What’s so special about mustard seed?

BirdInMustardTree“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” (Matt. 13:31-32 KJV)

“And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” (Luke 17:6)

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. He also said, if you had faith as a grain of mustard seed you could do miracles.

Why did he use mustard seed to compare those things?

Mustard seed, he said, is the least of all seeds. And it is tiny, very tiny. But if left alone to grow, that one tiny seed will make a bushy tree large enough for birds to nest. Okay, that’s pretty neat.

But that’s not the most important thing about a grain of mustard seed. Not the essential thing.

The seed has to be alive or it won’t grow. You can prepare the soil, plant the seed with care, water and feed it, cultivate and weed it. But if the seed is dead, it will just rot in the ground. It must be alive.

Seeds are fascinating to me. Do you know where all the plants on earth came from, to begin with?

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so.” (Gen. 1:11, NASB)

Also notice: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind’; and it was so.” (Gen. 1:24 NASB)

So, did God make the plants first? Or did he make the seeds first? Interesting question! Actually he made the dirt first. The seeds were contained in the earth itself. Plants and animals came from that earth, including Adam himself.

The point is this: God imparted life to the seeds. Every seed of every kind since then has needed that supernatural, God-given life to survive and to thrive. Even the tiniest of mustard seeds. (Of course, if you never plant a seed… you know what I mean.)

Well, where does the kind of faith Jesus meant come from? It’s not the normal, ordinary, human-only belief. This faith is a gift, freely-given but requiring a willing recipient. Grace is free, but it’s not automatic.

Jesus was blunt when he confronted his own disciples about their lack of faith. Didn’t they have it? If they did, most of them didn’t exhibit it on those occasions.

Only Peter walked on water, the rest didn’t even attempt to. Mustard-seed faith, even that tiniest of tiny faith, was powerful enough to create the entire universe. And later it would be powerful enough to take the Gospel around the world.

Over the years I’ve written and taught a lot about seeds, and about faith. Here are links to several of those articles. Hope you’ll click and read.

Dutch Sheets: Worth Waiting For: ‘My Weighty Presence and My Heavyweights’

Worth Waiting For: “My Weighty Presence and My Heavyweights” Dutch Sheets, Dallas, TX

Some of us probably don’t catch it as we read the Scriptures. Moses and his servant, Joshua, waited on Mount Sinai for 6 days before the Lord called to Moses and invited him into the cloud of God’s glory. Have you ever wondered what these two men did during those 6 days, while God remained silent?

We often don’t realize either, that after Moses had disappeared into the cloud, young Joshua remained on the mountain – alone, amidst the cloud of thunderous lightning – for another 34 days. It was possibly this season that caused him to be such a lover of God’s presence. Once they had come down from the mountain, even after Moses would leave the tent of meeting, Joshua would remain inside as the cloud of the Lord’s glory hovered over it.

Scripture does not tell us exactly what Joshua did during these times in or near God’s presence, but it was in the context of studying these fascinating passages from the book of Exodus that the Lord spoke these five words to me: “Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.” There are several words and definitions of the Hebrew words for wait. As I heard each “wait,” I knew in my spirit which meaning He was emphasizing.

Five “Waits”

1. The first “wait” the Lord spoke to me means to wait with quiet trust. It is a form of waiting that is built upon deep relational trust. When we have come to know the Lord well enough, our hearts can be still and trust in Him in the midst of life’s worst storms. Papa Moses may have influenced young Joshua in this area, but Joshua knew enough about the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord for himself, that he didn’t need for God to speak to Him or show Him any wonders in order for Him to be at peace within the cloud that terrified others.

2. The second “wait” is the more commonly thought of, waiting patiently. It is from the place of trust developed through intimate relationship that we come to know, without a doubt, that God will eventually come through, and we are content in the waiting. When I had my first vision of awakening about 25 years ago, had I known that it would take this long to see the beginnings of it, I might not have been very patient to wait for it. But if He were to tell me right now that I have to wait another 25 years to see the fullness of this next great move of God, I can wait for it patiently. I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that He is always faithful to His promises, and He is always right.

3. The third “wait” implies an active faith. We may possess a deep relational trust in God, but that faith requires action. We must wait on the Lord with action while being full of expectancy for what He has promised, rather than just sitting back and hoping or wondering if He will come through. Your assurance that God will move compels you to live a life of radical obedience, make bold declarations, and take risky steps of faith without losing heart if there is a prolonged season before seeing any fruit. You rest assured in God’s promise that you and your generations will reap of what you sow.

