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Thursday, June 15, 2017

4 of ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

The Second Soil of the Heart: Rocks, Scorching & Withering.

Let's examine the second soil of the heart & what happens when the seed of the Word of God is sown into it.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word & immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, & when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21, ESV)

On the surface, this second soil of the heart looks like good, fertile ground for the Word of God. The seed has a sudden, brief growth spurt, but its young root can never develop & become strong. Once it hits the rock, the root soon withers away causing the tiny plant that has emerged from the soil to die. The second soil of the heart is the great enemy to the growth of the Word of God.

Never forget how important it is for the seed of the Word of God to take root deeply in our hearts so it can produce fruit. The seed of the Word of God contains everything that God is: His love, righteousness, grace, salvation, goodness, holiness, faithfulness, peace & joy just to name a few. Faith comes by hearing this magnificent seed of the Word of God & allowing it to grow & become engrafted into the very fiber of the heart.

Importance of a Strong Root System. For the seed of the Word of God to prosper & grow into a strong, healthy tree, it must have a deep root system. The root system allows the heart to be anchored to the character of God.

2 Kings 19:30 declares that we must take root downward, so that we can bear fruit upward! Proverbs 12:12 declares that the root of the righteous yields fruit, & shall not be moved, because it is anchored in the Word of God.

It is imperative as Christians that we cultivate a deep root system of the Word of God in our hearts. The truth in Psalm 1 is vital to maintain a healthy spiritual heart.

The word "blessed" describes the condition of our heart should be in daily & it is linked to what it is rooted in. The Hebrew word "blessed" conveys the idea of happiness that flows from a sense of well-being & righteous. Bad company will corrupt the heart & destroy its root system. Our delight, desire, & longing must be to know God & His Word as the great treasure of our heart.

Do we delight in the pure words of Scripture more than the words from television, radio, Internet & chatter of the trival that relentlessly bombards our lives daily?

When we delight in the Word of God & mediate upon it daily, the spiritual root system of our heart is strong in God.

Jesus Christ is the true vine & we are to abide in Him if we are to be branches that bear much spiritual fruit.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, & let your lives be built on him.

Let's examine tribulation & persecution in more depth & see how they have such a dramatic effect on the heart.

Tribulation: The Forceful Squeezing of the Heart. The Greek word for "tribulation" is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, & crush. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil & the squeezing of grapes to produce juice.

The Lesson of Joseph. Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt.

The world specializes in thlipsis.

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis. Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, & unbearable pain. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin & crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure & overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure & emerge over every burden & weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis & the Birth of Extraordinary. God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ & the Word of God.

God uses the word "thlipsis" to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary & amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes & works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. How tragic that we never give birth to God's amazing plans & purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion & bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

God birthed an extraordinary calling & work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel & a man after God's own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ & the Word of God & endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots & persecution. His ministry turned the world upside down, & he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel.

Jesus Christ: The Focal Point of all Persecution. Persecution arises out of the violent clashing between two spiritual kingdoms. The Word of God is the mighty weapon of one kingdom. The heart is at the center of this fierce battle. The Book of Revelation speaks of this. (Revelation 12:4b-5,7,9,12b,17)

Jesus Christ is the focal point of all persecution because He is God's plan for redemption. He is the Savior, the Great Shepherd, the second Adam, the Alpha & Omega, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the life, & the door to God's kingdom. He restored everything that Adam & Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden & conquered sin & death.

The Greek word for "hatred" in John & Luke means to pursue with hatred, to detest, to have extreme hostility towards, & to abhor.

Surprising Source of Most Persecution. The Devil is very subtle as persecution often arises from our inner circle: our churches, fellow-christians, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, professors, neighbors, & community.

The devil loves religion because it has nothing to do with the true God & is an easy facade to hide his deceptions. Look at our Savior as the constant persecution to his ministry was from the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests & scribes, who were the religious elite of his day. The great religious men & their corrupt system crucified their Messiah.

Persecution also comes from the inner circle of our family, friends, & close associates whom the Devil craftily influences to shake our faith in God & His Word.

When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem near the time of his crucifixion, great multitudes of apparent followers & disciples cried out "Hosanna (save us please) to the son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord even the King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!" This whole multitude rejoiced & praised God with a loud voice. Many of these people had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out from the grave & had heard about this great miracle. The entire city of Jerusalem was moved & the multitude declared "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee!"

The Greek word for "seize" means to take hold of forcibly, to take into custody & arrest, to continually hold back, to hinder & restrain, to prevail & rule over, & to take into one's possession.

Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace. Without Jesus no person on earth can ever have true peace.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means wholeness, completeness & soundness. It is an inward & outward tranquility, a quiet assurance, & a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, & satisfaction in life.

God is the source of all peace, & we have peace because of our relationship with Him. His peace is our peace. Peace can not live in a heart of unbelief.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history & classics. He is president of Goodness of God's Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.