Joyce Meyer - The Sower
And today I want to talk to you about the parable of the sower, that is so important in the Word of God, because really, it's a parable about four different kinds of, the Bible says, soil, but it's really talking about, four different kinds of hearts. Four different conditions of the heart, and how those different hearts hear, or don't hear, the Word of God.
Now, there's a few thousand people here today, and they'll be multiplied many more thousands, and even millions, that will watch by TV all around the world, and some will get more out of what I say, than others will. Some will hear what I say, and they'll take action on what I say, and they'll begin to see good changes in their life, but some won't really do anything with it. Some will stay focused on what I'm saying, others will let their mind drift all over the place, and they'll sit there with a smile on their face, but they really not getting anything, because they're not really listening.
And so, we're gonna talk about those four kinds of hearts today, make a decision about what do you really, I mean, you're putting time into this, so, what do you really want to get out of it? You know, it's not just an event. I'm not interested in running around the world and just putting on events. I mean, I'm doing this because I know what God has done in my life, and I know what he can do, and wants to do, and is doing in your lives. And I so much want you to have the good life, that Jesus died for you to have.
And the only thing that's gonna make that possible is for you to know the word, and take action on what you hear. Hearing it and not doing it, is pretty much useless. If you just know a bunch of stuff, but you don't act on it, then you just usually become proud of what all you know, and want to tell everybody else what to do. But if you're not doing it yourself, it's not gonna change your life. It's not just hearing, it's not just underlining in your Bible, it's doing what you hear.
And so, the purpose in coming to something like this is to either be encouraged that, you know, "I am doing that", or, "I need to come up higher in that area", and, "Boy, I'm glad I heard that today, because I really need your help in that area, Lord". Don't ever even bother going to church, if you don't go with the intent to learn something that will help you grow, and become more Christ-like in your daily life. I mean, you know, some are like, "Man, I go to church every Sunday". Well, good for you. But can you remember the next day, anything the pastor said? I hope that tomorrow, when somebody says, "What did Joyce teach on"? You can tell 'em, not just, "I don't know, but it was really good". And interesting thing about this parable is, Jesus told his disciples, "If you don't understand this parable, you will not be able to understand any of the parables". Wow, what a statement. "If you do not understand this parable, you will not understand any of the parables".
And then he also says, in Mark 4:24, and this is very important to hear, "The measure of thought and study that you give to the truth that you hear is the measure of virtue and knowledge that will come back to you". Let me say it again, "The measure of thought and study, thought and study, thought and study that you give to the truth, that you hear is the measure of virtue". Which is another word for power, "And knowledge that will come back to you". I'm doing my part. But now, if you don't do your part, might of had a nice time, but I want you to have more than a good time! I don't want you to ever be sorry that you invested this time.
And I mean, I want you a year from now, to be able to remember something changed in my life a year ago, when I went to that conference. A story was told to me, the woman told it to me herself, and I think it's just such a good story, I'm going to take the time to tell it. She was at one of my conferences years ago. This lady came, she'd been abused, she had all kinds of problems in her life, and she came to me, at the end of the conference, and she said, "Well, I found out this weekend why I don't have any victory over any of my problems". And she said, "As I heard you teach, and then we talked this weekend amongst us", she said, "I found out that everyone of those other women had similar problems, and they all had victory and had been set free, but I hadn't". And she said, "As I listen to them talk, they talked about things God had told 'em to do, and things God revealed to them, and they did it, and this changed, and that changed". She said, "Do you know that every single thing that God told them, he's also told me, the only difference was they did it, and I didn't".
My older son said to me one time, the one who runs hand of hope, he said, "Every single time you and dad have to call me in and correct me", he said, "I have realized that prior to that, God has always tried to tell me himself, more than once, but since I wouldn't listen to him, he had to speak to me through you", which is much harder. God is talking to us and showing us things all the time, and we're talking in this conference about making a greater commitment. And so, let's let one of our goals be to make a commitment to listen to what God says. C'mon. God is trying to give you answers that will keep you out of trouble, and he's not gonna change his mind, it doesn't do any good to ignore him, hoping that he'll come up with an easier answer the next time, because he won't.
