Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Sower Sows the Word (II)

0

Previously we examined the seed that fell on the path, and we found that this represented Christians that had no fight in them, who did not apply themselves to the Word of God and so satan just stole the Word from them and it did not benefit them at all.

Today, I want to look at the stony ground. The seed that falls on the stony ground sprung up quickly, but because it had no root in it it withered just as quickly.

This represents people who receive the Word of God into their emotions and not their spirits. Because it is received emotionally, there will be great emotions when it is received. People who are hearing the Word and are getting very emotional are not always receiving the Word into their spirit.

There is nothing wrong with being emotional as a Christian. Paul wrote an entire letter (Philippians) on the subject of joy. But you must receive the Word into your spirit and let your emotions be changed from the inside out.

Ok you might say, but how do I know if I have received the word into my spirit or my emotions? How do I know if my response to the Word of God is surface level or deep commitment?

The key is found in Mark 4.17:

And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

If your relationship with the Word is only on a surface level, on an emotional level, then when affliction or persecution arises for the sake of the Word, you will be immediately offended.

There is a lot of information in Mark 4.17, and it is vital for all Christians to understand it, so let’s unpack it and try and make some applications to our life.

When you receive the Word, I guarantee affliction and persecution will come.

Affliction is the Greek word thlipsis. It means, according to Strong’s, pressure. This world will always put pressure on you. Christianity is not a walk in the park. It is not a pleasure cruise. It is pressure. Sometimes I think we mis-sell Christianity, by focusing on the benefits of knowing Christ without mentioning the pressure.

If you become a disciple of Christ, you will go against the world and the world will put pressure on you. You need to know you are not about to wake up tomorrow and the world will be a lovely place and everything will be beautiful. That will not happen until Christ returns. So, toughen up.

Let’s use healing as our example again. You hear a great sermon on healing, you find out the Lord is your Healer, that Jesus carried your sicknesses on the cross and you don’t have to be sick.

You get excited, you are shouting at the preacher, you feel good. The Word has planted on your emotions and sprung up. You feel like you are in victory.

Monday morning you wake up and there is pressure on you. Pressure on your throat, on your back, on your nose. You feel like you just want to crawl into a hole and die of pain. Flu assaults your entire body.

At this stage the question is: what is your IMMEDIATE response? If the Word is in your spirit, your immediate response will be something like this:

I am not moved by what I see, I am not moved by what I feel, I am moved by the Word of the living God and the Word says that by the stripes of Jesus I am healed.

You stand on the true Word of God, you fight the lying symptoms and you change your experience with the Word of the living God.

If the Word is merely in your emotions, then IMMEDIATELY you will be offended. This is what Mark 4.17 says. Offended is the Greek word skandalizo. It means: to trip up, to turn away from someone you should be trusting and to get annoyed.

Your response if the Word has only touched your emotions will be something like this:

I thought that preacher said I was supposed to be healed. He must be a liar. The Word clearly doesn’t mean this. I can’t believe it. This stupid Bible, this stupid God. This stupid doctrine. These name-it and claim-it people are deceived. I am never going to that church again.

A complete change from how you felt just 24 hours ago – just because of a few symptoms! This is what people are like when the Word only hits their emotions. One minute they are raving for the Word, the next they are raving against the Word.

The other thing that can change these people 180 degrees is persecution. Persecution is people treating you badly because you believe the Word of God. It might be a severe case, like the people in concentration camps right now in North Korea because they are disciples of Jesus Christ. It might just be a family member laughing at you because they think you are a fanatic.

Whatever form it takes, people who only know the Word on a surface level will let persecution stop them. Any excitement at hearing the Word on Sunday disappeared because their wife or their husband says “You are becoming a bit of a religious freak!”. Immediately they become offended.

Now at this stage you might think: I am a bit like that at times. Yes, you are. We all are. But, don’t panic – there is a solution. You see, according to Mark 4.17 this all happened for one reason: they had no root.

If we can get the Word of God to root inside us, then we can stand in the worst affliction and we can actually challenge the affliction and make the world change rather than allow the world to change us. We can turn the other cheek when we are persecuted and allow the Word to change other people, rather than allow other people to change us.

