I’m Dying

Bible Study verses:  John 12:24-25  (NIV & The Message bible)

john12-24
King James Version

New International Version –

[24]  “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

The MESSAGE –

24-25  “Listen carefully:  Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.  But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.  In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

THE SEED PRINCIPLE –

“If you keep the SEED out of the ground, all you have is the SEED.  But when that SEED is planted and then it grows…end of story.  Bury it and it rises.”  [“Are You Dead Yet?” by Michael Walker]

Sounds a lot like RESURRECTION to me!

1 Corinthians 15:36-37 (NIV):

1 Corinthians 15:36
1 Corinthians 15:36

“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed…”

DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE!

JESUS knows at this point this is His last week on earth.  He knows He is going to be betrayed, beaten, crucified and will die by weeks end.

Since JESUS knows this will be His final week through His preaching, teaching and example, JESUS decides He will take His disciples into some deeper water; make them dive into the deep end of the pool.

JESUS presents not ONE, not TWO, but THREE examples of a Dichotomy for us all as Disciples, followers of Christ Jesus to examine.  So lets all ‘jump in the pool.’

So what is a “DICHOTOMY”?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,  [4] : something with seemingly contradictory qualities; a paradox (synonym) is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses the truth.

In verses 24-26, Jesus shares three important principles of “dichotomy’s” pertaining to our lives.

John 12:24 (AMP):

I assure you, most solemnly I tell you. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

THE FIRST DICHOTOMY is introduced to the crowd.

DEATH can produce LIFE!

Jesus is trying to let the listeners know that His time is short; He is not going to be the type of Messiah they were expecting.

In the following verses of John chapter 12, verses 27-34, Jesus speaks of His impending departure and when you drop down to verse 34, the crowd seems obviously confused.

“We have learned from the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; how then can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross’?”

The DICHOTOMY presented in this verse is the FACT that DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE.

JESUS uses the example of a grain of wheat.  For it to produce fruit, it has to be put in the ground–then has to DIE in order for it to produce visible fruit.

In context, Jesus is speaking of Himself; how His impending DEATH and subsequent resurrection will be a fruitful event for ALL who will follow Him.

Jesus must DIE giving His life to bring LIFE to us today.

  • When a SEED dies, it produces fruit.  
  • LIFE comes by DEATH.

This principle is true not only in nature but also true spiritually.  When you take a moment and meditate on Jesus’ words, it is directed to our spiritual life.

We must DIE in Christ in order for us to become FRUITFUL spiritually.

Certain changes occur when seed is planted underground.

  • The HARD dry shell softens.

the_seed_by_paweljoncaWhen we are separated from God because of our sin, we need to be born again. The old self (the ‘outer hard shell’) needs to DIE.

Romans 6:5-7 (NIV):

If we have been united with Him like this in death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.  For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

This is spoken in context of one who has been BAPTIZED in to Christ Jesus.

When we are immersed into Christ, our old body of SIN is crucified and DEATH frees us from SIN.

The apostle Paul struggled with this principle in his life as many do today as well.

Philippians 1:20-25 (NIV):

[20] I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [25] Convinced of this, I know I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,…

PAUL was well aware that the end of his physical life was not the end of his existence,  He also knew that he was here on earth for a purpose.

Our life isn’t about getting through it as shortly or quickly as possible, it is about savoring every moment along the way, making sure that we maximize our life for Christ.

VERSE 25 is our next Paradox –

“In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”  (The Message).

We have a tendency to think that if we hold on to something really tight we’ll not lose our grip or… that we will do better by holding on tightly.  We do this with our possessions at times, and our relationships.  We can hold on so tight…that we smother the other person, even driving them off.

Jesus tells the crowd that whoever loves their life will lose it.  Now that sounds a bit awkward at first reading. 

This phrase reflects the ‘hard coating of the seed’ and denotes someone who lives only to serve themselves.

Jesus is not telling us not to enjoy life, but He is calling us to a high calling.  Think about that for a moment.  The one who loves his life is the one who only lives to serve themselves.  The presented issues here is…

  • WHO IS FIRST IN MY LIFE?
  • WHAT IS MY PRIORITY?

Your priorities reveal who you really love.  When we live for self, we risk the danger of losing the very thing we are trying to hold on to.

When we LOVE SELF more than we LOVE GOD, we will come up very short in the end.

LOVE is SACRIFICIAL–

Many people look at the word SACRIFICE as being a four-letter word.  When you look at the other end of the bible verse (v. 25), you see Jesus speaking of hating (King James Version) their life and how that will gain them life.

When you LOVE God and willing to lose your life, then the things of this world are hated in contrast to the things of God.  JESUS doesn’t mean we are to HATE our life, but rather OUR LOVE for God is so great…our LOVE of life pales in comparison!

This VERSE is a play on the Greek term psyche, which refers to the essence of a human’s personality or life force (Matthew 10:39; 16:25).   [see FOOTNOTE [i].]

Once someone TRUSTS CHRIST, they are given a NEW Life.  And this NEW LIFE is a gift from God for service, not for personal use.

BELIEVERS are STEWARDS of this new life.

We are freed from slavery to sin and to become SERVANTS of God.

“If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me…”  (Luke 9:23 AMP).

PAUL goes even deeper.

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

THIS LEADS RIGHT INTO VERSE 26 –

John 12:26 The MESSAGE:

“If any of you wants to serve me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moments notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

Being a SERVANT in this life gives you the highest honor.

The DICHOTOMY is this:  When you look around, it seems those who are being served have made it in this world.  Who doesn’t want an entourage around them to take care of all their needs.  Those are the folks who seem to get the highest honor.  In this life that may be true.

But in ETERNITY…

JESUS is telling us the one who will be honored is the one who serves.  

Look at Matthew 23:11-12:

[11] “The greatest among you will be your servant.  [12] For whoever exalts himself will be humbles, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”  (NIV Bible).

John 12:26 gives us some insight on how we can tell if we LOVE self more than Jesus.

JESUS equates SERVING Him with following Him with our words, and our physical bodies in continuance.  Jesus’ words in verse 26 speaks to our ongoing RELATIONSHIP that leads us to follow!

We FOLLOW Jesus by serving Him, and by SERVING…we maintain our relationship with Him.

The issue of SERVING comes down to our commitment, love and priorities.  When these line up we are in good shape.

When we live for SELF, we are living with an empty existence which eventually leads you to a dead-end! 

dead end sign

THE PARADOXES OF LIFE

JESUS shares the Paradoxes with us, now we have to decide what to do with them.

IGNORE them or EMBRACE them.

In verses 35-36, Jesus is calling the crowd gathered to BELIEVE in Him:

[35] “You will have the Light only a little while longer.  Walk while you have the Light [keep on living by it], so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes [he is drifting].  

[36] While you have the Light, BELIEVE in the Light [have faith in it, hold to it, rely on it]. that you may become sons of the Light and be filled with Light…” (AMP).

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

 

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i]:  Bible Hub/Strong’s Concordance #5590, ‘psuche’; psyche.

Commentary:  Tony Abram Abundant Life Crusades 11 Jan. 1996 notes on “CORN”

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations as noted:  NIV- New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible; MESSAGE – the Message Bible; KJV – King James Version 

 

DOING and SAYING the Things God Expects Us to Do and Say

1 PETER 4:10-11 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

[10]  As each of you has received a gift (a particular talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits]  good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [FAITHFUL STEWARDS of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].

[11]  Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be GLORIFIED through Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  To Him be the glory  and dominion forever and ever (through endless ages).  Amen (so be it).

ELIEZER of DAMASCUS–

Abraham and Eliezer
Abraham and Eliezer

Eliezer certainly wasn’t the most prominent of Bible Characters, and yet, he played a significant role in the life of Abraham where identified as “a steward of Abraham.”

“And Abram said, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am going on [from this world] childless and he who shall be the owner and heir of my house is this [steward] Eliezer of Damascus?”  (Genesis 15:2).

What is a “steward”?

In the OT [Old Testament]; a man who is ‘over a house’.

In the NT [New Testament]; two words translated “steward”:  epitropos (Mt. 20:8; Gal. 4:2). i.e. one to whose care or honor on has been entrusted, a curator, a guardian, and… oikonomos, the Greek word use in 1 Peter 4:10.  i.e. a manager, a superintendent – from oikos (‘house’) and nemo,u (‘to dispense‘ or ‘to manage’). 

