Tag Archives: Bible

Heaviness of Soul

I was flipping through a collection of readings by John Wesley early this morning, and came across a message that fits in perfectly with the post I made yesterday.  His sermon is based on I Peter 1, in which Peter discusses various trials and temptations that befall us.

I Peter 1:3-9 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Here is the message from Wesley on that passage:

There is a near relationship between the darkness of mind in the wilderness state and heaviness of soul, which is more common among believers.  The resemblance is so great that they are frequently confounded together.  But they are not equivalent terms; far, far, from it.  The difference is so wide and essential, as all the children of God need to understand, to prevent them sliding out of heaviness into darkness.

The manner of persons to whom the apostle Peter wrote the above words were believers at that time.  He expressly says (I Peter 1:5) you are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.  Again (I Peter 1:7), he mentions the trial of their faith; and yet again (I Peter 1:9), he speaks of their receiving the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.  So, though they were in heaviness, they were possessed of living faith.  The apostle prays (I Peter 1:2) not that grace and peace may be given them, but that it may be multiplied. 

They were also full of a living hope.  For he speaks (I Peter 1:3) of their living hope of their inheritance that fadeth not away. In spite of their heaviness, they still retained a hope full of immortality.  And they still rejoiced (I Peter 1:8) with joy unspeakable and full of glory.  Their heaviness, then, was also consistent both with living hope and inexpressible joy!

Our God is good.  It’s through this message by Peter that God tells us we are kept by His power through our faith unto salvation.  No matter the burden, trials, temptations, or sins, Christ died for us once, for all. I Peter 3:18 Satan wants the burden of our sin to cast doubt with our faith to lead us into darkness, but we are given the living hope through Jesus and as such we should be rejoiceful, not disheartened.

Facing our Battles

Why is it that we Christians often undergo what seems to be a barrage of spiritual attacks when we’re at seemingly our closest point to God?  This is a question that’s often been discussed in my Bible study, as we each seem to go through periods of a strong, personal connection to God for several weeks, or even months, but then suddenly, out of nowhere, comes the attack.  But why?  After being under the weather for a few days and having experienced these same types of battles myself, I really wanted to examine this.  Paul tells us of this very battle in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  The simple answer to the why would be that we all sin, we were born into a sinful nature and there’s really no escaping it.  I mean after all, Romans 6:23 tells us that, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We know it’s inherent in our nature, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it, in fact, quite the opposite.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  The significance of this verse is that it should be what we strive for, perfection, to follow the example of Christ.  I Corinthians 11:1

When we strive to live this type of example and are living in accordance with God’s Word, I really believe this is when we can expect the spiritual attacks to begin.  I would equate it to riding your bike down the road of being “Christ-like”, then out of nowhere someone hits you with a football in the side of the head and knocks you off your bike.  You can’t see who threw it or where it came from.  Depending on how fast you were traveling, your injuries might be minimal, being able to get right back on your way, or you might experience significant injuries from your fall.  Think about that; the greater progress we’re making down this road, the greater risk of potential “injury” we face, if that is, we’re not prepared…. 

The answer to the original question of, why we undergo these attacks, is because there is a daily battle of good vs. evil in this world, competing over each of us.  If we think just because we are feeling close to God that we’ll be immune to the attacks, we couldn’t be further from the truth.  After all, if we weren’t even traveling down the road to Christ, would there even be an attack?  Probably not, or at least we might not easily recognize it.  If we were living lukewarm, just standing in the road, would there even be a battle for us?  Revelation 3:16 The truth of the matter is that these attacks are inevitable, eventually they will occur.

Our preparation for this is critical and admittedly, I’ve not been prepared for this in the past (we all have much to learn, especially me!). Normally, we can see the battle lines for these attacks forming.  Generally they start small; much like distant arrows shot by the archers in Braveheart.  Then the next wave follows, and the next and so on.  For our preparation, we should already have on the full armor of God.  Ephesians 6:10-18  When we are girded with the armor of God the “injuries” will be minimized.  But we simply can’t stand there and take the full assault.  No, our best defense is an offense.  We’re given spiritual weapons consisting of 1) immersing in the Word (Sword of the Spirit) 2) prayer without ceasing (include Scriptures in the prayer) and 3) fasting (perhaps no other weapon is as effective when used properly).  Each of these is essential to winning the battle, but start utilizing them when the first wave of attack is forming, don’t wait until it intensifies. 

I think Christians are in a constant state of learning, like the old song says, He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be and this includes learning how to face these types of battles to overcome them and not fall.  The Apostle Paul summarizes this learning process in Romans 5:3-5, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Have a Blessed Day!

Sowing Seeds: Applying the Parable

With spring approaching, it’s a great time to begin planning your garden.  I doubt that anyone would attempt to plant their garden seeds on their driveway, probably wouldn’t plant seeds amongst your rose or blackberry bushes, and I doubt anyone would throw a few weed seeds in with their good seed.  Yet this is exactly what happens in the parables that Jesus teaches us in Matthew 13. 

