The Seed of Power

Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech . . . you will shudder, you complacent women; for the grape harvest fails, the fruit harvest will not come. Isaiah 32:9-10 ESV

I find it interesting that this passage speaks specifically to women. The warning? If women are complacent, the harvest will fail.

I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ declaration in John 15:5, 8.

I am the vine; you are the branches . . . By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Rise up, complacent daughters, or the fruit harvest will not come.

On Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. We set apart that day to honor women, applauding the influence we have in raising up the next generation.

But I’d like to take this time to speak to all women. And, if you’re willing to listen, to the men who have the potential to either encourage or repress.

You, precious daughter, have a significant role to play in reaping the Kingdom harvest.

The enemy knows it. And he wants to suppress it.

Perhaps you have believed his propaganda declaring that women have a lesser role. Jesus did, after all choose twelve men as His Disciples. And I can’t find anywhere that the names of the women who loved and served Jesus will be inscribed on the foundations of the New Jerusalem.

Yes. Satan easily convinces us that even God Himself holds women in a lesser regard.

This might be a good place to remind us that only together can man and woman fully reveal God’s image.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. . . . and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:27, 31

In fact, the only place that God used the words not good in the creation story was Genesis 2:18.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Yep. Man without woman: Not Good.

Yet the message resounding throughout almost every culture and religion translates a little differently —woman: not as good. Veiled faces and withheld rights proclaim it. Our own nation’s history reveals it. And even today, women are regarded as property, sold as slaves.

Have you ever considered where it all comes from, dear one? I’ll give you a hint. The prince of this world sets its agenda, manipulating hearts and minds. But why would he direct so much attention toward devaluing women?

Consider God’s words in Genesis 3:15, spoken to Satan at the time of the fall.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

In case you’re wondering, enmity is hatred or hostility. Notice that man is excluded from God’s prophecy. That’s because earthly man would have nothing do with the deliverance God promised to bring. God Himself stepped into that role.

But He did use a woman.

This is why Satan has worked throughout history to crush women, beloved. He hates us, because God told him that He would bring deliverance through us.

And He kept His promise. From the womb of a virgin, a Deliverer emerged. God’s own Son crushed the serpent’s head. The serpent has not forgiven us.

But I think his hatred is also rooted in fear. You see, God’s Word is eternal and never returns void. So it’s still true, dear one. What God will birth from His seed planted within a woman still holds the power to crush the enemy’s head. He may bruise her heel, but the seed within her ensures her victory.

So you see, the enemy must convince woman she does not hold the power she wields. Otherwise, she will crush him.

Will you believe, dear one? Will you believe that Jesus sees eternal value in you that perhaps you cannot? Would you believe He has purposed great victories through you by the seed of His Word implanted within you?

Jesus spent His earthly life countering the enemy’s message that women have lesser value. He stood alone to rescue a condemned adulteress from being stoned, counting her life precious. He proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah for the first time to a woman—a woman considered an outcast in her town. And He revealed Himself after His resurrection first to Mary Magdalene, who happened to be in a garden.

That particular scene brings tears when I think of the whispers I entertained before stepping out in ministry—whispers that said, “Women have no place proclaiming Truth. That job belongs to the men.”

Jesus saw things differently. You see, Mary hadn’t been alone that day visiting the empty tomb. Peter and John had run there ahead of her. The disciples left when they found it empty, but Mary remained, weeping.

It strikes me that Jesus waited for Peter and John to leave before revealing Himself to Mary.

No, God didn’t say that Mary’s name would be inscribed on the foundations of the New Jerusalem. But Jesus loved her, and He chose to meet her in her grief. Then He gave her a job.

Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. John 20:17-18

It seems the Apostles received a Word from Jesus through a woman.

Don’t let the enemy rob you of your value, dear one. Know whose you are, and that you are accepted in the Beloved.

Yes, men of God hold great value. But so do you.

Carry Your Cross

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

I’m guessing that’s not one of your favorite scriptures.

I get it. Your flesh cries out in rebellion against such commands. Deny myself? We spend our lives trying to indulge the desires of our “selves.”  That goes against everything in our nature. And carrying a cross doesn’t sound very fun. No one likes a burden. So those first two make the last one seem pretty unpalatable.

Why would I want to follow Jesus if to do so I have to deny myself and carry a cross?

Why, indeed? I’d like to suggest something that perhaps you haven’t considered. What if the fact that we find those commands so unappealing confirms how very important they are to overcoming the enemy and experiencing abundant life?

Here’s the truth of the matter: The enemy of our souls likes keeping us under his thumb. He’s been governing our sin nature since man’s fall at the beginning of time, and he’s not keen on giving up control. He enjoys the chaos and destruction he generates in our lives as he bends our wills to bring about death, all the while convincing us we’re free and making our own choices.

Maybe you didn’t realize that. Yes, dear one. If you don’t choose to submit your will to God, you’re already submitting it to the prince of this world, the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2).

Your will is not your own. You only think it is.

In 2 Timothy 2, Paul challenges believers to call on the Lord out of a pure heart. He says this about opponents of truth in verses 25-26,

Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

You see, beloved, your sin nature rebels so strongly against self-denial, because the enemy of your soul doesn’t want to lose his grip. He’s convinced you to believe that you’re free to do as you please. Meanwhile, he quietly pulls the strings. The “I” that you think is making your decisions actually has a master.

 “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. “ Romans 7:17

Precious one, allowing sin to continue to govern your “I” eventually brings about death.

For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. Romans 7:5

Because sin governs them, following our own passions and desires will always hurt us eventually. So can you understand, beloved, why the first step in following Jesus to new life must involve denying what your “self” insists you need?

When Jesus asks you to deny yourself, He isn’t trying to take away your right to choose. He wants to restore it to you! He simply wants to set your “I” free from the destructive rule of sin. Then the person He created you to be—your personality, your deep passions and sense of purpose—the real, unfettered you can emerge to step into abundant life. And your soul can soar with the joy that comes with it.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

Not so bad, right?

But what about taking up that cross? We know what it meant for Jesus. Death.

Beloved, the only death coming to you through the cross belongs to the sin that binds you. Remember, even for Jesus, the cross became the means to resurrection life. It offers the same promise for you.

That cross represents God’s beautiful will for your life. Yes, Jesus carried an actual cross up a hill to Golgotha, bearing its shame and shedding His blood so that you and I could be free. He lived out God’s will for Him so that we could live redeemed. Now that cross remains a symbol of what God wants to see lived out in each of our lives. “ . . . not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

But we forget what else that cross represents. What became available to us through that cross?

Love … forgiveness… the Holy Spirit… mercy… grace … freedom… sonship… power

Beloved, when Jesus asks you to take up your cross, He invites you to take up all that comes with it. He wants you to take up God’s will for your life, just like He did. He asks you to believe that He intends to prosper you and not harm you, that He means to offer you hope and a beautiful future (Jeremiah 29:11).

He also welcomes you to take up everything He poured out for you through His cross to empower you to step into the abundant life He’s planned for you.

The question is: will you believe? If so, there’s one thing left to do.