The Seed That Requires Action (Part 1)

I have a question for you….

What is the responsibility of Christians in its simplest form?

My reason for asking is this question has been a re-occurring theme in conversations I have had, thoughts overflowing my mind, in my personal devotion and when I am preparing my next sermon.  No matter how many hours pass in the day, the question of our responsibility as Christians in its simplest form comes and floods my mind of situations, people and circumstances, analyzing my words and actions to see if they are glorifying my Savior.  So what is your answer to this question?

What if I told you that our basic actions are few but can be effective?  Our actions are important; in fact they are critical in spreading the Gospel.  However, spreading the Gospel is only one part of what we are supposed to do.  The actions we have surrounding the Gospel is just as critical in effectively sharing what Christ has done in our lives.  You may even say that our actions are the pre-cursor to giving us the opportunity to share the Gospel.  But how is this expressed in Scripture?  There is a lot here and how can we simplify it to allow for easier understanding?  The answer is in farming.

The beginning of Matthew 13 is a story that Jesus told his disciples concerning the Gospel….

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Matthew 13:3-9 (NASB)

The first thing to notice here is there is a “sower”.  In the most simplest of terms, a sower plants seeds.  This is the person who walks in the field that has been tilled and prepared for planting.  They usually have a large satchel with thousands of seeds.  As they walk up and down the tilled field, they grab a handful of seeds and scatter the seeds all over the ground.  All they do is ensure that all of the seed they are given is distributed evenly across the field.  Did the sower till the field?  Nope.  Did the sower prepare the field for planting?  Nope.  All the sower is responsible for is planting.  Planting the Gospel is our responsibility.  Our action is to share what God did through Jesus Christ on the cross.  We are told to throw the Gospel out into the field that God has prepared.  It is only God who can make someone ready to hear the Gospel.  It is only God who can till the hearts and minds of people.  Our part is to plant the Gospel seed.

Another area that we get caught up in is our responsibility to ensure the Gospel is told at the right time.  We concern ourselves with the quality of sharing, the purpose of sharing and the reasons for sharing the Gospel.  Many times, we worry over lives that we have no control over.  We concern ourselves with where the seed was planted and try to make it grow.  Unfortunately, we sin by worrying about these things.  Instead look at what happens next in the story.  The seed fell on four places:

  1. Seed that fell by the wayside.
  2. Seed that fell by the stony places.
  3. Seed that fell among thorns.
  4. Seed that fell on good ground.

Did you see that?  Most of the seed didn’t fall on good ground.  Most of the seed fell on ground that was not suited for growing plants.  The sower didn’t concern himself with where, how and why.  He simply did as his Master commanded, he planted the seeds.  I know this is a matter of opinion, but I think Jesus shared this parable this way to show us how we need not be concerned about who, what, where, why and how.  We only need to concern ourselves with planting of seeds.  We do not know what land (person) God has prepared.  We do not know what God is doing in their life or how He is working.  We only are told to plant the seed of the Gospel.

As Christians, we need to stop getting caught up in the minute details of how to share the Gospel.  There have been many methods planned by good theologians that have worked in the lives of people.  You and I can read into infinitum on how to deliver the Gospel message.  However, we have to understand fully, it is only God who prepares their hearts.  We do not.  The Gospel is the seed we plant.  Our actions are to plant, not to grow or force growth.

The last, and very important thought, I want to share is, the quality of the plant.  Notice I didn’t say the quality of the seed.  The seed (the Gospel) is already at the highest quality.  The plant, however, has different variations of quality.  Some of the plants yielded a hundredfold.  Some yielded sixtyfold and some yielded only thirtyfold.  Why would Jesus share this information with his disciples?  Why not stop and just say that the plant yielded fruit?  Why such detail?

I believe that when Jesus shared every parable or story, he did it with the details in mind.  He purposely went out of His way to give us what we need to hear.  I believe that this detail is essential in understanding our role with planting the seed of the Gospel.

Notice the varied amounts of yield.  Some yielded an incredible crop, some a medium crop and some a small crop.  All yielded a crop, just not all yield the same amount.  Sometimes, when we see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we judge their crop.  We assume they are being ineffective if they don’t bear the crop like we do.  We forget that it is the Gospel that bears fruit.  It is the Gospel that grows.

“…the gospel which has come to you, just as [h]in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and [i]increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and [j]understood the grace of God in truth…” – Colossians 1:6 (NASB)

Just as we cannot force growth in the ground of our tomato plants, we cannot force growth in the lives of our brothers and sisters.  We have to freely allow the Gospel to grow.  We have to freely allow the Gospel to produce the fruit necessary in their lives.  Not any one of us is identically alike in this world, so we shouldn’t think we are all alike in the next.  Our lives are individually precious to God.  He has created us with purpose and meaning.  All we need to do is sow the seed of the Gospel  on the ground that God has tilled and made ready.

