Friday, March 8, 2013

The Good Seed


The Good Seed

 

The sower sows the word.” – Mark 4:14
We have several hospitals all around our communities.  Daily people check in and daily people check out.  Usually, when they leave, they’re not sick anymore.  A healing takes place in the hospital, where they receive care, medication, and nourishment for their bodies.

Our churches are often referred to as ‘a hospital for sinners’, which I believe is an unjustified analogy.  We have people walk in and out of our churches every Sunday, but some don’t leave healed.  In fact, they leave completely unchanged. 
Many times I’ve read the parable of the seed and the sower found in Mark 4.  I always thought that ‘the seed’ referred to the gospel of salvation. But it’s not just the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s the Word of God, the whole Word, which instructs, rebukes, corrects, and saves.  As we read in the parable, the seed is good.  The ground is the problem.  Jesus tells us through the parable of four ways in which we responds to the God’s Word.

And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” – Mark 4:15
Jesus’ parable describes this as those that hear the word, but the seed falls “by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.” Have you ever been in a church service and distracted by the smell of too much cologne, random thoughts, a crying baby, or the chatter of others in the pews?  Ah, you’ve experienced the ‘birds of the air’!  Satan goes to church, be sure of that!  And when he does, there’s disruption, disagreements, distraction, and the seed goes by the wayside where the ground is not plowed and ready to receive it.  There’s only one way to fight Satan’s tactics.  Draw near to God.  The ground of your heart must be plowed up with heartfelt worship and prayer, open and ready to receive the word. 

“These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.” – Mark 4:16-17
Some folks check out of the hospital feeling better, but a day or so later are feeling crummy again.  These are the ones that have the stony ground, the shallow ground.  The stones represent sin.  We all have our favorite sin, that little thing we don’t give up.  When we hear God’s word about that sin, the stone gets in the way, and it doesn’t take root. 

Sometimes the word tries to take root, but the ground is too shallow for it to grow roots.  It is accepted, but trouble comes along, and as Jesus said “the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away”.  These are the ones that seek a casual relationship with God.  They are on speaking terms, but there is no intimacy. They like the feel-good feeling of going to church, but don’t seek to know more of Him.  When trouble comes, the word of God is lost in the anxiety and stress of life.  No root – no fruit.  Lord, help those of us that think we don’t need a closer walk with You!
Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” – Mark 4:18-19

I love how life’s luxuries are referred to as thorns!  Consider that not one of the disciples, those closest to Jesus, attained earthly riches, yet hundreds of years later, we remember their names.  They weren’t deceived by thoughts of earthly fortune and fame.  I like how C.S. Lewis explains this point when he says Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
What you do with God is a matter of personal priorities.  Those that put their sights on achievement in this world will be seeking to please man.  They buy and buy and work and try, but it’s hard to please man because man’s acceptance changes.  It’s hard live up to expectations that continually change.  Success in this world really isn’t success at all.  It’s a misty dream that evaporates at our death.  When missing church to attend a super bowl party (ouch!), a family reunion (oh my!), or to pull in a few more hours at work (stop it!), consider the word of God that you would miss and its value. Would that have been the very word of God you needed to transform your life?  Lord, give us a second chance to receive that word!

“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” – Mark 4:20
At last, God’s word is accepted by those who have plowed their ground with worship, want more of Him, and desire His riches.  These check out of the hospital healed.  They don’t walk around with their heads hanging down, broken by every storm.  They stand and face of the trials and problems of life, and they stand on the promises of God.  

But the fruit they bear varies.  It varies because our love for Him varies.  Seek much, and you’ll find much.  Seek less, and that’s what you’ll have.  To assume you can feed your spirit enough of God’s word through only a Sunday Sermon is like assuming your Sunday dinner is enough for your flesh to live on all week.  The more of God’s Word you allow to be sown into your heart, the closer you will become to Him and the greater the harvest.  If you want more fruit – get more seed.
The truth is, we are all as close to God as we want to be.  He says ‘draw near to Me and I’ll draw near you’, but are week seeking to be closer? Are we allowing the distractions, sins, schedules, and cares of life to become more important to us than our relationship with God?

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