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Carnal or Spiritual?

Are you becoming a more spiritual or a more carnal Christian? And how can you tell the difference? I’ve been asking myself these questions over the last couple days after reading the following words from Andrew Murray in his classic book, The Master’s Indwelling: And this may be in our days as well as in the time of the Corinthians. I may be a minister of the Gospel; I may teach God’s Word beautifully; I may have influence, and gather a large congregation, and yet, alas! I may be a carnal man; a man who may be used by God, and may be a blessing to others, and yet the carnal life may still mark me. You all know the law that a thing is named according to what is its most prominent characteristic. Now, in these carnal Corinthians there was a little of God’s Spirit, but the flesh predominated; the Spirit had not the rule of their whole life. Murray is commenting on the scripture from I Corinthians 3:1,2 where Paul rebukes the believers because of their spiritual immaturity. Paul writes, And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; Something that stood out to me from Murray’s teaching is the fact that it is possible to serve the Lord and even possess spiritual gifts yet still be a carnal Christian. That is a sobering thought. To think...

Cultivating our Ground, Part 3

The third type of ground in the Parable of the Sower is the thorny ground. In the last couple posts we learned about the importance of understanding the word and then how to get the word in our spirits. Now we will focus on the value of rest in our lives and how to break free from busyness. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. Mat 13:22 Out of the four types of ground this has got to be the most painful and frustrating. The word is not just snatched away quick and painlessly but instead it is slowly choked and suffocated. The pain is felt from the thorns and the frustration arises from the fact that the plant is actually growing but lacking fruit. We learn that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are the reasons why the thorny ground person does not bear fruit. It is no secret that most people are too busy. We know that stress and anxiety are responsible for a countess number of sicknesses and relational conflicts. Technology that was supposed to simplify our lives has become a double edged sword that has enslaved instead of freed us. Our schedules are full, are sleep is short and many people don’t even have time to think about why they are so busy – so the cycle continues. So how do we break it? You can start today by carving out just twenty minutes of “quiet...

Cultivating Our Ground, Part 2

In the last post we learned about the wayside soil and what happens when we lack understanding. Now we will look at the second type of ground, the stony ground and the importance of becoming people of substance. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. (Mark 4:16,17) Jesus said these type of people receive the word with gladness but they are shallow people. They are not the marathon runners, they are sprinters. They get all fired up about Jesus for a while but the their lack of depth is their downfall. Something we can learn from this type of ground is the importance of becoming people of substance. After I had been saved for a year I had the blessing of being discipled by my friend’s parents. One of the first things they taught me was the importance of being a person of substance. In a nutshell a person of substance means that you have moved beyond being a shallow person and are a someone who has begun to mature spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. These are people who have a capacity for deep things – for the meat of the word. In the stony ground syndrome the person hears the word, gets really excited but because they have no substance or root in themselves, they fade away. You have probably witnessed this before, they are the sad stories we hear. It goes like...

Cultivating Our Ground, Part 1

If we do not understand the parable of the sower how do we expect to understand anything Jesus taught? That is essentially what Jesus asked the disciples in Mark 4:13. Here He tells a story about a sower (someone who seeds a field) but the focus of the story is not on the sower or the seed, instead it is on the different types of ground the seed falls on. So why is this important to us today? Because we are the ground that God’s word falls on. And if want the word of God to transform our lives we need to cultivate good ground so that it can grow and bear fruit. Let’s take a look at the four types of ground in this story and learn some practical ways to “till the ground”. The first type of ground we read about is the wayside ground. This is when someone “hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it (Mt 13:19).” We learn that when this happens Satan actually snatches away the word from our hearts. What we learn here is that understanding is a key ingredient in cultivating good ground. If the word goes in one ear and out the other then we may have just as well spent our time doing something else because it did not profit us at all. But if we can become people of understanding then Satan will not be able to steal the word from us. So how do we grow in understanding? Proverbs 4:7 says that “in all your getting, get understanding.” So understanding is something that we can...

Understanding Understanding

Have you ever heard something a hundred times before and then finally it just clicks? This is also known as an “aha moment”. Really it is the experience of finally understanding something. Jesus tells a story about different types of people who hear the word of the kingdom. Out of the four types of people, only one actually benefited from what they heard. What set them apart? Understanding. Our generation does not lack information or access to it. What is lacking is understanding. We can read books, sit through sermons, and listen to podcasts but none of that will do any good if we lack the vital ingredient of understanding. But before we go any further let’s define understanding. UNDERSTANDING, n, The faculty of the human mind by which it apprehends the real state of things presented to it, or by which it receives or comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate. The understanding is called also the intellectual faculty. It is the faculty by means of which we obtain a great part of our knowledge. Luke 24. Eph. 1 (Webster 1828) God created us with the ability to understand things. It is not anti-spiritual to use this part of our mind in regards to faith. While it is true that the carnal mind is enimity against God, it is equally true that the renewed mind is in accord with Him. In the upcoming posts we are going to take a closer look at understanding and learn practical ways to grow in it. Feel free to ask questions and offer input. Remember we are all learning...