However, this is only our first action.  There are two more actions we need to take.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait until next time……

God bless and encourage someone today.


The State of our Union

Every year, in the United States, our President offers the citizens an overview of the current state of our country.  It is called, “The State of the Union Address”.  During the President’s press conference, he offers information on our economic, educational and moral status with future action plans for our country.  The President offers up his confirmation about where we are and where we are going.  His positive or negative expressions and phrases give us a glimpse into the changes which he feels are necessary to progress into our positive future.  Typically, his message is one of hope and calls out the dismay of those who oppose us.  Despite the pomp and circumstance, the state of our union is far from where it was at our founding and light years away from where it needs to be.  We all know this, but do we know why?

When we look at our current state, we notice a few things:

  1. Actions and lifestyles once not acceptable in society are now publicly acceptable.
  2. Hypersensitivity to one’s feelings has increased exponentially.
  3. Opinions and thought processes are only correct if you agree with the opposing views.
  4. Facts have become farce and farce has become fact.
  5. A person’s worth is only valued by their social media status rather than by their intellect.

This list is not conclusive, it is just the obvious.  We can see the fruit of our choices in these areas.  We can see that the harvest of our thoughts and actions have produced, in us, an innate sense of insecurity and confusion.  Our society has gone from an educated euphoria to an uneducated disaster.  We value education, only when it agrees with our point of views.  Our compass of morality has been unhinged and is circling aimlessly to almost every theology and belief we hear.  We have become the adherer of wind, and go in the direction of dust, floating in our world with the hope that one day the breath of one person will direct and guide us to a life of success.  Our lives have become nothing more than a moment in time without an ultimate goal or standard.  We measure our lives by our success on social media rather than our accomplishments with our children.  This can be proven by our choices for the next President of the United States.

A couple of days ago, we witnessed history.  The number of viewers to the first Presidential debate exceeded any past debate ever watched by the public, almost matching the Super Bowl.  However, this debate shows us one very important fact…who our next President is, is a direct result of our moral inclination.  On one side, we have someone who has acknowledged mishap handling of secure documents (a crime for most of us) and known for changing her story over and over again.  On the other side, we have an egomaniac who has duped Americans with a cry for change, without any regard for professionalism or filtration.  Both candidates have also expressed their Christianity but have exhibited disregard for the very Person who they say they believe in.  In both cases, integrity is at an all-time low, division is at an all-time high and hatred is growing steadily toward people groups that believe and know (from historical documentation by our founders) that our inalienable rights are from an eternal, living God who requires us to live according to His moral standards.

I recently saw an advertisement for a person running for a government office representing New Jersey.  The ad stated that this individual was a racist because of his views on marriage.  As this person did not believe main stream media, he was labeled as someone who hates those who oppose traditional marriage between one man and one woman.  This very assumption caused my blood pressure to rise due to the frustration of what a racist is compared to one who believes a theology.

Now before you place judgment on what I am about to say, know this about me.  Once a month, I assist a pre-dominantly African-American church by preaching the Gospel.  We do not look at the color of our skin, but rather at our stance with God.  To be a racist, you have to proclaim that your “race”, aka skin color or culture, is superior to another.  You have to think and act that who you are is superior to everyone else.  This was the predominate proclamation of Adolf Hitler.  According to Adolf Hitler, only blonde hair and blue eye people, who were German, were the only ones worth anything.  He stated this while having brown hair.  His hypocrisy was outweighed by his ignorance and stupidity.

Today, we have individuals who have overthrown the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  They have enacted a proclamation that divides rather than unites.  From both sides we see the hatred growing causing division in our ranks.  We see riots and looting rather than peaceful demonstration.  We observe young men showing stupidity by taking pictures of their illegal weapons and posting them on the eternal database of social media.  Our culture has become so divided and so obsessed with getting our own way, that we have forgotten the proclamation of Jesus Christ:

“Go therefore, into all the world, making disciples from all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded them.”

I have watched Christians resolve themselves to their right of speech over their command from their Savior.  They have proclaimed hatred toward the establishment rather than shout out the Gospel in love.  We are not “living the life” intended by God as represented in Ephesians and Colossians but are killing our souls for the single purpose of getting our way.  We have forgotten that our actions as individuals which fuel the fire of hatred also creates inappropriate views of the entire church.  We need to remember that we are one body, by one Christ for one purpose, to lead others to the Savior, who loves them, even though they sin.