And I know, that I know, that I know, any person sitting in this room, because God is no respecter of persons, and the word works for everybody, who so ever will. Any person that will learn the word, I mean, study that word, and get it down on the inside of you, where it's not just information, but it becomes revelation, and you will act on what it says, repeatedly, not just one time to see if it works. You didn't get your life in a mess by doing one thing wrong one time, and it's not going to get straightened out because you do one thing right one time. You get committed to it, and you do what God says, over and over, nobody can do that and come back and tell me that God did not change your life.
So, I guess I'm putting a little bit of responsibility on you today, to say your victory is not up to those of us who labor and study to bring you the word, it's up to what you do, with what you hear, amen? Alright. The parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-9 "Again, Jesus began to teach them by the lake. And the crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables".
Now a parable is a story that makes a point. "And in his teaching he said, 'Listen'"! I like that he started with that. "'Listen'"! Exclamation mark. "'A farmer went out to sow his seed. And as he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil, and it spring up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so they did not bear grain. Still others fell on good soil. And it came up, grew and produced a crop some multiplying 30, some 60, and some a hundred times as much as was sown'. Then Jesus said, 'whoever has ears to hear, let him hear'".
It's kind of interesting some of the little one-liners that he throws in there, that we just, probably never even give much thought to that, "Let him who has ears to hear, hear". And so, really what he's saying is, "Okay, now, I'm saying something that's for everybody", he starts out by saying, "Listen"! And then he's saying, "If you have ears", obedient ears, in one place the Bible talks about having a circumsized ear. You know, I can say the same thing, and different people can hear it differently, depending on the condition of their heart and some people won't hear it at all. It's something they don't like, so they just, right away, throw it out, before it ever gets a chance to do anything.
Now, in our world today, of supermarkets and machinery operated farming, we might not immediately relate to this parable of the sower, because Jesus used examples that were relative to the culture that he lived in. It's a parable drawn from the farming community of Jesus' day, but his hearers would have immediately recognized the scene, and related to the message Jesus was bringing. Everybody then made a living by farming except the very, very wealthy. Now, my grandmother had a garden. I was in her garden quite a bit, so, I know a little bit about farming. I'm certainly not a farmer, but I know a little bit. Some of you planted gardens, if not vegetables at least flowers, so, we know that you never get any kind of a harvest unless first a seed is planted. Amen? As long as the earth remains, there will be seed time, and harvest. You plant your seed in the ground, then there's always time, and then eventually, there is a harvest.
Well, the sower who is sowing, is the Holy Spirit. Now, he's using my mouth today, but it's the Holy Spirit sowing the seed of God's word into your life. If you take this, and you really hear it, you really grab ahold of something, I realize you probably can't remember every single thing that I say, but we've made it so easy today, people don't even have to look at their Bibles, everything is on the screen for 'em and I think sometimes we haven't done people a big favor. Everything in life is so easy now, that we don't have to, you should see what I used to have to do to study for one message. Now, you just get out your computer. I mean, just like that, you can find anything you want.
I read a statement in a book that I really like, "Anybody can be as close to God as they want to be, it just all depends on how much time they're willing to put into it". God doesn't just pick out a few handful of special people that are the ones that are, ya know, really close to him, and everybody else just doesn't get that opportunity. We all have choices in life about what we're gonna do with our time. And so, there's nothing said in this parable about, well it worked good for some people, not for others, because the quality of the seed that some people got was better than others. The seed that I'm putting out today is perfect. It's a healthy seed. It's a great seed.
So, there's nothing wrong with the seed, if you don't get anything out of this, it's not because of the seed. It's the condition of your heart, and how you hear. Four types of soil, four types of hearts. The first was hard soil, it was so hard that when the sower, he was, basically, just like he had a bag around his neck, it was full of seed, and he's just like, throwing it out there. And it's really kind of what I'm doing today, I'm just like, throwing it out there. And it's thrilling to think that we're here in Ohio, with a few thousand people here in the room, but this message is being recorded, and will go all around the world in over 100 different languages. So boy, are we sowing today! Throwing seed out there.
