the thought, that we have a Savior Who has done all, paid all, accomplished all, performed all that is necessary for our salvation. We may take up the challenge of the Apostle, “Who is the one who condemns? (cf Ro 8:1note) Christ Jesus is He Who died, yes, rather Who was raised, Who is at the right hand of God; Who also (continually) intercedes for us.” (Ro 8:34note). When we look at our own works, we may well feel ashamed of their imperfections. But when we look at the FINISHED WORK of Christ, we may feel peace (cf Heb 12:2note).” Hallelujah!

Spurgeon

“Christ has said, “IT IS FINISHED!” and we must cease to work too (Ro 4:3note), not only with our hands but with our souls—working no more for life, for that is given; working no more for justification, for that is concluded; but to-day RESTING in Christ (cp Ro 4:5-6noteMt 11:28-30note) for “It is finished!” There is nothing for God to do. “IT IS FINISHED.” There is nothing for you to do. “IT IS FINISHED.” Christ need not bleed. “IT IS FINISHED.” You need not weep. “IT IS FINISHED.” God the Holy Spirit need not delay because of your unworthiness, nor need you delay because of your helplessness. “IT IS FINISHED.” Every stumbling block is rolled out of the road; every gate is opened. The bars of brass are broken, the gates of iron are burst asunder. “IT IS FINISHED.” Come and welcome; come and welcome!.”

This is exactly what the great missionary Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, did as he meditated on “IT IS FINISHED” writing that “There dawned upon me the joyous conviction that since the whole work was finished and the whole debt was paid upon the Cross there was nothing for me to do but to fall upon my knees, accept the Savior and praise Him forevermore.” Amen!

And since the work of redemption is finished by and in Christ, now based on the fact that we are God’s “workmanship (poiema = masterpiece!), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” our goal should be to daily seek to enter into His works, works that so to speak have already been “pre-paid” and “pre-pared” in Christ, even before the foundation of the world! (Eph 2:10noteEph 1:4note, cp Heb 4:3note1Cor 3:11) This great truth should relieve us of some of the pressure we often feel in evangelical Christendom to “perform” and should give us the freedom to learn to rest in what the Spirit of Christ can do through us when we are totally surrendered to His will. Yes, we will still have to “labor and strive” just as did Paul (Col 1:29note), but now it is working out what the Spirit of Christ works in (Php 2:12notePhp 2:13note).

The evangelist Alexander Wooten was approached by a young man who asked, “What must I DO to be saved?” Wooten replied “It’s too late!” The young man became alarmed asking “Do you mean that it’s too late for me to be saved? Is there nothing I can DO?” Wooten replied “Too late! It’s already been DONE! (IT IS FINISHED!) The only thing you can DO is BELIEVE.”

Therefore, beloved, the same principle holds for the works prepared beforehand in Christ Jesus in which we now are to daily walk (Eph 2:10note) The only thing we can “do” is BELIEVE! The same way we got through the small gate and onto the narrow way (Mt 7:13-14note), is the same way we are now to work for (in) Jesus — by faith, motivated by love. As Paul exhorted the saints at Colossae who were being “tempted” by false teachers to veer off the narrow path of liberating grace and into the rut of futile legalism (Col 2:20-23note), he also exhorts us – “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Col 2:6noteWalk is in the present imperative, a command calling for this to be our lifestyle… continually! BUT be careful! To “try” to do this in our own strength is doomed to failure. The Good News (the Gospel) is that for every divine commandment, He also provides divine enablement. How? The dunamis of the indwelling Spirit (cp Acts 1:8note). Now we need to learn to lean on Him, continually jettisoning “self-reliance” and continually cultivating a “spirit” of “Spirit-dependence. Study also the two intimately related commands to continually “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18note) and to continually “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16note). Notice also how Paul was able to labor [to point of exhaustion! = kopiao] and strive in agony [agonizomai] in Col 1:29 (noting that Paul uses dunamis to describe “His power”!) Now, back to Col 2:6 – How did we receive Him? By faith. How do we now daily walk in Him? By faith! How should we daily work for Him? By faithRemember

It is done!

Tetelestai!

Finished!

Jesus Paid It All” from Passion 2006.

Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished,” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! what a Saviour.

-Phillip Bliss

Hallelujah, What a Savior – Shelly Moore Band

Courtesy of Precept Austin

http://www.preceptaustin.org/tetelestai-paid_in_full

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Parable of the Sower: The Second Soil of the Heart-Rocks, Scorching, and Withering, Part 1

Let’s examine the second soil of the heart and what happens when the seed of the Word of God is sown into it.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21, ESV)

Other seed [of the same kind] fell on ground full of rocks, where it had not much soil; and at once it sprang up, because it had no depth of soil; And when the sun came up, it was scorched, and because it had not taken root, it withered away. And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away. (Mark 4:5-6, 16-17, AMP)

And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. (Luke 8:8, 13, ESV)

On the surface, this second soil of the heart looks like good, fertile ground for the Word of God. However, there is a huge problem not visible to the human eye. The soil only has a few inches of depth and covers up a thick layer of solid rock that makes sustained growth of the seed impossible. The seed has a sudden, brief growth spurt, but its young root can never develop and become strong. Once it hits the rock, the root soon withers away causing the tiny plant that has emerged from the soil to die. This tender plant, that looked so promising, is scorched by the heat of the sun and wilts. The second soil of the heart is as hard as a rock just below the surface and hardness of heart is the great enemy to the growth of the Word of God.

Never forget how important it is for the seed of the Word of God to take root deeply in our hearts so it can produce fruit. This seed of the Word of God contains everything that God is: His love, righteousness, grace, salvation, goodness, holiness, faithfulness, peace and joy just to name a few. Faith comes by hearing this magnificent seed of the Word of God and allowing it to grow and become engrafted into the very fiber of the heart. The seed of the Word of God contains all His precious promises to escape the corruption of the world and to enter God’s Promised Land. It is here the heart is built into a mighty bulwark to advance the kingdom of God.

Importance of a Strong Root System

For the seed of the Word of God to prosper and grow into a strong, healthy tree, it must have a deep root system. The root system allows the growing seed to obtain vital moisture and nutrients from the soil. The root keeps the young plant anchored in the ground and the root also stores food to help nourish the plant at all times. When the seed of the Word of God has strong and deep roots, it anchors the heart to withstand the scorching heart of the enemy. A strong root system of the Word of God provides vital spiritual food to feed the heart so it becomes spiritually alive, an enduring fountainhead of truth, where the characteristics of the living God flow out from it into the world. The root system allows the heart to be anchored to the character of God.

2 Kings 19:30 declares that we must take root downward, so that we can bear fruit upward. Proverbs 12:12 declares that the root of the righteous yields fruit, and shall not be moved, because it is anchored in the Word of God. For the heart to be anchored in anything else is utter foolishness. The heart is always a reflection of what it is anchored in. The problem of the second soil of the heart is its inability to sustain the root system of the seed of the Word of God as it begins to grow. Without a vibrant, deep root system, the Word of God will wither away from the heart. This is a very deadly condition for the heart and will keep it from shining as a light in this dark world.

It is imperative as Christians that we cultivate a deep root system of the Word of God in our hearts. The wonderful book of Psalms begins with this important truth that our root system is the key to our spiritual growth, and our hearts yielding abundant fruit for the glory of God. Psalm 1 in the early transcripts of the Bible was not numbered, as it is believed to be an introduction to the entire book of Psalms. It is the foundation of Psalms and lays out the pattern that must be followed in our walk with God. The truth in Psalms 1 is vital to maintain a healthy spiritual heart.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3, NIV)

The word “blessed” describes the condition our heart should be in daily and it is linked to what it is rooted in. The Hebrew word “blessed” conveys the idea of happiness that flows from a sense of well-being and rightness. It describes a heart that is in sync with God and His living Word is its life-blood. This condition is only available if you do not sit, walk or stand with those who detest the instruction of Scripture and live in a manner opposed to God’s holy commandments. Bad company will corrupt the heart and destroy its root system. We cannot allow those who live in opposition to God and immersed in a culture that hates righteousness and truth to have a place in our hearts. Our delight, desire, and longing must be to know God and His Word as the great treasure of our hearts. We guard the Word with our very life. It is the precious cargo of the heart. It is the spiritual energy our heart needs to survive in this wicked world.

Do we delight in the pure words of Scripture more than the words from television, radio, Internet and chatter of the trivial that relentlessly bombards our lives daily? Would we rather hang out with God than hang out with our old ways, friends and places entrenched in sin?

Don’t ever forget this critical truth that if you lose your root, you lose your heart. When we delight in the Word of God and mediate upon it daily, the spiritual root system of our heart is strong in God. A heart rooted in Scriptures can stand the heat no matter how intense it gets. Then our lives will successfully advance the kingdom of God.

A.W. Tozer in The Root of the Righteous declares the vital importance of the root to the Christian life:

There is no lasting life apart from the root….A tree can weather almost any storm if its root system is sound, but when the fig tree which our Lord cursed “dried up from the roots” it immediately “withered away.” A church that is soundly rooted cannot be destroyed, but nothing can save a church whose root is dried up. No stimulation, no advertising campaigns, no gifts of money and no beautiful edifice can bring back life to a rootless tree.[i]

For our heart to be strong and whole it must be rooted in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the true vine and we are to abide in Him if we are to be branches that bear much spiritual fruit. Jesus Christ is to be the root of the heart for He is the only root that can endure the scorching heat of the enemy’s kingdom. Jesus Christ is the root of David and His kingdom shall rule forever and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.

As you have therefore received Christ, even Jesus the Lord, so walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him, fixed and founded in Him, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7, AMP)

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (NLT)

We are commanded by God to have the roots of our being firmly and deeply planted in Christ. We are to let the roots of our heart grow deep into Him so our lives are firmly built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

But this did not happen in the second soil of the heart. They received the Word of God initially with joy, but something happened that caused the Word of God to have a shallow root system and wither away under the intense heat of the sun. In a short season they become offended in the Word of God and its growth suddenly dies. The tender plant of the Word of God hits the stony ground of the heart and its growth is suffocated as it fades away.

What caused this drastic reversal of growth? What scorched the Word of God from the heart? The Parable states two things: tribulation and persecution. In this time of testing of the heart, those who have the second soil fail miserably. Tribulation and persecution cause the heart to become offended and in this state of offense, the Word of God wastes away from the heart. Let’s examine tribulation and persecution in more depth and see how they have such a dramatic effect on the heart.

Tribulation: The Forceful Squeezing of the Heart

The Greek word for “tribulation” is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, and crush. It is to be pressed into a narrow place. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil and the squeezing of grapes to produce juice. It conveys the idea of being forcefully squeezed under intense pressure or crushed beneath a heavy weight. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds that: “Thlipsis derives from roots that graphically portray that in which a person is first limited, then walled in and gradually squeezed until something must give.”[ii]

When you squeeze something, what is on the inside comes out. What is coming out of our hearts when they are squeezed and placed under crushing pressure? When mental distresses, difficult outward circumstances and troublesome afflictions press into our hearts with an enormous weight and burden, what happens? Do these intense pressures crush the life of God from our hearts? What flows from our hearts when the temptations of life powerfully squeeze us from the inside and the outside? How do our hearts respond?

The Lesson of Joseph

Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt. This gives a vivid mind picture and also shows us what was in the heart of Joseph. What crushing pressure he faced mentally and physically, yet his heart remained steadfast to God and he never caved in to thlipsis.

Joseph’s own brothers hated him and when the opportunity arose, they thrust him into an empty pit. After this they sold him into slavery to a passing caravan. Joseph was bought and taken out of his homeland into Egypt. Imagine how this must have felt! The burden and sadness that must have pressed into his heart! His own flesh and blood despised him so much that they plotted his death. Only Reuben saved him from being murdered by his brothers. When he was cast down by his own family into this abandoned pit in the wilderness without food or water, he had no idea if he would get out. What crushing weight must have squeezed his heart!

His brother Rueben recalled the anguishing pleas of Joseph from the dungeon in Genesis 42:21: “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear…” Joseph soul was in anguish over the cruel actions of his brothers and he desperately pled with them to let him go, but they were silent. Joseph greatly loved his brethren and their betrayal of him was an overwhelming discouragement to his heart. How would our hearts handle this situation? How would hearts respond to this type of pressure?

The mutiny of his brothers was bad enough, but his life took another shocking turn. Suddenly he was sold as a slave to a traveling band of Ishmaelites. He no longer was a free man. In an instant he became a slave, a piece of property to be bought and sold. Joseph would be taken as a slave for a mere twenty pieces of silver into a foreign country away from everything familiar to him. His life would never be the same. He wandered if he would ever see his father again or his brothers whom he still loved.

Can you imagine the enormous weight of these life-changing circumstances? The mental pressure and trauma of slavery were added to the crushing pressure of betrayal by his brothers. How do you think his heart felt?

Are you beginning to get a mind picture of this word thlipsis? How would our hearts react to this thlipsis? Would we become offended in our God? Would we accuse God of unfaithfulness? Would we blame God in bitterness and frustration because of our overwhelming predicament? Would we lose faith and confidence in our God? Would our hearts wither under the scorching heart of betrayal and indifference?

On the surface, it looked like God had forsaken Joseph during this calamity, but nothing could be further from the truth. God was with Joseph every step of the way during this intense thlipsis period of his life. God blessed Joseph with his new master Potiphar and he found grace in his sight and was made overseer of all his possessions. Potiphar was a very powerful man in Egypt, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of his guard.

But he had an unfaithful wife who lustfully desired Joseph. She relentlessly pursued Joseph to have sex with her, but Joseph refused to sin against his God and dishonor his master. Potiphar’s wife was furious when she was rebuffed so she grabbed his garment and falsely accused him of attempted rape. She claimed he was mocking his master with such a detestable act.

Suddenly Joseph lost all favor with Potiphar and was thrust into a dungeon reserved for enemies of the state, those who were a threat to the kingdom of Egypt. Thlipsis had returned to the heart of Joseph with a vengeance as he felt the intense crushing pressure of being jailed in a dungeon over false accusations and losing his trusted position in Potiphar’s household. He was completely innocent, but no one would listen. Would he be freed from the dark captivity of this dungeon or see the light of day again?

Have you ever been falsely accused? Have you ever been thrown into prison when you are innocent and without any fault? How would your heart respond to this squeezing and what would come out?

Joseph remained in this dungeon for at least two years and despite this daily thlipsis, Joseph never lost his faith in God. How rooted his heart must have been in God and His faithfulness to deliver! God was with Joseph and showed him mercy, giving him favor with the keeper of the prison. Joseph was in charge of all the prisoners because God made him prosper. Joseph had the joy of the Lord overflowing from his heart even in the midst of all his trouble. Thlipsis never stole his joy. Joseph even asked the chief butler and chief baker why they were so sad. Joseph was not miserable in prison as the presence of God was a living reality in his heart.

After interpreting both the baker and butler’s dreams, Joseph asked the chief butler to remember him and tell Pharaoh he did nothing wrong to merit prison. However, thlipsis returned as Joseph was forgotten by Pharaoh’s butler, and he never brought up Joseph’s injustice to the Pharaoh for two years. Each day Joseph waited, but nothing happened.  Joseph felt the crushing pressure of being forsaken again, yet he did not uproot his heart from God.

Imagine the thlipsis that Joseph endured! He was stolen from his homeland, subject to the cruelty of his own flesh and blood. He was cast into a political dungeon as an innocent man, and forgotten by a friend who failed to take any action to get him out of prison.

Although the exact amount of time this thlipsis lasted is not known, I believe it was in the neighborhood of 10-13 years! Could our hearts remain faithful God and rooted in His promises during 13 years of extreme thlipsis? Would we be crushed into the ground by this relentless pressure?

Throughout this long period of intense pressure, Joseph never wavered in His love for God. He did not complain to God or become overwhelmed by his circumstances. Joseph never allowed a root of bitterness to grow in his heart because of the injustice, unfairness and cruelty that he faced in life. Joseph did not become offended against God because everything seemed to be working against him. He did not believe he was forgotten, forsaken or abandoned by God. He did not allow thlipsis to destroy his heart for God. His faith in God was never shaken.

God honored Joseph’s steadfastness. He blessed, protected, and prospered Him for his heart was fiercely loyal to God. God was alive to Joseph in his daily living.  Acts 7:9,10 declares that “God was with him (Joseph) and delivered him out of all his afflictions (thlipsis).” God gave Joseph grace even in the midst of thlipsis’s most trying circumstances.

No matter how crushing the pressure, or how hard we are being squeezed, or how heavy the burden, God can deliver us from every thlipsis. Joshua 10:14 boldly declares that no idol can rescue us from thlipsis. Only God’s power and strength can be victorious over any thlipsis that grips the heart. The Parable of the Sower and the Seed makes it clear that how we respond to thlipsis is determined by the deepness of our root in God’s Word.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (thlipsis). But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)

The world specializes in thlipsis. As long as we live in this world, our heart will have to deal with thlipsis. Our heart will be tested with thlipsis to determine the genuineness of our faith and the deepness of our root system in Christ. Will our heart withstand the test of thlipsis and stand strong on the Word or when the blistering heart of the sun comes, wilt away?

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis

Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. The weight of our sin became a deep and crushing weight to his soul. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, and unbearable pain. He would not even resemble a human being, but a bloody pulp of flesh. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin and crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Thlipsis never turned the heart of Jesus Christ from his Heavenly Father. He accomplished salvation and eternal life for all those who will come to Him because he did not allow thlipsis to squeeze the life of God out of his heart. He did not permit thlipsis to offend him. He did not allow his heart to melt under the sweltering heat of thlipsis as he became the captain of our salvation and accomplished the greatest triumph the heaven and earth has ever seen.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ will our root system flourish. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure and overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

We do not belong to this world. We are citizens of another kingdom. The world hates Jesus Christ, who as the light of the world, exposed its love and worship of evil. The world hates the Word of God, which exposes the error of its ways and the lies it so adores. The world will pursue with intense hatred all those rooted in Christ, relentlessly pressuring them to denounce Christ and reject His Word. The spirit of the world is fierce and it will come at us with persistent pressure to squeeze our hearts into its mold. The spirit of the world is out to destroy our growth in Christ and eradicate the living Word from our hearts. We must withstand its thlipsis if we want our hearts to shine forth with the beauty of Christ.

Can your heart stand the pressure of being labeled a bigot, a fool, an idiot, a religious nut, a deceiver, a fanatic and an extremist? Can you stand the heat of standing against this world system that defies the living God and become a spiritual rebel against all the forces of darkness that embrace every level of our culture. Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure and emerge triumphant over every burden and weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis and the Birth of the Extraordinary

God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ and the Word of God.

Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish (thlipsis) because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21, NASB)

God uses the word “thlipsis” to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. There is intense pain as she tries to squeeze and push the baby from her body, but nothing compares to the joy of giving birth to a new child. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary and amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb. But she has to go through a period of thlipsis before the child is born into the world.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes and works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. So many Christians never give birth to the extraordinary, because in the time of thlipsis, they get scorched. How tragic that we never give birth to God’s amazing plans and purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage. We fail to give birth to God’s breathtaking fruit because our root system is shallow in God and cannot endure the labor pains of childbirth.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. Joseph became ruler over all of Egypt and second in command only to Pharaoh. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion and bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe. He obliterated the power of Satan’s kingdom, conquered sin and death, and will establish forever his kingdom as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

David remained faithful to God during the relentless thlipsis caused by King Saul who used the might of his kingdom to try to assassinate God’s chosen king. God birthed an extraordinary calling and work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel and a man after God’s own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ and the Word of God and endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots and persecution. He proved himself a minister of God through thlipsis and became one of the most influential Christians who has ever lived. He penned, through the inspiration of God, a great part of the New Testament and established the gospel in many parts of the world. His ministry turned the world upside down, and he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel. God birthed such an extraordinary thing in the heart of Paul as he turned people from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

We must never allow thlipsis to cause a miscarriage of God’s extraordinary plans and purposes for us by allowing its crushing pressure to scorch the seed of the Word of God from our hearts.

[i] A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Camp Hill: WingSpread Publishers, 2006), 2.

[ii] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume Four: Q-Z, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1988), 913.

Excerpt from The Heart: the Key to Everything in the Christian Life by Tim Rowe. Available on Kindle, Amazon, IBooks and Barnes and Noble websites.

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The First Soil of the Heart: The Great Robbery

Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. (Matthew 13:18-19, NASB)

The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. (Mark 4:14-15, NKJV)

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. (Luke 8:11-12, ESV)

Three Methods of Snatching the Seed

In this first soil of the heart, the seed of Word of God is sown, but it has no chance to grow because the Devil comes immediately and snatches away the seed. Even though seed that falls on the road would have little chance to grow on its own, the Devil takes no chances. He immediately seizes the seed before it can do damage to his kingdom.

The Enemy comes in three different ways to steal this valuable treasure of the Word of God from the heart. He comes as the Devil; he comes as Satan and he comes as the Evil One. Each one of these names emphasizes a different approach and method in snatching away the seed from the heart. The snatching of the seed is not always done in the same way by the kingdom of darkness as the devil analyzes the best way of taking the seed from this soil of the heart. All three methods involve the use of “fowls or birds” which in these verses is a figure of speech referring to devil spirits or demons. These birds are commissioned and sent by the prince of the power of the air. One of the main functions of demons is to take away the seed of the Word of God from as many hearts as possible so the seed does not grow. The seed gets devoured and there is no trace of it left. There is no seed to grow. There is no seed to flourish. There is no seed to mature. It is gone from the heart.

