Intro - We come to Jesus’ most famous Parable of the Sower. Parables are stories that Jesus would tell that illustrated what he wanted to teach. Often he would give the parable and leave it up to the listener to figure it out. But not here. He wanted to make sure that there would be no misunderstanding of what he’s talking about…
Seed = the __________________ in my life.
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11 NIV
The Word of God is literally Jesus Himself and His instructions for living. His commandments, which we still have to this day inside of the Bible, which (for that reason) we call “The Word Of God.” In the parable we see 4 different examples of the seed growing. Only in one example did the seed succeed.
4 Different Soil Receptions
(5) “Some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.”
The path was hard. No room for the seed. It was crushed by all the people walking along the path. And it was eaten. Never had a chance to grow.
(6) “Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.”
Also hard ground. No nourishment. Never had a chance to grow.
(7) “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.”
This seed got a start. Grew up alongside the weeds and the weeds took over. Suffocated the plants.
(8) “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
The same seed. But 100 times the result. The only difference was the good soil!
So what is the good soil? And what about the lesser soils? What are they? How we answer this question determines how we apply this teaching to ourselves!
At different times of my life (and yours) I can be more or less receptive to the seed of God’s Word in my life. When I am receptive (good soil), God’s Word will grow. When I am not receptive (hard path, rocky ground, thorns), God’s Word will not grow.
We need to identify each in our lives and determine to become a good gardener of our own hearts and souls. That we might remain tender in our sensibilities, humble in our own estimation of ourselves, receptive to what God might have to say to us, so that His Word could grow in us.
How God’s W.O.R.D. Will G.R.O.W. In Me
#1 - W_________ to my need for God’s G______________.
“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” Luke 8:12 NIV
We start with the recognition that we have a spiritual enemy. Jesus called him “the devil.” He tells us that this enemy, the devil, wants nothing more than to keep the “Word of God” from taking deep root in the soil of our hearts.
“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3 NIV
Early in Jesus’ teaching, he told us that it was necessary for us to be born a second time. Clearly not a new physical birth, he’s talking about a spiritual birth. The Greek word for “again” is anothen. It is a word with a clever double meaning. It means BOTH “again” and “from above.” Both apply.
The birth into eternal life cannot come from ourselves. It is a miracle of God’s grace. It comes entirely from His provision and forgiveness for us. He is the One Who makes it possible. Just like the seed germinates and wakens into a plant, we are born again and waken into a new, eternal life. What stands in our way? 3 things…
First - We have a spiritual enemy, the devil. At this point we risk theological error if we assign too much power or ability to him. The devil is not the opposite but equal power of the good God. He is evil, but a lesser, created being. Jesus (very reassuringly) tells us in John 10:28 that he
“gives us eternal life and we will never perish. No one can pluck us out of his hand!”
So then, what is this warning about? It addresses the need for us to work God’s Word very deeply into our hearts and lives. If our idea of this new life, this salvation is simply coming to church on Sundays when there are no other conflicts, then we are fooling ourselves. Our life will never really change. We remain vulnerable to the devil.
#2 - O_________ my habits so God’s Word takes R________.
The second thing that stands in the way of God’s Word taking root in our lives is just getting beyond that initial excitement phase and instilling new habits - disciplines - of Bible reading & study, prayer, confession - Quiet times, when we allow God’s Word to root deeply into our lives.
“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13 NIV
Any farmer or gardener will tell you that you’ve got to till the soil when you plant new seeds. That gives the plants the best chance to grow. This getting into the Word of God has to become a new habit in your life - not something you do at first and then stop - but something that becomes a part of your life ongoing, every day, never ending.
“Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught.” Colossians 2:7a GNT
Actually the word “keep” isn’t in the original language. It’s part of the verbs “rooted” and “build” and “become stronger.” All are perfect passive participles. That means “rooting” and “building” and “becoming” on a continuous basis. Hence the word keep. There’s no such thing as building new habits without also getting rid of some bad habits.
#3 - R____ my life of everything that O___________ God’s Word.
Life doesn’t just stop for our Christian faith. All the things that were important to us before we became Christians are still important. All the things that worried us before we became Christians still worry us.
“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14 NIV
Lysa TerKeurst from her book "The Best Yes" describes this feeling very personally:
“I’m tired. I’m distracted. I’m disappointed in myself. I feel slightly used and more than slightly used up. I’m a little overwhelmed and a lot worn down.”
Christians especially are overwhelmed by so many things demanding our attention in life. Why? Because on top of every other demand in our life, we then ADD new demands of Christianity - especially the big one - the command to love! Every opportunity to love comes our way and can actually crowd out the need we have to get back to God and to God’s Word on a regular basis.
Again Lysa TerKeurst: "We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please! The truth is that when we become Christ-followers there are some very good things in our lives that must go in order for us to give the best yes."
“So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.” Hebrews 12:1 NCV
Jesus talks about the thorns that choke us. It’s easy to think “weeds” and nasty plants. The truth is that roses have thorns too. To allow God’s Word to take deep root into my life, I have to make priority choices which will require some “no’s” to be able to say the “best yes’s” to God’s Word.
#4 - D_______ my life so that God’s Word becomes God’s W______.
“The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” 8:15
Ultimately our goal in this Christian life is to become as much like Christ as we can. Ultimately to do the work of building His kingdom. But to do it in His way, in His timing, in a way that preserves our relationship with Him. As we’ve been studying through the Gospel of Luke, we’ve watched Jesus doing great miracles, overwhelmed by thousands in the crowd, but then always returning to times of solitude and prayer with His Heavenly Father. That’s the pattern we need to follow too so that our ministry never burns out and that we can multiply ourselves in God’s power.
Notice how Jesus explains it:
(1) those who hear the word, whether in a sermon or by reading or in some other fashion (radio, tv, podcast, blog). It doesn’t stop there. That’s only the beginning.
(2) Retain the word. That’s where the effort comes in. To study. To memorize. To meditate.To do everything possible to make God’s Word a built in part of who we are becoming.
(3) By persevering. Translating God’s Word into God’s Work takes perseverance. Persevering means it’s not always easy. It’s not automatic. It takes effort. It takes work! Keeping on keeping on!
The rewards are so worthwhile! Because ultimately through God’s Word we can become the creations that God originally had in mind and then we get to do the very thing that we were created to do.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV
Conclusion: So where are you at with God’s Word? Is it the priority in your life? Is it becoming your life? Are you changing your life to fit the mold of God’s Word, or are you trying to fit God’s Word into the mold of your existing life?