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Friday: Further Thought ~ Dying Like a Seed — 35 Comments

  1. What, ultimately, is the core essence of God's will? That all of His creation share with Him in abundant (zoe) living (2 Peter 3:9; John 10:10). This is why God created and why He redeemed. And abundant living is only possible when it is founded upon and anchored in living to benefit others (agape love: Philippians 2:3-8). This is the only way that life that is actually viably possible (contrast with Ephesians 2:1-3). And that is why abundant life based upon other-benefiting it is God's will (John 14:6; Isaiah 46:9-10). Thus, only those whose heart desire is to genuinely benefit others over self will be in harmony with what is essential to abundant life.

    Adam and Eve's embracing of self-seeking as their heart desire (Genesis 3:6) and the corresponding displacing of the other-seeking that they were originally created with catapulted humanity into a terminal state (Romans 5:12-14) that would have seen humanity extinguish/perish on that very day in the garden of Eden (as per Genesis 2:16-17). But God intervened to temporarily restrain this outcome for the purpose of creating a period of second-chance probation. Under this second-chance, each person would get a second opportunity to decide which heart desire they would ultimately hold to - self-seeking under their inheritance of the first Adam (Romans 5:12-14; Genesis 6:5), or a heart reborn and renewed into other-seeking under the adoption inheritance of the second Adam (John 3:3-6; Psalm 51:10).

    How does this second-chance 'choosing' play out in everyday life and living? In every situation you will have two options - the self-seeking 'impulse' option prompted by your 'flesh' or the other-benefiting 'response' option prompted by The Holy Spirit. Which ever option you embrace, you essentially bring that option to life and correspondingly put the other option to death by failing to embrace it (see Romans 8:13).

    Being willing to put self-seeking options to death in each situation by denying them and instead embracing the other-benefiting options prompted by The Spirit is at the core of becoming Christ-like. And that willingness to benefit others, even to the point of being willing to lay down our own life if necessary, is the ultimate manifestation of Christ-likeness (John 15:13; Philippians 2:8). I propose that these are the two core dimensions of the practical reality of the metaphor of "dying like a seed".

    What do you find?

  2. I think that most of us have run out of things to say about crucibles this quarter but I will share with you a little bit of my crucible experience this quarter. I want readers to understand that this is not just a theoretical topic in the great picture of Christianity, but is something that we really experience and in many ways tests our faith.

    I have alluded to the crucible we have experienced this quarter a number of times, somewhat obliquely, but the time has come to let you know what has been going on.

    This morning we sat at the bedside of Carmel's father as he died. He was 97. In the months leading up to his death, we had tried to move both him and Carmel's mother into a care home. They had declined in their ability to help one another and because they lived 1000km from where we live it was not easy for us to rush up and help them. We had made several trips to Queensland this year and the last time we visited we arranged for both of them to go into an aged care home near us. Mum was eager to go but Dad steadfastly refused to go. In the end, we brought Mum down and settled her in. Dad thought that he could have a great time because he no longer had the burden of caring for Mum. That lasted about a month until he fell over and hurt himself rather badly.

    To say that it was heart-rending does not really describe it. These are people who have loved us for over 50 years, and to see Dad decline over the last few years has been particularly hard. His cognitive skill has always remained high, but dealing with his emotional outbursts, has been really challenging. Why do good people get so angry towards the end of their life? That has been the crucible that Carmel and I, Carmel's sister and husband, and particularly Carmel's Mum, have had to bear.

    To see him breathe his last breath this morning and finally be at peace with himself was a huge blessing to us.

    We often see crucibles in terms of persecutions and trials of a spiritual nature, but sometimes the crucibles are things that happen to ordinary people. They are a test of our faith. Not all of us will have our faith tested by restrictions on religious freedom or persecution, or even be mocked for what we believe. But most of us will be tested by relationships, circumstances, and ageing.

    Carmel's sister sang as her Dad died:

    When peace like a river attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like see billows roll
    What ever my lot thou hast taught me to say
    It is well; It is well, with my soul!"

    • I am so sorry for your loss, Maurice. End of life is never easy. May God comfort you and your family and keep the good memories alive.

    • Condolences to you and family! May you find comfort at this time in God’s promises and the memories that you would have shared with your Dad-in-Law.

    • Truly one of life's most painful crucibles. I pray it is well with his soul and may The Lord grant you peace and comfort our dear brother, especially at this time.❤️🙏🏾

    • Thank you for sharing. I confess that the picture of Carmel singing at her father's bedside brought tears to my eyes.
      Since we must experience death on this planet, this sounds like a good way ţo go to sleep.

