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lovehandsLast time we discussed the fact that love is one of the fruits of the recreated human spirit. We talked about our infinite capacity to love and that we have that capacity because of the “mystery which has been hidden” which is Christ IN you. We discussed the fact that when we are “born again” our spirits are recreated in an instant. Our minds however, are a different story. We must renew our minds with the word. But then I posed a question. What if the problem isn’t with our mind at all? What if it goes deeper than this. What if there is something else blocking our ability to love? Today, we’re going to answer those questions.

Don’t get me wrong, The word can and does change hearts and lives. But what about those areas we just can’t seem to get past? I can hear some of you already. You’re thinking “What?? – The Word of God created the universe! The earth and all of creation was formed by it and you’re saying that the Word may not be enough?” Yep, that’s what I’m saying. For starters, the Word cannot change your will. The word can apply pressure to help you see the truth, but it cannot change your will. More on this a little later. But first, let’s take a look at something from the Word that proves my point. Please turn to Mark chapter 4.

Mar 4:3  Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 

Mar 4:4  And as he sowed, it happened that indeed some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and ate it up.

Mar 4:5  And another fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth. And it sprang up at once, due to not having deepness of earth.

Mar 4:6  And when the sun rose, it was scorched. And because it had no root, it withered away.

Mar 4:7  And another fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

Mar 4:8  And another fell on good ground and yielded fruit, going up and increasing. And one bore thirty, and one sixty, and one a hundredfold.

Mar 4:9  And He said to them, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

The Purpose of the Parables

Mar 4:10  And when He was alone, they who were about Him, with the Twelve, asked Him concerning the parable.

Mar 4:11  And He said to them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to those outside, all these things are given in parables

Mar 4:12  so that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Mar 4:13  And He said to them, Do you not know this parable? And how then will you know all parables?

Mar 4:14  The sower sows the Word.

Mar 4:15  And these are those by the wayside, where the Word is sown. And when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts.

Mar 4:16  And these are those likewise being sown on stony places; who, when they hear the Word, immediately receive it with gladness.

Mar 4:17  But they have no root in themselves, but are temporary. Afterward when affliction or persecution arises for the Word’s sake, they are immediately offended.

Mar 4:18  And these are those being sown among thorns; such as hear the Word,

Mar 4:19  and the cares of this world, and the deceit of riches, and the lust about other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Mar 4:20  And these are those sown on good ground, who hear the Word and welcome it, and bear fruit, one thirty, one sixty, and one a hundredfold.

sowingI am not going to spend a bunch of time tearing these passages apart, but I do want you to see something.  The parable starts in verse 3 and goes through verse 9.  Starting in verse 10 is Jesus explaining the parable (verse 3-9) to his disciples. Notice verse 14 the sower is sowing the Word.  Not just any word, but The Word of God. Next, please notice that the ONLY place where the Word produced fruit was when it was planted in GOOD ground.  When that SAME word was sown on stony ground, it couldn’t take root and died so fruit was never produced.  When that same word was sown with the thorns, it was choked out and didn’t produce fruit.  When it was sown by the wayside, it was stolen from the ground before it could take root.  So, no fruit there either.  All of this is in red letters because it came from the lips of Jesus.  He said it, not me.  There is a teaching that says you just need more of the word!  More word and more word, the word, the word, the word!  Sadly, that simply isn’t true.  If it were, then Jesus would NOT have said what he said AND the parable would say something about the sower coming back to the stony ground day after day sowing seeds until they took root.  But that’s not what he said, is it?  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Word of God.  I’m teaching the Word of God to you right now.  But I must teach the truth of what the Word says and not just popular doctrine.  The truth is that stony ground and ground covered with thorn bushes will defeat the word and make it ineffective.  The same is true with religious tradition (Mark 7:11-13).  Let’s look again at verse 20:

Mar 4:20  And these are those sown on good ground, who hear the Word and welcome it, and bear fruit, one thirty, one sixty, and one a hundredfold.

What is this good ground?  What makes it different?  Both are good questions.  I will answer the second question first.  What makes the good ground different?  We’re going really deep here…  Are you ready for this?  What makes it different is the ABSENCE of stones and thorns.  I know, you were expecting some deep revelation.  This is one of those things that is just overlooked.  Now the first question.  What is this ground?  Take a look at verse 15:

Mar 4:15  And these are those by the wayside, where the Word is sown. And when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts.

Notice … by the wayside, where the Word is sown.  Then Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown IN THEIR HEARTS.  My friend, the ground in each case is our heart.  Let me personalize that for you.  The ground he is talking about, is YOUR heart.

Look at verse 16:

Mar 4:16  And these are those likewise being sown on stony places

Notice likewise or in the same manner as vs 15, the word is sown on stony places.  Notice it is ON the stony places and not IN.  This is because of the hardness.  The stony ground cannot receive the seed.  Where is this stony place?  Our heart.

Verse 18:

Mar 4:18  And these are those being sown among thorns…  Those thorns are in our heart.

Now I think you have a pretty clear understanding that the ground is the human heart.  But I want you to see one more thing. I used to think of this parable in terms of salvation because that was how it was often presented… in a “Some people will receive the word of salvation and others just won’t and here’s why” sort of way.  Then the faith teachers came along and that was simplified to simply “Some people will receive the word (of God) and others just won’t and here’s why.”  While certainly partially true, I disagree with both of these as being the full truth.  The truth is, this parable has to do with the human heart in ALL of us.  We each have areas where we have difficulty and other areas where we do not.  Think of it this way.  No farmer is going to sow corn seed into his wheat field.  Nor will he sow wheat in his grape vineyard.  That would be foolish as one crop would choke out the other and both would fail to produce the crop that is expected.  In other words, the seeds are sown with purpose. That purpose is to grow a harvest.  It is up to each of us to recognize when seed is being sown, if it’s good seed (something we want in our garden) or bad (something we need to reject), and to realize whether or not the ground is really prepared or not.  More on this in a minute.

So, what are these stones and thorns that are in our hearts?  I am so glad you asked.  Before we get too far into the answer, I want you to notice a couple of things.  First,  Jesus used the term stony ground and thorns on purpose.  He didn’t mention trash on the ground, or lumber, or tree branches or dead animals or anything else that could have been on the land.  That’s because these things are fairly easy to clean up and move out of the way.  Instead, he chose the words “stony ground” and “thorns.”  Both of these are things that have embedded themselves in the soil and take work to remove.  The term “stony ground” simply means that the ground has stones that are embedded in the soil which packs the soil down tightly so that the soil is hard like rock.  Unlike soft soil that absorbs water like a sponge, this hard soil repels the water so it pools up and evaporates.  Very little penetrates this hard surface.  Now, here’s the thing about this ground, it didn’t get hard overnight.  The rocks didn’t just show up yesterday.  These rocks have been there for a really, really long time.  How they got there, doesn’t really matter for the parable.  What matters is they are there and have been there a really long time and the seed cannot grow properly because of them.  The seeds may begin to take root, but the roots cannot penetrate that hard rocky soil in order to reach the moist, fertile soil below.  Since the plant can’t go down, it goes up instead and it just gets fried in the sun and dies. Now, let’s contrast that with the thorns.  Unlike the stones, the thorns are more recent.  They are a living plant and have sprung up recently or at least relatively recent.  Like other plants, they have roots and those roots can go pretty deep.  Here’s the thing about thorns.  They hurt our flesh when you touch them.  That’s why they’re there.  Nobody wants to mess with them.  It’s just easier to leave them alone.  I’m trying to paint a picture for you to help you see these things, so they just aren’t words on a page.  Jesus spoke with these terms because it was language those people could understand.  When thinking about our hearts as the ground as used in this parable, it is important to note that our hearts were totally pure at one point in our lives.  The soil was free of any debris and was rich in nutrients.  No rocks, no thorns, just pure soil reflecting a pure heart.  This is how everyone is at birth… pure.  Then, over time, seeds are planted.  Some are good and many are bad.  The “sower” isn’t the only one sowing seeds.  We know this because those rocks and thorns had to come from somewhere.  Somebody had to sow the seeds of lust and greed either directly (exposure or training) or indirectly (needs not met and thus looking to meet needs in the wrong ways).

Now back to the question:  So, what are these stones and thorns that are in our hearts?   These are the very things we have been discussing this whole time on this site.  They are all the hurts, wounds, fears, anger, hatred, lust and all of the rest of the junk that pollutes our hearts. The rocks and stones are things that hurt us long ago.  Perhaps something from childhood with our father or mother (these wounds are quite common and probably the cause of most “rocks”).  The thorns are the sins that are entrapping us today.   This junk blocks the Word and therefore the washing process cannot take place as it should.  Because of this, there is no fruit in this area of our heart.  The seeds of the word can’t come in and the fruit can’t grow and come out.  One of my doctors had a saying regarding type II diabetes.  Because of my weight, he would tell me over and over again that “fat blocks insulin.”  What is meant by that is that fat gums up the receptor cells making it difficult (or impossible) for the cells to receive the insulin.  When you hear the term “insulin resistance,”  this is what they are referring to.  In the same way, the junk in our hearts blocks any word from God from being received and just as the rocks repel the seeds, our hearts can repel any word also… usually in an ugly way.  Notice I said “any word from God” instead of the Word of God.  That’s because it doesn’t have to be Bible.  It can be something as simple as a kind and loving word.  Someone can do something nice and our reaction is “Why are they doing that?  What are they after?”  We immediately suspect something evil when in reality someone is just being kind.  If left unchecked, we might even say horrible things and accuse this person of all of these imagined offenses.  A seed of love and kindness is repelled because of the hardness of our own hearts from previous wounds.  Remember a moment ago I said it is up to us to recognize when seed was being sown and to recognize whether the ground (our heart) has been prepared or not?  This is what I’m talking about.  When we react badly, (rejecting the seeds) we need to stop and ask ourselves and the Holy Spirit why that is… and then listen to what He says.  This is how we learn about the junk that is polluting our own heart and preventing us from truly being able to love as we should.

