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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 Two

Okay, back to the text.  After sitting in anointed Bible studies, and hearing the Word presented in language I could understand and apply to my own life, I began to pray for understanding so that I could hold on to "my Word."  What do you know, it worked!  I started understanding why "the fowl" were able to devour "my seed."  I didn't have a prayer life. I had prayer emergencies, prayer breaks, prayer breakdowns, even prayer hobbies (don't ask!).  I had everything but a prayer life.  First, I had to develop a serious prayer life!  

Don't misconstrue serious to mean twenty hours on my face, daily, crying out to God in another tongue, ignoring all else—that didn't come 'til later.  Seriously though, it just meant asking the Holy Spirit, from my heart, to stay with me as I studied and prayed, and to grant revelation knowledge when things got "cloudy."  Nothing fancy, just real.   I didn't realize at the time, however, that I was still being hindered because I was seeking His understanding and not Him.  Thanks be to Almighty God that He is merciful and so-o-o-o patient.  I know His thoughts for me are for peace and not for evil, to give me an expected end, and that all things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose.– Je. 29:11, Ro. 8:28  

Despite my mistakes, He still led me to learn how to seek Him and not what He could give me.  This is why He says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." – Mt. 6:33  Seeking God and His righteousness, is the only way to truly be given the desires of your heart, because then His desires become your desires and all else is dung.  All the other stuff that you thought was important begins to fall by the wayside, instead of your Word.  The fowls begin to pick up the stones in the stony ground instead of your Word, because you have learned to bind it around your neck, write it upon the tablet of your heart, and hide it there.– Pr. 3:3, Ps. 119:11

The Father, through Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, instructs us to "pray without ceasing."  This simply means talking to the Father, with reverence, about everything in life.  He wants to be consulted about our day while it's happening, not at the beginning while we plan it, or at the end as a report.  "With reverence" does not mean with long words and flowery language, just with respect.  He knows about our anger and frustrations.  He's not afraid of our emotions; He created them.   If we become angry because something happened that we don't understand, all we have to do is tell Him, and ask for understanding and wisdom for that situation.  He may give us the understanding, or He may give us the peace to endure that situation while He teaches us something.  While He's doing what He's doing, though, we shouldn't be disrespectful of Him.  He is displeased when we come to Him in an unworthy manner (i.e. irreverently, heart full of unforgiveness, unrepentant spirit, etc.).  Once we know we've messed up, we just need to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness and keep going.  We can't store it up until later either, because we might forget and still bear the burden of the responsibility for that sin.  

Developing a real prayer life will help arm against the spirit of forgetfulness.  When we're in constant conversation with the Father, not only will He gently remind and admonish us when we've stumbled, but He picks us up and gives instructions on how to avoid stumbling that way again.  When we follow His instructions and learn from that "stumble," then that Word becomes a part of us.  Oh!  So this is a little of what He means by "hiding the Word in your heart."  Could it be if we do this, the "devouring fowl" can't snatch what He has given to us, because it's hidden from them?  Hmmm?

The situation is similar when "the Word falls on stony ground."  While developing a prayer life, to aid in aligning our will with the Father's, we can't forget the Holy Bible for instruction and guidance.  Many new Christians haven't yet figured out how God is speaking to them and so the Word preached is received willingly but they don't know how to apply it to their lives.  While we wait for the Father to speak to us at our level of need, we need to read His Word to learn how He speaks, and prepare the "soil" (our spirit, soul, heart and mind) to hear and receive It.  If a prayer life is being developed then, when we don't understand how to apply a particular Word to our lives, "the peace that passeth all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds" – Ph. 4:7 from flipping out.  When we don't understand the situation in the natural, or obstacles come, then we know to pray and go the Word to get a handle on it.  

Reading the Word and staying in prayer breaks up the soil of our spirit, soul, heart and mind, making it easier for the Word to take root and become more solidly established when we hear it preached and taught.  So when "affliction or persecution ariseth for the Word's sake," instead of being offended, we can stand in the knowledge that "no weapon formed against us shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against us in judgment, we shall condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." – Is. 54:17

The Father sent something quite interesting and very eye opening to me while doing this study.  While listening to another minister do a study on the spirit of offense, I found out that the Greek root word from which we get the word offense is "skandalon."  It means "occasion to fall, stumbling block."  The minister also went on to explain that the word "skandalon" itself, in everyday Greek, also means "a trap stick."  The "skandalon" is the hook onto which trappers hang bait to lure unsuspecting animals into traps.  Now, isn't that just like the enemy?  To use some little insignificant nothing to lure us into a feeling of offense so that we are trapped by the blockade we put up against any further instruction from God, thus delaying our blessings.  This is why we need to be rooted and grounded in the Word, so that we do not fall victim to the enemy's "skandalon."  That word also means "stumbling block," and so we must be wary of the obstacles that we encounter, and not let them deter us from "pressing toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." – Ph. 3:14  We must continue to "lift our eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh our help, knowing that our help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." – Ps. 121:1, 2

I was blessed by a sister, who, with a simple gesture, made that verse of scripture so much clearer to me.  She was ministering at the altar and ended up on her knees, with her face to the floor. At one point, exhausted, she simply lifted her head and arms. That brought it home.  I knew then that although she was exhausted, because the Lord had more work for her to do, all she had to do was look to Him, "the author and finisher of her faith," for more strength to run on, and she would not "grow weary in her well-doing."  She was not going to let her apparent exhaustion be a stumbling block for neither her nor the party to whom she was called to minister.  Also, she was not going to be ensnared by the spirit of offense because of the fact that although many knew she was already worn out, she was still called to minister.  Now, that is what I would call evidence of the spirit of "more than a conqueror!"  This was a sister whose Word had not been snatched by the devourer, nor had It fallen on stony ground.  The Word had taken root in her heart and her spirit was bearing fruit.  Can I just say that this is where I want to be when I grow up?

Getting to that stage requires our getting past the "thorny" stage (please refer to vs. 7, 18 & 19 of the text).  This "thorny" stage is where, although the enemy can no longer snatch our Word, and the soil of our lives has been turned over, where the top layer of rocks has been removed, and we are prepared to receive the Word, we still have to weather the storms and plagues of life.  This is the place in our lives where we find out how deep our roots go, how grounded we are in the Word, and not the world.  

More on the way...



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