Note: I am back from the Dominican Republic. The trip went well. The construction project is moving along. Thank you for your prayers!
This morning we continue our series entitled “Leveling Up with the Word!” We have been looking at the parable of the sower. Before I get into the parable I want to set up today’s message.
I recently had a conversation with a person who has a tendency to shift the blame for things that happen to them on other people. This is a young person and many young people have not matured to the point where they accept the full implications/ramifications of their actions. I was explaining to this person that God does not “DO” everything that happens to them. There are many factors involved in what happens in a person’s life. God has given us the right to be free moral agents. God honors the laws of cause and effect, sowing and reaping and the free will of humans, to the point where humans even have the right to reject God and His ways. And for those who claim to love God and who want to walk in His ways, their actions still impact the level at which God is free to operate in their lives.
With this as the backdrop, now let’s get into our parable. Jesus said:
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 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.”
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. The only variable in the parable of the sower is YOU.
The same sower provided the same seed to four different types of soil, yielding varying results. The results did not vary because of the sower or the seed. The results only varied because of the soil. You are the soil. Make no mistake, the way you receive God and His Word matters. You can be in the same place, at the same time, hearing the same Word as others, and you will ALL get different results from the Word received. If this is true (and it is), then you want to make sure you are good ground daily.
Whenever I read this parable, I have people to say, “I am good ground.” That sounds good. But in order for that to become a reality, in order for the hundredfold return to become your norm, you must apply what the parable is teaching. You must avoid the pitfalls of the first three types of soil and then leave the rest to God. The problem comes when people don’t want to do their part. They don’t take accountability for their own actions, and when things don’t turn out the way they wanted, they blame God. Don’t blame God. You get a vote in how things work out in your life. Your decisions and actions matter!
If you don’t like the harvest you are experiencing in life, you must check the seeds you are sowing (i.e., your decisions and actions).
2. Don’t be like the wayside soil.
The wayside soil received the Word, but these are the people who did not understand it. Since their understanding was unfruitful, satan was able to quickly come and snatch away the Word that was sown in their hearts. Don’t let this be you. Open your heart to receive God’s Word and seek divine understanding. You will never maximize what you do not understand.
James told us that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God to impart it to us (James 1:5). Solomon told us that wisdom is the principal thing and that if we are going to seek after anything, we should seek understanding (Prov 4:7). But this implies that we are taking the initiative. We are not sitting back, blaming God, saying, “Hey God, your Bible is too complicated. I don’t understand it. I will never understand it!” No. If you want to grow, you must take responsibility for your life. If you don’t understand something from God or His Word, ask the Holy Spirit. Ask your Pastor. Ask someone! Never stop growing. Never stop evolving as a child of God. Never stop becoming the man/woman you were birthed to be!
3. Don’t be like the rocky soil.
The rocky soil received the Word, but these are people who did not allow the Word of God to go deep into their lives. They only have a surface-level relationship with God. They may attend church regularly. They may have a Bible reference at the bottom of their email signature block. But when they face real pressure from the enemy because of the Word they received (quick note, the power of the Word actually attracts opposition from satan), they are quick to give up. These people have no staying power because they have not allowed the Word of God to go deep into their lives. Don’t let this be a description of you.
James said, “Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail” (James 5:10,11 MSG).
If you don’t have staying power, it is not because of God. He has given you the grace to endure. If you are quick to give up, it is because you chose to do so. Don’t blame God. Quitting is on you!
4. Don’t be like the thorny soil.
The thorny soil received the Word, but these people have allowed their lives to be “full of other things.” They have competing priorities. The Word can’t work in their lives because they are too consumed with the cares of this world, the love of money, and a lust for other things. While the Word is trying to grow in their hearts, it is choked out by all the other things these people have allowed to take priority over the Word. I have done a great deal of teaching about this type of soil over the last few weeks. If this is a picture of your life this morning, it is time to make some changes. Don’t blame God. Look at the person in the mirror and take accountability for the condition of your own heart!
5. Your decisions and actions matter.
In the parable of the sower, we see God’s commitment to us. No matter the condition of the soil, the sower (who is God) was committed to getting the seed of His Word down inside of it. He gave us all His Son. His Son gave us all His life. The Holy Spirit now gives us all His commitment to never leave us. So, to be clear, if things are not working out in your life, the issue is not with God. The issue is with us, the soil.
— God loves us by grace. That’s true. But God’s grace does not exonerate us from the implications or repercussions of our decisions.
— If you want God to fully operate in your life, you must cooperate with Him.
— The Word works, but it will only work in your life to the level that you allow the Word to do what it does.
If you don’t like where you are this morning, don’t blame God. Don’t be like Adam. When Adam sinned, he said to God, “Well, it was because of that woman you gave me” (Genesis 3:12). Don’t do that. Don’t blame God for your mistakes. Own your actions. Take accountability and responsibility. Acknowledge the fact that your decisions and actions matter, and you will be on the path to making progress.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, this is a season of LEVELING UP for me! I LEVEL UP my life by taking self-inventory today. I take responsibility for my actions. When the Word is not working for me, I don’t look to You; I look to me. If there is ever a question between You and me, the issue is ALWAYS me! Father, I want You to fully operate in my life. I want Your Word to produce the max harvest. Therefore, I die to self. I yield to You in all my ways. I remove every Blessing-Blocker. I clear my heart of all weeds. I give Your Word first place. I meditate and medicate on Your Word day and night. As I do, I declare that Your Word produces as harvest IN, WITH, and THROUGH me. This is how I LEVEL UP, and this is why I keep declaring that GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper.