Jesus knows when to blame the devil, and when not to:
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:18-23)
“But since they have no root”, what does it mean?
It means that they weren’t seeking for such message. I can’t remember the many times I must have heard the gospel but have entirely dismissed it. Why? Because I thought that I was all set by my set of works. I thought that I was all set by my religious engagements.
But when I started struggling with my finances to keep up with my tithing and my debts, and heard my pastor said, “If you’re not tithing, I doubt that you’re a Christian.” I couldn’t agree with him. It was my first time, I couldn’t find a reason to agree with him because this time, not only I was offended directly by what he said, but also that I couldn’t come up with a reason to agree with him. Deep in my heart, I couldn’t. And I didn’t know why I couldn’t. Many times he would say things that offend others, and I would always find some reasonings to justify what he said. But this time, I was cornered. My identity as child of God was being challenged because I was no longer bringing money like I used to, and in all of my being I couldn’t agree with that.
I didn’t feel at peace with disagreeing with my own pastor whom I had long considered to be my role model. He’s a great guy, as a human can ever be that is. I knew in my heart that he was wrong by what he said, but in my mind I didn’t know how to come to real peace with my own position against what he had said. Then one day, local AM Radio programming in the Hartford area, this ministry that was called at the time “People to People”, a caller called and asked the question, “my pastor kept talking about tithing Sundays after Sundays telling us that we must tithe…are we still under this obligation under the new covenant?”. The answer that Bob Christopher provided at the time set my mind at ease. He started with the gospel, as basic as it could ever be, and addressed the tithing question as if I was the one who had asked it. My identity is in Christ’s finished work, not in my capacity to keep on bringing a ten-percent. As Paul encouraged, I am to give what I can as I can, not under pressure. My heart was in the right place, but my mind was way somewhere else. Bob along with the staff of Basic Gospel (formerly People to People Ministry) literally brought me to Christ. I had seen and been in almost every post and activity of the local church and I didn’t even know the gospel. I sung the gospel in hymns, but had more appreciation for the melodies than the meaning of the words themselves as a musician.
Until my identity in Christ was challenged, I had no interest in hearing the gospel again and again. I thought hearing it once was enough, like a pitch talk to convince to make a decision. And that once I had decided the pitch talk no longer mattered. I always thought that it was only for non-Christians to hear and perhaps would accept it and become as religious as I was. My understanding of the gospel was all about keeping up with morals and encouraging others to do the same. My preaching and teaching Sunday schools and Bible studies were as limited as human wisdom can attest. I knew nothing. I knew I wanted to know something. But I didn’t know what it was or how to get it. I used to read the Bible in French, and would always dismiss any understanding that contradicted my religious beliefs and teachings.
I once learned that God was against me and that Jesus changed God’s mind. That’s not the truth. God was in Christ reconciling me to Him.
My mind was truly messed up, always fighting with what my heart knew all along. I just didn’t know the truth. I thought I did, but I didn’t know the truth. My entire walk before God was based on my ability to “not sin”. I was never at peace. When I did what I truly wanted to do, people would come to me and try to dictate to me what I should have done or said, and how I should have done it and said it. I did certain things, people complain. I didn’t do certain things, people complain. I could never be at peace with myself because at the end of the day I had to agree with others’ judgments of me in order to retain their friendships or relationships.
Bob Christopher, Bod Davis, Richard Peifer, Andrew Farley, and everyone that the Spirit of God overwhelmed with joy to serve them strength and courage to tell me the truth when I needed it the most, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I will never stop sharing my testimony on this earth until the day I meet with Jesus face-to-face where I’ll resume sharing the same testimony for all eternity to come. I’m forever grateful because of Jesus, because of God, because His Spirit rejoicing me day after day.
“That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome (your comfort zone in the world). I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew (he who knew God under the old covenant), then to the Greek (he who had no prior covenant with God). For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”