Heroes of Faith: Introduction

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Hebrews chapter 11 is considered a definitive Biblical explanation of Faith. Within it is a list of people often referred to as God’s Hall of Fame of Faith. A hall of fame is where we enshrine those who are the best at any endeavor. I live near the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This Museum contains room after room of artifacts and memorabilia of the sport of baseball. In a prominent position in the museum is a room called the “Hall of Fame.” It contains plaques dedicated to the best who ever played the game. Hebrews 11 contains such a list of people.

I do not really think it is truly accurate to call it a “hall of fame,” even though I do call it that. A hall of fame tries to honor all those who are the all-time best of whatever the hall is celebrating. In this case, it would be impossible to have a comprehensive listing of those who have walked in outstanding faith throughout history. There are simply to many. Verse 32 of this chapter says as much.

We know that the first verse of Hebrews 11 is the clearest biblical definition of faith. It is the substance of things hoped for. Hope has many good definitions and any of them could be applied here. I like the thought that hope implies possibility. Jesus said to a father whose faith had been challenged by life, that if he could believe “all things were possible.” Faith must begin with the understanding that what is impossible in light of natural limitations is possible for God. Without hope, faith has nothing to grab hold of.

It my conviction that because faith is necessary for salvation, every Christian has faith. The new birth makes us “believers” by nature. That said, we often lose our sense of possibility. I believe that is what the devil is usually after when he opposes us. It is very difficult to cause a person who has been born again to stop believing in Jesus, the Father or the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. The goal for our enemy is to let us believe in salvation and the existence of God, while robbing us of our expectation of what God CAN do. That expectation is called hope. If active faith that can change things is the substance of what we hope for, if we are robbed of hope our faith can no longer affect the natural world.

Faith is also the evidence of what we cannot see. We cannot see God. We cannot see the realm of the spirit where God lives. We cannot see the power of God. How can we believe what we cannot see? How can we expect beyond what our senses reveal? That is what biblical faith must do.

There are a number of things that produce this in a Christian. One of them is memories of what God has done. The Old Testament calls them alters. Many times, God spoke to Israel and said build me an alter in this place. One of the reasons God often gave was so that when your children pass by, you will remember to tell them what I did.

I believe we need alters. I am not talking about living in the past. I am talking about remembering what God has done in the past. That memory becomes part of our faith evidence that if God did something once, he will do it again. If he provided for my needs once, I have evidence he will do it again. My faith is based on what I know God has done and therefore will do. Whatever God has done in the past he can and will do again. Provision has been a consistent place I have used this in my life.

I have seen God provide for me and my family in many ways. When I face another challenge or I know I am called to step into some area of ministry for which I do not have the resources, I look back on what God has done to provide for me for over 40 years of ministry. This evidence gives me the wherewithal to believe for the current situation. My faith in what God has done becomes my evidence that he will do it now.

There is another evidence that is even more sure than my own alters. That evidence is the written word of God. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the word of God. This is a statement made in relation to salvation. Nevertheless, I believe if faith for salvation comes from hearing the Word of God on salvation, then faith for anything else the bible promises comes from hearing the Word of God on whatever he has promised.

The Word of God is his will on any subject. If the Word of God says something can be done, it can. If the Word of God says God will provide for all my needs, and it does, He will. The written Word of God is not just a book. It is a living thing that has been infused with the life of God as a seed is infused with the life of a plant. When it is planted in our heart it grows into faith for whatever it is representative of.

The Word of God for healing produces faith for healing just as the Word of God for salvation produces salvation. You can put in whatever the Bible promises to us and faith for that promise will be produced. In that sense the Word of God and the faith it produces is the evidence that what I cannot see will happen. A promise I have stood on often in my life is from Philippians.

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

When I look at my situation and the evidence assures me that there is no way I will have the resources I need, what do I look to? I look to the promise of God. My God says he will meet my need. That is the only evidence I need to know that he will. When the devil, the world, or anyone in it points to the natural evidence to “bring me “back to my senses,” I point to the supernatural evidence and continue to trust in the God who spoke the Word.

