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"A farmer went out to sow his seed...Some fell along the path...Some fell on rocky places...Other seed fell among thorns...Still other seed fell on good soil" (Matt. 13:1-23).

As a pastor, I must admit there are times when I look out at some members of the congregation and wonder what planet they are on. You know, the look says, "Go ahead, preacher, see if you can break through the ice!"

The hardened hearts of some people can often be quite frustrating. Likewise, it can be equally as frustrating for the individual who makes their way to a church in search of some spiritual insight, yet fails to find significance in the journey.

This parable that Jesus uses is a vivid illustration of the many ways that people respond to God's Word and why.

In this passage, we find three constants:
  1. The Sower. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and He desires to do a work in each of our lives.
  2. The Seed. The Word of God planted in our life has potential to bring forth good fruit. God's Word never changes. Our method of presentation may change. Society around us may change, and even cry out for some NEW doctrine.

    Yet the seed of God's Word stands firm. When God plants His Word in our hearts, He is expecting a specific harvest; holding true to the principle that we reap what we sow.
  3. The Season. In keeping step with the Spirit, we find that it is always harvest time. We are to live in a continuous cycle of sowing and reaping.
The only real variable Jesus mentions is: the soil (or mankind). Just as one plat of land may have numerous variations in soil type, so is each person's receptivity of the Word of God.

There are, however, some steps that we can take to prepare our lives and those to whom we minister, to bring forth good fruit:

Open Your Heart (v.19)
People often enter a worship service or even one on one ministry, with a "wall up" approach. Bitterness, skepticism, attitude, and fear will often keep the door shut for God to enter into the life of an individual.

I'm not implying that people should make themselves so vulnerable that they fall for anything. However, an open mind will give good seed a place to settle into their life.

As ministers, we should do our best to create an environment where people feel safe enough to open their hearts to one another and to God. Otherwise perfectly good seed will continue to bounce off of their hearts and onto the path.

Harry Houdini was famous for issuing a challenge in nearly every city he went. He boasted that he could be locked in any jail cell in the country, and in a short time set himself free.

One time things did not go as planned. Thirty minutes, then an hour passed. Finally, bathed in sweat after two hours, he sat to the floor in disgust. He leaned back against the door and it suddenly swung open. It was never locked at all!

In his mind, the door was locked; and that's all it took to keep him from opening it up and walking out.

Develop Roots (v.21)
Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing." We must connect to the Body of Christ. So often, people miss out on the value of relationship with other Christian believers.

We are His representatives. It is the fellowship and connectedness with one another that keeps our faith encouraged. If our soil resist root establishment, we will not make it through the storms of life.

Define Your Priorities (v.22)
If we allow the cares of this life to destroy our faith in God, it is a good indication our priorities are out of order. Our relationship with God is to be first in life. He said, "...You shall have no other gods before me." And if we don't make at first things first, someone or something else will find the way into that slot.

When your relationship with God is he top of your agenda, everything else (family, health, finances, relationships, etc.) will be under His authority and His blessing.

Bring Forth Fruit (v.23)
There is so much joy to be found in productivity. Once we have conditioned our soil to receive God's Word and understand God's desire to bless us; we are able to apply scriptural principles to our life and see a bountiful harvest spring forth! And Jesus said, "By their fruit you will know them."

Copyright © Lighthouse Christian Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Stephen Shives
Web site: Finish Line Christian Ministries
 
The mission of Finish Line Christian Ministries is to encourage God's people to finish well. We believe this is the most exciting hour in church history; and that God is calling every believer to rise up and stand as one.
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