Parable of the Sower #2
(Luke 8:1-18)

Last time we spoke in some detail about the Parable of the Sower. We found that this simple story about a farmer sowing seed has rich and deep meaning for the believer. First of all, it speaks of four types of soils, which are equivalent to the condition of a person’s life, and how those soils receive the seed, which Jesus identified as the Word of God.

Let’s review the scripture first to refresh our memories: Luke 8:11-12 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 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 8:13 Those on the rock 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 8:14 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 8:15 But 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.

The four soils are hardened ground, rocky ground, ground infested with thorns and good ground. The only ground to produce a harvest is the good soil, the hearts of those who hear the word, retain it and persevere until they are fruitful.

We talked about four types of hearers: those who cannot GRASP the Gospel, and therefore the devil steals the Word from them before they can be saved; those who cannot keep a GRIP on the Word, and in times of trouble fall away, those who are unable to GROW fruit to maturity because of cares and concerns of the world, and those who persevere to GATHER a harvest.

This parable is also a description of the activity of the enemy in a person’s life. First he tries to blind us to the Gospel so that we won’t receive Jesus as Savior. He uses all kinds of tactics, such as: resentment, offense, misunderstandings, abuse, etc. to harden our hearts against the drawing love of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:4 says: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The devil also has put strongholds in people’s minds that are hard to overcome, and keep the person from receiving the Gospel. These are called imaginations and high things exalting themselves against the knowledge of God in the KJV: 2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

If the devil can’t get you to keep from receiving the Word, then he puts phase 2 of his plan into action – bringing adversity, temptation and persecution against you. Many cannot handle this, or believe they must have failed God because they come up against obstacles. This is simply not true.

Hardship or suffering is not something strange or abnormal to the Christian life. I Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

The devil’s purpose for hardship is to try to trip us up, but God’s purpose is to develop our character: James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If you make it through Phase 2, then you have come into a situation where God has helped you overcome the adversities, hardships, temptations and persecutions, and has brought you to a place of prosperity. You are able to enjoy the comforts and pleasures of life, or perhaps have developed the habit of worry during Phase 2, and become fearful that your "good luck" will come to a grinding halt.

In any event, the devil kicks in Phase 3 – the thorns that choke or smother the Word and keep you from bearing fruit. What are some of these thorns?

One of these thorns is WORRY – if the devil can get you to worrying, you won’t bear any fruit, because it will kill your faith.

Worry is mental suffering or grief, concern, solicitude, and anxiety. Worry implies a troubling, engrossing emotion, an oppression of the mind weighed down with responsibility or disquieted by apprehension. Worry puts pressure on your thinking processes and hampers your ability to pray and commune with God.

What is the cure for worry? The main thing is realize how much God loves you and that He is concerned about ALL your needs. He can be trusted to care for you. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 how to handle worry.

Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

First of all direct your focus toward heaven. If your treasure is there, and your heart is there, then you will not get bogged down with earthly things, which rust destroys and thieves steal. Any treasure stored in Heaven is safe from corruption and theft, therefore you won’t have to worry about it. It is safe with God.

But if your heart is in heaven, you will bask in God’s presence and be reassured of His love for you. Worry cannot dwell in the presence of the Great Provider, Jehovah Jireh.

Matthew 6:22-23 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Then Jesus goes on to tell us to clear our vision of darkness. If we truly are seeing Jesus, our vision will be full of light. Light reveals, darkness conceals. It is the darkness that creates worry – the unknowns, the "what if’s", the concealed things of our future that fret us so. But when you allow the light of Jesus to illumine your heart, it chases away darkness, along with worry, fear, doubt, etc.

However, if you focus on the darkness, then it will increase and cause more distress and worry. To focus on the darkness, you deliberately think about negative things, you choose to major on the bad things that COULD, MIGHT, POSSIBLY some day some how happen. Instead, you can chose to focus on the positive things revealed in the Word.

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Then Jesus points out a factor that causes many stress, anxiety and worry – they are trying to "serve two masters" that are giving conflicting orders. Any time you are pulled in two directions, you will have stress and worry. Now many things can become idols in our lives and cause this double-mindedness, but Jesus particularly points out that MONEY can be a source of this struggle.

And ironically, if you serve money, it can make you despise God, or blame Him if you don’t get the money you think you need when you want it. If you are consumed with worry over how to get it, how to spend it, how to make more of it, then you are serving money. Resolve to de-throne money as your master, and you will be free of a large portion of anxiety.

Matthew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

THEREFORE, Jesus says, meaning because your focus is on heavenly things, because you’ve cleared your vision to focus on the light, because you have dethroned money or whatever you are serving instead of God, THEREFORE you can be free of worry!

Your life or your soul is more important than food or clothes. If you focus on the "real you" that is designed to live forever with God, then the importance of the temporary things you’ve been worrying about fades into the background.

The word translated life here is psuche {psoo-khay'} meaning life , a living soul , the soul as the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions, regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life, as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Then Jesus points out the provision of the Father. The birds of the air don’t work or strive "to make a living", but God feeds them out of His bounty, free of charge. Aren’t you worth more than a bunch of birds? Won’t God take care of you as well without you striving or worrying about the daily needs of your life?

This also has reference to the QUANTITY of God’s provision. There are multitudes of birds all over the place, but God doesn’t run out of food for them. His storehouse in Heaven never goes empty. And He is able to make even your enemies feed you if need be.

Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup OVERFLOWS. And God doesn’t just FILL your cup, it OVERFLOWS.

Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life [or a single cubit to his height]?

Jesus is so practical. He is saying, "What good does it do you to worry anyway? Does it change anything? Does it give you any more power to cope with life? Does it extend your life? No, it actually shortens life because of its harmful effects. Does worry give you power to add height to your stature? No, in fact, it makes you shorter. As you become burdened with care and bowed over with it, you actually LOSE height as you age.

Matthew 6:28-30 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

We talked about the QUANTITY of God’s provision for your needs, now we look at the QUALITY of them. God’s care even is shown in the beauty of the flowers, which are clothed more beautifully than even the gold, purple and jewels of kings. If God lavishes so much care on mere plants that eventually wither, die and are burnt, HOW MUCH MORE care will He lavish on clothing His children who trust Him?

This is not only physical clothing, which is important for healthy, safety and comfort. But it goes beyond that – to clothing us with the righteousness of Christ, the garments of praise, and the armor of our defense. Knowing and believing that God’s care abounds to you not only in quantity but in quality should blast worry right out of your skull.

Matthew 6:31 So DO NOT WORRY, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'

Therefore, what cause is there to worry about? God will supply all our needs, and a lot of our wants, out of His limitless provisions in Heaven. We are freed from worry about our physical needs to serve God in joy and peace.

Matthew 6:32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

The lifestyle of the pagans promotes worry because they seek after what they shall eat, drink or wear. Jesus is saying that kingdom living is different. We don’t need to concern ourselves with our physical needs, because our heavenly Father already knows that we need them and is prepared to provide them for us when we follow the next verse.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

If you spend time seeking God’s kingdom and His right way of living FIRST and INSTEAD OF what the pagans seek after, then there is absolutely no need for worry, because God will take care of His children.

In Matthew 7:11 it says: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

If you know how to give good things to your children – how to meet their needs, anticipate their wants and provide for them, how much MORE will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?

So the biblical cure for worry is to first set your affections and thoughts on heavenly things, to clear your vision to see Jesus, to realize that your true self is more important than earthly things, to serve God not money, to trust in the quality and quantity of God’s provision, and to seek God’s kingdom before all other things.

Another way the Word is choked out of your life is through the deceitfulness of riches and the love of money. You spend all of your time finding ways to earn money, and it becomes an idol to you, making you unfruitful.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Isn’t it curious that our society looks at the accumulation of wealth as the ultimate in success? But the Bible tells us if we love money and seek after riches, we are in danger of wandering from the faith and will be stabbed with many sorrows. Why is this?

It is possible for almost anyone to become wealthy in American if you are willing to compromise your principles and step on others to get there. It takes supreme dedication to the almighty dollar, and expenditure of much time and effort.

For most people, it requires a sacrifice of your family and religious life, and a total commitment to making money, investing, and re-investing, buying and selling with an eye to profit. All other considerations are secondary, except for the "bottom line".

It never ceases to amaze me the number of CHRISTIANS who are looking for a "get rich quick scheme", "an easy buck" or some short cut to wealth and prosperity, when the Bible plainly says "don’t go there"!

They waste time and money playing the lottery, sending in sweepstakes letters and playing contests. Do you really think that God’s blessing rests on these things?

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

So in a money-hungry culture, how can we keep our lives free from the love of money?

