Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Tag Archives: sower

The Sower Sows the Word (VII)

0

Today, we are wrapping up our study on the things that stop us from producing the results promised in the Word happening in our lives. We have looked at the danger of not fighting for the Word, for only listening to the Word on an emotional level, of allowing money and wealth to dictate to us and of the desire for people to like and honour us stopping us being the Christians that we are destined to be.

Now we shall look at the final challenge: the lust for other things.

Mark 4.19 says:

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

If you have the lust of other things enter into your heart, it will choke the Word of God and the Word of God will not be fruitful in your life. You will most likely blame God and His Word, but it is not God’s fault – it is because of what you have allowed into your heart.

Don’t kick yourself though, make a change. Let’s look at what the lust of other things actually is:

The word used for lust here is the Greek word epithymia. It means a strong desire. It does not always refer to something bad – Jesus uses the word to refer to his desire to share the passover meal with his disciples for example (Luke 22.15) – but generally it is used to refer to a strong desire that your body has.

A good example would be:

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof]. – Romans 13.14

If you allow the desires of your flesh to control what you do, what you think and how you behave you will never see the manifestation of the Word of God in your life.

Romans 6.12 says: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Now this is where many Christians get themselves into trouble and tie themselves into knots. They read a Scripture like Romans 6.12 that tells them not to obey the desires of their body. It might be a sin-desire like using a pornographic website or spreading gossip. It might be a sickness-desire like lying in bed all day and not fighting off the cold. Either way it is a desire of your flesh. Now if you simply try and fight off that desire you will fail.

Sometimes you will succeed but sometimes you will fail. Your Christian life will be a roller-coaster of success and failure. You will lead a generally unfruitful Christian life. I know many Christians that live like this, and I know I have had seasons where I have lived like this too. Struggled to walk in purity, in health, in prosperity, in love – sometimes succeeding and sometimes not, my emotions flowing all over the place. An up and down Christian.

But that is not God’s will – He has redeemed us from this, praise the Lord. To find out how to live free from the strong desires of your body, let’s re-read Romans 6.12, but in context:

6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6.6-18)

Romans is one of the most powerful books in the Bible because it deals with the most important topic in the New Testament: righteousness. I sincerely believe that righteousness is the most misunderstood topic in the Bible and that if Christians truly understood it, there would be a revival across the world that has never been seen before in any generation.

It was a revelation of what righteousness really is that started the Protestant Reformation. It was a revelation of what righteousness really is that started the charismatic move. These are the two most influential revivals that have ever happened in history.

Righteousness is the state of right standing with God. A synonym for righteousness is just. To make someone righteous is to justify them. It means you can stand in the presence of God and not be afraid, not feel inferior, not be condemned. It means you are right with God. A righteous person is as bold as a lion. A righteous person has their prayers answered. They have joy, they have peace. Understanding what righteousness is and how to receive it is the key to life.

Romans 1 tells us that the nations are not righteous. Romans 2 tells us that the nation of Israel and people who obey the law are not righteous. Romans 3 tells us no-one is righteous because of their actions., but that you can only receive righteousness by faith. Romans 4 shows how the remarkable individual Abraham did not even have righteousness by his actions, but was made righteous (justified) by faith. Romans 5 tells us the benefits of being righteous by faith.

Romans 6 then deals with a wonderful question: if I am righteous and have the benefits of righteousness because of faith in the complete work of redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, then why should I even bother living right?

(If you read Romans 6.1-2 you will find that Paul was accused of teaching you can live however you like if you are a Christian. The technical name for such a belief is libertarianism. It means a Christian can act as selfish as they like and there is no problem.

Now that is clearly not true – but if in your preaching of the Word no-one has managed to accuse you of this, you do need to ask yourself are you preaching righteousness by grace through faith as powerfully as Paul was?)

In Romans 6, Paul gives 2 reasons why we should live a holy and loving life, and not just do what our body feels like. He also gives us 2 ways in which we can live holy.

The two reasons why we should live holy are:

1. Because it is our nature. You are holy, so living holy should be natural to you. Like a bird flying or a tree producing fruit, it shouldn’t be difficult. Verse 7 of Romans 6 says that we are dead to sin. If you are dead to something, it should not tempt you. The more time we spend meditating on Bible verses that tell us our true nature, the easier it is to resist sin.

Once you realize that you are righteous, then it becomes natural to act righteous. Lots of people are trying to act righteous to convince themselves they are righteous – this is the wrong way round! Have a read of 2 Cor. 5.21 and see what you are because of the work of Jesus Christ.

2. We should live holy because living in sin brings death into your life. This concept is addressed in v.17 and in Romans 6.23 which says that the wages of sin is death. If you sin, then you will become trapped by that sin and that sin will bring death into your life. If you lie, you will be tempted to lie more, and the lies will bring sickness, stress, broken relationships and poverty into your life. It will not stop God loving you but it will not allow you to enjoy His love.

Sin won’t keep you from heaven, but it will keep others from heaven. They will fail to see the life of God inside you and will not be attracted to the wonderful news of redemption. Sin makes you miserable – holiness is for your own good.

Why is it so important that we are holy because of these reasons and not to make God love us? Does the motive matter – or just the fact that we are striving to be holy. The answer is that if you are just trying to live right to please God and to become righteous then you will always fail. You will always feel God is against you and you will be defeated.

If you realize you are right, then you can live right. You can enjoy fellowship with the Holy Spirit, you can have confidence when you pray, you can go and lay hands on the sick and know it is not because of you that they are healed but because of Jesus.

The lust for other things can be lorded over if you realize that God has already lifted you above that.

Romans 7 goes on to tell of the futility of still trying to live by the law of God. Romans 8 tells of the wonders of living by the Spirit, aware of your righteousness. If you realize that you are righteous and realize that sin always leads to death, you will find that there is a power inside you – the power of the reborn, righteous spirit, the power of the new creation that you became on the day you became a Christian – and that this power is more powerful than the lust for other things.

If you deal with the lust for other things, then the Word of God will start to spring up in your life. Healing, peace, prosperity, wholeness will no longer be in seed form, planted deep in your life with no evidence they are there, but they will spring up in your life and transform not just your life, but the whole world.

Blessings,
Ben

Zipping Away

0

I am packing right now for a business trip that will mean that I will not be able to post on the Sower Sows the Word until Saturday. I do apologize.

Keep well while I am away and please start to add your comments and questions to the posts.

I will post a beautiful worship song and a teaching article before I leave to build you up and bless you,

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (VI)

0

Yesterday we looked at the deceitfulness of riches. Before moving to discuss “the lusts for other things” tomorrow, I just want to make 3 simple points about the deceitfulness of riches:

1. You listen to those things you spend the most time with. If you listen to money more than you listen to God, you are spending more time with money than God.

2. You listen to those things you hold precious. If you listen to money more than you listen to God, you hold money more precious than God.

3. You listen to those things that you consider more intelligent. If you listen to money more than you listen to God, you think money is more intelligent than God.

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (V)

0

The Deceitfulness of Riches

Mark 4.19 tells us that one of the things that will choke the Word of God out of you and that will stop it producing results in your life is the deceitfulness of riches. Today we will look at the deceitfulness of riches and find out what it is and how to stop it choking your prosperity and success in every area of your life.

Firstly, it is vital to understand that it not riches that will choke the Word. The Word working in your life and producing a harvest has nothing to do with how much money you have. A rich person can have the Word of God produce in their life and so can a poor person. A famous quote that isn’t even in the Bible is: “Money is the root of all evil”. The correct reference is “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6.10). Even a poor person can love money. Money is a great slave, but a lousy master.

It is vital to understand this because a lie infiltrated Christianity that says that money is evil. It lead to many horrible situations and caused many dreadful things to happen. It has many faces that I simply cannot go into due to time constraints. Some Christians have even taken vows of poverty. This is ridiculous – God is a good God and a giving God. Poverty is a curse, it is a horrible thing to be in. But praise God, Christ redeemed us and set us free from poverty.

The problem is not having money, but listening to it. Even the world is bright enough to know that “money talks”, but what the world has failed to tell us is that money lies. You can have as much money as you like – prosperity is part of your inheritance in Christ – but just don’t listen to it.

Wealth is deceitful. You could say it this way: money lies. The main lie that money will tell you is that it is all you need. Money will lie to you. It will tell you that it will make you happy and that without it you will fail in life. It is a lie.

You might be in a situation where your boss wants you to tell a lie, and money will tell you to do it because otherwise you will lose your job and lose your money, so you break the Word of God because you listened to money. You ignored God to listen to money.

Money will tell you to accept a promotion several hundred miles from home when you know there is not a strong Word-teaching, love God love people church anywhere near there and you are part of a great church. You ignored God to listen to money.

Money will tell you not to spend time in prayer, in intimacy with the Father, but rather worry about how your bills will be paid or how you will feed the children. You ignored God and listened to money, and worried rather than meditated on the Word.

A young preacher is struggling to survive so at offering time he makes a long drawn out offering, highlighting Scriptures on giving and the benefits of giving.

The Scriptural truths might be true, but using them to manipulate people to give when the Lord loves people who are cheerful givers, not those who walk out the church feeling they just had a wallet extraction, is plain wrong. Money talked, and the preacher listened. And this goes on all across Christianity, even in major ministries. Here is a rule of thumb I have: I never give to a ministry that preaches faith for finances unless they appear to actually have faith for their own finances! And if they are begging for bread, they do not have faith for finances, simple as.

This is how the deceitfulness of riches works: it lies to you and makes you make wrong choices. Choices based on mis-information.

The solution is threefold:

1. to spend time in the Word of God. If you can hear the voice of the Lord clearly and know His Word, you will not be deceived by the lies of money. Learn the Scriptural truth about money. Find out what Jesus said about money, and study it out.

2. to cultivate a generous spirit. If you are continually giving money away, it cannot speak to you. Ensure you are generous to your local church and to Christians who are lacking or going through difficult times.

3. Speak back to money. If it says “if you give that in the offering you will go broke”, tell it to shut up. Tell it that if you give it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and in good measure (Luke 6.38). If the bill comes in and you cannot pay it, say out loud “God will provide the money.” You may think it is strange to speak to money, but I think it is a lot stranger to listen to it, and many Christians do.

Deal with this issue and you will allow the Word of God to multiply in your life and produce results. A life of victory and peace is on its way – so get excited.

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (Video)

0

You can now watch the full sermon of me preaching at Worshipville Christian Centre here.

I have tried to embed the video into this blog and completely failed. If anyone has the wisdom to help me achieve this, then I would be grateful.

The camera man has a job to follow me during the preaching – I do like to move around when I preach. In the next week I hope to add the sermon, and some others I have previously preached, to the church website as mp3 downloads.

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (IV)

0

Firstly, thanks for your patience in waiting for part IV of our series on the Sower Sows the Word. I know I said I would be able to continue tomorrow and that was about ten days ago, however, we went to Wales for Christmas and New Year and did not really have access the internet.

But the issue of dealing with the thorns that choke the Word of God is vitally important at this time of the year. As people make New Year’s Resolutions, they normally make the mistake of trying to succeed in the flesh with willpower.

Realizing the truth of the Sower Sows the Word means that you are going to understand how to make choices that lead to permanent and effortless change.

Let’s use weight and diet as an example, as most New Year Resolutions are based on this. Not only that, I want to lose weight this year – and these are the principles I will be using myself.

In the world, what we do is make a pledge to lose a certain amount, or give up cakes, or stick to a diet. We then use all f our willpower to resist what we have decided to give up, and we inevitably fail. Just like the person told not to think of an elephant, the first thing that comes into our mind whenever we have a free moment is the very thing we want to give up. It is only the third of January, but I believe entirely that there will be people reading this who have already broken their resolutions.

However, Jesus does not leave us in condemnation or fighting the calories, or the smoking, or the pornography, or the anger in our flesh. He gives us the Word. When we sow the Word of God in our heart, there will be a harvest.

If we sow words of purity and love and freedom into our heart, and speak the Word over ourself, then we will have a harvest of purity, love and freedom. We will not be struggling in the flesh, in condemnation and feeling like death all the time – we can have the joy of victory.

Mark 11.24 says that you can have what you say. Rather than say “I am never going to make it, I am never going to win.” say “I am free from this, I am alive to God, I am more than a conqueror.” Say it again and again. We have in previous articles on the Sower Sows the Word spoke about meditating on the Word and how to put the Word in your heart. This is the key to change. Filling your mind with the Word will lead to victory.

But sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. We meditate on the Word and we feel great, but then it doesn’t seem to produce results. It doesn’t seem to change our lifestyle, or bring the peace, the prosperity or the healing we are expecting.

Well, one of the main reasons this is the case is due to the thorns. Mark 4.7 says:

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

I am sure that like me you have felt at times that even though you know the Word, are meditating on the Word and speaking the Word, you feel choked and unfruitful. You feel that it just isn’t going right for you, and you can’t seem to get it right. If that is you, rejoice! The solution is in the Bible:

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. – Mark 4.18,19

We are choked by three things:

1. The cares of this world
2. The deceitfulness of riches
3. The lusts of other things

If you can remove these three things from your heart then the Word will NEVER be choked again. Do you understand – you will never be unfruitful again. You will always bear fruit. You will ask and receive, you will walk in victory.

In the next two posts I want to look at 2 and 3. I might decide to spend several posts on the deceitfulness of riches, because this is one of the biggest issues in the church today.

However, for now I want to deal with the cares of this world. Most Christians have had the word of God choked due to the cares of this world.

The word used for cares in this verse is merimna which literally means different directions. The world tries to distract you by drawing you in different directions.

We go to church, hear a great sermon on the power of God to heal and we are focused and ready to receive. But the world distracts us by leading us in different directions: try medicine, try acupunture, try panicking, try anything. These distractions choke the Word and stop it working.

Or in the instance of New Year Resolutions. The Word says you change by changing your heart by what you hear. So you need to speak out and say “I am only going to eat what I need, I am in control of my appetites, my god is not my belly, my God is the Lord Jesus Christ.” But the world distracts you – you need to try Slimfast, this pill, this diet, this fad, that strategy, and the thorns will choke out the Word.

The sooner we realize that the Word of God plus something leads to nothing, but the Word of God only leads to something the more successful we will be.

Do not let the world distract you and lead you in many directions this year – choose one direction: the direction of the Word of God. If you do not know the direction of the Word then go and read it until you see its direction to you and then obey it. The Word will keep you right and bring a harvest of peace and freedom. The world will lead you back into the same world of hurt and confusion you have been in before.

Often one of the distractions of the world is impatience. The Word will grow, but sometimes it does not happen instantly. Do not let the world pressure you into a get-rich-quick or a get-slim-quick scheme, you will be conned. Let the Word have its perfect work in you…

It is your choice – choose life!

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 syniÄ“mi. 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

%d bloggers like this: