The Good Seed
By Billie Marie Zal
I was picking up some Four O’clock seeds the other day when I came across some seeds that had fallen onto rocks, while others had fallen into weeds, and yet still others had fallen onto good ground. And my thoughts rested upon the words of Jesus, who spoke of such seeds in His parable of the sower.
A question arose in my mind that I had never thought of before. If the seeds fell in such places, was it really the fault of the seed that it did not bear fruit, or the fault of the sower? And so when I had shared my seeds with my friends here, I went inside, got my Bible out, and studied the parable to see just what Jesus really meant when He spoke this parable.
I was so glad that I did go to His Word, for always we find our answers in this Word. I had thought that it really was not fair to expect the seed to take root if it fell in bad soil. And it isn’t. But Jesus was speaking about the Word of God. The seed, He said, is the Word. And then He divided mankind into different groups as an example of what men do to the seed that is planted in their hearts.
The first group whom Jesus spoke of were “those by the wayside.” The seed fell upon the hearts of those by the wayside and they heard the Word. But, Jesus explains, this Word did not make a difference in that life. Instead, “the devil came and took away the Word out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved.” Luke 8:12
This statement shed much light upon the way that God reaches the world. He puts the responsibility squarely upon the individual’s shoulders by saying that if the person hears the Word he can believe, AND BE SAVED. Sometimes I wonder if we have not gone off the deep end in trying to “reach people for the Lord.” I think of the millions of copies of books and publications, of the thousands of TV programs, and all the news media dedicated to the preaching of the Gospel, and it would seem to me that practically every one in our nation should have heard the Word by now, whether they wanted to or not! So - according to Jesus’ own word on this matter - everyone who has heard the Word has had an opportunity to believe and be saved!
It might be well to go back to living the Word rather than preaching it, for we are not winning all that many converts to Christ. I recently heard a testimony by a youngster who is
now seen weekly on a TV program and he said that he had become involved with drugs, and was eighteen years old and had never heard the Word. I often wonder what this kind of testimony is all about, for every youngster in our country, with the exception perhaps of a very small number, have heard God’s Word, either by radio, TV, or printed word. If he has driven down the highway and seen a sign, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” he has head the Word and he has an opportunity to believe and be saved. This young man may have been thinking that he had never heard the Gospel spoken in the manner that his spiritual leaders had spoken it. But we are not particularly hindered by the vessel which delivers the message.
In this parable Jesus did not say anything about the sower. He gives us the impression that it is not the sower who is important, but rather it is the seed. And it is also the will of the person by the wayside that decides what the Word will do in his life.
I had a friend once who gave me a very good example of how unimportant the sower really is. He told me about two men sitting in a bar, both drinking. Outside the bar a Salvation Army band was playing and a preacher was preaching the Word. One of the men laughed and said, “Did you hear that guy out there saying that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins?” And the other fellow turned his eyes toward heaven and cried out, “Oh god, if this is true, then please save me for Jesus’ sake.” And the man was saved.
It was not the sower who was important. He did not even know that the man inside had been saved. It was the seed of the Word, and the believing of it that brought salvation to him. Like the parable of the sower, the seed fell by the wayside in the one man’s heart but it fell on good ground in another’s.
Jesus does not tell us why the devil was able to snatch away the seed that fell by the wayside. But it would be an accumulation of reasons that would cause a person to lose the Word and go his way.
The next group of people about whom Jesus was speaking are those who are victims of their own emotions. They live on their emotions and they carry an emotional frenzy into their religious activities. I attended a little group of believers once when I was first saved and they seemed always to be filled with joy. We sang “joy” songs and everyone spoke of the joy they had since they were saved. After awhile it seemed to me that there was no depth to these meetings and try as I might, I could not work up this kind of emotion. I eventually went my way, and many years later I heard that all but one or two persons in that group had fallen away. These would exemplify, then, those who fall away because the Word of God fell upon rocky
places in their hearts, and they had no deep roots to survive the trials that most surely come to a believer. I have personally made it a habit to regard all trials as a means of creating character in my life. Why else would God send them, or permit them, if there were not an eternal purpose behind them? I cannot say that I have been able to help others accept trials in the same manner. I have friends who often listen to the light that I offer them and seemingly accept the light “with joy.” And within the week the light is extinguished and they are again languishing in despair. But we can, if we truly wish to, resist the desire to forget the Word. And we can refuse to be among the company of believers who have “no root,” and who, in times of trial, “fall away.”
