Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Start Plowing!

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Start Plowing!

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Start Plowing!

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What kind of spiritual field are your tending? Is your field full of hard and rocky soil and covered in weeds? Maybe its time to start plowing your field and breaking up the rocky soil and cultivating a life that seeks God and growing in good things.

Transcript

[Steve Myers] Figures of speech are those things we use all the time to describe things in a better way so they're more understandable. Whether you talk about analogies or metaphors, you hear them all the time, don't you? And you probably use them without even thinking about them. I heard one of the other day that said, "If you've got troubles in life, just plow right through them." Well, we don't literally do that. The sea captain doesn't literally plow through the sea. He navigates through it, doesn't he? Or the person that gets irritated when you're trying to give them advice, you know, it's like, "You ought to do this or you ought to do that." They might just say, "Plow your own field. Don't bother me." Now, literally, they're not talking about that. That's a metaphor. Another one for all of you Star Wars fans out there, here's a metaphor. What do Jedi Knights say, to encourage one another to use analogies? "Metaphors be with you." Did you catch that? Yeah. Okay.

Obviously, those are figures of speech that describes something. They describe an action. They describe even an object in a way that's not literally true but it helps explain the idea. You can get a concept. You can get a little bit deeper understanding because of that comparison. And it's something that God inspired over and over and over again in His Word, and sometimes where you might least expect it. When it comes to prophecy, there are many metaphors that are used. In fact, I'd like to focus on one that was used by two different prophets to drive home a point. Those two prophets are Jeremiah and Hosea, Old Testament prophets, that prophesied to Israel and to Judah. I mean, Judah became lazy. They were apathetic. They weren't caring that much for God and His way, so they fell into disobedience. Now, the funny thing is, there were people that were still sacrificing. There were those that were still keeping the Sabbath and some observing the Holy Days.

And then they go home and they'd worship idols. They'd practice ungodly things. They'd do things that were an affront to God. And so, Jeremiah and Hosea come on the scene sent by God to warn them that they have to change their ways. They must repent. And so, in the book of Hosea, we read one of these metaphors, where God makes that very point. Hosea 10, let's notice verse 12. Hosea 10:12 Hosea 10:12Sow 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 on you.
American King James Version×
is a figure of speech that God inspired Hosea to write down to really impress on the people that change is absolutely necessary. So, when you turn to Hosea, just past the book of Daniel, we find Hosea, one of the minor Prophets, and notice what he was inspired to record for us. Hosea 10:12 Hosea 10:12Sow 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 on you.
American King James Version×
, it says, "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy." So there's a figure of speech. Then he continues with this idea by saying, "Break up your fallow ground, for it's time to seek the Lord, until He comes and reigns righteousness in you."

Now, that's all a big metaphor. And in fact, a similar one that Jeremiah also prophesies. Turn over to Jeremiah 4:3 Jeremiah 4:3For thus said the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
American King James Version×
, and we'll notice this connection between these two prophecies. Jeremiah 4:3 Jeremiah 4:3For thus said the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
American King James Version×
tells much the same story. Now, these are two different peoples at different times, whether here it's Israel, or later Judah with Hosea, we see this powerful word that Jeremiah speaks to the people. And it's a reminder because they've fallen into the same issues, the same problems, the same attitudes. And so, here in 4 verse 3, Jeremiah tells the people much the same as Hosea did. Verse 3, "Thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts." You see, they both use this farming analogy. They use this metaphor of breaking up the ground. What is that? I mean, they're basically telling the people, "You better start plowing. Start plowing."