    • Maurice - joining the group of friends, I also want to express my sorrow for the passing away of your dear father in law who also was a friend. The song's last line speaks loudly to me - saying "It is well; It is well, with my soul!"; it quneches my tears of sorrow. May it also be a comfort for you and your wife, your family and your wife's family.

    • Wishing you and your family heaven's peace, Sir Maurice. The kind the eludes our understanding.

      We, too, sang at my father's bedside in his home on December 31, 2016 - the Sabbath afternoon before he died. Our pastor and elders - approximately 11 men and one of their wives, along with me and my mother sang. Dad also sang, with a contented smile on his face:

      I'll meet you in heaven
      We'll join hands together
      Meet you at the savior's side
      I'll meet you in heaven
      We'll sing songs together
      Brothers and sisters, I'll be there.

      Daddy died January 1st, 2017 at approximately 6:00 a.m.

      I look forward to the day the trump of God sounds. For shortly thereafter, we will see God. And prostrate ourselves before the beautiful Majesty of Heaven and look upon Him - who became like us, and get to say thank you. And never know sorrow again.

      My condolences to you, your wife and your family.

    • Condolences to you and your family Maurice. What a day that will be when our Saviour we will see and be re-united with our loved ones. Keeping you in prayers 🙏🏽.

    • Condolences to you and Carmel on your loss, Maurice. What a blessing to have received 50 years of love and for your father's heart that was able to find peace in the end.

  3. My condolences Maurice and Carmel also.

    I wrote a few words for Monday, but saved it for today because I thought it a summary.

    Seems as though some this week are pointing out two forms of dying. I believe this weeks lesson was about dying in Christ. When we die in Christ we don't necessarily physically die(non-functional or float around without any fruits of the Spirit). The die we are talking about, is surrender to Christ. Let Him take self out of us, then we have Christ living through us. Our prayer is answered: (Lord keep our hearts pure, for we cannot keep them for Thee. Save us in spite of ourselves, ourweak, unchristlike self. Mold us, fashion us, raise us into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through our souls). Energy from on high is ours, absolutly. Mind you this is an aspect of the promise that He gives us the desire and the power to do His pleasure, or will if you prefer. Philippians 2:13. It is in Christ where we need to be. Ephesians 2:10. Every day. 1 Corinthians 15:31. There it is again, in Christ. What does it mean to be in Christ? Let's go back to Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." I do believe that in Christ means you have accepted this free gift on a regular basis. And even during the day when you lift a silent brief praise or petition to Him, you are in Christ. Thinking on Him is also in Christ, as well as serving him. Jesus said abide in Me and I will be in you. John 15:4. John 15:7.
    It is obvious now that abiding in Him, and through Him, are synonymous with being in Christ. Oh yes there are others, walking humbly with Him, seeking Him, and seeing Him.

    • Amen to this, John Herscher, I prefer the abiding in the vine better than the dying as a seed. I believe that Jesus was using the dying as a seed in reference to Himself dying for the sin of the entire world. We however have to Abide by faith in Him and not seek any honor or even talk about our so called "works" for Him as it will inevitably lead us to "boast" about them etc.

        • I see nothing in Jesus' words here about "dying with Him," William Earnhardt. Jesus says here for us to "deny" ourselves, not "Die with Him." A "Huge" difference from dying with Him.

      • Good morning Pete. We are told many times by the New Testament writers that we must die to self. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is one of those. Abiding in the vine sounds much easier, but if you understand how grafting is done, the branch is severed from the old vine, the new vine is cut, and the branch is placed in a way that it will then become a part of that new vine. Either way you look at it, the old is set aside and we take on the new. If I don’t die (like a seed) to sinful ways, how can I become changed? God does not force anyone, we have to let go of the old to grasp the new.

        • Karen, thanks so much about that reminder about grafting! It makes clear that Paul was right in line with what Jesus taught about denying self and taking up our cross daily. (Luke 9:23) Of course, the cross, which was an instrument of cruel death, has been turned into ornamental art and jewelry, so the idea of dying is lost on a lot of people. But Paul himself referred to his dying daily. (1 Cor. 15:21; Gal. 2:20)

        • However, Karen Bunch, we must be very much "alive" to "Deny" ourselves. Joseph was very much "alive" when God imposed on him to leave his mother, brothers, father etc. when he was sold as a slave and ended up in Egypt etc. So again, Jesus making the comparison of a seed dying before it bore much fruit was more of a metaphor of His dying for sin than us dying physically for anything.

  4. Sorry to hear about your loss, Maurice. But thank God that further suffering was spared him. Condolences to you and the family.

  5. The author wrote

    Submission to God’s will comes as we die to our own desires and ambitions.

    That makes it sound as though the dying "to our own desires and ambitions" comes before "submission to God's will." But in my mind I doubt that we can actually die to our own desires and ambitions before first connecting with Christ and submitting to Him.

    What do you say?

    • Christ wants to live in us, but we must give permission for Him to rule our hearts.

      It’s a matter of the motivation of what we think and feel that produces the change in our actions from the motivation of selfishness to the motivation of perfect love.

      When mankind was first created he was created with God’s own Holy Spirit for the motivation of his thoughts and feelings.

      When mankind sinned by disobeying God in the garden of Eden he died to the Spirit of Love and was reborn in the spirit of his own selfishness for his motivation.

      Since the motivation of selfishness is separation from God we are really dead in trespasses and sin. The only way to real life is in connecting with God by his Holy Spirit. This requires a choice on our part. God is respectful of our choice. It all boils down to God’s choice and our choice.

      God has made the choice to us return us to union with Him and has done His part in the process of saving our souls. We now have a part to play and that is to choose that we would not live under selfish motivation, but live by the motivation of God’s love which is the fruit of his Holy Spirit. This is death to self and rebirth in the Spirit and Character of Christ.

      His Holy Spirit is always nearby calling to us and knocking on our hearts’ doors, but it is up to our choice as to whether he comes in and motivates our thoughts and feelings to produce the character of our Creator in us.

      Our “old man of sin” will gradually weaken from lack of exercise as we live in the motivation of the fruit of God’s own Holy Spirit. True, complete Love will be given to us for our motivation by God, Himself, through the work of His Spirit in our minds.

      Character development is always a work of a lifetime as we walk one step at a time. Let’s walk each step by the motivation Of God’s Love in our hearts.

    • I would also go as far as to say that sometimes our ambitions and desires are not contrary to God's will and God just simply lets us choose what we want to do as in where will I serve Him as a doctor or nurse or teacher etc. and etc. Sort of like choosing between a piece of cherry pie or a peach pie for dessert.

      • Interesting thought. I would not want to fail to consult God regarding my vocation in life, considering that He would know best just what and where is best for me. I don't think it's at all like "choosing between a piece of cherry pie or peach pie for dessert."

        On the other hand, I've had a friend who would pray before choosing which color of blouse to buy. I thought that was a bit over the top, since it wasn't a matter of right and wrong, but maybe it wasn't. God is perfectly willing to help us even in the small choices in life - choices that are not moral choices. (If I'm not sure what color looks best on me, I suppose there's no harm in asking God, is there?)

        • Here again, I have served God and my fellow men as a construction worker. I served with my skills as such in a SDA Church etc. Then I left to serve in another SDA Church and I just chose that without asking God about it and God has blessed me more now than before. I choose to see this as having chosen between a piece of cherry pie and and then a piece of peach pie.

  6. Yes, I also consider dying to self to be the evidence of the process when following the path of God’s Will in our lives. I think it takes a willing and humble heart and spirit to become transformed into that which we are told is to be our New Nature; the new nature that seeks the glory of God in all it does; it does not seek its own.

    Reflecting on the second discussion question:
    We can know our God personally, because believing we meet His Son in Jesus the man, who was also Christ. What does “Christ’ actually mean? The article from Lois Tverberg “Our Rabbi Jesus” sheds some light on this. The title ‘Christ – God’s anointed, messianic King’ – is the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9; a King chosen by God. The power invested in Jesus Christ as the King is the power to save all who believe and are called - He is our Lord and Savior - Rom.8:28.

    Submitting to God than becomes a joyful act, an act of being relieved of the burden of following the deceptive council of ones own heart. Can one think of anyone else being better equipped to save from spiritual peril than the Son of God who gave us the Holy Spirit; the same Spirit which guided Him as he walked as a man here on hearth fulfilling God’s promise for mankind?
    Why would we hesitate to believe Him and His Word; when we trust in His Word we live?

    • Dying to our "sinful selves" is what Jesus is talking about when He also says to "deny ourselves and follow Him." Then we become "alive to live for Him and in Him." But again we must be very much "alive" to do this very thing. Joseph never died when God took him away from his brothers, father, and mother to be sold by his brothers to then go into Egypt to more "crucibles" in his life and for God and his fellow men.

  7. Thank you to everyone for your kind words of comfort. A crucible is always easier to bear when it is shared with others.


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