Now, I have some good news for you.  We can get rid of that stuff.  We just have to think like a farmer.  We’re all farmers (or gardeners if you prefer)  and we each have the responsibility to tend to the garden of our own hearts.  It is up to us, because those rocks and thorns are there because of our own will.  More on that in a bit.  But first, let’s think like a farmer/gardener.  When someone plants a garden and the ground is full of rocks, what do you do?  You generally dig the dirt out of your garden past the depth required for whatever you are planting.  Then you have a wooden box with chicken wire (or something even finer) and you start shoveling that dirt into this box.  Then you shake the box over your garden until the soft soil passes through the sieve leaving the rocks in the box.  Then you dump the rocks somewhere safe and repeat the process until the garden is filled with clean soil. In a nutshell, you sift through the soil to remove the rocks, etc.  The process with your heart is basically the same.  You’re going to have to sift through some old memories (with the help of the Holy Spirit) and you have to forgive everyone who wronged you in the past. You must forgive and let it go.  Beloved brother or sister in Christ, this isn’t easy, but it is imperative for your growth and even your health and sanity.  Please turn with me to James 5:16:

Jas 5:16  Confess [your] faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

The word translated as faults is the Greek word paraptōma which is also translated as sin or trespass.  My friend, the process I described is what James is referring to.  Doing this with someone that is trained to deal with these things is best, whether it is a pastor or a counselor or a lay minister, it doesn’t matter.  In lieu of that, even a friend that is spiritually mature will work.  The point is to confess this stuff out of your heart and to forgive.  Doing this with someone you trust provides that extra layer of accountability.  I had to do this.  I did it with a counselor who was specifically trained in this area. I met with her and her team every other week for about nine months.  This process was called Sozo ministry.  I thought I was done.  Then about 8 months later, I started another process called prophetic counseling which went every few weeks for about a year where I had to deal with even more stuff.  I’m telling you this so you understand that I’ve been there and done that.  My process was quite lengthy.  Many people only need 2-4 visits with someone that knows what they’re doing.  I had a lot to deal with and my process was much longer.  Your process could be longer or shorter than mine.  More than likely it will be much shorter.  I will put some resources at the end of this to help you find the help you need.  The method you select is less important than you actually dealing with these things.  However, I will say this, if you could fix yourself, you probably would have done so already.  You can’t.  This is why James says we are to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another.  Perhaps you are thinking “I can’t do that!  What would people think if they knew the things I have done!”  If you’re thinking something along those same lines, then you’ve just discovered your thorns.  These things have you trapped.  You want to break free, but you value how you appear to others more than being free.  The following scripture may help.

Rev 12:11   And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

You see, as long as you are willing to be entangled with sin and unwilling to tell anyone, then the enemy owns you.  The enemy will come at you with “Don’t go there, they will find out the truth about you somebody will expose you.”  These are lies and the enemy uses them to prevent you from getting the help you need.  Here’s the truth:  The most freeing thing is being able to confess those things and get them out of your life forever.  This is part of dying to yourself.  Once you do this, you’ll be able to tell anyone, even groups of people.  This is how you OVERCOME the evil one.  It’s with the blood of the lamb (Christ) and the word OF YOUR testimony (telling others what God has done in you).  This is how you get free and how you stay free.

Once you do, you will be able to love others in a way that you never thought possible.  True godly love… one for another.  This is a move the you’ll never regret and one that opens the door to an amazing new life in Christ.

Next time, we will wrap this subject up by taking this a little deeper and exploring the concept of seeds and the sower who is sowing them.

Before we part today, let’s tear up some rocky ground, shall we?

Are there father issues that are holding you back in some way?  Here’s a post that may help.


Other ministry resources:

Sozo Ministry locations:  http://bethelsozo.com/sozo-network


Until next time, may God’s richest blessings be yours today.


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