Some of you have requested that I write something for the newsletter more often. The truth is, it is not that easy to write every month; besides I feel very inadequate to teach the Word of God.
God’s Word in the Bible is so deep and full of double meanings, and prophecy. I do not believe that even after a lifetime of study any person can fully know all of its wisdom and truth.
Jesus taught a lot in parables. Parables are stories that have a double meaning and are used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. The parable about the sower that went out to sow is really foundational to our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to understand the deep teaching of that parable in order to even be a Christian.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “Behold a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns and the thorns sprang up and chocked them but others fell on good ground and yielded a crop some a hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:3-8).
The disciples asked Him, “why do you speak in parables?” Jesus answered in 13:11, “Because it has been GIVEN to you to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been GIVEN.”
13:13: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see and hearing they do not understand.” In Matthew 6:44 Jesus says that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
First of all, let’s settle the fact that the seed is the WORD of God and not the “seed-money” that some TV preachers will try to make you believe.
The good ground that bore fruit had been prepared by God. I trust you all understand that the good ground is really the heart of a person, and when he heard the Word he RECEIVED it and UNDERSTOOD it, and it produced in his life fruit (I think that God had drawn the person and planted a desire in his life).
Now fruit is not witnessing or making converts, but rather it is the “fruit of the Holy Spirit” that Paul speaks of in Galatians 5:22-24: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.” The self in us dies as the seed does in the ground. I planted some seed this year and it’s producing beautiful flowers. I love that Jesus uses the ordinary things in life as examples for us. It shows us that He became one of us, and shared all our feelings and cares.
Jesus spoke of three other kinds of ground. The first type of ground did not understand the Word, and satan snatched him away. The second received the Word with joy, but when tribulation and persecution came, because of the Word, He fell away because it was too tough to follow Jesus. The third received the Word even though he was among thorns, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choked the Word, just like the thorns and weeds choke our gardens.
Only one out of four received and understood the Word of God and bore fruit.
I know that I am chosen and I never doubt that. But it does not make me special, as though it was some kind of achievement on my part. It just makes me one of many whose name God called before the worlds were formed. Several places in the Bible record that statement.
In the PAST ages God had a plan for humanity and He knew who would answer the tugging and drawing of the Spirit. So if you feel that call in your heart, don’t dismiss it as some in the parable did. But feed it with the Word of God. We cannot have a relationship with God, without His Word. The Bible holds your life.
“That in the ages to COME He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” I don’t want to miss out on any of what that verse says to us. But sadly it seems that the one out of four that desire God’s Word, is true with this ministry also.
Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on March 27, 1977
TAKE YOUR BIBLE PLEASE and go to the Book of Psalms. In Psalm 17:15, underline this phrase, “when I awake, with thy likeness.” Now, turn to Psalm 73:20 and underline, “O Lord, when thou awakest.” Before I finish, you will see that the point of awakening is the same. And we will once again see the way mankind tends to warp reality and reverse spiritual truths and the words that convey those truths.
For example, we talk of “our church,” or “my church” and “going to church.” The church in the New Testament was a people who belonged to the Lord. Only One Person can say, “My church.” The church is a people who belong to Him. The church is not something I have. I am in it if I’m someone He has. We turn everything around. The Bible is only difficult to understand if we try to make it fit our ways; but God’s ways are not our ways. How many times have we heard death spoken of as “going to sleep?” Well, these psalmists, David and Asaph, understood death was an awakening: “When I awake” and “O Lord, when thou awakest.”
Psalm 73 is a psalm of Asaph. It is one of those psalms that is linked with Habakkuk’s plea and with the cry of Job in moments of desperation when his spirit would break under the pressure of his tribulation. Other psalms hint at it, but this psalm is one of those psalms that stands out as the cry of a righteous heart over the apparent prosperity of the wicked, a condition that all of us have faced at some time or other. The circumstance of Asaph’s psalm was the rebellion of Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18). You will find other psalms written by David during this time, where he poured out his heart because he was under the foot of persecution, but this was penned by Asaph, a righteous man looking on and seeing what was happening to the kingdom of God.
David had united the kingdom. He had fought the battles against outsiders and had won victory after victory from the time he was a shepherd boy fighting Goliath, up to the time when he was a king leading his captains in groups of 30. The Lord gave him rest from his enemies round about. Then came the attack from within: Absalom, his favorite son.
If you can put flesh and blood on these Bible heroes who seem larger than life, see this warrior now grown up, scarred and weathered with many battles and finally ruling over a united kingdom, and feel the hurt he must have felt as his own son turned on him. Again, he is made to wander in the wilderness, hunted as an animal. Psalm 73 records the pain of an onlooker, Asaph. As he looks on, he is almost beside himself. “I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3). Have you sometime, even within the last seven days, looked up and said, “Doesn’t God listen? Doesn’t He know what’s going on?” Have you complained, thinking God must be sleeping or not looking, because there are some evil people running around who aren’t being restrained?
“For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.” The Hebrew word for firm means “fat;” they grow fat, being at ease. “They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth,” like a spreading flame. Have you ever said, “How can they talk like that? How can they get away with it?” They say, “How doth God know? . . . these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.”
Have you ever looked around and been envious as some scoundrel just gets richer and you just barely get by while serving God? “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” He is really going through it; it’s just gnawing away at him, “Until . . . Pay attention to words like but and then and until. “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh. . .” Did you ever awaken from a dream in a cold sweat and hate the dream you just had? That is the image here. “So, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.”
