Many people leave church week after week the same way they arrived, with no more understanding or victory over the areas in their life than before they got there. The struggles of life just seem to get harder and harder with not an end in sight. I suppose that's why countless of people leave the faith and stop attending church. Being able to understand and absorb the teaching of God's Word will undoubtably help us in our Christian walk and give us the needed weapons to overcome.
Jesus gave us insight to understanding. Let's look at Mark. 4:14,15 "The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts." Here we see that preachers, teachers or ministers of God's Word are the ones who sow the Word! The ground to which the seed is sown is representative of a man's heart. Jesus refers to the people that 'hear' these messages are unable to retain it, because they are the 'ones by the wayside'. In Bible days, the wayside was the edge or side of a road. This ground was generally hard.
These type of people have a stubborn heart. This is one that won't yield to God or His Word, finding it unimportant pushing it to the side. They hear the sermon, go home, and continue to complain, talking about and sharing their problems with everyone. And because of their difficult life, there is much un-forgiveness. They're angry or hurt most of the time, thinking the problem is with God and others. That is why when the Word is sown in their heart, it's quickly stolen by the devil.
The second set of hearers are described in verses 16 & 17, "These likewise are the ones sown on stoney ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness: and they have no root in themselves and so endure only for a time. Afterward when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble." When I was a child, I lived on the farm. In certain places the ground appeared to have dirt, but just a layer below the dirt, was a sheet of ‘shale’. Shale is a thin layer of sedimentary rock that comes from the combining of mud or clay. When the seed is planted in this kind of ground, it gets hot from the sun and the earth becomes a hot bed. So the seed germinates fast scorching it and making it wither and die because there's no depth of roots.
Jesus said this type of hearer is one that receives the Word with joy, and it appears to grow fast. Yet when distress or offensive things happen, they can only stay strong for a very short time. Then they give up and wither because it got too 'hot' and the experience they had in the Word wasn’t genuine. It was primarily for show, since they considered the standard too hard to live by, thus resulting in their falling away.
The third manner of hearer is found in verses 18 and 19, "Now these are the ones sown among the thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." When the Word of God is sown into these hearers heart, it is planted and along side thorns begin to grow and suffocate the seed. Thorns in this life can be worry, a great desire for more money, and the need for power and possessions. This hearer is distressed and irritated and always in want. The fear begins to choke what Word was heard making it unproductive. Wrong things in the heart left unattended can become deeply rooted.
If we want to begin to understand and grow in the Word of God, we must prepare our ground, keeping our heart soft and teachable. Just like getting the soil ready for planting we must till the ground, and remove the rocks, weeds or thorns. Hos. 10:12 "...... Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you." Tilling is forgiving and repenting, requiring self examination, getting rid of works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), and walking in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-25) It's trusting in the Lord with all our heart, (Pro. 3:5) removing fear, worry, and doubt. It's essential to watch over and guard our heart. Proverbs 4:23 NIV "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." We can know what's in our heart by what's we're speaking. Luke 6:45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
Take this moment right now, to check your heart! Let's pray: Father, I place my heart before you. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness and create a clean heart within me. Right now I decide to repent for holding on to grudges, fears, resentments and all grieving that will hinder my growth in You. I let them go and place them over into Your care! I choose to trust You with ALL my heart. I will guard and watch over what goes into it daily. I decide to hide Your Word in my heart so I will not sin against You. Thank You Lord. Amen.
Have you ever felt as if everyone and everything was coming against you? Your thoughts being bombarded with condemnation, telling you it's all your fault and that you're a complete mess up! And no matter how hard you try to fix it, you're not getting out of it? Let me tell you right now, you have invisible enemies! Ephesians 6:12GWT tells us, "This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world." Our opposition isn't coming from people. It's what's behind the problem - unseen forces trying to kill, steal and destroy your hopes, dreams and faith. (John 10:10)
1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." One of my favorite minister teachers said, interpreted the verse like this: "You must be constantly alert and on your guard! The devil, like an accusing lawyer, will try to charge you will all kinds of arguments and accusations. You need to know that he is like a lion on the prowl, constantly walking around, roaring, with a deafening sound, earnestly seeking the kind of person he can completely consume and slurp up!" (from Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)
These powers from the supernatural realm are assaulting with depression, defeatist attitudes, hopelessness, worry, fear, discouragement, distress and the like. Does this sound like you? The problem is that most people don't recognize 1) it's coming from the devil and 2) there's a way of escaping this! (1 Cor. 10:13)
If you want to become free from any attack of the devil, here's what you can do!