Charles Spurgeon in Satan’s Punctuality, Power and Purpose says:

To the man’s heart the good Seed is lost, the fowls have devoured it. It has become to him nothing, having no power over him, no life in him. Not a trace left-no more would there be a mark remaining of seed cast on the wayside after the birds had taken it away-so effectual is the work of the Prince of the Power of the Air.[i]

The first method of seizing the seed from the heart uses the word “Devil”. This emphasizes a more direct involvement of the Devil himself in the taking of the seed. The Devil is the great devourer and He comes as a roaring lion seeking to steal the seed from the heart.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

The word “devil,” is the Greek word “diabolos,” and means a false accuser and slanderer. It describes one who throws out accusations and false charges to hurt, destroy, and damage its object of scorn. It comes from the word dia meaning “through,” and ballo meaning “throw or cast.” Wuest in his Word Studies in the Greek New Testament says:

Diabolos,” comes from another word which literally means “to throw through.” Thus it means “to riddle one with accusations…it was used not only of those who bring a false charge against one, but also of those who disseminate it…and do so maliciously, insidiously, with hostility.[ii]

The Devil is the chief of slanderers and his false accusations are primarily directed at God and His Word. He has complete disdain and contempt for the Word of God and relentlessly attacks it with malicious intent to defame it. He disseminates a host of lies about it so people doubts its integrity, accuracy and truth and reject it as being the Word of God. This is the roar of the devil and the seed is often lost and taken from the heart in the roar.

Luke is the gospel that uses the word “devil” in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed and it is the only gospel that states the seed is trodden down on the path where it fell. In Israel there were well-worn paths through cultivated fields where people had walked while traveling. The seed fell on this hard path and was trodden under foot.

The Greek word for “trodden” is katapateo and is made up of the word pateo which means to “tread and trample” and kata which means “down” and intensifies the meaning. It is a forceful treading and trampling down into the ground. This word was also used figuratively meaning to treat contemptuously, to thoroughly despise, to spurn, to reject disdainfully and to treat with insulting neglect. In the Bible times one of the gestures to show contempt for someone was to lift up your foot against them (Psalm 41:9; I Samuel 2:29). To walk on top of someone or something was an extreme gesture showing utter contempt and scorn (II Kings 9:33; Micah 7:10).

The Devil is seeking any opportunity to devour the seed of the Word of God from the human heart as he prowls throughout the entire earth. In this first soil, the Devil prepares the heart so that it is like a hard path and he can easily snatch up the seed that has been sown. He conditions the heart through his roar by leveling an intense attack of false accusations and slander against the Word of God. His goal is to build unbelief concerning the Word of God by ridiculing it as full of fables and myths and unworthy of our trust. He sends out his demon spirits like an army of locusts to carry this message of defamation to every heart that will listen. The heart becomes so hardened against the Word of God by the roar that it becomes easy to take the seed from the heart.

This is a very effective strategy. If the Word of God is defamed as a ridiculous book written by a bunch of men, then people will not want the Word of God to dwell in their heart. Look at our universities, schools, and culture as contempt for the Bible is spreading like wildfire. Atheism and agnosticism is running rampant. People are intimidated into not believing the Scripture for fear of rejection and ridicule. This first condition of the heart is becoming more and more prevalent in our times as the seed of the Word of God is taken away with relative ease from the heart because people believe all the lies being promulgated about the veracity of the Bible.

Why is the Devil so intimately involved in this approach as he roars his countless accusations against the truth? Why does he have a fierce hunger to devour the seed of the Word of God and destroy the heart of a person? Because salvation is at stake. Because eternal destiny hangs in the balance. Above all, the Devil does not want a soul to be saved and receive the gift of eternal life. He wants to kill faith and replace it with doubt so the heart never comes to Jesus Christ and receives the new birth. He is trying to prevent another birth into God’s kingdom, another citizen in the kingdom of His love, and another child of God being welcomed into God’s family.

I Peter 1:23 says we are born again through the living Word of God. Without faith in the Word of God, there is no new birth and no redemption and this is why the seed of the Word of God is so vital to our spiritual life. The Devil slanders the Word of God to deceive us into not having trust or confidence in it. Without faith in the Word of God the heart remains in this condition of the wayside heart. Only trust in God and faith in His Word will deliver the heart from this hardened state of barrenness. If this condition of the heart does not change, then a person will not believe and be saved. Hell is the destination of the wayside heart that contains this first type of soil.

So the first approach the Devil uses to snatch the seed completely from the heart is to roar out false accusations, slander, and contempt for God and His Word. This is a vicious attack on the truth and a defiant mockery of the sacred text. It has one aim in mind to devour the seed of the Word of God from the heart. This ruthless mockery of the Word of God causes the heart of many to become hardened in unbelief and to reject the Bible as the God-breathed inspired Word of God and the fountainhead of all truth.

The second method of snatching the seed from the heart is revealed in the gospel of Mark and centers on the word “Satan.” The Hebrew word “Satan” means the adversary and emphasizes Satan as the archenemy of God. He stands in direct opposition to God and His holy purposes and will upon the earth. He resists and contends against God, His Word and His people. The first usage of the word “Satan” in the Bible sets forth the two things that Satan does throughout the entire earth.

Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. (I Chronicles 22:1, ESV)

Satan stands against the children of God and opposes every movement, purpose and direction of God for their lives. Satan also incites the heart to disobey God and pridefully turn away from Him. He incites a rebellion of the heart against God. The Hebrew word for “incite” means to stir up, to lure, to instigate, and to stimulate. The first usage of this Hebrew word “incite” in Deuteronomy 13:6 sets forth the essence of the lure of Satan and the fundamental tactic Satan uses to oppose God, His Word and His people.

If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him… (Deuteronomy 13:6-8a, NKJV)

Satan attempts to entice the heart with this invitation, “Let us go and serve other gods.” The emphasis on the word “Satan” is his relentless strategy to get every heart to place an idol on its throne and foolishly worship other gods. Satan tempts the heart to go in a direction and on a path that is not the Lord’s path, direction or way. Satan cries out “Follow me!” as he leads the heart into enslavement and servitude to another god. The call for idolatry often comes from family, close friends, and work associates, which can make it very difficult for the heart to resist. He tugs at the heart strings through people we love to “go and serve” a host of idols that seem harmless like play things, but in reality are extremely toxic to our heart and our intimacy with God.

Satan uses fascination in the things of this world and the dominant trends of our culture to create thousands of idols just waiting to be the object of our adoration. He has god after god lined up in every nation ready to replace God Almighty in the heart of a person. He has a plethora of idols ready to be loved, treasured, and worshipped as the top priority in a person’s life.

Jesus Christ was promised all the power and glory of every kingdom on earth if he would just turn his heart, bow his knee and worship the devil. Jesus did not succumb to the wiles of Satan.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8, KJV)

If we do not turn our back on Satan and worship the Lord God only, then our heart becomes “easy pickings” for Satan to snatch the seed of the Word of God. If Satan is not behind us, then he is in a position of authority, influence and control before our face. We have allowed him complete access to our hearts because we believed the lie that the world has more to offer than God. We so often have worshiped and honored the things of the world and cast God behind our backs. Jesus Christ rebuked Peter and told him to “get behind me Satan” because he honored the things of man more than the things of God.

Who and what we worship determines whether the soil of our heart is hard or soft. If we do not love God with all our heart, mind soul and strength, then the seed of word of God will not grow in our hearts. We must ask ourselves “who is before me and who is behind me?” Our face and our heart are either turned toward Jesus Christ or turned toward Satan. Satan comes as a beautiful angel of light to tempt our hearts to worship him and everything he offers and thrust God behind our back. If we fall for the bait, if we believe the great masquerade, then he seizes the Word of God that has been sown in our hearts.

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (II Corinthians 11:14, NIV)

Job 2:2 says Satan “walks to and fro on the earth and up and down on it” actively seeking to stand against every purpose of God and to provoke people to seek the idols of this world. The word “Satan” is often used in an indirect sense emphasizing the entire system of the world and the trappings of sin, which the Devil has set up as hostile to the will of God. Satan is the great adversary and antagonist of God and he has sets up a seductive evil system of values and beliefs in the world that excludes and actively opposes God. This world system is set up to subtly attract one’s loyalty away from the true God. Its presentation is polished and full of beautiful decorations and is designed to mesmerize the heart and pull it into its snare.

This world system has a gigantic neon sign at its entrance, which flashes, “God is not wanted.” The Word of God is looked at with great disgust in the system of the world and considered foolishness. The world convinces the heart that it has so much more to offer than some outdated book written by a bunch of religious fanatics. Satan is the master puppeteer of this world system of evil and his name is represented in every part of this wicked network that has engulfed the earth.

This second method to snatch the seed from the hardened soil of the heart is to entice the heart to go and serve other gods. This is accomplished by dangling the bait of the world and its glistening ornaments before the eyes of the heart. Objects of fascination like money, fame, beauty, lust, and possessions are used to lure the heart away from God. The heart is enticed into joining the world’s party and ignoring God. The heart becomes branded for the world and erects altars where every imaginable idol is worshipped with blind ignorance.

When the soil of the heart is in the first category, Satan wastes no time as he comes IMMEDIATELY and seizes the seed and devours it. All the beautiful potential of the seed of God’s word blossoming in the heart and producing stunning spiritual fruit for the glory of God is gone. All that remains is a desolate wilderness of hard, worthless soil where the Word of God cannot grow. Satan wants to keep the heart in this condition, destined for destruction, steeped in failure, never able to reach its true potential in God.

This is why Satan wastes no time in snatching the seed of the Word of God from the heart. He knows the power of the Word of God and that it can transform the human heart. If the good seed grows, it crushes the growth of Satan’s kingdom in the heart. It dispels darkness and brings great deliverance. It extinguishes rebellion and builds strength in God. As the great adversary and antagonist of God, Satan opposes every single seed of the Word sown for it has the potential to destroy all his strongholds.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this first category of soil is just reserved for the non-Christian. There has been a massive infiltration of this condition in the church. It is in epidemic proportions. The Bible gives us many examples of those who claim to follow God, but the fruit of their hearts betray them.

Judas was in the inner circle with Jesus Christ, one of his original twelve disciples, who followed Jesus. Yet Satan entered into his heart at the last supper and he went out into the night to betray Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira were believers in the early church, yet Satan filled their hearts to lie to God. Demas forsook Paul and strayed from the truth because he love the world more than he loved God. Even Peter was rebuked by Jesus Christ as he said, “Get thee behind me Satan, for you are not setting your heart on the things of God, but the things of men.”  I Timothy 5:15 declares, “For some already have turned aside after Satan.” Oh the tragedy for a Christian heart to have this type of soil that allows the enemy to snatch the Word of God from it. We must guard our heart from becoming so hard against the seed of the Word of God that we never receive it. Let us not fall for the masquerade, and allow Satan to condition the soil of our hearts to reject the Word of God.

The third method of snatching the seed of the Word of God from the heart is revealed in the gospel of Matthew and centers on the words “the Evil One.” The Evil One is the Devil, but these words emphasize another characteristic in the scheme to devour the Word of God from the heart. The word “evil” is the Greek word poneros and it is the active, deliberate will to corrupt and inflict injury, pain, and evil on others. It is an active evil in opposition to all that is good. At its core is the intense desire to harm and produce pain, misery and oppression. It is a malignant evil, destroying whatever it touches. In its essence it is a state of being in one that seeks to reproduce itself in another. This evil seeks to propagate itself by converting others to its pattern of thinking, action and conduct.  There is a harassing and pressing nature to this evil, as it pursues the heart relentlessly attempting to draw it into its snare. This evil is not content unless it is drawing others into its corruption and destruction.

Poneros is the fuel of the kingdom of darkness and the outward manifestation of the heart of the Devil. It builds unbelief, which is the great catalyst that hardens the heart against God and His Word. When this evil is absorbed, it pollutes the heart against the things of God. The Devil’s goal is to build an evil heart of unbelief in every human being on the face of the earth, a heart that is molded in his image and that serves his kingdom, a heart that been converted to sell itself to evil. God designed the heart to reflect the image of its Creator. However when this poneros evil is allowed to grow and dominate, the heart begins to mirror the image of the Evil One.

There are only two spiritual fathers that can give birth to their image in our hearts: God or the Devil. The heart is like a womb ready to give birth to an image. Who is building your heart? What image does your heart reflect? We are always leaning toward one image as we choose the image-bearer of our heart. Intense spiritual warfare determines whose flag will fly in the fortress of our heart.

We have two natures warring within us as a Christian, two natures in hand to hand combat trying to gain control of the territory of our heart, two natures trying to build, expand and protect their kingdom. One is the sin nature that embraces poneros evil and welcomes it into every room of our hearts. This sin nature is hostile toward God and resists against every movement of the Spirit of God in the heart. This is the rebel within that is the breeding ground for evil thoughts, actions, and attitudes.

The other nature is our new nature in Christ, birthed in us at the time of our salvation, which radiates the very life and glory of God. When we are born again, we literally become partakers of the divine nature, and God seals us with the gift of Holy Spirit, the great teacher that helps us build the heart into His the image. The new spiritual nature continually exerts an influence on us to be like Christ and stirs the heart to walk in holiness and godliness. The new nature encourages our heart to walk in the goodness of God and gives us the energy and strength to do so. Our old sinful nature of the flesh influences us to walk in selfish and lustful desires that do not please God and rebel against His kingdom agenda. The condition of the soil of our heart is greatly determined by what nature is ruling our lives.

This poneros evil injures the heart with harmful contaminants that bring spiritual disease infecting the lifeblood of the heart. This poneros evil is a serious environmental hazard that can pollute the soil of the heart so that it cannot produce good works for God and the glory of His kingdom.

What a tragedy to have a polluted heart whose soil is worthless to God. What a waste of a life! God has placed a huge warning sign on our lives of this dangerous pollutant. It causes serious injury and death to the heart. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to deliver the heart from every vestige of evil in this present world (Galatians 1:4). Only in Jesus Christ is poneros evil overcome. He dismantled evil on the cross so it never need raise its ugly head in even one corner of any person’s heart. O God build my heart so it reflects the Lord Jesus Christ and not the evil ways of this world! Let the soil of my heart be rich and full of Jesus so there is a pure outflow of Jesus Christ in every thought, word, and action that comes forth my heart. Never let evil be the lord of my heart, but shine your light brightly so that all darkness flees and all evil retreats.

The Dangers of a Hardened Heart

When poneros evil starts to rule the heart, a hardening process begins. A callous begins to form around the heart that makes it indifferent and resistive to the words of God. The soil of this poneros heart becomes hard and dry, causing it to revolt against God and actively oppose the truth. This hardness of heart originates in unbelief and poneros evil is the carrier of unbelief into the heart. Hebrews warns us against allowing the soil of our heart to harden and turns aside from God.

Therefore beware brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him, leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God. But instead warn, admonish, urge, and encourage one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened into settled rebellion by the deceitfulness of sin by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him. For we have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation in virtue of which we are believers, firm and unshaken to the end. Then while it is still called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them. (Hebrews 3:12-15, AMP)

See to it, brethren, that there is never in any one of you-as perhaps there may be-a sinful and unbelieving heart, manifesting itself in revolt from the ever-living God. (Verse 12, Weymouth)

You should therefore be most careful, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and deserts the cause of the living God. (Verse 12, PHILLIPS)

Unbelief is the great enemy of the heart. It causes the heart to harden and abandon the living God. Unbelief is a refusal to trust and obey God and harbors doubt as to His very character. Unbelief says God is not faithful to His Word.  Unbelief has no confidence in God. As unbelief mixes in the soil of the heart, this soil allows evil and sin to take root and flourish.

The Greek word for “refusing to trust” in Hebrews 3:12 means to stand aloof, to cause to withdraw, to incite to revolt, to desert, to shun, to flee from, to fall away, and to stand afar off.  The twin companions of unbelief and poneros evil cause the heart to withdraw from God and flee from every vestige of truth and every revelation of light from the Almighty God.  These two comrades of rebellion build their tower of Babel in the heart revolting against the rulership and dominion of God. They violently oppose every commandment and purpose of God and prevent the seed of the Word of the living God from sprouting its roots into the depths of the heart. The heart is conditioned to reject the word of God and embrace evil.

A hard heart is a dwelling place for Satan, a fertile growing place for sin. The Word of God cannot grow there. A hard heart is a stronghold of unbelief. Christians are faced daily with this persistent threat of the deceitfulness of sin hardening the heart. We must vigilantly guard our hearts that they are never hardened into settled rebellion against our Lord because we have been deceived by the glamor of sin. Do not be played by the devil through his trickery and strategic devices.

The Greek word for “harden” is skleruno and means to become dry, to be impenetrable, and to become unyieldingly obstinate and stubborn.

Skip Moen in his article Brittle Bones describes it this way:

Christians live with a constant threat. Sin can do immense damage at any point. There is no vacation from the possibility of attack as long as it is “today.”…We are in a war….Every day we live, the war comes to us in one form or another…We are cautioned to be on guard from the enemy within. The Greek word here is very descriptive. It is skleruno from the noun skleros. It means “to harden, to dry up, to make stiff.” You can think of the dry bones of a skeleton. No life. Withered away. Hard. All the vitality has been removed and there is nothing left but bones. This is the objective of sin-to make you into a walking skeleton, brittle, hideous and lifeless. Did you notice this verse is written to believers? The possibility of a hardened heart existence is real for believers. All it takes is the deceitfulness of sin making its way into the life of the follower.[iii]

The heart becomes dry like a tomb of dead men’s bones, a skeleton of what it was meant to be, a lifeless barren wilderness where the spiritual life of God has withered away. Sin never delivers what it promises, but it always hardens. There are degrees of hardness of heart, but the more sin rules in your heart, the harder the heart becomes until the hardness is almost impenetrable.

The hardened heart has many characteristics, but it is especially known for a radical stubbornness, and blindness to God and the commands of His Word. The hardened heart is full of pride and arrogance and does not understand the things of God or follow after them. The hardened heart refuses to obey God and will not honor Him. A heart hardened by sin, and poneros evil that flows out of sin, does not hear God and or understand the magnificence of the Word of God. It bounces off their heart like a rock thrown on a trampoline. It does not penetrate the hard callous of deadness that surrounds their heart.

Hardness of heart causes the heart to be in a state of spiritual darkness, ignorant to the ways and purposes of God. There is no revelation from God, there is no divine guidance, there is no understanding of the kingdom of God and there is no enjoyment of the life of God contained in His Word.

Hosea 4 stands out as a clarion call to God’s people warning them of the consequences of a hardened heart. The hard heart has no love for God, no awe of God and no acknowledgment of God (Hosea 4:1). The hard heart ignores the law of God and is destroyed for lack of the true knowledge of God revealed in His Word. God’s people come to ruin because they have no understanding (Hosea 4:6). The hard heart deserts the Lord as it exchanges Him for something disgraceful (Hosea 4:12). The hard heart feeds on sin and relishes wickedness (Hosea 4:7,8). The hard heart is unfaithful to God and joins itself with idols seeking spiritual guidance from the kingdom of darkness (Hosea 4:12). The hard heart rejects every vestige of the kingdom of God and in pure selfishness follows the desires and impulses of the flesh.

No wonder the hardened heart has no idea where it is going! It stumbles around in darkness and a spiritual stupor, intoxicated with the ways of the world. What a tragedy for the heart to have its soil so hard that it rejects the Word of God and falls prey to poneros evil.

What is even more despicable is that this poneros heart of unbelief goes on a recruiting mission and attempts to lure others into its lifeless wilderness. Poneros evil always evangelizes, as it intensely desires to take as many down as possible.

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. (II Corinthians 4:3, NLT)

They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! (Ephesians 4:18-20, ESV)

In Greek writings, skleruno was also a medical term describing something that becomes hardened or thickened. Our English word “arteriosclerosis” comes from this Greek word and means the hardening of the arteries, which is a potentially fatal condition of the heart. This happens over time by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that restricts the flow of blood in the heart and throughout the body. The arteries eventually become so clogged that the blood flow stops circulating. This causes the heart to go into crisis and often have a heart attack. The arteries must be opened or bypassed to prevent death.

Now let us think about spiritual arteriosclerosis for a moment. This is a gradual day-by-day process where our spiritual arteries become clogged and hardened by sin, poneros evil and unbelief. The flow of the Word of God and the voice of the Spirit of God into the heart are restricted. The heart becomes harder day-by-day and more resistive to the voice of God. Finally the day comes where a spiritual alarm is sounded in the heart. The arteries are completely clogged and no life from the words of God or the spirit of God is flowing into the heart. A heart attack seizes the spiritual life of that person. Unless these arteries become unclogged and free of spiritual plaque, our love, desire and true worship of God dies. Our heart becomes like a stone toward God, like a dry desert with no living waters from the word or spirit of God.

The deception of sin continues to justify the hardness of our hearts. We pridefully form our own idols and doctrines to justify our spiritual blindness and call it religion.  There is an epidemic of hardness of hearts in religion, and I know of nothing that can harden the heart quicker than religion. True Christianity is not a religion as it is God acting through Christ and has nothing to do with the rules, regulations, philosophies and doctrines of people.

The entire Bible is an indictment against all hardness of heart against God and His Word. There are countless illustrations in every book of the Bible about the dangers of the hardened heart.

One of the greatest examples of hardness of heart is the Pharisees and Sadducees in the times of Jesus. These were the great religious leaders of the day who thought they knew and understood the writings of the Old Testament and the law. They thought they were so pious that God Himself should move over in heaven and share part of His throne with them. They thought God was pleased with them.

This is why spiritual blindness, ignorance and hardness of heart always go hand in hand. The Pharisees and Sadducees honored God with their lips, but their heart was a thousand miles away from God. They also illustrate just how hard the heart can become to God, His Word and the purposes of God. When their Messiah came, they hounded him with criticism, ridicule, contempt, and accusations and finally killed him. They crucified the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son Of God, the Prince of Peace, the Branch of Righteousness, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How hard their hearts must have been! How blind they were! How they lacked understanding of the Word of God! How deceived they were! All because of the hardness of their hearts.

Nothing is more detrimental to the gospel than Christians getting spiritual arteriosclerosis. Nothing destroys the testimony of the gospel in a Christian’s life quicker than a hard heart. We must always be on guard against this deadly spiritual disease and take preventive measures so our spiritual arteries remain free of the spiritual plaque of sin, evil and unbelief. We can never let our heart become dull, unresponsive and insensitive to the voice of God speaking through His Word and the Spirit of God that dwells within us. We must always have our ears tuned to the Shepherd’s voice.

God can break through this hardness of heart no matter how thick. In the early days of the Christian church, the Pharisee of the Pharisees, Saul, was casting stones at the broken body of Stephen until the religious mob killed this great believer and saint. He breathed slaughter against Christians and barged into their fellowship meetings and arrested them hauling them off to jail and tried to put them to death. Yet Saul had an encounter with the Sower on the road to Emmaus and when Jesus sowed the Word of God in the heart of Saul, it shattered his hardness of heart into a million pieces.

