Saturday, July 12, 2014

Soil that receives

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 13:18-30

TO CHEW ON: "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.'" Matthew 13:23

I remember as a little girl, there were some preachers I liked a lot more than others simply because they told stories. Actually as a big girl I don't feel that differently. I'm sure Jesus with His repertoire of parables would have been a great favourite.

The parable of the sower and the seed is one of eight major parables which Jesus told. He not only told the story but took the time to explain it in all its intriguing allegorical detail. Thus it's easy to get caught up in the story's fine points. But it's also important not to miss the big point, which a footnote in my Bible has boiled down nicely: "Its central message is that the gospel of the kingdom will meet with varying levels of success in the human heart" - J. Lyle Story, commentary on Matthew,  New Spirit-filled Life Bible, p. 1314.

And don't we all want it to meet with that 100-fold success in our own hearts! A large measure of that success is due to how receptive the soil of our life and heart is — as the parable illustrates.

Here are some aspects and results of spiritual receptivity gathered from Scripture.
  • It involves attentive listening - Nehemiah 8:3; Proverbs 4:20.
  • It requires response - Proverbs 15:32.
  • A change of direction may be needed (repentance) - Jeremiah 12:16.
  • The most complete receptivity involves the commitment and abandonment we demonstrate when we eat food (faith) - Ezekiel 2:8; Ezekiel 3:2.
  • It may look different in different people. Or perhaps we could say, it involves steps or stages. Martha showed her receptivity to Jesus by opening her home to Him and preparing a meal. Mary sat at His feet listening. While Martha's receptivity was good, Jesus called Mary's listening the one "needed" thing  - Luke 10:38-41.
  • It involves obedient action. In Acts the believers who received the gospel were baptized - Acts 2:41.
  • It may require study and analysis. We compare what others teach with the Bible to ensure we're doing the things that line up with God's Word - Acts 17:11.
  • It produces results in us personally (1 Thessalonians 2:13) and spiritual productivity in our lives (Matthew 13:23 our focus verse today).

I ask myself, am I receptive to the good news of the kingdom? Do I hear it and respond to it (with repentance if necessary)? Do I commit to it in faith? Am I obedient to its ordinances? Do I study what people say about it, checking those teachings with the Bible to make sure I'm not being led astray? Are my heart and life being changed? Am I bearing fruit (both inwardly exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit and outwardly the fruit of other lives coming to Jesus and being strengthened in Him through my influence)?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for the picture of seed and soil in this parable. Please help me to be alert to bad soil conditions in my life, and to improve my heart soil's receptiveness to You and the truths about Your Kingdom. Amen.

MORE: Soil Types

Though it's too late to analyze your garden soil for better results this year, it's never too late to gather information about how you might improve it in the future. Here's an interesting article called "Soil Types and Testing" which names the various elements in soil, and describes a simple test you can do to analyze your own garden soil. (It's fun to imagine what comparisons Jesus would have made, what lessons He would have taught with such information!)

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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