The next group of people about whom Jesus is speaking are those who, when they have heard the Word, go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. Jesus is speaking here of spiritual fruit - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, meekness, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We have become so involved with earthly pleasures that we are indeed bogged down and choked with cares in this life. I am interested particularly in today’s trend toward the occult, as well as the far eastern religions which advocate the theory of reincarnation. I look about me and I see nothing but chaos. Troublesome times, wars, pestilences, and tragedies all abound and I would not like to come back to this earth and live again. I would not like to take on another body and come back because there is nothing to come back to. It is when we find nothing on earth to come back to that we are well on the way to loving God as we should. For it is then that our treasures are stored in heaven and we want to live again not on this earth, but with Him in glory.
If it were not for the last group of which Jesus was speaking in His parable of the sower, we would be left with despair and little hope for mankind. But there is a happy ending. For He said, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15
What a glorious message this is, that we can truly keep the Word and bring forth fruit with patience. I have always insisted, according to the light I have received, that the Christian life is not an easy life. It is the most difficult assignment that we shall ever receive. We are so vulnerable to the devil. We can be so easily controlled by our emotions, by outside stimuli, by forceful personalities, by religious spirits disguised as God’s angels. It is a wonder that any of us ever make it to heaven, but we do. And we can, if we want to make it.
Our lives, from the moment that God saves us, are fraught with unending problems. We
are cast aside, looked upon as fools, regarded as misfits. But if we believe God’s Word and obey it, we survive. We not only survive, we grow and grow into the likeness of His Son. We patiently wait for His coming and do not murmur when all seems lost. This is how we know that we are of the small company of believers who, having heard the Word, KEEP IT.
I do not know how to help others to join this company other than by being faithful to the light given me each moment, and sharing that light with those of you who cross my path. I wish that I had a “recipe” for getting to heaven, or for obeying the Word. But I don’t. I can only say that it is possible to know and understand the character of God through trials and oppressions, and then in time to know God Himself.
I have lost so many in the years that I have ministered to others. Those who were the closest to me have fallen away and there is nothing I can do but pray that their hearts can become good and honest hearts in whom the light of God can once more shine. Others have remained and made my life a full life. For this I am thankful. But I am more thankful that out of all the world, and the ages, I was permitted the wonderful opportunity of hearing the Word, and then by some miracle of grace I could believe it and keep it. I pray that it will be so with you.
- July 1975
I thought you all would like to know that we have had rain, lots of showers, one almost every other day. So God hears and answers our prayers. Summer always has a dry spell, but this rain in June will help everything from the farmers to the forest and most certainly our flowers.
This is our 21st year ministering to prisoners, and I was thinking about all the young, and not so young, men that have come and gone in our lives. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, we see very few positive results in any life that we minister to. And satan likes to discourage and make it all seem worthless, an effort of time and money spent for nothing.
Someone we knew for many years was discharged a couple of weeks ago. His last words to us were, “I’ll never go back, that part of my life is over.” Not even two days later he was picked up and jailed for public drunk and evading police. Same old stuff. I feel only sorrow
that a life was so easily wasted, but its his life and God gave him the free will, the free choice, to do whatever he wanted with it.
I knew an old fellow once who could have lived with his daughter in a house, but instead chose to live under a bridge where he could drink and do as he pleased. It was close to the Salvation Army where he got his food. I wonder how God feels about such men, created in the image of God yet taking on the life satan offers. For what? The illusion of being free? How often I’ve heard the words “no one is going to break me or tell me what to do, or run my life.” But satan is the father of lies the Bible says, and he tells us we can have control over our lives, that we can be like God. But not even he could take God’s place. He was thrown out of heaven with all his demon followers. It was stupid of him to think he could be greater than the God who had created him.
