The Center Fellowship
The Center Fellowship

The Sower and the Seeds

RS: I know a lot of you in this room well, and I’ve known you for years, and I’ve seen how God has used you in other people’s lives, and I think that’s what He wants to do, and that’s why I encourage you to pray consistently Colossians chapter 4, verses 2 and 3. That God would open up a door, see, I don’t believe that you should just go barge into somebody’s life and say, see, this is what you need to do. That’s why we pray here, this is my prayer, Lord, I pray that You open up a door, I’m ready to be used by You, I’m looking to You to open up a door to be used in the life of somebody else. I promise you that if you will pray that, it will happen. Just get ready. Today I want to look at a parable that is very well known and it’s one of the few parables where Jesus gives us the parable and then gives us the interpretation of the parable, and even though He gives us the interpretation of the parable, you still really kind of have to dig into it and see what is He really saying here. And, it’s the parable of the Sower and the Seed, and it’s found in three of the Gospels. We’re going to go and read the account of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew 13. So, if you would, turn to Matthew chapter 13. David Faulkner, I’m going to let you read the parable, and Robert Jolly, I’m going to let you read the interpretation of the parable. The parable is in Matthew 13, verses 3 though 9. The interpretation of the parable is verses 18 through 23.

Unidentified audience member: I have a question. Is that fairly unique that you would have the parable, and then right following it, you would have the interpretation?

RS: He, there are a couple, but most of them, no, He doesn’t do that. But they asked Him. What does the parable mean, so He gave them the response. All right, David?

David: Then He told them many things in parable, saying, “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

RS: Very good. Robert?

Robert: “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who receives the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the Word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, he quickly falls away. The one who quickly received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke that Word, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the Word and understands it, and produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

RS: Thank you Robert. Guys, what is this parable about?

The seed is God’s Word, and the soil is man’s heart.

Bill: I have some notes from a number of years ago. The seed is God’s Word, and the soil is man’s heart.

RS: Bill cheated, but Drew Scott did the same thing yesterday. (Laughter) Yeah, we studied this six or seven years ago, but I felt like it was time to come back to it. Ultimately, it is the various ways that people respond to the Gospel when it’s presented to them. Understanding that the soil represents the heart. Now, this is a good question. Who does the sower represent? Who is the sower that sows the seed? It’s not God. Yeah, Greg?

Greg: It’s us.

RS: Yes, it’s us! The seed is the Gospel, we’re the sowers. That’s the responsibility that God has given to His people. And the seed, it’s the same seed, it’s not different types of seed, it’s one seed, and it goes out on barren land, but it’s important to know that the sower is us, because the Bible is very clear that we are to be laborers in the harvest. What does Jesus say, the harvest is plentiful, but the problem is what? The laborers are few. But this is the responsibility that He has bestowed upon us. Keep your finger on Matthew and turn over to II Corinthians real quick. There’s a verse or two that I want to look at. II Corinthians 5, look at verse 19, you’ll pick it up at mid-sentence. It says, “Namely that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” By the way, I think if you had to take the entire message of the Bible and put it into a phrase, I think it would be, God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. That’s the ultimate intention of God, His desire is to see us reconciled to Him, but, of course, our sinfulness is what keeps us separated from Him, and so, what does it say? “Not counting their trespasses against them,” and then look what He says, and He has committed to us, the word of reconciliation.” The NIV says, “He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” He’s given that responsibility to us. And then in verse 20, he goes on and says, “Therefore, we are Christ’s ambassadors out in the world.” We are His representatives. That’s the way God has chosen to work. Fortunately, He also gives us the Holy Spirit, so it’s not just us, but we’re called to basically…this is one of my favorite verses, I pray it regularly, and I was sharing, we had a board meeting this week, and I said, this really is the approach the sinner takes. It’s in I Corinthians chapter 3:6. Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but it’s God who causes the growth.” But we’re called, we’re given the privilege to plant and water in people’s lives. So God basically has chosen to make His appeal to the world through us.

