““Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.””
Matthew 13:18-23 NKJV
When I first began going to my previous church, I had the opportunity to be in the choir. Each year we did big musical presentations during the Easter and Christmas seasons. These were hard hitting events with wonderful music and a heavy evangelical message at the end. I remember one year, there was an invitation and many people rushed down to the altar.
Through the years, I began to notice that many of those who appeared down front, weeping, and professing Jesus, were soon gone. At some point, I saw a few people I knew personally, make the journey to the altar. Sadly, most of those were just as they were before, having made profession, but had drifted away.
Through those experiences, I came to understand the parable of the sowers. The ones who disappeared first were those who heard the Gospel message but did not fully comprehend what it all meant. When the feelings had faded, they were left with uncertainty, allowing the evil one to draw them away.
Most often, there were people who did not know what they were doing, not understanding that they were sinners in need of a Savior. The message of the Gospel ran headlong into the message of the world, where people feel as if they are good enough.
“As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;”
Romans 3:10 NKJV
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 3:23 NKJV
Then there are those who hear the word, recognize what it means, but it does not take root. They are begin well enough, attending church, perhaps joining a bible study, but when the hard times come, they fall sway. Often it occurs when they go back home and tell their friends what they have done, only to be mocked and derided. The desire to fit in to their old social circles, is more powerful than their desire for the new life in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Then there is the one who receives the word in amidst thorns. Their lives are filled with the concerns of this world. Many years ago, I had a person I prayed for who would show periodically for church. The would attend for awhile, then inexplicably disappear. This went on for years. Finally, I discovered that person was in and out of relationships, showing for church when not involved, and leaving when dating.
Others have lives filled with trials, such as health issues, financial problems, and sinful strongholds that they are not willing to surrender to the Lord. These thorns put distance between them and growth in the faith, and at some point the thorns become over grown and they too disappear.
In II Timothy, one who was carried away with the world, abandoned Paul, having loved the world.
“Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.”
II Timothy 4:9-10 NKJV
Demas had become unfruitful, and fell away, after the loves of the present world.
Of all the soils on which the word is sown, there is but one in which the seed is anchored and begins to grow. These are people for whom the Gospel message takes root, and the roots go down deep. Often they face all the things that the others face, but the seed is sown deep, and is driven even deeper in the face of hardship. The multiply, sharing the Gospel, spreading seeds of faith far and wide. They walk with godly, and treasure the word.
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”
Psalms 1:1-3 NKJV
Christians in America are going to face testing over their faith like never before, as there will great opposition. They will face the wiles of the devil, seeking to steal away the word from their hearts, sending false teachers to confuse and draw them sway.
Only those who are the good soils shall enter the kingdom of God.
There will be persecution of the followers of Jesus and people will need to decide if they want to continue in this walk of faith, and there will many thorns, complications facing Christians, driving a wedge between believers, between family members, and the society at large.
Brothers and sisters, let us cling to the Lord in the times that are coming, that we multiple, a hundred, sixty, or thirty fold.
Rest and be planted, my people, rooted and established in Christ.