No matter how hard the heart is, Jesus Christ can break through and heal the heart. The Sower and His Seed bring great light, deliverance and liberation from the curse of a hardened heart.

The Evil One is constantly surveying our heart to find a breach where he can gain entrance and harden it against God. He constantly hurls his fiery arrows of unbelief to damage all defenses and allow poneros evil to enter turning the heart into a dry, desolate wilderness. Ephesians 6:16 says that when we put on the whole armor of God to protect our spiritual heart and engage the enemy, we should take the shield of faith above all, as it enables us to extinguish every fiery missile. Faith is the great catalyst to battle poneros evil and the hardened heart.

Faith: The Critical Ingredient in Changing the Condition of the Soil

Faith is a critical ingredient in changing the condition of the soil of our hearts especially in avoiding this first category of soil. Faith needs to be mixed in the soil of our heart like a rich fertilizer that makes it ready for an abundant harvest from God. The seed of the Word of God desperately needs faith if it is to take root in the heart and begin to grow. Faith is just as essential as sunlight or water to the growth of the seed of the Word of God. Faith is an unwavering trust and confidence in God and the integrity of His Word. There is no doubt, fear, worry and anxiety in faith. Faith believes what God has said and that He cannot lie and is faithful to perform what He has promised.

The Evil One can sift our heart like wheat and completely contaminate the soil of our heart without faith. As Hebrews 10 exhorts us, we never throw away our confident trust in God and never shrink back from faith. Our faith must never be shipwrecked on the island of unbelief. There is no faith in this first soil of the heart. That is why it is so easy for the Evil One to snatch the seed from it.

Faith is so critical for the soil of our heart for we cannot please God without it. Faith allows God to move and gives Him the substance to mold Himself into the very depths of the heart. Faith builds a protective shield around the heart and keeps the heart tender for God. Without the shield of faith, the fiery arrows of the Evil One begin to penetrate the heart and unbelief spreads like a virus. Unbelief always causes a breach of the protective wall of our heart that can only be built by our unwavering trust in God and our stand on His Word. Unbelief causes the wall to crack and allows evil to seep in. The heart becomes hard and dry towards the kingdom of God and the spiritual arteries become clogged with poneros evil. The life of God is squeezed out of the heart and it changes into a reflection of the Evil One in thought, work and action.

It is important to mention two more points in Matthew’s account of this parable. First there is a different Greek word used for “snatch” than in Mark and Luke. In Matthew “snatch” is the Greek word harpazo, which means to take suddenly, abruptly and vehemently, often with violence and speed without warning. It conveys the idea of force suddenly exercised. The idea is to take by force with a sudden swoop, which cannot be resisted. It was used in Greek literature for petitions complaining of robbery. A robber uses the threat of violence and forceful intimidation to take the possessions of another.

Harpage, a related Greek word, means robbery, plunder, seizing of one’s possessions, ravenous wolves, extortionists, swindlers and embezzlers. Harpazo is used in John 10:12 to describe the wolf that comes into the sheepfold as a thief and attacks the flock and scatters them because they have no Shepherd. It is also used in Psalms 10:9 in the Septuagint (the Greek Translation of the Old Testament) to describe the wicked man who lurks in a hiding place like a lion in his lair and seizes (harpazo) the afflicted and draws him into his net. In Psalm 7:1 the word is used to emphasize that only if we take refuge in God can we avoid the enemy tearing our soul like a lion and dragging (harpazo) us away. In Genesis 37:33 the word is used to describe Jacob’s lamenting about Joseph when he thought a wild beast had devoured (harpazo) him and torn him to pieces.

Bullying to Snatch the Seed

This word gives a mind picture of how the Evil One snatches the seed of the Word of God from the heart. This is the snatching of the seed by the roar of evil. The roar comes before the devouring as I Peter 5:8 illustrates. The Evil One is the great robber and uses intimidation and force to cause people to surrender the most valuable seed ever sown in their heart. Then the heart has no defense against being torn to pieces by the enemy and no remedy to the afflictions of his kingdom because the seed of the Word of God has been violently seized from the heart. The robber intimidates, threatens, terrorizes, bullies, and frightens, all for the purpose of seizing hold of valuables that he has no right to.

At the root of this snatching is always fear. Fear prepares the soil of the heart to be receptive to the lies of the enemy. It conditions the soil of the heart to reject the seed of the Word of God. Fear is like sand in the machinery of life. It is a great poison to the heart and is always extremely deadly. Fear is the great enemy of the Word of God taking root and growing in the heart.

The Evil One uses fear in a thousand different shades as a weapon of intimidation to allow him to seize the valuable seed of God’s Word before it begins to settle into the soil of the heart. Fear of commitment, fear of ridicule, fear of being an outcast, fear of losing our love with the world, fear of sacrifice, fear of losing friends, fear of consequences, fear of rejection, fear of being labeled intolerant, a fanatic or a weirdo, fear of being different, fear of change, and fear of coming out of the darkness into the light are just a few of the fears that can consume the heart causing it to reject God’s Word.

Fear is always rooted in a lack of understanding of the true nature of God and His Word.  Only God can deliver a heart from fear. God’s Word living in the heart is only true remedy for fear. Fear imprisons the heart and keeps it in bondage. It brings the disease of unbelief into the heart. Fear blinds the eyes, deadens the ears and hardens the heart against God Almighty and the truth of His matchless Word.

The Enemy does not want to see the kingdom of God rise in the heart like the sunshine of a new day. He wants to keep the heart in darkness and spiritual blindness, plagued with the hopelessness of a wasted life that is devoid of the power, healing and deliverance of the Word of God. He wants evil to grow in our hearts, not the Word of God. And evil feeds off of fear. The great cry of the heart must be “Fear not! For my God is with me and He is greater than any fear that has ever occupied the heart.”

The Hated Seed: The Word of the Kingdom

The second truth to consider in Matthew’s account of this first soil of the heart is that the seed is referred to as “the word of the kingdom.” There is no word that Satan hates more than the word of God’s kingdom. His reaction to this particular seed is more forceful, as seen in the usage of the word harpazo, because it proclaims utter defeat and destruction to his every purpose and scheme.

Genesis 3:15, the first prophecy about Christ in the Bible, states the seed of woman (Jesus Christ), will crush the head of the seed of the serpent. In the battle of the seeds, God wins with a crushing victory. The Rock of Jesus Christ will utterly smash every remnant of the Evil One and His kingdom from the face of the earth. The devil is referred to as the prince of this world and he has spread his kingdom into every town, city and country around the globe. But his kingdom is doomed and will come to an end and he is painfully aware of this truth. This is why He hates anything to do with the proclamation of Christ’s kingdom.

The “word of the kingdom” is the great witness that Lucifer’s rebellion against God with all his subsequent schemes as the god of this age were all in vain. A failure of immense proportions. It was foolishness unmatched in human history. Jesus Christ dismantled the kingdom of darkness and one day Christ will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the entire earth, and His kingdom shall never end. The word of the kingdom is a judicial proclamation of the death sentence on Satan’s kingdom and the crushing of his kingdom into oblivion. The word “crush” in the Hebrew means: “to break or smite in pieces and to greatly injure or wound.” E. W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head”, it means something more than a skull of bone, and brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots, policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the purposes of God.[iv]

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

THE PERPETUAL DEGRADATION put upon the serpent- “And dust shalt thou eat all the days of your life.” Satan is now to live a defeated life, for such is the force of expression. It signifies that they are utterly defeated. So Satan, all his life, exists as a conquered and chained enemy-his power is broken and he knows it. He is defeated as to the whole of his great scheme and he is to be defeated in the details of it all the days of his life….Forever, dust shall be the serpent’s meat, for what he gains always disappoints him. He thought he had obtained great advantage when he won the woman to-disobedience-but he made a rod for his own back since her Seed has become his Eternal Antagonist….If Satan ever knows pleasure at all, it is of the foulest and most unsatisfactory kind-dust is his meat. There is nothing satisfying in the pleasures of rebellion. He remains a disappointed, restless being. His whole cause, for which he has labored these thousands of years with horrible perseverance-his whole cause, I say-will dissolve into dust and will be blown away as smoke! …Everything that sin can bring you is just so much dust….This is the misery of that great spirit who is called the Prince of Darkness, that he must eat dust all his days.[v]

Ezekiel foretells of the final complete destruction of the devil in the future and this is a glorious part of “the word of the kingdom” when God’s kingdom is established forever and forever, and not a trace of the devil or his angels or his kingdom will be found anywhere upon the earth.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground. I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever. (Ezekiel 28:17-19, ESV)

But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit. Those who see you will stare at you; they will look closely at you; “Is this the man who caused the earth to tremble, who shook kingdoms, who turned the world into a wilderness, who trampled its cities and would not release the prisoners to return home?” All of the kings of the nations lie in splendor, each in his own tomb. But you are thrown out without a grave, like a worthless branch, covered by those slain with the sword and dumped into a rocky pit like a trampled corpse. You will not join them in burial, because you destroyed your land and slaughtered your own people. The offspring of evildoers will never be remembered. (Isaiah 14:15-20, HCSB)

The god of this world, the Devil, who ruined Adam and Eve in the Garden, who contaminated God’s creation with sin, who turned the world into a wasteland of evil and trampled its cities, who made people prisoners in the bondage of his snare, who uses and destroys his followers, and who spreads fear throughout every age, will one day become like a worthless branch and a trampled corpse, as he is destroyed and reduced to ashes. This is the future of the serpent. He will never enchant, deceive, destroy and oppose God again. This is the ultimate humiliation awaiting the great enemy of God. This is the future of evil.

Do you see why the Devil hates the “word of the kingdom?” Do you see why the “word of the kingdom” causes shock waves to reverberate throughout the kingdom of darkness? The Devil marshals his entire kingdom to snatch and rob this seed of the word of the kingdom from every heart where it is sown. The word of the kingdom declares the truth in Colossians 1:13 that God has delivered us from the exercised power of the kingdom of darkness and given us citizenship in His kingdom by the work of His dear Son. Our citizenship, our life and our very existence no longer rests in the Devil’s kingdom. We have been set free and are now sons and daughters of the living God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and rightful citizens of the kingdom of God.

Oh how we need the word of the kingdom sown into our hearts where it can grow and flourish! Oh how the kingdom of God must rise up like a mighty, flourishing tree and set its root deep in the soil of our hearts. We must prepare the soil of our hearts for the way of the Lord and the glory of His kingdom. Jesus is sowing the word of his kingdom into our hearts. Will it take root, grow and produce fruit or be stolen away by the enemy?

The word of the kingdom is vital to our spiritual health. It is the great medicine for the heart to operate at its optimum level for it gives hope, courage and joy. The word of the kingdom gives us stamina and endurance in the midst of life’s most trying circumstances and problems.

Psalm 145:12-13 says God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and that God wants to make known to everyone its glorious splendor and majesty. God wants the word of the kingdom to thrive in every heart. Daniel 2:44 says that God’s kingdom will never be destroyed, and it will break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms. No earthly or spiritual kingdom can overcome the kingdom of God.