The word is used to describe the function of delegated responsibility.

So, with that meaning in mind, ALL things are Christ’s and Christians are His executors or “stewards”–

In the case of Eliezer, he had to manage ALL of Abraham’s ‘stuff’, and boy, Abram had a lot to manage!

“Now Abram was extremely rich

in livestock and in silver and in gold.”

(Gen. 13:2).

ELIEZER, himself, mentions how great the responsibility was in Genesis 24:34-35:  flocks, herds, silver, gold, men servants, maidservants, camels, and asses.  That is a lot of STUFF!

As a STEWARD, his task was making sure that he was prompting Abraham in his best interests.  Over January 2012 062the years, Abraham had found ELIEZER to be faithful and dependable and chose him to carry-out an important errand–to find a woman who believed in the one true God.  He found Rebekah for his son Isaac and the rest is history.

No matter what Abraham placed in Eliezer’s hands, he was found to be faithful and dependable promoting his master’s best interests.  Over the years, Abraham and Eliezer had become more than a master/servant, but in relationship, had become trusted friends.

ELIEZER is an ideal example for us to imitate–

In 1 Peter 4:10, we’re told to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (KJV and NAS).

Now, everything belongs to GOD: “Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth also, with all that is in it and on it”  (Deuteronomy 10:14).

Even though GOD owns all things, He entrusts us with a portion of His possessions.  In His “manifold grace” He grants us ALL that we have and enjoy in this life.  We are then STEWARDS of what GOD gives us!

On what basis are we to be judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ stewards?

VERSE 11 tells us that we are good stewards when…we use all that we are given to promote GOD’S best interests–“so that in all things God may be glorified.”

THREE THINGS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO EACH ONE OF US TO “GLORIFY”:

1.  SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

The primary focus of 1 Peter 4:10-11, is to use our spiritual gifts Again verse 10: ‘As each one has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment – Amplified Bible)–“employ it for one another, as good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [‘faithful stewards’].

Look carefully what is said and meditate on the certain truths that are taught in this verse:

FIRST, Peter informs each of us we’ve been given a “special gift”.  There is not a single member of the Church assembly who has not received from GOD a GIFT.

SECONDLY, we are to notice the enablement–to ‘serve one another’ in the assembly.  These GIFTS grant us the ability to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  Each GIFT represents a ministry that GOD calls us to perform within the congregation.

THIRDLY, only as we actively “employ” our special gift are we “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  ~ adopt, utilize, apply; engage, hire, use, ‘put-to-work’.

THE APOSTLE PAUL’S ADMONISHMENT:

Romans 12:6-8 speaks to us. in regards to being FAITHFUL, in the Use of Our Gifts.

[6]  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them:  [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;

[7]  [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;

[8]  He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.

“Unopened Gifts”

I happened to run across this great story late last night by Rosalind Renshaw, date 10/2/91:

How come you’ve left so many gifts unopened on the floor?  They have your name on them, they belong to you, they are yours for the taking–if only you will receive them.  What is that you say?  That they can’t be yours, you have your share already.  They must be someone elses. There must be some mistake?  You’re afraid of what so-and-so will say when they see you unwrapping that gift–you fear their reaction, their envy.  Go open up your package, see what is inside your gift box.  You’ll be amazed at how I knew exactly what to give you–the perfect fit for you right now–in fact, just what you’ve always wanted, but you didn’t know it.  Go on, open it!  You can trust Me.  I am the Master gift-giver.  I never make mistakes or give the wrong size, or color, or fit.  But, please do hurry and open it, to enjoy it and to share it with others, so they can benefit from your gift too.  That’s My whole purpose of giving gifts…not for you to put them back in the box, to keep them safe or even put them in a glass cabinet, to look at and admire.  No, all My gifts are for My children to use, to help their brothers and sisters, not to make anyone else jealous or feel less fortunate.  As I said, I see a number of unopened packages, gift wrapped especially for you.  They are yours!  I’m right here, waiting, longing to see you unwrap them, and to see the look of joy and wonder on your face.