But they didn't do it. They didn't want to break up that ground. They continued to disobey God. They refused to seek Him. And of course, as we read these messages, we recognize this is not just to Israel. This is not just to Judah. These are prophetic things that apply to us today. They mean something to us today. This metaphor is about us, as well as them, a metaphor that our life, our spiritual condition, is like that field. It's like this fallow field. And the bottom line is, like Israel and Judah, we need to start plowing. I mean, do we even recognize what this is talking about? What is fallow ground anyway? I mean, if you're not a farmer, we may not be familiar with exactly what's going on here. But it's interesting that this kind of ground, this is a field that could be productive. I mean, it could produce, but at the moment, it's not being used. It's just lying there. It's just being wasted. So it's land that right now, it's unproductive. Right now, it's not producing any fruit. But it needs to be tilled. It needs to be worked up. It needs to be prepared for planting. It needs to be plowed because up until now, it's been lying there useless. It hasn't been productive. It's been neglected. It's just been lying there and hasn't been put to good use.

Maybe another way to think of it, it's just sitting there and it's always the same. It was like that last year, and it's like that this year, and it continues just to be the same. It's undisturbed and crops just don't grow there because it's never seen the plow. It's never been planted with seeds that could spring to life and could have growth. And so it just remains the same. Now, fields around it, well, they're being tilled. They're being worked. They're being planted. So, they're changing from season to season, changing from that beautiful brown earth that suddenly is planted with seeds that sprout to life, and it turns green and beautiful, and it's living. And then there's a harvest that's taken from that field. And those fields change, and they grow, and they're prosperous.

But that fallow plot, that ground over there, that doesn't change. The plow hasn't worked the land. In fact, maybe they put a fence around it, maybe they put up a sign, and that sign says "No trespassing." We've seen fields like that. they're just overgrown. The plow can't even get in there, can't even begin to work the land because it's desolate. It's left barren, and it doesn't produce what's needed for life. It's become hardened. It doesn't yield anything except weeds, and thorns, and thistles because that hard ground prevents any seed from getting in there, and penetrating, and germinating, and then growing to maturity. It just can't. And so what the prophets are telling us, as well as Israel and Judah, could it be that a Christian could be fallow? Is it possible that we better think about plowing, not literally but metaphorically? Are there areas of our property, our spiritual property, and our life, is there a field that's laying over there fallow? It's barren. Area that could be productive. This could be put to good use But at the moment, it's just empty. Nothing's happening there.

Many of the prophets spoke to this issue, and prophetically call out to us today. God's calling out to us to say, "Listen, you've got areas of your life that you need to change." Prophet Amos, Amos, 6, I won't turn. Just write it down. You can check it out later. Amos 6:1 Amos 6:1Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
American King James Version×
says much the same. It says "Woe to you who are at ease in Zion,” because they were taking it easy. It wasn't that critical that everything be productive, is it? You see, they were very prosperous back in the day. They had everything they could want. But they were missing what they needed. Their whole society was marked by corruption, immorality, complacency. Kind of sounds familiar to our time, doesn't it? It sounds like our time. But when I personalize that, and I think about me, are there parts of me that are fallow, that I've become complacent, that I feel, well, I'm pretty satisfied? You know, that's pretty good. It's okay. And okay is pretty good. It's good enough, isn't it? I mean, it's good enough. I mean, we've got 99 acres out of 100 are producing something. So that's all right, isn't it? Do I really have to make it better? Do I really have to address that issue? I mean, there's really not any need to have to go on to perfection, is there?

And so, yeah, there are fallow areas in our life when we're at ease with a false sense of security. Because let's face it, we have everything we need. And then on top of that, we have all the luxuries. We have all these amazing material possessions. And they cause us to be unaware of the danger. Do we really see the danger? Israel and Judah, they didn't get it. They didn't see the danger of God's judgment that was going to be on them. That was coming. And it's no different for us today. God's judgment is pending. And the fact of the matter is, many of us are at ease in Zion, in the Church. Yeah, we can become lukewarm. We can be lulled to sleep. We can be lethargic as well. We can be one-sided. "Boy, if I only had this. If I could just get that. And I absolutely need that 85-inch UHD TV. That would be everything." And we get sucked into the idea of these material things, the entertainment, all the things that are corruptible, all the things that are temporary, all those things that just don't last. And we get caught up in it, and we overlook God's coming judgment.

