This morning we continue our series entitled “Leveling Up with the Word!” We have been looking at the parable of the sower. So 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. Jesus ushered us into a dispensation of grace.
The Bible says, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). I have done a great deal of teaching about the difference between the dispensation of The Law (which was ushered in through Moses), and the one we are in today, under grace (which was ushered in through Jesus).
There is nothing wrong with the Law of Moses. The issue for us is that it is too right. The Law of Moses, which is comprised of the 10 Commandments (written on tablets of stone) and over 600 more commandments, is so holy that no human being could ever fulfill it. The good news is that Jesus fulfilled it for us. The New Testament now says, “We are no longer under the Law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14).
— God’s grace is unmerited, unearned, and in most cases, clearly undeserved.
— God does not bless us because we are good. He blesses us by grace because He is good.
2. Grace is not a license for sin or laziness.
Some people misunderstand the message of God’s grace and the freedom it provides to mean they can do whatever they want. Let’s look at how Paul explained it in Galatians and Romans. We will look at the first scripture in three different translations.
(Galatians 5:13 The Passion Translation)
Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do.
(Galatians 5:13 Easy to Read Version)
My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love.
(Galatians 5:13 Message Bible)
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.
Whenever I teach this, I often get some form of the following statement: “Wait a minute Rick. Does this means you can do anything you want? Does this mean you are free to sin?” Of course not. If you think this way, you are missing the message of God’s grace. Paul addressed this type of thinking in his letter to the believers in Rome. After making it clear that sin can never overtake grace, Paul asked the question: “So do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us more and more grace?” Of course not! Grace does not make you FREE TO SIN. Grace makes you FREE FROM SIN. So Paul answered his own question and said, “God forbid! Our old sinful life ended. It’s dead. So how can we continue living in sin?” (Romans 6:1,2).
In Galatians 5:13, the Apostle Paul said, “God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit.” To be clear, this freedom is not a freedom to sin. Or the freedom to do whatever you want. Paul continued and said, “Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.” Another translation reads, “But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm.” When you peel back the layers of revelation concerning what God is saying to us through Paul, what you realize is that God’s grace frees you from the limits and boundaries of mere humanity. We are free to allow God’s power to flow through us in this world. We are free to become the men/women we were born to be. We are free to live as human conduits of the divine. And this has nothing to do with sin, self, or selfishness. If all you think about is sin when you hear the message of God’s grace, you have missed the message altogether.
— Grace is not a license for laziness, selfishness, or sin. True grace is about receiving the power of God to live free from sin; it’s about doing what you were born and are destined to do and about operating in ways that exceed your ability, power, and strength.
— Grace puts God’s Super on your natural, enabling you to operate in the Supernatural. Grace empowers you to do what you could never do without God.
— When you get a revelation of God’s grace, and you open up your heart to His limitless power — free from the limits of your abilities and unbound from the perceived goodness (or lack thereof) of your performance — you are finally in a position to become a human conduit of the divine.
— This is how you get beyond the limits of humanity. This is how you experience heaven-on-earth. This is how God is able to freely flow through humans.
— This only happens when you decouple your expectation of God’s goodness towards you (faith) from your level of perceived performance towards Him (religion). Religion kills faith because your performance will never measure up to the size of your assignment. You cannot perform for it; you have to believe for it.
— If God only gave you what you deserve, you could never do what He has called you to do. If God only blessed you based on your performance, you would never be qualified to change the world on the level that He has called you to change it. God is not looking for you to earn it. God is looking for you to believe.
3. God’s grace does not exonerate you from the requirement to be good ground.
In my previous point, I went to great lengths to drive home the message of God’s grace. I wanted you to open your heart to the greatness of God’s love and the power of His unearned grace without being bound by the limits of your humanity. However, none of this will happen until you believe God.
— The same perfect and sinless person [Jesus] who ushered us into a dispensation of grace talked about our requirement to be good ground. Why? Because our ability to receive what God is saying (His Word) and believe it is our only limiting factor. We are only limited by our capacity to believe God. All things are possible for the person who believes (Mark 9:23). If we can believe, the impossible becomes possible for us.
— One of the greatest lessons we can glean from the parable of the sower is a message about the faith God requires of us. The people who are like the wayside soil don’t have faith because they did not even understand what God said. The people who are like rocky ground don’t have faith that endures because they are quick to give up at the first sign of opposition. The people who are like the thorny ground don’t have faith because their lives are focused on things other than God. The reason the good ground produces a harvest is because it receives the seed. It believes what God said. It meditates and medicates on God’s promises day and night. It does not have competing priorities. It is not focused on other things. It is not quick to give up. It positions itself to become a breeding ground for God’s Word. In that type of environment, God’s Word is able to produce.
— Some rely on God’s grace to the point where they put no requirement on themselves to do anything, and that is a perversion of the grace message. Jesus made it clear that that condition of our heart (the soil) will impact the yield of the seed (God’s Word) in our lives. Even in a period of grace, God expects us to be good ground.
— Don’t mistake the message of God’s unearned grace to mean that you don’t need to do anything. You have a requirement to seek divine understanding of the Word of God (wayside soil), to allow the Word to go DEEP into your life (rocky ground), and to rid yourself of the cares of this world, the love of money, and every selfish desire (thorny ground). If you don’t, the Word won’t produce a harvest in your life, and it won’t be because of God or His grace.
I will close with this point: the harvest God wants to produce in your life is tied to the seed He sows in your heart. There can be no harvest where there is no seed. This means that hearing from God is critical to your walk with Him. You must read His Word and spend time with Him in prayer, so you can hear the Holy Spirit. Without hearing from God, through His written Word or the Holy Spirit, you will not experience harvest because harvest comes as a result of seed! So please make time to level up your commitment to hearing from God in this season.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, this is a season of LEVELING UP for me! I LEVEL UP my life by opening my heart to Your amazing grace. You love me and bless according to Your goodness and not mine. However, I refuse to make Your grace my crutch. I know what You have commanded in Your Word. I know what I am led of Your Spirit to do. I declare that I am good ground, I walk in accordance with Your Word, I will my will to align with Your will, and I follow Your ways. I am free from the power of sin and satan. This means I am free to believe, receive and become the man/woman I am destined to be. I live free from the limits of humanity. I am free to be used of You to change the world. I enter this day as a human conduit of the divine. You live IN me. You flow THROUGH me. You change the world WITH me! And GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper.