Step 12, Bible Studies

Are You Cultivating Seeds or Weeds?

How do you get vegetables out of your garden? By planting vegetables, of course. This is a fact almost too obvious to mention, except for the fact that most people seem to have forgotten that you reap what you sow and you harvest what you plant,

for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)


Now if a man simply kept weeding a garden patch without ever planting it to vegetables, we would certainly have a right to call him at least a fool if he expected weeding to give him vegetables. We should, in fact, question his sanity.

But this foolishness is exactly what millions of "good Americans" are dedicated to: they do nothing but pull up weeds, and they expect to harvest vegetables. How? They are always fighting the weeds which crop up in the life of America, in the churches, schools, and organizations, and this is all that millions of them do-pull weeds.

Meanwhile, the country and everything in it goes downhill.

Make no mistake about it, the weeds of communism, atheism, and permissiveness must be uprooted, but what good will all this weeding do if no sound seeds are sown? The net result is simply a better patch for new weeds to sprout in. Jesus said of the man who rid himself of an unclean spirit without submitting himself to God and bearing fruit to God that such a man becomes then a dwelling place for eight unclean spirits, "and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

"Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:45) When people are simply interested in getting rid of their weeds, their problems, and have no desire for planting seeds, for moral and spiritual regeneration, then they are only the worse off for their efforts.

Life Choices: Thermometer or Thermostat?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of "The Daily Show," recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:

"My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature."

Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.

And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.

So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.

First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn't require much work. You just let your feelings rip.

How Should You "Run?"

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

It's important that, as wise scholars, we not apply every analogy in the Bible literally (as would be unwise), but that we do ferret out the truth that we might apply it to our lives.

Paul says: "one receives the prize." We know that there will be more than one Christian, so this isn't a matter of competing against each other in order to gain heaven. Thankfully, the Lord hasn't created such a system, but rather offers salvation to any and all who will receive Him, who will believe on His name.

What then is the kernel of truth that we should grasp from this passage? "Run in such a way that you may obtain it (the prize)." The point is that there are those who run but don't obtain the prize, those who will live as Christians, but won't persevere to finally end seeing the face of Jesus as Savior (though all will see the face of Jesus as Lord).

So how should one "run," how should one live her life? What does it take to gain the prize?

"I don't want to do this."

Gethsemane: Code For... "I don't want to do this."

We've uttered that statement frequently in our lives.

This time of year, there's a great deal of emphasis on Jesus. As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, we read and remind ourselves just how this whole thing came to be: hope, salvation and reunion with God. It didn't just happen.

And a large part of it depends on Gethsemane.

Yes, Jesus is amazing and loving. But He still had a night of decision. Hours away from being crucified, there was a real moment; He didn't want to do it.

Tribulation and Faith

Even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest,
but we were afflicted on every side:
conflicts without, fears within.
(2 Cor. 7:5 ESV)


Sometimes Christians get the wrong idea about faith. Knowing that only believers enter the celestial city, we put a great deal of importance on faith, and if it wavers, we become fearful. If we experience doubt, we wonder if our faith is failing - if, after all, we're not Christians at all, or if we are, if we haven't departed from the Lord and ceased to be such. I myself have been there - I won't go into the details, but there was a time in the 80s when I seriously did wonder whether I'd ever been saved in the first place. My faith was under attack, and I grew afraid.

To some extent at least this grows out of a wrong idea of what faith is. Even the most knowledgeable Christians can sometimes make this mistake, believing that Biblical faith has something to do with our emotion state, or that it's something we have to muster up from within ourselves. Let's be sure of what faith is, and then attacks against our faith arise along this line, we'll be better able to resist. There are two related Greek words we need to consider, one a noun and one a verb - pistiz and pisteuw (pistis, pisteuo). The noun means, "reliance upon, trust in, dependence on," and of course the verb means "to rely on, to depend on, to trust." Thus, when we have faith, or when we believe, we have that trust and dependence on Christ, we're trusting Him and depending on Him. And it is important that we have the proper object of our faith. We must trust Jesus, Jesus entirely, and Jesus only. If we trust anyone or anything other than the Lord Christ, our faith is in the wrong object, and we'll never see God. If we trust Jesus partly and something or someone else partly, we're again not believing as the Bible demands, and we'll come short of the heavenly city. Biblical faith has as its object Jesus alone and Jesus to the uttermost.

And it is here that some professing Christians miss the point.

Do You Need Wisdom and Understanding?

Give me understanding according to Your word. Psalm 119:169

When the psalmist prayed, "Give me understanding according to Your word," he obviously knew something that we too often forget: True wisdom and understanding are found ONLY through the eternal perspective of the holy Scriptures.

Trying to achieve true wisdom any other way is

Peer Pressure & Sin

In Haggai 2:12-19, God drives home a very telling point to the prophet. If we place an unclean thing together with a clean one, the cleanness of the latter will not rub off onto the former. If I rub my dirty and ink-stained hands on a clean towel, the cleanness of the towel will not rub off onto my hands: rather it is dirt that is transferred, and the towel becomes dirty.

By this means the Lord made clear to Haggai and Judah that sin is contagious, but righteousness is not. We are not Christians simply because we belong to a good church, a good family, or a fine community. Moreover, a good profession of faith does not make us holy or godly.

How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?Premium Content

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.

"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."

The single goal of heart healing is to

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Seizing the Gospel of Grace for YourselfPremium Content

This maybe one of our most daunting challenges; to daily apprehend through faith, the gospel of grace for yourself and others aggressively.

"Aggressively" literally means it will be marked by obtrusive energy and will be strong in effect and intention. Wow! Too daily apprehend through faith, grace strongly and intentionally toward ourselves and others.

Instead, most are passive about their daily faith in the gospel of grace. Whatever will be will be? No! May it never be!

Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith! Ephesians 2:8 (Mirror)

You did not invent faith; it was God's faith to begin with!

It is from faith to faith. Romans 1:17 (Mirror)

He is both the source and conclusion of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (Mirror)

This aggressive grace journey progresses in/by a "mind shift" away from re-penance (faith in the law) to (faith in grace).

"The word 'repentance' is a fabricated word from the Latin, penance, and to even give it more 'religious' mileage, the English rendering became re-penance!" ~Francois du Toit

That is not what the Greek word means at all! The true word that sets the journey of grace, by faith in motion is "Metanoia." This comes from (meta) - meaning together with, and (nous) - meaning to mind together with God's mind; continuously perpetuated by a "radical mind-shift."

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Each of Us is that 100th SheepPremium Content

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

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