“And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.” –
There are several problems that hinder the Word of God. They are all heart issues, and they are all dealt with in the parable of the sower. First, the heart may be passive, as in the seed that fell by the wayside. Secondly, the condition of the heart may be preoccupied, with the cares of this world, like weeds, choking out the word. But lastly, and I believe more potent a problem than these, is the petrified soil, hardened, as the Bible calls it: stony ground.
Now, you can’t see the hardness in soil until you plow it up. Until it’s plowed, it’s useless for growing, and only the surface, or superficial rocks can be removed. A hypocritical heart can fake humility, but it cannot fake fertility; that is, the stony places underneath must be removed before the heart can bear fruit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Time, traffic, rubble, and roots will all harden the heart to the guiding and growing hand of the Husbandman, the Lord Jesus. If you are ever to receive, or respond to the Word of God, you will have to first remove the hardness found in your life. Here are four places you may till over as you remove the rocks:
The residue of a past life leaves unusable hardness. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old man is dead, but his carcass keeps getting in the way.
Sometimes he surfaces as an exciting testimony of a life before salvation. The thin line between giving God glory and bragging on your accomplishments is often trespassed. When this happens, it’s like a tiller hitting an old brick foundation- it lurches, belches, and then just quits. It sure is exciting! But it breaks the plow, and the means of preparing the heart (the testimony) is lost to the hearer.
If you can’t talk about getting saved without gloating about sin- STOP! You’ve run upon a brick that needs removed. Your testimony should be full of rich soil for growing someone’s faith in the Gospel, and not a stumblingblock.
The house where I grew up sat on a hill… a landfill, to be exact. When we prepared our garden, we constantly found plastic, glass, and metal trash that came to the surface. We weren’t responsible for it all; but in order to garden, we had to get out the garbage.
It seemed like the more we cleaned, the more trash we’d find. Especially when it would rain, glass and nails would surface. Many times we wish it wouldn’t rain. But if you can’t have a garden with waste in it, you absolutely can’t have a garden WITHOUT water in it! Rain was necessary to reveal the hidden hardnesses.
Friend, this world is constantly dumping on you its garbage. Sensual music, vulgar coworkers, blaspheming television, or profane advertisements cast off all things devilish and defiling right into your heart and into your mind. The “Washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26) comes thru the Bible in preaching, singing, or private devotions- and one of its main jobs is: to uncover the trash. It’s a problem you can’t control, but you CAN clean it out, and you should.
You think its over. You’ve cut it off at the ground, never to be seen or heard from again. Or so you’d thought: “Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” (Job 14:9)
Trees are obviously large plants that take up alot of space to thrive. They can soak up hundreds of gallons of water a day, and drain the nutrients out of the soil they inhabit. More than once, I’ve cut down a live oak, or a pine tree for a customer who wanted to save the other plants in their yard. To save some money, they would usually not have the stump and roots removed. A few weeks later, however, we’d get a call to come and grind it out- because the root had sprouted again!
Just as the old man seeks to steal glory from God’s working in your life, so the old habits will attempt to sneak back into your schedule, seeking to starve your walk with God. It may be that God has given you a great victory- he felled the fruit-less tree- but you haven’t finished the job.
You used to gamble, but now you just ‘play card games’ that remind you of the old ones. You used to curse and swear, now you’ve turned to ‘Christian cussing’, using ‘gosh’ and ‘jeez’ to spice up your sentences. You used to be an adulterer, now you’re just a flirt. You claim that you’re not as bad as you used to be! That would be true… by the outward appearance. God looks at the heart of the matter, and He can see the root of sin with its strong grip sapping the life and power from the garden spot of your life. “
Why cumbereth it the ground?” (Luke 13:7) If seek to bear fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ, you must REMOVE the stumps. Cutting the sinful giant down was not nearly as laborious as digging up the life-draining roots and hardness. Rip it out! God will fill the void with rich blessings, so much and so many that you will never miss it!
Never more frustrating is the fact that you could have all the trash picked up, all the bricks removed, and all the stumps taken away, and still have hardness in your garden that would render it unusable.
Every spring, to have a plat that yields fruit, you must break up the fallow ground. “Fallow” simply means intended, or set apart for, but unused or uncultivated land. Lack of use brings hardness.
I have known many men and women who are ‘surrendered’ to the Lord, yet they are not about their Father’s business. I mean, they want to be missionaries some day, but today they don’t even carry a Gospel tract with them. They feel they have been called into the ministry, but they do not read their Bible. Day after day, week after week, month after month, as time marches over them, they become harder, and harder for God to use.
Hosea 10:12 says, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” You have prepared your heart, you are willing, NOW GO AND SOW. Christians are famous for talking about serving the Lord. We don’t need more wasted time while we compare notes among ourselves. Christ’s commission, four times over was to “GO”. Why do you then sit around idle all day?
I still find things in my garden to this day. As I find them, I remove them. The success of my garden depends on it. But that is not the only thing my garden needs. I prepared, yes, and as soon as I had tilled it, then I planted. Oh, how wasteful would I have been to have not finished what I started?
Let me encourage you today, to break up the ground of your heart, leave no spot unturned, so that the seed of the Word of God may bring forth much fruit. Please don’t let these four hidden hard places ruin you for a life of service and satisfaction for Jesus Christ.