This past week I made my annual pilgrimage to the mountains of western Colorado in search of the elusive wapiti (elk) and spent my time chasing these critters up and down shrub oak choked mountainsides! Believe it or not, it’s mental therapy for me. Since I didn’t want to “miss” this past weekend at GCC and the opportunity to continue the Spiritual Greenhouse Theology teaching series, as some of you know, I shared part 3, “Spiritual Germination” via video- it may be the only way I can guarantee all three services being exactly the same! From the feedback I’ve received, most people seemed to appreciate the effort. I simply felt it was the best way to maintain the momentum of the series despite my being technically absent!
If you’re interested, please see below for the hardcopy notes from Pt. 3 “Spiritual Germination.”
Last weekend, in Pt. 2 I talked about the fact that every seed has life in it- the life it will develop into and reproduce because of its genetic code or DNA. For spiritual life, you have Jesus in you, the Seed of Life, His convictions, character, and cause, and He wants to live through you! The Big Idea for Pt. 3: For a seed to grow it basically needs water, sunlight, and the breaking of the outer shell. For you to become more like Christ, you need to undergo a similar spiritual germination process!
To illustrate this and understand what’s necessary, you need to know something about germination; specifically spiritual germination.
Plant Growth Begins with Seed Germination
Seed germination depends on both internal and external conditions. Nearly every plant you see outdoors had its beginnings as a seed. A plant begins to grow when a seed germinates, usually when water causes the embryo inside the seed to swell and break out of the tough outer seed coat. During the earliest stages of plant growth, the first root, called the taproot, stretches down into the soil in search of water and to establish a firm structural foundation for the plant. The root grows both by adding cells and by elongating cells that already exist. Before long, the root forms branches, which improve the plant’s support system and its ability to absorb water from the soil.
Not long after the taproot has become established in the soil, the shoot, or stem, of the seedling begins to stretch upward in search of light. The emerging plant will bend first one way and then the next in what becomes a repetitive waving motion as it follows the sun’s movement throughout the day. At this point, all the energy that the plant requires for growth comes from food stored in the part of the seed called the endosperm. As the stem stretches skyward it carries with it what is left of the food stored in the endosperm. Before long, however, the plant will deplete this food and will need to create its own food. To do this, the plant must first grow leaves. There are some basic elements that are essential to this germination process:
The basic element of Water – is required for germination. Mature seeds are often extremely dry and need to take in significant amounts of water, relative to the dry weight of the seed, before cellular metabolism and growth can resume. Most seeds need enough water to moisten the seeds but not enough to soak them. The uptake of water by seeds leads to the swelling and the breaking of the seed coat. After the seedling emerges from the seed coat and starts growing roots and leaves, the seedling’s food reserves are typically exhausted; at this point photosynthesis provides the energy needed for continued growth and the seedling now requires a continuous supply of water, nutrients, and light.
The basic element of Oxygen – is required by the germinating seed for metabolism as well. Oxygen is used in aerobic respiration, the main source of the seedling’s energy until it grows leaves. Also, through photosynthesis, which is the plant taking in energy from the sun, plants enable life to be sustained on this planet!
The basic element of Temperature – affects cellular metabolic and growth rates. Seeds from different species and even seeds from the same plant germinate over a wide range of temperatures. Seeds often have a temperature range within which they will germinate, and they will not do so above or below this range. They need certain temperatures to continue to develop, etc.
The basic element of Sun, Light or darkness – can be an environmental trigger for germination and is a type of physiological dormancy. Most seeds are not affected by light or darkness, but many seeds, including species found in forest settings, will not germinate until an opening in the canopy allows sufficient light for growth of the seedling. Again, they follow the sun for their source of energy, etc.
Spiritual Growth Begins with Spiritual Germination
When a person comes to Christ, the “Seed”, or life of Christ exists within them. This “Seed”, contains not only the “Jesus DNA” that produces His character, but also the very Spirit of Christ that enables His cause to be facilitated through each person’s unique, specialized life. But as we should know, the “Life” that is in the “Seed” can’t emerge unless the “outer shell” (a person’s own will) is broken! This spiritual germination process is the result of a person submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ- an ongoing act and practice as a person learns to “follow Christ” by “following others!” Being born again, what Jesus is trying to explain to Nicodemus, is not merely a prayer- more importantly, it is a process of spiritual germination!
Receptive Soil- Accepting Christ: Mark 4:14-20
Every farmer knows that a seed can’t take root and ultimately grow unless the soil has been prepared to receive the seed! We can’t even begin to discuss how spiritual life develops and how Jesus lives in you and through you, being who he is and doing what he does, without understanding how important it is that we are always receptive to the “Word.” The Word is not merely the Bible that we read, it is essentially, the very message of life! The Good News, the message of salvation. The Words of life. This just isn’t about being receptive for salvation; its about being receptive always- the soil represents our hearts, open to what God wants!
We receive salvation, yes, but we also receive life and ongoing instruction and impartation for living every day in the way we should be living! We’ve got to constantly make sure our hearts and mind are receptive, that “weeds” that would choke out life, and anything and everything that is not conducive to the Seed, to Jesus living in and through us, is taken care of. For spiritual life to happen, there is an ongoing preparation that takes place- every day, prepare your mind, prepare your heart to be receptive to what God wants! Paul says, “Set your mind on Christ!” David said, “Create in me a pure heart!” That’s how you are always receptive to the life of Christ living in and through you!
Water of the Word- Tapping into Truth
What are you tapping into in your life? If you’re not tapping into the Word of God then you have no way of truly strengthening your life and satisfying your “thirst.” The “tap root” is searching for more “water.” God created plant life with this ability because without water a plant can’t live, it can’t develop, it can’t reproduce. You need the “water of the Word” in your life if you’re going to develop as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. John 3:5 “You are born of the water and the spirit…” Jesus is talking about the Word of God. 1 Pe. 1:23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. Eph. 5:26 talks about “the washing of the word…”
What’s the implication? You cannot have or sustain spiritual life without the Word of God as the source that you are tapping into for sustenance. It means that by faith you accept the truth of how salvation works, what the Word of God promises, that Jesus is the Living Word, that true life, abundant life is experienced in him and through him! When you proactively and consistently “tap into” the Word of God you are nourishing your life, you are establishing deep spiritual roots, you are allowing Jesus to again be the “Word in the flesh!”
The Word is active. It’s not stagnant or merely writing on a page! It is alive in you in the Person of Jesus Christ! So again, what are you tapping into? Because that’s what you’re giving life to! You need to daily tap into the Word of God. The Psalmist said, “I’ve hidden your Word in my heart so I might not sin against you! Ps. 119:11
Breaking of your Will- Surrender and Sacrifice
We know that when a seed is planted into the ground and it comes into contact with water, the outer shell will begin to soften and ultimately “break”… The life inside, the process that needs to happen for the plant to come forth, that doesn’t happen until that outer shell is broken! Think about that in terms of your life! For spiritual germination to take place, there has to be contact with the Water of the Word! We already said that the tap root seeks out water- you have to seek out the Word of God for your life! More than just tapping into God’s Word for sustenance and a spiritual “root system”, you need to be in constant contact with the Word of God for your life!
In other words, “what does God want?” When you come in contact with that, when what God wants begins to get absorbed into your thoughts, your heart, it begins to “break” the you in you. Because the you in you doesn’t want what God wants! Paul says in Romans 7 that the sin nature in him doesn’t want to do the right thing and if he’s not careful he becomes a slave to that power of his sinful nature! You can’t do God’s will unless your will breaks! A plant can’t shoot forth and develop and grow and reproduce until the outer shell is broken as a result of contact with water! The same is true for your spiritual life, for Jesus being able to be who Jesus is, in you, and through you! Jesus himself said, “Not my will, your will be done!”
People struggle, they essentially don’t grow spiritually, Jesus isn’t realized in and through their life, because it’s an issue of not being broken; which is a result of not being in constant contact with the Word of Truth, both as you read it and absorb it, and as you do it! What’s the keys? Jesus said in Mark 8:34-37 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?” You have to deny yourself and you have to die to self!
