"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22)
When I was a younger lad than I am today, I spent the summers in Ballengee West Virginia with my summer parents Lester and Fonda Lively. I wasn’t much taller than a new stock of corn and not much wider either. I was mostly a tag-a-long and helped where I could or was allowed. One day I was following Lester behind the farm tractor as he plowed a field. It was a long morning following behind, but I felt it was my job to be near at hand if he should need me. We finished the field and the next day went back to plow it again. I repeated my task of tagging along behind. Then the next day we went back to the same field to plow it again. I just had to ask, “Lester, why are we plowing the same field again for the third time?” Lester answered, “To prepare the ground for the good seed. We have to be sure that we have all the weeds out of the ground or they will choke the alfalfa when it comes up.” Lester climbed back up onto the farm tractor, and I followed behind.
Later in life, I found myself having trouble being good and living as I should. I was not the most honorable Christian boy in this world, and I know my heavenly Father was not pleased and my earthly father certainly wasn’t either. My father sat me down one day and told me about preparing the ground of the heart which made the answer that Lester gave me all the more meaningful. My father said that we have to cast out all those old evil habits, those evil desires that we hold onto or it will choke out the good seed of God’s Word. The Apostle Paul explains it this way, "For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want." (Romans 7:19) It is not easy hitching up the plow and tilling the soil of the heart each day dislodging the evil desires from yesterday’s gone by and the new ones that blow in through the wind. If we want to be lights of His Kingdom, then we don’t want the seeds of sin remaining in our hearts to sprout up and shade that light.
For this reason that I never miss time in God’s House. If the Church doors are open I am there with my Church family. They know me, and I know them, they love me, and I love them, and they know that I, like they, fall short of God’s glory. We go there to learn more of Jesus and to help each other live in the example of Jesus. The Devil is a deceptive schemer, and we help each other to foil his attacks. "So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes." (2 Corinthians 2:11) The writer of Hebrews tells us not to forsake the gathering. (Hebrews 10:25) We come faithfully to serve our Lord, and to be a weed puller for each other. "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:13)
Our adversary is the master of deception. Before man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, evil had not entered into his mind, and he was not tempted to disobey the Word of God. Satan tempted him with his deception that he could be as God and man ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. From that moment on evil entered into the heart of man. At the first man tried to hide from God, then he tried to rationalize his behavior, and then he tried to transfer the responsibility of his actions. Don’t we still try doing this today? But man cannot hide from God, man cannot rationalize God’s Word for it is absolute truth, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." (Hebrews 4:12-13) Man cannot pass the responsibility as all will be held accountable. "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God." (Romans 3:19)
God hates sin. Sin is disobedience to His word. The wage for sin is death. (Romans 6:23) A man now knows of evil and if left to his own way will fall into the deception of the Devils temptations. "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) God gave His Law knowing that man could not keep it perfectly. God gave us His Law that we may see that we have fallen short and in need of a Savior to deliver us from the penalty of our transgressions. "But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me." (Romans 7:8-11) The Devil knows that man is aware of sin and evil behavior, but in his deception he will appear as righteous and quietly lead us astray. The devil's deception is why the Christian must stay founded upon the rock of God’s Word. "No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds." (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
We all are passing through this world briefly, which is a battleground between good and evil. There is no spectator stand to sit upon and watch the contest. We all are in one camp or the other either actively battling the evil spiritual forces or actively being complacent to the evil spiritual forces. The question for man will always be where? Where will he spend eternity? Will he arrive at the home he was created to live, or will he fall to the abyss prepared for Satan? There are only two paths one can travel, the broad road that leads to destruction or the narrow road that leads to the Kingdom of heaven.
Sin blocks man from the presence of God. God is holy and righteous, and as His children we are to be holy and righteous. "Because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1-16) How can that be, no man can live a righteous life in perfection. God sent His Son Jesus to redeem us from our lost state, and by our faith in Him, we are justified before God. "Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:22) If we believe that He is and call upon His name we can be saved through His atoning blood that will wash our sins away. "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13) It is a new way of life, we put off the old way, and the life of worldly desire and our hearts desire become to glorify God. We are now citizens of His Kingdom, and we are His witnesses of His light in this world. "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)
There will still be trials and tribulations in the Christians life. Jesus suffered the cross for us, and we must be prepared to suffer for Him. It is just a short while as life here in the measure of eternity is but a wisp of time. Whatever we sacrifice for the sake of Jesus is minimal to the abundance we will receive at the end time. "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life." (Matthew 19:29) What we do in the service of Jesus will follow us through all eternity and forever be a blessing. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." (Revelation 14:13)
It is a deceptive world by the action of man and by the wiles of the Devil, the prince of this world. Stay in the Word of God for it is the only truth that will set you free and guard your heart against your adversary. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:7-9)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, September 9, 2015