[Christ's Mandate For Missions] Delighting in the Word by Robin McMillan
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Delighting in the Word by Robin McMillan
Sep 21, 2006
(Editor's Note: We welcome Robin McMillan to the CMM InJesus family. We believe you will be really blessed by this gifted pastor.)
Guatemala, pray for Pastor Mario, who suffered a mild stroke and is recovering. Mario pastors Nueva Esperanza, New Hope, and this church serves poor with the love of God, giving new hope to many and this place has seen many miracles, often overflowing with hungry souls.
Philippines, Laoag City, pray for softened hearts by a neighboring family that owns a piece of land adjacent to the Bible School(CMBI) and the main church (CMMP) where a teacher's lounge and bathrooms and a septic tank are located. This obviously is very crucial as the buildings,lots, etc. are so close together.
Delighting in the Word
Being fruitful is one of the primary objectives of servants of the Lord. Adam’s original calling was to; be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28). In the beginning the Lord God only gave Adam one commandment.
"Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17)
Adam failed in his calling because he disobeyed the only commandment the Lord gave him. By heeding the voice of his wife and disregarding the word the Lord gave Adam and Eve, they lost their place of dominion. Not only has each proceeding generation suffered from their disobedience but creation to this day groans and travails for mankind to come back into the functional dominion that the Creator originally intended. Christ Jesus bought back that very redemption with the price He paid on the cross. Yet the practical restoration of that kind of dominion is not automatically restored. It is relationally restored. We must walk out the redemption that He worked out for us. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Just as the apostle Paul has written:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
We need to work out what God wants to work in us. That only comes as we develop a living relationship with God and delight in His word.
Jesus Wants Fruit Too
Like Father like Son the ancient adage goes. Just like His Father in the beginning Jesus also commissioned His disciples to bear fruit: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16-17). We are called to bear fruit, but doing so has its challenges. In the parable of the sower, one of Jesus foundational teachings, He identified the hindrances to being fruitful. Each of them revolves around our relationship to His word.
Four Kinds of Soil
In Matthew 13:1-23, Jesus described four kinds of ground where seed was sown and analyzed the fruitfulness of each kind. One type of ground was hard while the second kind was shallow and rocky. The third type had weeds that choked the seed’s growth and the fourth type was highly fertile, bearing unbelievable amounts of fruit. Two of the four soil types were completely barren with a third type sprouting temporarily only to wither quickly. Only one type of soil was truly fruitful. Jesus used this insightful word picture to help His disciples bear more fruit. Each kind of soil represent a particular problem we may have that keeps us from bearing fruit at the level that the Lord knows we can. His seed is potent and only needs the right environment to release a huge bounty.
“ And as He sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them” (Matthew 13:4). The first kind of soil was hard. The New Living Translation translates ‘by the wayside’ as ‘on the footpath’. Soil in such locations is hard packed from lack of rain or heavy traffic, has not been turned or softened by the plow, and will not yield any fruit.
This kind of soil speaks of a heart hardened through neglect or abuse. Just as a path is constantly hardened by the footsteps of travelers, a soul constantly abused hardens itself for protection. Many steal themselves from the misery of mistreatment, or from not knowing the love of parents, family, or a mate. Yet just because one does not feel loved, does not mean one is not loved. The love of God for sinful people can be experienced and heal the most wounded heart when it comes into contact with the mercy of God and begins receiving the simple message of the gospel:
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
Shallow Rocky Ground
“Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly” (Matthew 13:5, The Message). The second kind of soil showed some promise but ultimately bore no more fruit than the first. The soil was shallow, speaking of lack of character in the person who received the word. Jesus reports that this kind of person initially received the word with joy but because of persecution brought by believing the word he was offended or tripped up and lost all its benefit.
Seed in the Weeds
“Other seed fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades so that it produced no grain” (Matthew 13:7, NLT). Seed fell into another kind of soil full of thorns and weeds. The weeds and thorns speak of the cares of life and lust for riches that choke the life of the plants. You can not worry and have faith at the same time. The one we feed will live and the one we starve will die, but one of them must die. Worry and a lust for things must be treated like a cancer of the soul. Many Christians have compromised with anxiety, never seeing it for what it is; infidelity towards God. Either we trust Him or we depend upon someone or something else. We must reckon with our anxious thoughts and ways.
Good Soil/Good Heart
“Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams” (Matthew 13:8, The Message). Of all the kinds of earth Jesus described, there is only one that produced abundant fruit. It is called good earth, but what is good about it? Jesus said that these things about the person who is like good earth:
$ He is one “who hears the word and understands it” (Matthew 13:23),
$ They are “those who hear the word, accept it” (Mark 4:20), and
$ They are “those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
One remarkable truth about the soils that did not bear fruit is that each of them had seed sown in them. Each person represented by the four kinds of soil has come into personal contact with the word of God and yet only one bore fruit. This is frightening. How many of us have heard His word and yet the seed produces very little.