In a way, we put up a sign. Maybe it's "No trespassing," maybe it's "Do not disturb," and we become comfortable. We become familiar. Yeah, that's okay but like that overgrown field, that area is fruitless. Because after all, that plow, that's sharp. That hurts. That could sting a little bit. I don't want that. And we fence in a part of our life. And by doing that, who do we fence out? We say, "God, yeah, don't enter here. Don't go there." And we fail to cultivate His way, thoroughly, completely. And we're shown very clearly that then that ground is not broken up. That heart is really hardened. And like Hosea said, "Break up that fallow ground." Like Jeremiah said, "Don't sow among the thorns, break up the ground." And so, start plowing. And so, we as God's people have to look at our property. We have to look at our spiritual life, and see, have we really broken up our entire property, our entire ground?

And it doesn't start with the plow either. I mean, it says, yeah, "Start plowing. You got to get going," but you don't just drag out the tractor, hook up the plow, and have added in the field, do you? I mean, that's not the way the farmers do it. We lived in a farming country for a long, long time. That's not the way they do it. They don't begin by dragging out the tractor. I mean, if we're spiritually going to plow up the ground, really examine our life, and look at every single field, first thing we better do is identify that field and clear out the brush. That brush has got to go.

I know one time we were going to have a garden, and this garden had become overgrown with sumac. Anybody familiar with sumac? Oh, it is a horrible bush that turns into a tree that if it lets… I mean, it seems like they're all interconnected, and these roots are running anywhere, and you yank out this one, and then there's another one over there. And it grows like lightning. It is unbelievable how fast it can overtake a plot of land. And you got to do everything you can to get rid of that. You got to yank it out. You got to pull it out. Get out the hatchet and the ax or get serious. Sometimes it's going to take that chainsaw to get all of that stuff together. And if there's any little trees that have grown, you've got to cut them down and pull out that root and get rid of them. You've got to, otherwise, that field, that area, that garden can't be productive.

And so we've got to look at our life. What have I been growing in that field, that field of my heart, that field within my thinking, my mind? Do I have some roots that have taken hold? And maybe it's a root of bitterness. Maybe it's greed. Maybe I'm envious. Maybe I have gotten into a judgmental attitude. But only over here, but only in this one little thing, not in my entire past year. But do I have to root that out? I better get rid of that. If that crop is going to be planted, that fruitful crop, that has to be rooted out. And so, we have to ask ourselves, how many weeds…? How many sumac plants, spiritually speaking, have to be rooted out in our lives? I mean, think about it on the other side of the coin. How many things have I poured my time into, other than cleaning up that field?

What am I giving my attention to? What have I paid attention to that really isn't bearing spiritual fruit? I mean, are there things we give our time to that end up not being productive spiritually, but then ultimately choke the spiritual fruit out of our lives? Yeah, they're there. But we come to church. We're here. I'm religious. But does that mean, I'm really producing any? “Okay. I show up, but I'm kind of detached. This sermon is really boring so why should I pay attention? I'm not getting anything out of it. And I can't wait until this is over, I can get out of here because I really don't want to talk to any of these people. Why should I develop any relationships with any of these people? This isn't valuable. This isn't important to me. I got it. I'm out of here. That's all… In fact, this is so…  Well, I got this game on my phone. This is kind of interesting and more fun than listening to him.” Okay, you can show up and be religious but you can do plenty of things that cause that field to lie fallow.

You see, God's calling us and saying, "That hard ground has to be broken up. You got to get out that spiritual rototiller, that plow, and do that hard work of getting that ground open. Because all too often, there's that unbelief, and that's really what it is. I don't believe I have to change that. I don't believe I have to address that. I think I'm pretty good the way I am and I don't have to deal with that. And that's right there under the surface. And so, I have to ask myself, "Where is that hardness of heart in me?" Because you can dig it one shovel at a time but we need more power. We need more power in doing that. And it can happen in so many different ways, so many different things we may not even think about. Because you don't know. “I've been hurt. I've been in relationships, and they hurt. And I was mistreated. And that wasn't fair. Do you know what they did to me? Do you understand how my family treated me? You don't understand how I grew up. This relationship between my mother and my father, it wasn't right. It was dysfunctional.” It was awful. Do I have a right then to seal off that part of my life?

Because that's painful, and that hurts, and I can protect that. But those old resentments, they got to go. Those old hurts, they have to be healed. We've got to allow God to break up those hurts, and those resentments, and those bitter feelings that we have. We've got to allow God to pull that plow. Yeah, He'll do the work. He's the force behind us. But, you know, we still have to direct it. We have to direct Him where that plows got to go, those hard places that we know, that we understand, and we know how they need to be dealt with. Because sometimes it may be other challenges. And you prayed about that. “I prayed about this issue. I didn't get an answer. I didn't hear anything back. Seems like God did not answer my prayer. He knows I need this job. He knows that I'm getting desperate. He understands my health is not where it should be. I've got this chronic illness and I've taken it to Him over and over and He hasn't heard me. Doesn't seem like He has.”

And that takes a toll on us, takes a toll on your faith. And we conclude, God didn't answer that prayer or He didn't answer it for me. But wait a second, that hardness, that's got to be addressed. We've got to face that square on and recognize, that's my human perspective. That's not reality. That is not reality. And if we don't face that, and if we don't call on God, it won't change. That field will just lie that way and stay that way. Because if God's going to plant something new, if something fruitful is going to be born, what's it going to take? It's going to take heartfelt, serious repentance, repentance that plows deep, and even ask ourselves, "When's the last time I was truly broken before God? When's the last time?" Well, I don't have to worry about that because I've been around for all these years, right? It's not that big of a requirement.

When we look at what Paul wrote to God's Church in Colossae. Take a look at what he says in chapter 3 verse 5 of Colossians. Chapter 3 verse 5 in Colossians, here, the apostle Paul writes to God's Church at that day, but he writes to us by extension as well. Notice what he says and how he addresses that very issue about these fields that might be hiding in the back acreage, back pasture in our spiritual life. Colossians 3:5 Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
American King James Version×
, it says, "Therefore put to death your members which are on earth." And he goes down a list of those pastures, “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire…” Well, I don't do those things. But I've got those fields pretty well wrapped up in my life. I don't have to worry about that. Oh yeah, but then he throws in covetousness. Well, it's not that big of a field. He says, "Well, wait a second. That's idolatry." And what does he say about those things? He doesn't say it's okay to let that one go because it's not that bad. It's not as bad as killing somebody. It's not as bad as evil desires. It's not as bad as… At least I don't do that. No. He says, "Put that to death." You got to plow that under. You've got to get rid of that. That is unacceptable before a perfect God. And so that has to change.

And so, we better get that field ready. If it's been lying there fallow, now's the time. And not only do you got to get rid of the sumac, you got to get rid of those roots and those trees that may be growing up, you know what else you got to do? You got to clear the rocks. Clear the rocks that are stumbling. They're there as stumbling blocks before us. And there are plenty in those fields. I mean, I grew up in farming country. You know what they got to do when they get the field ready? You drag out the old John Deere, you put the flatbed trailer on the back, throw the kids on the trailer, and you go down that field. And guess what? When you see a rock, everybody yells out, "Rock." And then whoever's turn it is, they go out and pick it up, and throw it on the back of the trailer. That's what they… And if you're lucky, maybe the neighbor hires you for minimum wage, and you get to go do that. And it's kind of fun as everybody's yelling. But sometimes there's these rocks, you go to grab it, and it's like, oh, oh, it's little farther under the dirt. And I got to go back and I got to grab the shovel. I got to work at this one. Takes more than that. Maybe everybody's got to come out and start working on that rock.

And sometimes, all the leverage, all the digging, and all the efforts still doesn't get… We got to bring in some heavy equipment later and get that thing out of there. That's no different for our spiritual life. Because if that field been there for a while, we've worked our whole life putting up a wall around that thing because I don't want to get hurt again. I don't want to bring those feelings out again. You know, in this area, I'm pretty locked down. I'm pretty stoic about that. I don't want that. But God says, "Get out that flatbed." You got to recognize those rocks. You got to be like those kids in the back looking for them, yelling out, "There it is. Don't miss it. Don't overlook it. Don't ignore it." You ignore that rock, that planter is going to come along later and get damaged. Can't do that. So God wants that rock removed. Well, all of those rocks got to go because He wants to plant those seeds, the seeds that are healing, those seeds that are hopeful, but that hard ground has to be broken up. We got to get the rock so we don't stumble over them, so those fields can be planted.

And those rocks come in so many different forms. You know, for some, it's their phones. It's the computer. It's the social media, which is great. It's fun. It can be beautiful. It can be wonderful. I mean, Instabook, and Facegram, and all those Tweeters and… Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Yeah. But isn't it amazing how suddenly I was going to take 10 minutes and look at my newsfeed and suddenly, it's an hour, and then, oh, there's something else I got to look at? And then it can totally engross us and steal our time and our energy. I mean, we didn't intend to do that but wow, did I get carried away. And maybe we don't even see it as a rock that's got to be loosened up. And of course, it could be a lot of other things, that hurt, that aching, that resentment. And maybe it's a bigger rock that we've got to get rid of. And if we can't budge it ourself, get the help that you need. And the amazing thing is, I never saw a field that didn't have rocks in it. Even if the rock picker went through one year, next year, guess what? There's more rocks that weren't there.

Where did they come from? How did that work its way up through the soil? That seemed to come out of nowhere, but there it is. And you got to get rid of them. You've got to get rid of them and clean up that field because we all have… Every field has them. And God certainly wants us to go on to perfection. He wants us to utilize His Spirit to do that. And so we got to get out the roots. We've got to get out those rocks. But, you know, we've also got to get out the thorns. Those thorns and weeds have to be gathered. We've got to get rid of those because once a field goes, you know, unplanted for years, I mean, and it's fallow, it's not like it's just hard dirt, is it? I, mean, isn't it amazing how those weeds can grow anywhere. They grow everywhere. You don't have to do anything, and where did that come from? They just start growing. I mean, amazing. They even grow between the cracks in my sidewalk. How's that possible? I mean, they just sprout up. And you don't pull them out… I mean, sometimes you got to do it by hand. I mean, when they infiltrate a productive field, sometimes you've got to get all the hands together and go pull them out, literally by hand. Sometimes I've got to gather that…

You know what works really good? A controlled burn. Sometimes you can't get rid of them any other way unless you burn them up. Because those thorns, and thistles, and weeds, they're going to choke anything that's going to grow, that's profitable. They're going to prevent a full crop. And so you got to throw them in the fire. You gather those things up and get rid of them. So imagine those weeds, those spiritual things that get in our way, they entangle our mind, they entangle our heart, and they take our attention. And in order to grow spiritually, we've got to wrap those things up and we've got to burn them. And it could be a habit. It could be something that's become an obsession. It could be a distraction. We got to get that out of the field of our mind and burn it up. Because we've struggled. That field has been an angry field. We've struggled with anger. And when we do that and we don't address it… I'm known for the short temper I have.

That's a part of me that comes out every once in a while. And then I become known as a harsh person, an angry person. I got to deal with that. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm really concerned about money. It's a big… I got to work. I got to take care of my family. But how much do I really need? Yeah, I can move from financial security to all I'm worried about is money, the big bucks, the American way. It's our dream. That's about our way of life, right? But boy, that can bind me to bad things. That soil can get so hard that now I'm not generous the way I need to be. In a way, that love for others gets covered up and it's hardened. But that's a responsibility I have as God's called out. I have to be generous. I'm supposed to be generous. Yeah, maybe it's not that. Maybe it's just like, I like to be the man. I like to get recognized. Because that's what it's about, right? Recognition. People got to notice me. I mean, if I don't get the 100 likes on Facebook, I'm a real loser so I got to have it. I like to be noticed. I like to be… And if nobody else compliments me, I think I'll compliment myself. Look how great I am. Look how good my family is. Look at what we've done.

