The Parable of the Seed

Mark 4:26-29
26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 But when the crop permits, he immediately  puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

This short illustration feels like the most basic of all parables that Yeshua taught. It’s so simple that there’s not a whole lot written about this in the commentaries. But it’s intended to bring out a truth about the Kingdom of G-d.

The Kingdom of G-d refers collectively to G-d’s elect. The one’s who have been brought into His family by the redemptive work of His Son, Yeshua. Matthew 7:21 tells us that only those who do the will of the Father can enter this Kingdom.

When saying the “Kingdom of G-d” in the parable of the seed, Yeshua is not speaking about heaven but about the role of Adonai and His disciples in expanding the Kingdom.

Both have a part to play. We, as his disciples, are expected to go into the world and carry the Good News of our Messiah – that He has paid the price to redeem us. He has freed us from the bondage and condemnation of the law and allowed us to walk in His ways clothed in His righteousness.

We are called to live our lives in such a way as to be witnesses of His work.

Adonai, on the other hand, provides His Spirit that draws and convicts man of sin. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:7 that it is G-d alone who causes the saints to grow in their faith. He provides faith for the elect using the seed that we plant.

The man here is a farmer who faithfully sows the seeds into the soil… and then goes to bed.

In other words, he carries on with his normal life while expecting the seed to do what it was made to do, grow and bear fruit.

He’s at a loss to explain how this happens. He doesn’t water it. He doesn’t pull weeds. He doesn’t spray the bugs. (This place sound like heaven!)

He just goes to bed.

He gets up.

Why does he do this?

Because there’s nothing else he can do.

Again in 1 Corinthians 3:7, Paul has planted, Apollos has watered but it is G-d alone who can bring the increase.

The sower watches the field and he sees the seed start to sprout. It grows and develops into a plant in the same type as the seed that was planted.

Crops need to grow before they can reproduce. They need to mature and be healthy. And that is the ultimate purpose of each believer. To further the Kingdom of G-d by helping other disciples reach the point of sowing more seed. To fulfill the final commandment given by Yeshua before He ascended into the heavens.

“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

There are many different ways of filling this mitzvot. It’s more than being the preacher at the pulpit every service. It can be the singer and songwriter recording godly hymns. It can be the children’s teacher instructing the next generation. It can be a missionary doctor flying into a foreign country. It can be someone who takes time to listen to the worries of a coworker and explain about the One who can carry their burdens.

There are many different ways we can plant and water the precious seed in order to develop disciples for our Creator.

If we’re going to sow the seed and expect to make disciples for Yeshua, then it has to be what was planted in us. It has to be the same Word of G-d that brought us to salvation. We cannot expect a harvest of like-minded disciples if we cast out bad seed. That doesn’t work.

You can’t plant an apple tree and get lemons from it. And you certainly can’t make lemonade out of what you find on that tree!

If you plant false theology then your going to get followers of a false doctrine. And while HaShem may mercifully guide them into the right way, you will be held accountable for your teachings (James 3:1).

A plant doesn’t grow for its own sake. It grows in order to multiply and bear more seed. At the creation of the world, G-d commanded the vegetation, plants, and fruit trees to bear fruit after their own kind with seed in them. The purpose of a plant is to multiply.

Finally the seed has grown and matured. It is harvest time and ready for collection. Now the sower quickly prepares for action, He has patiently waited and watched the fields but now moves immediately into the harvest.

The sower now becomes a worker in the harvest field. He is faithful to the end. He not only planted the seed but he has made himself available for the final effort.

In Matthew 9:35-38, Yeshua travels over Israel and almost despairs at what He finds. “The harvest is plentiful,” He tells His disciples, “but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

May Adonai send out workers into the field. And may He use each of us to expand His kingdom.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who gives the increase so a plentiful harvest may be collected, and provides workers to gather the harvest for His Kingdom.

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Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace is the fourth point of Calvinism.

Despite the name, it does not mean that man is unable to resist the will of G-d or the work of the Ruach HaKodesh. We know from both Scripture and from observing human nature that man is very capable of resisting his Creator. Both the believer and unbeliever will have moments when they turn aside from a corrective action or instruction from G-d.

