[re-truh greyd] (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)
[re-truh greyd] (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)
31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Matthew 13:31-33, ESV
These are perhaps the three most potent verses in the entire Bible. And whenever you find “potency” you will find a strong possibility of exponential growth. It may be a steady synergy, or an explosive fission. Either way, it’s going to grow!
Both the seed and the yeast have so much in common. They are two sides of the same proverbial coin. And they represent explosive growth. If they are unleashed, watch out! They are both “pep and power” and now set loose they will take off.
The seed is put in the ground and the yeast in the flour. And the farmer and the baker both do their initial work of planting or kneading, and then they just stand back, their work is pretty much done. They now just let “nature” take its course.
These parables Jesus taught here are small— but hardly less significant because of their brevity. These two can bury you with all they imply and mean. When we think clearly about yeast in your cupboard and that single seed in its package, we should see the “life” that resides in them, and the potential that waits.
I think much about the Church. At times, I admit I get frustrated with it. I get judgmental, and fearful that it won’t survive into the next century. I truly understand that I can be critical. At times my friends must deal with my “ugliness,” but still they put up with me. (They are true friends.)
The kingdom is growing, and advancing. I love the wonderful promise in Isaiah 9:6, (usually read at Christmas time only. A mistake.) But Isaiah 9:7 is also pretty amazing too,
“His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!”
Let it grow, let it grow!
by A.W. Tozer
Put yourself in the way of the blessing. It is a mistake to look for grace to visit us as a kind of benign magic, or to expect God’s help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them. To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion is to wish one way and walk another.
Do a thorough job of repenting. Do not hurry to get it over with. Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil. It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.
Make restitution whenever possible. If you owe a debt, pay it, or at least have a frank understanding with your creditor about your intention to pay, so you honesty will be above question. If you have quarreled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation. As fully as possible make that crooked things straight.
Repentance and restitution result when we seriously reflect on what God shows us in His Word. What is it of which we need to repent and is there restitution to be made?
Matthew 3:8 (Amplified Bible)
My tendency, Lord, is not to take seriously my sin that hurts other people and to leave unrepaired the damage I have left in the lives of others. Make me sensitive, Lord!
Aiden Wilson Tozer was born April 21, 1897 on a small farm in Western Pennsylvania, the third of six children. And although he would inspire millions with his preaching and writing, he was given very little education during his childhood.
A. W. Tozer was 66 when he died of a heart attack on May 12, 1963. Buried in a small cemetery in Akron, his tombstone simply and appropriately reads, “A Man of God.” He left behind many books that continue to give Christians encouragement and guidance. His writings are as fresh today as when he was alive. His honest and colloquial humor has been known to sweep up congregations in gales of laughter. And his wisdom has left them silent and stunned. For almost 50 years Tozer walked with God, and even though he is gone, he continues to minister to those who are eager to experience God.
“Come, let’s sing for joy to the Lord.
Let’s shout praises to the Rock who saves us.
2 Let’s come to him with thanksgiving.
Let’s sing songs to him,
3 because the Lord is the great God,
the great King over all gods.
4 The deepest places on earth are his,
and the highest mountains belong to him.
5 The sea is his because he made it,
and he created the land with his own hands.
6 Come, let’s worship him and bow down.
Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us,
7 because he is our God
and we are the people he takes care of,
the sheep that he tends.
Today listen to what he says:
Psalm 95:1-7, NCV
Such joy: it just bubbles through the words. This is a psalm saturated with excitement. These first seven verses are ‘carbonated joy.’ They pronounce an excitement of a living God that excels in every way. These are simple words made to escort us into a true worship, unlike any other. We might use the word, “jubilant” when hearing this psalm. And we wouldn’t be far off.
“The Lord is the great God,” and He is the King of any ‘so-called’ gods. Everything concerning the earth is His doing– for He created it, with His own hands! And our creating God is also our Shepherd, tending and caring for us as His very own flock.
These verses extol our God, to the point of exuberance. It channels us to the point of worship upon our knees, with the realization of the greatness of God. But this Psalm continues for four more verses.
Today listen to what he says:
8 “Do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were at Meribah,
as they were that day at Massah in the desert.
9 There your ancestors tested me
and tried me even though they saw what I did.
10 I was angry with those people for forty years.
I said, ‘They are not loyal to me
and have not understood my ways.’
11 I was angry and made a promise,
‘They will never enter my rest.’”
There are two parts to Psalm 95. The first is of jubilant worship. But the second part emphasizes a solid obedience. The phrase, “Today listen to what he says:’ welds these two sections together.
The issue is an history lesson that goes back to Israel’s days of Moses and the days following the Exodus. Because they were so hard and stubborn, they would wander for forty years in the desert. Their continued ‘stubbornness’ not only closed off the Promised Land, but also closed off their relationship with God— a relationship that would’ve been ‘jubilant’ and profound (at the same time). They missed out on verses 1-6 and settled on verses 8-11. How tragically sad.
There is a thread that works through scripture called “the rest of God.” The book of Hebrews uses in 12x usually as a warning:“Now, since God has left us the promise that we may enter his rest, let us be very careful so none of you will fail to enter.” (Heb. 4:1).
“Let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s rest so that no one will fail by following the example of those who refused to obey.”
To be in God’s rest is to be in harmony with Him. It is a mixture of confident faith mixed with a careful obedience. When you combine these two, you have the recipe for joy.
I believe this rest is the believer’s place of joy, peace and confident faith. It obeys because it really wants to. It is Psalm 95:1-7 in action. It is for the jubilant Christian.
“You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.”
Psalm 63:5, (NLT)
“To be truly happy– a man must have sources of gladness which are not dependent on anything in this world.”
The defining hallmark of vital Christianity has to be joy. It is truly what describes believers in every culture, from a ‘rice paddy’ in Vietnam to a business woman in a NYC skyscraper. Joy is seen in their hearts and faces. Its source– the indwelling Holy Spirit; He makes them ‘bubble’ in a ‘carbonated’ kind of holiness. He sets them apart for Himself. They are His own possession. He loves us prodigiously.
I must say this: Joy is not contingent on ‘good’ circumstances. A bad day at the office or a bill-collector at the door can’t nullify the Spirit’s ministry inside of us. We can be joyful in all circumstances without being comfortable with them. As a matter of fact, we can rejoice (joy, again) in our tribulations.
Ultimate joy is waiting for us. We must turn-off the TV and give our video games a rest, and press into communicating with God. Sometimes we’ll need to shut down the internet for a few hours, to keep ‘the spring bubbling’ fresh and clean.
you will have to say ‘No” to some things.
Awareness of Him through His Word and worship are good habits to have. They are essential for ‘broken believers’ that may struggle with physical or mental handicaps. They are as vital as the meds we must take.
“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
“Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.”
Psalm 78:40, NLT
“For forty years I was angry with them, and I said,
‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me.
They refuse to do what I tell them.’”
Psalm 95:10, NLT
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).”
Ephesians 4:30, AMP
I must say, we instinctively know how to offend God. No one has to teach us how it’s done, we just know how to do it. We have the amazing ability to sadden God. Our sins, and our rebellion causes God to tremble and weep. Disobedience, in any form affects the very essence of God’s well-being.
As a believer in Jesus, I know that sin is never permanent. It is not like getting a spiritual tattoo on our hearts. Our faith prevents sin from completely attaching itself to our hearts. But my sorrow or grief over my sin, must drill itself directly into my heart. I should come to the point where I can not sin against Him who loves me hysterically.
To turn back to Him involves “contrition.” To be contrite is to imply a very simple acknowledgment of our sin– and the rebellion that is often seen within. Somehow this is possible. I do not understand the mechanics of it all. But I am very glad it is there. God loves a heart that is contrite.
God is very offended by our sin. But somehow we do not grasp this. More or less this is a bit intangible. In our mind, we go don’t ever stop sinning against Him. We feel that we are getting away of something, which isn’t true at all.
As a closet-Lutheran, I propose the Lutheran Church which also has its own act of contrition, which is said during Holy Absolution. The following version, taken from the Lutheran Service Book (2006), says:
I can say nothing more than this. I will simply rest in this kindness that isn’t me at all. He loves each of us, as if we were the only ones. Thank you Father.