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h3.Where are you, right now?

(Or, "Your Spiritual Growth Chart") - 3rd edition

Mark 4:3-8, 14-20 (KJV) – Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: and it came to pass, as He sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. The sower soweth the Word. And these are they by the way side, where the Word is sown; but when they have heard, satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the Word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the Word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the Word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Part One

Back in the day, when I heard this text being used for the basis of a sermon, only the obvious points are brought out for the young Christians who wished to define themselves in the Lord.  I have found myself re-reading these scriptures many times since then, because I knew there had to be more.  You may have received revelation knowledge yourself about an even deeper meaning behind these scriptures, and I praise God with you.  My hope is that, as I share what the Lord has revealed to me, you will in turn reciprocate.

I once heard a sermon on the different stages in which we find ourselves in our spiritual growth.  The text was Jeremiah 18:1-4, a very familiar passage of scripture – the Potter's house.  It was broken down in such a way that gave me serious pause.  The Holy Spirit really sent this message to cause me to take stock of where I was on my own "spiritual growth chart."  

Our growth was likened to various stages of craftsmanship that go into the making of a clay pot.  

Once the Potter has the clay, He doesn't immediately begin working it into the shape of a pot; there is much preparation that takes place beforehand.  For example, within the clay are often rocks and various particles from which the clay must be separated.  This often involves quite a bit of pounding, shaking and sifting just to get the "stuff" out. Once the "obvious" debris has been removed, then water must be added to soften the clay to make it more pliable, more workable. Only then can the Potter place the clay on the wheel to begin forming it into a useful vessel.  That is still however, only the beginning.

On the wheel, the Potter's hands mold the clay.  When an acceptable shape is achieved, the pot is placed on a shelf to sit and dry.  This drying is also a preliminary proving process.  While the pot is drying, any potential cracks, faults and hidden debris usually make their appearance here.  If any flaws are detected, then the pot is broken, ground back into clay, to restart the process again.  If no flaws, the pot is then covered inside and out by a protective glaze and then put into the kiln (or oven), where it is "fired," or baked, at an extremely high, but controlled heat.  Once the pot is removed from the oven, it is placed on a shelf to cool and again be observed for any silt or soot that may have become lodged in the glaze, marring or blemishing the surface.  Again, back to the beginning if any flaws are detected, but if not, then and only then will the Potter proclaim the pot ready to be used.

The minister then went on to explain the similarities between our spiritual lives and the various stages from clay to useful vessel:

1.      The rocks and sediment.  All of us enter our life in Jesus with baggage: emotional, physical, spiritual.  The early stage of our Christian walk is often the ridding ourselves of the obvious junk of the world.  Sitting under anointed teaching and preaching, and receiving sound counseling are the aids for shedding the "old man."

2.      The Water.  Jesus came to baptize with Water and the Word.  Consequently, out of His ("The Word's") pierced side came blood and water, to cleanse the saints who had gone on before, and to fill the fountain that never runs dry.  It is only when we are truly immersed in the Word can we become malleable enough to begin to be molded into the vessel He wants us to be, because some of us are just too hard (headed).

3.      The Wheel.  Ever feel like your life is going around in circles?  Like you've been in this situation or encountered that problem before?  Well, we're on the Potter's wheel, going around and around, still being molded by the Potter, still being shaped by His hands.

4.      The Drying Shelf.  Now, why is my ministry not going anywhere?  Why is so-and-so moving up in the ranks and I'm just sitting here, watching everybody else go by?  You're on the shelf, being watched and proven, to see if there is any residual "stuff" in you, or if you'll crack when you're out of the Potter's hands (e.g. down in the valley).

5.      The breaking and starting over again.  Need I explain?  Haven't we often found ourselves in this very situation when we thought our booster rockets were lit and we thought we were ready to take off?  Only the Potter knows when we are truly ready.

6.      The Glaze.  The Blood of Jesus, 'nuff said.

7.      The Oven.  Can we stand the pressures of the world once we've been molded and glazed?  Yes!  The Potter would not have put us in the furnace if He didn't think we were ready.  He's given us all the necessary protection.  The final "firing" is only to polish our armor for the battles ahead.

Well, did you find yourself?  I know I did.  I referred to this sermon because when I first heard it a few years ago, I was able to "name my stage."  Years later, remembering the same sermon, I received a different message, and was at a different stage, which really surprised me.  

This brings me to our text in Mark 4.  When I first read it, I took it in just as it was written, making the initial mistake of not asking the Holy Spirit to give me revelation knowledge.  As I re-read it, however, the Lord took pity on me and answered my unasked question, "Is there more than what has been preached before?" with a resounding "Yes!"  What He gave me sure did awaken an even more intense "Word-hunger."

How many of us, when we first read the focal scripture, thought of ourselves as either the receivers of the seed that the fowl devoured, or the stony ground?  I don't know about you but I just knew that those "foul fowl" had taken my Word and gone.  I just couldn't seem to hold on to or understand anything the preacher or teacher was saying at the time.  What I didn't know was that many others were in the same boat.  The difference was they were either praying for revelation knowledge beforehand, or they were going home and praying for the removal of that initial cloud of misunderstanding.  You see, back then, I didn't know the power of prayer for myself.  I thought prayer only worked for those who were deep in the Word.  I didn't know that they had gotten that way because of prayer.  It hit me with clarity when I heard a minister say, "The high priests no longer have the exclusivity they used to have on the Word and on prayer."

Jesus says, "Therefore I say unto you, 'What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.'" – Mk. 11:24  He doesn't give any preamble, or any fancy twisted formula, or segregate who should pray from who shouldn't, He just says pray and believe.  I praise God that now more Bible teachers are coming into the knowledge that the Word isn't as complicated as we were earlier led to believe, and are relaying that to the new Christians.  No more need the complicated steps that were taught back in the day terrify the "babe in Christ".  Please agree with me in prayer to bind that controlling spirit still gripping some of the saints that makes them teach young Christians that only "certain people" are allowed to pray.  Just because the "babe" is not familiar with all the scriptures concerning prayer, does not make them any less able to pray, they still have a heart to pour out to God.  The same spirit tries to create "grandchildren" for God, with the more "seasoned" saint being the "parent" and intermediary.  We know God has no "grandchildren."  If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are all His children.  We don't need any other intermediary but Jesus.  "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." – 1 Ti. 2:5  We have been given teachers and pastors, but only one Father ("And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven" – Mt. 23:9).

More on the way...

Lovingly submitted,
The Psalmist



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