It is the same message God gave Habakkuk. Habakkuk went up into the watchtower to seek God. Asaph went to the sanctuary. Habakkuk looked around; everybody who was wicked was getting fat and everybody who was in the right was in pain. “How long, O God, will you put up with it . . . then I took myself to my watchtower,” and he beheld the terrible end of the wicked (Habakkuk 1:2, 2:1).
We live in a pragmatic society. Most people are not even aware of the philosophy behind the educational system under which they grew up. Beginning in the 1920’s, “progressive education,” which is an emotive term tacked onto the philosophy of experimentalism, teaches that there are no absolutes: everything changes. Experimentalism teaches that how you learn is more important that what you learn. Truth is that which works for you; value is that which satisfies you now and solves your problem. The criteria of both truth and value is you and what happens to you now. We all grew up in that educational frame of reference.
That is why the church world has such a hard time lifting even religious people out of a frame of reference that judges everything about God in terms of what they receive here and now: the feeling you get now, the things God does for you now, the results that work in your spiritual life now. But God’s Word still stands dead against that. Paul said, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). And “If we had hope only in this life, we’d be of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Eternity is still in view and there is still Heaven to gain. That is what God said in Psalm 73: Give Him time, but the day will come when He awakes.
In the New Testament, one of the most beautiful phrases is Isaiah’s prophecy applied by Matthew to Jesus when He healed a motley band in Matthew 12: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” He won’t break the reed; He won’t put out the flax. Pay attention to the next word: “till . . .” Here is another until, “till he send forth judgment unto victory” (Matthew 12:20). Put your trial in perspective. One day the wicked will die and God will awake and give them their due.
I wish I could tell you today that every liar is going to be silenced this afternoon, and that every wicked one, getting fat in his evil and gloating over it in haughty pride, would be dealt with by the end of the day, but I can’t. They will keep on being that way, and “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” and they will keep on having their day (John 16:33). But God sees it; God writes it down. God hears it. And one day, when He awakes, “There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42, Luke 13:28).
What’s the other side of the coin? It depends on the way you look at it. David was in Engedi. It is now an oasis on the west side of the Dead Sea. There is a kibbutz there. You can look up a canyon to the dry desert mountains between the Dead Sea and Jerusalem, just edging up a little to the north and west; that is where the hoards gathered against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:2). It is an area of caves. If you go a little to the south, you will find a bluff going up to Masada, where heroic defenders of the Jewish faith died to the last man. It is a rugged area. David was hiding there. In 1 Samuel 23 and 24, Saul was hunting David like an animal. David had done nothing to Saul. David had come to Saul’s court as a shepherd boy who had killed Goliath. He had been a song to Saul as he played the harp and brought peace to that willful, deteriorated man who had once been touched and even given a new heart by god. Now Saul hunted David in the wilderness.
You must try to see David in that situation. Don’t see some mythical unreal person, sitting in palaces, coming out and throwing rocks at a giant. See him in the heat and the grime and the dust, hiding for his very life. He doesn’t even have a good group of followers around him. We are only two chapters away from his hiding in the cave of Adullam, where a band of outcasts and rejects join him. With no one who really shared his purposes or even understood his heart, he is hiding in a cave.
“Hear the right, O LORD,” he says, “attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal” (Psalm 17:1-2). There are times you can only call upon God. This is what Paul was saying to that carnal band in Corinth, “He that judgeth me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:4). That is a promise you can claim. I can see David sitting in the cave asking himself, “Is it me? Have I done anything wrong?” Sure, we all know about David’s sin, but that hadn’t happened at this point. I know a lot of people would say that he must have done something wrong to be in that condition. Only God could understand him. He says, “Thou has proved mine heart” (Psalm 17:3).
I don’t want to just preach a sermon today; I want God’s Word to reach wherever you are in the loneliness of your struggle. “Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; though hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” Can you pray this prayer in your circumstance? “I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvelous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.”
See a man sitting in the dust in 110 degree heat on the west shore of the Dead Sea, who prays: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about. They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly. They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth; Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places. Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword . . .” Literally, it is by thy sword. “From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of child-
ren . . .” It is literally “their children are full;” they are doing okay now, and they “leave the rest of their substance to their babes.” Isn’t that the picture of the earthly man, “looking out for me and mine” while looking down on everybody else? Again, see David sitting there, the boy who had delivered Israel now being hunted. “As for me, I will behold thy race in righteousness. . .”
What a powerful line and what a measuring rod. Can you say this? “I shall be satisfied.” How? By being delivered out of this cave, by being brought into the shade in the waters at Bethlehem, or the coolness of the palace in Jerusalem? Shall I be satisfied when I don’t have to stay in Engedi, or when all the rest of these enemies are dead and I have my foot on their neck? That is not what he said. Remember, God said David was “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). We sing that old hymn “Oh, to be like thee.”
Early this morning, griping a little, I settled it again with a new fix. I said, “Lord, make me like You and let that be enough.” He has a tough job with me! But way down deep, I can say it with the psalmist: “I shall be satisfied, when I awake . . .” Death may come, but let me awake, with thy likeness. That’s the prayer of a man after God’s own heart. Let the tumults roar, let the storms rise, let the winds blow and let those who are “fat in their face” yell and abuse; I am “satisfied, when I awake, in thy likeness.”
Father, You see Your people today. They are Your hidden ones.
You see us, and You’ve said You will never leave us nor forsake us.
You have heard our cry and You have heard our prayer. Now do the
work. Let a sense of peace and joy come over Your people in the
knowledge that they are Yours, the sheep of Your pasture, and
You will keep them.
Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott
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