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Tag Archives: the Parable of the Sower

When Worry Interferes with Worship

As someone who rarely worries, 2022 was a year filled with distractions. While most transfers take a few months, mine lingered on for nearly seven months, filling my life with disappointment and rejection. All of this uncertainly challenged me emotionally and spiritually. When my prayers for clarity continued to go unanswered, a spirit of worry interfered with my ability to worship the Lord. One of the byproducts of this disconnect with God was the root of bitterness, Hebrews 12:15.

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah), Colossians 2:6-8.

The apostle Paul addresses worry in his letter to the Church at Colosse. One of the best ways to avoid bitterness is by developing strong spiritual root systems. Like the tree in Psalm 1:3, receiving daily nourishment from the Word of God is key to deepening your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. The planting process starts by surrounding yourself with a healthy environment like the good soil described by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:23.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is [a]coming soon]. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:4-7.

If your church has small groups, this is the best time of the year to join one while your desire to make the most of 2023 is still alive and fresh, John 10:10. If you’re still looking for a place to call home, there’s no such thing as a perfect church. However, the people inside this building are the church. Therefore, find someone who you can relate to by praying for an accountability partner. The next time worry interferes with worship, you’ll have someone to help you break these chains to find a heartbeat for worship.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 344: Shackles

If human beings could have access to or be privy to the spiritual dimensions, you will find shackles on many individuals. Whether this comes in the form of addictions, bad habits and cravings that never seem to go away, many people are bound in spiritual chains and are unable to break free on their own. Today’s song Shackles by Mary Mary reminds of the passage below of a married man who left his wife and children to live in the catacombs, fearful that he might hurt someone that he loves.

This man [a]continually lived among the tombs, and no one could subdue him any more, even with a chain; For he had been bound often with shackles for the feet and [b]handcuffs, but the handcuffs of [light] chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he rubbed and ground together and broke in pieces; and no one had strength enough to restrain or tame him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always [c]shrieking and screaming and [d]beating and bruising and [e]cutting himself with stones, Mark 5:3-5.

Perhaps, the Parable of the Sower shines light on being shackled, Matthew 13:18-23. Jesus points to 3 different unhealthy environments that human beings grow up in that result in being spiritually shackled. The first soil is compacted, hard and difficult to grow anything for an extended period of time. The second soil is rocky, and shallow which prevents a strong root system from being established. Finally, briar patches and sticker bushes can suffocate people from experiencing joy, John 10:10. May today’s song inspire you to overcome any shackles that you may be carrying over from 2022 so that you’re able to praise God in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 340: Thicker

Chasing Furies song Thicker reminds me of one of Jesus’ parables. When Jesus shared the Parable of the Sower in public, the disciples were confused and dumbfounded. Subsequently, these 12 men approached Jesus in private to understand the point of his analogy. Jesus was trying to stress the importance of soil types, the environments in which you live. If you allow yourself to be surrounded by negative influences, you will struggle to grow and mature as a Christian.

As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy; 21 Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, [i]lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and [j]begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit, Matthew 13:20-22.

At the present time, the beginning of 2023, you may find yourself trampled, compressed by heartaches in life. Maybe rocks are your problem, holding you back from sprouting to your full potential? Then again, sticker bushes and thickets could be the source of your pain, suffocating your life from experiencing joy, John 10:10. Whatever your stumbling block may be as you enter 2023, may the lyrics of Thicker help you start to spiritually weed your current environment so that the soil you dwell in improves immensely this year.

by Jay Mankus

What You Don’t Plant Never Blooms

Planning and Planting share one crucial ingredient: timing is everything. If you plant crops or a garden too soon, cold weather and frost can ruin all of your hard work. Meanwhile, if you wait too long to plant each spring, arid and wet weather can diminish and or nullify every seed that was soon. My last season of snap peas in Delaware never came up due to several inches of rain; swamping my garden for a week.

He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good, Ecclesiastes 11:4-6.

One of my favorite classes in college was Economic Geography. Most of this class was based upon simulations using natural resources and climate. One unit was farming, using the Farmer’s Almanac to determine what crop or crops you were going to plant based upon previous weather patterns. I decided to diversify, planting two different crops. While I did okay, planting anything involves taking a risk.

Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain—some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him [a]consider and [b]perceive and comprehend by hearing, Matthew 13:8-9.

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus explains the meaning of this story to his disciples. Most soils that you plant in will have limitations. Some regions are too arid, others too rocky and a few are so wild that thorns and vines can overwhelm anything you try to plant. The goal for any homeowner is to improve your environment (soil) annually. Although the weather may not cooperate for you, what you don’t plant never blooms.

by Jay Mankus

Eternal Salvation

The concept of eternity dates back to the 14th century derived from the French word eternité. However, the Latin expression aeternitatem first appeared in the 12th century. This term comes from aeternitas and aeternus which refers to enduring and permanent. However, one of Jesus’ disciples spoke of an eternal salvation which could be secured before you die, 1 John 5:11-13. John speaks with full assurance and confidence of this fact.

Nevertheless [the sentence put upon women of pain in motherhood does not hinder their souls’ salvation, and] they will be saved [eternally] if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control, [saved indeed] through the Childbearing or by the birth of the divine Child, 1 Timothy 2:15.

Meanwhile, in the passage above the apostle Paul refers to the curse of Eve passed down upon all women. According to Genesis 3:16, the pain of childbearing will increase with every passing generation. When I was a high school Bible teacher, one of our guest speakers was a Christian archeologist. Through a rare collection of fossils, this scientist revealed that Eve’s hips were extremely large; gradually becoming smaller with each passing generation.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

According to Paul, the pain of motherhood does not hinder, prevent or keep a woman from eternal salvation. Nonetheless, the author of Hebrews does address why the faith of some is lost. Although addiction is not mentioned directly, bad habits open the door for sins to be repeated over and over again. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus hints that Satan can snatch away the message of salvation, Matthew 13:19. While most biblical scholars believe that salvation can’t be lost, the goal of any human being is to live forever up in heaven wherever this place may be located.

by Jay Mankus

The Sequence of Story

A sequence is a particular order in which related events, movements, or things follow each other. In the process of telling a story, the best communicators set the scene using what some writers refer to as the 10 magic words. This information highlights who a story is about and details the journey which is about to begin. Depending upon the author or story teller, the sequence of story involves a beginning, middle and end.

Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? 11 And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given, Matthew 13:10-11.

From a biblical perspective, the son of God used parables to connect with first century citizens. A parable is story structure used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson as told by Jesus in the Gospels. The New Testament details 46 different parables as Jesus tried to explain mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of heaven. My favorite is the Parable of the Sower as Jesus reveals how the environment in which you live influences the person that you become.

Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy, to the assembly (church) of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah): Grace (spiritual blessing and divine favor) to you and [heart] peace. We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [O] brethren beloved by God, we recognize and know that He has selected (chosen) you;For our [preaching of the] glad tidings (the Gospel) came to you not only in word, but also in [its own inherent] power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction and absolute certainty [on our part]. You know what kind of men we proved [ourselves] to be among you for your good, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.

While writing 13 letters known as epistles, the apostle Paul developed a story structure known as U Centered Writing. Paul regularly starts his letters by getting the attention and gaining the interest of fellow Christians. Once this is accomplished, Paul creates a felt need, a flaw or weakness that believers need to work on. The remainder of his letters are designed to create a sense of urgency so that a commitment to change is conceived. Whether you’re writing a letter, telling a story or working on a screen play, stories continue to speak to human hearts and provide hope or inspiration to make a difference in the life that God has given you.

by Jay Mankus

W.E.E.D.S.

After a relatively mild and wet summer, I’ve never seen weeds flourish like this in the state of Delaware. Like an alien invasion, my garden and flower beds have become engulfed by evasive species. In a typically season, I’ll do extensive weeding a few times between spring and fall. Today, marked the fifth time, leading to a piles of weeds ten feet wide and 3 feet high.

Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and [j]begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit, Matthew 13:21-22.

This tiring task lead me to create the acronym Wild Evasive Environments Determined to Spread. While I do own a weedwacker, unless you remove the entire root system, these aggressive wild weeds will continue to come back year after year. Although paying for a regular chemical application may solve this problem, I don’t want to poison my dog or other animals.

Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also, Matthew 13:24-26.

After sharing the Parable of the Sower in public, the disciples sought a private meeting with Jesus. Baffled and confused by his analogy, Jesus begins to unwrap the meaning of different environments that exist on earth. In the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus blames the devil for sowing darnels while you sleep. Thus, when you wake up, our lives tend to become entangled by W.E.E.D.S. When this occurs, wait until the harvest for your next round of spiritual weeding.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God

Whose Line is it Anyway began as a radio program in Great Britain before moving to television in 1988.  This improvisational comedy show uses 4 celebrities who participate in a series of skit like activities.  The only catch is that these individuals must make up things as they go, without any planning, off to the top of their heads.  From 1998 to 2007, Drew Carey served as the host with Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles as the regular contestants, alternating a few others as the fourth.  One of the games played is Questions Only, where interactions between 2 people must begin with a question.  If not, contestants get buzzed by the host, switching with the person on their side of the stage.  The concept of questions only is nothing new as Jesus used this conversational style to reveal the mystery of the kingdom of God during the first century.

