God’s Word – Make Time!

There is a story that Jesus tells about a farmer who goes and scatters some seed. And for various reasons the majority of seed does not grow into plants which bear fruit. Some land on rocky ground, some are eaten by animals, some get drowned by the weeds. After telling the story Jesus explains that the story is about the Kingdom of God taking root in people’s lives.

For some people:

  • They receive God’s word with joy, but don’t get rooted, so trials and persecutions make them fall away.
  • They receive God’s word but don’t understand it, so the enemy snatches it away
  • They receive God’s word, but let the deceitfulness of wealth and the worries of this life choke it.

When I’ve encountered this story in the past, I’ve usually focused on how these three things could prevent me from being fruitful. However, this evening as I was exercising, I realised that yes they can stop me from being fruitful. BUT…these obstacles are more aimed at my relationship with God’s word.

Fruitfulness is the outcome of a ‘man who hears the word and understands it’. The Word, the seed, the message about God’s Kingdom is the key to fruitfulness. NOT, avoiding the obstacles.

This got me thinking…right now in my life where do I see these three powers working at disrupting my relationship with God’s word.

  1. Failure to Understand: Over the last few weeks, I have slowly been moving away from Bible Study. I have been content with completing my set readings for that day and moving on to prayer. This parable reminds me, that I need to study God’s word. At the moment I have just started 2 Samuel in my bible read through. I have challenged myself to make use of the commentary in my study bible. To ask questions of the text and force myself to think through answers. Too often we just ask questions of God’s word, and leave it at that (patting ourselves on the back for questioning), but we must not stop there we must take the time and energy to understand God’s word. Lest we let the devil snatch it away.
  2. Spiritual Warfare: Related to this, do I realise that there is a spiritual enemy actively working against my relationship with God through His word? What steps am I taking to fortify the walls of this sacred endeavour? One thing I certainly need to do is pray that I would understand God’s word. Prayer must surround and contextualise my time receiving God’s message.
  3. Worries of this life/Deceitfulness of wealth: Recently, I have been eyeing up a new workout bench. I’ve managed to exceed the weight capacity I should be using. This has meant I’ve been window shopping online for a new bench. It is amazing how much time this takes away from my time in God’s word. Especially as I do most of this in the evening on my night shift with the baby. But window shopping is not the area where I believe this affects most Christians. I firmly believe that social media is one of the biggest manifestations of this obstacle in the lives of believers in the western world. Christians content to spend hours flicking through their feeds, being distracted by the wealth of others, of themselves as presented by photo’s of holidays, experiences, clothes, gadgets, stories and popularity. I don’t want to come across as some ‘techno-hating’ weirdo. But I think we need to be tough on ourselves in this arena, especially if we can see that these things are preventing us from engaging deeply with God’s word. This is about fruitfulness and God’s kingdom, we need to get serious about it.
  4. No root. I realise this post is getting long, and so I want to finish it with a video from one of my favourite poems. I recently posted it on the blog, but it is about the importance of meditation. If we want to be rooted in the message and God’s word, we need to learn the skill of meditation.

Afterthought, I feel it is necessary to caveat this with a warning against legalism. With God’s word there is a danger that we become legalistic, thinking that by reading God’s word enough, studying it and meditating on it – we can earn fruitfulness. This is not the case nor is it helpful. Firstly, because God often brings about delayed fruitfulness. Was this not the case for Stephen, who despite declaring God’s word with wisdom was killed and never saw the fruit of Saul getting saved (Acts 7-9). Secondly, because it is only by grace that we can bear fruit. Or does Jesus say for no reason ‘unless you abide in me you can produce no fruit’ (John 15). No effort at fruitfulness without the grace and power of Jesus, even if we become Bible scholars and rich in knowledge and PhDs, will ever amount to anything. It is interesting that Jesus made this very point to the Bible scholars of his day: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

However, saying this, there is an undeniable relationship between God’s word and fruitfulness. The prophet declared:

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. (Isaiah 55:11)

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