It is important to remember that the words are not magic. Our faith is not in the words but in the one who spoke the them. However, the words he spoke are evidence of what he will do. When I look at the promises in the Word of God, they supersede the evidence in the natural. I trust in the Word more than what the natural evidence tells me. I have never been disappointed. There have been times when I have not seen things happen the way I wanted them to or how I thought they would. It is important to remember that God is the one who gives the evidence and he will bring things to pass in his way and his time.

I felt it was important to give this bit of perspective and review, but it is verse 2 that caught my attention. It tells us that by faith the elders obtained a good report. That is where the hall of fame comes into play. Although it is not an exhaustive list of the people who did outstanding things by faith, it is a representative list of Old Testament characters that did. The final verse of chapter 11 points to the fact that we have something greater than they did and that what they did was pointing towards us.

Hebrews 11:40 (NKJV) 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Although what we have is better, it is still faith. If the Old Testament elders listed here could obtain a good report from God by walking in faith, how much more can we obtain a better report if we follow their example. What did the people in this chapter do to obtain the “good report?” What attitudes can we learn from them that will help us in our faith walk? That is what we are going to find out.

A Heart that is Good Ground: Mark Part 2

Mark 4:23-25 (NKJV). 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

As we have been studying Mark chapter 4, we have come to the end of the parable. In verse 20 Jesus said that the seed which fell on good ground was always productive but at different levels. In God’s economy no one is less than anyone else. I believe verses 21 through 25 us tell how to be 100-fold producers in the kingdom.

I think verse 23 is a verse that applies to what we have already studied and to the rest of what Jesus is revealing to us. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. We must have the right mindset. We must be willing to hear what God is saying not what we want him to say. We must be open to the revelation that comes from the Holy Spirit not just our preconceived ideas of what it says. We must also make a choice to hear what God is saying and this implies acting on what we hear. If we will not do that, nothing will change.

In verse 24 he gives us important instruction about hearing. First, he tells us to be careful what we hear. There are so many voices in the world today. All of them are vying for your attention. Some of them are necessary. We cannot avoid the voices of the world. We need information. We need to learn things that have nothing to do with our spiritual lives. However, we need to be careful what we hear. There are voices buried in the clutter of noise that makes up modern life that are more than just distractions. They are voices that are trying to lead us away from the truth.

I am not talking about just hearing something in passing. I am talking about what you have an ear to hear. What are you giving your attention to? There are things that I hear, but I do not give my attention to them. There are news articles that I refuse to spend time hearing (or seeing for that matter.) There are TV programs and movies that I will not watch. There are times when I may start watching but the content begins to try to convince me that the principles in the Word of God are not true. There are things that are “preaching” another message instead of what is in the Word. I refuse to give them my time or my attention.

On the other hand, I must be willing to give time to hearing what the Word of God says. That means I must give it my attention. If I never hear the Word preached or read the Word for myself, I am not giving attention to the Word. I am not cultivating the seeds I have already planted, nor have I planted more seeds of life. The more I give my time and attention to the Word of God the more I am going to think like God thinks. I will understand him more and know him better.

It is not popular right now to encourage people to give their time and energy more to the things of God than to the things of the world. Some will argue that it is just legalism to tell people they need to read the Bible, pray or spend time in Worship. That is not at all the case. If I want relationship with my wife, I need to spend time with her. If I never make time for her, if I never listen to her, I may live with her but not know her. The same is true of children. I may provide for them, but if I do not spend time with them where I am really listening to them and observing them, I am not really operating as a father. I am not going to produce 100-fold in raising my children or in my marriage.

The same is true of our relationship with God. I must spend time with him. I must come into his presence on a regular basis. With a physical person that is easily done. With an invisible God it is somewhat harder. What we hear from him comes through channels that are not always so definite. It is open to interpretation. That is why the written Word of God is so important. The more we give attention to the written Word, the more we will recognize the voice and presence of God.