4. The fourth “wait” means to be braided together with something or someone. This is the kind of waiting referred to in Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” Wait here is translated from qavah in Hebrew, which means “to bind together by twisting; to become braided together.” Through this waiting we become one with the Lord. In the waiting process that occurs from a relational position, the Lord draws us close to Him in such a way that our hearts become one. Bound together like the strands of a cord, we feel the same emotions and think the same thoughts, resulting in a multiplication of strength for accomplishing His will.

It is the fulfillment of Proverbs 16:3, “Roll your works on the Lord, commit and trust them completely to Him, and He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable with His will. And so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (Amplified Version)

5. The last “wait” the Lord spoke to me, I heard loudly in my spirit. But then the Lord actually spelled it out for me. It wasn’t “wait,” it was: W-E-I-G-H-T. This refers to the heavy, substantive, weighty presence of God’s glory. The Hebrew word for glory actually means heavy or weighty.

“My ‘Weighty’ Presence on My ‘Heavyweights'”

The Lord is saying, “If you will learn to wait on Me in these days – trusting, patiently, expectantly and becoming one with Me – I will come with the weight of My glory. I am coming to awaken cities and regions, and I will cause My weighty, shekinah, abiding glory to dwell among you and within you. Just as Adam was crowned with My glory and saturated in My presence, bearing My image and likeness, so too, will I crown you with My glory.

I will put My weighty presence on you, and you shall be My government in the earth. You will walk in great authority and power with signs, wonders and miracles following. As in the days of the book of Acts Church, people will recognize Me through you and you will say, such as I have, I give to you (Acts 3:6.) Now is the time for the sons of God to be made manifest in the earth and the whole earth filled with My glory! Now is the time; the masses are coming!”

For too long, we have lived far below the revelation God wants us to walk in. He’s now summoning us into a higher place of understanding, where we are fully aware that the God of glory lives inside of us, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the same power that was in Jesus resides within us to perform and exceed His supernatural works. The Lord desires to raise up many “heavyweight” men and women, who carry the cloud of God’s glory into every room and into every sphere of society, to deliver and transform entire nations!

He is waiting on you. Are you willing to wait, wait, wait, wait on Him until the glorious weight of His presence and power intensifies within you? You may need to turn your TV or social media off for a season, or clear some things off your calendar so you can have more of Him, but I promise you, He is definitely worth waiting for.

Dutch Sheets
Dutch Sheets Ministries
Website: dutchsheets.org

Dutch Sheets is an internationally recognized author, teacher, and conference speaker. He travels extensively, empowering Believers for passionate prayer and societal transformation. Dutch has pastored, taught in several colleges and seminaries, and served on the board of directors of numerous organizations. Dutch’s greatest passion is to see America experience a sweeping revival and return to its godly heritage. Dutch is a messenger of hope for America, encouraging Believers to contend for awakening in our day and reformation in our lifetime. Dutch has written over 20 books, many of which have been translated into over 30 languages.

Source: Dutch Sheets: Worth Waiting For: ‘My Weighty Presence and My Heavyweights’

2016 – what will it be like?

Praying before sleep one night last week, I asked the Lord about next year. “What will it be like? Worse than 2015? More disasters, chaos, tragedies? More wars?”

“Appointments met,” he said. “Promises kept. Prophecies fulfilled. A year of kairos moments.”

Kairos – the appointed time, in due season, the fullness of time, at a fixed and definite time, for a certain time only.

It’s going to be an interesting year.

Why a baby?

christ_childWhy did the Creator of the universe choose to become a baby?

“… who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be a grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. ” (Phil. 2:6-7 NASB)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. ” (Heb. 4:15)

Babies can’t sin, I’ve heard people say. Surely they aren’t tempted like adults are – after all, they don’t even reach the age of accountability until 12 or so!

Have they ever been around little kids? Toddler tantrums? Terrible twos? Self-willed children? Full of selfishness, greediness, me-me-me-itis? Did you ever tell a little child No, No, over, and over, and over?

As young as they are, and as trusting of mom and dad that they are, children are indeed tempted to disobey. Determined to get that thing, do that thing, apt to stomp their foot, yell and break into angry tears when told No for the umpteenth time.

While those early behaviors may not qualify to some folks as sinful, they still need correcting. Training. Discipline. Guiding. Teaching. Lovingly, lovingly, firmly and consistently.

Children can be led astray. They are susceptible to being misled, mistreated, deceived, cheated, and abused. Susceptible to being lied to, and also lying to others.

They need to know the savior, the rescuer, the teacher, the guide and constant companion from an early age.They need to be taught right from wrong and how to tell the difference. They need to learn the word of God, and know the Word of God.

Children need to know that Jesus went through childhood himself with all its scrapes and bumps, all its hazards, and he knows what that’s like. And so he came as a baby.

Jesus loves children. When the disciples wanted to shoo the kids away, Jesus rebuked the disciples, not the children.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ” (Matt. 18:3)  “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

Was it because the children were so innocent? So charming, so sweet, so trusting, so loving – so innocent? Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe there’s more to it.

Children are curious. They are always attracted to something “new and shiny,” something different and fun. They are full of energy, running, climbing, investigating everything. Wanting to do it themselves. “Me do it! Me do it!” Wanting to have it for themselves, no matter who it may belong to.

So, why did Jesus come to earth as a baby, and not a full grown man? In order to be tempted in all points as we are, he had to.

 

Different attacks, different weapons

PurseGunA .22 caliber revolver shared space in my purse with wallet and checkbook in the 1970’s. (In those days I didn’t need a permit to carry it.)

I’d been a crack shot with pistol, rifle and shotgun since my early teens, having been taught by my hunter grandfather Da and uncle Mike.

The lightweight .410 shotgun I used had originally belonged to my grandmother Mimi. Since she seldom fired it, as long as Da gave me proper instruction she was happy to relinquish it to her oldest grandchild, me.

(I must admit, however, I had cried after killing that first bird and refused to go hunting with Da again. See this post about granddaddy and me. https://scfamilymemories.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/spending-time-with-granddaddy/)

In the 70’s we lived way out in the middle of the county. It was thirteen miles from the nearest city limits, I worked ten miles further on than that, and having a gun in the car seemed like a good idea at first. After a while I got uncomfortable having it around with kids in the car, though, so I gave up carrying the pistol in my purse.

A hunting knife might have been a good alternative – I’d learned how to handle and throw one of those from Uncle Mike, too and my aim wasn’t bad. But the thought of getting cut, or cutting somebody else by accident, made me lightheaded. So, no hunting knife in my purse or car, either. I did carry a ladies Swiss Army knife for years, until the airlines banned them. I stashed it away in a dresser drawer.

Army, Navy or Air Force, my military heritage goes back to 1760, years before the Revolutionary War. Weapons for personal protection never made me nervous, as long as I was proficient and wise in their use, maintaining a good sense of legal and illegal, right and wrong. Good common sense, too.

Along the way I began to learn that Christians are targets for an all-too real enemy, a spiritual one. I began to learn about the Holy Spirit, the power of God, and the spiritual weapons available to believers. Some of those weapons are familiar: Prayer. Whole armor. Word of God. Blood of Christ.

But some others that you might not recognize as weapons, actually are. Worship. Forgiveness. Humility. Boldness. Patience. Peace. Authority. Discerning of Spirits. Gift of Faith. Miracles. Healing. Commands. The name of Jesus.

I learned that the enemy doesn’t always come at you overtly, with in-your-face attacks. Some of his attacks are subtle: Worry. Fear. Doubt. Self-pity. Pride. Temper tantrums. Boredom. Bad mood. Criticism. Gossip. Ridicule. Personality conflicts. Resentment. Offense.

Unpleasant or unseemly thoughts may seem to pop into your mind randomly. (Just remember this – “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair.”)

And some accidents, actually aren’t. Like tripping over a child’s toy. Stumbling over broken concrete. Falling off a skateboard and breaking your arm. Losing your keys. Getting overdrawn at the bank because someone else’s check bounced. Missing critical appointments because of traffic jams. Becoming stressed out because another guy didn’t show up for work and you have to do their job and your own.

Some of those things aren’t attacks of the enemy, they’re just the way things are in a fallen world. But some of them are. They are designed to hinder you, steal your faith, stunt your growth, and wreck your testimony. They are aimed at keeping you from doing and being what you should. Sometimes they are designed to kill you.

  • On my way to work one morning, I was driving down a straight stretch of county road and about to pass a long driveway leading to a house way off the road. Down that lane another car was speeding towards me. Too late I realized that he wasn’t slowing down, that I couldn’t prevent us from colliding no matter whether I stomped on the brake or the accelerator. My heart was pounding as I braced myself and cried out, Jesus!

Instantly my car was a quarter mile further down the road! Glancing in the rear-view window, I saw the other car just turning onto the pavement behind me.

What had happened?

  • A woman attacked me in my office parking lot one day, shrieking and pounding on the back of my head for all she was worth. Why? Because I had called for a taxi instead of offering to drive her in my own car where she wanted to go. When I jerked around, what I saw in her face didn’t look human. I commanded her to Stop that! and Sit down! She backed up and sat down on the steps to the office building.

Someone called out, What’s going on, and I turned my head to answer them. In a flash she was back up, pounding on my head again. Once again I commanded her to Stop it! Once again she stopped, and this time took off running down the city street, high heels and all. When the taxi arrived I pointed the driver in her direction and he left to try to find her.

What had happened?

  • For several years I served on South Carolina’s State Board of Education, attending two-day meetings in the state capital once a month. Returning home on I-20 late one afternoon, I was traveling in heavy, fairly high-speed traffic when still many miles from home my car began to slow down on its own. I switched over to the slow lane as other drivers honked their horns at me. The car had plenty of fuel, the gas pedal wasn’t stuck, the engine light wasn’t on, and the heat gauge read normal. Trash in the fuel line? I was puzzled, to say the least.

Still slower and slower we went, until 35 miles per hour is the fastest the car would go. With a nervous eye on the traffic, I switched on the flashers and eased the car over into the emergency lane. Where was the nearest interchange, I wondered, and how long will it take me to get there? Will the car keep going till we get there?

Thankfully it was only a couple of miles and there was a service station there. Good, I thought, maybe somebody in there can help me. But while the clerks were all sympathetic, nobody was a mechanic. I phoned home and explained the situation. I would try to drive the car home using the emergency lane on the interstate the whole way.

Pleading the blood of Jesus, thanking the Lord for his protection and visualizing angels surrounding my car, that’s what I did. I sang praise and worship songs every slow mile of the way, arriving very late but safe and sound.

When my own mechanic took a look the next day, he just shook his head in amazement. This car shouldn’t have kept going, he said, it should have stopped dead in its tracks. The catalytic converter was completely clogged up. He traded the faulty part for a brand-new one, the car returned to its normal operating condition, and I gratefully paid his bill.

What had happened?

  • Although blind, my husband Tim Cox had graduated from Francis Marion University with a degree in business administration. He was president of our company and quite good at what he did, serving as salesman, P.R. rep and sometime trouble-shooter. But being blind did cause a problem when one friendly, plausible sales rep persuaded Tim to purchase at much-reduced rates a quantity of goods for our company. When I met the man and looked in his eyes, I immediately recognized a “wrong spirit.” But Tim didn’t. He thought the guy was fine and the deal would be beneficial to both parties, so he had our bookkeeper cut the check.

There were no goods forthcoming, however. The fellow was a con man. At first Tim thought we should just write off the financial loss, chalk it up to a hard lesson learned: discerning of spirits is absolutely necessary for a Christian running a business. But after we prayed about it, Tim began the lengthy process of filing a legal complaint, for the authorities to find and arrest the man, and for us to recover the money.

Eventually that did happen. That’s when we discovered the con man had defrauded many others in our area. Most were women, some of whom were embarrassed or humiliated to have been deceived and cheated like this. One had spent her savings to have a new roof put on her house; the workers never arrived.

Another was a widow who paid for the beautiful diamond ring her husband had ordered before his death (so the fellow told her). Of course, the ring never arrived either. Without Tim’s follow-through with the legal system, they would never have recovered their goods either.

If you’re a believer, you’re a target. You’re also an overcomer! That’s not automatic, though. It takes learning about the spiritual war we’re in, how to recognize the enemy’s devices, and how to make use of the efficient, unfailing weapons at our disposal.

Here are a few reminders:

  • Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44 NASB)
  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
  • So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (II Cor. 2:11)
  • And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (II Cor. 11:14)
  • For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. (II Cor. 10:4)
  • Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:17)
  • Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:11-13) … and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17)
  • But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb. 5:14)
  • Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
  • Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
  • Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4 KJV)
  • And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Rev. 12:11)