A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it .... The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. Luke 8:5, 12
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
We are in the first week of a series designed to help us tackle those areas of life that are ongoing, constant, and could stand some improvement in the new year that lies before us. We have been looking at "discipleship" this week. Discipleship is the key to getting life right in all those areas that are ongoing and constant (dealing with time, finances, relationships, etc.). At the beginning of the week we were introduced to a very important reality: discipleship has a "cost." Discipleship is all about living fully for God instead of living fully for ourselves. Changing the focus of what we live for is where the "cost" comes in to play. Living fully for God instead of living fully for ourselves necessitates 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 yesterday there are three bad soils in the parable. Each of these bad soils will help us understand more fully the true cost of discipleship. Today's Scripture gives us the first bad soil and the explanation of what this soil represents. The first bad soil is "hard soil."
The problem with the seed falling on the footpath lies in the fact that the footpath is hardened. Picture a garden all tilled up and ready for planting. Now picture a well trodden path along the side of the garden that the gardener has used over the years for tending to his garden. Finally picture the gardener sowing seed in his garden but with some seed landing on the well trodden footpath. The seed on the footpath germinating and coming to life is not a probable outcome. 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 passage that help us understand how a person can be like the "hard soil."
The first similarity is obvious: a person's mind and heart are hardened and not open to God and his word. The words "stepped on" suggest how it comes about that a person's mind and heart are hardened to God and his word. It is people stepping on the footpath that make it hard. Similarly, we have people who influence our minds and hearts with understandings and perspectives that are contrary to God and his word. The repeated and collective influence of the wrong people can harden a person so they are not open to God and his word.
But the words "stepped on" are directly used in regard to the seed on the path. The meaning here is clear: people who oppose God and his word will "step on" the influence of God and his word when it comes to a person with a hardened mind and heart to ensure their hardness remains. It is only a matter of time before the opportunity to respond disappears because the devil always comes and takes the message of God's word away from them just like the birds eat the sower's seed that lies on the hardened footpath ungerminated, without coming to life. We are told that such people are prevented from believing and being saved.
This is not the end of hope for such people. This is only a point in time. God can come again with his word to such a person. However, the outcome will be the same unless the conditions change beforehand. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and God's people (his church individually and collectively) the influence of wrong people can be countered and the hardness of mind and heart can be reversed. Discipleship begins with saving faith and God is wonderfully at work throughout the lifetimes of all people seeking to bring them to himself and the salvation he offers through his Son, Jesus Christ. We are told elsewhere in Scripture that God is patient and not willing that any should perish but for all to come to repentance (1 Peter 3:9).
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, thank you for you patience and for never giving up on me. Thank you for the work of softening my mind and heart that you accomplished through your Spirit and through your people. Thank you that you came again to me with your good word and brought me to yourself and gave me the gift of eternal salvation in Christ. Help me to live fully for you as a willing and obedient disciple of Christ. Amen!
Posted on Wed, January 6, 2016
by Alan Porter