But you know, some people will run across this on their television, and say, "Oh yeah, another one of those Bible thumpers", and because they've got a heart problem. They've got an attitude. Some people have attitudes against people like me, and they don't even know why they have the attitude. It's amazing the things that we believe and, and don't even know why we believe it. Oh, somebody said one time, so we said, "Okay". Some seed fell on thin, rocky soil, some fell among thorns, others fell on good soil. He didn't give any further explanation right at that moment to the crowd, but later Jesus took his disciples aside, and he told them if you cannot understand this parable, you will not be able to understand any of the parables.
Well to be honest, I never really thought about that nearly as much as I did when I was preparing for this, and I thought you know that, this is really important. He's sayin, "Look if you don't get this, you're not gonna understand any of the parables". So, let me try to break this down, and see why Jesus said that. First of all, people didn't understand why Jesus came, they didn't get it. He came to bring a revolution, and a revolution kind of means that things get turned upside down, and somebody comes in and starts doing stuff that nobody's ever seen before, and it's gonna bring big changes.
People misunderstood the type of revolution he was bringing. They wanted and expected him to rise up against unjust government, and set up an earthly throne for himself, and rule the world. His disciples really thought that he was gonna set up a throne somewhere, and they were going to get to be his important guys, and he was just gonna give orders and make everything right. Jesus announced from the beginning of his sermon, I mean of his ministry, the Kingdom of God is here. He was introducing a very different kind of kingdom though, and it's a kingdom that we live in, in the midst of the world that we live in, which is a type of a kingdom. We, the believers in Jesus Christ, we live in another kingdom, that's kind of like a secret kingdom, that nobody can understand, unless they are a believer. We get it, but the world doesn't get it. Amen?
I just did a whole series of messages, a conference or two ago, about the secret kingdom that we live in and I like to call it, "The upside down kingdom", because it's just totally opposite from the world. If you want more, you gotta give away some of what you got. If you want to be first, you gotta be willing to be last. If somebody takes advantage of you, and treats you unjustly, you don't have to waste your life hating them, you get to forgive them. C'mon, you better be a little more excited than that.
Do you know that people that are unsaved, have no option but to hate, and want to take revenge, and be full of bitterness, and let that just eat them up and ruin their life? But we have another option, God enables us, to actually have compassion on the person who mistreated us, and we can say like Jesus did, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing". He wanted them to live the best life imaginable in that kingdom, the whole kingdom, this secret kingdom, is based on one thing, hearing, understanding, and taking action on the Word of God. I don't even know how to tell somebody who doesn't already know, how powerful the words are in this book.
I mean, Mike was sharing just a couple of testimonies with me today, from a couple of beautiful Amish ladies that are here, and one of them said she'd been abused like I was, and she was looking for help, went to the public library and found a bunch of my books. I think got, "Battlefield of the Mind", and her life got completely turned around, and now she's teaching, and it's not because it's my book. That has nothing to do with it, it's the Word of God. That's how powerful the Word of God is. That's why you will come and sit in a building that's a little bit colder than we'd like it to be today. The Word of God has got power in it. You're not just hearing normal words when you're hearing the Word of God, it's like pellets of power.
But now listen, the Word of God is just like food, if you swallow your food whole, or you barely chew it, you get none of the nutrition out of it. Do you understand me? Same way with the Word of God. You can hear me speak this today, and I'm not saying you won't get anything out of it, somebody may. Part of that depends on how much of the word you already know, but if you will even grab a hold of a couple of things, maybe jot something down real quick that I said, and then go home, and do some work yourself.
Come on. Look up scriptures, find out the definition of words, look up every scripture that you can find on that subject. You'd be amazed what it does for you, if you go through your Bible, and you find that scripture, and you look at it, and you read it, compared to somebody just reading it to you. I wanna tell ya, I feel very strong about what I'm saying today. The measure of thought and study that you give, to the truth that you hear. We gotta get over this thinking that's somebody else should do everything for us, amen? Jesus came to bring a revolution, all right, but it was a different kind than what they wanted.