Instead, irresistible grace refers to the calling of the Spirit to regeneration. The quickening of a dead spirit to a live one, or the turning of a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

In basic terms, it is that one of the elect cannot reject the calling of G-d to salvation.

This is also known as effectual calling, referring to the effectiveness of the Spirit in the lives of those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 13.8). Yeshua said that, as the Good Shepherd, He would lose none of His sheep (John 10:27). Those that are His will answer His call at some point in their lives and respond favorably towards Him.

Irresistible grace is only one step in the process of coming to our Messiah. It is the regeneration of our dead spirit into a living spirit that can worship and serve the Creator.

Even after our calling, we are still capable of sinning. Of desiring to go our own way from time to time. Of seemingly turning our back on the One Who gave everything for our salvation.

But it’s never in open rebellion against Him. It’s never unforgivable.

There are two callings of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible.

There is the external calling that is universal. This is nature calling out to the world (Psalm 19) so everyone may know the attributes of G-d; His eternal power and divine nature.

It is the believer explaining the Gospel. Sowing seeds into the field so that some may grow and bear fruit. Some seeds will be harvested while others will be collected for the fire.

The Apostle Paul says this is so that each one may be without excuse (Romans 1:20) when facing judgment by the Almighty.

There is also an internal calling. The Spirit uses this to compel our dead spirits to accept and believe in the Messiah. It pierces our hard hearts and brings into us a faith so that we can believe the words and promises of G-d. This regeneration allows us to to put our faith in Yeshua so that we might be saved.

This salvation is an act of the Grace of G-d and is not dependent on us. We are saved through the grace of G-d, not by our own works (Eph. 2:8-9).

Grace is an unmerited, or unearned, favor given from the strong to the weak according to the need. It is suitable charity handed out willingly and freely.

The irresistible calling is not hyper-grace.

Hyper-grace is a sub-movement that has flown through history since the days of the Apostles. It shuns all manner of obedience to G-d’s Word, seeing it as a “work” of salvation. Nothing is expected from the believer except for an initial confession of faith. Any type of intentional good work is considered an effort to earn your way into heaven.

In effect, they are actually saying, “Let us sin so that more grace may abound.”

Scripture instructs us otherwise. The Word tells us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. To live sensibly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). To be active in our pursuit of holiness.

Paul specifically spoke out against the hyper-grace teaching in Romans 6. We have died to our sins he tells us. Our old self has been crucified to sin. We are free from it due to the sacrifice of our Messiah. While we still have a sinful nature that is tempted to break G-d’s commands, we are no longer known as sinners.

Due to our walking with the Messiah, our sins and faults stand out even more to those around us. A moment of anger, an outburst of frustration, or the giving in to a sinful habit can cause us to stumble in front of others. We may even be labelled a hypocrite due to a single, sinful act.

But the attacks of the world prove we are different from them. You don’t attack a friend, only an enemy. Just as hasatan did to Job before the Throne of Adonai, the world accuses us because we don’t walk their path. They don’t understand the forgiveness Yeshua offers us.

This becomes a chance to bear witness to the world. We are forgiven from our sins. We can repent and turn from our wicked ways to honor G-d.

In seeking repentance from our sins, we no longer walk in a manner that brings shame to the Holy One of Israel.

As G-d has called us to His bride, let us also call others to Him. We do not know who will be saved so we need to spread the Word freely. We do this by being a witness to the world both in word and deed.

This is grace working through us. G-d can use us to provide what is desperately needed in the lives of the unbelievers: an act of regeneration by the Ruach HaKodesh.

Blessed are You, O L-rd, Our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who is gracious to wake us from the dead and give us eternal life.

Intercessory Prayer

Job 1:1-2; 4-5 (NASB)
“​1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. 2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.

4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.”

Intercessory prayer is vital to G-d’s plan. Over the last few weeks I’ve come across many examples of how it brought salvation to the nation of Israel. Moses, Esther, Ezra, and more, all sought G-d’s providential deliverance in order to save His chosen people.

But interceding requires a strong relationship with G-d and faith that He will answer.

“You cannot intercede through prayer if you do not believe in the reality of redemption.”

These words are written in Oswald Chambers popular daily devotional, “My Utmost For His Highest”.