The written Word is not just a book. It is a living thing and it is the thing that sets the parameters of our relationship with God. Without it we can never be sure if what we are hearing or understanding, is really God. The more we allow the Bible to live within us the more we will grow in knowing God. The more we grow in our relationship with him the more we produce in the Kingdom and the more we are able to walk in the benefits of salvation by Grace.

This brings us to the rest of verse 24. Look at how it comes out in the Amplified Bible.

Mark 4:24 (AMP) 24 And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.

First, we see that it uses the term hearing. This implies not just hearing something once or twice. That is not going to hinder you. It is what you are hearing that affects you. Hearing means to hear over and over again. To give more attention to that thing than other things. What are you hearing? He tells us how to judge that in the next sentence. “The measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear will be the measure of virtue and knowledge that comes back to you and more besides will be given to you that hear.

I know that today we want our Christianity to be easy. We want it to flow with the lifestyle we enjoy. If it does not, we think there is something wrong with our interpretation. Nothing that is of real value is that way in life. If you go to college to learn a profession but never do the work, you will come out without an education. You will fail. If you try to work in a trade or any kind of job but refuse to work to learn how to do it, you will fail.

If you think you are going to have a marriage without changing your lifestyle and putting in some work to learn your spouse and how to live with him or her, you will fail. Anything worth doing takes time and effort and, yes even work! There are many athletes for example that have great talent but never fulfill their potential while others with less talent become greats in the game. The difference is that the ones with less talent work harder. We must understand that Christianity requires work. The more we put in the time and effort to know him and his Word, the more power and knowledge we will get out of it. If you put in 10-fold effort you will get 10-fold results. If you do your best to put in 100-fold effort but fall short, you will be much farther ahead. You have to choose.

No one can make you put in the effort to be a 100-fold Christian. When people try, that is when it becomes law. However, I would not love you if I did not tell you the truth. That is what Jesus is doing. Whatever effort you put into your Christian life is worth it. Jesus ends the verse by saying you will not only get out of the Word what you put in but that you will get even more. Luke 6:38 says that when we give to God, he gives back good measure pressed down shaken together and running over. God knows how to fill a vessel to its absolute capacity. The catch is that the same verse says God uses whatever measure we do. You will get much more for your tablespoon, cup or shovel than you could put in that measure, but if you choose to put in a greater measure of effort God will fill you up with more than what you put in. The thing is he will use the same measure.

Finally, he says that those that have will get more and those that have little will have what they have taken away. You may say, “That’s not fair God. You should give more to those that have little.” This is not a matter of fairness. It is a matter of how things work in life. Give yourself to your Christian walk. Give 100-fold effort or as close to that as you can. If you choose to just float along, it is not God who will take away from you. We have an enemy. It is he who comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” When we give our best effort to the Lord we will have the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10. The choice is yours.

How to Have a Heart that is Good Ground: Mark 4

Mark 4:21-25 (NKJV) 21 Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

In our last post I looked at some keys to becoming good ground from Paul’s teaching in Philippians chapter 3. Today I want to go back to Mark chapter 4 and look at how Jesus tells us to be good ground. He ends verse 20 by saying that some who were good ground produced 30-fold, some 60-fold and some 100-fold. Since the Bible is clear that God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), I do not believe he is saying that some people are better producers in the Kingdom because that is how God made them. I believe that within each of our lives and callings we can all be 100-fold Christians. So, the question is what causes some good ground people to produce at a higher level than others. I believe Jesus tells us as he continues in Mark 4.

In verses 21 and 22 he speaks about a lamp and a lampstand. We might wonder what that could have to do with seeds and ground. However, he goes back to seeds and ground in verse 26. I believe Jesus is giving a different shade of the same teaching. I think he is telling us how we can become more productive even when we are good ground. One of the first things that can move me towards 100-fold Christianity is how much I allow the light of God’s Word to affect my living.

