Scripture: Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus used many parables built around the activities of farmers. One story is about a sower casting seed on different types of soils. Each soil represents the heart of different type of people. Only one soil produced an abundant harvest. What soil was that?
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In this mechanized age of speed and facility, the little dirt farmer with the small acreage has almost disappeared entirely. Great tractor combines now perform the work that the old-time farm family had to do by sweat, strain and hard, hard work. I know, because I grew up on one of those one-horse farms over in North Carolina. Only we had two mules instead of one horse.

But listen, my friends, there is nothing like that great out-of-doors farm atmosphere as far as the family is concerned. The alarming exodus from the rural areas into the smog-laden cities has taken a frightful toll in both life and health. It might have been primitive to sow seed by hand and follow a slow mule in plowing, but it was many times more conducive to a serene mind and a strong body.

Jesus used many, many parables which were built around the activities of farmers. One of the most important is found in Matthew 13:3-9. But even though it describes one of the most old-fashioned processes known to man, it has a modern application to everybody listening to this broadcast. Listen to the story now as Jesus told it:

"Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And 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 sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."

There is the parable in all of its simplicity. But when Jesus explained it, He made each one of those places where the seed fell represent individuals who had received the seed of His Word into their lives. Friends, here is something I hope you will not miss in this broadcast. May the Holy Spirit teach you the wonderful truth, that every single Christian is represented by one of these experiences of the parable. The seed fell upon different kinds of ground, and the results were altogether different in every case. But the amazing thing is that only one kind of ground actually did produce fruit, and become successful. Out of several different groups considered here, Jesus made it clear that only one group would make it through to His kingdom and be saved. This certainly agrees perfectly with what Christ said in other places about the number of those who will be saved. Again He asked the question, "Will there be faith in the earth when the Son of man cometh?" All of these things seem to indicate that only a small little remnant of faithful ones will be ready to meet Jesus when He returns. But what's going to happen to all the rest of those who hear the gospel? In this parable, friends, we find out what is going to happen to large numbers of those who hear the gospel but who finally lose out on eternal life.

Now listen to the Master Teacher, as He explains His own words. Beginning with verse 18. "Here ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side."

Now, this describes one simple method that the devil uses in snatching away the truth from people before they have time to begin living it. I've been amazed to see what simple means the devil will use sometimes to keep people from understanding the words that are being presented. Sometimes he diverts individuals from hearing certain messages by bringing visitors to the home just as they are ready to go to church, or perhaps even causing some minor accidents in the family. If he can keep people away from the place where the Bible truth is being preached, that's a part of Satan's plan. But on the other hand, he doesn't mind a great deal if people go and hear as long as they don't do anything about it. So when they arrive in the place of preaching, Satan continues to provide his devilish diversion. Sometimes he does it by making people get very drowsy and sleepy at the moment when they need to be hearing the message. It's really strange what small things can be used to divide the attention of people in a church. It might be a cry of a baby, a new hat, a book that is dropped by accident, the preacher making a grammatical error or mispronouncing a word, or perhaps running overtime for a few minutes. All these things have been used successfully in snatching away the word of truth before it has had time to begin growing in the heart and life. Beware, my friends, that you do not fall into the class of the wayside hearers.

Continuing on in Matthew 13:20-21 we read: "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." Now here we have an example of seed which takes root and begins to grow up into a strong plant. In fact, there seems to be every promise of a strong root and plant which will produce fine fruit.

Most parables have to do with fruit bearing, but here's one that talks about the root more than the fruit. Remember this friends, that it's the root which holds the plant or tree in times of storm. A tree can only be as strong as its root system. Jesus indicated that some people would receive the word of truth when it came to them and endure very well until the stress and storms of life come upon them. I wonder if you realize, dear friends, that in every single life there are hidden forces constituting either strength or weakness. A man may look like very good material for a king, and yet God may see him as completely unfit. On the other hand, man may see something which is completely worthless and God may see in it a prize for his eternal kingdom. Jesus was never satisfied with the outward appearance of things. Men could only see a fallen woman, but Christ saw a rare jewel for his crown. Men could see the poor unstable fisherman, Peter, but He saw a rock. Men could see two mites of a poor widow cast into the treasury, but Jesus saw the greatest gift that a human being could possibly give.

Let me ask you this today, How far has God's great gospel message taken hold of your life? Have you received it with joy? Does it mean life itself for you? What about the storm and persecutions which no doubt lie ahead for those who will be faithful Christians? How will you be able to stand then?

You know, there is a kind of hot-house Christian which does very well under the expert attention and controlled conditions of a well-ordered congregation. But the same Christian will wither and collapse when exposed to the least wind of opposition. Hot-house flowers can be very beautiful and decorative, but they're not very enduring. They soon are cast aside because their roots are not very strong. Jesus said because they "had no root they withered away." Some people accept Christ merely because He appeals to their reason and logical powers. He stirs their high ideals and endeavors, they appreciate a church home, but there is no deep heart change or conversion. This is the kind that develops no root system at all.

Now there are two ways to be rooted for this storm. One is intellectually and the other is spiritually. We must study our faith and be ready to give an answer to any man who asks for the reason of the hope that is within us. We are living in an age of doubt and skepticism. Everywhere the tides of unbelief can be seen sweeping upon those who are seeking to maintain the Scriptures. God wants us to be spiritual giants who will live by faith and be ready to defend our faith because we understand the living Word of God. Then we must develop independent, spiritual experiences of prayer and Bible study. We cannot afford to lean upon other human beings for our religious faith and strength. Those spiritual muscles must be put to use or else the roots will not develop in the deep control centers of the life.

Now we are brought to the third group of hearers described by Jesus in verse 22. "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." Compare that text with Luke 8:14 where Jesus said: "And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."

Just think of it, friends, here we have all the possibilities of wonderful fruit-bearing, but it is all choked out by the thorns. This is the tragedy of modern-day religion. The seed begins to grow, there is no devil to steal it away. The soil is not too thin and there are no stones to weaken the roots. There is every promise of fruit. But the text says, the cares and riches and pleasures of this life choked it out and destroyed every possibility for fruit. Have you seen it for yourself, friends? A person full of promise, gifted, intelligent, spiritual, but suddenly they come face to face with a gigantic test, there is a struggle and then suddenly they give way and throw away everything in a mad fling of sin and selfish indulgence.

Now we are brought to the last group of hearers that Jesus described in Luke 8:15. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

Now we come to those who bear the fruit. Not all the sowing has been in vain. One little group, at last, will be saved in spite of the devil, the stones, the thorns, and the pleasures of this life, a few will bring forth genuine fruit. Some will have a faith that is too deep to be shaken. They will prefer to give up job, possessions and life itself, rather than to deny the God they serve. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul." May God give you the grace to be in that group of the little remnant who will stand firmly for the truth regardless of the cost. It will never be an easy or popular thing to do. It will always require sacrifice and self-denial, but it will bring the deepest joy that the human heart can know in this world. God bless you as you bear fruit to His glory.

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