This morning we continue our series entitled “Leveling Up with the Word!” We have been looking at the parable of the sower. Let’s continue through it today.
(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. You should not live each day with a reliance on God’s mercy.
Yesterday I shared a message about people who fail to take accountability or responsibility for their actions. These are people who routinely shift the blame for what happens to them on others or God. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with one of these people. When I emphasized the importance of owning our actions, this person pushed back. Their understanding of God is so warped that they said, “If God is going to consider every little thing I do, then He is being petty.” Wow. Since God is a loving God, this person’s point was that He should just protect us and bless us according to His goodness and not according to anything we do. While I agree that God does bless us according to His goodness, and I know we cannot work for nor earn the blessing of God, I also know the Bible is clear that 1) God set up a system on the earth that functions on sowing and reaping, and 2) God is looking for us to live a life pleasing in His sight.
In the parable of the sower, we see a sower who goes out of his way to provide seed to soil. The soil does not seek the sower; the sower seeks the soil. The sower provides the soil what it needs to produce a harvest. But the way the soil receives the seed actually dictates whether or not a harvest is produced. The condition of the soil impacts the production of the seed. While this is clear to me, it is obviously not clear to everyone. So, this leads me to share something about grace and mercy.
Grace is when God gives (the good) you what you do not deserve. Mercy is when God withholds the bad you do deserve. With grace, God blesses you beyond your performance. With mercy, God chooses to hold bad the negative harvest you EARNED when you sowed a negative seed. While I appreciate the mercy of God, a believer would have to be a fool to think that they can do whatever they want, sowing bad seed day in and day out, and then think God is going to withhold the negative harvest they actually worked to produce. While God does provide mercy, if God totally ignored our poor decisions and actions, He would be violating the system of sowing and reaping He set up. So, to be clear, bad decisions will not cause you to lose your salvation, but they will certainly cause you to receive a negative outcome because God will see to it that you reap whatever you sow.
Please do not live each day thinking that God’s mercy will cause Him to look the other way every time you willingly make poor decisions. God may give you mercy from time to time, but you are not called to live on mercy. You are called to live by faith. Living by faith, being led by the Holy Spirit, you require you to live a life that is pleasing in God’s sight. Your decisions and actions matter to God, so they should matter to you!
2. God’s love is never the issue.
— God loves you, and there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing you did caused God to start loving you, and nothing you do will make Him stop.
— Your actions/performance cannot make God love you any more or any less. God is love.
— You will never be more loved by God than you are in this moment. He loves you unconditionally. His love never fails.
— The sower provided all four types of soil the same opportunity. He did not discriminate. Likewise, God offers all people eternal life, and He goes out of His way to bless us by His unearned grace.
— Don’t think that God does not love you just because He allows you to reap a bad harvest when you sow seeds of poor decisions. That’s not a love issue. That comes down to us being free moral agents. God allows us to reap whatever we sow (good or bad).
3. There is a difference between inheritance and harvest.
(Romans 8:16, 17 TPT)
16 For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!”
17 And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that he is and all that he has.
My spiritual mother, Cynthia Brazelton, said the following about this passage: “There is a difference between an inheritance and a harvest. Harvest comes because of what I do. Inheritance comes because of WHO I AM!”
My first book comes out this Saturday, and in it, I talk about the difference between inheritance and harvest.
Your inheritance is tied to Jesus and what He did for you.
Because of Jesus, you are:
— declared righteous
— an heir of God
— forgiven of sin
Inheritance is not based on SEED; it is based on IDENTITY!
Harvest is different.
— Your inheritance has NOTHING to do with what you do
— Your harvest has EVERYTHING to do with what you SOW
— While God loves you unconditionally, the harvest you receive is based on the seeds you sow
— Your decisions and actions matter
4. Your performance does not impact God’s love, but it does impact His pleasure.
— You can love your children but be displeased with their actions.
— Jesus made it clear that the sower provided all four types of soil the same seed, but He also made it clear that the soils did not produce the same results.
— Jesus was not pleased with the first three types of soil. They failed to produce a harvest on the investment God made in them. This does not change God’s love, but it becomes an issue of His pleasure.
— God is pleased when we make the most of the opportunities He gives us.
— Your conduct does not change God’s love, but it does impact His pleasure. Therefore, your conduct dictates whether or not you live a life pleasing to Him.
— There is nothing God will withhold from those who walk upright before Him (Ps 84:11).
— God wants to live through you, so your life can produce the impact you are destined to make. However, if you selfishly disregard God and His ways, if you stubbornly pursue life on your own terms, and if your life becomes full of things you came up with without God, you will miss out on God’s best. It won’t be because God does not love you. It will be because you chose self over God, even though He loves you.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, this is a season of LEVELING UP for me! I LEVEL UP my life by taking self-inventory today. I look at myself. I consider my ways. I assess my actions. I evaluate my desires. I make a conscious effort to DIE to sin, self, and selfishness. My only desire is to please You. I only want what you want for me. I only want to become the person You destined me to be. So I refocus, recalibrate, and re-center myself completely in You. I appreciate mercy, but I won’t foolishly rely on it. I live a life that is pleasing in Your sight. I know You love me, but I also want You to be pleased with me. As I live 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.