There's four types of hearts that he's talking about, four kinds of soil. Well, the good soil is very easy to understand, that's not hard, that's the person who sits here and I mean, man, they're focused, they get it, they're taking a few notes, they're gonna go home, they're gonna study this thing until it becomes a reality in their life. They're gonna have a harvest, and I know somebody's thinking well, "Why some 30, why some 60, why some 100"? I don't know. Haven't figured that out myself, yet, so... I could give you a good guess, it probably has something to do with just how obedient they are, and how they live their life and so on, and so forth, but hey, I'd rather have a 30-fold harvest, than to have no harvest, woudln't you?
But the heart that I want to talk to you, probably, about the most, and then I'll mention the other two, is the first one, which is where the seed was scattered on the ground, and Satan came immediately and stole what was sown, before it ever even had a chance to begin to take root, he stole it and that actually, is a hard heart. Do you know that you can have a hard heart and not even know that you have a hard heart. But if you have a hard heart you won't absorb the Word of God, or there will at least be parts of it.
Let's just say, for example, that, I don't know, you've heard things or had a bad experience with, maybe giving money into a church or an organization that you found out later either stole or misused your money, and so now, you got an attitude, "I'm not giving my money to those people. I just not doing it". Well, you're the one that gets hurt by that, not somebody else. And so, people who have a hard heart about stuff like that, they don't want to hear teaching on giving, it irritates them, if they hear teaching on giving. But learning how to be a giver is one of the greatest things in the world that we can learn.
And I'll be honest with ya, most preachers don't want to do much teaching today on giving, because of the attitude that the people have. You can see the mood change, when you start talking about giving. What causes a hard heart? Well, there's a whole bunch of things, but a legalistic rule keeper, the pharisees, boy, they've got hard hearts. They know all the rules and regulations, but they won't give anybody mercy. Judgmental, they judge everything, they're right and everybody else in the world, is wrong.
In Acts 28:26-27, it says, "Go to this people and say, 'you will be ever hearing but never understanding: you will be ever seeing but never perceiving'. For this people's heart has become calloused", hard, "They hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see and hear, and understand and I would heal them". I had a hard heart at one time, because of the abuse I went through in my childhood. And when you have a hard heart, there's bitterness in there, there's resentment, you have a very difficult time. It even aggravates you if people tell you, you can have a better life. You're sour, and you want everybody else around you to be sour, too.
I can actually, remember when Dave's joy used to make me aggravated. Because I'd had so much hurt in my life, and I was kind of like jealous of people who had these nice little lives, and ya know, now you're giving me advice, and you don't even begin to know what you're talkin' about. Well, that's not going to help us get well. Can I just say something? Feeling sorry for yourself never helps you get better. Come on, do I need to say it again? Do you guys need it worse or you? Who wants it?
Feeling sorry for yourself is just a waste of time. And I don't mean that like, I don't care that you're hurting, but I've been there, done that, I wasted years sitting around feeling sorry for myself, and God finally said, "You can be pitiful or powerful, but you can't be both, so, take your pick". You give up the pity, and God'll give you power, you give up the ashes, and he'll give you beauty. Amen? Hard hearts, people that are hard-hearted are quick to judge, they have a very difficult time showing mercy, they have a difficult time forgiving.
And so, the word can't really get into their hard hearts. Hard-hearted people are those with pre-conceived ideas, due to things they believe, and don't even know why they believe them. People who flip past Christian programming on television, due to a pre-conceived idea, "That's just a bunch of junk", "Yep, there's another one those preachers, trying to get your money". Or "Yeah these televangelists, you know, they're telling some widow to send 'em all their money, and they're out living a high life". Which, people have no idea. They don't even begin to have any idea what it takes to do something like what I'm doing, and it's... No, I don't do it perfect, and yes, I make mistakes, but you know, at least I'm trying to do somethin'.
And you know, most of the people who judge people that are doing something, are the ones that are doing nothing, except sitting around judging the people that are. You know, Elijah was a great prophet, and he lived by a brook where he was being supernaturally fed during the famine, and the brook dried up, and God sent him to a poor, depressed, seemingly suicidal, widow. And you know what Elijah said to her? "Give me something to eat, and something to drink", and she said, "I've only got enough oil and enough meal, in the jar, for one meal for me and my son, then we're gonna eat it and die". And you know what, they didn't have televisions, but if they would have had, he would have been a televangelist. You know what he said to her? Give me some first.
