We ARE the planting of the Lord. This is a beautiful word of encouragement given to all who believe in Jesus Christ. As believers, we need to come to the full understanding of what it means to be the planting of the Lord.
For the most part, man's understanding is darkened. We are not taught even the most basic principles of what is involved in being a servant of the Most High God. What is pleasing and acceptable to men should in no way be confused with what is pleasing and acceptable to God. Bear in mind, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Every Church and denomination has their own interpretations and teachings concerning: Salvation, Worship, Baptism, Righteousness, Sin, and God's Commandments. They all claim to have the truth and be the way, while contradicting and criticizing one another's methods and ideologies. Down through the ages God has allowed man to make choices. Ever since the Garden of Eden, man has had a free will. We need to wake up and realize that our thoughts are not what are important. The mind of God is what is going to make all the difference. Our heads are so full of the teachings and doctrines of men that many are clueless that they have accepted a polluted mixture. The state of the Church is about to undergo a radical cleansing. It is widely accepted that these are the last days, while there is little understanding of what that actually means. It is widely taught that Jesus is coming back for a pure Church, without spot or wrinkle. Yet there is a gross lack of understanding as to how to become that pure Church.
There is a desperate shortage of mature Christians today. The standard of measurement is no less than the fullness of Christ himself, yet in most Churches the Lord is set up as an unreachable, unattainable goal. Many are taught a lie from the very beginning that we can never be like Jesus, and then sidetracked into doing good works and furthering the agenda of the Church they attend. There are man's ways, and then there are Gods ways. It is time to have the veil of unbelief removed from the eyes of our understanding. Regardless of how noble or commendable man's agenda may appear, if God is not the author of it, it is still nothing more than wood, hay and stubble, and will be burned up at His appearing. When we are operating from the realm of carnal thinking and comprehension, we are operating from the exact same realm that the world is operating under. We have been called to a much higher standard. We have been called to live by and operate from the realm of the Spirit of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. We have been called to take up our own cross and follow in Jesus' footsteps. We are the planting of the Lord. As such, we no longer call the shots, God does.
What does it mean to be the planting of the Lord?
Examine the parable of the sower in the 13th Chapter of Matthew. We see from this parable given in verses 3-9 and the explanation Jesus gave the disciples in verses 18-23, that there is more involved than a one-time conversion experience.
The Wayside: Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up. When one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
The Gospel of Christ is the message of the kingdom. Every word that Jesus spoke is kingdom. The message of the kingdom is indiscernible to the natural man. To receive the word of the kingdom by the wayside is to hear the message of Christ with the natural ears but have no spiritual comprehension.
It will not change a man to simply hear about Jesus, without the unction of the Spirit. "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth (become fully acquainted with) any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal (take off the cover, disclose) him."
Demonstration of this truth is revealed in the multitudes of gatherings and movements worldwide that use the name of Jesus as a piece of merchandise, without the authorization of God or the spiritual power to back-up their claims. Lives are not changed; captives are not set free, because the people are operating from the carnal realm with no intervention or leading from the Spirit of God. To hear the word with no understanding benefits no one long term.
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Continuing, Stony Ground: "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith (at once, or soon) they sprung up, because they had no deepness (extent, mystery) of earth: and when the sun (light) was up (arose), they were scorched (burnt); and because they had no root, they withered away. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he no root in himself, but endureth for a while (temporarily): for when tribulation (pressure, trouble) or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (to entrap, trip up, stumble)." Those that represent the stony ground, are those who gladly receive the message at first. However they never make a real commitment to follow Christ. They want to receive the blessings but the minute they come under attack for their connection to the Word, their love grows cold and they turn away. They are not willing to suffer any kind of persecution for the word.
Among Thorns: And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (barren)." The thorns are the cares and riches of this world. We can receive the word (seed) of the kingdom message, and yet never develop a love of God that is greater than our love for the pleasures of life and the things of the world. The seed never grows within the heart of the hearer but is choked out. This is a matter of priorities that every believer will encounter. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (wealth)." In recent years we have seen an increase in 'name it and claim it' teachings within the Church. Many are trying to keep a hand in both sides; their born again state as well as the material riches of the world. This holds great appeal to our flesh but is in direct contrast to our calling. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." We can only serve one master. Either we willingly give God the preeminence in all things in our hearts, or we keep self on the throne.
