Unless a seed die..

In October 2022, going through Yellowstone National Park, there were vast areas of forest land that clearly showed that there was most likely a fire at one time, revealing bare tree trunks everywhere, and among them were these cute little baby trees coming up in their place. I was particularly fascinated by how many baby trees there were in proportion to the dead, standing, and felled trees.

It reminded me of the scripture from John 12:24. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

Recently, a distant friend/acquaintance decided against daily dying to regain the once-thought-dead identity of his former life, which admittedly was historically void of the life of Jesus, void of hope. Imagine if Paul had decided that although Jesus appeared to him, the blindness was more than he could bear and took up again the persecution of the saints, all the while in full possession of the truth from Jesus’s own lips. We would not have the books that we do in the New Testament chronicling a man’s daily journey of dying to all he once knew to live out the truth that he could not deny.

I was reflecting today about the accusing voices out there. Such as like with this friend who has walked away from Jesus, the responses from people were off the charts, either they were pleading with him, begging him to repent and return, OR, they blasted him out of the water with condemnation, criticism, words that border vitriol, all the while promoting truth, and it reminded me of Westboro Baptist church folk that was once led by Fred Phelps. I watched in horror as news coverage showing them picketing various events with demeaning words on signs like ” God hates fags”, etc. And for a time THAT became the face of Christianity, whether we liked it or not. It’s been a desire of mine to filter through all this to arrive at a solid foundation of truth by which I would be able to thrive in my walk in Christ while being aware of others completely falling away from Jesus, away from the truth that Jesus DOES set the captive free. We just don’t take into account that sometimes the captive doesn’t like the wilderness of suffering that living a holy life of consecration demands.

It reminds me of the Israelites who were being led by Moses. In particular, the various times they complained about their lot. In Numbers 11 we read this passage,” Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so, the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?  We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”

There are a couple of things I feel like I’m seeing here. Can you see it? This passage is in the book of Numbers, but we read repeatedly from the liberation in Egypt, all that way up to Numbers that they continually moaned and groaned about their lot, in spite of the constant provision the entire time. God provided for them, not discounting how mightily He moved to set them free from around 400 years of bondage in slavery to Egypt. And here they are talking about eating in freedom. In FREEDOM! HAH! It’s astounding to me that they have so quickly forgotten about how God moved on their behalf. This being said, there’s another aspect I feel I’m looking at, and that is, by the time we get to the book of Numbers, a generation or two probably have passed. So, the perspective might have been from the children of those who were enslaved by the Egyptians. It would make sense to me that this might be what I’m looking at. But then that itself brings up another issue. If indeed these were the children growing up, then it addresses something else I’m seeing lacking in the church. The elders, the parents, the families that are charged with teaching the word to their children.

In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 we read:

 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.

We don’t have the luxury of having spent time with these Israelites that were charged by God with the keeping of His statutes and the teaching of them to their children. But one can ascertain that it’s possible that they failed in this because of the many ways they provoked God to anger by their Idolatry, their almost immediate complaining and ungratefulness after Moses’s song, the many that refused to be grateful and thankful for God’s mighty hand of deliverance, the list goes on.

So, here we are in 2023, and the falling away continues.

I was having lunch today with my co-workers, and on the way to our destination I was reflecting on the people I disconnected from previously because of their compromise and falling away into deception and immorality. This thought process was reflecting on the accusation that comes from the world and also from the fallen, that we are still tempt-able. Now, concerning temptation, the world and the devil I might add make this flippant accusation that we are not free because there’s a possibility that we might find ourselves facing temptation. That’s the held-up argument they use, ” you’re not free because you can be tempted.” and I’ve said this, and I’ll say this again. For anyone that has devoted any amount of time cultivating a life of sin will find that it is a journey, sometimes daily, that one will find themselves being tempted. If Jesus was fair game by the devil, then who am I to declare that I am beyond tempting. How arrogant to presume that I am as sinless as Jesus. It’s because of Jesus that I can walk free from sin. But I still have to choose to walk with Him daily and surrender to His Lordship as well.

I have a question for you, reader.

What is the significance of John 12:24? What does it mean? Is Jesus talking about gardening? Should I go buy wheat seeds and throw them out on dry ground to help finish the dying process and see what He means by the producing of much grain. Or is it implying that if I, choosing to die to myself, to die to the works of the flesh, and embrace this death, that what Jesus produces in me would be fruit for the Kingdom? For His names sake? This friend I mentioned at the beginning, that has fallen away, founded an organization, and it beckoned to many who were finding themselves being drawn to the work of the cross, which is deemed foolishness by the world. 1 Cor 1:18. It has the potential to bear fruit even with his falling away, however, I need to remind you and myself that we are warned in Galatians 6:7 that whatever we sow, we also reap. I think that means that if our choosing to lay down our lives for the sake of the cross, that can result in casting seed that bears fruit for the kingdom, then the falling away can also bear fruit, bad, bad fruit.

I’ve seen it before. A major ministry leader proclaiming the Gospel, declaring freedom from labels, freedom from sin. And then a little fall here, a little fall there, right in front of everyone, and apparently no one on that ministries board of directors taking any action to prevent any outrageous moral fall, only to find this ministry leader is now embracing everything they ever resisted, and now celebrating everything that had been repented of. It’s incredibly sad to me that this has happened. For a time, I was charged with keeping tabs on individuals who no longer walked with us in ministry, and they would, in true narcissistic fashion, record videos, and promote all forms of sexual expression, sometimes making sure people could see this person wearing a speedo and displaying themselves. Truly heartbreaking. I stopped keeping tabs on this person because there was too much defilement in nearly every post. I used to be Facebook friends with this man, however, as I began to realize that he was falling repeatedly, and there did not seem to be any action by his board of directors, that in wisdom, I unfriended him. I felt then that there might be some moral failure down the road, and indeed, sadly not only was there moral failure, but a complete turning away from all truth to embrace a “new” truth that is diametrically opposed to scripture. I also witnessed, after his moral failure, that others who were struggling began to celebrate his new coming out persona, and their own sin. I’m grateful that I had the wisdom to extricate myself. A little leaven leavens the whole lump Galatians 5:9,

I still hold out in hope for my friend who appears to have lost his way. I’m reminded of a time when I had lost mine, and the people I loved that truly loved me, continued to intercede and pray for me. I firmly believe, it is those prayers, including those of my Lord on my behalf, that was instrumental in bringing me home into the arms of my Father. I’m forever grateful for what Jesus has done. Even now, lightly glancing at my past, and it’s almost unrecognizable. Was I that misguided, hurting, wounded, lost person whom Jesus wooed to bring me home? I was, and am. He has done such a work of transformation and deliverance, and continues to do so as I consistently walk out this life of taking up my cross and following Him. I still have to sow to the Spirit. ” For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life Galatians 6:8.

In walking in the Fear of the Lord, I keep watch over my own soul. I’m not exempt from being tempted, no matter what the temptation might be. But recognizing that my battle is not against flesh and blood, Eph 6:12, but against the unseen powers of darkness. It would be foolishness to think I’m beyond being tempted. Indeed, the argument against the truth found in God’s word, mocks the efficacy of the work of the cross in the life of one who has chosen to die to have Him. Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 15:31, ” ….. I die daily”. The work of the cross is daily. I’ve not perfected dying daily, out there in the world is a plethora of opportunity to encounter temptation, in traffic, with food, with being a wise manager of my time, the list goes on. But He is welcome in it all. He is my strength. God is my strength and power, and HE makes my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33. My prayer is that my life becomes like that grain of wheat. my hope is that Jesus uses what little I have to offer and causes it to bear fruit. Noone is good but God alone. Mark 10:18


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