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Thursday: Every Seed Produces a Harvest — 10 Comments

  1. Today's lesson asks the question:

    How well can you discern the contrast between good and evil? Why is it important that we do?

    It seems an almost insignificant question against the main discussion of the cosmic climax of the final judgment and its execution. However, when you think about it, the question is of paramount importance.

    Final judgments and their consequences are going to happen in the fullness of time, but actions and relationships happen now. In my teaching days, we had final exams at the end of the semester. Those students who got the idea early in the semester that they had to study in the present, had little to fear in the judgment day of the examination. Students decided their own fate by choosing whether to work or have a good time during the semester. The examination result was a consequence of that and not the action of a capricious or vindictive teacher.

    Now the example is flawed in the sense that we do not work for our salvation, but we do make decisions about relationships in our lives now and that relationship with Jesus is what really counts when the judgment is executed. If that relationship is real then we will discern what is good and what is evil. The issue is that sometimes we have a make-believe relationship that permits us to be selfish and self-serving.

    Going back to the classroom situation, there were those students who thought they could pass their examination by currying favour with the teacher. They would bring the proverbial apple for the teacher, rather than doing the study that was so necessary. Good teachers are not bought. Likewise, a relationship with Jesus is not something that is bought.

    Paul's message to the Phillipians is clear:

    Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.

    Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross. Phil 2:3-8 TLB

    The future is a consequence of the present!

  2. This part of the lesson caught my attention,

    "The people of God reveal His image of grace, compassion, mercy, and love before the universe. The children of the evil one reveal greed, lust, jealousy, and hate."

    There is nothing plainer than that. Although my nature has degenerated, and I depend on fighting against my downfall. Goodness, integrity, virtue, morality, and honesty do not mix with evil, wickedness, villainy, immorality, and ultimately, sin.

    Thus, building a solid character is achieved only by practice! Then, which side do I want to exercise more on?

    But thanks be to God; nevertheless, grace is free and unpayable! And I guess the way to keep myself on the good side, the primary fight is to keep accepting this grace every instant.


    "But solid food is for those who are grown up. They are mature enough to know the difference between good and evil."(Hebrews 5:14; New Century Version)

  3. In my opinion, there are 2 means to discern the difference between good and evil. One is following the biblical view vs. adopting the cultural one, which is very misleading, since many unethical practices become socially acceptable (for example, same sex marriage, the entertainment industry, Hollywood and popular music).

    In the Garden of Eden, the serpent said to Eve, "eat from this tree and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.“ We all know where this led to.

    Many times, it‘s not always easy even for us Christians to assume that some things are good and others are bad, unless we test them. I think that‘s why Paul said, in Thess. 5:21 (ESV)

    „Test all things. Hold fast what is good.“

    In this case, the Bible is our standard by which we assess all things, avoiding leaning on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6), and by clinging to Jesus Christ.

    We not only test, but also put those habits in practice. In Hebrews 5:14 (ESV) it says:

    "But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice.“

    May God help us along.

  4. God is a gardener. And it appears that at least one of God's spiritual gardening methods is permaculture. I take after my Heavenly Daddy - I LOVE gardening of all kinds. So I'm excited to dig deeper for a few moments into what we can learn of God the permaculturalist.

    I'm still experimenting with this gardening method...so if any of you are experts out there feel free to correct or add on .... Basically, for purposes here, we could begin by saying that backyard permaculture is a method where you let ecosystems stay intact, the native plants that occur naturally (what we often call weeds) and the planted crops grow up together. Sound familiar? Remember when Jesus said,

    "Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest time. At the harvest time I will tell the workers this: First, gather the weeds and tie them together to be burned. Then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn.” Matt. 13:30

    When I first learned about gardening from my Mom as a wee girl, I recall the neat rows and careful picking out of each weed. Very important to keep weeds down. So this may seem counterintuitive. We want our crops to flourish and we have no use for weeds. But maybe God does make use of weeds. I'm thinking of how He tells us that He makes "all things work together for good" (Rom 8:28) for those of us who love Him. Let's be clear, God hates sin. In God there is no sin at all. So while what we call "weeds" in the gardening world may actually be useful medicinal plants and healthy edibles themselves, we are not to sympathize with or condone the "spiritual weeds" or sinful lifestyle. Having established that, can God use the evil in the world for the growth and development of His harvest (us)? Is there a reason He allows sin to develop and ripen along with righteousness?

    (1) Jesus gives a reason: "...lest while you gather up the weeds you also uproot the wheat with them." Matt. 13:29

    Weeds are the original plants that refuse to leave. They are firmly rooted. Think of the grasses' long snaky roots making a mat deep into the fabric of the soil. When you start yanking out these weeds you disturb the soil, and then your newly planted, newly rooting, seedlings are yanked right out with them. In permaculture, you encourage the crops to push through the weeds and eventually the ecosystem restores itself, letting the wanted crops flourish and the unwanted to fall back. Sin is our born nature. It has long-rooted into our habits. Once we are born again, it takes time for the good fruits of the Spirit to crowd out the native sins. God has promised us that the sinful habits will fall back as we nurture the correct environment for His fruits to develop.

