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Fruitful Ground

By Watchman | August 11, 2009

“Listen!  Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And it happened that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.  Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.  But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.  And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.  But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced….The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown.  When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.  These likewise are the ones sown on a stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.  Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.  But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it and bear fruit…”  (Mark 4: 3-8, 14-19)

     I’ve  heard farmlands referred to as being “in good heart”, a term we can all understand immediately, even if it’s the first time we’ve come across the phrase.  I’m not entirely certain who first coined this phrase, but I like to think that its origins lie in the parable of the sower and the seed as found in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8.  Jesus often used stories of everyday life to illustrate eternal spiritual truths.   A parable is a story with multiple layers; one is a literal story, the rest are metaphorical but just as valid.  The parable of the sower and the seed is one of the most well-known and often- preached-upon concepts of the New Testament, but in these last days it is more important than ever to search our spirits and ask ourselves the all-important question, “In what shape is the ground of my heart?”

          “These are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown.  When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.”  Never in modern days has this ground taken up so much of the potential harvest as is does now.  With the growth of political correctness has come a widely disseminated idea that evangelism equates to religious oppression.  Often now those who hear the word of God have been saturated for years in the notion that God is a myth created by weak but fanciful minds, or in the idea that even if there is a God He could hardly care what happens to His created beings.   When the precious name of Jesus is spoken, there is an invisible, automatic switch to the “off” position in their spiritual hearing.  To many of these people, science, technology and “rational” thought has replaced the Almighty.  They honestly are incapable (for the time being) of understanding that our God is a God of order and creativity, or that science is by no means incompatible with the word of God but is a glimpse into the creative mind of God.  According to the referenced Scripture, “Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.”  This condition of the heart is the easiest for Satan to deal with because it involves only the closing of a heart already inclined (as all are until they come to Christ) to rebellion against God.  Throw in the repeated use of the name of Jesus the Savior as a swear word until the little piece of the heart that knows untold of the glory of God is completely desensitized, and Satan’s work is complete.  He doesn’t have to talk people into being rapists or serial killers, just deafen them to the voice of the Creator.  Has the seed that has been directed toward you fallen by the wayside?

     “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”   All seeds need to be cultivated.  Almost any seed will spring up according to its nature, but if it is not watered or fed, the root will quickly shrivel and dry up, and the plant will die.  The word of God is the same.  Sometimes an unbeliever will hear the word spoken by an unusually gifted evangelist and his heart will thrill to the message of eternal life and grace in our Lord Jesus Christ.  He will bow his head and pledge his heart to the Lord and rejoice for a short while and then…nothing.  The first eloquently-sarcastic atheist  laughs at his new-found beliefs or his job is threatened by a superior who dislikes his faith and the word planted in his spirit shrivels and dies.  Things begin to go wrong and he sees them as the fault of an uncaring or mean-spirited God.  I am sometimes skeptical of evangelists who brag that at their last camp meeting in some foreign country  (or even in this one) “1,000 [or 20,000 or 50,000] souls were saved”.  All one can really be certain of is how many hands are raised or how many people come forward during the highly emotionally-charged gathering  to claim a life in Christ.  Some of these professions of faith will be genuine, life-changing acceptances of our Lord.  Some will be an emotional but quickly-over-with impulse.  A dear friend of mine who once volunteered as a counsellor at a Billy Graham crusade was quite disconcerted to find that after she had led so many people to Christ during the crusade, a vast majority of them were annoyed to hear from her when she followed up on them a week later.  Accepting Christ should not be done on an excited whim, but in the knowledge of our need to submit ourselves to God and accept the sacrifice of His Son for our sins.  In no other way will our acceptance of the word be able to take root.  How can we know if our seed falls on stony ground as opposed to good ground?  Often we cannot.  That is why Jesus told us we were not to judge others.  His words were never intended to mean that we were not to condemn what God judged to be evil as evil, but to make us understand that the condition of the heart is between each person and God, and only God is qualified to judge the heart.  But I’m certain you know the condition of your own heart.  Has the root of your faith begun to shivel up under the onslaught of the politically correct condemnation of  placing God at the center of our public lives?  Is your heart stony ground?

     “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  My heart aches for all who are slipping onto the thorny ground Satan has laid for our destruction!  Beloved brothers and sisters, I know how hard it is in evil times to prosper spiritually and to bear fruit.  As our finances become more and more unstable, as our governments try to push us further and further away from the kingdom of God and nearer to the worship of secular humanism, as our school systems and our media work together to teach us that we are worth as people what we are worth financially (in other words, we are worth what we are worth), as bills come in and the cost of living goes up, as the hellish lies that we can kill babies in the womb and that promiscuous sex is healthy are accepted as truths–all these things combine to crowd out the seeds that have been planted in the heart of the believer.  Blessed is the one who can uproot those thorns before they have a chance to spread and bury the good seed!

     “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit; some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”  Sometimes the seed is sown on good, fertile ground, and the fruit that comes up quickly will be a bountiful harvest.  But you know what?  POOR GROUND CAN BE CULTIVATED!   Praise God!  Stones can be raked away and thorns can be uprooted and tossed on the rubbish pile to be destroyed!

     The most important thing to remember is the the seed that has been sown in us is VERY good seed!  The seed is the word of God–we receive it both as Scripture and in the person of Christ Jesus, the Messiah.   John said that “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  This seed is stronger than life itself.  It will, in the end, destroy all the weeds and thorns and stones that come against it.  God has given us His Word to live in our hearts, to guide our lives and renew and rejuvenate our flagging spirits.  If we accept His word, if we write it on our hearts and our souls, He will never leave or forsake us in this life, and will grant us  an eternity with Him in the next.  He loves His own and wants us to grow in Him, and then to be fruitful and spread more seed to those who have not yet received any. 

     We are running out of time.  The world grows dark in sinfulness,  yet God still holds those who love Him in the palm of His hand.  He will see to our needs according to His riches in glory; He has promised us His grace that will be sufficient strength for us in our weakness, and He promises to be with us always, “even unto the end of the world.”   He has promised us strength to fight the “powers and principalities” of this present darkness.  What kind of ground is your heart?  Please, if you haven’t yet done so, cultivate it until your heart is ready to accept and keep the good seed alive–if you do, the Lord will bless you so that your harvest will be a bountiful one.

Maranatha!

Topics: Kingdom Living, Salvation | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Fruitful Ground”

  1. Alexander Says:
    August 22nd, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Excellent post! And good timing as well. It’s time for me to check my seed!

    Blessings!

    Alex Murashko Jr
    Outreach New Media

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