As soon as He was alone, those who were around Him, together with the twelve [disciples], began asking Him about [the interpretation of] the parables, Mark 4:10.

The first 4 books of the New Testament include 46 parables used by Jesus.  These simple stories were used to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth.  Similar to modern analogies, stories tend to hold the attention of an audience.  Jesus used common occupations such as farming or fishing to speak to the massive crowds which followed him.  In a sense, Jesus was a motivational speaker, using faith as the vehicle to overcome the obstacles confronting people.  The context of the passage above follows the Parable of the Sower.  This story involves seeds planted in four different types of soils.  Each environment upon which these seeds fell greatly influenced the overall growth.  Perhaps confused by these details, the disciples requested a private meeting with Jesus, hoping to clarify the correct interpretation of this parable.  This is where Jesus began to unveil the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

He said to them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you [who have teachable hearts], but those who are outside [the unbelievers, the spiritually blind] get everything in parables, Mark 4:11.

The apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-20 claims that all human beings come into contact with the invisible qualities of God.  Signs of creation like rainbows, sunsets and the birth of a newborn child are clearly seen so that no one is without excuse.  This sets the stage for the Parable of the Sower.  The kingdom of God is presented to everyone at some point in their lives.  Unfortunately, the timing is not always good.  Thus, some people receive this news when their heart is hardened, landing on compacted ground.  This seed is stolen by the evil one.  Others are introduced to Jesus during rocky times, when people are unstable, not on firm footing.  Thus, without any room for roots to develop, storms, turbulent times and unforeseen events uproot any type of faith that had been planted.  Meanwhile, many people seek God when stress, trials or worries become too much of burden.  However, if these conditions persist, joy for life is lost, choked by spiritual briar patches and sticker bushes that continue to wound your soul.  The only way to recover from bad environments is by plowing the soil around you to allow living water to nurture the seed sown into your heart.  If necessary, add bags of dirt, remove any rocks that stunt growth and don’t forget to weed wack.  May you reach the point of Matthew 9:12, mature enough to feed yourself spiritually with a combination of Bible Study, prayer and worship.  Come to your senses quickly and emulate the persistent widow so that the kingdom of heaven will be your home, John 14:2.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Roots; No Fruits

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away, Matthew 13:20-21.

If you are like me, you may ask yourself every now and then, “what am I doing?”  This self reflective question seeks to understand why you aren’t more productive, successful or victorious in life.  Despite attempts at improving my current situation, I feel like I’m stuck in slow motion, unable to get where I want to be.  This lack of progress brought me back to examine one of Jesus’ parables.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful, Matthew 13:22.

After sharing the parable of the Sower to a crowd of followers, the disciples were confused.  At one point, an unidentified disciple urges Jesus to stop be so mysterious as if to demand “why don’t you just come out and say what you mean?”  Moments later, Jesus withdraws to explain the meaning of this illustration to his disciples.  If you condense the two passages above Jesus suggests that if you don’t have strong spiritual roots, you won’t be able to bear spiritual fruit.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead, James 2:26.

Sometime after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, one of Jesus’ earthly brothers provides further insight on the parable of the Sower.  The Holy Spirit is a well spring, the source for spiritual life.  Like a root system in need of nutritious soil, human souls will eventually die without an infusion of God’s Spirit.  Therefore, if you want to get back on track toward a faith in action, dig deep by implementing the advice of the apostle Paul in Colossians 2:6-7.  If you forgo this step I’m afraid you’ll end up like me, no roots and no fruits.

by Jay Mankus

 

Serve or Be Served… The Latter is More Enticing

When professional athletes struggle to reach their full potential, videos are examined to see what bad habits or flawed fundamentals are present.  Unfortunately, in life most people don’t have film to examine.  Rather, individuals are forced to rely on friends, self reflection or therapists to turn floundering careers around.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap, Galatians 6:7.

One of the forces at work which determines positive or negative results in the Sowing Principle.  What comes around goes around is an earthly way to describe the biblical expression: you reap what you sow.  Essentially, if you serve others, the Lord will honor this decision by sending unexpected blessings in times of need.  Meanwhile, if the idea of being served by others entices you, the rewards for this choice will be temporary; resulting in a permanent void inside of your heart.

“Give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Jesus explains this concept to his followers in the verse above.  In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Jesus uses the imagery of a harvest to illustrate this principle.  Those who are planted within a fertile soil, environment, production increases.  Thus, if you reach a point in life where you are disciplined, grounded and serving others with your God given gifts, it’s possible to experience bountiful blessings.  Yet, if you feed your sinful nature, pursuing selfish desires, temporary pleasures will quickly vanish leaving a trail of heart break.  The choice is yours.

by Jay Mankus

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