Well, I wonder how that would have went over in the media today? Oh boy. They may be basing their opinion on one or two bad stories that they've heard, and you know, there are people that are dishonest, but boy, don't get a cynical attitude about everybody, because a few people have done something wrong. Some people get hard hearts because they've tried church, thinking they were trying God. And they happen to get into a wrong church, it wasn't friendly, or was judgmental, and so, they get a hard heart against everything.
Now, I'mma to talk to you for just a minute, about the condition of our world today, and you know, the Bible says, that in the last days deception will increase to the point that if God would not have shortened the days for the sake of the very elect, no man could stand against the deception coming on the earth. Everyday, we need to pray that we will not be deceived. Don't think you're above it, don't think it can't happen to you. To be deceived means to believe a lie, and I can tell you every one of us, myself included, probably still in our life, there's some kind of lie that we're still believing, that the devil's using to steal something from us that God wants us to have, and the only way that we can overturn that lie, is by knowing the truth.
Today, there's a humanistic agenda that is rampant in our society, and it's deceiving large numbers of people, even Christians. And humanism is simply centered on human interest or values, and I'll just say it, I usually say what I want too anyway, so, you know... A lot of Christians are just so selfish. All their prayers are selfish, they don't wanna volunteer for anything, they wanna be paid for every move they make. It's bad enough for an unbeliever to be self-centered, but it should not be that way with us. It's a philosophy that rejects supernaturalism, or God, and stresses an individual's dignity, worth, and capacity for self-realization through reasoning.
Man, have I ever gotten myself in trouble in my life, through reasoning. Whoo! Or simply put, the humanist wants to eliminate God. That's what's going on in our society today, they're trying to get God out of everything concerning government, and trying to get God out of our schools. Do you know our children are the future? And if they're successful in taking God completely away from them, what in the world is this place gonna look like 50 years from now? I mean, we're in a very tedious place in our society today. Humanistic people don't want accountability, now listen to this, they want to do what they feel like doing, not do what they don't feel like doing, and have someone else pay for their lack of discipline. Amen?
Humanistic people are self-centered, they want immediate gratification and they feel entitled to have it. They want to run their own lives with no accountability. The main reason why they refuse to believe in God, is because if they admit God exists, then they would need to follow his ways and commands and frankly, they just want to do what they wanna do. Let's talk about all the, "Isms", and we'll start with evolutionism. No wonder people are sad, I mean would you rather believe that you evolved from an ape, or that a wonderful, amazing, all-loving God created you with his own hand, for a purpose.
And I'm sorry I always make evolutionists mad when I say this, and I'm not trying to make you mad: things do evolve and change but it's God doing it. I don't know why we have to take God out of stuff. I watched a nature show recently, and it was about the island of galapagos, if that's the way you say it. You know, that's where Darwin got his original idea about evolutionism, and basically, he saw things he couldn't understand. Well, if you're gonna hang out with God, guess what? Welcome to the mystery. 'Cause there's gonna be a whole lot of stuff you're not gonna understand, and instead of letting it bother you, you just need to say, "Wow"!
And so anyway, they were trying to figure out how this certain plant got on this island because it was not a plant that should have been there. And so, they went through this ordeal about how, across the ocean in this other part of the world, the wind picked up these seeds and blew them across the ocean, and they fell on this island and over millions of years now, and I'm like, "You are giving me a headache". Why can't we just say, "God put it there"? I mean, c'mon, Jesus said, "You become like a little child, if you're gonna hang out with me". That means, I just believe it, because God said it. Let's be like the little girl in school who's teacher was trying to tell them that there was no way that God drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea because it was only six inches deep, and little girl said, "Wow, that's amazing, God drowned all those people in six inches of water"!