Now, A.W. Tozer, I don’t know if you are familiar with him. I’ve read two of his books. Tozer was a pastor in Chicago, and he lived back, I want to say, in the 30s and 40s and 50s, and this guy, he was incredibly forthright. He didn’t beat around the bush, he didn’t milktoast anything, he was just real straightforward. Let me read to you what he says, as we consider this our responsibility. He says, “In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God, and righteousness and Heaven as the other. These were opposed to each other, and the nature of them forever in deep grave irreconcilable hostility. Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides. He could not be neutral. For him, it must be life or death, Heaven or Hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continues here below. Men look forward to Heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy peace in the home that’s prepared for them. How different today is. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground. We’re not here to fight. We’re here to frolic, but this world as a playground, instead of a battleground, has become accepted and practiced by the vast majority of Christians today.” He doesn’t beat around the bush. In fact, when you look at the first soil. Go back to Matthew 13, look at the first soil in verse 4. It says, as he sowed, some seed fell beside the road and the birds came and ate them up. Then in verse 19, he says when anyone hears the word of the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom the seed was sown beside the road. He speaks of the evil one and the role he plays to keep people from coming to Christ. Paul speaks about this a lot. In II Corinthians chapter 4 verses 3-4, Paul says, “Even though the word of the cross is veiled,” in other words, even though people don’t see it and understand it, “it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the glory of Christ.” He has blinded the minds of the unbeliever. That’s II Corinthians 3:3-4. The god of the world seeks to blind peoples’ minds. People that are perishing. He doesn’t want them to see the light. Now, when it says, people ask, the god of this world, it sounds like he’s a god. He is a fallen angel. He is not a god, but he has deluded people into giving their allegiance to his cause. It’s kind of like money. Money is not a god, but people make it their god. They give their allegiance to it. They displace God with it. And the thing is, Satan does not have to work hard to win man’s allegiance because in John 3:19, we’re told that the Light has come into the world for men to see, but the problem is, remember what it said? Men love what? The darkness. So he doesn’t have to work real hard to snatch away what is sown in the heart. I really do believe, because I can say this about my own life, a person who is not a Christian does not have a clue they’re walking in darkness. In the Bible, in three different places, Jesus says, either you’re with me, or you’re against me. There is no middle ground. I had no idea that I was against Him. I didn’t see myself that way, but I was blind. You know, there’s a huge deception involved here.

I tell you what it reminds me of. I think because of my own father, I find World War II to be very interesting. I’m kind of a World War II buff. I love to watch documentaries, and if you go back after World War I, basically Germany was devastated. They had to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which crippled them. And then the Great Depression comes along. Germany was in ruins. Then this man comes along, Adolf Hitler, and he appeals to their pride as Germans. He preached a message of nationalism, the hope of a better life, and they followed his vision, not realizing until it was way too late that they had given their allegiance to such a diabolical figure, and yet, the reason Hitler was so successful is that he was so appealing. Just like this world is. Just like basically, as it says in I Corinthians 12:14, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Now I realize, modern people don’t really teach that much about this. It’s not appealing to the modern mind. It’s kind of more superstitious sounding. But let me tell you something guys, this is spiritual reality. And when Satan is most successful, it’s kind of when we think he’s kind of over there on the sidelines. Not a factor in life.

I had not planned on sharing this story, but it just kind of came out yesterday morning, and it kind of stunned a bunch of people. Some of you may have heard it, and I would not share this story if the person who told me it hadn’t been an eyewitness. I don’t know how many of you know, or remember, Glenn Campbell who worked here. Did any of ya’ll know Glenn? Matt will tell you. Glenn is as credible of a person as you’ll meet. He’s not going to exaggerate, he’s not going to make something up. He’s a man of great integrity, but he shared with us one day about participating in an exorcism. Do you know what an exorcism is? He was at a camp up in North Carolina, a Young Life camp called Windy Gap, and he was just a counselor, and I think he was in his early 20s. And the guy that was in charge, a very Godly man, approached Glenn and another counselor and said, I need your help, I need you to come to my office. He said I’m here to bring a young man in here who we’re convinced is demon-possessed. And I’m going to attempt to basically pray the demon out of him, and I need ya’ll to help. And Glenn said, what in the world do you want me to do? He said, it petrified him. He said, I want you guys to be out here praying, and praying out loud. And they brought the young man in, and whoever the guy was, the older man, starts praying over this young boy, and he begins ordering the demon out of him, in the name of Jesus, and the shed blood of Christ. Then Glenn told me, all of a sudden something happened to that boy, and he said it was like somebody pushed him up against the wall. Then Glenn said, this is the honest truth, he was two feet off the ground. His feet were two feet off the ground. Back against the wall, and they prayed, and it was intense. Then he said, the young man fell to the ground and went limp. Glenn said, I thought he was dead. He didn’t move. I thought he was dead. And we went over, and it’s like he had been asleep and he began to wake up, and the young man had no recollection of what had happened. Again, I wouldn’t share this story if the person who shared it had not been an eyewitness, because it’s almost too hard to believe. But Glenn has had several experiences, you know, he’s in Africa now, and he has seen this in some of the tribal villages of Africa, as well. But guys, this is spiritual reality, and for us to take it for granted, I think, is a big mistake. I want to read one more verse, then I’ll stop and see what comments you have. So, you see what is happening here. In this parable, in II Corinthians 4 that I just read to you, that Satan desires to blind the mind, to snatch away the message. To snatch away the Gospel. There’s a great verse, I’ll just read it to you real quick, it’s Acts 26:18, and you kind of see that this is Paul talking. He said, “God’s desire is to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the dominion of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those that have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Let me stop. Anybody have a comment or question? Jim?

Jim: M. Scott Peck, a lot of people know, wrote The Road Less Traveled, a Harvard trained psychiatrist, he wrote a book right before he died, about participating in two exorcisms that were similar to what you just said.

RS: Yeah, he wrote, it was at the end of the book, and it was The People of the Lie. You read it, and it’s chilling. Very chilling. Anybody else? What I want to share with you now is a critical part of this parable. If you’re still in Matthew 13, I want to go back to the interpretation, and, in verse 19, when He says, anyone who hears the Word of the Kingdom and doesn’t understand it, I think this crucial phrase, they don’t understand it, and therefore, the word is just snatched away. It has no impact. It doesn’t penetrate the soil at all. It really [recording drops out here] falls on the wayside. But go down and read the fourth guy. The fourth soil, verse 23, and the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the Word, [recording drops out here] he understands it. The first one doesn’t understand it, the second guy understands it. Understanding, obviously, is a crucial part of this. This is why when we do The Investigative Study, we started off with three sessions, now it’s five, because it is so crucial, in my opinion, that a person totally understands the Gospel. I think it’s absolutely crucial, for one to become a Christian, to understand it. I met with a guy yesterday and a guy the day before, and we’re right now in the midst of session 4, one is on session 5, and you can tell, these guys, it’s like something they’ve never heard before, and it’s not like they haven’t, I just don’t think they ever understood it. Maybe nobody has really ever explained it. But I think this is crucial, part of sowing the seed in people’s lives, is that they have to have a true understanding of the Gospel. A great example of this in the Bible is in the book of Acts. Take a minute and turn to Acts chapter 8.

Jim: Richard, I know you had successes and failures in that process. How do you deal with that?

RS: You mean, where somebody says, walks away. You know, it’s kind of interesting, Jim, I don’t do this out of malice in any way, or spite, but I want them to truly understand that they’ve rejected the message. In fact, I had one guy, he’s in one of these groups. He walked, and six months later, he came back. I said, what brought you back? He said, and this is literally what he told me, I can’t help but think, if I died tonight, I would go to hell. That’s what he said. Anybody else? Take a minute, and read, silently, Acts 8:26-38. Does everybody know who Philip is? He’s one of the 12 disciples. He’s just one that was not as well known, but he’s one of the 12 disciples, and what you have here, is this Ethiopian was seeking to understand what he was reading in Isaiah 53. Ya’ll remember Isaiah 53? In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, I think it may be the most significant chapter in the Old Testament, because it talks about the suffering servant who will be pierced through for our transgressions, who will be crushed for our iniquities, and our iniquity would fall upon him, and that’s what Philip was reading. He went to Jerusalem to worship God. He believed in the God of the Old Testament, but he lacks understanding, and he said, I need somebody to help me understand this. And basically, he says, now, as I’m reading this, is Isaiah talking about himself, or is he talking about somebody else? And that gives Philip the opportunity to explain, to share the Gospel, and to say that he’s talking about Jesus, and explains exactly what took place at the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. And now he understands it and becomes a Christian and is baptized. So, the bottom line, guys, is, in the first soil, there is no understanding, in the fourth soil, there is understanding, and the Word, the seed, penetrates the soil, or penetrates the heart. And it bears fruit. But the thing about this parable guys, is there’s not just two soils. There are four, and so, in the balance of our time, let’s look at the second soil and the third soil. I think everybody would agree that neither are desirable in the sight of God, and, to be quite honest, you get to the second and third soils, and you really are left with opinion about what that really means, but I had the chance to read commentaries, to read what scholars think. I read a very prominent book by a guy named Craig Blomberg, which is Interpreting the Parables, but when we look at the second soil, you see it laid out in verse 5 and 6, Matthew 13:5-6, where he says, others fell on the rocky places, where they didn’t have much soil and immediately sprang up because they had no soil, but when the sun arose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. In verses 20 and 21, the interpretation was, in the one that was sowed on the rocky place, this was a man who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no firm root in himself, but it is only temporary, when affliction and persecution arise because of the Word, immediately he falls away. Questions? Again, this is opinion. Was this person on the second soil a Christian?