    Ellen White in the book Christ Object Lessons, in the chapter titled Tares, expounds on this parable. I recommend reading the whole chapter. As we consider the children of the wicked one (weeds) and those born of the Word of God (wheat), we see true and false believers mingled in the church. She says that while those who persist in open sin are to be separated from the church, we are not to judge character and motive.

    We would make mistakes if we were tasked with uprooting "spurious Christians...often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself....if we were to deal with souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope....As the tares have their roots closely intertwined with those of good grain, so false brethren in the church may be closely linked with true disciples. The real character of these pretended believers is not fully manifested. Were they to be separated from the church, others might be caused to stumble, who but for this would have remained steadfast...Notwithstanding Christ's warning, men have sought to uproot the tares. To punish those who were supposed to be evildoers...those who differed from established doctrines have been imprisoned...but it is the spirit of Satan, not the spirit of Christ, that inspires such acts. This is Satan's own method for bringing the world under his dominion. God has been misrepresented through the church by this way of dealing with those supposed to be heretics."

    E.White goes on to share that even the loyal angels in heaven did not fully discern Satan's character when he sinned in heaven. This is why God did not at once destroy Satan. He needed time for full evidence of His perfect justice and mercy to ripen.

    "...the author of evil was spared, fully to develop his character. Through long ages God has borne the anguish of beholding the work of evil, He has given the gift of Calvary, rather than leave any to be deceived by the misrepresentations of the wicked one; for the tares could not be plucked up without danger of uprooting the precious grain....The tares closely resembled the wheat while the blades were green; but when the field was white with harvest, the worthless weeds bore no likeness to the wheat that bowed under the weight of its full, ripe heads....in the harvest of the world there will be no likeness bewteen good and evil. Then those who have joined the church, but who have not joined Christ, will be manifest."

    (2) Permaculturalists DO try to keep weeds under control because they compete with the chosen plants for nutrients, water and space. They do this through mulching. Just as Jesus talked about "good soil", we need to mulch ourselves with Bible study, prayer, worship,and pure community and celebration. As we fill our lives with God's goodness, all that is sinful will be kept down. The worldly actions that begin siphoning off the nourishment God provides, the thoughts that shade our hearts and minds from God's presence, will be kept at bay.

    (3) Weeds can be useful to know WHAT kind of soil is in the garden plot. Weeds appear where they belong. Dandelions show an acidic soil, willow trees show a wet soil, chicory or mustard suggest a compact soil. Just so, the sinful weeds that pop up in us and around us can alert us to what kind of "heart soil" is there. If we are engaged in worrying a lot, for example, or hear a lot of anxiety around us, we can be alerted that we are existing in a "lack of faith" soil. If people around us are engaged in buying constantly to have the latest and best, we are alerted that we may be in a covetous soil.

    In gardening we plant according to what we observe. For example, if we know the ground is wet and will be saturated regularly, we may try water-hungry plants like watercress and taro. Just so, we can apply the 10 Commandments by seeing that they help us with what TO DO as well as what NOT TO DO. The fix for covetousness, for example, is praying for contentment with what God has given and practicing rejoicing over the gifts God has poured into our lives and into our neighbors' lives. We can actually look for ways to be of service in helping our neighbor with their possessions...for instance, teaching someone how to create a budget. As another example, let's use the 9th Commandment (don't bear false witness)... If we see the soil we are in is full of gossip, we can ask God for help in speaking well of others and explaining everything in the kindest of ways to protect others' reputations. We can actively look for ways to lift God up by sharing with a brother or sister in Jesus ways we see Him manifesting in their life. Which leads me to ....

    (4) Bare soil allows weeds to push through. Gardening is all about growth and if there are too many blank spaces, SOMETHING will push through. A healthy garden is lush with growing plants and few bare spots. Just so, we are warned to not be blank and bare and stagnant (thinking of the loveless Ephesus church, the dead church of Sardis, and the lukewarm Laodicean church - Rev. 2-3). Jesus warns us in Matt. 12:43-45 that if we sweep our lives of bad habits but don't replace with good ones, it will be worse for us. Boredom is a fertile ground for sin. Paul in Gal. 6:7-10 drives this point home with a gardening analogy and concluding with "don't be weary in well-doing."

    (5) Permaculture is all about biodiversity. Natural ecosystems are flourishing because they are diverse in species. Plants and animals depend upon variety. Modern Western farming often fails and falters through monoculture. Pests attack and plants are more susceptible to disease and infestation. My application spiritually here is that God wants us to enjoy and embrace and seek diversity in our lives. We need all types of people in our hearts. We thrive as the Body with our diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences, ages, roles and gifts. We do our best work for God's Kingdom - and see the biggest harvest - in cooperation and harmony with each other.

  5. Dear sister Esther, what a wonderful spiritual lesson in permaculture gardening. I shall certainly be retaining this message. Thank you for your posts which l read with interest and relish. May GOD continue to bless you and yours as you reach out to others far and near.


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