The only way our country will ever be saved, is by the blood of Jesus Christ washing over us.  We cannot and will not proceed with life, until we turn our hearts to Him in repentance.  However, this will not happen unless the Church turns from its wicked ways and repents of their sin, putting their earthly American rights over the responsibility of what God commanded us to do.

Recently, I have been reading through 1 Kings and 2 Kings.  As I read this history of Israel and Judah, I noticed one main idea, when Israel and Judah forsook all the God commanded turmoil, division and hatred grew between them.  When they walked with God, peace and prosperity was at their doorstep.

At the same time, I also recognize the words of my Savior when he stated to His disciples, “They will hate you because of me.”  We, the Church, should not be hated because of our stance in the political world or in the actions of a sinful group, but instead, we need to be hated because of our love for people and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When we embrace God and what He has commanded us to do, we will see peace and prosperity in our churches.  We will see others wanting to know more about Christ.  At the same time, as we minister to the hurting, the rest of the world will see this and become jealous of us, therefore hating us because of Christ.  Nowhere in Scripture does it read, “They will hate you because you stand up for a particular view on marriage or theology.”  It clearly reads, “They will hate you because of Me.”

We are to be one body, working toward a single goal given to us the Head, Jesus Christ.  If Jesus Christ is the Head, then it is He who thinks, He who see, He who hears, He who speaks.  We are simply part of His body.  Our opinions don’t count.  Our anger is irrelevant.  Our actions should speak His words and represent His thoughts, not our own.  When we put our American rights over our spiritual responsibility, it is called idolatry.  We have succumb to the same as Israel and Judah, idolizing our rights over our responsibility.  We need to wake up and repent and go back to God in humble tears asking Him to heal us.

“If my people call on My name and repent, I will heal them.”  This was a promise to Israel.  This is also a promise to us, the Church.  To save our country, we as one body, must repent and make God the only priority in our lives.  He is first.  All others come after.  We must never forget that Christ came to seek and save those that are lost.  He didn’t come to view His opinion.  He came to die.  He came to allow Himself to be sacrificed for us.  It is only because of Him that we are saved.

If we want our country to be saved and hold off judgment, we must, I plead with everyone, must repent.  Then and only then can we begin the process of healing to move forward in “living a life worthy of our calling” through Jesus Christ.  Only when we repent, as a Church, will we see the state of our union go toward morality and unity.  Until we repent, only confusion, division and hatred will increase.  Let’s not let this happen.  Let’s all repent and move toward the cross where our salvation first began.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Disrespect of Our Disillusion

Tom sat with his head in his open, sweaty hands.  How could he have done this?  What prevailed inside his mind that would allow him to do such a heinous act?  He decided to pour a drink to calm his nerves.  He got up and opened the oldest bottle of scotch he could find.  As he poured himself a double shot, the bottle chattered against the glass.  His hands could not stay still.  His mind raced with thoughts of anger toward himself.  “How could you have done this”, he thought.  “What was it that brought you this far away from reality?”

In the other room, a young lady walked in with a smile on her face and his shirt on her torso.  She graced herself over, grabbed the glass from his hand and took a sip of the scotch.  A kiss from her was placed on his cheek with these words, “That was really special”.  He tried to muster a smile, but could not as he knew he betrayed his love, his wife and the woman before him wasn’t her.

Every decision we make, every word we speak and every thought we think, has a consequence.  Whether good or bad, every action, work or thought has a reaction, a consequence.  We may not see it at the time, but be rest assured, a consequence is there, ready to peak it’s head, like a viper when it is about to strike.

Recently, I have been an observer of social media and news agencies.  I have cautiously not opened myself to a specific political view, social movement or radical divide.  Day by day, I have seen many people, good people, begin the process of drawing a hypothetical line in the sand declaring where they stand and what they believe.  Whether it is about which political candidate you like or whomever lives matter, many of us are going out of our way to declare what we believe to be the truth.  We have been convinced of our reality no matter how disillusioned we are.

This disillusionment has caused us to become a divided nation.  A nation where all conflicting  testimonies are correct, truth has become irrelevant and division among people groups are growing at a rapid pace.  Conflict is on the rise while love is declining into extinction.  All over the news and social media we see the results of this lack of love and increase of hatred and rebellion.  Many have taken to the street to protest in ways that breaks out in violence, fist shaking and gnashing of our teeth.  So how did we get here?  What caused us to be in this global predicament?  Was it a specific people group, ideology or is it human nature to destroy oneself?

Both Christian and Atheist, Buddhist and Islamic, Jew and Greek, have bought into this disillusionment, making each other vulnerable to prejudice and exposure.  We all have allowed our society to fall into an illness that can be likened to terminal cancer.  If we do not turn away from what we have become, we will ultimately bring ourselves into the chasm of death and be buried in the annals of history lost.

Unfortunately, most will exclude this writing as nothing more than someone who is disgruntled or upset with others behaviors without looking at themselves.  Let me make this disclaimer.  What I am bringing up has nothing to do with you or someone else.  It has to do with us.  We are the problem.  All of us are feeding the beast of this culture.  We all are to blame.  No matter our background, no matter our skin color, no matter who we think we are, we are all to blame, including me.

History has shown that when a nation is divided, then that same nation falls at the hands of others not of the same mindset.  Our own history shows how divided we were but the declaration of United We Stand was the war cry for change.  Today that war cry has gone unheard and ignored.  We have become the nightmare of countries and the falsehood of hatred.   Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be negative.  A positive change can happen, but it cannot start with us.  It cannot start with any other person from any other nation.  It can only happen when we reserve ourselves to allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform our lives.

“…we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,[b] as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth…” – Colossians 1:4-6 (NKJV)

It is the Gospel that changes lives.  It is the Gospel that bears fruit in our lives.  Only the Gospel can change our hearts and minds to unity and progress.  Because we have forsaken the Gospel, we have forsaken our Creator.  Because we have forsaken the Gospel, our lives are deteriorating into the very pit of Hell.  We have allowed sin to overtake our lives and become our slave master.  We have forsaken the freedom of loving others the way Jesus Christ loves us.  So what is sin compared to salvation in Jesus Christ?

Sin is the chain maker.  Salvation is the chain breaker.  Sin binds us to things.  Salvation frees us.  Sin tells us we are worthless.  Salvation tells us we are worth more than we realize.  Sin leads to death.  Salvation leads to life eternal.

No matter how you feel about society, no matter how you feel about the current social, economic or political environment, sin is the reason we are where we are today.  It has been used by Satan to ensure that our lives are chained to the slavery and division.  Sin has placed in our hearts that some lives matter while others do not.  Sin has told us that one person is a liar and the other is a scam artist.  Sin informed us that one group of people are to blame for the ills of our society.  Let me make sure I am very clear.  Satan is using our sinful lives to bind us, destroy us and ultimately convince us to reject our Creator.

In the words of the famous theologian Francis Schaeffer “How then shall we live?”

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will [i]behave properly toward outsiders and [j]not be in any need.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” – Matthew 28:19-20

These two passages show us what our lives are really about.  These passages show us that our goal is to live a quiet life, mind our own business and work with our hands.  We are to be productive, kind, loving and ready to serve others.  We are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our testimony.  We are to make disciples, not division.  We are to do the work that has been commanded to us.  Did you notice that?  Both of these were commanded.  They were not suggestions.  These are things we are to do.

What I will say next is for those who claim to the servants of Jesus Christ….

WAKE UP CHURCH!  We are not doing what God has commanded us to do.  We do not love others when we bash our government leaders and others via social media.  We are not living how God commanded us to live when we shout from the mountain top about our rights and forget to love those who are lost.  We are living in sin if we do not do the things commanded us.

Our goal in this life is to spread the love of Jesus Christ and make disciples.  That’s it!  We may have the “American right” to speak our peace, but is that the way Jesus handled it?  He didn’t go after the political leaders, he went after those who claimed to be His.  He toppled the tables and drove the money changers away because they had no respect for where God’s people gathered.  He didn’t go after the Roman government or voice his discontent with Caesar.  He simply served others, drew people to Himself, showed them compassion and reprimanded the religious leaders who were enslaving their own people with rules and regulations.

The good news about all of this, is we still have time to turn to God.  We NEED to turn back to God and repent of our lack of love.  We NEED to repent of our sin of division and disrespect.  This country CANNOT change unless Jesus Christ is involved and this country CANNOT change unless WE (the Church) repent of our sin and change how we do things.

If we (the Church) do not change, our country will run the high risk of extinction.  The United States is not mentioned in Scripture nor is it implied.  The United States is not the center of this world but God has used us to further His Gospel all over the world.  His Gospel is the center of all creation, not us.

I hope you understand the tears I shed for us.  I pray that we all change our current travels on the wide path (which leads to destruction) and turn toward the narrow path (which leads to life eternal).  Only Jesus Christ and His Gospel will change us.  Please join me in repenting of our sin and making a positive difference by refraining from passionate division and disrespect.

May God have mercy and grace on us as we all seek to change the direction of this country toward Him.  God bless and encourage someone today.