There is only one rightful King that should be sitting on the throne of our hearts. When we allow other kings to rule our hearts, their kingdoms will ultimately be shattered into pieces and broken on the Rock, Jesus Christ. Their kingdoms are short-lived and will crumble into nothingness. God’s kingdom can never be shaken, overthrown and destroyed. God’s kingdom will rule for all eternity. The word of the kingdom must live in the heart of every Christian if we are to serve God and fulfill our divine calling upon the earth.

[i] Charles Spurgeon, Satan’s Punctuality, Power and Purpose, Sermon 1478A, Written at Mentone.

[ii] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume 1, Mark, Galatians Romans Ephesians and Colossians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961), 26.

[iii] Skip Moen, “Brittle Bones,” June 7, 2007, Hebrew Word Study: Skip Moen, http://skipmoen.com/2007/06/07/brittle-bones/.

[iv] E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishing, 1990), Appendix 19, 25.

[v] Charles Spurgeon, The Serpent’s Sentence, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on September 21, 1890.

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life by Tim Rowe. Available on Amazon, Kindle, IBooks and Barnes and Noble

 

 

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The Parable of the Sower and the Seed: The Four Conditions of the Heart

Some of the greatest truths ever revealed about the heart are contained in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. This parable is an illustration of how to build the kingdom of God in our hearts and produce an abundant harvest of fruit to the glory of God. In this parable lie some of the awesome secrets of the kingdom of God and some of the most sacred wisdom concerning the heart. Jesus declared that this parable was the foundation of all his parables and if we cannot understand this parable then we cannot understand any other.

The parable of the sower and the seed is set forth in Matthew, Mark and Luke and we must look at all three records as a whole as each gospel brings new light and nuggets of truth. Each one of the gospels has its own special character and godly design and they are four distinct God-breathed presentations of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each gospel reveals and emphasizes a different aspect of the ministry of the Lord Jesus. Matthew presents Jesus as Yahweh’s king; Mark presents Jesus as Yahweh’s servant; Luke presents Jesus as Yahweh’s man and John presents Jesus as Yahweh’s son. Together the gospels form a perfect whole.

As we study this parable and its great truths about the heart, we will allow each gospel to speak and then gather these truths in a complete picture, which will give us a fuller understanding of the important meaning of this parable.

It is also clear from reading the gospel accounts that Jesus taught this parable to his disciples more than one time. Jesus knew the importance of this parable and reiterated its great truths to his disciples so they would not forget its vital secrets concerning the heart.

Four Conditions of the Heart

The Parable of the Sower and the Seed sets forth the four conditions of the heart in relationship to the Word of God. A person’s heart is always in one of these four categories when it comes to the growth of the Word of God in their heart. The parable sets forth the four soils of the heart that have a direct impact upon how God’s Word will be received and whether it grows or dies.

The most important time of a man or woman’s life is when the Word of God is sown into their heart. This is the time that all of eternity hangs in the balance. This is the time that life-giving change and deliverance are knocking at the door of the heart. What happens to the seed of the Word of God in our hearts is the most critical event that we will ever face in life because everything concerning our salvation, the kingdom of God, the direction of our life and our relationship with God depends on it. Will His seed live or die in our hearts? Will His seed grow or wither away in our hearts? Will His seed produce a spiritual harvest or be suffocated by our flesh? Whose seed will produce its fruit in our hearts: God or the Devil’s? God is sowing the seeds of His Word and the Devil is sowing the seeds of his words. What words will take root and grow in our hearts? Seeds are being sown daily in our hearts and our spiritual health is directly related to the seeds that we have nourished and allowed to grow. Every heart has a harvest. What does your harvest look like?

Our Daily Spiritual Checkup

As part of our daily checkup of our heart, the Parable of the Sower and the Seed gives us wonderful insight into where our heart stands in relationship to the Word of God producing fruit. It also illustrates the battle for of the heart and the intense spiritual warfare that surrounds the living Word of God.

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables. And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? (Mark 4:1-11, 13, ESV)

Listen and Behold

Jesus begins this parable with two words “listen” and “behold” that illustrates he is commanding the undivided attention of the eyes and ears. How important it is to Jesus that we understand the divine truths of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed! Jesus was saying tune your ears to what I am about to tell you and focus your eyes on this picture of truth I am about to paint for you.

The Seed is the Word of God

The first two questions to ask to understand this parable is what is the sower sowing and where is he sowing it? Luke 8:11 states that “the seed is the word of God” and Mark 4:14 says “the sower sows the word.” Matthew 13:18 and Luke 8:18 indicate that the word is sown “in the heart.” The sower does not sow religious tradition, philosophies, man-made doctrines or theologies in the heart. The sower does not sow Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, secular humanism, modernism or spiritualism. The sower sows the pure, unadulterated and living Word of God. The sower sows the God-breathed Word that proceeds directly from the mouth of God Almighty. John 17:17 says, “Thy Word is truth” and the seed is the truth of God’s Word. Psalms 119:60a declares “The entirety of your word is truth” Every jot and title of the Bible is truth and only the truth can set the heart free. Only the truth can overcome every chain of the enemy. Only the truth can bring God’s glorious light into the heart and scatter the kingdom of darkness.

The seed comes from the Divine Master and it is His heart expressed in His words. His seed contains everything a person needs to know about life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The Word of the Lord lives and abides forever and the counsel of the Lord stands for all eternity. The Word of God cannot be broken by the winds of time or the fleeting ideas of the ages. God is faithful to His Word to a thousand generations.

The Word of God is the true path of righteousness, wisdom and knowledge that God has made available to every human being on earth. The Word enables us to become what God desires us to be. We can never fulfill our God-given purpose in life without the Word of God living in our hearts.

The heart needs truth to thrive. The heart needs a healthy dosage of truth daily to become strong and useful for our God. Without truth the heart becomes sick, weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Truth is the mighty wall we must build around our heart so that we might live victoriously and bring great glory to our Lord.

God is the truth. God is the Word. We cannot separate God from His Word. We cannot separate God from the truth. When the truth of the Word of God lives and breathes in our hearts, then God lives and breathes in our hearts. The heart becomes immoveable, unstoppable, fearless, and unconquerable for it lives and moves in Him. God delights when truth lives in our heart as it enables Him to create in us a pure heart that stands as a rock against all evil.

The Seed of the Serpent

But we must be keenly aware that we also have another sower and seed in the world. This seed is not truth. This seed is not the Word of God. This seed is dangerously destructive to the heart and brings bondage, spiritual disease, and darkness. This seed is a killer of the heart. This seed is the cancer of the heart that rapidly multiplies and spreads. This seed promotes rebellion against God and His truth turning the heart against God. This seed exalts self above God and promotes lies above the truth. This seed causes the heart to disobey God and walk away from Him.

The father of lies sends his sowers throughout the entire earth and they are constantly sowing seeds of lies and deception into the heart. The Devil is the supreme enemy of the heart and he is sowing his tares in every community, city, and nation. He is broadcasting his seed as the prince of the power of the air into the fertile hearts of the ignorant, proud, weak, self-sufficient and intellectual. This seed carries his evil agenda. This seed accomplishes his purposes for a generation and acts as the great thief and destroyer of human life.

This seed causes the heart to swell in vanity and wander in the darkness of this world. This seed produces weeds that choke and suffocate the heart and prevent it from reflecting the glory of God. This seed causes the heart to harden and ultimately wither away. This seed robs a person of a vibrant, intimate and joyful relationship with God. This seed breeds evil in the heart and can turn the heart into an enemy against God and His Word. This seed can make the heart either callously indifferent or openly hostile against God and the things of God.

This seed is the words, images, philosophies, religions, idols, values and beliefs of the god of this world that dominate an age as they are scattered throughout the globe. This seed germinates quickly and rapidly produces fruit if the soil of our heart is receptive to it and allows it to grow into maturity. This seed has ruined generations and thrust them to the gates of hell. This seed has become absolutely rampant in our age and it is producing a record harvest of sin, rebellion and mockery against our God. This seed is producing hearts that hate truth and love darkness.

We must never allow this seed to take root in our hearts. This seed has no legal right or authority to grow in our hearts. Don’t let it! Don’t entertain it! Cast it out! Jesus Christ has fully triumphed and defeated its power and the authority. Jesus Christ smashed this seed into pieces at Calvary and he is always present at the door of our hearts ready to make it his home. Only he can obliterate every remnant of this seed from our hearts.

God’s Word laid out this epic battle of history in Genesis 3:15 where He declared there would be enmity (hatred, hostility) between the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) and the seed of the serpent. The two seeds illustrate the violent conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. They are in deep, permanent enmity against each other. The seed of the Word of God and the seed of the serpent cannot coexist in the heart. They cannot live in peaceful harmony for one seed defies the living God and promotes an intense hatred, distrust, and contempt for the Word of God. These seeds are weapons in the invisible war that is raging in the spiritual realm for the control of the heart. The seeds that the Devil sows are weapons of mass destruction against the human heart. There are thousands and thousands of casualties every day from this bad seed gaining access and growing into the fiber of the heart.

There are also a countless number of deliverances every day from the good seed of God’s Word being planted and growing strong in the heart. What is the garden of our heart producing? What seeds are being nurtured in the soil of our hearts? Jesus Christ is the living Word of God and the truth. Jesus Christ is the seed that desperately needs to be sown in our hearts. He is the measuring rod and the holy pattern that we use to judge the worth and merit of every seed that tries to lodge in the soil of our heart.

One of these seeds will grow in our heart and the other seed will die. One seed will flourish and the other seed will wither away. Which seed is growing in our heart? Which seed is dying in our hearts? Which seed is producing fruit in our heart? Is it the Word of Truth or the lies of the Enemy? These questions have eternal implications. These questions are critical to the spiritual health of the heart.

Each seed carries a kingdom and its glory into the heart. The seed is the great kingdom builder and contains the pattern of its kingdom. One seed carries the kingdom of God and one seed carries the kingdom of darkness.

Our great prayer for our heart should be “Thy Kingdom come!” God’s seed is an essential ingredient to transforming the heart into a representation of His kingdom and making the heart a true reflection of His glory. The devil’s seed carries his darkness and evil ways into the heart making it a representation of his kingdom. What kingdom is being built in your heart?

We must not fall for the bait of the serpent. The lies of the Enemy are masterfully woven into a luring tapestry and put together in such a deceitful way that they powerfully tug at the heart. Sadly, they often deceive the very children of God.

We must sow the Word of God in our heart daily for the rest of our Christian lives. Nothing less is acceptable. We must then diligently guard the seed of truth and nurture it with prayer, mediation, confession and faith until it blossoms into a bumper crop of spiritual fruit. The most important thing that is ever sown in the heart is truth and it is only the truth that can set the heart free. The Word of God brings victory over every device and scheme of the Devil. The Word of God is what we hide in our heart so we do not sin against our God (Psalm 119:11). Only the Word of God has the power to overcome sin and triumph through the finished work of Jesus Christ. The only way we grow in our faith is by the truth becoming the guiding light of our thoughts, words, actions and character.

There is an intense battle for truth in the churches today. There is an all-out war in the churches today between the seed of the Word of God and the seed of the enemy. Unfortunately the seed of the enemy has established a foothold in the hearts of many pastors and churches. The truth has fallen in the streets in modern Christianity and we have begun to doubt the integrity, accuracy and veracity of God’s Word. We even have an emergent church movement, which has spread like a cancer into Christianity where the truth of the Bible is changed, abandoned and distorted in order to make it more palpable to the masses.

