Unless A Kernel Of Wheat…

Simon LawtonInspiration, Uncategorized3 Comments

During the past week the world has commemorated and remembered the start of World War 1. So many men, women & children sacrificed their lives that we might live. The subject of death is not one that we like to dwell on for too long however the Bible has a lot to say about it and God really spoke to me through this simple verse:

‘Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ (John 12:23)

It really helped me to understand what God had been doing in my life and what he also desired to do in the lives of any others. Here are some notes from the sermon that resulted from these thoughts….

I recently attended the Elim Festival where up until this year I was the Leader. Much of it was very good and really restful however there were moments when I found it very tough! (I will share more later). In that moment God spoke to me so clearly through a particular verse…

Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. ‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ (John 12:23-28)

Jesus is talking to his disciples and preparing them for his death….you’re probably wondering why I’ve chosen this verse to speak on.

Jesus died so that many could live!
He gave his life as a ransom for many!

Jesus was that seed that had to die in order that many seeds could be produced….(we call those seeds Christians!)

During the recent commemorations of start of World War 1 Prince Harry read a poignant letter home from an Irish Fusilier, Michael Lennon, written to his brother, day before he was killed at Gallipoli:

‘Well Frank, I suppose we are for it tomorrow, if we don’t get shelled on the way.
‘I can only hope that we have all the luck to come through the night and if I should get bowled out – well it can’t be helped.’

He died that we might live! Thank God for those….selfless men and women.

JESUS DIED THAT MANY WOULD LIVE!

Jesus died to self and made incredible sacrifices that we might live.

Choose to die….’not my will but yours be done….’

He died to His own will

He gave up the comfort and splendour of heaven to become a man & live in this sin scarred world.

He gave up his power & majesty

He tolerated abuse, lies,criticism, slander, rejection and hatred that we might live!

He submitted himself to death on a cross (such a barbaric way of dying that the Romans banned in later). For the joy set before him…he endured the cross!

He died that we might live….now & eternally!

Jesus died to self!!!!

The biggest challenge of the Christian life?!

The biggest challenge of the Christian life is dying to self!

I became a member of a gym 12 years ago…….on that day….did I become a lean, mean fighting machine?!

If you’re a Christian….the day you got saved…. did you become pure, holy and like Jesus Christ…..?

Your behaviour may have changed….stopped swearing, lying, drinking….

But there will have still been patterns of behaviour that God wants to deal with…

Two desires that can cripple us and stop us being fruitful
‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’

Desire to be selfish….very very strong!

Mr Men….there isn’t a Mr Selfish but there is….

Mr Greedy, Mr Nosey, Mr uppity, Mr mean (selfish & unkind),

Mr Lazy who lives in sleepy land and loves bed (they’re not in church at present!)
Mr Fussy, Mr Grumpy

Little Miss Selfish – cruel, selfish, mean & nasty and only thinks of herself!!

We do live in the me, me, me, me generation
It’s all about (me) worship song!

Selfishness destroys relationships, marriages, businesses, clubs. It is a relationships wrecker!!

Love from the centre of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (Romans 12:9-10 MSG)

Desire to sin and continue in old patterns of behaviour!
God’s plan was to rescue us from the punishment and penalties of sin
He sent Jesus to set us free from sin and it’s impact

God’s desire is us to move on from that initial rescue and to transform us to be like His Son (transformed from glory unto glory as Paul puts it!)

God’s plan is that we ‘die’ to self and to sin

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:1-10, 12-14)

God’s desire is that we die to that old way of life and put it off and that instead we ‘clothe ourselves with….’

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds/bears much fruit!’

Imagine the impact if you nailed this!

I have seen people transformed, marriages mended, people literally become more attractive….

Just imagine the difference if you or I became ‘nice?!’ IMPACT!

Now let me share another passage from scripture….you ready?!

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:1-14)

Friends – Jesus has already won the victory over sin & death on the cross.
We simply need to walk in it….with His help!

We can live with Him…in the same sin free way! Potential is there.

We must choose not to let sin reign (cut off the source!)
‘Sin has no hold on me’

Promise that no sin can any longer be our master (repeat promise!)

Big Question?
God’s goal in saving you???????

Rescue AND reformation…

To produce genuine disciples who love Him, who are whole, and who are being transformed and becoming like Christ and are increasingly fruitful and bring glory to God!

George Barna’s research! See www.georgebarna.com

My notes taken from the Dream Conference (Phoenix 2013):

In pursuit of maximum faith: understanding the journey to Wholeness
Survey of 1600 Christians

There is a ten stop journey that everyone goes down and they go as far as they go:

1. Ignorance of sin
2. Aware but indifferent to sin
3. Concerned about potential effect of sin (what if this sin thing impacts me and if there is a god who is offended by sin? What if he punishes me?!
4. Address sin through accepting Christ
5. Increased religious activity
6. Holy Discontent (15-31years is this all their is?). Some realise what stop 7 is.
7. Brokenness (where most people are broken of sin, self & society). Upto finally realise I’m offending God constantly. Thought I was doing ok attending church, tithing, service etc. Been using God.
8. Surrender & submission. Genuine growth can occur now cos not about us.
9. Profound love connection with God. Only 1% get there. Peace with God. Only reason you live is to glorify and honour Him. Deep intimacy with God.
10. Extreme love and passion towards other people. Grace filled place. People are not loveable so last stop. We love through Him.

