SOWING INTO GOOD GROUND


 

     Contrary to the feel-good, get-rich schemes of the enemy, the sowing and reaping of our lives into Christ is the intent of the Gospel! All other equations are simply distractions from the purpose of God in the lives of men and women. Jesus did not say "come unto Me and I will give you prosperity;" He said things like "come unto Me and I will give you rest." And "In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." When we come unto Him, or take and eat His body, it means to turn away from the enticements of the world and take up His cross and follow Him.   
     Sowing our lives into Him promises great rewards, but they are not based on the worldly standards that we were just set free of!  Just take a serious look at the planting and reaping of the seeds Jesus mentions in Mark chapter four. The parable is so important that He explains it in detail to the twelve disciples. The initial part (verses 1-9) deals with a physical seed that is planted to bear fruit after its kind. The warning is to beware of how you plant that seed. A parable unexplained by the Teacher leaves a lot of room for speculation and distortion. This is why Jesus was thorough with His disciples. "And with man such parables spoke He the word unto them [the multitudes], as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spoke He not unto them: and when they [Jesus and His disciples] were alone, He expounded [explained further] all things to His disciples."  (Mark 4:33-34)
     On the day that Jesus rose from the dead, Cleopas and another disciple (not of the twelve) were going to a village called Emmaus, when Jesus drew near to them and went with them. After they shared with Him their discouragement, He rebuked them, saying, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24: 25-27) Their reaction after He opened their eyes was, "Did not our hearts burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24: 32) Scripture says that these were disciples, but not two of the original twelve. It is very clear that Jesus reveals Himself to those who have invested their lives into Him, not just the multitudes that name the name of Christ, but those who draw near, hunger and thirst, and cry out "Lord, Save Me!" These are disciples who have committed themselves unto Him, and are not satisfied with what the world has to offer, even when the offers come through Christian gurus that "speak great swelling words of vanity" that appeal to the lusts of their flesh. Peter says that these false prophets/teachers make great promises that only lead back to the "pollutions of the world," so that the beguiled become "again entangled therein, and overcome." (2 Pet. 2:18, 20)
 