Good Ground: "But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth (be fertile) fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." Three things will happen in the life of this hearer of the word. First he listens, hears and receives the word into his heart. Second he comprehends the word. This is not by intellect but by the revelation of the Spirit. Because he received and understood the word, his life is changed, his priorities are rearranged and brought into alignment with the desires of God's heart. Because of this he bears much fruit. In this parable our Lord gave us insight into the heart conditions of those who hear the Word of God. (The wayside, the stony ground, the thorns, the good ground.) He did this for our enlightenment, that we might gain understanding. We are all individuals. We all possess a free will. The same Word was planted in each of the above hearts, yet with very different results. The difference was not in the power of the word that each hearer received. The difference was in the way in which they received the word. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Jesus Christ was the Word made flesh. It is by the act of believing that the power in the Word is released within our hearts and lives. Nothing will stop your spiritual growth faster than unbelief.
The seed is every Word that Jesus spoke. The Gospel that Jesus gave us was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. To keep the Lord's commandments is to daily crucify our flesh. To daily crucify our flesh and live by the Spirit is to grow up into Christ, to be in this world but not of this world. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except (unless) a corn of wheat (seed) fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose (destroy) it; and he that hateth (to detest, love less) his life in this world shall keep (through the idea of isolation, to watch, guard, preserve) it unto life eternal. If any man serve (be an attendant, wait upon) me, let him follow (accompany, be in the same way with) me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."
We are that grain of wheat that stands alone unless we purposefully die to this world. If we determine to become a servant of God, to wait upon the Spirit no longer acting from our fleshly impulses, we will see the results we longed for but never achieved when acting from our own strength and wisdom. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power (ability, privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe (have faith, entrust; especially ones spiritual well being to Christ) on his name." We are the earth (ground; made from the dust of the earth) that the seed (word of God) is planted in. We determine whether the seed will grow and flourish or wither and die. We determine how intimate a relationship with God we develop. This is done by believing, obeying and growing in the reverential fear of the Lord. If we want to dwell in the presence of God, to experience the leading and protection of the Spirit of God, we must become the servants of God. "But now O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand."
Multitudes take the first step of accepting the Salvation message, but never grow up into Christ. Instead we are taught and follow the teachings of men. Instead of learning what Jesus said, and following Christ (keeping all of His commandments), we follow the tenets of a denomination. We are unskilled in discerning spiritual things. We are ignorant of the responsibilities we have been charged to keep. We are surrounded by form without substance. "God is the same yesterday, today and forever." The Word does not change to accommodate the understanding of man; man must change to accommodate the Word. "I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts." Twenty-first century Christians are no different than those individuals that heard the Word of the Lord in the Old Testament but refused to change their hearts or their way of thinking.
We are the planting of the Lord. When God moves through a believer, it is to demonstrate His glory. If we refuse to die to our flesh and grow up into Christ, we will succumb to the danger of receiving to ourselves the glory that belongs only to God. Seldom does man remember that God can speak through any material thing He created. He spoke through the mouth of the ass of Balaam (read the 22nd Chapter of Numbers). No flesh shall glory in God's presence. Without the proper perspective of Who God is, and who we are, we will never grow into the trees of righteousness the seed will produce. The reason for this is simple. "Because when God called, we did not answer; when God spoke to us, we did not hear; but did evil before God's eyes, and chose those things in which God did not delight."
We are called to be the servants of the Most High God. Until we accept our calling as a servant we will never grow in the knowledge of God. There is a significant difference between those who willingly (even joyfully) accept being a servant, and those who refuse to humble themselves before God. "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit." If we really want to receive the blessings, protection and provision of God in this world, we have to comply with what God wants, casting off our own wants. All of these things are brought about as a result of the choices we make.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." One of the greatest pitfalls we all will face when God gives us a spiritual gift, is that of developing spiritual pride because of the way God is using us (remember Balaam's donkey). When God uses an individual it is not because they possess any special spiritual attributes in or of themselves, but because God chose to use them to display His Spiritual attributes in this fallen world. Always remember that when God uses us to draw other men to know God, we must resist the temptation to think of ourselves more highly than we should; HE could just as easily have used an ass. We are the planting of the Lord. God desires for each and every individual that receives the seed of the Word to grow into a tree of righteousness, that HE might be glorified.
