VIDEO Joseph’s Song by Michael Card

Dec 2, 2007

This is a tribute to one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Joseph’s Song” by Michael Card

Seed Sowing

James 317 peace wisdom word
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:23

African jungle hornbill birds have home ranges from 2,300 to 10,000 acres, flying more than 130 miles over a couple months. Why is that important? Because they swallow fruit seeds whole and “deposit” the seeds as they move around the jungle. Result? More fruit trees! And the more hornbills eating fruit, the wider the seeds are dispersed.

No wonder Jesus and the apostle Peter referred to the Word of God as “seed.” In His parable of the sower, soil, and seed, Jesus used seed to illustrate “the word of the kingdom” that He was sowing (Matthew 13:19). Unlike the rich floor of the African jungle where fruit seeds sprout readily, the human heart is not always so fertile. But when the seed of the Word of God falls into a humble, repentant, and welcoming heart, it can bear much fruit (John 15:5): “some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Our concern is not to be soil examiners but seed sowers and let God do the rest.

Look for an opportunity today to sow a godly word in a life—and pray for fruit to appear

The Reason For Our Boldness

Philippians 1:19-20

Even though Christians are familiar with the gospel, many are reluctant to share their faith with others because they don’t feel capable of explaining it. When we lack confidence in our knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ, fear of negative reactions or possible questions can keep us silent. What if we don’t have the answers or end up looking like a fool? It’s just too intimidating.

But remember, God has given us the most important message in the world. Since we’re confronted by so many unscriptural philosophies and religious deceptions, we need to understand the gospel and be able to present it with confidence and boldness. We can’t let fear or ignorance keep us from giving lost people the only message that can change a person’s eternal destiny.

The apostle Paul welcomed every opportunity to tell people about Christ, because he focused on the gospel’s life-changing power rather than the possible negative reactions. Often, the reason we’re ashamed to talk about our faith is that we’re concerned about ourselves. If we look at the hurting people around us, express a genuine interest in them, and ask God to open a door for us to share our faith with them, He will answer that prayer.

We tend to be motivated by temporal activities that eventually fade away. But souls are forever, and people need to know the Savior. Look for opportunities to reach out to those around you—notice their expressions; ask how they’re doing. When their need stirs your heart, you’ll be eager to offer them the gospel.

Degrees of Punishment

“But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:22)

The subject of eternal hell is so repugnant to the modern ungodly world that people desperately search for some scientific rationale to justify their rejection of God’s Word. Charles Darwin was an example. He became an apostate from Christianity, not because of his scientific “discovery” of natural selection, but because of Christ’s teachings that unbelievers (including his own father) would end up in hell.

Nevertheless, “the fearful, and unbelieving . . . and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). These are words from God Himself!

But is there no difference in the punishment of, say, blaspheming and wicked unbelievers and the mere careless unbeliever? Yes, there is. As Christ said, the idolatrous inhabitants of Tyre would have repented if they had seen His mighty works, but the Galileans of Chorazin and Bethsaida who had seen His miracles and heard Him preach had not. Consequently, they will suffer more.

Similarly, He said concerning those who would reject the gospel preaching of His disciples that “it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:15). The wicked populace of Sodom, “giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh,” will suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7), but even greater punishment awaits those who willfully reject God’s love in Christ.

There will, indeed, be degrees of punishment in hell, but they will be determined largely in proportion to degrees of “light” rejected. This is an unwanted—but urgently needed—message in these last days! HMM

The Necessity of Wounds

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word…. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. —Psalm 119:67,71

It is amazing to me! There are people within the ranks of Christianity who have been taught and who believe that Christ will shield His followers from wounds of every kind.

If the truth were known, the saints of God in every age were only effective after they had been wounded. They experienced the humbling wounds that brought contrition, compassion and a yearning for the knowledge of God. I could only wish that more among the followers of Christ knew what some of the early saints meant when they spoke of being wounded by the Holy Spirit….

In every generation, the people who have found God have been those who have come to the end of themselves. Recognizing their hopelessness, they have been ready to throw themselves on the mercy and grace of a forgiving God.

Lord, don’t let me waste the humbling wounds. Do Your great work within me, and help me to respond properly and learn all You want me to learn through Your working. Amen.

Spiritual Priority: The Missionary Obligation

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me… unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

The popular notion that the first obligation of the Christian Church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false!

Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread the gospel.

Our Lord said “Go ye” but He also said “Tarry ye,” and the tarrying had to come before the going. Had the disciples gone forth as missionaries before the day of Pentecost it would have been an overwhelming spiritual disaster, for they could have done no more than make converts after their own likeness, and this would have altered for the worse the whole history of the Western world and had consequences throughout the ages to come.

Theoretically the seed, being the Word of God, should produce the same kind of fruit regardless of the spiritual condition of those who scatter it; but it does not work that way! The identical message preached to the heathen by men of differing degrees of godliness will produce different kinds of converts and result in a quality of Christianity varying according to the purity and power of those who preach it.

Christianity will always reproduce after its kind. A worldly minded, unspiritual church, when she crosses the ocean to give her witness to peoples of other tongues and cultures, is sure to bring forth on other shores a Christianity much like her own!

Better Farther On

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. LUKE 24:45

Truth that is not experienced is no better than error and may be fully as dangerous. Remember that the scribes who sat in Moses’ seat were not the victims of error; they were the victims of failure to experience the truth they taught!

We should see that one of the greatest foes of the Christian is religious complacency. The man who believes that he has “arrived” will not go any further; and the present neat habit of quoting a text to prove we have arrived may be a dangerous one if in truth we have no actual inward experience of the text.

The great saints of the past have all had yearning hearts. Their longing after God all but consumed them; it propelled them onward and upward to heights toward which less ardent Christians look with languid eye and entertain no hope of reaching.

May we offer this word of exhortation: pray on, fight on, sing on! Press on into the deep things of God. Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will!

Lord, I pray for people in our churches and for those who work in Christian organizations. Urge them not to be complacent in their comfortable situations. Stir their hearts to become more engaged in the battle for men’s souls.