1) James 4:7 "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you." Submitting to God means, prayer and reading or studying the Word. We must know about the authority God and Jesus has given us and how to operate in it. (Luke 10:19) Just sitting in your room and thinking God's going to zap the devil, isn't going to change anything. He is not in control. If He was, He would have control over the evil. God has done all He's going to do through the power of the cross and Jesus' resurrection. Resisting something takes determination and a firm stand. A great example would be a dieter that is refusing to eat cake. Closing his eyes and pretending the cake will go away won't work. He must strongly fight against the urges to eat the dessert. To combat the tactics of satan's attacks, it requires a purposeful persistent opposition. The decision to cast down all imaginations that don't line up with the Word and a commitment to remain dedicated to confessing the scriptures. With this type of perseverance you can win every time!
2) Walk in the Spirit! Galatians 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." By saying walk, we are implying that we need to live our life, make it our behavior or habit to be in the Spirit. One who 'walks in the Spirit', is asking the Holy Spirit for direction, listening and heeding His instruction! Saying what God's Word says, rather than talking about the problem. Walking in the Spirit means we're not participating with things that are contrary to the Word of God! It's control over the flesh!
3) And when we've done all to stand, stand! (Eph. 6:13-18) In other words, after doing everything in the Spirit we know to do, taken our authority, prayed in the Holy Ghost, and resisted the devil, we stand convinced that things have already changed. Why? Because we've acted in faith. And faith is the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is calling those things that be not as though they were, running the course with endurance, and never let go strength. It keeps it's eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. Praise and Worship is in our mouth because we believe we have already obtained victory. And when the invisible enemies come, we are already convinced that we are more than conquerors through Christ!
We encourage you to fight the good fight of faith, stay true to your course, never give up, know that you're an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony above the invisible enemies!
Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, 'why am I still dealing with this problem' and 'when will it ever stop'? It probably seems like day after day, month after month, even year after year, you are faced with the same adversity, and nothing ever changes. If you're ready for a change read on!
We have to stop cooperating with the devil. Quit believing his lies, cease from listening to the words of defeat echoing in our thoughts and come to the place of freedom and peace.
Rom. 12:1-2 NKJ "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
#1) We need to present our bodies to God. Yielding the flesh to God, means we're in cooperation/agreement with Him. Submitting ourselves to God and His Word is a lifestyle that displays the attributes of God. It means we go to our local church, even when our body doesn't feel like it. Or although we're busy we make our attendance to church our priority, because the local church is God's priority. It means, we resist unrighteous or unholy actions. It's where we keep our conversation God like. That's presenting our body to God!
#2) We are to renew our mind by thinking the way He thinks. This is where we cast down any thoughts that's not God ordained. It's taking any opinion or a pondering and bringing them in line with the Word! That's making yourself think on things that are true, worthy of reverence, honorable, proper, whatever is just, pure, lovely and lovable, kind and winning, gracious, things of virtue and excellence, and anything worthy of praise. By that, we will begin to live/act/behave like the Word!
It won't matter how many times we quote the Word of God, if we're not exhibiting it everyday in our actions, the truth is, our mind is not renewed. Because a renewed person acts like it! Having a renewed mind, will make us a master over our situations, over our emotions, and even over the enemy. A mind that not renewed is immature, like a child, and is tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. (Eph. 4:14)
Renewing the mind is a consistent process and will put you in the position of receiving from God wisdom and answers in the face of adversity and crisis.
So how can I get a renewed mind, you ask? First get into a good Faith, Word preaching church. Be faithful and committed to attend every service. Listen and then do what you're learning from the preached Word. Next as you continue to apply the Word to your daily living, remain constant in your personal Bible study. Reviewing the scriptures your Pastor has taught on. Then rejoice in the Lord.
Note: Having a renewed mind, does not mean you won't have fleshly desires - but what it does mean is that you won't run with them! Stay steady and faithful in the Word!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."