Good day everybody. I hope you all had a good week or whenever the last time you listened here on this particular website. I would like to thank you for coming back. Today we are going to be talking about Matthew 13.
I’ve actually been a bit bummed out this week. Like so many people, I ran into some financial difficulties and I focused on them, got bowled over by it, and I was like God, what’s going on? I don’t get it. It just totally overwhelmed me. After all, I’m a grace preacher. Doesn’t that mean that everything should break my way and life should be grand?
Okay. Now, having said all that, here is one of the ways God has blessed me. He kept his word. “All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” He first loved me, but I love what he did for me, and I love him. Second I’m called because I’m a Christian. Therefore, all the things that happen to me, if they’re bad, He transmutes them into good.
Now, I want to make this perfectly clear. God does not cause bad things to happen to his children. He does not cause bad things to happen to his children. He only intends good for us. That’s what he promised. He does not change. Therefore, if you trusted in Christ, if something bad happens to you, it is not from God. It is from the world, the flesh or the devil. But, even given those circumstances if it’s bad, he will transmute it.
Now, I’m going to tell you how he’s transmuted this in my life. For several months now I’ve been thinking about the parable of the sower, and I’d like to read that to you starting right now. Matthew’s gospel chapter 13. He is talking to his disciples and he says, “Behold, a sower went forth to sow, and when he sowed some seed fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell amongst stony places, where they had not much earth and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun was up, they scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them. But other fell into the good ground, and brought forth fruit, hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
It is important that last statement. “He who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Seek to understand, especially anytime it says he who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Later on the disciples cornered Jesus and they say what’s up with these parables? And as you read on down through the chapter, he’ll say well, it’s given to you to understand, and these other people were prophesied about by the prophet. In the King James it says Esaias, but that’s just a fancy translation for the prophet Isaiah. It talks about how their heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull, but he says to the
disciples in verse 16, “But blessed are your eyes for you see, and your ears for they hear. For verily I say unto you, many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which you see.”
Now drop down starting at verse 18, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth it away that which is sown in his heart. This is that which received seed by the wayside.”
Notice it says that he that received it, I mean it came into his ears, he received it, but he understood it not and the wicked one came and stole it away from him. That’s why he says he who hath ears to hear, let him hear. When you hear the word of God seek to understand it. If you don’t seek to understand it, it will not change your life, and it won’t have the effect. You’ve got to seek to understand it.
I work with the public. People would come out of church. I would see them later and I would say, “Oh, you went to church today.”
And this included pastors wives by the way. I would say, “Oh really?”
“Was the service good?”
“Oh, it was great.”
“So what did the preacher preach on?”
“Come on, you were there. You said it was great.”
They were the people who received the word by the wayside. They didn’t seek to understand it. They didn’t seek to hold onto it. They just let it wash over them and they went right along with their lives. That’s the people who the word of God has no influence upon. “But he that received it in stony places, the same as he that heareth the word, and anon with joy hath received it. Yet he hath not root in himself, nor dureth for a while,” but dureth for a while, “for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
Now this guy did receive it, and he received it with great joy. Whenever you are reading in the Old Testament you will see the Jewish people that came out of the land of Egypt, and they receive the law with great joy. Oh yeah, we can do whatever you tell us to do God. That’s the way it would read more accurately in the Hebrews I’m given to understand when they said you go up Moses and receive the word and come back and tell us and we’ll do it, the attitude or the idea is oh, we can do it. And so yeah, no problem, we can do this. This is the people who received it. I started off in a church system that was very legalistic. You not only had to keep the 10 commandments, but you also had to keep a lot of other laws. That’s why Jesus warns us about that, that the traditions of men nullify the word of God.
So here are some of the traditions of men from the church that I originally started working with. Now, they’ve changed over the years, but when I first started going to this one particular church we couldn’t play any kind of card games. The girls had to wear dresses below the knees. The boys had to have their hair cut short. You couldn’t go to the movies. You weren’t supposed to listen to any kind of what they called rock-n-roll. I later went to different Bible colleges. One of them you had to travel in odd numbers, 1, 3, 5. You couldn’t travel in even numbers. You couldn’t go swimming if there was someone of the opposite sex in the pool, you couldn’t jump in the pool. You couldn’t go ice skating, I never did quite get that one, or rollerskating. Skating was out entirely. If you were seen coming out of the movie you would be expelled. You couldn’t hold hands. At one school you couldn’t even date without the permission of the college.
It was just all these extra rules that just made it harder to live the Christian life, and they would condemn you if you didn’t, and I remember that kind of stuff going on. It made your life a lot harder to live because of all this condemnation. And yet it clearly says in the Bible, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” And yet here are these traditions, condemnation layer after layer laid upon you.
