This is a transcript of the sermon by Doyle Williams from January 8, 2012. Listen to the sermon audio HERE.
Hello, again. I hope you all had a good week; or however long it’s been since the last time you listened to this particular website. I would like to thank you for coming back. Today we are going to be talking about Matthew 13.
Now, having said all that, here is one of the ways God has blessed me: he kept His Word. “All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” He first loved me, but I love what He did for me, and I love Him. Second, I’m called because I’m a Christian. Therefore, when bad things happen to me, He transmutes them into good.
Now, I want to make this perfectly clear. God does not cause bad things to happen to His children. He only intends good for us. That’s what He promised. He does not change. Therefore, if you trust in Christ and something bad happens to you, it is not from God. It is from the world, the flesh or the devil. But even given those circumstances, if it happens, God will transmute it.
Now, I’m going to tell you how He’s transmuted this in my life. For several months now I’ve been thinking about the parable of the sower. In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13 – Jesus is talking to His disciples and He says:
3 Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. ~ Matthew 13:3b-9 (KJV)
That last statement is important. Seek to understand the phrase: “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Later, the disciples asked Jesus about these parables. He said that it was given to you to understand, and the others were prophesied about by the prophet. In the King James translation the prophet is called Esaias or Isaiah. He says the people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, but Jesus says to the disciples in verse 16:
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” ~ Matthew 13:16-17 (KJV)
Starting at Matthew 13 verse 18:
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. ~ Matthew 13:18-19 (KJV)
Notice that it says “he that received it (seed).” It came into his ears, he received it, but he understood it not and the wicked one came and stole it away from him. That’s why he says he who hath ears to hear, let him hear. When you hear the word of God seek to understand it. If you don’t seek to understand it, it will not change your life, and it won’t have any effect. You’ve got to seek to understand it.
I work with the public. People would come out of church, including pastor’s wives, and seeing them later, and I would ask;
[Doyle] “Oh, you went to church today?” [People] “Oh, yes.” [Doyle] “Oh, really?” [People] “Yeah, yeah.”
[Doyle] “Was the service good?” [People] “Oh, it was great.” [Doyle] “So, what did the preacher preach on?” [People] “Ahhh.” [Doyle] “Come on, you were there, You said it was great.” [People] “Ahhh.”
These were the people who received the word by the wayside. They didn’t seek to understand it. They didn’t seek to hold onto it. They just let it wash over them and they went right on with their lives. These are the people whom the word of God has no influence upon.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” ~ Matthew 13:20-21 (KJV)
Now this guy did receive it, and he received it with great joy. Whenever you are reading in the Old Testament about the Jewish people that came out of the land of Egypt, you will see that they received the law with great joy. Oh yeah, we can do whatever you tell us to do, God. That’s the way it would read more accurately in the Hebrew. When they said, “You go up, Moses, receive the word, come back, tell us and we’ll do it.” The attitude was; WE CAN DO IT! NO PROBLEM, WE CAN DO THIS! These are the people who received it.
I started off in a church system that was very legalistic. You not only had to keep the Ten Commandments, but you also had to keep a lot of other laws (This is why Jesus warns us that the traditions of men nullify the word of God). Here are some of the traditions of men from that church: we couldn’t play any kind of card games, the girls had to wear dresses that came below their knees, the boys had to have their hair short, we couldn’t go to the movies, we couldn’t listen to any kind of what they called Rock-n-Roll. Later, at different Bible colleges the rules were: You had to travel in odd numbers (1, 3, 5 – no even numbers), you couldn’t go swimming or even jump in the pool if there was someone of the opposite sex in the pool. You couldn’t go ice skating or roller skating; in fact, skating was out entirely (I never did quite get that one). If you were seen coming out of the movies you would be expelled. Boys and girls couldn’t hold hands. And, at one school, you couldn’t even date without the permission of the college. All of these extra rules made it harder to live the Christian life because of the condemnation. It clearly says in the Bible: “There is therefore, now no condemnation to these who are in Christ Jesus.” And yet here are these traditions; condemnation, layer after layer, laid upon you.