Psalm 119:130 (NKJV) 130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

Mark chapter 4 is talking about the seed of the Word entering the ground of our heart. Psalms is saying the same thing but here the Word is called light. It is both. When we allow the light of Gods Word to enter our hearts, it brings understanding. The more understanding we have, the more we will produce and the higher our “fold” level will go.

In these verses Jesus asks us a question. “If you have a light, do you put it under a basket, or do you set it on a stand so it can light the room?” The obvious answer is that a light under a basket does not do anyone any good. If you want light to help you it must be out in the open. We might say that if we a very expensive lamp and it can be plugged into the electricity but you will not turn it on you will continue to be in the dark.

Even when we are good ground, if we will not allow the light to direct us, we will not produce fruit. If we allow it to determine 30 percent of our behavior and decision making, we will be 30-fold producers. If we yield to it more, we will produce more. If I want to receive 100-fold benefit from the Word in my life, I must allow it to affect my whole life and not withhold parts.

How do I do that? I do what it tells me to do. I do not do what it says I should not. I allow it to determine how I see life and what I believe. There are times when we do not understand things in the Bible or how we can or should yield to its teaching. God does not mind when we ask him questions or request more enlightenment. However, once we understand what the Word of God is saying, we must yield to it whether we like it or agree with it or not. It is the Word of God. It is the light that will show us the way and empower us to productivity.

We have been doing quite a bit of traveling lately. We often stay in a number of different motels over the course of weeks. I have gotten up at night and been quite sure I knew where the bathroom was, only to walk into a wall or a closet. I have tripped over tables and even the bed. I was sure I knew where things were, but it was dark. I do not want to wake my wife, so I do not turn on the lights. If I did, I would not stumble into things. I could see where the bathroom is. I have lights. There is electricity in the room but, albeit for a good reason, I do not turn them on.

We have the Word. Since he is talking about good ground people at this point, we are able to “see” more clearly. If we leave the light off, we will not see. If I was alone in my room and was simply too lazy to turn on the light, I would have no one to blame when I walked into the wall. I chose to leave my light under a basket. We need to turn the light of God’s Word on in every corner of our lives. The more we do, the more we will see what needs to be changed. We may find that some thorns have gotten into our garden. The light will clearly show where they are. There may be some stones there or some shallowness that has developed. If we put the light of God’s word under a basket it will not help us.

The problem is the light will always reveal what is there. Sometimes there are things we do not want to see. We turn the light off, so they are not visible. That does not mean they are gone. Whatever the light reveals it does so for our good. If we deal with what the light shows, we will become more productive. Sometimes we think our house is clean until we shine a light in the corners. When we do, we see that the spiders have been industrious. There are cobwebs that need attention. If we deal with them right away, they are not much of a problem. If we let them keep growing, eventually they will take over the house. The Light of God’s Word will not only show us the cobwebs, it will help us get rid of the spiders.

Often, we do not yield to the light of God’s Word because we do not like what we see. We want to believe everything is good. No one likes to see what is not. I believe we must begin to look at our lives objectively. We do not need to be condemned, but we do need to grow. If we only look into the light when it shows us what we want to see, we will never change. Being wrong is not being bad. It is just being wrong. If we refuse to see what is wrong, it can become something far worse.

There is another aspect to this idea of hiding God’s light under a bushel. Not only must we be willing to let the light show us what is really there, we must yield to how it tells us to fix it. I said earlier that we must be willing to obey the truth revealed by the Word whether we agree with it or not. Revelations 1:8 says that God is the alpha and the omega. This means he is the first word and the last word on any topic.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NKJV) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

There is nothing wrong with asking God questions. But when we see what the light of the Word says, we must yield to that light. If I turn on the light in my motel room and see where the furniture is but keep trying to get to the bathroom the same way I did in the last room, it is no one’s fault but mine when I fall on my face. When the Bible shines its light on my life, but I think I know better and refuse to yield to it, it is no one’s fault but mine when I fall on my face!

