Selling The Farm Then Buying It (Farm Implements part 3)

Or is it the other way around?

“I will take no bullock out of they house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:8-9)

What do we do to “go on unto perfection” as it says in Hebrews (6:1)? I would say the fact that God has taken pains to get our attention and reveal Himself to us is cause for a lifetime of celebration. But the question of possessions. It crops up every once in a while because I seem to accrue more than my fair share purely by virtue of living in my economy. And then giving away that which I don’t need becomes necessary. But this in itself isn’t my salvation.

“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:29)

Oh my lands! 

Jesus makes the case for unplugging oneself from all that could potentially hinder that one self from serving Him more fully. Two things, though: He’s speaking to the disciples as they were the ones to whom He refers. But if you endeavor to be to Him as they–if that makes sense–God will put His finger on every single thing in your life so as to imbue each with His power and perspective. This seques into the second thing. Just because it looks like Jesus says to leave everything behind and take on a wayfaring and vagabond life doesn’t mean that’s what He’s getting at. Because all these things are gifts from Him. He’s talking about seeing them as does He and in turn serving them (in the case of family) and stewarding (the possessions) as unto Him. Something far harder only because it requires we rewire our notions as to how to do that which we thought we were already good at.

“But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.” (2 Samuel 12:3)

David so desired Bathsheba (the little lamb) that he had her husband Uriah abandoned during a fight at the front lines. He was killed. The parable above is Nathan speaking to him and bringing the fight back to David. In further speaking for God, Nathan delineates all the things God had already done for him then caps it off with “I (God) would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.” (2 Samuel 12:8) See, I don’t think God has a problem with supplying our wants as well as our needs. But it’s when we actively seek to acquire them out of His timing that they cause harm to ourselves and others. And it goes without saying that we’re not “content with such things as [we] have” (Hebrews 13:5). All possession and relationship should point back to the Lord. When we winnow down to essentials, this must be kept at the top of the list.

All our eggs in this basket

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemened the guiltless.” (Matthew 12:7)

If the giving up–and giving up on–things and loved ones provided any better standing before God what would that do to us? God isn’t to be known first by any other way than the heart. Not by “selling the farm”. And certainly not by “buying it”.

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Fields of Dreams (Farm Implements part 2)

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:28)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awakened from an intense and odd dream, full of seeming significance and allusion, and wondered just what it meant. Nothing. That’s what. I’ll even write it down and revisit it later and stand in astonishment at its irrationality. Contrast that with the scores of dreams that I’ve been blessed with that weave together a narrative of an overarching thing that God is showing me at a particular time. It goes without saying that I believe God speaks through dreams. Earlier on in the chapter, God speaks out against false prophets and their “dreams and visions”. They were, He says, “prophets of the deceit of their own heart” (from verse 26). It’s more than a little discomfiting to realize that there are all sorts of ethereal ideas that come across the screens of our minds and hearts that mean nothing. God, in the heading verse, heartily encourages the open discussion of ideas so as to see His word—His truth—rise to the surface. The idea behind wheat and chaff comes from an ancient farming technique where one would take handfuls of harvested wheat (or whatever) and throw them up and let the wind separate the husks, or chaff, from the actual kernels of wheat. It’s a fitting metaphor used several times throughout the Bible and the practice is still in use today.

Fast-forwarding to the days of the early church, Paul expresses a similar idea in his first letter to the Christians at Corinth. “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis mine)

Whereas the chapter from Jeremiah pertains to a specific point in Israel’s history, where the lies of false prophecy (as transmitted through spiritual dreams and visions) were endemic so as to incur judgment, the atmosphere of the early Christian church is a little more low-key. But no less important. The wide-spreadedness of early Christendom had not reached the national level when Paul wrote his letter and so keeping a lid on the lies that come with a spiritual revival was done in this way. Paul doesn’t doubt that “every one of you hath” something. Everyone, it would seem, was seeking God to a lesser-or-greater extent. And God was providing answers and insight. But the real key to the power of what was cropping up in the minds and hearts of those Christians, to where they’d be able to “mass-produce” it, was its basis in the Word. That’s what tells.

I wholeheartedly encourage the dreamer, whether literal or figurative, to record the things that make them think. Whether it’s an idea, or a dream (or nightmare), or a piece of wisdom explained just-so. Write it down and share it with the Holy Spirit. He’s the one who has the ultimate handle on what goes on in the spiritual realm. A realm in which we all are active participants.

The writer of Hebrews chides his readers for their lack of understanding in spiritual matters: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14, emphasis mine)

That last part is what gets me. What they’re saying is that when we meditate and think about and use God’s word, our senses, our abilities to know what is a lie and what is the truth, will develop. This doesn’t mean that we leave off interacting with the Holy Spirit. But coupled with Him, God’s word is the essential guidebook for our wanderings through dream country.

Farm Implements

“And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” (Mark 4:26-28)

Patience. Waiting upon God for what you know you want from Him. Where do we go from there? There are no dead ends in service to Him. When God speaks a word to you, it may well provide the illumination needed to see your struggle and your corner of the “kingdom of God” bloom. Modern agricultural science and engineering might know more of how things in the soil “spring and grow up” than they did during Jesus’ day, but they certainly don’t have all the answers. And don’t even mention the fact that so much of our non-organic food is being genetically modified. It’s ridiculous. All that aside, referring to Jesus and the Kingdom of God, it’s almost comforting to admit that we don’t know how His kingdom blooms in our lives. The key to enjoying the processbecause that’s what He’s referring to here, a processis patience. And what better way to be patient than to share our frustrations with the one who’s in charge of the whole process?

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:35-36, emphasis mine)

Patience is known as one of the “fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), meaning it’s something that grows in us as we live in the light of the Holy Spirit. This is good to know, because there are low times in our lives where the last thing we are able to muster is patience. Notice what goes without saying here: we know something good is coming. “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:25) Fair enough.

As I grew out of “childhood” age, my dad would periodically remind me how I used to lack any temporal understanding. At a certain age, I had no inner means of distinguishing between tomorrow, next week, next year. The beautiful part about my then childlike mind is that I was forever in the now. It wasn’t something I had to muster up and focus on and desire and sweat and pray. No, I just did. I lived in the now. I got hungry, I ate. I was tired, I slept. I wanted to play, I did. No wonder Jesus tells us you must become as a little child. The only time I knew something special was coming up was when someone more knowledgable than I, informed me. “Josh, your birthday’s in a week! Are you excited?” Sure I was. But up till then, I had no idea. I was what, four? Too young to be concerned about such things. I was probably more into my Transformers than I was into far-off promises of birthday presents, cake and a party. In other words, I was content. “Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5b) The point I’m getting at here is that I didn’t know something good was coming unless I was told. And I had no frame of reference for when, even after I was told. I just knew that something fun (my birthday) was upcoming. All I had to do is be patient. Though, at four years old, it wasn’t so much patience as it was childish forgetfulness, that prevented me from going crazy with worry and wonder, confused as to why the blessing hadn’t arrived. Looking back, it’s funny how, as a child, an intense day of crazy excitement would wear me out to the point of exhaustion. To where I’d need a nap and forget all about how much fun I was having. Oh the joys of youth!

So think about it. Do you know you’re destined for great things in the Kingdom of God? How do you know? Did God tell you? Or are you just fed up with your lot? Either way, gratitude is the order of the day. And as you pray about your current situation as well as your overall destiny, God will give you answers as well as peace. Here’s Jesus again, this time referring to the Holy Spirit:

“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself (in other words, the things He tells you won’t originate from within Him alone, it’s God and Jesus speaking through Him); but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13)