Now the law was carved into stone, so this ground, as Jesus said, is stony ground and it is a legalistic ground because of the reference to the stone. These are the people who jump up and say, “Yeah, I can do this! I’m going to go to church!” They jump into these legalistic churches and then become extremely bitter, arrogant, and condescending because they don’t want “those type of people” coming to our church. First they have to clean up their act. I know of one church where, if you were a male and made a profession of faith, you were taken downstairs and given a haircut. You received salvation and a free haircut all on the same day. The point being; you could not come to their church if you did not have a proper haircut. Where does it say that in the scriptures?
Legalism: The people jump up and say, WE CAN DO IT, WE CAN DO IT! Then they find out they really can’t keep all these rules and regulations. Next, the traditions of men try to make it so that you can better understand the laws of God. They’re trying to help you but, in fact, they are actually hindering you, persecution starts and it becomes too hard. A lot of people who go this way finally give up. They kick it to the side, say “Forget it, I don’t want anything to do with this church and Christianity” (actually, Churchianity). These are the people who get caught up in the law.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” ~ Matthew 13:22 (KJV)
This is the guy who gets caught up in the day-to-day living. He gets over the legalism, he understands the grace, he is trusting God for salvation, he is trusting Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, but that day-to-day grind is getting him down. This is what happened to me this past week. I got caught in a thorny situation. Everybody is having financial difficulties because of the times we live in. So when I was confronted with major financial difficulty I focused on it and I said to God, “I don’t understand this, I’m trying to understand your grace, I always try to understand what the Bible is teaching. I’ve been trying to understand His grace, I’ve been preaching about His grace and here I am bowled over by this situation in life.
There is a rule on how to interpret the scripture. This is the rule of first usage. When you read something you don’t understand, go back in the Bible where it’s first used, read it in that context until you understand it. Go back to where you don’t understand and take this information back with you to understand it.
Here we have the subject of thorns. The first time thorns are brought up in the scripture is back in Genesis after Adam and Eve have eaten of the tree. God has come down and talked to them. He is actually laying a curse out on the earth; telling Adam that He is going to curse the earth for Adam’s benefit, and by the sweat of his brow he will have to work and his labors will bring forth thorns and thistles. Therefore, this is the idea we’re out here struggling and working to make a living by the sweat of our brow and no matter how hard we try, we still have all these problems breaking forth; break forth with thorns.
I live in a rural area. Farmers plant their gardens and fields. They have problems with weeds coming up and they are constantly battling the weeds. These weeds, thorns and thistles are the struggles we have in this life trying to make a living; just trying to make a living! There I was, confronted with this situation, trying to make a living and I could feel the blessings of God slipping away from me. God, I don’t get this, I’m trying to understand, I’m really trying to understand your Word; walk in the grace, the faith and the favor Jesus has given me. God said, “Go back, understand the thorns.”
I went back. The thorns are the work and struggle of this world trying to make my living. God said, “You’re blessed of God, you’re under grace, I am your shepherd, you shall not want, and I lead you to green pastures. Do you see the sheep struggling to raise a pasture? Trust Me, I’m leading you into green pastures.”
Where is another thorny situation where thorns are discussed in the scripture? Thorns were fashioned into a crown and placed on Christ’s head. They hit Him on the head with rods so that those thorns pierced His brow. Those thorns were actually anointed with the blood of Christ. The blood that redeems us from our failures, the blood that redeemed us from the thorns of this world. That is why it was placed on His head, on His head is where He thinks. That is a picture of Him redeeming our thought process from the problems of trying to make a living in this world. He is saying, “Trust Me, I have redeemed you by My blood.” Remember redemption, the blood redeems us from sin. Sin in the Greek is “hamartia”, which means “to miss the mark.” If you’re out there struggling to make a living you’re missing the mark because He saved you from that curse that was placed upon you. You are no longer under a curse when you trust in Him and in His sacrifice. You have become a blessed child of God, no longer a cursed human, living under a curse, but rather a blessed, born again, child of God.