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." A mighty, spreading oak does not become so overnight. It takes time to mature. It must weather all the storms and assaults of nature (this natural world). It must send its roots deep into the earth to remain fixed when the winds and rain beat upon it. If we would become a mighty oak (a tree of righteousness), we must have our foundation firmly established on Jesus Christ (the chief cornerstone). We must keep His commandments, we must take up our own cross and follow His example. The acorn is the seed. It has the potential to become a mighty oak tree. But all the conditions must be right for it to do so. We are not an acorn. We have been given a free will. We make decisions. We choose to believe and obey, or to rebel and follow after our own thoughts and the imaginations of our own hearts.
The road to becoming a mighty tree, a planting of the Lord, is strewn with sorrow and heaviness of heart. Our joy and our strength are found in our relationship with Christ. Why should we desire to become a tree? Why should we desire to face the storms of persecution and endure the pain? "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord." If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? For the joy and privilege of knowing God. "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of the vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
And what shall these who become trees of righteousness do? "They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations." Vs. 6 "But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves." They shall be used by God for the restoration of this world back to God. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
"Without a vision the people perish." Keeping with the allegory of people being trees, notice Joel 1:12, "The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men." Perceiving the trees as different people, and the field as the world, we can glean from the definitions in this verse deeper meaning to apply to our lives today. The vine is dried up means to be ashamed, confused or disappointed. The fig tree languishes means to droop, to be sick, or to mourn. Pomegranate tree means upright growth. Palm tree means to be erect. The apple tree is known for its fragrance, or fruit. "Even all of the trees of the field are withered." Those who have received the Word of God, and begun to grow in the Lord from every kindred, tribe and nation are in a sickly state spiritually speaking. Reading on in chapter 1 we see that all the people are sick, from the leaders on down. The people are not sacrificing properly. Few today know or have been taught what an acceptable sacrifice to God is. Many never even give it any consideration, saying "We are under Grace, we don't offer blood sacrifices any more." We may not slay bulls and lambs and offer them on an altar to God, but we certainly have not been exonerated from making sacrifices. "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (ministration of God, that is, worship)."
We are all confronted today with choices. What kind of soil am I made of? What will I choose to do with the seed that God plants within my heart? Will I be a sick or diseased tree, or will I grow into an upright, erect, righteous tree? God has given us all the tools we need to be an overcomer. When Jesus said "it is finished," he proclaimed that he had fulfilled all that was needed for man's restoration into right standing with God. This is very serious and we should not take lightly what we do not understand or comprehend. "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." We have not because we ask not, or because we ask amiss, that we may consume it upon our own lusts. Consider what Jesus went on to say, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
We need to give serious consideration to the Words above. Why do you think Peter said, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" Peter knew what he was speaking of from personal experience. He had believed to the best of his ability when he walked with the Lord Jesus during his earthly ministry. Yet at the end he had denied the very Lord whom he loved, not once but three times. In the upper room Peter was endued with power from on high when he received the Holy Ghost whom Jesus had promised to send. We can read of the lessons Peter learned in the book of Acts and 1st & 2nd Peter. He knew first hand that the cost of following Jesus was our very life. He knew that only as we became a living sacrifice could we enter into the life in Christ we are called to live. In his later life Peter walked in such a power and anointing of God that people would literally bring their sick out into the streets on the chance that Peter's shadow might fall on them when he passed by and they would be healed. Peter witnessed firsthand the price that Jesus paid for our salvation, and he never underestimated what it meant to be called to follow Christ.
Right now God is calling out to all who will hear him. He is preparing His many-membered body to become the army of the Lord spoken of in Joel 2. We all are the planting of the Lord. The enemy is using everything he has at his disposal to cause the planting of the Lord to wither and die. We can be more than overcomers. We possess not only the Son, but also they Father and the Holy Spirit within our hearts. We can accomplish nothing for the kingdom of God in our own strength. But as we become a servant of the Lord, as we walk in the Spirit and mortify our flesh, as we walk in absolute obedience to all of His commandments, God within will raise us up to be the strong, erect, fruitful trees of righteousness that He desires for us to become.