We see in this verse that if we do not lean on our own understanding and we choose not to be wise in our own eyes, we have success. My wife is fond of saying that she has a very deep revelation that will change our lives. This revelation is that God is smarter than you are. Put the light of his Word on a lampstand so it can shine on your whole life. Accept what it shows without condemnation but with a willingness to change when we need to. Yield to the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of the world or even what we think about things. If you do you will be a more productive member of the body of Christ and a happier and more fulfilled person.

How to Have a Heart that is Good Ground: Paul

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We have spent some time talking about a parable Jesus taught in Mark chapter 4. He told his disciples that understanding this parable was a key to understanding all parables. In verse 26, he tells them that the whole Kingdom of God works according to the principles he is teaching here. It is the parable of the seed and the sower.

The seed is the word of God. The ground is the heart of man. Like natural seeds, the seeds of the Word of God contain within them the life, DNA if you will, to produce whatever they contain. When the Word teaches about healing, the words themselves are seeds. When we plant them in our hearts, they will produce healing. The same is true for walking in love, holiness, victory or anything else the bible deals with.

The seed is always good. We have learned that there are two types of ground. There is good ground and bad ground. We should also understand that we may be good ground in some areas and bad ground in others. We may be good ground at times but bad ground at other times. When Jesus says some who are good ground produce 30-fold, some 60-fold and some 100-fold, we see that there can be a mixture of both good and bad ground in us.

Some have callings and destinies that seem more important to others. In God’s economy, no person is unimportant therefore no destiny is unimportant. We are called to be what God calls us to be. That is important in God’s kingdom and it is enough. What is important to me is not how my life, calling or destiny compares with someone else’s. What is important to me is that I produce at a 100-fold level in my own life and destiny. If I fall short, that is OK. If I try to be a 100-fold Christian by giving myself to God and his Word but only reach 75-fold, that is better than 30 or 60.

God will never condemn us for 30 or 60. Nevertheless, our impact in life will be less. Our ability to walk in the blessings of salvation, things Jesus died to make available to us, will be less. The purpose of this parable is to help us understand how things work in the Kingdom of God. It is also to enable us and inspire us to walk in the highest level of both blessing and service that we can while we are on the earth.

How can we grow closer to being 100-fold good ground? Jesus continues his teaching by giving us some important keys in Mark:21-25, and we will get to them in our next post. First, I want to look at Paul. Today’s verse is really talking about this idea of being all we can be in God.

No one is perfect in every area or bible truth. There are far too many variables in the life we live here. Our human experiences produce things that hinder us. Sometimes our lack of knowledge can make us less than perfect ground. All God asks is that we continue to press in to him and grow. Even Paul was not perfect, but he understood something that we must learn if we are going to experience as much as possible of what God has for us.

The first thing he does is acknowledge that he has not attained everything he can in the Kingdom of God. He boldly declares that he is not perfect. This is the apostle Paul. He is probably the greatest Christian, excluding Jesus of course, who ever lived. He had so much revelation that some of it was not authorized by God for him to teach. Yet he confesses that he had not yet attained everything he could in God. He was not yet 100-fold. You might ask, “Did he ever get there?” I do not know, but I will take whatever he had!

I think we must understand that to accept we are not perfect ground or that we do not have everything we could, is not a bad confession of a lack of faith. It is simply the truth. You cannot improve if you think you are perfect. You can only improve what you know needs improving. Let me assure you of one thing. You are not perfect, you have not attained everything you can in God, and you do still need to improve. Admitting that is the first step to changing what kind of ground the Word of God finds you to be.

Next Paul says, “I press on.” James 4:8 tells us if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him. The KJV uses the term “follow after.” In Greek this carries the meaning to pursue. We must be willing to pursue the things of God if we are going to be 100-fold ground. It is also translated to suffer persecution. Sometimes being 100-fold ground will bring about persecution. It certainly did in Paul’s life. We must decide if it is worth the price if paying it means we can have all that God wants for us and give all we can for his kingdom.

To what is he “pressing on.” He wants the high calling of Christ manifested in his life. He is willing to do whatever necessary to obtain that end. I think Paul would say he never quite got there but the truth is it does not matter. The point is that he knows there is more, and he will not settle for less than the high calling. He keeps trying, growing and developing. That is all God asks of us and all we can ask of ourselves or others.

He makes an interesting statement. He says he wants to “lay hold of that for which God had laid hold of him. When I got saved, God laid hold of me. He took me in his arms. He accepted me as a son. With that relationship came a destiny that was mine when I was formed in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139.) We were all created with a purpose. God laid hold of me for that purpose, I must choose to lay hold of, pursue or follow after the same purpose.

In teaching this I often use an illustration. I will pick one fellow from the congregation and ask him to firmly hold one of my arms. Than I ask a larger fellow to come and ask him to pull us apart. As long as the first man is holding on to me, but I am passive, he is able to separate us. If I take hold of the first man’s arm as he is taking hold of mine, it is very difficult or even impossible for him to separate us.

If God only takes hold of me, the devil, the world or my own flesh may be able to tear me away from God’s will in my life. However, if I take hold of that for which God has taken hold of me, it will be impossible for any of those three enemies to separate me from either God’s purpose or God’s blessings.

He also gives us another key. He says I forget those things that are in the past. There is great value in remembering what God has already done in your life. I certainly do not think that Paul is saying we can have no memories to look back on. However, we cannot be stuck on what we did or did not do in the past. Both our successes and failures can cause us to become bound and keep us from going forward. Your failures are just stepping stones to success if you learn from them. There is no condemnation in Christ. If there is some sin, repent of it and move on. God has.

Your successes are in the past as well. We certainly can learn principles in God that work and keep walking in them. We cannot look at our past success as a guarantee we are where we need to be today. Forget what is behind both good and bad and press into God now. I believe we need a current, active and growing relationship with the Lord. There is always more to learn. There are more successes, and probably more failures to come. To be good ground we need only do what Paul did. In verse 14 he says, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” That is what we must do as well. If we do, our ground will get better and better and our “fold” level will continue to grow.

A Heart that is Good Ground

Mark 4:20 (NKJV) 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

Let us recap just a bit. The power in Word of God, especially the written Word, is that of a seed. Natural seeds contain the DNA that will produce any plant they have been designed to. The Word of God is a “seed catalog” that contains the spiritual DNA to produce everything God desires the church to be. The thing about all seeds is that they were designed to work by being planted in ground. Good seed in bad ground will not produce healthy plants. Bad seed in good ground will do no better. The seed of the Word of God is always good. The only variable is the ground.

As you may recall, there are only two types of ground. There is bad ground which is divided into 3 types so we can study them. Nevertheless, they are all bad. Then there is good ground. In Verse 20 Jesus begins teaching on the good ground. The first thing we notice is that good ground produces fruit.

If you are a Christian, you can be good ground. You may need to look at yourself objectively and deal with some things that have been hindering your ground, but you are, by nature, good ground. You have the potential to bring forth fruit from the Word of God. The devil will try and convince you that you are not capable. He may say you do not have the education. He may say you are not intelligent enough to understand the bible. He may try to overwhelm you with thorns. No matter what the devil may say, if you are born again, you are good ground for the word.

In this verse Jesus seems to indicate that, just as bad ground is divided into 3 categories, so is the good ground. Some good ground produces 30 times, some 60 times some 100 times. (That is what the term fold means here. Not 30,60 or 100 percent but 30,60 or 100 times.) 100 times what?

How much fruit do you get from one apple seed? The truth is there is no real number you can apply. If you cultivate the tree you will get as many apples as a tree is able to produce. We might say 100-fold or all that is possible. However, if the tree is not cultivated well you might get only 60-fold or 30-fold of what is possible. No matter what, you do not get one plant for one seed in most cases. I believe 100-fold is an expression of super abundance in the bible, not so much a number.