So, how do we get the Word to root inside us? That will be our theme for tomorrow. Don’t miss out!

Blessings,
Ben

The Spirit in You

0

There is a difference between the Spirit being in you and the Spirit being with you. For instance, we are getting light now from outside this building. This is exactly the position of every believer that is not baptized with the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is with every person that is not baptized, and they have light from the outside. But suppose all the light that is coming through the window was inside.

That is exactly what is to be taking place. We have revelation from outside, revelation in many ways by the Spirit, but after He comes inside, it is revelation from inside which will make things outside right.

We are baptizing people in water, remembering that they are put to death, because every believer ought to be covered. Every believer must be put to death in water baptism. The baptism of the Spirit is to be planted deeper until there is not a part of you that is left. There is a manifestation of the power of the new creation by the Holy Spirit right in our mortal bodies.
Where once we were, now He reigns supreme, manifesting the very Christ inside of us, the Holy Ghost fulfilling all things right there.

– Smith Wigglesworth

What It Means to Be Full of the Spirit

0

Stephen cried out, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” As he was full of the Spirit he was full of love, and he manifested the very same compassion for his enemies that Jesus did at Calvary. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means much in every way. It means constant filling, quickening, and a new life continually.

Oh, it’s lovely! We have a wonderful gospel and a great Saviour! If you will but be filled with the Holy Spirit, you will have a constant spring within, yes, as your faith centers in the Lord Jesus, from within you shall flow rivers of living water.

– Smith Wigglesworth, 1924.

Jesus Or Santa?

0

Jesus or Santa?  Which is better?  I know Harry Hill would encourage a fight at this point, but I believe we should leave fighting for the good fight of faith.  So watch this clip to see the similiarities and differences between Jesus and Santa:

The Sky is Not Falling

0

Andrew Wommack has written what I consider to be the best, most Biblical article on the economic issues facing the world today. I thought it was important to share this with you. It can be accessed at this link:

http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/sky_falling

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (I)

1

The parable of the sower in Mark 4 is one of the most powerful portions of Scripture in the whole of the Bible. Jesus himself says that if you do not understand this parable, then how can you understand any parable.

Imagine that – a parable that Jesus, the Lord of glory, says that if you don’t get it then you won’t be able to understand anything. This is clearly something you need to be able to understand clearly. There are 40 parables in the New Testament – if you don’t get the parable of the Sower, then you won’t be able to get any of them.

In verse 3, Jesus tells us to “Hearken! Behold!”. In modern English, you would say something like: “Listen! Look!”. The Greek word for listen does not mean simply listen, but it means listen until you gain understanding. Listen and listen and listen until you get it. The word for look means: this is going to be new to you, so consider it until you gain understanding.

Immediately we can see that the Parable of the Sower is one of the most important things Jesus ever talked about. Right now, we are going to look at this article and gain some understanding. This is going to be time well spent.

A parable is a story that works on two levels – the physical level and the spiritual level. Although Jesus is telling a story about a sower and some seed, he is really telling a story about the Word of God and people’s hearts. The words parable and parallel come from the same root: a parable is a story with a parallel. While Jesus is talking about the ground, he is talking about you and your heart and your attitude to the Word of the living God.

Some people are the path. The path is those people who hear the Word but immediately satan steals the Word from them. If you simply read Mark’s gospel it almost seems like some people have no choice. They just get the Word and the devil just takes it. Now we know that cannot be true because we have dominion over all the works of the devil. He is a defeated foe and greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.

If we read Matthew’s account, he makes it a little more clear to us why the devil can steal the Word from some people:

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not, then cometh the wicked [one], and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (Matthew 13.19)

If you hear the Word of God without understanding, then the devil will take it from you. The Greek word for understanding is syniēmi. It was a word used in ancient Greece for people who were going to settle things with a fight. You would say “they are going to come to an understanding” – and everyone would know you meant they are going to fight until one of them is the winner and the other is the loser.