Unidentified audience member: Probably a believer.

RS: Anybody else? No opinion?

Jim: I think this addresses the whole issue of who [recording drops here]. God is the one that affects the heart, like you said, Apollos and Paul.

RS: I agree.

Unidentified audience member: What about lukewarm?

RS: Okay. I’m going to give you my opinion.

Unidentified audience member: Let me ask a quick question. When he uses the word root in here, is that like there is just no…

RS: Yeah, I think that’s a critical point. There’s no root, in other words, the seed never really penetrated the soil. Basically, I think, when it gets right down to it, when he interprets it, he says, when affliction and difficulty come because of the Word, they fall away. I think that’s important too. It’s like those that respond to the Gospel, but, over time, as they understand the Christian life, and the Christian commitment, what it really means to walk with God, to be labeled a Christian out in the community, that’s too much, and they fall away, and I have seen this with men. Some would say, he lost his faith. Can you lose your faith? In this case, they never had true faith. They never experienced the new birth. There’s a famous sermon, a guy by the name of Ray Comfort, priest, and he said something interesting, he says that if you see a person that seems to respond to the Gospel and then drifts away from it, in his opinion, he says, often people respond to the Gospel, but it’s not the true Gospel. And this is what he says. So often, a person who is basically struggling, down and out, somebody says, come, give your life to Jesus, He’ll make your life better. He’ll give you love, joy, and peace. He’ll give your life meaning. And they respond to that message. And he says what happens, is they end up, and I shared this at a Sunday School class, and a woman came up, and said, that’s what happened to my daughter. Somebody says, come to Jesus, He’s going to make your life great, and she said, okay, and things didn’t go great, and guess what? She chunked it. You see, what comfort is saying they suffer from, is they don’t understand the true Gospel. Responding to the true Gospel goes back to that understanding. What do you need to understand? I am a sinner. I need God’s forgiveness so I can be restored and reconciled to God and this comes through repentance, surrender, and faith. And when you do this, you begin a relationship with God, and He begins to do a work in your life, and then what follows over time is a by-product, is the love, the joy, the peace, the meaning. But you have to understand and respond to the true Gospel, and, to me, the key, I know ya’ll get tired of me talking about this, but, to me it’s the most important part, is the repentance, it’s the surrender. Because when that happens, it’s like you’re opening your heart so the seed can come in and really take root. Comments or questions?

Unidentified audience member: Richard, I can’t help but be reminded of C.S. Lewis’ comment that we’re not all in the same place. Some people have a higher set point for peace, joy, and happiness than others. You got the guy who’s sort of got a bad attitude, but he could be well along the way, and not the Pollyanna, so, it’s not really up to us to judge this guy’s saved, that guy’s not. It’s up to God.

RS: Yeah, Brad you had something?

Brad: The seed is a confusing metaphor on the one hand, confusing may not be the right, maybe misleading or overly simplified, because it suggests that all seed is the same, but in Philip Yancey’s last book, Vanishing Grace, talks about how the seed that a lot of Christians sow now is the seed of love. And people don’t hear the same seed, it’s either you or the seed.

RS: That’s a really good point. In fact, that’s what Comfort was just saying, he says to go out and say come to Jesus, He’s going to make your life good and better, and you won’t have any problems, that’s a false seed, if you want to use that terminology. That’s why, in the parable, when you sow the seed, you want it to be clear and you want it to be on target, you want it to be correct, and you want it to be where people can understand it. And I think, again, in my opinion, that’s one of the main messages of this parable, because it uses the word understand. Yeah, Robert?