Now, the law was carved into stone, so this ground as Jesus said is stony ground, so it’s a legalistic ground because of the reference to the stone. I’m trying to show you the implications of what God was showing to me. So this is the people who jump up and say yeah, I can do this. I’m going to go to church, and they jump right into it, and a lot of these people you see going into these legalistic churches, they become either extremely bitter and arrogant, condescending and they don’t want “those” type of people coming to our church, and they have to clean up their act.
I know one church if you went there, if you made a profession of faith if you were a guy back in the day the first thing they did was take you downstairs and gave you a haircut. You got saved and a free haircut all in the same day because you could not come to their church if you did not have a proper haircut. Now show that to me in the scripture.
Anyway, this was whole legalism. The people jump up and say yeah, we can do this, we can do it. And when you find out you really can’t keep up with all these rules and regulations, and then the traditions of men, they are trying to make it so that you can understand better the laws of God. They’re trying to help you, but in fact they are actually hindering you more and more, and persecution, and it just gets so hard. A lot of these people that go this way just finally give up. Just kick it to the side and say forget it, I don’t want anything to do with this church, this Christianity, it’s actually churchianity, so these are the people who get caught up into the law.
Then as we go down. Verse 22: “He also that received the seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the word and he becometh unfruitful.” This is the guy who gets caught up in the day-to-day living. Yeah, he gets over the legalistic stuff, he understands the grace, he is trusting God for salvation, he is trusting Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, but that day-to-day grinding it out. Now, that’s what happened to me this past week. I got caught in a thorny situation. Everybody is having troubles because of the times we live in, financial difficulties, and I was confronted with major financial difficulty, and I focused right on that, and I was saying God, I don’t understand this. I’m trying to understand your grace. Notice the word understand, always try to understand what the Bible is teaching, and I’ve been trying to understand his grace, and I said I’ve been preaching it, and here I am bowled over by this situation in life.
There is a rule of how to interpret the scripture. One of these days we might get into it more completely, but one of the rules is, or some people call them laws but I prefer to call them rules, is the rule of first usage. When you read something and you don’t understand it, go back to a place in the Bible where it’s first used, read it in that context and understand it, and then go back to where you are and take that information back with you to understand.
So here we have the subject of thorns. Now the first time thorns is brought up in the scripture is back in Genesis after Adam and Eve have eaten of the tree. God has come down and he has talked to them. Actually he is laying a course out on the earth, and he tells Adam that he is going to curse the earth for Adam’s benefit, and by the sweat of his brow he will have to work and his labors will bring forth thorns and thistles. So that’s the idea of we’re out here, we’re struggling and working to make a living by the sweat of our brow, we’re trying to make this living, and no matter how hard we try we still have all these problems keep breaking forth, break forth with thorns.
I live in a rural area. You go out and you plant your garden, you plant your fields, and you have weed problems all the time and the farmers are out there battling the weeds. Weeds are coming up, and that’s what this is talking about. The thorns and thistles are the struggles we have in this life trying to make a living, just flat out trying to make a living. So there I was confronted with this situation, trying to make a living, and I could feel the blessings of God just slipping away from me, and I’m trying to understand. God, I don’t get this. I’m really trying to walk and understand your word, walk in the grace, walk in faith in the favor that Jesus has given me, and God says okay, go back. Understand the thorns.
Okay, I did. The thorns are the work and the struggle of this world trying to make my living. He said, you’re blessed of God. You’re under grace. I am your shepherd. You shall not want. I lead you to green pastures. Do you see the sheep struggling to raise a pasture? Trust me, I’m leading you into green pastures. Okay.
He said now go to, what’s another thorny situation where thorns are discussed in the scripture? The thorns are fashioned into a crown and placed on Christ’s head. Okay. And they hit him on the head with rods so that those thorns pierced his brow. Now those thorns were actually anointed with the blood of Christ. The blood redeems us from our failures. The blood redeemed us from the thorns of this world. That’s why it was placed on his head, and on his head is where he thinks. That is a picture of him redeeming our thought process from the problems of trying to make a living in this world. He is saying trust me, I have redeemed you by my blood. Remember redemption, the blood redeems us from sin, and sin in the Greek is hamartia, it means to miss the mark, so he is saying you’re out there struggling to make a living, you’re missing the mark and I’m saving you from that curse that was placed upon you because you’re no longer under a curse because when you trusted in me, and you trusted in my sacrifice, you became a blessed child of God, no longer a cursed human or living under a curse, but rather you are a blessed, born again child of God.
And as a child of God we’ve got to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. So I saw all this struggle coming down upon me, how am I going to make ends meet, paying my bills at the end of the month and all that stuff, and he’s going you’re focusing on the wrong thing. And I’m like I’m getting overwhelmed by this. And he goes you’re focusing on the wrong stuff.