This is one of the greatest problems in the Christian world – we have no fight in us. Things happen to us and we just roll over and play dead, we quit, we submit, we yield. There are even demonic doctrines that tell people that when things like sickness and poverty attack that this is God’s will and they should submit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s use healing as an example. The Bible is clear that the Lord is Our Healer (Exodus 15.26), that Jesus Christ bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases (Isa. 53.4-6) and that by His stripes we were healed (1 Peter 2.24).

If you go to church and hear a sermon on healing, you might be sick. But you learn to walk by faith and not by sight and receive your healing by speaking to the mountain of sickness and commanding it to leave (Mark 11.23-24). But if the symptoms do not leave immediately, many Christians will give up at that point. They don’t have an understanding with the Word that they are going to fight for the Word until they win. They would rather blame God for their sickness than fight it and walk in divine health. You see the problem is never the seed – it is the ground. The Word is always good – but people need to deal with their heart attitude.

Path people are Christians with no fight in them. They hear the Word but they never get aggressive with it. They never lock themselves in the closet and pray and meditate on the Word until they see the results. So many Christians don’t have a battle-mindset. We are going to stand on the Word and we are going to win.

If this is you, I would get a list of Scriptures and start saying them 2, 3, 4, 5 times a day, start meditating on them. To meditate on the Word is the greatest source of life and victory on earth. I will write some how-to articles on this in the new year, but for now the condensed how-to is this:

1) Repeat the Scripture out loud again and again and again. As it comes out your mouth and goes in your ears, it is feeding your faith.
2) Use your imagination to imagine what you would be like if the Scripture was true. Picture it being fulfilled in your life. Return in your mind to this image again and again.

Simple. Now stop being a path Christian and start being good ground.

Tomorrow, I will explain how to deal with being rocky ground.

Blessings,
Ben

Who Is Pastor Ben

0

Ben became a Christian in 1996 at the age of 16. He attended church as a dare, having never been to church in his life. He found out that Jesus Christ was a real person who died, rose again and that He was still alive today. Ben trained at Regent’s College in Nantwich for 3 years having a BA(Hons) in Theology.

He has preached across Europe, and in India and in Ghana. He preaches a practical message of how to live by faith in the Word. He has a passion for every Christian to know God’s Word for themselves and to move in spectacular miracles.

This is his retelling of his salvation story.  How he was water baptized and baptized in the Holy Spirit will be in a later post:

I grew up without any religious upbringing. One day in 1993 when I was only 16 years old, a girl from my school dared me to go to church. I had a reputation for never resisting a dare. So I did. I went to a Presbyterian church because that was the one I was dared to go to – I had never been to a church service even once before.

I was the youngest person in the church by a clear 40 years. I sat down at the back and two old ladies told me off for sitting on their pew. It was their pew – they bought it, and they threw me off it. I would have seated about 10 people, but it just sat those two. I had to go and find an unbought pew and sit on that. I was sitting there bored stiff through the out of tune singing of hymns I knew nothing about and cared even less about. I sat there watching the old ladies of both genders standing up and sitting down and thinking about how selfish the two old ladies had been. All my preconceived ideas of Christians were being fulfilled.

Then the preacher preached. He was old school and preached a very clear gospel message about how Jesus bore my sins. I was captivated. I went back not because I was dared but because the message about Jesus captivated me. Everything Jesus did and everything Jesus said fascinated me. For two months I went to two services a Sunday listening to the simple gospel.

After two months I became a Christian. I repented of my sins and decided to have faith in the gospel. Even though I was only 16, within three months my younger brother became a Christian because I changed so much in my attitude towards him.

I read the Bible voraciously. I loved reading about Jesus. I love reading about how He spoke, how He acted, how He treated people. I read the gospels and Acts over and over. I decided I wanted to be water baptized.

I spoke to my minister and he said that his church would not baptize me but would sprinkle water on me. Well – I wanted it the Jesus way, and I said so. The preacher told me I should find another church.

So I went home, opened the Yellow Pages and looked through Churches. Some churches were called Baptist churches. I thought I bet they will baptize me, so the following Sunday I went to the closest Baptist church.

%d bloggers like this: