This morning we continue our series entitled “Leveling Up with the Word!” We have been looking at the parable of the sower. Let’s get back to it today.
Setting the stage:
(Mark 4:13-20 ERV)
“The farmer is like someone who plants God’s teaching in people. Sometimes the teaching falls on the path. That is like some people who hear the teaching of God. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the teaching that was planted in them.
Other people are like the seed planted on rocky ground. They hear the teaching, and they quickly and gladly accept it. But they don’t allow it to go deep into their lives. They keep it only for a short time. As soon as trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching they accepted, they give up.
Others are like the seed planted among the thorny weeds. They hear the teaching, but their lives become full of other things: the worries of this life, the love of money, and everything else they want. This keeps the teaching from growing, and it does not produce a crop in their lives.
And others are like the seed planted on the good ground. They hear the teaching and accept it. Then they grow and produce a good crop—sometimes 30 times more, sometimes 60 times more, and sometimes 100 times more.”
We have been dealing with the thorny ground for days. These are people who receive the Word of God, but their lives become “full of other things”. These “other things” wind up choking out the Word. Yesterday I shared a message entitled, “Simplify your life,” where I was discussing getting rid of the “other things,” so your life can be about God, His Word, His will, and His ways. Today’s message flows in this vein.
I want us to take a look at something Paul said in his first letter to the believers in Corinth. He made a similar statement in chapters six and ten. Let’s take a look at each from a couple of translations.
(1 Cor 6:12 Berean Study Bible)
“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything.
(1 Cor 6:12 The Message Bible)
Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.
(1 Cor 10:23 ERV)
All things are allowed,” you say. But not all things are good. “All things are allowed.” But some things don’t help anyone.
(1 Cor 10:23 AMPC)
All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. Just because you can do something, it does not mean you should give it access to your heart and mind.
— The Apostle Paul said, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor 6:12). If you allow yourself the “license” to consider something as a possibility for you, then it can wind up taking up valuable “cycles” in your heart and mind. Said another way, if you give a distraction your attention for five seconds, it can have your heart for five minutes. Even more dangerous, if you provide a distraction your focus for any length of time, it is robbing you of your focus on the things God wants you focused on.
— Yesterday, I talked about how vision restrains us. People with Godly vision and discipline know what they are called to do, and they live their lives with laser-focus on things that align with their divine purpose. Conversely, some believers know what they are called to do, because God has revealed it to them, but they lack the discipline to remain on the path God destined for them to walk down. As a result, their minds are distracted, their hearts are full of other things, and they are running the risk of dying before they fulfill the vision God placed in their hearts.
— People with vision are people postured to live a disciplined life. God has provided the vision, He has given them the grace to do what He called them to do, and if they develop the discipline to make the right decisions, they will maximize their purpose and potential before they die. That’s the goal!
— People with vision and discipline don’t do lots of things. And when they get involved in something, they are not haphazard about it. Instead, they are focused, have control of their minds (the way they think) and will (the way they make decisions), and only do what they believe they are called to do.
— To be clear, you can have vision and discipline and be involved in a bunch of concurrent efforts because Isabella and I are witnesses of this. But when you limit your efforts to the things God called you to do, you will ONLY do things you have the grace for. Since God has to do different things, He leads me to do them by His power and for His glory. I am doing them because I have the grace to do it. People ask me, “Rick, where do you find the time to do all the things you are doing?” My response is, “I have the grace for it.” If you don’t have the grace for something, you should not be doing it, because: 1) you are doing it in your own strength, which will cause burnout, and 2) you are taking your time and focus away from the things you are actually called to do. This is why you cannot compare yourself to others. They have their own grace, for their own race, and they are supposed to run it at their own pace! Don’t get distracted by comparing yourself to them. Do what you are called to do and maintain the discipline to do JUST THAT! Nothing else!
2. When you focus on your divine purpose and nothing else, you declutter your heart and mind.
— The problem with the thorny ground people, as Jesus describes it, is that they have too much stuff going on in their hearts and minds. While the Word is trying to work, their lives are “full of other things.” These “other things” compete with and eventually overtake the Word.
— I have maintained a busy schedule for the last 20+ years. I always have more tasks than time. I never stop working because I don’t have any more work to do. I always stop working because I choose to stop working and pick it up the next day. However, I purposely make time in my schedule to hear from God. I do this throughout the week. I block out entire weeks for this when I am on vacation. During this time, I give myself the license to release every project, every major task, and every nagging thought from my mind. It is during these times — when I am free to simply rest, dream, and enjoy God’s goodness — that I often hear God the clearest and that His Word does the most work in my life. You have to make time to rid yourself of every distractor, to clear your heart and mind of all the clutter, and to slow down long enough to hear God. When you do, you will find His Word working in your life.
— If you are too busy to give yourself at least five minutes to clear your heart and spend quality time with God, you are simply too busy. Part of being disciplined is being disciplined with your time. If you give God’s Word the time and space it needs to grow in your heart, uncluttered and unhindered by any distractions, the Word will do what it does, your life will produce fruit, and God’s Kingdom will advance on this planet through you.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, this is a season of LEVELING UP for me! I LEVEL UP by decluttering my heart and mind. I also level up my discipline. I don’t do things just because I can. I don’t get distracted by things that don’t align with my purpose. I refuse to allow my life to be consumed by “other things.” I make time to clear my heart, I am able to hear from You, and I allow Your Word to work in my life. I meditate and medicate on Your Word day and night. I rest in You and in Your promises. I release all the stress, struggle, and strain of this world. I give myself the license to dream, meditate, rest, and focus on You and Your divine purpose for my life. As I enter this day, I also enter into Your rest. Living this way I know GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper.