“Be careful therefore how you listen. For to him who has spiritual knowledge will more be given, and from him who does not have spiritual knowledge, even what he thinks, guesses, and supposes that he has will be taken away.” Luke 8:18 Amplified
It’s often said that most people hear but don’t listen. I would compare that to having a radio or tv on while doing something else, you hear the noise coming from the tv or radio, but you’re more focused on the task your doing so you don’t really listen to what is being said on the tv or radio. That’s fine when you’re alone and working on something to have that background noise, but when we’re listening to another person talk, especially if that other Person is the Lord, we need to make sure we hear what they have to say.
Our verse today says that when it comes to the Lord speaking it’s very important to listen because you’ll receive more of the good things God has to for us. I believe the spiritual knowledge the verse is referring to is the knowledge of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Unbelievers are those who don’t have spiritual knowledge. Now if you talk to someone who isn’t saved they will likely try to convince you that they have read the Bible and know what it says. This verse says that even the little they think they know, if they’re not saved, will diminish more and more.
Our listening should also be to help us grow and mature as Christians. Paul tells us in the new testament that we aren’t supposed to stay babies in the Lord, but grow up and be used by Him to reach others. So when you hear the Word preached, clear your mind and be careful to listen. God is talking to you.
“For what can a man give as an exchange, a compensation, a ransom, in return for his blessed life in the eternal kingdom of God?” Mark 8:37 Amplified
We’re studying how to be like Jesus. In our verse today He tells us how we make exchanges in life. In verse 35 He says if we want to save our higher, spiritual life we must lose our lower natural life, for what does it profit us to gain and do everything here on earth if it costs us our eternal soul?
Jesus was the most unselfish person to ever live. He thought nothing of Himself, His needs, His cares, He gave it all for us. As Christians we’re called to do the same thing, the word Christian means Christ-like. Our natural man fights us so terribly on this though, and the world we live in today encourages self centeredness. At times we’re in a constant battle between doing what is not selfish and doing what is self-centered. People push us to make split second decisions in response to their treatment of us or others. In those moments we’re exchanging our eternal blessed life with God for what matters here on earth. So what can we exchange to get it back? We have nothing, but the blood of Jesus. Praise God He is our ransom and He has paid the price!
“So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:38 Amplified
Chapter 9 of Matthew has an interesting sequence of events. 1. A paralyzed man is healed. 2. A woman with an issue of blood is healed. 3. A young girl is raised from the dead. 4. Two blind men are healed. 5. A dumb man is healed. The sequence of scripture is interesting too. 1. The paralyzed man is forgiven of his sins. 2. Jesus tells the woman with the issue of blood her faith made her well. 3. The dead girl was not dead, Jesus says she was only sleeping. 4. The two blind men are told by Him that according to their faith their healing would be done. 5. The dumb man had a demon driven out. At the end of all of this the Word says the crowds were stunned and bewildered. Jesus looks on the throng is moved with pity and sympathy for them, and He says that they were like sheep without a shepherd. The last verse of chapter 9 says, “So pray for the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” That’s Jesus speaking about Himself and to us.
What I see in these verses is the sequence of events in a believers spiritual walk. 1. We are paralyzed in life and are forgiven of our sins. 2. We have issues, spiritual and physical, but have faith that God can heal us. 3. As we progress in our walk we sometimes fall asleep and become contented instead of taking action. 4. We may even become blind to those around us who are lost or to cultural problems we should take a stand against. 5. Finally, when things get bad around us we seek Jesus to drive the demon of complacency out so that we can be used to serve as labors in the harvest, gathering others into the sheepfold.
Pray that the Lord of the harvest will force out and thrust laborers, you, into His harvest today, we so desperately need it.
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. They were His dear friends and He held them in loving esteem. Therefore, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was.” John 11:5-6 Amplified
The story of Jesus and Lazarus’ family starts out so wonderful because it says they were dear friends and held in loving esteem. So of course we know the next sentence will be that He rushed to their side in this crisis, but no, he still stayed where He was two more days! What kind of love is that?
