Blog Archives

The Rocky Soil

The-SowerYou can hear the audio lesson at this link.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus illustrates 4 different types of hearts that people have when it comes to the Word of God. While the Good soil is the one that we all want to be like, we have to understand the other soils and make adjustments so that we either stop being those soils or so that we do not become those soils.

The Rocky soil is a unique and sometimes hidden soil. The issue with this one is that the roots of faith are not deep enough to sustain it during hard or difficult times. Sometimes they are not deep enough to sustain it even in the face of POTENTIAL hard times. However, until those hard times come, it may not manifest itself.

Luke 8:13 ESV  And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

A.K.A.  The “As long as it is easy.” soil

Israel faced this problem. When Moses was sent back to deliver Israel by God, Israel rejoiced. They saw the signs that God had given and praised and worshiped God. They were probably thinking “Pharaoh just has to let us go…these signs will convince him that God is God!” And, of course, Pharaoh, not only didn’t let them go, but made their work even harder.  Rather than turning to God for support, they turned on God and complained. (Exodus 4:29-5:21)

Later, after crossing the Red Sea, Israel did another about face. At first they were rejoicing that God delivered them. Then that joy turned to complaining a few days later because they found water that was bitter and undrinkable. Now they were convinced they had been brought out there to die! (Exodus 14:31-15:4ff)

Many other examples can be seen in the next couple of years with manna, quail and other problems but the last straw was just before they were to go into the land of Canaan. (Read Number 13 and 14.) Here Israel was persuaded by the 10 spies that the land, which was flowing with milk and honey, would be a terrible land because the inhabitants were more powerful. And so, the congregation decided it was better to go back to Egypt and were ready to stone Moses. God, on the other hand, had had enough. Ten times the children of Israel had tested Him and He decided that they would NOT go into the promised land until that generation died off. They were to wander 40 years.

As you might imagine the people did not like that. They probably looked at the 40 years wandering on one hand and the giants in the land on the other hand and decided that fighting would be the easiest route to go. They presented themselves to Moses ready to do battle early the next morning and in spite of Moses’ warning that God was not with them, they still went to battle…and, of course, lost.

Israel shows us that Faith does exist which is allergic to conflict and problems. Unfortunately, God’s words and commands often bring conflicts. Mark’s  account of the sower reads this way:

Mark 4:17 ESV  And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Put another way: If it easy we believe, if it is difficult we leave.

What can be done?

This soils needs some special attention and help. It is important to realize that sometimes nothing CAN be done. Sometimes people fall away and they just will not listen. In cases like this, waiting and, in most cases, praying are about the best we can do as we wait until the prodigal comes to his senses. Other times, however, we need to pursue the fallen away brother. We need to look for the lost sheep or lost coin and do what we can to recover them.

Warnings can help!

A good warning ahead of the problem can be a good start. It can prepare us so we are not surprised when it happens. We need to let our fellow Christians know that Satan is not some little friendly guy in a red suit. He is like a roaring lion looking for his next meal. We are not fighting flesh and blood in this life but the spiritual forces of evil. To this end, we need to know that persecution and tribulation and trials/testings of our faith WILL come. Not might. Not maybe. WILL!

2 Timothy 3:12 ESV  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  (7)  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4 ESV  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  (3)  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  (4)  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Not only do these trials prove our faith they IM-prove our faith. Our faith grows in the midst of these trials and…God’s name is glorified. While discipline and training are never pleasant (Hebrews 12:3-15), they are necessary components of becoming a productive and functional part of society…whether physically speaking or spiritually speaking.

How can we avoid being the Rocky Soil?

We need good deep roots. When you see a tree planted by the waters, you know that its roots are going to run deep. This is the image the first psalm provides and that tree is the person who delights in God’s word.

Psalms 1:1-3 ESV  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  (2)  but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  (3)  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

We also need to put on the armor of God. This armor will help us in the inevitable battles we face.

Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  (11)  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  (12)  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (13)  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Perhaps with the proper training and warnings, the rocky soil will change into the good soil. However, it is important that we do realize that we all have rocks to trip over and we should never consider ourselves above stumbling.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What other characteristics do you notice in the rocky soil? Again, you can listen to the 30 minute sermon here.

 

Advertisements

The comfort of God

comfort-in-godYesterday’s sermon came from 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. The sermon can be heard at this link. The book of 2 Corinthians is a book about comfort. The word comfort, or forms of the word,  appears 19 times in this book, more than any other. Paul begins immediately to talk about the comfort of God but it is hard to miss that tied with the comfort of God are the afflictions of the follower of God.

God is the source of all comfort.

Paul begins to speak about comfort by crediting God with being the source of all comfort. As always, we need to remember to look to God as the source of all good things. The book of James tells us:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (Jas 1:17)

However, God allows us to help Him in comforting others by offering comfort as well. Verse 4 of 2 Cor 1 tells us we are comforted so we can comfort others.

It is hard to imagine the persecutions that Paul experienced but we still have our own afflictions. In our places of employment, standing for God’s character might put our job in jeopardy; In dating, we might experience a break up because our boyfriend/girlfriend does not appreciate you standing for Holiness; In preaching, we might lose a friend because we speak the truth of the Gospel to him.  However, if we experience these things, and persevere in our service to God, we are better equipped to offer comfort to those who will experience them later.

It it through afflictions we experience the comfort of God.

Verses 6 and 7 clearly indicate that we experience comfort when we patiently endure. It is almost as if we have to go through the trials in order to gain the comfort.  This is understood by the fact that God does not keep us from the trials, He simply keeps us through the trials and on the other side, there is comfort.

Paul tells Timothy (2 Timothy 3:10-15) that all who want to live godly lives will be persecuted and yet encourages Timothy to continue on the same course of life-a course that will see him experience persecution.

The Hebrew writer makes note of the discipline of the Lord in Hebrews 12:3-13. (Not all discipline is punishment…in this passage, there is more teaching and training than chastising.) God instructs us by allowing us to go through some difficult times and yet we still have His promise to protect us from being overwhelmed.

His promises and His word bring us great comfort.

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD. (Psa 119:49-52)

Afflictions cause us to rely on God.

In verses 8 and 9, Paul refers to distresses he experienced in Asia. Experiences which caused him, at the time, to believe he was going to die. When things are so out of your control that death seems a certainty, there is only one place to turn: To God who raises the dead!  This is probably our greatest comfort…knowing that no matter what happens in life as we serve God, even if it leads to our death, God will raise us again.

Do you refuse the comfort of God?

It is possible for us to refuse the comfort of God. If we refuse to go through the trials and afflictions of living a life for God, then we will not experience the comfort of God. Perhaps we are like the rocky soil in Mark 4 that turns away when persecutions come our way. Perhaps we are like Demas (2 Timothy4:10) who loved the world more than God and apparently did not like the boundaries God gives to all of us for living our lives. Perhaps we don’t want to put God first and so we give that first position to our family.

If we refuse to live the life of a Christian (which will lead to persecutions and afflictions) then we do, in affect, refuse the comfort of God. Comfort come to us from God in many ways but the chief ways are through His promises in His word. For example, there is a great boldness when we truely can echo the words of the Hebrew writer:

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
(Heb 13:6)

But comfort also comes from our brethren who are able to and even commanded to comfort us-as we do to them also.

so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2Co 2:7-8)

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2Co 13:11)

Let us always persevere in our service to God. Not only in the good times but in the difficult times so that we may experience the comfort of God.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: