Thursday, January 7th

Thursday, January 7th

Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture .... The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. Luke 8:6, 13

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

There is a kind of tension we experience from those ongoing, constant areas of life that nag at us. Our currant series is designed to help us make improvements in these areas in 2016. We have been looking at "discipleship" this week. Discipleship has its own tension (grace and hard work) but at the same time it is the key to getting life right in all those areas that are ongoing and constant (dealing with time, finances, relationships, etc.). We have zeroed in on the fundamental reality that discipleship has a "cost." Discipleship is all about living fully for God instead of living fully for ourselves. The "cost" of discipleship lies in the changes that must come if we are truly going to live fully for God instead of ourselves. These changes necessitate dying to ourselves, surrendering our wills, and living for God's purposes and desires instead of our own.

We continue today with the parable of the sower. You will recall that throughout the parable the soil represents people, the seed represents God's word, and the sower represents God. In contrast to the good soil we looked at the other day there are three bad soils in the parable. Each of these bad soils help us understand more fully the true cost of discipleship. Today's Scripture gives us the second bad soil and the explanation of what this soil represents. The second bad soil is "rocky soil."

The problem with the seed falling on rocky soil lies in the fact that the seed has the competition of rocks to contend with. External influence was the primary cause of the hardened soil of the footpath. In contrast, the problem of the rocky soil is an internal one because the rocks exist within the soil itself. There is enough soil available to allow the seed to germinate and come to life, but the rocks in the soil get in the way of the seed sending its roots down to the sufficient level it needs to grow into a healthy plant. What is it that makes a person similar to this bad soil with its bad outcome? There are several things we are given in today's Scripture that help us understand how a person can be like the "rocky soil."

Here are the similarities: a person's mind and heart are filled with things that compete with God and his word. God and his word come to us and we respond in faith and we receive the gift of salvation joyfully. We begin to grow but the roots of our faith cannot go deep enough for continued growth because of the presence of things that compete for space in our minds and hearts. We are all have "rocks" in our lives when we come to Christ that need to be removed. We have beliefs, desires, and practices that are contrary to God and his word. But not all of us are the "rocky soil" people of our parable. "Rocky soil" people are those who receive Christ but are unprepared for the changes that need to be made.

Discipleship begins with saving faith but necessitates the realization that we are being saved in order to be a disciple who truly follows Christ. Right from the beginning one should count the cost of being his disciple. When counting the cost of being a disciple isn't a part of one's salvation experience, they are ill-prepared for the changes that come with true discipleship. This is what it means to be a rocky soil person. We resist the changes that need to be made and continue to yield to the temptations associated with wrong beliefs, desires, and practices. We choose to cling to these "rocks" that have been present in our Christian experience from the beginning.

It bears repeating that discipleship is all about living fully for God instead of living fully for ourselves. The "cost" of discipleship lies in the changes that must come if we are truly going to live fully for God instead of ourselves. These changes necessitate dying to ourselves, surrendering our wills, and living for God's purposes and desires instead of our own. What a difference these understandings make for the one who sees and embraces them at the time they are responding to Christ in saving faith.

Praise God, we do not have to remain rocky soil people. God comes again and again to us with his word. Over and over he extends to us the call of discipleship and if we embrace the cost of discipleship we will be set free. Our roots will go down deep, we will grow spiritually tall and strong, and our lives will produce a tremendous harvest.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, I recognize my own struggle with the rocky soil of my mind and heart. Thank you for your love and patience. I am grateful that you keep on waiting and keep on calling to me. I recognize this isn't an issue of perfection (all rocks removed) or it would be hopeless. I understand it is all about my willingness to let you work at removing the rocks in my life at all times. I choose to embrace the cost of discipleship more fully and to let you have you full charge over my life. I choose to live fully for you.  Amen!

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