Dead Kernels


      "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." John 12:24...."We serve in a kingdom of wheat kernels, mustard seeds, and hidden pearls - small things with huge impact.  The world cannot see their value......Do not be discouraged if your faithful service to God has imperceptible results.  They are imperceptible only to the naked eye.  They are highly valued in the eternal kingdom, where those who give away their lives find them again."  Chris Tiegreen......"Sacrifice releases power.  The greater the sacrifice, the greater the power released."  John Wimber
     We live in a results oriented culture and that culture has succeeded in its invasion of the church.  Most have memorized the Lord's words that "there is reward for your work."  Our problem lies in the fact that we believe the reward should be now, and the sooner "now" comes, the better.  In truth, that reward does come now, but it is a "now" defined and carried out in a way set by Him, and not us.  This can be, and is, very frustrating to our flesh.  We are created by Him to achieve, but we most often stumble about trying to achieve what we think matters most, instead of what He calls us to lay hold of.  The reward we think He offers often has more to do with our own sense of worth.  A worth that is bolstered by notoriety, recognition, and applause.  We want to build something, something that lasts.  Something that gives us a legacy.  A monument to ourselves, though we wouldn't really call it that.  Ministry, profession, even family, we want to make something, and we want to see the fruit of that something right now.  We're after "trophies" but the problem is, His trophy looks markedly different from ours.  Ours is golden and glittering.  His is a crude, rough cross.
     Scripture says that He "placed eternity in our hearts," and so we are created and born with a desire to enter into the fullness of His eternity.  All of that was poisoned and misdirected with the entrance of sin into the human race.  A yearning, focus, set to achieve all the fullness of He and His Life, came to be a yearning and focus on achieving  the fulfillment of our own.  That desire becomes a tyrant, and a cruel one at that.  Christ alone can break it, and then redirect those yearnings unto the Father.  Yet even after a saving encounter with Him, that "tyrant" will lurk about, seeking to regain mastery over us, indeed, it will require an ever deepening work of His grace to ensure that we don't return again to his chains.  To what degree does that tyrant still lurk around, even within us?
    I'm a pastor, so most of my perspective comes from that view, but this tyrant is not selective.  He seeks us all.  In ancient Egypt, the pyramids were constructed by use of slave labor, and were meant to be not only tombs, but monuments to the lives of those buried within.  In Genesis, those who lorded it over the Israelites were called "taskmasters."  I wonder how closely in my years of ministry I have been such to the people He entrusted me with?  How much of my focus was on driving them to help me build a monument to myself through what I called "ministry?"  I don't have to wonder, for I know that the answer is "too many years."  Far too many.  He called me, entrusted me to shepherd His people, but intent on reaching my goals, achieving my ends, I ended up driving them instead.  I didn't see it that way.  I believed I was doing good, reaching the lost, teaching them to desire that as well.  Those are good things, but we so easily tie our own egos into such, and it ends up being mostly about us, and not others.  The desires may be good, but the means we fall into to reach them are not.  We've become taskmasters.  Will we remain so?
     I titled this entry "Dead Kernels" because it is only by truly dying to ourselves that we can really live in and be made use of by Him.  It may not feel like that, or look like it, but it is not our definition of it all that matters.  Just His.  Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet was a failure by all contemporary measurements, yet His words spoke and continue to speak Life to us more than 2500 years later.  Paul, chained in a prison cell, could not have known how the words he wrote, directed by the Holy Spirit, would still minister freedom and life 2000 years after his death in that prison.  Christ, believed even by His disciples to have miserably failed, breathes Life, freedom, peace, joy, grace, by way of a cross that all thought was His end, but led instead to His glorious resurrection.  All, especially our Lord, lived with eternity in view.  Indeed, they lived in eternity.  Those who truly labor in His name will leave no legacy for themselves but that of a life that pointed only to Him, living lives that draw others to Him.  Taskmasters no more, but shepherds, followers, indeed, friends of the King, and citizens of His Kingdom.  What greater legacy could there be than that?  Will it be ours?

Pastor O
   May 2019   
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