Who gave us the right to change truth? Who gave us the right to alter the Word of God? Truth is what God says it is and our responsibility is not to change the Word of God, but to believe it. This movement that assails our Christian bookstores and pulpits is a dangerous casting of the seed of the Word of God from our hearts and replacing it with the seed of our enemy. The abandonment of truth causes the heart to become weak, diseased and infiltrated by the enemy. We must never let truth be cast from our hearts. We must never doubt the truth of the Bible because the heart will become fertile breeding ground for the enemy’s seed. We must never let truth fall to the street instead of becoming rooted in our hearts.

God needs His church to stand firm on the truth with a heart that says “Thus says the Lord” and “I will not be moved from the firm rock of God’s Word.” We should confess: “I will not allow the seed of the Word of God to be snatched, crowded or ridiculed from my heart! I stand on the Word of God until I breathe my last breath and nothing shall turn me from it!” The biggest mistake we could ever make is to forsake the Word of God and quit planting its seeds in our heart.

Prepare the soil of your heart to receive the Word by fervent prayer. Plant an abundant amount of seed for a great spiritual harvest for the glory of God. It takes more than a two-minute devotional daily. Read the Bible! Study the Bible! Meditate on the Bible! Memorize the Bible! Confess the Bible! Live the Bible! How many exceeding and great precious promises of the Bible do we know? The promises of God should be the determining factor of the boundaries of our heart. The promises of God should live and grow in the soil of our heart. The promises of God should be the spiritual fuel that works a mighty transformation of our heart into a fortress of the strength of God Almighty.

We must never stagger in unbelief at the great promises of God’s Word. God magnified His Word above all His name (Psalm 138:2) and it is worthy above all else to be planted into our hearts and to grow up into a beautiful tree of righteousness, grace and love.

In the next four teachings posted on this blog, we will study in-depth each of the four soils of the heart in the Parable of the Sower of the Seed. We will see why the seed of the Word of God did not produce fruit in the first three soils and how to avoid this tragic outcome. We will also thrill to observe the wonderful harvest of the good soil of the heart and what conditions Jesus revealed will assure a continual reaping of fruit of his kingdom. I hope your heart leaps for joy as the great truths of this parable are unfolded and that God enlightens the eyes of your understanding to the gems of life contained in this revolutionary teaching.

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Remembrance: The Key to Spiritual Growth

When you actually remember God you do not sin. The only way we ever sin is by suppressing God, by forgetting, by tuning out his voice, switching channels, and listening to other voices. When you actually remember, you actually change. In fact, remembering is the first change.[1]

Remembrance is the key to spiritual growth in our Christian lives. Remembrance is the key to keeping our hearts strong for God, and keeping the power of sin from exercising control over our hearts. Remembrance is to see God with our eyes, and to hear God with our ears, and to be spiritually alert to His presence. Our hearts fall into sin, when we forget God and switch our thinking to the channels of this world, tuning out God’s voice.

Have you ever considered that “remembering” is a significant part of our daily lives? We go to great lengths to remember treasured moments in life, like birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. We take pictures, videos and write special notes to capture important events so that these wonderful moments will not fade from our memory. We erect memorials, we write speeches, and we give heartfelt tributes so we do not forget. Remembering is a huge necessity in our lives, for time moves so quickly and it is so easy to forget.

When we do not remember, we allow the important things of life to lose their value. Forgetting can bring death to a relationship and cause the heart to move in a completely different direction. Remembering helps to deepen relationships, forge bonds, and strengthen the chords of love. This is why remembering is so important to our physical and spiritual lives.

We must also make a focused effort to remember God and the promises of His Word. God should be at the top of the list on our daily reminders. When we do not remember, we lose a part of our heart for God. Our heart begins to weaken and crumble for God when we consistently fail to remember Him. Our lives should be so structured in our daily routines and habits that we do not forget Him. We must build our lives around God where we acknowledge Him in all our ways, by having our hearts continually fixed upon Him, and thinking of Him at all times, for remembering is the key to our walk with God.

The Bible Illustrates the Importance of Remembering

We see how God understood the vital importance of remembering when we look at the vast number of times memorials, appointed feast days, written records, and even names were used throughout the Bible so the people of God do not forget. The Passover was to be a memorial day for Israel throughout all generations so they would never forget God’s mighty acts and deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. The Feast of Trumpets would occur every year on the first day of the seventh month. It was a memorial proclaimed with a blast of trumpets. It was a solemn day of rest and reflection, a call to repentance so one could take spiritual inventory of their life in preparation for the Day of Atonement. The blowing of the trumpets was a wakeup call for God’s people to abandon their sinful ways and return to Him. It was a time to remember the Creator and His grace and mercy. It was a time of somber examination of the ways of the heart, and a celebration of God’s redemption for their sins through the blood of a sacrifice. God wanted Israel to never forget the depravity of their sinful nature and the glorious redemption provided by the hand of a loving God.

In Numbers, God commanded the people of Israel to make tassels on the corners of their garments so they remember all the commandments of the Lord and obey them. When God miraculously parted the river Jordan, and Israel crossed over into the Promised Land, Joshua took twelve stones from the Jordan setting them up as a memorial so that God’s people would never forget. The holy presence of God represented by the Ark of the Covenant had entered into the Promised Land and was to be brought to mind by this memorial. Before Joshua died, he set a stone as a witness so Israel would not forget their covenant to serve the Lord faithfully with all their heart, and throw away the false gods of their ancestors.

In the requirements for a king in Deuteronomy, the king was to write for himself a copy of the law, and it was to be constantly with him so he could read it all the days of his life. His personal, hand-written copy of the Word of God was so he could remember the commandments of God, and never let his heart turn from them. On a larger scale, this is why God has given us His God-breathed written Word and faithfully preserved it through the generations, so we will not forget it, but study, meditate, confess, and obey it.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:15-16, ESV)

Communion: A Covenant of Remembrance

During his ministry on the earth, Jesus pressed upon the hearts of his disciples the importance of not forgetting his words of life. Even on the night Jesus was betrayed, he spoke words for his disciples to always remember. He established a covenant of remembrance, a communion of intimate fellowship of his body and blood, which is an everlasting memorial to never forget what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. It is a beautiful ceremony to remember the salvation and redemption that our wonderful Savior paid for us through his sacrifice as the true Passover Lamb. He took the bread which represented his body which was broken, beaten, wounded and crushed for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing and said “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” He took the cup which represented his blood which paid for every sin that held us in bondage and separated us from the heart of God and cleansed us from all unrighteousness and said “This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” We must never allow our hearts to forget the amazing significance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and the eternal salvation, justification and righteousness He accomplished for all those who believe.

The Name of Yahweh: A Memorial to All Generations

Throughout the United States and the world there are memorials that commemorate important events in history that are to be remembered. God has given us a greater memorial that stands before all generations as a witness to His majesty, holiness, and goodness, which is His name, Yahweh.

Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ (Exodus 3:15, NKJV)

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations. (NLT)

The name of Yahweh stands as a memorial, a remembrance, and a monument to be engraved in our hearts so we never forget the glorious character of our God. We must constantly bring to our conscious thoughts the significance of the name of Yahweh. Develop a keen spiritual awareness of this name above all names and enter into a covenant of remembrance so that you will never forget the power, mercies, glory, and benefits of the name of Yahweh. Knowing the treasures of wisdom and knowledge revealed in the name of Yahweh will allow you to enter into deeper intimacy and fellowship with Him. To know His name is to know God and this knowledge brings overflowing joy and peace to your heart.

It was Yahweh who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and Yahweh is also our life, the source of our being, and we should be closer to him than our very breath. Isaiah 64:7 declares there was no one who stirred and awakened themselves to take a strong hold of the great name Yahweh and call upon that name in every dilemma and circumstance in life. Oh how we have failed to recognize the immeasurable majesty of His name, and take a firm hold upon it and never let go!

Never forget that God is Yahweh Avinu, the Lord our Father, who loves, nurtures, guides and protects us as His beloved children; who runs to meet us, dancing over us with singing; who treasures us and wants to walk with us daily in the deepest bonds of affection, and who is the giver of everything we will need in life.

Never forget that God is Yahweh Jireh, the Lord who sees all our needs to the minutest detail and abundantly provides for each one of them. His supply is endless, and He is never late in His wonderful care. He is our provision, sufficiency and satisfaction. He is the bread that nourishes us and the water that quenches our thirst.

Never forget that He is Yahweh Rapha, the Lord who heals every wound, sickness, hurt and malady of the heart. He is the Great Physician and Supernatural Healer of our bodies, emotions, and minds. He is the God that gives perfect wholeness and soundness of body, soul and spirit. He is our cure, our remedy, our repairer and our healer.

Never forget He is Yahweh Shalom, the Lord our peace, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, giving us inner tranquility and quiet assurance that cannot be shaken by the fears and anxieties of this age. He is the peace that reigns in our hearts giving us complete unity and harmony with Him where we are never disturbed, stressed or troubled by the raging waters of life.

Never forget He is Yahweh Nissi, the Lord our banner of victory, canopy of protection, and place of refuge. He is our rallying point when all else has failed, who gives us His strength and stands right beside us interceding in every crisis.

Never forget He is Yahweh Roi, the Lord my personal and loving shepherd, my special friend and companion, who tenderly cares for me, guiding and watching over me as His cherished possession; who leads me through the deepest valleys and through the darkest night into the safety of His pasture and the warmth of His dwelling place.

Never forget He is Yahweh Zidkenu, the Lord our righteousness, who has paid the price for our redemption through the gift of His Son and brought us into a right relationship with Him. He justified us, freeing us from the penalty and consequences of sin, and enabling us to boldly come before the throne of His grace and enjoy His sweet presence.

Never forget He is Yahweh Osenu, the Lord our Maker, who has intricately woven every detail of our being in our mothers’ womb with the touch of His loving hand. He made us for Himself so we can enjoy each other in the deepest relationship, and He designed a mighty purpose and plan for our lives that will bring glory to His name.

Never forget He is Yahweh Mekaddishkhme, the Lord our sanctifier, who set us apart from the corruption of this world and seated us in the heavenlies with Christ, having made us His holy, beloved children, His very own possession, His royal priesthood, and His purified saints so that we may shine as the lights of this world and show forth in brilliant splendor the immeasurable and incomparable greatness of our God.

Never forget He is Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, the Captain of the Lord’s Armies, the General of the Heavenly Battalions, who bears His mighty arm for His people, fighting every battle for us and defeating every foe. He is our courageous defender, our valiant protector and our fearless warrior who charges into the battlefield on our behalf crushing the enemy in victorious triumph. He is our Lord and Commander who is unstoppable, immoveable and undefeatable as He counts it His highest honor to guard and protect us from the onslaughts of the enemy.

Never forget He is Yahweh Ezer, the Lord our Help, who carries our burdens upon His shoulders; who is our support, deliverer and refuge. He succors us and tenderly nurses our wounds and shields us from every destructive attack upon our hearts. He tenderly holds us by the right hand in the midst of life’s fiercest storms, and is ever present to help us even in our darkest hour. He rides the heavens and hears the cry of His beloved children and swiftly comes to their rescue.