To even make the potential more powerful we must remember that those numbers are for as long as the tree is alive. The number of pieces of fruit can vary from year to year depending on how the tree is cultivated. When we think that all the fruit over however many years the tree produces, are a product of one seed, we get an idea of the continual power of a seed. The Bible is full of seeds that will produce as long as they are cultivated. The more seeds we sow the more fruit can be produced. That is the power we hold in our hands when we hold the Bible, the written Word of God.

What is Jesus saying when he says good ground produces at different levels. One view is that there are different callings and because of what God needs from a person he provides different levels of fruitfulness. To me, that is something that is outward. It may seem like some people are more important in the Kingdom of God than others, but that would mean God is a respecter of persons. That is not what the word says (Acts 10:34.) I believe God has different jobs for each of us. Sometimes one job seems far more important than another, but that is just how man sees things. I believe God created all of us for greatness in whatever place we serve.

Why does he say that some will produce 30, some 60 and some 100 times the potential in the seed? I believe the level of production is reflected by our level of dedication and effort, not by some pre-judged level God places on us.

I was called to pastor a relatively small church in a very small town for 30 years. The fact that someone else may have been called to pastor in a large city and have had much greater numbers is irrelevant to what “fold” I produce. I must give myself to the thing God gives to me. If I do, and if I sow and cultivate the Word, I can produce 100-fold. In man’s eyes my 100-fold may seem less than that of the big city pastor. In God’s eyes 100-fold is 100-fold.

If I plant smaller quantities of the Word and choose not to cultivate it as well, I may produce 60-fold or 30-fold. I believe the choice is mine. I do not believe that God gives some people a greater capacity for success than others. I believe we all can be 100-fold producers in the Kingdom.

Let me ask one more question. Is God displeased when we only produce 30-fold. God loves us. He is always going to encourage us as his children. However, the Bible is clear that part of that encouragement can be in the form of correction and even discipline. You are not going to get to heaven and hear God say, “You were only a 30-folder. You don’t get to go to the better part of heaven.”

Nevertheless, the bible is clear that there are rewards. I am quite certain that being in heaven and in the presence of God will be reward enough, but God does say there are other kinds of rewards. I know the most important reward will be to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” That said, are there some who will not hear it? I do not know but I do know I want to strive for all God has for me.

Some will produce 30-fold, some will produce 60-fold, and some will produce 100-fold. I know God will not bring condemnation upon us no matter what we produce. I do know that I want to be a 100-fold producer. I also know that many times I have not been. Sometimes it seems easier just to settle for 30-fold. There is less risk that way. We are less likely to be disappointed.

Here is the thing. If all we are concerned with is being comfortable and not failing, 30-fold is not bad. I can be a 30-fold success, no problem. However, if I shoot for 60-fold and get 40, I may feel disappointed. I may feel the need to press in more to God. I may need to look at some things in my life and make some changes. I may even have to repent of my sins. That is true but is not 40 more than 30?

You see if I go for 60 and only get 40, I may feel bad. I may feel challenged to do better but I have also been more productive in the Kingdom of God. If I am satisfied with 30, I may feel better about myself, but I have been less productive. We tend to want the “good feelings” more, do we not?

I believe everyone that is born again can be a 100-fold producer in the Kingdom of God. That has nothing to do with the outward methods men use to judge and everything to do with God’s call and our walking in that call to the best of our abilities. If I try to be a 100-fold producer, I will fail. I will risk discouragement and disappointment. However, with each discouragement or disappointment I will get closer to my goal. 40 is more productive than 30 and 70 more than 60. If I never get to 100-fold but consistently make 75-fold, think of how much more I will have done for God in the end. In the process I will have become closer to him, known him better and been more conformed to his likeness.

What does it take to be a 100-fold producer? That is what we will look at next.