And there is something else he brought to mind. He says you remember the children of Israel? There they were. I provided for them 10 miraculous plagues of Egypt to get them out and yet they didn’t suffer from the plagues. There was darkness and yet they lived in light. There was lice, but they didn’t have any. There were frogs, but they didn’t have frogs. And when the firstborn were killed, their firstborn were not killed because of the blood of the lamb that was shed and the death angel passed over them. Then I brought them out of the land of Egypt, had a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke or cloud by day, and when Pharaoh chased them the pillar of smoke or fire got between them and Pharaoh’s army. Then I split the Red Sea and took them across the Red Sea, drowned Pharaoh’s army, and then as they traveled around the desert of Sanai. I provided them manna to eat. I made sure their clothes didn’t wear out and their shoes didn’t wear out. When they came to the place of bitter waters I told them to throw the wood in.
Once again the tree, it comes back to the tree, the cross as a redemption picture there. One of these days we might get into that. But anyway, threw the tree that he had been shown into the water, and the water became sweet. He is saying I provided for these people all the way through, and here they were standing on… as he brought them through, where was he taking them? He was taking them to the land flowing with milk and honey.
So he has made all these provisions, all these miraculous things happen to them. They come to the place we call Kadesh Barnea. In Numbers chapter 14, verse 1-3 you can read about it, chapter 13 and 14. They come to this place, the edge of the land flowing with milk and honey and they’re ready to cross into it, and God says send in your 12 spies and have them go find out what the land is really like, and let them come back and tell them what a wonderful place this is going to be.
So they do that. They go into the land, and they come back and they say this is a wonderful place, especially 2 of them. It’s great. We have to go. Let’s line up. Whew. We’re going to take this place. But we have 10 of them that focused on the cares of the world. They said yeah, the land is wonderful. It’s beautiful. It’s has a great view. There are grapes there that are totally astounding. But there are giants in the land. They were focusing upon the cares of this life. And there they were standing on the edge of the place of the land flowing with milk and honey where God said I will take you into a land and you will reap that which you did not sew, you will pick from vines that you did not plant, you will sit under trees, fig trees, and eat figs thereof. You will live in houses that you did not build. This will be a place of great blessing to you, and those people balked right there. Ready to go into the land and to conquer it by the power of God, and yet they looked at their enemy and forgot the power of God.
He says to Doyle recall the things that I have done in your life. Why are you balking? Right here, recall the things that I’ve done in your life. Jesus came down while you were yet a sinner and sacrificed himself and he called himself to you. He has washed you in the blood of the lamb, forgiven you of all your sins, and now go back over all the supernatural interventions in your life, and how I have met your needs, supplied your needs, given you heads up and warnings. I would like to enumerate on all the stuff, but this is not the time of the place, but I have been blessed on a supernatural level that God has blessed me, and yet here I was confronted with this situation, and I was balking going eh, and he’s going don’t balk now. Recall. Recall all the good things. I do not change. It’s one of God’s attributes. He’s not a God who changes. He is consistent with us.
Now let’s go on to the last part of this. “But he that received the seed into good ground is he that heareth the word and understandeth it,” get that, and understandeth it, “which also beareth fruit.” The one that understands is the one that bears fruit, “and the fruit that he bears some will bring forth hundred, some sixty, and some thirtyfold.” You know, a multiple. 30 times. 60 times. Or 100 times. Personally I’m shooting for the 100 folks.
But anyway, he is saying here they were on the verge of going into the land of milk and honey, and instead of recalling the things that I have done and what a great and gracious God I was to them, they balked and they focused on the cares of this world. Doyle, here you are focusing on the cares of this world, and yet you’re always saying you want to be a thirty, or sixty or hundredfold person. Get your eyes off the cares of this world.
You have been redeemed, ransomed from those things by the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ touched the thorns of this world. Therefore, they are no longer your thorns. You trust me because I am your shepherd. I will lead you and guide you. You trust me and I will take you into the promised land. Understand this, trust me in my grace, in my favor to you which God gives to me not because I earn it, but because he likes me, because the blood has washed away my sins and failures and the sacrifice of Christ’s body over and above the blood, his body was actually broken and bruised so that I could have all the earthly blessings that seem to be denied to so many people, and He’s saying to me trust in me, and now go to this next level.
I say the next level because this is the way it seems to me. There are people who hear the word of God sitting in a church, and they never receive it. They never understand it, they don’t care to, and it does not change their life in any way.
Then there are people who receive it and they say yeah, but they get all caught up in I can do this and it’s all me, me, my, my going on, and then they are just bowled over when they actually run into failure on the whole thing.