The first step is to THINK about what our goals are in life and whether they are Bible-based or not. Is it to fulfill your calling and ministry for the Lord? Or are you more interested in getting rich, "keeping up with the Joneses", and acquiring material things?

And if you find yourself "riding the fence" on this one, remember that can cause splinters to lodge in a very sensitive place! LOL Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the gift of faith to believe God for your needs and throw out false goals. God says "I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you". Are you going to take Him at His Word?

Because living for money will choke out and smother the Word. Soon you won’t care what the Word says about it, you will be overcome by the need to make more money. Soon it won’t matter that you aren’t fruitful for God.

Another way to choke out the Word is to become involved with the pleasures of this life – not just sinful things, but anything that you prefer to spend time doing instead of worshipping God can destroy your fruitfulness.

2 Timothy 3:2-5 People will be lovers of themselves, LOVERS OF MONEY, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, LOVERS OF PLEASURE RATHER THAN LOVERS OF GOD-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Paul was telling Timothy here that one of the signs of the end times is that people will be lovers of money and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. This is talking, not primarily about pagans, but about Christians who "have a form of godliness". But they deny the power of their belief. Why?

They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and are living for this world and not the kingdom of God. They retain a form of godliness to be acceptable or to ease their consciences, but their hearts are far from God. Their lives have no spiritual power, they are choked by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and they are not fruitful for God.

Our culture exalts the "blossom" stage of life – the springtime of youth when all the flowers bloom and all is in the beginning stages of growth. And everyone loves springtime, with the promise of newness of life. But we wouldn’t want it to be springtime always, because our lives depend on harvest.

Women especially are caught in the trap of looking like teenagers all their life – trying to extend the springtime blossom of their life into the summer months of their life. A mature woman has a different shape and purpose than a girl. And as we grow older into the autumn and winter of our lives, we are more socially unacceptable than ever before.

If you had an orchard of fruit trees, and all they did was bloom, bloom, bloom all year long, they would be beautiful but would not fruit for you. You would have no harvest, have no fruit to sustain you, and you would die of starvation. You would begin to hate the blooms for their unfulfilled promise.

God’s first command to Adam and Eve was not concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but to "Be fruitful and multiply". And God also told them to rule or have dominion over all the earth. (Genesis 1:28). God never intended for us to stagnate or be unproductive, but to be fruitful.

Mark 11:13-14 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he [Jesus] went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

Why did Jesus curse this fig tree? This tree looked like it was fruitful because it was full of leaves, although it would have been out of season. This tree was cursed because it had the promise of fruitfulness, but was barren.

Mark 11:20-21 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"

This is why Jesus cursed the fig tree. It looked as if it would be fruitful, but it was not. And the same is true in our lives. We need to leave our babyhood as Christians and go on to maturity, producing an abundant harvest of fruit. We can’t let the world smother us with the blossoms of immaturity. We must persevere until we are mature in Christ.

If you make it through Phase 3, and are not choked, by the cares and pleasure of this life or the deceitfulness of riches, then you become unmanageable by the devil! If he can’t trip you up through hardship or through prosperity, then you are mature and will produce a crop, 30, 60 or even 100 times greater than the seed that was planted in you. Hallelujah!

So what is this "fruit" that we should be producing as mature Christians? One fruit is to fulfill our ministry and calling. We each have a purpose and a place in the kingdom that God has appointed us to. We should be seeking this calling first of all, prepare for it, and then be faithful in our service to the Lord.

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Notice here that God has given us the power to fulfill his calling on our lives and allow us to participate in His plan and escape the smothering corruption of the world. We do not achieve our ministry through our own strength, but through His divine power we are given everything we need to achieve His life goals for us and become godly.

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

What are the qualities that will make us productive in our Christian life, not defeated by troubles or smothered by worldly concerns? It starts with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – being able to grasp or understand what the Word says about salvation and receiving it.

Add to that goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love and you have the key to overcoming not only tribulation and trials, but the cares of this life and deceitfulness of riches.

2 Peter 1:8-9 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

The secret of fruitfulness, effectiveness and productivity in the kingdom is not only possessing these qualities but also progressing in them, "in increasing measure". Lack of them causes the darkness of vision that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6, and a kind of spiritual amnesia, you’ve forgotten who you are, where you came from, and don’t know where you’re going.

2 Peter 1:10-11 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So this is how we eagerly fulfill our ministry and calling and become fruitful in the kingdom.

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice!

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Original Lesson 12/21/98
Revised: May 03, 2001.