See if you believe like a little child, everything amazes you. You-whoo... Now, let me tell ya what a theory is. A theory defined, taken from a variety of sources, is a, "Guess or a speculation, an idea", I love this, "It's an idea used to justify a course of action". In other words, "I wanna do this, and so, I'm gonna come up with a theory that makes it okay for me to do it". That's why we've got to have something, something, some truth. And so, the world today says, there is no absolute truth. I don't believe that. I believe the Word of God is absolute truth! How can anything be truth, if we all get to make up our own? No wonder the world is confused. My gosh. And they have all these "Experts", I love that, the "Experts" say...
You know what? You know more than most of the experts do. Oh, and by the way, you know what a philosopher is? A thinker. Well hey, I got that one down pat. I mean, I am a chief philosopher. Hardness of heart develops from being hurt, not allowing God to heal the pain. It can also come from the reception of too many worldly ideas, especially if a person has none of God's word to offset the rest of what they hear. I feel sorry for people who watch television and don't know the Word of God. I mean, if the television set is your educator, you are in deep trouble. I can watch television, it's just automatic, I know what's a lie, I know what's truth, I know what's right, I know what's wrong. Watching too much of the news can give you a hard heart.
Let me tell ya something, everything in the news is bad. But look at me, there are more good things going on in this world than there are bad ones, we just don't hear about 'em. C'mon. Another thing that will give you a hard heart, is allowing yourself to stay angry. Please, please, please, don't stay mad at people. Do what God asks you to, and forgive, and forgive quickly, and forgive often. Refuse to live your life bitter and resentful. The shallow stony ground, is like believers who have no real depth?
You know, they got it underlined in their Bible, but there's no, there's no roots in their life. They kinda, sorta know that God loves them until they have a problem, and then they wonder if God loves 'em, but when you're rooted and grounded in the love of God, no matter what happens, you never say, "Well God, don't you love me"? We need to be rooted and grounded in what we believe, and I mean, no, I believe it, and no devil is ever gonna take it away from me. Amen? The shallow Christian lives by what he feels, and what he sees, and what he thinks. And then the seed that fell among thorns, and that would be about a four-part series so, it's just basically, letting all the worry... It says, "The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and make it unfruitful".
See, you've gotta make your mind up if you want to be in the world, or in the kingdom. You can be in the world, but you can't let it, be in you. Amen? Matter of fact, God wants us in world. But he wants us behaving the way Jesus did, so we can be a light to the world and they can change. And so many other things that are just wonderful that I don't have time to talk about... Distractions. Yeah, preach. You can be distracted 25 times a day just from the beeps and dings on your telephone.
Listen, I don't like, when I'm writing, I really try to get in a place where nobody can find me, or you know, I'll say ahead of time, "Well, okay, now, I'm gonna be writing, so, if you walk through the room, don't talk to me". And the reason is, is when I'm writing, I mean, I really get into it, and it's like I'm living it, and if somebody comes by and ask me some non-essential question, that they didn't have to ask me, it takes me a long time to get back into the place where I was. We'll listen to this, the "Experts" say that if you're really focused on something, and you, you completely lose your focus, the experts say it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus. Be the good soil.
That the word can be planted in your heart, let's stop reading just to feel proud of ourself that we read another book. I mean, if you can read fast and actually, absorb what you read, and remember it, then go for it, but most of us don't. You know, it's kinda like skimming over the top of it. And in these study books, or say, like, in Colossians, I maybe have one may have 100 references in there, like I'll make a statement and then I might give two or three scriptures that would back that up, but I don't write those out because I don't have the room. It's kind of like a Christian writer needs to back up what they're saying with the word, and so, we'll give references, but not print out everything.
Well, nobody ever looks that stuff up. Well good, yay, awesome. But I'm suggesting in here, that people not only, that they take their time, and when they come across something that touches them, they need that, that they stop and just spend all the time there they need, but also, get your Bible out, and look up every one of those references, and read it. If you will do that, by the time you get to the end of these study books, you're gonna know Ephesians, you're gonna know Colossians, you're going to have gotten some revelation, but it's going to take a little bit of, "Effort". Uh-oh, dirty word... Let's remember this scripture as we close, "The measure of thought and study that you give to the truth that you hear, is the measure of virtue and knowledge that will come back to you again".