We Each Have Different Gifts Given to Us:

Each GIFT given to the ‘re-birthed’–and this is an important first step.  None is more important than any other and only when each of us actively uses our GIFT can a church body grow as GOD intends.

EPHESIANS 4:15-16 says,

“we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, cause the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

Are we using our gift(s)?  Are we performing the ministry that GOD has called us to?  We will be judged by how faithful we used our gift(s), as much as how diligently we lived the life of righteousness and worshiped GOD properly?  (Matthew 25:14).

2.  OUR TIME

The second area where we need to be GOOD STEWARDS is the use of the time GOD grants us.

Even though the length of our lives seem so long when we are young, the truth is…LIFE IS SHORT!  I’ve asked myself over the years in my Christian life, “Am I being a good steward of the precious time that GOD continues to give me?”

Paul writes in Ephesians, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil”  (Eph. 5:15-16 NIV).

Are we, as good stewards, investing time in ACTIVITIES that promote GOD”S interests and glory?

Are we investing time now in the ACTIVITIES that will pay dividends in eternity?

Or, are we wasting valuable time that GOD has graciously given to us, engaging in ACTIVITIES, that have absolutely no spiritual significance?

How much TIME do we devote to self-improvement?

We all have weaknesses in our lives.  We all have faults.  The question becomes, how much TIME and EFFORT do we dedicate to changing our practices and habits?

How much TIME do I use, to make myself a better person, so that my light might shine brighter for GOD?

3.  MONEY!

The third and last area to discuss is our STEWARDSHIP OF MONEY.

It’s so easy for us to forget what we think of as OUR MONEY–what is actually GOD”S money (Ezekiel 16:17; Haggai 2:8).

The income which we have is given to us by our GIFT-GIVER; our GOD, to meet our basic needs but, above all, to promote His interests and glory.

When we steward GOD’S money, what is the appropriate amount to set-aside?

Every Lord’s Day, GOD’S people are encouraged to give–Scripturaly and doctrinally.  The question we need to ask ourselves, is whether or not, as STEWARDS OF GOD’S MONEY, do we contribute or offer an appropriate amount?

When my wife and I were SAVED–born-again in 1972, the issue of “giving” our money to the church, was an issue.  In our minds, there wasn’t room in the budget to “give”…period!  Much less, a tithe!!

The pastor who led us to Christ could point to Scripture about tithing all he wanted, but we just couldn’t and wouldn’t make room to GIVE!

But then the Holy Spirit’s “Light bulb” came on as we matured in Christ Jesus and has stayed on ever since; even during bad economic times in our family when things looked dark–repeated unemployment; low pay; no health insurance for a growing family.

THE TRUTH ON GIVING IN 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 NKJV:

16  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:  2 On the first day on the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

When we go about determining how much we are to give and frequently focus our attention on “as he may prosper”, then we are tempted to adjust our thinking in giving.

Often we interpret the phrase “net profit”; that is, in accordance to what money we have left over after expenses of other worldly activities.  We GIVE GOD a “cut” of whatever is left over.

However, that’s not what Paul is talking about.  The phrase “as he prospers” is referring to what GOD has prospered us with, before we begin to divide it up!  It is based upon our “gross” earnings before expenses.  In other words, GOD expects His cut first; He wants the first fruits of our labor.

There is the story about a little boy who had two quarters, one for ice cream and one for giving to church on Sunday.  Unfortunately, he accidentally dropped one of the quarters in a storm sewer.  “Well, Lord,” said the boy, “there goes your quarter.”

We are tempted to be just like that little boy in the story.  We get our pay-checks, divvy it up to this and that and when we find we have little or nothing left-over for GOD…we say, ‘Sorry Lord, maybe we can give more next time.’   GOD calls that ROBBERY! (Malachi 3:8-12).

You may be thinking right now, the Scriptures you referenced, about GOD”S money, really doesn’t apply in today’s world.  That’s Old Testament Law! 

THAT THINKING would be incorrect.  The apostle Paul repeats the same message in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (AMP):

[6]  [Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.  [7] Let each one [give] as he has made his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].  [8]  And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].

As GOOD STEWARDS; trustees, we put GOD”S interest and glory first…even in the church offering each week.

What a privilege it is to be chosen by GOD to be His stewards.  May we all take our role seriously and glorify our Lord and Savior.