Sunday, June 7, 2015

Good Seed, Bad Ground

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. “And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. “But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”  Matthew 13:3-9  NKJV

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my relationship with God is just how often He chooses to use circumstances in my everyday life to teach me lessons that I can also find in His Word.  Now although I said it is enjoyable, that does not mean it cannot at times be frustrating as well.  Such was the case this past week as I continued to work in my garden, watering and cultivating while anxiously waiting to see the first sprouts emerge from the soil.  Waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and finally discovering that fully two thirds of the seed I planted was not going to germinate. 

“Why me Lord?”  Have you ever asked that question?  Well as I was contemplating the task of reseeding in hopes of a better outcome the second time around, I began to wonder what exactly might have gone wrong.  Was it bad seed, or bad ground, or too hot or too cold, or over watering, or under watering, you get the picture.  It was about this time that God began to speak to me again about the parable of the sower, and the whole subject of the difference between good seed and bad seed, good ground and bad ground, and the responsibility of the sower towards his crop.

 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.  Luke 8:11-15  NKJV

It is a given that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the seed of the Word of God.  In the parable of the sower it is all about the type of ground that receives the seed.  As I thought of that, I recalled that while two years ago I had enough pole beans to feed an army, last year they did not do well at all.  Then it occurred to me that last year I changed the location in the garden where I planted them.  So I began to wonder if within my garden area, I have different types of ground which may or may not like what seed I choose to plant there.  

In the parable, there are four different types of ground and only one will produce fruit. Considering that, my thoughts then went to Jesus saying that one of the problems was the birds which came and ate the seed. Great. I wonder if it makes a difference that I love birds and encourage them to take up residence in my yard by having a large bird feeder and several birdhouses I have built just for them.  What is the possibility they repay my generosity by eating the seed I plant in my garden?  I have never before thought about constructing a scarecrow, but having considered all of the possibilities, I may decide to have a little fun and make one just to see what it will do.

I believe I have done a pretty good job at removing all of the rocks in my garden, as well as keeping the weeds out too.  So if I eliminate those possibilities it would appear there are only two possibilities I need to address.  I replanted this past week so we will see if we have a better result the second time around, but as I was replanting another thought came to mind.  What kind of garden would I have if I chose to let my frustration and disappointment stop me from trying again?   The answer to that is easy enough; I would have no crops to harvest at the end of the summer.

I believe a question we all should ask ourselves is have I ever let the frustration I feel from the lack of results stop me from sowing the seed of the Word of God?  If you look at the parable of the sower, you realize that all of the different types of ground were present in the area in which he was planting, yet it did not stop him from sowing.  I have been reading Paul’s letters to Timothy and it certainly appears that Timothy was experiencing frustration and disappointment as well.  One of the things I noticed in Paul’s words was his encouragement to Timothy to “continue”.

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.  1 Timothy 4:16  NKJV

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  2 Timothy 3:14-15  NKJV

Taking a good look around at the world in which we live today, I believe we could make the case that the ground is getting much less hospitable for planting seed.  Fertile ground is disappearing at an alarming rate, and it seems the birds and rocks and thorns are growing exponentially.  Yet as sowers, we must continue to sow the seed of the Word of God as best as we can and allow the Spirit to do His job of germinating and cultivating that seed.  The more seed we plant, the bigger the harvest will be at the end of the season.  Remember, the ground may be bad but the seed is good!

having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:23-25  NKJV

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