Average Christian dies at stop 4-5
Most people die on 1-3

4 critical insights

1. How few people get past 3. 56%; 4-5 33%; 6: 6%; 7-10: 5%
2. The stops do not always occur sequentially
3. A huge majority of born again Christians make a commitment to accept Christ without experiencing or allowing brokenness to occur. Issue here is allowing yourself to be crushed. Think about what people accept when they receive Christ. They are consumers. It’s more than just saying the magic words. Been sold an empty promise. Biblical salvation must be preceded by brokenness.
4. People do not experience true brokenness by figuring it out; they are broken through crises that devastate them. Majority experienced major crisis.

Q: Where are you on the journey?! Self examination

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds/bears much fruit!’

Maybe today is a day for saying afresh to Jesus:
‘I surrender my life to you again……I choose to die to self & to sin…’

Sometimes God asks us to die to something we enjoy!

I think we all have life defining moments: day we met spouse, started a new career, received news whether good or bad…

Often they are the ones where God asks us to die to self and give up something that we love.

Table tennis
Night clubs
WH Smith career
Bible College: gave up home
£5000
Crewe, church we’d founded, chaplaincy AND (family & grandchildren) to Newcastle

Benllech Camp

Giving up Festival…which is where this message began!

Journal notes:
Left evening meeting to pray and really ask God to help me.
My heart has been heavy and sad for several days
I have led camps for years and now nothing.
Almost like a grieving feeling and I said ‘God, I know this right but I’m finding it tough BUT I still need you to help me as I feel so very very sad….

God reminded me about this verse with regards to losing the camp leadership:

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (NLT)

John Piper says: ‘Yes, the seed must die, but “if it dies it bears much fruit.” The death is not in vain. It is significant. It bears fruit.

My ‘dying’ and laying down of the camp leadership is in fact a pruning of fruitfulness which is significant and will bear much fruit!!!

It has been a massive dying in order that many will come to faith through the Dream Centre. God caused me to lie down and die to my desires so that many will be saved.

This is an important principle in the Christ-life.  The gateway to the abundant blessing of God is always through death – not necessarily physical death, but a dying to self and to the world that then paves the way for the awesome activity of God.

Jesus saw Himself as a seed or kernel of wheat that had to fall into the ground and die in order to produce a harvest.  Jesus is speaking of the agricultural process where the seed that is sown into the blackness of the earth results in the miraculous process of germination.  Soon a little plant sprouts and before long a stalk of grain pushes upward and is crowned with a head filled with countless new seeds – the promise of a multiplied harvest.

Friends…..the bona fide Christian walk is one of sacrifice, dying and self denial.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:24-27 & 10:38!)

There are moments in our lives when God request such denial

I believe they can be life defining…..when I consider what I/we could have missed!!!!

‘My Utmost for His Highest’ (Oswald Chambers)
“My earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed . . . .” We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him.

It’s as if Paul were saying, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest—my best for His glory.” To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretence that it is others we are considering. When we think seriously about what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He doesn’t know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point—He does know. Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only—my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.

This is so true! We reason, objectify, debate with God when all He is looking for is obedience!!

Welsh Revival (Evan Roberts)
The four “points” of his message were:

Confess all known sin, receiving forgiveness through Jesus Christ
Remove anything in your life that you are in doubt or feel unsure about
Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly
Publicly confess the Lord Jesus Christ

Promise Is…..
When that solitary seed (us) hits the ground and dies…..it will bear much fruit!

John Piper says: ‘Yes, the seed must die, but “if it dies it bears much fruit.” The death is not in vain. It is significant. It bears fruit.

I look back on my life and life of so many others and I see…

Freedom, fullness, fruit, fulfilment…

I see….
Personal growth, transformation, influence, adventure, blessings, prosperity, joy, honour, favour…..

The apostle Paul…..said in 1 Cor. 15:31 ‘I die every day!’

Lets’s make that our choice…for His glory in our lives

Question Time
Maybe God is asking you to yield your life to Him today.
Jesus died that you might live…

What has God been asking you to do that you still haven’t done?!

What is He asking you to deny yourself now? Denied yourself?

What is God asking you to die to now?!

What is God asking you to allow to ‘die’ in your life?

Oswald Chambers book ‘My Utmost For His Highest’ is a Christian classic that I recommend to every believer.
[easyazon_link asin=”1572938331″ locale=”UK” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”past-page09-21″]My Utmost for His Highest[/easyazon_link]

 

 

3 Comments on “Unless A Kernel Of Wheat…”

  1. Excellent sermon based on no fact just a book, but nevertheless well expressed.
    Truth is anyone these days can create a religion write a book, never have any “thing” or “body” appear to back it up yet get it accepted, the only redeeming factor over this faith as opposed to certain others is it preaches harmony/peace not war.

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