Then there are people like me who have received it, tried to understand it, and yet whenever I ran into this conflict, I focused on the cares of the world rather than focusing upon the goodness of my God and Jesus Christ and what he has done for me. I focused on the wrong thing. Recall the greatness of our God. If you’re in a situation like I am, recall the greatness of our God. How do we do that? Well, for one thing just sit down and think about it. Go to the Bible and read about Jesus. Read about Jesus’ sacrifice.
And here’s another great way that he has given it to us. Go get yourself some grape juice, or wine, whichever. Go get one of them. Pour yourself a little glassful of that. A little glass, I don’t want you guys getting drunk on me here. Give yourself a glass of grape juice. Go get yourself some bread, preferably a flat cracker. Get your bread or your cracker. Pray over it, and take communion because he said we’re supposed to reflect. This is what we do to remember his death until he comes. It is important to remember His death, because His death gave us life.
He was deprived to give us plenty. He gave up everything. He gave up even his clothes. He became naked upon the cross so we might have clothes. He did without so that we might have. He was deprived so that we might be blessed. He was cut off from God, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” in order that we might become the children of God. There is this exchange going on. He took our place so we could step into His place. Yeah. How cool is that?
And then he took all of that, then he died, but then he rose up from the dead to guarantee to us those blessings whenever we’re willing to accept them, receive them, and understand them. You receive the word of God, then seek to understand it, and as we receive it and understand it and take it to that good level, quit focusing upon the cares of the this world, quit focusing upon the laws, the works of the law which is what so many churches seem to be doing any more which I did for years, give up on that, give up on the cares of this world and focus only on Jesus Christ. When we focus upon him, we will come into a place of blessing, a land flowing with milk and honey. We’ll cross over into that place where we all want to be.
We need to realize that we have an exchange. Christ took our place, we took his. We need to recall the blessings that he has caused to come into our life, and as we do that we can move into this place of receiving the word, understanding the word, and then being blessed by Him, focusing not on what is in this world, but upon Jesus Christ.
I would like to readsomething to you. A lot of people say oh, you’ll never get into the presence of God, but God does not lie. God does not change. Jeremiah chapter 29 starting around verse 11 through verse 13. “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,” sayeth the Lord. “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” To give you an expected end. Not of evil. I’m elaborating here. Notice what he says. He has thoughts of peace towards us, not thoughts of evil. Anything bad that happens to us is not sourced in God. It is sourced in the world, the flesh or the devil, but not in God, but he promises that all things will work together for our good and will be transmuted. It will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but all bad things will be changed to become good for us.
“Then you shall call upon me and you shall go and pray unto me, and I shall harken unto you. You shall seek me and find me.” Get that? We’re to go, we’re to pray, and he will hear us and you shall seek me and find me when, this is the codicil or the little part that we have to pick up, when you shall search for me with all your heart. Go after the presence of God with hammer and tongs. I was driven to it because of my need, the cares of this world and I’m going God, I don’t understand it, I don’t get it, I’m suffering. And he’s going okay, now you sought me with all your heart, you found me, and now I’m going to explain to you what’s going on in your life. And he used the parable of the sower to do it.
If you’re in that situation, any time you’re in any situation, go to God with great passion, go after him with all your heart, and the wise thing to do which I keep forgetting, when things are really good, don’t give him lip service, don’t give him the prayers of the table, rub a dub dub thanks for the grub, yeah God. Don’t do the now I lay me down to sleep. But get very passionate and say God, things are very good in my life, and I want to be in your presence because they’re good and I want to thank you. I want to be in your presence. I want to recall you. I want to recall Jesus Christ to my memory and all the great things that he has done for me. I want to be in your presence. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
It’s the same thing that is being taught to us now. Go after the presence of God. Quit focusing on the cares of this world. We have been redeemed from the cares of this world by the blood that anointed the thorns on Christ’s head. We don’t have to dwell upon them and think upon them. We’ve been redeemed from that. We are to dwell upon and think upon the death of Christ and what he accomplished for us through that death. We have been blessed by our God. We need to accept it. We need to understand it. If I didn’t make this clear, then get in the scriptures, read it for yourself, and seek him with a great passion and come to a place of understanding and you too, and myself, we will move up to that level where we will bear fruit thirty, sixty or if you’re like me, go for the hundredfold. I want it all. I want all the blessings.
So now I am going to ask God to give us, myself and you, those very blessings. Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus I ask that you bless us with your presence. We seek your presence right now. God, through Jesus Christ and what he accomplished upon the cross, we ask to come into your presence. We want to hear from you. We want to see the great things you’ve done. Help us to focus totally upon you and forget this world that we live in because you are our shepherd, and you cause us to walk, and to follow after you, and to come to those green pastures, and to lie down right there. Father, we trust you, we praise you, and we give you glory. Help us to recall, help us to recall, help us to recall. All glory and honor to your son because of the great things that he has accomplished. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.