    When we just listen to the reports of others without drawing near to God, we cannot understand the mysteries of the Kingdom. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.... Which the Holy Ghost teaches;... But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2: 12-14) In Moses' day, the people wanted Moses to approach God for them, for their directions; but without personally drawing near to God, they could not receive the power to obey. They pledged to do all that He commanded them, but failed. It's no different today. The carnal mind, or natural man, is at war with God, because his sin has separated him from God. The multitudes of Jesus' day could not comprehend the things of God for this very reason. They were dead in their trespasses and sins. When we settle for a distant relationship with God we cannot discern the things of God. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:5-7)
     This is what Jesus brought to us, "life and peace" --- not as the world giveth: an abundant life and peace that surpasses understanding. These gifts are in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation/generation that has rejected God and His Anointed One, as they imagine a vain thing. What is that vain thing? That they can subject God to a position under them. Do you remember when America was a "nation under God?" Well, today, as a nation, we have taken God down from His Overseer position (they think) as they denounce Him. As the scripture declares, the very protection provided by God is rejected as they say, "Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us." (Psalm 2:3. Read the entire psalm for a clearer picture.) A closer examination of my own faith reveals that I had somehow drifted from being a grateful returned-prodigal son, and had gone back to being a spoiled brat that demanded my father give me my inheritance. How did this happen? I ate "bad" fruit -- things that "looked" like God's because the Word of God was used to cover their design. Claiming and demanding my blessings because I was "a King's Kid," "more than a conqueror," "the head and not the tail," etc. These enticing words appeal to my flesh that wants to rule and reign in my life, as it once did before Jesus Christ came into it! It is the very deception that was used in the Garden, "you shall be as gods...." (Gen. 3:5) Just like the bands and cords referred to in Psalm 2, that were for man's protection, the warning not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was perverted by a subtil twist, that implied God was evil, and did not want man to know they could be equal to Him. The protective bands and chords were made to look restrictive, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was pleasing to the eye, and tempting.
      The Word of God is perverted in the same way. Jesus explains to the disciples in Mark chapter four, "The sower soweth the word." (Mark 4:14) He then goes on to warn us of the receptivity of our ground. Good ground produces good fruit after its kind.  When the Word of God comes into our lives we have a responsibility to care for it, not handle it deceitfully, or be deceived by others concerning that Word. Jesus Christ is the Good Ground that we sow our lives into. The parables that follow this one confirm the need to be responsible with what you have received from God. "And with many such parables spoke He the Word unto them, as they were able to hear it." (Mark 4:33) The Word in our lives can become unfruitful when we neglect it. That is, we should be maintaining our garden. Weeding, pruning, watering and strengthening this Word with care. One of His warnings, the one I am dealing with here, is that "the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Mark 4:19) When we sow our lives into Christ, we will bear the fruit of Christ. "The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things" did not enter into Christ; all these sins were placed upon Him on the Cross that He bore for us. He came to serve, not be served! Think of that when you hear doctrines of self-indulgent enticements that seek to corrupt you, while disguised as precepts of God.
      Matthew also relates this understanding, yet only in Matthew do we hear of the wheat and tares. (Matt. 13: 24-30) The tares (false grain) look like wheat. The good seed that was sown in my life is the Word of God. The bad seed (that looks the same as wheat, as it grows, until it comes to the full ear) is sown by the enemy. The wheat produces offspring after its own kind, as do the tares. While we have the assurance of God's righteous judgment in the end, we are constantly warned to be on guard against being deceived into following another Jesus, another spirit or another gospel. The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of other things enter in and choke the Word, and as Peter wrote, the swelling words of vanity entangle us again in the pollutions of the world, from which the knowledge of Jesus Christ delivered us. Paul writes of our deliverance by God through the atonement of Jesus Christ: "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But ... let him [that perverter] be accursed." (Galatians 1: 4-9) While this look-alike gospel "sounds" and "looks" good, it is of evil origin and is meant for our destruction.
     What can I do? I'm a mere man; how can I overcome all these obstacles? Without the faith that was imparted to me, I would be desperate, gloomy, fearful, and without hope. The kindness and love of God appeared, the glorious gospel of Christ shined in my heart, and the blessed assurances of faith and hope was given to me as an everlasting substance. I have sown my life into Christ, and in spite of the injustice around me, I know through the Word, and the Spirit that confirms it, that He is committed to fulfilling His promises. I can say with confidence a scripture that was one of the first to capture my heart, "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12) Fittingly, the next verse exhorts us to "Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 1:13) Sowing my life into good ground is this: committing to Him my future, my fears, my hopes and dreams. I am a sinner, and like the thief on the cross who recognized that he deserved death, and though he died on that day, was given the victory over death by the graciousness of God, I can say,  "Thanks be to God [Who] gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57) Yes, I am more than a conqueror, but not in the perverted way that convinces me I'm some kind of super-hero. I have the victory because I have invested (committed) myself into Jesus Christ. I do this not on my own strength but rather through the provision of God through faith that was given to me. "And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that believes on the Son of God has this witness in himself.... And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. ...he that overcomes the world, ... [is] he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5: 11, 10, 4 & 5 )

   
Since Jesus overcame the world, and we that believe, join Him in that overcoming of the world, it is critical to our health that we not look back, or resort to the old ways of life. We are exhorted to heed the warnings we are given through the examples of the Hebrews in the wilderness, pining for the comforts of Egypt (they forgot it was slavery) and Lot's wife, turning into a pillar of salt. "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [discern] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2) Not to be "conformed to this world," has to do with external conditions that cause people to fashion themselves to its concepts, but to be "transformed," or "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8: 29) is an internal work of the Spirit of God, a metamorphosis, that jointly forms us to Christ.
     In conclusion, while we should support the ministry of reconciliation wherever we see it, we need to beware the solicitations that call for us to sow our seed into a man's "good ground ministry," so that God can give us back tenfold what we have invested. That is the way of the world, to gain the things of the world. We that have sown our lives into Jesus Christ, give "thanks unto the Father, which [Who] has made us meet [fit] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."  (Col. 1: 12-13) Our emphasis should be on what He has done, not what we want in this world, that we have been delivered from. Peter begins his first letter with much praise of the Father for giving us "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Pet. 1:4-5) He continues in his second letter, exalting the Lord for His wonderful promises. "His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, ... whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."  (2 Pet. 1: 3-4) By the Grace of God we have clean escaped from them who live in error and the pollutions of the world, and are strongly exhorted not to become entangled again. (See again 2 Peter 2:18-20.) Our entanglement comes when we allow ourselves to be seduced by "covetous practices." (2 Peter 2:14) Those "covetous practices" are cloaked in godly terms; beware!

                                                          with much love, Joe (with Mercy)