Something Jesus is trying to teach us here is to look at the big picture. Though we may not have the power to raise the dead we can still have power over a situation we are brought into. Jesus was the first to teach us about tough love. It’s a love that does the best though it is the hardest and may be seen as downright cruel. Tough love stops and reviews the situation before jumping into action. Most of the time we have a least a few minutes to decide what we’re going to do in even a major crisis.
Take that time to pray and ask God for direction. Jesus said in verse 4 that the sickness Lazarus had was to honor God and to promote His glory. That should be the believers goal in life, honor God and promote His glory even if it takes tough love.
“But as for the seed in the good soil, these are the people who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just, noble, virtuous, and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15 Amplified
The final group of people in our study of the parable of the sower and the seed Jesus calls good soil. A few things to note, He uses fewer words to describe this group and there are no buts, well there is one at the beginning used to get your attention, remember that’s what buts do.
So what’s the difference between the good soil people and the traveled, rock and thorn people? Well, the traveled people let the Word be taken away, the rock people hold the Word loosely, and the thorn people let other things interfere with the Word, BUT the good soil people hold fast to the Word. The good soil people treasure the Word and see it as more precious and powerful than anything else. Our verse today says they have a noble virtuous and worthy heart, I believe that’s because they DID hold fast to the Word. Because of that they constantly bring forth fruit, good stuff, like joy, peace, harmony and they do so with patience trusting God to bring it to pass.
Really, the parable of the sower and the seed is not as much about soil as it is about soul. So what’s your soul like?
“And as for what fell among the thorns, these are the people who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares, and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not ripen, come to maturity and perfection.” Luke 8:14 Amplified
As we continue to look at the four groups of people in the parable of the seed and the sower, Jesus calls this third group thorns. Let’s think about that word for a minute, it’s defined as “hard structures with sharp, stiff ends, generally with the same function of physically deterring”. Doesn’t exactly sound like a compliment to be a thorn. Jesus says these people hear the message from the Word, but….. So I think we can safely assume these could be regular church goers. They dutifully sit in the pew every week and listen to the sermon, but….. When you read the word but in the Bible it’s like a caution light flashing at you to pay attention. In this case what comes after the but is that the they forget what they just heard. The thorns might as well have not even heard the sermon because they don’t retain any of it. The Lord tells us that as soon as thorns walk out the door of the church, maybe even when they get up from the pew, life and all its problems and pleasures takes over. To make matters worse most thorns stick into other thorns or anybody else around them due to their negative attitude and woe as me lifestyle “drama”. They may be saved, but they’re miserable in this life because all they see is what’s around them instead of looking up to what the Lord has for them. I believe many Christians today are thorns, they’ve got fire insurance, but no fruit.
If you are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares of this world, or are caught up in the riches and pleasures of life, don’t be a thorn. Be the rose on the bush enjoying the peace and joy Jesus gives us no matter what life throws at us.
“And those upon the rock are the people who, when they hear the Word, receive and welcome it with joy; but these have no root. They believe for a while, and in time of trial and temptation fall away, withdraw, and stand aloof.” Luke 8:13 Amplified
We are looking at the four types of people who Jesus is describing that hear the Word of God and what they do with it.
Our second group are those upon the rock. Jesus is often referred to in scripture as the Rock, the firm foundation. In the verse above however it’s not referring to Jesus, but the type of soil or heart the person has. A seed can’t take root and grow in rocky ground, it’s too hard and dry. Thus when these people hear the Word of God they are anxious to hear it, but they don’t clear their mind of all the other things in their life or they let those others things come in and kill the seed. The people Jesus is talking about are those we see come to church for a while, but then soon go back to doing whatever else there is to do on Sunday. They fall way, withdraw and stand aloof.
Jesus calls us to be committed to Him and put Him first. People on the rock want the benefits Jesus can give, but don’t want to maintain the relationship. If we compare it to a marriage and the husband only came around for what he could get, but didn’t stay for the hard part it wouldn’t be much of a marriage.
If you tend to be an occasional visitor to church, but don’t get involved you’re probably a rock. If you’ve been saved and love the Lord, seek to go deeper with Him, study His Word and get involved, you’ll be better for it.