Scripture: Matthew 13:18-23 [NLT]
18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 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. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 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. 22 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. 23 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, New King James Version)
Observation: (What do you see when you read this scripture?)
I see Jesus, surrounded by a large crowd, Him in a boat just off the shore, telling stories to teach lessons. The people are there because they are thirsty for real power, real spirituality, real teaching from the lips of God. They are getting it, and it amazes them.
Have you ever tried to imagine what it might be like to be taught by someone who is sinless? No agenda other than to help you. No personal influences on the truth. No political sway. Just the simple truth intended to lift you up and take you where God wants you to be. This is what the people received from Jesus. This is what you get from the Word of God if you listen.
And now He tells the meaning of the parable of the soil receiving the seed. And the disciples become interested, wondering why He always teaches in parables. He explains that it is designed for “those that listen” because they will receive more understanding and have “an abundance of knowledge”. And for those that are not listening even the little bit of knowledge they have will be taken away from them.
What is the key in these two opening statements? The key is the action word “listen”. It is for those that listen…Do you listen? It is one thing to read the Word of God, but quite another thing to really listen for the Spirit’s instructions in those words. If you really listened wouldn’t a heart response of obedience follow? The Word of God seems to think so…look and see how many times listen is followed by obey in these verses: Lev 26:14 , Deu 4:1, Deu 5:1, Deu 5:27, Deu 6:3, Deu 7:12, Deu 13:4, Deu 28:13, Deu 28:15, Deu 28:45, 1Ki 11:38, 2Ki 18:12, Neh 9:29, Neh 9:34, Job 36:11, Jer 11:8, Jer 17:23, Jer 26:4, Jer 35:15, Hos 9:17, James 1:23, Rev 1:3
If we are listening our response to the message shows it. Jesus often referred to this as bearing fruit, or, as in this parable, producing more harvest. Obedience is a response to instruction from God. You cannot really obey if you are not listening with the intent to obey. Think about that dear friends… listen with the intent to obey and see where God can take you today.
Apply: (How can I apply what I have read today to my life?)
Wow. This was the proverbial whack on the forehead for me. Too often I know that I listen only with the intent to “gain knowledge”, but today I see that God wants me to do more than just listen; He wants a response. I admit folks, this is the hard part. This is where the rubber meets the road for me. I know what I need to do next…
I need Your help! I don’t have the strength to obey like I want to Lord. You have to give me that strength…PLEASE! Every time I try I fail…every stinkin’ time! I am tired of disappointing You. I love You. I need You. I listen to You. I don’t want to let You go….so show me why obedience is so hard. Take that stumbling block out of my life and let me grow in You. Is it pride? Is it selfishness? Is it stubbornness? Whatever it is, take it out…do the surgery, ’cause I can’t work on myself. I don’t do well with scalpels and I can’t heal myself. Your the physician. Your the doctor I have chosen and I am stubborn in this one thing. I will not let You go until You fix me. So there You have it…