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Seeds of Life

True confession: For many years, I sensed a certain futility to life, even though living it as a believer in Christ Jesus. So we are born, raised to be aspirational, toil to “make a living,” raise our children to be aspirational, and then we die. And so it goes, generation after generation. But as I sat beside my step-father’s deathbed during his final hours, I sensed something completely different: it was as if watching a seed dying, waiting to fall to the ground and spring forth into something far greater, unimaginably glorious, and unfading in splendor. Baptized into Christ in his later years, his faith evidenced itself in growing humility, grace and peace. God had done a marvelous work in him, and now He was working through this dying man to grow me up a bit in faith, hope, and understanding.

The apostle Paul taught that, without Christ, we are, in a way, dead men walking: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world.”1 “At that time you were separate from Christ,” he explained, “without hope and without God in the world.”2 People across generations and cultures sense not only a life beyond this one, but also the existence of an Authority over it, for we strive to earn a place in a world still to come, yet not knowing how. We are, in this sense, “held in slavery by [our] fear of death.”3 But praise God for bringing hope to our hopelessness and closing the gap that stood between us, for Paul continues, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”4 For the believer, separation from God is already a thing of the past, and our life in Christ is now and forever new.

Then what can we say about life that blooms where death once reigned?

Eternal life is a gift of divine love, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16

Everlasting life begins the moment we entrust our soul to God through faith in His Son, who said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.”—John 5:24

We enter into life as a people forgiven: “When you were dead in your sins . . . God made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”—Colossians 2:13

We live with fresh purpose, “He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.”—1 Peter 2:24 NASB

These verses are words of truth; they are seeds of life. God, grant us the humility to receive them, the strength to trust them, and the honor to plant them. Amen.

1 Ephesians 2:1-2 ESV
2 Ephesians 2:12
3 Hebrews 2:15
4 Ephesians 2:13

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Seeds of Reconciliation

Despite our contrasting views of who God is and what He is like, most people relate to the expression, “finding peace with God.” Now if we can identify with the quest to find such peace—or the jubilation of having done so—then the sense of separation from God must also be an experience common to humanity, for our shared pursuit of peace with God exposes the discord that exists between us in the first place.1

This excerpt from my first book, Christ in Me, observes the universal quest of finding peace with God. How striking its timelessness, for Augustine’s confession from centuries ago still speaks for us today: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.”2 Oh, how we strive to close the gap between us. Yet the One we seek is more intent restoring us to Himself than we are. As I continued in Christ in Me, “Are we troubled by the separation between us? It bothers Him even more, not as One who needs us, but as One who loves us; not as One who is helpless to unite us, but as the only One who can bring us peace.”3

We have begun a short series on “seeds that bear fruit”—Scriptures that speak truth to the human condition while proclaiming God’s liberating grace in its various forms. We began last week with three Bible passages that both declare the gravity of our sin and proclaim God’s provision of forgiveness through Christ Jesus. Today, let’s absorb two passages that simultaneously acknowledge our separation from God and celebrate His loving initiative of reconciliation.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13 NIV

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22 NIV

Meditate on these verses this week; memorize these words of restoration. Blend them into your own story of reconciliation with God through sacrificial death and life-bearing resurrection of Jesus Christ. They may become words of life to a restless heart seeking to find peace with God.

Father, thank You for Your seeking, finding and uniting love. So fill us with gratitude and joy that we would readily and eagerly share the message of reconciliation with those who are separated from You. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Paul Nordman, Christ in Me, (Maitland, Florida: Xulon Press), 29.
2 Augustine, Saint Bishop of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Rex Warner. (New York: The New American Library, 1963), 17.
3 Nordman, Christ in Me, 29.

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Seeds of Forgiveness

I have seen much in my 40-plus years as a believer in Christ Jesus, but nothing as powerful as a Kairos Prison Ministry Weekend. As an inmate once mused, “Look around this room. In just three days, the love you [volunteers] brought here has cut through these hardened men and entire lifetimes of hatred and anger. This can only be God.” Kairos observes some foundational practices that are effective in sharing the transforming love and forgiveness that are found in Christ, one of which is this: We do not come seeking commitments, rather we come planting seeds of truth and love; any spiritual “harvest” will be God’s doing in His own time.

Jesus used the “planting of seeds” as an analogy of speaking the Word of God: it falls on different kinds of hearts and over time, it produces spiritual life and growth in those who accept it. And to His disciples, he said that, of sowing and reaping, it is actually sowing that is “the hard work.”1 So over the next few weeks, let’s devote ourselves to meditating on “seeds” that bear fruit—Scriptures that speak life and truth to the human condition and produce a harvest of spiritual birth and growth in its time. We begin today with three passages, each of which acknowledges the gravity of our sin and celebrates God’s provision of forgiveness.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14 NIV)

All of these verses breathe hope into hopelessness. Each exhales a confession of our sin and inhales the cleansing breath of God’s forgiveness, a pardon at great cost, one that cannot be taken away. So let’s think on these truths and the new life they proclaim. Better yet, why not memorize them, so that we may be prepared to plant the Word in wrestling hearts as the Spirit leads us to do so?

Father, thank You for those who planted seeds of truth into my life, for through Your Word, You have saved me. Grace me to grow in knowledge and incline my heart to Your Spirit, that I might sow Your Word on the paths of human hearts. May there be harvest—rich, Kingdom harvest. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Mark 4:34-38