This post is the conclusion of the 2 previous posts.
III. The Hedge Way
Mark 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
What good does it do to plant good seed in a place where other plants won’t let it grow? Obviously, the new plant won’t be able to get nourishment. That’s why most people don’t plant their gardens in the shade or in the middle of a hedge row. They don’t plant their gardens in amongst weeds and bushes. In fact, they do their best to keep the weeds away from the good plants.
The intention is to make sure the good plants get all the nourishment they need. Look at Jesus explanation of this group of people.
Mark 4:18-19 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
There is another message in those two verses alone. Who does Jesus say are those who are described as being among thorns? They are those that hear the word and the thorns choke it out. Then Jesus gives us a list of thorns that will choke out the Word of God in our lives. Things that keep the seed from reaching it’s full potential of spiritual growth in the lives of the hearers. The first thorn He mentions is “…the cares of this world….”
If you look back through history, and if you could look into the future, you would find that there are distractions in every generations. There are so many things that can deter us from what is good and right. Things that can cause us to look to the left or the right. Things that can and will draw our attention away from the things of God.
The second thorn that Jesus mentions is “…the deceitfulness of riches….” Literally, the delusion of possessions. I have seen so many get so sidetracked by the accumulation of possessions. They spend well beyond what they can afford and get well beyond what they can manage. They find themselves so bound by possessions that the things they thought they owned, in reality, own them. And before they even realize it, they just lose out with God.
The third thorn Jesus lists is “…lusts of other things….” He was more general concerning this thorn. Literally, it is the longing for the rest of what we don’t have. It is longing for relationships that have the potential to draw individuals away from God. It is longing for social status that will cause the pride of life to destroy us. It is longing for friends that will hinder our relationship with God. Jesus was describing any longing that hinders the longing for God. You see, when the affection is on the things of the earth and not on things above, we are already at a disadvantage and most likely will not survive spiritually.
So there are three types of soil in this parable that do not produce what the sower is longing for. His desire is a harvest. He wants His seed to produce fruit. You can see that all through the teachings of Christ in the Gospels. He cursed a tree that gave all the indications that it had fruit but when He examined the tree, He found “…nothing but leaves….”
But there is something else that these three types of soil have in common. The sower didn’t sow there on purpose. These types of ground were not His target. They were sown incidentally. The sower didn’t get discouraged and quit sowing because the seed on the high way wouldn’t grow. He didn’t give up because the seed on the hard way wouldn’t last. He didn’t throw in the towel because the seed on the hedge way couldn’t survive. He kept right on sowing because His goal was another kind of soil and that is where He obtained the fruit that He so desired.
IV. The Harvest
Mark 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
I can tell you from experience that it is so rewarding to preach a message that you know came from God. And, oh the joy, when you see that the seed of God’s word is taking root. Then when you are able to see the evidence of fruit in the life of someone that has heard that message, there is no way to describe the satisfaction.
I think it is interesting that it doesn’t seem to be that important how much fruit is being produced. It just seems to matter that there is fruit and that it is increasing. In other words, you may be more fruitful than me but, if I am being fruitful, that is what God wants in my life.
Mark 4:20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
So what is it that makes the good ground good? The seed is sown and the ground receives the seed. Then the ground allows it to bear fruit.
There is probably every kind of soil in the hearts of those who are reading this message. Some may be like a highway. So many have stepped all over your heart and your feelings through the years. Now you don’t want to dare to allow your walls to come down. You think you can’t afford to be vulnerable again.
Some are like the hard way or the stony ground. You have heard the message of the gospel before and you have known the joy of praying through. But you wouldn’t allow yourself to be broken so that His word could take root. At the first sign of trouble, you couldn’t stand the heat of the battle. You withered and died spiritually.
Some are like the hedge way or the thorny ground. You have heard the Word of God and allowed it to start working in your life. But this world and the cares thereof have so distracted you and choked out any spiritual life that was in you. You can’t bear fruit because you have no life.
If you find yourself in that list as you read this message, there is hope for you. You don’t have to remain unfruitful. There is something you can do.
I was looking at this parable in the three gospels in which it is recorded and each writer used a different word to describe what the good ground does with the seed. Matthew said they “understand” it or comprehend it. They are able to put it together in their mind. Mark said they “receive” it or delight in it. Luke said they “keep” it or seize it. In other words, they make it their own.
So if you want to turn your well-travelled soil, or your rocky soil, or your thorny soil into fruitful soil, there is something you can do. You need to take the Word of God that you’ve heard and understand it (put it together – comprehend what it means). In like manner, delight in it (don’t fear what it will require of your life). And finally, possess it (seize it and make it yours).
When you hear a message from the Word of God, don’t try to figure out who else the message is for. Make it yours. Seize it. Possess it for yourself and don’t let it go.
If the Lord was taking soil samples and he sampled yours, what kind of soil would you be? Will you allow the enemy to steal what you have read in this message? Will you allow the heat of the battle to wither your progress in the Lord? Will you let the thorns (the distractions of this age, the delusion of possessions, and the unsatisfied lust for what you don’t have) choke out your life and fruitfulness? Or will you hear His word, understand it, delight in it, and make it yours? It’s your choice, what kind of soil will you be?