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Posts tagged ‘Living’

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 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.

 

LEARNING TO LIVE IN THE TRUTH

As we begin our study of the epistle of 2 John 1:4-6, we are given to understand that John had only met some of the believers in the church and was glad to find them living in the truth.  John was probably speaking of those he met at some place other than the local church itself.  His joy at meeting them and then discovering that they were living in the truth prompted him to write this epistle.  In identifying only “some” of the children, he was not necessarily excluding the others.  Rather, he was speaking only of those he met.  In both cases, the apostle rejoiced in the believers who had not allowed the false teachers to lead them away from the truth.

Living in the truth refers to the Christians conducting their lives as they had been commanded by the Father.  The commandment to live in the truth came from the Father through the Son to the disciples, who passed it on to the believers.  As John had explained in another letter.  “And this is his commandment:  We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.”  (1 John 3:23).  To live in the truth, therefore, involves believing in Jesus Christ as God’s Son (faith) and loving others (action).

Now as we look at verse (1:5), we see that John urged the church to love one another.  This was not a new commandment: the believers had heard this from the beginning.  The Christians had been taught this commandment from the time they first heard the gospel preached.  The statement that Christians should love one another is a recurrent New Testament theme.  Yet love for one’s neighbor is an old command, first appearing in the third book of Moses (Leviticus 19:18).  Believers can show love in many ways: by avoiding prejudice and discrimination, by accepting people, by listening, helping, giving, serving, and by refusing to judge.  Knowing God’s command is not enough.  Those who claim to love God and believe in his Son must put their faith into practice by loving.  (Look at Matthew 22:37-39 and 1 John 2:7-10).

In verse (1:6) lest anyone wonder what John meant by the word “love,” he explained it here.  Love does not focus on emotions or feelings; instead, love means doing what God has commanded.  Love is expressed by obedience; obedience fulfills the command to love.  The one command to love one another sums up all of God’s commands, and obedience to God’s commands is the sure test of love.  John made the same proclamation in his first letter (see 1 John 3:11, 16-19).

Four times in verse 4-6 appears a form of the word”command.”  Yet the commands are obeyed through love.  John wanted his readers to know that he spoke as an Elder, as an apostle, and as a loving father to his children–with authority from God himself.  The false teachers had no such authority, and their lifestyles did not exemplify love.

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