Posted by: word4men | June 22, 2010

Are You Like Powder?

Another strange title, but appropriate once this little devotional thought is typed out. I hate to say it quite this way, but GOD told me to do this! I hate when I hear or hear of people saying “GOD told me to say…do…tell you to send a big check or I will grow a third eye” ad infinitum. It is often used to cut off debate of someone’s opinion or plan of action. After all, who would argue with a message from GOD? Well, quite often I do…What about you?
For some weird reason, I have had farming on my mind the last few months. More a fancy than something I would do…fantasy of being more self-sufficient when the great collapse of western culture and finances hits. Great plan, need to make it work sometime. I digress. I remembered a devotion I heard 20 years or so ago from a friend in FBC Clarksville, TN at a Bible Study I attended for my Sunday School Class. Basically, I drug myself there because good southern men fellowship with church friends more than they do with their business friends. Basically, I was an unregenerate, church going, hypocrite. But I remember Walter describing how the soil has to be prepared…plowed back on the West TN farm he was raised on (capitalize West as there are three states of TN; East, Middle, and West). He described a nearly weeklong process of plowing the soil using different tractor implements and oft times chemical fertilizer. If it rained during the prep time or just before you went from plowing to planting, you had to start over again. I can’t tell you why he used the illustration, but maybe it had something to do with this.
While sitting in the living room of a patient who has been particularly discouraged, we talked of the farm he grew up on, and the plowing illustration came up. Suddenly, the Parable of the Sower came to mind. I went to my little concordance in my NASB and found it in Matthew 13. I read the first several verses to him:
2And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5″Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6″But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7″Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8″And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9″He who has ears, let him hear.”
And I then quickly explained verses 10-17 in my own little way. Basically, Jesus said he spoke in parables so that some would understand, and so others wouldn’t. Even John MacArthur agrees with me on that. But then I read the next verses as Jesus explains the parable.
18″Hear then the parable of the sower. 19″When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20″The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he (Q)falls away. 22″And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of (R)the world and the (S)deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23″And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some (T)a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
I don’t think it requires much interpretation. I know that “the word of the kingdom” is talking of the Gospel and the thrust of this passage is normally thought to explain regeneration and the growth of faith and discipleship in a person, but having thought on it, I saw another consistent application.
I told him of the series of family members Cindy and I have lost over the last few weeks, a minor stroke to her Dad and my Grandma, my Mom with a serious infection…etc. “John, I wonder if we are becoming good soil. It seems what the scripture is saying is that for us to hear and embrace GOD’s messages we have to be broken up and made soft. “Is this what is happening to us?” While hard and firm and strong we cannot hear our LORD’s words, but when He plows us up into a fine dust, then we can hear and be made use of.” We both sat and cried. We can’t know what exactly GOD wants us to hear, embrace and do, but we do know that He has purpose in our hardships. He loves His people and he…to quote a powerful political hack…”never let (s) a crisis go to waste.” He is at work in us. Breaking our hearts into a dust, not to merely humiliate us, but to make us humble. To make our hearts receptive so that the “word of the kingdom” will take root and we will bear fruit and “bring forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty.”
Are you feeling beaten? Plowed over and broken into powder. Despairing of your very life? Pay attention. Look for the seed; look for the “word of the kingdom.” Maybe your heart is being prepared to bear much fruit for GOD’s glory.
Grace Alone,
Chaplain Greg

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