We've accomplished all these wonderful things. And we've got to have that recognition but that moves beyond the normal. And it can become one of those things that becomes even addictive. It can be addictive. And, of course, there's a lot of other addictive things as well. And sometimes that keeps the other things at bay. I mean, a drink or two, is that very bad? That's not really that bad but it can become that. It can become more than a habit. Now it can becomes an addiction. I mean, okay, looking at porn is not that big a deal, right? I mean, I'm not an addict or anything. It's a little okay misusing a prescription, you see, that's where we've got to fire up the flames through the power of God's Spirit to devour any of those weeds, and thorns, and thistles that may show their ugly head. It is bad. And at any degree, it will prevent the power of God working in our lives. So even though the rest of our life may look pretty good and we can cover up these other things, they're unacceptable. They're unacceptable.

And Paul addressed this very thing to the Philippians. Take a look at chapter 3 verse 12, Philippians 3:12 Philippians 3:12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
. What's interesting is, here, the apostle addresses God's Church, but he does it in the first person. I mean, after all, who could look better than the apostle Paul? I mean, here's the man. He traveled throughout the Mediterranean world, through the Roman Empire, preaching the truth. God called so many people through him, lives were transformed, churches were built. The apostle Paul, look at all the books in the New Testament that he wrote, an amazing example of God's way, a shining example. Did he have any fallow areas in his life that he was concerned about? I mean, man, he looked fantastic. Who could look better as a Christian than the apostle Paul?

And yet, look at his perspective. Philippians 3:12 Philippians 3:12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
. He says, "Not that I've already attained, or that I'm already… I haven't made it yet. The journey is still on." He says, "I press on. I got to get out that plow. I've got to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. I can't leave any row unturned." He says, "Brethren, I don't count myself as to have apprehended." But one thing I do, I forget the things that are behind. I can't look back when I'm plowing. If I look back, I'm going to be in trouble. I got to keep my focus at the end of that row, the goal, the ultimate. I got to follow that row right to the Kingdom. That's where my mind is focused. So I forget what's behind it, I reach forward to what lies ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind. And if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

And so, the apostle Paul recognized the need for his spiritual fields, those fields. He recognized the fact that that ground has to be overturned. You have to break up that hard ground and it has to be exposed to that beautiful sunlight of God's way. We have to turn that soil so it's open to the fresh air of God's way of thinking and those spiritual influences of light and warmth. Otherwise, the rains that would come, those beautiful rains that cause those seeds to grow, will never get where they need to be. And so God will send those showers once that dirt is turned and ready to grow a beautiful crop.

And so Paul recognized that. He recognized we've got to purify the fields of our heart. And we have to truly recognize ourselves for who we are, and how we think, and those fields. We've got to eradicate lust. We've got to eradicate those imperfections, the things that are habitual in our lives because unless we root them out, they're going to choke anything that's good. They'll choke the good seed. And so we have to prepare and be ready. And when we do that, we have amazing promises. When we take that to heart and we allow that plow to come into our spiritual field… I mean, look at this amazing promise in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 36:26 Ezekiel 36:26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
American King James Version×
, here's another prophet of God, using a metaphor to bring home the same point that Jeremiah spoke about, the same point that Amos talked about, same one that Hosea wrote about as well. What will God do when we allow that plow to break up the hard ground, to tear up? I mean, isn't that what a farmer does. He tears up the surface of the earth. He rips up that field, and it begins to make it soft and pliable, ready to receive the seed. And when we do that, and we go to God, and we have a pliable heart, when our mind is tenderized, and be ready to be worked with, then God can apply His Word to every field in our life. And when we do that, when we go to God in true repentance, Ezekiel 36:26 Ezekiel 36:26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
American King James Version×
is what God promises us. He says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I'll take the heart of stone out of your flesh." Because that heart won't pump blood if it's a rock. So He says He's going to replace that heart and give us a heart of flesh. So things will change. It's a promise from God.

And it's such a great reminder that we can't sow, we can't plant among those fallow grounds. Did anybody else talk about that? Don't throw the seed on those thorns. Yeah, Christ said the same thing, didn't He? In Mark 4, Christ said that very thing. Seed falls around the thorns and what happens to that seed? It's choked by the thorns. And it cannot come to yield any fruit. It can't. And so, if we allow those thorns of pride, those thorns of anger, those thorns of lust and temptations that can grow into problems of others things, like self-centeredness or selfishness, all of those things can choke out the Word. They choke the Word of God and has a devastating effect on the crop that God wants us to produce, what He wants to grow in us.

And so we have to face the facts. What does the farmer get when he plants seed? Well, whatever he planted. That's what he's going to get. And it's the same for me. My life reflects what I've planted. So, whatever my focus has been, whatever my perspective has been, whatever I turn my attention to, that's what grows. That's what grows.  And so, I better pay close attention to the seeds that I would really truly want growing in my life. Because those weeds are going to pop up. They're going to sprout unintentionally, they're going to be there. And we know this life is full of weeds and full of distractions. And even the fact of just being busy. We can get so busy with things because our life is full of activities. They're full of things to do, places to go, people to see, all of those things. But what's most important? I mean, even thinking about what we fill our life with. I mean, think about one of the things we know we're supposed to do. We're supposed to read this book. We're supposed to be close to God and understand His Word and meditate on that Word. Yeah, but I'm really busy. I got so much to do. I don't know if I have time to… Really? Is that the way it is or does God's Word dominate my thinking?

Is that what's foremost on my mind throughout the day, no matter what I'm doing? Because if it's not, what kind of field is going to be produced? What's going to come of it? If God's Word doesn't dominate our thinking, how can I produce a field that bears good fruit? How can I do that? And unfortunately, when we don't do that, other things develop, other things just grow. We talked about gratitude today. In gratitude, sprouts its ugly head, and we don't appreciate the things that God has blessed us with. Even the very next breath we take is a blessing from God. Have I thanked Him, thanked Him for His protection, His guidance, His mercy, His calling, His long-suffering? Have I really verbalized those things to our great God? Because really, that's a lack of love. That's a lack of respect. Because what else is it that's on my mind? What's taking my thoughts a whole different direction?

I mean, Scripture says, our God is a jealous God. He says, "I don't like that when you're so focused on other things, you ignore Me." I mean, what is it that absorbs my time? What is it that takes my attention? How long do I really delight in His Word or have I neglected that Word? And did we read it today? Did we study that Word or has it been a couple of days since we got that Bible out and actually studied it or maybe a couple of weeks? Maybe it's been months since I really personally looked at this. What kind of field is that? You know, neglect is going to be those weeds that grow up. The same holds true with how we talk to God. Have we prayed the way that we should? Well, I pray. I prayed over my meal, I prayed in church. I guess that's good enough. Well, then you got an acquaintance with God. He's not really your Father. Christ isn't really your older Brother if that's it. If our time gets in the way, and it's used in other ways, then we're saying, "I'm more important. What I want is more important." And that's pride. That's vanity. I mean, I have to think, "Well, what did I do this morning?"

I mean, just think about how you got ready for church. How long did it take to get ready for church? Well, I take a shower, and comb my hair, and do all these things, get my clothes on. Did you take more time getting dressed for church than getting prepared for worship? “Well, I'm here.” But if we haven't prepared that field, if our mind isn't really focused on worship, we've got a fallow field we've got to take care of. And so it applies in so many areas of our life, that we've got to tear up that ground and we've got to look at our own lives. Is that pride and that vanity there or if I see others doing well, I don't like that, and I'm jealous of them. I mean, they're more talented than I am. They seem to be more useful than me. And so, I better look better. So I better put them down, and I better look at their faults, and look how they fail, and look how they've messed up. And we focus on that, but I don't gossip. I don't gossip or tell things behind people's backs. Okay, I focus on the truth. I'm a truth-teller. And so I tell the truth, but it sure hurts them when I tell the truth about them. Well, that's slander. That's gossip. That's not right.

God hates that kind of an attitude. But sometimes those kinds of fields can left lying in our lives. And God says, that's not acceptable. In fact, He says, there isn't an in-between. You know, there's no middle ground, right? There's no difference between… There's no happy medium. There's no compromising with those things because Christ made it very clear when that seed falls on hard ground, it's not going to grow. So when we're apathetic, when we're just fine, contented with the way we are and self-satisfied, or when we shake our fist at God, that's unacceptable. I mean, think about that. Week after week after week, we come and we're here, and I'm religious, and I'm here, making a good showing for myself. And week after week, we open this book, and we read this Word. And week after week, my marriage doesn't change. It's just as bad as it has been.

My lifestyle is the same, hasn't changed. My goal hasn’t… week after week. What's the reason it doesn't change? Why doesn't it change? You see the ground's hard. We've hardened ourselves, our hearts, and our minds. They've become inflexible because, you know, the problem is not my mate. That's not the problem. The problem is not my friends. That's not the problem. It's not all those jerks on my job. That's the problem. No, it's not. That is not the problem. The problem is not the church. That is not the problem. Where's the problem? It's me. I'm the problem. It's my heart. It's my mind. And the truth is the ground is hardened on my mind and I'm dead to what's best, what God would have me do. I need to break up that ground, and I need to turn to God and allow Him to plant that good Word in good ground.

And the promise is, when we do that when we kill that old man and we bury him, then the ground can start to produce. And what's the promise? What's that ground going to produce? Well, Christ, Himself said, well, it's going to produce abundantly, some 30, some 60, some a hundredfold when we allow the plow to grow and cut up that dirt. But if not, we know we'll have a harvest of weeds, right? The weeds are going to grow and they're going to take away from God's Word. And so we can ask God to help us to plow up that ground. Ask Him for that attitude of humility, to have a humble heart that we can ask Him to help us to repent, ask Him to help us to change, help us to focus in our activities and our life on what's best, and what will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God because we don't want to be hardened to God's will. He reminds us over and over again, it's time to start plowing. It's time to start plowing because this cultivated field will yield good fruit. And by the convicting power of God's word, we can change. By the power of God's Spirit, He's given us authority over sin in our life. We can grow and we can change.

Yeah, that plow, it's going to be tough. It's sharp, and it's going to tear, and it's going to rearrange the dirt. It's going to disturb the ground. And sometimes that is going to hurt but it's the only way a crop can grow. Without enduring that plow, the fruit can't grow. But, you know, God says there are blessings that await because the rains will come and that seed will begin to grow. And new things, new attitudes, new perspectives, will grow and ultimately mature, as that field becomes green and full of spiritual life.

And so let's start plowing. Let's allow those fields to be cultivated and do everything we possibly can to draw closer to God so that plow can break up those fields, and seek God intentionally, make it a point in our life to courageously obey the will of God, follow His Word. Because we absolutely have to take that seriously. We have to take up the plow, don't we? Isn't that what Christ said? He said that very clearly in Matthew 11:29 Matthew 11:29Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
American King James Version×
. He said, "Take My yoke and learn from Me." And He said, "That's the easy way to go. That's the light way to go." In fact, spiritually speaking, it's the only way to go. So as we claim to be God's people, we're left with a choice. We're left with this choice to let this metaphor truly live in the fields of our life and ask ourselves, "What kind of spiritual farmer am I? Will I allow that fallow ground to lie or am I ready to start plowing?"

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