I would say that at least 90 percent of all prisoners that are released never contact us. Of the 10 percent that do, it is only once, a card or a call. If this was a business for profit it would have folded years ago. At one point we were the most important people in a life. Family was never heard from, yet now we are forgotten. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?
But here and there we see a bright light. I’m thinking of a man no one had much hope for. He came from a family of 10 or 11 kids and they were poor. There was alcohol and drugs. But God planted His spirit in the heart of two people in that family. One has gone on to his reward in glory, and the other one is making good use of all the programs the prison system has to offer. And we are so proud, like parents. Well, we are of the same family now.
There are other lights - young men who listen to Dr. Scott and hunger after the Word of God; and men on death row who live very victorious lives. Their knowledge of the Bible surpasses that of any TV evangelist for sure, and that of most local church preachers. I know the angels in heaven rejoice, and so do we.
I know that all of you are doing without the most basic needs. The system is unfair and uncaring. Money for prisoners is getting tight, or going somewhere else, and the system is broken and no one cares. But we can’t help everyone. There is no way. We are all retirement age, or close to it, and yet working every day to keep all this going. No one helps us because no one cares about people who have committed crimes and may get out and do it again. You all should understand that and give up your anger and bitterness.
God has a plan for each individual. He knows you by name and loves you. Human nature is stubborn and does not learn except by discipline, so it seems to me. My greatest
lessons were by some hardship. In time we learn to be content in all things.
Its human nature to live for ourselves and to take the easy road. Some people live for the themselves within the boundaries of the law, and hate the ones that break the law in order to serve themselves. But I think that in the eyes of God its all the same. No one is living for Christ with Him the center of their life.
God has given us a gift in this ministry and it’s His grace shown forth in our caring for each one of you. And disappointments are as much a part of it all as the joy He has given us, to be able to serve.
I’m not ashamed of the me you see.
I’m ashamed of the sinner that’s locked up inside of me.
And now that’s one thing that rings true.
If it wasn’t for the Cross what would I do?
If it wasn’t for the cross what would I do?
If it wasn’t for the cross what would I do?
Now He’s come and set me free.
If it wasn’t for the Cross where would I be?
Prayer Requests for July, 2007
For Tommy Hayes & everyone at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, Texas.
For Robert Heffernan, Brickeys, Arkansas, for his health, and for clemency from the Governor.
For Ken Hogan, McAlester, Oklahoma, who is still having some numbness in his thigh (he says his leg is a lot better now, though).
For Jimmy Huff in Colorado City, Texas, for his health, and for his ministry.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who recently had prostate surgery.
For Melodi Sorge, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our prayers that she would be able to keep custody of her son last month were answered.
For Juan Garcia’s Mother who recently suffered a stroke, that she stays healthy. Juan is at Grady, Arkansas, and is Walnut’s brother.
For Willie Clark, Abilene, Texas, that he will be transferred closer to Houston.
For Mickey Miller, McAlester, Oklahoma, that God keeps him safe.
For Ed & Shirley’s friend, Linda Porter, who has breast cancer.
For Pastor Scott in Los Angeles. Since the death of Dr. Scott many people have fallen away. She is rebuilding the church and doing a wonderful job, but needs prayer.
For Willie Hoffman’s friend, Joanna Mullins, in Virginia, who is going thru some rough times.
For Cleveland Cook, Florence, Arizona, who also asks us to pray for the “troops,” and for his family.
For Willie Harper at Menard, Illinois, and for his family, and his friend, Ella Watson.
For Margaret’s son, Mark, Anaheim, California, who has many medical problems.
For Marshall Ellis’ Mother, Ira who has Alzheimer’s disease, and for his friend’s daughter, Aura, who is very sick. Marshall is at Chester, Georgia.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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