We’ve probably all heard the first parable of this chapter, The Parable of the Sower.  This parable falls along the lines of the analogy I used when planting your garden.  Jesus tells of seeds that are thrown along the path and devoured by birds, sown in rocky soil and withers shortly because it has no roots, and others that fell among the thorns and are choked out.  He then tells of those seeds that fell on good soil and produced grain some hundredfold.  In Jesus’ explanation of this parable found in vs. 18-23, we learn that the seed is the Word of God and that the soil is the heart of man.  Those seeds that were planted along the path, the evil one snatches away.  The seed sown in the rocky soil are hearts that receive the Word with joy, but when times get tough falls away because there is no root within.  Those seeds that are sown among the thorns are those people that hear the Word, but fall victim to the deceitful cares of the world that chokes out the Word.  The seed that brings forth fruit are those that hear the Word and understand it.  This parable is probably one of the best known and a fascinating example of those that hear the Word of God and choose to either reject or accept it.  As important as the parable is to understanding these truths, I want to draw attention to a second parable in this chapter.  Perhaps a lesser known story, The Parable of the Weeds

 Jesus tells this parable in Matthew 13:24-30 and I’ve included it below:

 24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

 27“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

 28” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
      “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

 29” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “

Jesus explains this parable in vs. 36-43 describing that the one who sowed the seeds is the Son of Man, the field is the world, and the good seed represents the “sons of the kingdom.”  The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the “enemy” that sows them is the devil.  The harvest is the “end of age” while the harvesters are the angels.  As the weeds are pulled up, they are thrown into the fiery furnace and the righteous will “shine like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.”  While Jesus does and excellent job of illustration, I’d like to apply this lesson to the modern day world. 

First, let’s think about the good seed sown in the field.  We know from the first parable, that this good seed are those that receive the Word of God, understand it, apply it, and bear fruit as a result.  These are Christians that are firmly rooted in the Word of God.  Reading and studying it daily, feeding on the Daily Bread. Luke 11:3 Next, let’s look at the sowed weeds.  Think about what is happening here.  The field is planted, the good seed sown, ready to take root and grow.  Those Christians that receive the Word are prepared to bear fruit.  But what is the role of the weeds?  First let’s examine the role of weeds in nature’s wheat field. 

The Department of Agriculture states that the presence of weeds within a crop can adversely affect the production by increasing cost in several ways, the greatest of which is “a reduction in yield due to weeds competing with the crop for available light, nutrients and moisture.”  Hmmm, so the enemy in verse 25 came through while everyone was sleeping and planted weeds with the intent of reducing the yield of the harvest.  The interesting aspect here is that the weeds are among us and their sole purpose is to compete for the light, to keep it from us, to hide the Truth.  The life of the “weed” mirrors the life of the “wheat”; same soil, same nutrients, same water, same sunlight.  We can look at it as working at the same jobs, going to the same church, our friends, relatives, you name it.  In fact, the King James Version of this same passage refers to the weeds as tares.  These “tares” are thought to be the species darnel.  Consider the following definition of this from Wikipedia: “…usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so extensive that in some regions the [darnel] is referred to as “false wheat.” It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant droop downward, but the “false wheat”, whose ears are light, stands up straight.  It parasites wheat fields.”  This truth is simply too profound to ignore.  The tares among us are actually a “false wheat.”  If we preach the Bible and hold fast to its doctrines and truths then that must mean that the “tares” preach a false Bible with false doctrines.  We appear exactly the same, indistinguishable until the time of the harvest.

How then did we allow the weeds to get planted in the first place?  Because everyone was asleep.  Matthew 13:25, “But while everyone was sleeping, His enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.”  The Great Awakening occurred in the 1730’s (1730-1755), some 200+ years after the Protestant Reformation (1500s).  Then there were arguably periods of “awakenings” in 1790-1840, followed by the third 1850-1900, and the fourth 1960-1980.  While these later movements, especially the 4th, are debatable, it has been a long time since the first Great Awakening, offering a lot of time for the church to fall asleep and the enemy to grab a foothold and plant his weeds.  That’s exactly where we are today, the church is asleep and the weeds of the devil have been planted.

In the final verses Jesus speaks of His own discernment in not having the servants pull the weeds, instead allowing them both to harvest.  Since  the tares and wheat are virtually indistinguishable until harvest, potential would arise to damage the wheat.  This practice saves the wheat that was able to fend off the weeds.  Waiting until harvest allows the wheat to fully mature, though likewise the weeds, but the harvest creates a better opportunity to separate the two because the wheat bows due to the weight of their ears.  We can view this allegory  as a symbol of the Body of Christ bowing down as the “harvest” comes with His return.       

It’s often easy to read a parable, or even a passage of scripture, and not fully grasp the idea.  It’s especially easy to gloss over these parables without applying them to our daily lives.  The Lord gives us the ability to understand these things through the Holy Spirit.  In fact, Jesus mentions this very thing in vs. 11-17, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’  But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Are you the tare or the wheat?…….The harvest is coming…