Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Becoming Fruitful Soil (July 2014 Newsletter)

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. – Luke 8:15
In a discussion group, a friend and mentor recently asked "How does a person BECOME 4th Soil? (30-60-100)” referring to the “Parable of the Sower” in Luke 8 and Matthew 13, which speaks of a farmer who sows seed on four different kinds of soil. Only the fourth soil produces a good harvest, but it multiplies the seed that was sown into 30, 60, and 100 times what was planted. Jesus defines the seed as the Word of God (Luke 8:11). As followers of Jesus we are called and empowered to multiply the Living Word that God has planted in us. This includes making and multiplying disciples, and every gift and calling in the body of Christ.
Many who confess Christ find their fruitfulness and God’s Word stolen from their lives. These are first soil people (Luke 8:12). We must be aware that we are in a war, with a real enemy who seeks to destroy us. Others have shallow roots and do not endure trial or persecution, as the second soil (Luke 8:13). Many in our entertainment-addicted culture become unfruitful because of the concerns and pleasures of this present world. They are choked and unfruitful as the third soil (Luke 8:14). The fourth soil clings to the Word and endures, producing a harvest.
I responded to my friend from Luke 8:15 and Matthew 13:23 in a few translations, “4th soil: noble and good heart, honest, hear God's word and understand it, hold on to it, cling to it, retain it, persevere, endure, are patient. Luke 8:15 and Matthew 13:23 sound a lot like John 15:1-15 to me. Abiding in Christ, in His Love and in His Word, changes us into good soil.”
Abiding in Christ is our foremost responsibility. We are to find our rest and our roots deeply in Christ, His love, and His Word. We are to remain in Him, endure in Him, persevere in Him. We are to cling to His Word by reading and listening; we are to cling to Him in prayer. He promises, ““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. This is the secret of fruitfulness. This is how we can change and become fourth soil. This is how we can persevere in what the Lord has done in our lives. As a full-time missionary, I know that my first and most vital responsibility is to abide deeply in Christ, to use my time and my effort to go deeper and deeper into a relationship with Jesus that fills my life with His life and overflows into the lives of others.
This month I was sharing with my Muslim friend W____, after sharing the story of Zaccheus with him from Luke 19, he asked me to pray for his kidney stones. He had been miraculously healed of a rotator cuff issue months ago. After praying for him the second time, he said the pain was gone. After he emphatically told me what happened. I warned him from Matthew 11:20-24, telling him that those who are healed but refuse to repent and believe in Jesus will face stricter judgment. I told him that he needed to think deeply about what God was doing in his life.
The next time I saw him, he told me that every time he tries to read the Bible I gave him, “Satan makes me fall asleep.” I was glad that he was acknowledging the war over his soul, and told him the story of the four soils, emphasizing how Satan steals the word from the first soil. After finishing the story I asked him a question I’ve learned to ask frequently of both unbelievers and believers, a question I ask about myself and I ask about those I work with: “What soil are you?”

Read the rest of July 2014 Newsletter.
Read previous Newsletters.

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