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Tag Archives: the Parable of the Sower

Eternal Salvation

The concept of eternity dates back to the 14th century derived from the French word eternité. However, the Latin expression aeternitatem first appeared in the 12th century. This term comes from aeternitas and aeternus which refers to enduring and permanent. However, one of Jesus’ disciples spoke of an eternal salvation which could be secured before you die, 1 John 5:11-13. John speaks with full assurance and confidence of this fact.

Nevertheless [the sentence put upon women of pain in motherhood does not hinder their souls’ salvation, and] they will be saved [eternally] if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control, [saved indeed] through the Childbearing or by the birth of the divine Child, 1 Timothy 2:15.

Meanwhile, in the passage above the apostle Paul refers to the curse of Eve passed down upon all women. According to Genesis 3:16, the pain of childbearing will increase with every passing generation. When I was a high school Bible teacher, one of our guest speakers was a Christian archeologist. Through a rare collection of fossils, this scientist revealed that Eve’s hips were extremely large; gradually becoming smaller with each passing generation.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

According to Paul, the pain of motherhood does not hinder, prevent or keep a woman from eternal salvation. Nonetheless, the author of Hebrews does address why the faith of some is lost. Although addiction is not mentioned directly, bad habits open the door for sins to be repeated over and over again. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus hints that Satan can snatch away the message of salvation, Matthew 13:19. While most biblical scholars believe that salvation can’t be lost, the goal of any human being is to live forever up in heaven wherever this place may be located.

by Jay Mankus

The Sequence of Story

A sequence is a particular order in which related events, movements, or things follow each other. In the process of telling a story, the best communicators set the scene using what some writers refer to as the 10 magic words. This information highlights who a story is about and details the journey which is about to begin. Depending upon the author or story teller, the sequence of story involves a beginning, middle and end.

Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? 11 And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given, Matthew 13:10-11.

From a biblical perspective, the son of God used parables to connect with first century citizens. A parable is story structure used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson as told by Jesus in the Gospels. The New Testament details 46 different parables as Jesus tried to explain mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of heaven. My favorite is the Parable of the Sower as Jesus reveals how the environment in which you live influences the person that you become.

Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy, to the assembly (church) of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah): Grace (spiritual blessing and divine favor) to you and [heart] peace. We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [O] brethren beloved by God, we recognize and know that He has selected (chosen) you;For our [preaching of the] glad tidings (the Gospel) came to you not only in word, but also in [its own inherent] power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction and absolute certainty [on our part]. You know what kind of men we proved [ourselves] to be among you for your good, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.

While writing 13 letters known as epistles, the apostle Paul developed a story structure known as U Centered Writing. Paul regularly starts his letters by getting the attention and gaining the interest of fellow Christians. Once this is accomplished, Paul creates a felt need, a flaw or weakness that believers need to work on. The remainder of his letters are designed to create a sense of urgency so that a commitment to change is conceived. Whether you’re writing a letter, telling a story or working on a screen play, stories continue to speak to human hearts and provide hope or inspiration to make a difference in the life that God has given you.

by Jay Mankus

W.E.E.D.S.

After a relatively mild and wet summer, I’ve never seen weeds flourish like this in the state of Delaware. Like an alien invasion, my garden and flower beds have become engulfed by evasive species. In a typically season, I’ll do extensive weeding a few times between spring and fall. Today, marked the fifth time, leading to a piles of weeds ten feet wide and 3 feet high.

Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and [j]begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit, Matthew 13:21-22.

This tiring task lead me to create the acronym Wild Evasive Environments Determined to Spread. While I do own a weedwacker, unless you remove the entire root system, these aggressive wild weeds will continue to come back year after year. Although paying for a regular chemical application may solve this problem, I don’t want to poison my dog or other animals.

Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also, Matthew 13:24-26.

After sharing the Parable of the Sower in public, the disciples sought a private meeting with Jesus. Baffled and confused by his analogy, Jesus begins to unwrap the meaning of different environments that exist on earth. In the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus blames the devil for sowing darnels while you sleep. Thus, when you wake up, our lives tend to become entangled by W.E.E.D.S. When this occurs, wait until the harvest for your next round of spiritual weeding.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God

Whose Line is it Anyway began as a radio program in Great Britain before moving to television in 1988.  This improvisational comedy show uses 4 celebrities who participate in a series of skit like activities.  The only catch is that these individuals must make up things as they go, without any planning, off to the top of their heads.  From 1998 to 2007, Drew Carey served as the host with Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles as the regular contestants, alternating a few others as the fourth.  One of the games played is Questions Only, where interactions between 2 people must begin with a question.  If not, contestants get buzzed by the host, switching with the person on their side of the stage.  The concept of questions only is nothing new as Jesus used this conversational style to reveal the mystery of the kingdom of God during the first century.

As soon as He was alone, those who were around Him, together with the twelve [disciples], began asking Him about [the interpretation of] the parables, Mark 4:10.

The first 4 books of the New Testament include 46 parables used by Jesus.  These simple stories were used to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth.  Similar to modern analogies, stories tend to hold the attention of an audience.  Jesus used common occupations such as farming or fishing to speak to the massive crowds which followed him.  In a sense, Jesus was a motivational speaker, using faith as the vehicle to overcome the obstacles confronting people.  The context of the passage above follows the Parable of the Sower.  This story involves seeds planted in four different types of soils.  Each environment upon which these seeds fell greatly influenced the overall growth.  Perhaps confused by these details, the disciples requested a private meeting with Jesus, hoping to clarify the correct interpretation of this parable.  This is where Jesus began to unveil the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

He said to them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you [who have teachable hearts], but those who are outside [the unbelievers, the spiritually blind] get everything in parables, Mark 4:11.

The apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-20 claims that all human beings come into contact with the invisible qualities of God.  Signs of creation like rainbows, sunsets and the birth of a newborn child are clearly seen so that no one is without excuse.  This sets the stage for the Parable of the Sower.  The kingdom of God is presented to everyone at some point in their lives.  Unfortunately, the timing is not always good.  Thus, some people receive this news when their heart is hardened, landing on compacted ground.  This seed is stolen by the evil one.  Others are introduced to Jesus during rocky times, when people are unstable, not on firm footing.  Thus, without any room for roots to develop, storms, turbulent times and unforeseen events uproot any type of faith that had been planted.  Meanwhile, many people seek God when stress, trials or worries become too much of burden.  However, if these conditions persist, joy for life is lost, choked by spiritual briar patches and sticker bushes that continue to wound your soul.  The only way to recover from bad environments is by plowing the soil around you to allow living water to nurture the seed sown into your heart.  If necessary, add bags of dirt, remove any rocks that stunt growth and don’t forget to weed wack.  May you reach the point of Matthew 9:12, mature enough to feed yourself spiritually with a combination of Bible Study, prayer and worship.  Come to your senses quickly and emulate the persistent widow so that the kingdom of heaven will be your home, John 14:2.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Roots; No Fruits

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away, Matthew 13:20-21.

If you are like me, you may ask yourself every now and then, “what am I doing?”  This self reflective question seeks to understand why you aren’t more productive, successful or victorious in life.  Despite attempts at improving my current situation, I feel like I’m stuck in slow motion, unable to get where I want to be.  This lack of progress brought me back to examine one of Jesus’ parables.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful, Matthew 13:22.

After sharing the parable of the Sower to a crowd of followers, the disciples were confused.  At one point, an unidentified disciple urges Jesus to stop be so mysterious as if to demand “why don’t you just come out and say what you mean?”  Moments later, Jesus withdraws to explain the meaning of this illustration to his disciples.  If you condense the two passages above Jesus suggests that if you don’t have strong spiritual roots, you won’t be able to bear spiritual fruit.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead, James 2:26.

Sometime after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, one of Jesus’ earthly brothers provides further insight on the parable of the Sower.  The Holy Spirit is a well spring, the source for spiritual life.  Like a root system in need of nutritious soil, human souls will eventually die without an infusion of God’s Spirit.  Therefore, if you want to get back on track toward a faith in action, dig deep by implementing the advice of the apostle Paul in Colossians 2:6-7.  If you forgo this step I’m afraid you’ll end up like me, no roots and no fruits.

by Jay Mankus

 

Serve or Be Served… The Latter is More Enticing

When professional athletes struggle to reach their full potential, videos are examined to see what bad habits or flawed fundamentals are present.  Unfortunately, in life most people don’t have film to examine.  Rather, individuals are forced to rely on friends, self reflection or therapists to turn floundering careers around.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap, Galatians 6:7.

One of the forces at work which determines positive or negative results in the Sowing Principle.  What comes around goes around is an earthly way to describe the biblical expression: you reap what you sow.  Essentially, if you serve others, the Lord will honor this decision by sending unexpected blessings in times of need.  Meanwhile, if the idea of being served by others entices you, the rewards for this choice will be temporary; resulting in a permanent void inside of your heart.

“Give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Jesus explains this concept to his followers in the verse above.  In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Jesus uses the imagery of a harvest to illustrate this principle.  Those who are planted within a fertile soil, environment, production increases.  Thus, if you reach a point in life where you are disciplined, grounded and serving others with your God given gifts, it’s possible to experience bountiful blessings.  Yet, if you feed your sinful nature, pursuing selfish desires, temporary pleasures will quickly vanish leaving a trail of heart break.  The choice is yours.

by Jay Mankus

Choking the Word Out of Your Faith

One of the assumptions Christians often make is “once saved, always saved,” suggesting salvation can not be lost once you profess faith in Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  However, Jesus provides three exceptions to this rule, real life scenarios that disrupt one’s initial commitment to God.  After the crowds left his presence, Jesus reveals the meaning of the Parable of the Sower to his disciples, exposing how certain things can choke the Word out of someone’s faith.

But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful, Mark 4:19.

1. The Worries of this life: Beyond food, clothing and shelter, the human mind can race while trying to sleep.  Financial concerns often lead to stress, sucking the joy of one’s life.  Subsequently, the poor begin to think, “if I only had money, then I will truly be happy.”

2. The Deceitfulness of Wealth: You don’t have to venture far into statistics to see how greed can ruin the lives of individuals.  In a Case Study based upon winner’s of the lottery, only a small percentage found true contentment.  Several families were torn apart by selfish expectations, others went bankrupt by burning through their lump sum jackpot and some ended up in prison, corrupted by the love of money.

3. The Desire for Other Things: You don’t have to be rich to lose your way in life.  However, wealth tends to open up doors, leading to opportunities never dreamed of before.  Thus, the need for God and a Savior wane.  In the end, Bibles collect dust, sitting in a drawer for most of one’s life.  If you’re not careful, this gradual process can invade your soul, choking the Word out of your faith.

by Jay Mankus

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