If you try to do what “you” want then you’ll lose your life, but if you do what God wants for your life, you save it! The constant struggle is always between what you want and what God wants- it’s the “flesh and the Spirit” at war with each other- and the only way you enable the Spirit of Jesus to powerfully live through you is by surrendering to his will! When this happens, that sinful power over your life is broken and true life, life in Christ and life experienced as Jesus has his way through your life, is realized! But it has to be ongoing. I need to seek out and take in the Word of God, I need to be in constant contact with what Jesus wants so my will is broken, and…
Follow the Son- Submitting to Christ
Jesus also said in Mark 8, “I need to follow him!” I need to surrender my will, I need to sacrifice what I want for what He wants (He always has a better life in mind), and I need to submit to following Him, what he wants, every day! We know that once the tap root goes down and the outer shell of the seed is broken, soon a tender shoot sprouts up and bursts through the soil and what is it looking for?? That young, just getting started, just beginning to live, plant, is looking for the sun! Ever see time lapse video of flowers? Despite no wind they are constantly moving, they are constantly moving in the direction of and following the Sun! God designed plant life this way- to follow the sun because they need the sun in order for photosynthesis to happen!
Plants derive energy from the sun in a process called photosynthesis! The result of the process is that the plant takes light from the sun and turns that light’s energy into energy that the plant can use to grow and to stay alive. Here’s a fact: without photosynthesis we would not exist! Plants through photosynthesis produce oxygen that enables life to exist on this planet!
If you are not following what Jesus wants for your life- submitting to him every day and in every situation- essentially allowing Him to simply be who he is and do what he does through your life, you’re not only not living, you’re contributing to potentially many other people not living either! I know that sounds drastic, but it’s true! Just like plants follow the sun to take in energy and to produce oxygen that not only allows them to live and reproduce but gives the rest of us the oxygen we need to live, the same dynamic happens spiritually!!
Following what Jesus wants for your life not only “saves” you, it most likely will save a lot of other people too! We can’t possibly know how many people one life, following Jesus can impact. How may lives can be saved. How much the kingdom of God can be multiplied because you are following the Son! You are being spiritually energized and you are producing a life energy everywhere you go, with everyone you encounter! Your obedience to God’s will is not only saving you, it’s potentially saving a lot of people!
Following Jesus isn’t something you just start out doing- yes it’s essential to initial spiritual development, but it has to be ongoing- you follow Jesus every day like flowers follow the sun, and it is energy to your soul and it is life to potentially multiplied others! And finally, you are always receptive in heart and mind, you thirst more for and tap into God’s Word, you are always broken, you follow Jesus daily, and you discover…
This is the Air I Breath- Prayer and Presence
Plants are not only instrumental in producing oxygen, it is a vital element in the process for producing energy that they need to live on, as well as the right temperature for ongoing productivity! They take in oxygen for metabolic purposes- energy to be able to do what they need, and have been designed and created to do!
Think about that!! Spiritually, what is the air you breath?? What “temperature” is your spiritual life- cold, lukewarm, hot?? Jesus wants you and needs you to be “hot”- not as in “Wow she’s hot!” But as it relates to the passion of your heart to pursue his presence!! What are you doing to be able to have the energy you need to live every day for Christ? Remember the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42? Mary chose to breath in the air of Jesus’ presence, while Martha chose to breath in the “air” of programed activity! Jesus said that Mary had made the best choice! Why? Because you need to sit at Jesus’ feet every day in prayer and in presence (worship) if you’re going to have the energy you need to live like he wants you to live!
Spiritual life requires the very presence of God- through prayer, worship, to come alive in and through you every day! Yes, Jesus is already Jesus- you can’t make him more Jesus, but you can make you less you, and that happens as you take in the air of his presence and power!
Spiritual Germination– just like a seed needs right soil, needs water, needs to break, needs the sun, needs oxygen… you need a receptive mind and heart every day, the water of the Word of God to tap into daily for a strong spiritual root system, the surrender and sacrifice of your will, to follow what Jesus wants, and to breath in his presence… This spiritual germination process is not a one time only deal- its an every day process that makes you alive in Christ and Jesus alive through you!
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