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A GRAIN OF WHEAT DIES AND PRODUCES A RICH HARVEST

A GRAIN OF WHEAT DIES AND PRODUCES A RICH HARVEST

Jesus leaves us with a very profound message on just how one grain of wheat can produce a bountiful harvest.  Listen to what He says, 24I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.” (John 12:24 AMP) 

This picture that Jesus paints for us illustrates not only Jesus artistic abilities, but He illustrates it in such a manner that it leaves no doubt as to the meaning of His words and the impact that they could have on the whole human race if only we would take the time to conceptualize them.

Now meditate on this for a moment, when a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, it actually dies before becoming a mature blade producing many new kernels.  In the same way, Jesus, by his death, produced more fruit than could have been gained had he become the king of Israel on an earthly throne.  Indeed, by being lifted up on the cross, Jesus would draw all people to himself.  In this picture of the dying grain, Jesus spoke directly about his own life.  He does not necessarily require us to literally give up our lives in sacrificial death as the only way to be fruitful.  God does call some believers to die for him.  However, he calls many more to stay alive for fruitful service.

Now let us turn to (Romans 12:1-2) and see what is meant by His call for many more to stay alive for fruitful service.   1I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

    2Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Jesus makes a direct appeal to us, He even begs us in view of God’s mercies for us to give up the old way of life, and delicate our entire body as a living sacrifice, well pleasing to God, which is only our reasonable service.  He furthers employs us to be transformed, that is, changed by the renewing of our minds.  Spiritual transformation starts in the mind and heart.  A mind dedicated to the world and its concerns will produce a life tossed back and forth by the currents of culture.  But a mind dedicated to God’s truth will produce a life that can stand the test of time.  We can resist the temptations of our culture by meditating on God’s truth and letting the Holy Spirit guide and shape our thoughts and behaviors.

Now let me tell you this one truth, if anyone wishes to become a true follower of Jesus, you must get your priorities in order and this verse makes it perfectly clear why this must be.  Listen up,  25Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]

If you choose to love your life more than your Master’s, you will lose the very life that you seek to maintain.  True disciples must be willing to suffer and experience rejection, even unto death if need be.  To serve and follow Jesus means making radical lifestyle changes.  To follow Jesus means going the way he went, not the way of earthly power and honor, but the way of humility and death.  Everything Jesus did was for God’s glory.  When we choose to follow him, we must live for God’s glory alone.  This does not mean we have no fun, no joy, no security.  Rather, it simply means we live to honor God and then the Father will honor us.

We must live to honor God, but in order to do so the old must die off in order for new fruit to reproduce it’s self.  You see, when a seed dies, it produces fruit.  Life comes by death.  This principle is true not only in nature, but it is also true spiritually.  Jesus was speaking first, and foremost of Himself.  He is the grain of wheat.  His death would produce much fruit and would result in many living for God.  When you live for God, you honor God.

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SALT AND LIGHT LEADERSHIP JESUS WAY (PART 3)

BELIEVERS MUST BE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

In the last two lessons, we have learn the value of salt in our lives and the need for us to be used as that salt, to stir up our gifts, and preserve the best qualities of our lives.  God has equipped us in order that we may have a positive effect on others as the salt of the earth.

The Bible speaks of light as the symbol of God’s presence and righteous activity.  Light has been associated with the presence, truth, and redemptive activity of God since creation.  Before human beings were created, light was brought into being by the Creator: “Then God said, Let there be light; and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good’ (Gen. 1:3-4). Through-out the Bible, light represents truth, goodness, and God’s redemptive work.  Darkness, on the other hand, symbolizes error, evil, and the works of Satan.

Now listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “14You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” As salt makes a difference in people’s food, so light makes a difference in their surroundings.  Jesus told them that He was the light of the world, and if you follow me you will not stumble through darkness, but instead you will have the light of life.  He further said, “You as my disciples must live for Christ, shining like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.  They are like light in a dark world, showing clearly, what Christ is like.  Because Jesus is the light of the world, his followers must reflect his light.

When Jesus was on earth, his divine life illuminated the inner lives of his followers.  Everywhere he was present he gave light.  This light penetrated people, exposing their sin and revealing divine truth.  No one could encounter Jesus without being enlightened.

Know in your heart that Jesus is light, and as light enables people to do their work, it produces growth in crops; it reveals beauty and provides safety.  Light represents what is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable.  Light reveals; light shines.  God is so completely “light” that there is no darkness in him at all.  “Darkness” represents what is sinful and evil.  God is untainted by any evil or sin.  Thus, “God is light,” means that God is perfectly holy and true and that he alone can guide people out of the darkness of sin.

Those of us who claim to follow Jesus must be living in the light of God’s presence.  They must be illumined by the truth of God’s character.  To “live in the light” requires constant contact with God and no tolerance for dishonesty, hypocrisy, or sin.  Living in the light comes from continuous effort to take on Christ’s qualities.  This involves complete transformation from within.

Living in the light leads to fellowship with each other.  This fellowship among believer’s results from each believer is having fellowship with God.  True spirituality manifests itself in community fellowship.  One cannot say that he or she communes with God and then refuse to commune with God’s people.  Such was the case with some of the false teachers of John’s day, and this situation exists among false cults today.  Often their followers and leaders claim to have special relationships with God, but they do not affiliate with other believers.  They stay isolated and withdraw from everyone else.  John’s point is that the natural result of living in the light (in fellowship with God) should be joyful relationships with other Christians.

1 John 1:5 (Amplified Bible) 5And this is the message [the message of [a]promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [[b]no, not in any way].

 

SALT AND LIGHT LEADERSHIP JESUS WAY (PART 1)

WE MUST BE DIFFERENT IF WE WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Our lives must be a living example of what Christ presented to us to become.  Jesus did not
just talk about making a difference, He lead the way in truly setting the example in how we should do it.  Let us look at how Jesus did it.   When He was preparing for the direction in
which His ministry was going to go in, He took His leadership team to the top of the mountain for a few days and essentially gave them a top-line preview of the next two or three years, as well as a behavioral blueprint that we can use to this day.

Now listen to how Jesus taught His disciples.  He said, “13You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.”

14You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

16Let your light so shine before men that they may see your [g]moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and [h]recognize and honor and praise and glorify
your Father Who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-14, 16) AMP

In these three powerful verses, Jesus took two household commodities essential to the livelihood of the poorest of the poor and the wealthiest of the wealthy and painted a word
picture.  Everyone in that culture understood the concept of salt and the concept of light as does everyone in today’s culture.

Jesus was talking about influence.  He commanded his followers to have a full and intentional positive influence in their culture.  Do all followers of Christ carry out this command?  Absolutely not.  Their salt becomes tasteless, their light covered or doused.  Observation bears
this out.

Clearly, Jesus calls his disciples to be “transformers of culture.”  Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, put it this way: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  (Phil. 1:27). No greater opportunity exists in which to live out this command in the modern world than in the marketplace.  It is the soup.  It is the darkened alley.

For the most part, followers of Christ have a handle on Sunday.  There is room for improvement, to be sure.  Church growth is slack among many traditional denominations, but more and more churches have identified innovative ways to be culturally relevant and biblically sound.  In addition, their members know the part they are called to play on the first day of each week.  However, many believers never connect the Sunday message to their lives on Monday through Friday in the workplace.

Moreover, it is at work, of course, that we spend most of our waking hours.  It is at work that most of us are in contact with nonbelievers.  It is at work, that salt will be most noticeable and that light will shine the brightest.

Being different means making a difference in the lives of those you employ to work with you are for you.  Never just, take people for granted.  Use your influence over them to make their lives better just as Jesus did when He took His disciples into the mountains and taught them the role of leadership.  The choice is yours; will you make the right
one?

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2.

 

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