Robert: Richard I have quite a few young adults that work with me and we get into some spiritual discussions, and it seems like they call themselves Christians, they believe in God, they believe Jesus is the Son of God, but the surrender and the relationship part, they don’t want any part of that. That’s why I said they’re believers, but…

RS: I gotcha. It’s kind of like this. I went to a funeral six years ago, and, after the funeral, this man who I knew, I knew him, but not real well, he was 89 years old, and he came up to me, and he said, and he was kind of shaken, and he said, I need your help. I said, what can I do for you? He said, I just realized something during this service. I realized that all these years, churchgoing man, really good guy, I just realized that I’ve had Jesus up here. He’s never made His way down here in my life. I said, well I can help you there. We met, and this guy, he really committed, he’s 95, healthy as a horse, dynamic Christian man today, but it started at 89. Because all of his life he had it up here, but it never made it down here. That’s why we have to understand, the repentance part. As Robert says, so many people, that’s the only part they don’t like. They like the message, but when it comes to the idea of surrendering, that’s what causes men to walk, usually. Anybody else?

Unidentified audience member: In the years, I picked this up somewhere, kind of like what you were saying, Robert, in this given situation, if you were to try to nurture and fertilize the seeds that are there, and not pull the weeds, pull everything up, but you can allow the good crop to overtake the weeds over a period of time, and that may be reaching, but, I think if you worked with those people that have the weeds along there with them, it can overtake the bad stuff.

RS: I agree. I have had men who have shown up for this Bible study, I didn’t know it, but at the time, they were not Christians. But they’d start coming, and they start listening, I had one guy, he said to me, after coming about six or eight times, he said, you know, I don’t think you and I are on the same page. I said, well let’s try to get on the same page, and I started meeting with him, and he didn’t understand the Gospel, and finally, he got it. Alright, we’re going to run out of time. We’ve got to look at the third soil. Any thoughts on the third soil?

Unidentified audience member: Seems like the one that applies to more believers.

RS: Applies to us, yes. Almost every commentator I read thought, this third one is a Christian, because it took root and was growing, and yet was choked in the midst of its growth, and I think it’s very clear that you can be a Christian and not be real fruitful, and I agree with that. Here in the parable, we’re given reason why Christians might not be fruitful. What are the reasons? What does He say? The worries of this life, and, notice he doesn’t say wealth, does He? He says the deceitfulness of it. Let me ask you this guys. How is wealth, and the pursuit of wealth, deceptive?

Unidentified audience member: Like when you get it, that’s the answer to happiness.

RS: That’s exactly right. Anything else?

Unidentified audience member: It’s a false god.

RS: It’s a false god. Most people think it money and wealth is the greatest competitor with god more than anything else, and I think that’s probably true. If you think about it, this is what Tim Keller says, for a person who is not a Christian, this is what wealth can do, and he quotes Proverbs 11:4, where it says, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath.” Keller says, “Wealth and the pursuit of wealth can easily blind people to judgment day issues.” Can blind us to issues of eternity. I think that’s true.

Unidentified audience member: I can still remember one year sitting in the old HRH conference room, the room with angles on it, and the guy who is a physician said this person had incredible wealth, and he found out he had cancer. And his best buddy walked in and said, well you just need to find somebody to fix it. You know, you’ve got all the resources, somebody can fix it. And he died.

RS: He died, I remember that. That was very powerful. You know, as a Christian, it can also deceive us. We’re not immune to it. Just because we have Christ in our lives. It can deceive you in a number of ways, and one of the things it can do, I think, it can cause any of us to have disordered priorities, where bearing fruit is not near as important as the riches of life. Think about it, as you think of your priorities, how important is it that we be fruitful Christians? I had made notes on this and I couldn’t find it, so I went back and watched it, that’s one of the beauties of Google and YouTube. I went into Google and typed “final scene from Schindler’s List“. Did any of you see Schindler’s List? Won the Academy Award for best picture. It is a powerful movie. It’s hard to watch. It’s a powerful movie, and it’s about Oscar Schindler, who was a German industrialist, and he basically had, he was a businessman, and he was pretty ruthless, he had a number of factories, and I don’t remember what he produced, but it was important to the German war effort in World War II, and when he began to notice what was going on in Germany, and what was happening to the Jews, he purposely hired Jewish people to work for him, with the intent of basically having their life spared, and he did it under the auspices of “I need these people.” But the Germans kept pressuring him, that we want to take these people who were working for him and exterminate them. And so, he began to bribe them. He uses money to bribe them, and, in the end, he saved the lives of 1200 Jews. And they’re called Schindler’s Jews, that’s what they called them, and, in fact, they even have reunions. Not only the people that were saved, but their children, and their children’s children. It’s a big deal, but, it’s so moving at the end, because one of the things, if you watch the movie, Schindler was a real womanizer, he started these businesses not to save the Jews, he did it to make money. He was a wealthy guy, and he spent his money lavishly, and at the end of the movie, it takes three minutes to watch, very powerful, and he’s standing there with all these Jews, and Ben Kingsley, Liam Neeson plays Schindler, and Ben Kingsley, who is representing all these Jews that he saved, they gave him this little pendant, and it’s very moving, and he just looks at it, and he goes up to Kingsley, and whispers to him, “I could’ve saved more, I could’ve saved more.” Kingsley, said, he’s trying, saying, no, no, no, and he says, “Yes, I had so much money, and I squandered it, all on me, I could’ve saved so many more.” Kingsley again, trying to dissuade him, says no, look at all these people here. And then Schindler, he has real nice expensive automobile, says, “That automobile could have saved ten more people,” and then he pulls the pen out of his coat pocket, and says, “This gold pen could have saved two more people.” And what’s so powerful is that he had this awakening at the end of the war that I squandered so much of my life and my resources on me when I could have saved so many more folks. You know, I think what you see here is what I said, the pursuit of wealth can cause us to have disordered priorities, and that’s what the parable is saying, where the deceitfulness of wealth can choke out the Word, and it can lead us to be unfruitful. And that’s what we don’t want to happen. Basically, John Stott believes the third, as I said, is a Christian.

“They give the Word a mixed reception, they receive the Word, but they receive other things in profusion, as well. They can’t discern between what is worldly and what is Godly. They pride themselves on keeping an open mind, so open that they can keep nothing in or out of it. In the end, business, pleasure, and wealth, like thorns, choke their spiritual life.”

And, I think we can all agree, this can easily happen to any of us. It can, let’s be honest. F.W. Robertson, a theologian, says, “This third person is a picture of a person with a divided heart.” That’s another good way to look at it. He says, “Christ does not say, a person with a divided heart doesn’t have faith, but it’s a dwarfed, stunted, and feeble faith, and it keeps you from really growing and bearing fruit.” As you look back in your own life, there are periods, and maybe you’re in a period like that right now, but there are periods where there is just no growth. And that leads really to the final challenge that I want to lay out before you, and this comes from the book by Craig Blomberg on Interpreting the Parables. He says this, and this is a good challenge for all of us guys. He says, “Farmers sow seed only in order for it to bear fruit. Without this result, plants are not really good for anything.” Basically what he’s saying, is, it’s like a farmer who has a bunch of fruit trees. What does the farmer expect from the fruit trees? To bear fruit, because if one of the trees doesn’t bear fruit, the best thing he can do is to tear it down and put one in who will bear fruit. Because if you plant trees to bear fruit, and they don’t bear fruit, they’re useless. And this is why the apostle Paul says, In II Timothy 2:21, and I have to tell you whenever I read II Timothy, I give it great reverence, not necessarily over any other of Paul’s letters, but it’s his last one, and he knows it’s his last one. He knows he’s about to die, so, I pay close attention. I love to read II Timothy, it’s got a wealth of great teaching, but he says, “We are to be vessels for honor, sanctified,” and listen to this, “useful to the Master.” Useful to the Master, so that you would be prepared for every good work. And guys, this is the challenge that I think we are all faced with. This should be our objective. To be growing and maturing in our faith, in our relationship with God, so that my life is useful to the Master and has the ability to bear fruit, wherever God chooses for me to be fruitful. And ultimately, I think we want to be that fourth soil, where we do grow and bear a harvest, bear fruit, and, I will say this, I know a lot of you in this room well, and I’ve know you for years, and I have seen how God has used you in other peoples lives. And I think that’s what He wants to do, and that’s why I encourage you to pray consistently Colossians 4:2-3. That God would open up a door. I don’t believe that you should go and barge into somebody’s life and say this is what you need to do. That’s why we pray here. Lord I pray that you would open up a door. I’m ready to be used by You, I’m looking to you to open up a door to be used in the life of somebody else, and I promise you, if you will pray that, it will happen. Just get ready.

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