He goes on to say that intercession is, “having (G-d’s) mind and (G-d’s) perspective.” (1)

But to have Adonai’s mind and perspective, we must walk righteously before Him.

Job displays this righteousness throughout his trials because he lives it daily before his troubles even begin.

The very first verse of the book of Job lists four traits of Job that we should all desire. These characteristics carry him through the enemy’s attacks and keep him righteous in G-d’s eyes.

Job 1:1 says, “…that man was blameless, upright, fearing G-d and turning away from evil.”

First of all Job is blameless. He has integrity. He’s honest in his word and in his actions.

Psalm 1:3 says, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.”

Job’s blameless walk gives him a confidence that he is going in the right direction and doing the right thing. He never second guesses himself.

Second, Job is upright. To be upright means to be level and straight.

Each of the four Gospels record the cry of John the Immerser when he quotes from Isaiah 40:3-4 and says, “Make ready the way of the L-rd,
Make His path straight!”

Job is already prepared to walk with G-d on a straight path.

Next, Job fears G-d. Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1;7, and Proverbs 9:10 all say that the fear of the L-rd brings us wisdom. But fearing HaShem also fulfills the commandment of loving your neighbor.

Lev. 25:17 reads, “So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your G-d; for I am the L-rd your G-d.”

In the 31st chapter of Job, he states many times over how he cares for others and shows compassion to widows, orphans and others in need.

This is not bragging on Job’s part. His fear of Adonai leads him to care for and provide for others just as The Almighty has taken care of him and his household. His fear of HaShem brings out respect and love for his neighbors.

Finally, Job turns away from evil. This is probably the most important trait that Job displays.

Proverbs 4:26-27 (NASB) tells us,
“26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.”

Job is careful to keep his walk right before G-d. He declares in 31:4, “Does He not see my ways and number all my steps?”

He knows that he is accountable for all his actions and must answer to both G-d and man for what he does.

Being this righteous man puts Job in the position of priest and intercessor for his family. He often makes sacrifices on behalf of his children on the chance that they may have, even inadvertently, blasphemed Adonai.

According to the Archeological Study Bible, the feasts his children indulge in may refer to birthday celebrations. With 10 siblings, they may have had a celebration almost every month of the year.

Strong drink was certainly a part of this. It loosens the tongue and can make us say things we don’t intend to. These insults can be hurled at The Almighty just as easily as a friend or family member.

So Job commits to his family to be the intercessor between them and G-d.

He intercedes for his children in order to turn away the wrath of G-d. He can do this because of his righteous walk.

However, Job’s times of intercession comes to an end. His children die tragically during one of their feasts. He gains more sons and daughters in the end and, undoubtedly, he also does whatever is necessary to teach them to fear Adonai.

But this can only go on for so long. Eventually death also overtakes Job and his prayers come to an end as he enters his eternal rest.

But we’re told in Hebrews 7:25 that we have an intercessor now who, like Job, has made a sacrifice for us on account of our sins. His walk on this earth is even more righteous than Job’s and He lives eternally in order to continue interceding.

Hebrews 7:25 (NASB) tells us: “25 Therefore He (Yeshua) is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Yeshua lives to intercede for us. He does not need to continually make a sacrifice since His death is sufficient payment to take away the sins of the world. Instead, He now covers us with His righteousness so we can share in His life.

While we’re still expected, and needed, to pray and seek G-d’s protection for those in need, we do this in partnership with our Savior.

So don’t turn away from intercessory prayer when it’s needed. We have examples in the Bible that show how effective it can be and we have Job to demonstrate that it’s a hallmark of a righteous person.

Blessed are You, O L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who intercedes on our behalf for our salvation.

(1) http://www.utmost.org/intercessory-prayer/

Proclaim the Message

2Ti 4:2-3 (HCSB)
Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.

As Paul is sitting in his prison cell in Rome before his execution, he pens a final letter to his apprentice, Timothy, encouraging him to stand strong in the faith and persevere against those who distort the Word.

“Proclaim the message,” says Paul, “persist in it whether convenient or not.”

Timothy is encountering men who take part in “godless chatter” (2:16) and have a flawed theology. They try to bring up foolish and ignorant speculations hoping to cause an argument.

We see these kinds of people today, they’re called trolls and they live on the internet, but back in the first century, James has to deal with them face to face.

This has to be discouraging at times. These people maliciously argue and refuse to accept the Scriptures for what they plainly lay out as G-d’s plan.

Since these false teachers are influencing others in the congregation, Timothy has to move against them. He needs to be convincing in his arguments in order to keep weaker members of his flock from falling away under these strange teachings. He can’t afford to ignore the situation and he can’t afford to fail in explaining the true Word and its meaning.

In 2nd Timothy, Paul gives Timothy some of the best advice we can find on why we should study and use Scripture to explain our beliefs.

2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.”

Teaching others, even when we’re just explaining our beliefs to a stranger we just met, requires studying the Word. We must be able to handle it accurately since so much depends on it.

Charles Spurgeon remarked that what he dreaded above all else was to mistakenly convince someone that they were saved when they truly weren’t. Only by consistently studying the Word and allowing the Spirit within us to apply it to our lives, can we really know how to correctly explain it to others.

2 Timothy 3:15-16 is another quote from Paul encouraging Timothy to take up the Word in defense of the Truth: “And you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Messiah Yeshua. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.”

Again, Paul is driving home that the inspired Word of HaShem is the preferred method of spreading the gospel message of salvation.

And Timothy is ready to take on this mission due to his having been raised in the Scriptures. He has studied them since he was a child and has been trained in the righteousness they provide.

Finally, in chapter 4, Paul lays a charge on Timothy.

“I solemnly charge you… Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not.”

Paul is speaking from experience here. He’s seen times when it’s exciting to speak the Word and when it’s difficult. He was stoned and left for dead; he was faced with lashes and chains for speaking the Words of Life.

So his charge to Timothy is not done lightly. Paul knows the road Timothy may face but he encourages him to take up the banner that Paul will soon lay aside.

It’s also up to us to study the Word so we too can share the gospel of salvation. We need to be ready to speak with anyone who questions us about our faith. We need to be able to warn someone with the truth of Scripture when they are in danger of false doctrines.

G-d has also called us to be teachers of His Word just as Paul charged Timothy to do. Let us answer that call and take up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of Adonai.

Blessed are you, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who calls us to hold up the Word of G-d as a light in a dark world.

Walk by Faith

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NASB)
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul continues outlining the difference between the material and the spiritual worlds that we walk in. It can be hard to accept that this earth in its present state is not our final home. We are called to participate in a spiritual realm that we cannot sense but is just as real.

We take part in this spiritual world by walking in faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is believing in something we hope for but cannot see. We long and hope to see our Savior but cannot see Him at this time so we have to come to Him in faith that He exists. By continuing in faith we strengthen our belief and encourage each other.

In his sermon, The Difference between Walking by Sight and Walking by Faith, John Wesley had this to say about those who practice walking by faith:
“They think visible things to be of small value, because they pass away like a dream; but, on the contrary, they account invisible things to be of high value, because they will never pass away.”(1)

Those who walk by faith do not pay as much heed to earthly concerns as to spiritual matters. We have a promise from our Father that He will take care of those basic needs: food, clothing and shelter.

What He’s commanded us to do is to engage in the spiritual world through our faith. This is vital to our witness for Yeshua in this world.

Keeping the invisible and eternal in sight will keep us on the right path and make our walk a testimony to those around us.

Wesley also said that they base all their judgments concerning good and evil, not with reference to visible and temporary things, but to things invisible and eternal.

Jonathan Leeman, an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D. C., puts it this way, “If the Day of Judgment barely flashes on your mental radar, you will often make the wrong calculation.”(2)

When Peter followed Yeshua out of the boat and onto the water, he was fine until he took his eyes off the object of his faith and started looking at the world around him. That was when he began to sink.

It’s when we take our eyes off the invisible and put them on what is visible that we lose sight of eternity.

Make sure to keep your eyes on Yeshua, our Messiah and Savior so your faith will grow strong.

Blessed are you, O L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who brings the eternal into our view so we can walk towards it by faith.

(1) http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/John-Wesley-Sermons/Sermon-113-The-Difference-between-Walking-by-Sight–and-Walking-by-Faith#sthash.XEGLgO6A.dpuf

(2) http://9marks.org/article/cultural-opposition-lie-down-lean-in-lay-low-or-leave/