One key to being good soil and bearing fruit is found in the Mark 4 account of the parable, which identifies this characteristic of good ground --it accepted, received, or delighted in the word. The Matthew 13 account gives us additional insight when it tells us that the word was not only heard but understood. Understanding the word is essential to bearing fruit. Many however do not initially understand the word. What should one do then? Delight in it until understanding comes. Then after understanding comes the word can not be easily stolen and fruit will be the result.
In John 15: 9 Jesus said: "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” To delight is to abide. To delight in something is to gaze upon, think of, or dwell upon it with joy and constancy. We delight in those things we hold most precious --those things that are of rare value. Delight is the best description of two lovers, always thinking of one another, always occupied with thoughts of one another. To delight in something or someone is to abide in their affection, to meditate on your personal knowledge of them. That is what we must do with the word of the Lord, and with the Lord Himself. As we delight and abide in the word the Lord has given us, our lives will change in view of what we delight in.
A People Like Paul- Delighting in the Lord Himself
The apostle Paul delighted in the Lord Himself. His relationship with Jesus often comes pouring through his letters. I have often meditated upon Paul’s word in Galatians 2:20:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Once while meditating on this verse of scripture I noticed how Paul spoke of his Christ: ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me’. At this point in his appeal to the Galatians Paul is doing more than preaching to them, he is repeating to them that which had radically altered his life, changed his destiny, and had captured his heart so many times before, ‘who loved me and gave Himself for me’. It became apparent to me that Paul must have spent many hours meditating on this Jesus who had given Himself for Paul in particular; this Paul who consented to Stephen’s death and held his coat at his murder, this Paul who imprisoned many early believers, this Paul who breathed ‘threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord’ (Acts 9:1), this Paul who cast his vote against them when they were put to death, when their only fault was that they loved Jesus Christ. Paul was one who meditated on the great love of God.
In Philippians 3:8-10 we catch another glimpse of Paul’s passion for the Son of God:
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death..,”
Paul’s heart was to know Him, and from his pursuit every generation since has benefited from Paul’s words of encouragement, revelation, rebuke, and teaching found in his New Testament letters. Paul bore remarkable fruit.
A People Like Samuel- Counting the Word as Precious
In the time of the young boy prophet Samuel, the word of the Lord was rare. Samuel began to listen to and delight in the word of the Lord. So must we delight in the things the Lord speaks to us and shows us from His scripture if we are to be fruitful in His service. If we cultivate a high level of delight and understanding then it may also be said of us, that which was said of him, “So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (I Samuel 3:19 NKJV).
God Appeared to Samuel
The result of Samuel’s delight in the word was that the Lord appeared to him. “Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (I Samuel 3:21 NKJV). In studying this verse some conclude that the appearing of the Lord to Samuel was not literal but figurative. In other words the way the Lord appeared to him was in the form of speaking or revealing His word to him. I conclude otherwise. This particular word for appear is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament and in most cases it refers to a literal seeing. Here is my conclusion. Samuel was a seer and as such had supernatural experiences with the Lord through dreams, visions and perhaps even personal appearances of the Lord. As we delight in His word we will have powerful intimate encounters with the Lord Himself. Why should He not appear to us? We need Him to do so for higher level commissioning and impartation of His power and nature. Those kinds of encounters have the capacity to bear unimaginable fruit.
The Original Intent
In the beginning Adam was created from the earth. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). God gave him dominion over the earth and by disobedience he lost it. Jesus came to redeem us from the curse of the law and to restore the dominion that was lost in Adam. To do that He needs willing participants who will allow their hearts of ‘earth’ to be weeded, plowed, cultivated and sown to the end that we will bear His image and do His will. He taught His disciples to pray this way, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, KJV) For His will to be done on earth it needs first to be done ‘in earth’, the earthen vessels that look like me and you. We must take responsibility for the earth of our lives and reclaim the dominion that Jesus has bought for us. God wants us to be good earth once again.
How Much Is in One Seed?
One may count the number of acorns in an oak tree however no one but God knows the number of oak trees in an acorn. Life and fruitfulness are in the seed, not the soil, yet without a fertile and conditioned environment the best seed will not produce its potential. I read once of grain that had been found in an ancient Egyptian tomb. It had been there for thousands of years. Even after all those years, when it was placed in warm, moist, fertile soil, it sprouted and grew. The life is in the seed. There are no limits to the fruit one may bear when good seed falls into good soil. No soil apart from seed ever bore any fruit at all, but the soil needs to be right for a maximum yield. Our soil must be good. We must raise our devotion to the Lord and delight in Him and the words He gives us. The fullness of times is upon us. In John 14:12 Jesus prophesied that some will do even greater works than He did:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Why should we not be those who fulfill His word?
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