Never forget He is Yahweh Tsur, the Lord my rock, my firm foundation, my mighty fortress of strength, my tower of refuge, and my powerful defense so I will be not be moved. He is our Rock of Ages who is a safe haven, a wall of protection, and an abiding place of shelter and comfort. He is our solid Rock where we stand immovably secure in the midst of the descending rains, roaring floods and treacherous quicksand of life. He is the pillar of our confidence, the solid surety of our path, and the rock of our salvation.

Never forget He is Yahweh Shammah, the Lord is there, always present in all His glory, power and strength. He will never leave us alone or forsake us, but holds us tightly to His breast, never releasing His gentle hold of us. He is our promise of living in His presence for all eternity. We are His dwelling place, His Holy of Holies, and His permanent home where He lives. The fire of His holy presence purifies our hearts, and burns away the chaff of everything that holds us back from loving Him with all our heart. He is closer to us than our breath. He is our heartbeat, the essence of our life as we grow into full union with Him in every aspect of our being.

Oh may my heart never forget the glories of His name! Oh may my heart brand these truths upon you with the fires of His presence so I will always remember everything my God is. I will never let anything crowd out the name of Yahweh from my heart! Psalm 9:10 declares “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek You.” When I know your name, my heart will trust in you at all times. When I know your name, I will have no doubt that you will never forsake me or turn your back on me. When I know your name, faith will be the mighty bulwark of my heart, and unbelief will have no place, no root and no room in my heart. May my heart never take your name in vain by emptying it of its weight and significance by my forgetfulness.

Tendency to Forget God in Times of Blessings

One of the greatest temptations to forget God and His name is when life is good, and we seemly have everything we need, and the heart is lulled into a state of spiritual forgetfulness. In Deuteronomy God set forth for all to see this dangerous tendency of the human heart to forget God in times of blessings.

Beware lest you forget Yahweh your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his ordinances, and his statutes, which I command you today; Lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built fine houses, and lived in them; And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; Then your heart might be lifted up, and you forget Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, WEB)

America: The Land of Forgetfulness

Our hearts wanders into forgetfulness when it has an abundance of food, material possessions, and prosperity. Is there any country that could be labeled the land of forgetfulness more than America? To shun God from our consciousness and push Him from our memories has become an increasing way of life in America. We get lost in our possessions, as we are satisfied with our beautiful houses, our beloved cars, our endless technology, our wonderful comforts, our limitless choices of food, and our diversity of entertainment. We unendingly engage our IPads, IPhones, IPods, flat screen TV’s, Xboxes, sporting events, movies and music. We disconnect from God, days, weeks and months at a time. God is a momentary fleeting thought or a brief interruption in our day, but there is no memorial or remembrance in our heart of God’s name, blessings, and greatness. We are too busy to remember God. We think that we have all we need and we do not need God anymore. America has become the great promoter of this culture of forgetfulness. We have failed to remember the God who has blessed us. We have failed to remember the Creator who has given us life, but regretfully, our hearts are lifted up with pride and we have chosen to forget Him.

Forgetfulness is at the center of all rebellion against God. Forgetfulness is always the first step in the downward spiral of the heart. If you forget God, the condition of your heart will be weak and diseased. If we develop a habit of forgetting God for the majority of our time, then our heart will never grow up in spirit and truth into a mighty reflection of Christ. You must examine yourself daily to see if this habit of forgetfulness of God and His Word is dominating your heart? What do you think about during the day? What do you remember the most? What barely occupies a moment of your thought life? Do you constantly remember Scriptures throughout the day and hide these precious words in the depths of your heart or do you remember more the latest sports scores or statistics, the current TV shows and their storylines, and the lyrics of the hottest hits on radio? Do we spend more time watching television and surfing the internet than we spend with God in prayer?

What do you remember day by day? This is a crucial question in determining the condition of the heart. Are God and the significance of His name pushed out so we can remember other things? We must prayfully realize that failing to remember is the great sin of the heart, for out of forgetfulness comes every evil imagination and wicked action. Forgetfulness is a serious environmental contaminant to the heart. Forgetfulness causes the heart to become polluted because the walls of protection crumble, opening the floodgates for the enemy to pour in all the corruption of His kingdom. This is why the Devil actively promotes and molds a culture of forgetfulness. It allows the enemy access, for forgetfulness is a serious breach in the security of our hearts. If we do not remember God, whatever we are building is on a foundation of sinking sand. It cannot stand. It will fall.

God’s Love Motivates Us to Not Forget

So how can we develop a strong habit of remembering God’s mighty words and name? How do we not forget God? How do we not allow God to fade from our memory? The fundamental, motivating truth to not forget God is centered in His incredible love for us. When our eyes are opened, and we begin to see the exceeding greatness and limitlessness of His love and grace, we will remember Him, we will treasure Him, and we will love Him with all our hearts.

Loving God means we will not forget Him nor cast Him aside from our memory. We love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength for we have remembered His love for us. We do not forget because we know we are the memorial of love that God has placed in the center of His heart. In the midst of this fathomless love, He has whispered in our ears an amazing and heart-changing promise. Could this promise really be true? Yes, beyond any shadow of a doubt for God does not lie! He does not break His promises. He has given us His Word, and He is always faithful to it. He has uttered from the depth of His heart His vow of love to you, and He will never dishonor it. This unbreakable and eternal pledge of love, reserved for you every day you draw breath upon this earth is, “I will not forget you!”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. (Isaiah 49:15-16, NIV)

For He, God Himself, has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5b, AMP)

One of the deepest relationships of unconditional love in human existence is the bond between a mother and child. It is a close physical and emotional attachment that is the height of human intimacy. A nursing mother is sharing part of herself with her child bringing life, nourishment, strength and health to her precious one. Yet even a nursing mother may commit the unthinkable, and forget and abandon her child.

But God’s love for YOU is a million times deeper than the incredible love of a nursing child and mother. God’s love is perfect and has an irrevocable guarantee that even a mother cannot make. We know for sure beyond any shadow of a doubt that God will never, ever forget YOU. Not even for a second. God thinks about YOU all the time. YOU are always on His mind. YOU will never fade from His memory. God promises that He will never fail YOU, never forsake YOU, never leave YOU helpless, never leave YOU without support, and never give up on YOU. Never!

God has engraved or tattooed YOU on the palms of His hand as a divine memorial that He will never forget YOU. He has stamped YOU into Himself. YOU are a part of him. YOU are engraved into His very being. YOU are etched into His heart. YOU have an indelible union with God’s own heart, and He has tattooed a portrait of YOU on His palms so He always sees you, and is always near to you. He wants to be close to YOU. He gazes with burning love at His portrait of YOU. He longs for YOUR love. He yearns for YOU. God could no sooner forget YOU than He could forget Himself. He constantly takes out YOUR picture simply to remember how much He loves and cares for YOU. God’s desire, God’s passion and God’s craving is always for YOU. His portrait of YOU is His most special possession. YOU are the centerpiece of His heart.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7, NIV)

It is estimated that there are billions of sparrows in the world. Throughout all the vast continents on earth from the thick woods to the open field, God has never forgotten a single sparrow. These creatures have no fear because they know God always remembers them and takes care of them.

Do you know that the average person has between 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair on their head and God has counted each one? This is how intimately He knows you. This is how deeply He loves you. If He never forgets even one sparrow, what makes you think He will ever forget you? We must never allow our heart to sink into fear and doubt, and believe that God has forgotten us or forsaken. Oh let our heart see the tenderness in His eyes, the gentleness of His embrace, the sweetness of His presence and the comfort of His touch! If you could only see how He looks for you, how He longs for you, and how He desires you. God Almighty, who sits enthroned in the heavens, whose majesty exceeds the wonders of the mountains, oceans and stars, is in love with you. The great Shepherd Psalm tells us His goodness and love relentlessly pursues us all the days of our lives. How could your heart ever forget such an awesome God?

God Deserves to be Remembered

Doesn’t God deserve to be your first love? Doesn’t God deserve to be remembered? Can you hear Jesus whispering to your heart “Do you love me more than all of these things of the world?” “Do you really love me?” “Do I have your heart?” The essence of building a strong heart for God is all wrapped up in this one essential truth: “Do not forget Him.” His works and His words were made to be remembered. His love, grace, mercy, goodness and kindness are so awesome that they are incomparable, unparalleled, and unrivaled by anything in the heavens and earth.

We must remember! We cannot forget! For if we forget the magnificence of His name, if we allow our memory to weaken and He begins to fade away, and if we fail to remember the greatness and supremacy of our God, then we have written a prescription of destruction for our hearts. It all begins with structuring our thoughts, activities and time so we do not forget.

The world wants you to forget. The hectic pace of this life with its limitless distractions screams at our heart to forget. But the cost is too high. The dangers are too grave. The first brick we must lay in order to build a heart that is strong for God is to not forget Him, no matter how big the distraction, or how luring the temptation, or how loud the noise. We must remember our God. He must be engraved on the forefront of our hearts. We must pledge to always remember Him and consider His ways and words as the true compass of our hearts. In the journey of our heart it is the most important mission. We can never forget God or we will lose our heart. Remembering is an act of survival of the heart.

We must never lose sight of our God. Failing to fix our eyes on Him, and not remembering Him, will shipwreck our faith and extinguish the passion in our relationship with Him. Whatever we do, we do in remembrance of Him, whatever we say, we say in remembrance of Him. Wherever we live, we live in remembrance of Him. In Him we live and move, and have our very being. The more we remember, the more we love and treasure our God, and our heart will go through an amazing transformation of spiritual growth. Our life will be His life, our words will be His words, our deeds will be His deeds, our touch will be His touch, and our heart will shine forth brilliantly the light of God in this dark world.

God must be remembered so He can be loved, worshiped, and adored. We must remember His words so we know His instructions for our lives, and can follow the right paths He has chosen for us. We must remember His works so that we will know His plans of redemption, restoration, transformation, deliverance and salvation. We must remember His attributes so that we will know the immensity of our God, and never doubt His power to rescue, protect and defend us. We must remember His name so that we will know who our God is and the glorious attributes of His nature. May your heart cry out “Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2). We must remember all His wonderful promises, and that God is a Rewarder and He loves to reward His children as stated in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” You must forever realize that YOU are God’s beloved, His most treasured possession, His priceless masterpiece, and His cherished child and His desire is only YOU, for you were created for His glory and honor. We must also remember that God is to be your most beloved, your most valued possession, your priceless Creator and your treasured Father. Your desire is to be only for HIM.

He is our first love, our first passion, our first thought, our first embrace, our first praise and our first look. He needs always to be the first song of our heart. Let us make the first promise of our heart from this day forward: “Lord, I will not forget you! Wherever I am, whatever I do, and wherever I go, I will always remember you! I promise you will always be the true remembrance of my heart, I will never let you fade from my memory. I will never allow my thoughts to turn from you. I will never allow my heart to wander from your counsel and presence. Lord help me to never, ever forget you!”

Excerpt from “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life.” by Tim Rowe

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[1] David Powlison, “Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken.” Desiring God. September 25, 2004, http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/making-all-things-new-restoring-pure-joy-to-the-sexually-broken

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