As a child of God, we’ve got to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. I saw all this struggle coming down upon me. How was I going to make ends meet, pay my bills at the end of the month and I was getting overwhelmed by it all. God told me that I’m focusing on the wrong things.
“Do you remember the children of Israel? I provided for them 10 miraculous plagues to get them out of Egypt and yet they didn’t suffer from the plagues. There was darkness and yet they lived in light. There were lice, but they didn’t have any. There were frogs, but they didn’t have frogs. And when the firstborn were killed, their firstborn were not killed because of the blood of the lamb that was shed and the death angel passed over them. Then I brought them out of Egypt with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. When Pharaoh chased them, the pillar of smoke or fire came between them and Pharaoh’s army. I then split the Red Sea, took them across the Red Sea, drowned the Pharaoh’s army, and provided manna for them to eat as they traveled around the desert of Sinai. I made sure their clothes and shoes did not wear out. And when they came to the place of bitter waters I told them to throw the wood in.
The tree, it comes back to the tree, the cross, as a redemption picture. The water became sweet. He provided for these people, brought them through and was taking them to the land flowing with milk and honey.
God made all these provisions and caused all these miraculous things to happen to them. They come to the place called Kadesh Barnea. You can read about it in Numbers, chapters 13 and 14. They came to the edge of the land flowing with milk and honey; ready to cross into it and God tells them to send in 12 spies. They are to go find out what the land is like, come back and tell what a wonderful place this was going to be.
They go into the land, come back and two of them say this is a wonderful place. It’s great! We have to go! Let’s line up! Whew! We’re going to take this place! But ten of them focused on the cares of the world. Yes, the land is wonderful. It’s beautiful. It has a great view. There are grapes there that are totally astounding. But there are giants in the land! They were focusing upon the cares of the world. They were standing on the edge of the land glowing with milk and honey. They were standing on the edge of the land where God said you will reap that which you did not sow, you will pick from vines you did not plant, you will sit under fig trees and eat figs thereof. You will live in houses you did not build. This will be a place of great blessing to you and those people balked right there. They were ready to go into the land and conquer it by the power of God and yet they looked at their enemy and forgot the power of God.
He said to me, “Recall the things I have done in your life. Why are you balking? Jesus came down while you were yet a sinner and sacrificed Himself and called you to Himself. He has washed you in the blood of the Lamb and forgiven you of all your sins. Now go back over all the supernatural interventions in your life; how I have met your needs, supplied your needs and given you heads up and warnings.” I have been blessed on a supernatural level by God, yet here I was confronted with this situation and I was balking. Recall all the good things. God does not change. It’s one of God’s attributes. He’s not a God who changes. He is constant with us.
Now, let’s go to the end of our scripture.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” ~ Matthew 13:23 (KJV)
He hears it, understands it and bears multiple fruit; 30 times, 60 times or 100 times. Personally, I’m shooting for the 100 times.
Here were the children of Israel on the verge of going into the land of milk and honey and, instead of recalling the things God had done and what a great and gracious God He was to them, they balked and focused on the cares of this world. And yet I’m always saying I want to be a thirty, sixty or hundred fold person. I need to get my eyes off the cares of the world.
You have been redeemed, ransomed from those things by the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ touched the thorns of this world, therefore, they are no longer your thorns. You trust me because I am your shepherd. I will lead, guide and take you into the promised land. Understand this, trust me in my grace, in my favor to you which God gives to me, not because I earn it, but because He likes me. The blood has washed away my sins and failures and, over and above the blood, the sacrifice of Christ’s body, which was actually broken and bruised, so that I could have all the earthly blessings that seem to be denied to so many people. He’s saying to me, trust in Him and now go to this next level.
I say the next level because this is the way it seems to me. There are people who hear the word of God sitting in a church, and they never receive it. They never understand it, they don’t care to, and it does not change their life in any way.
Then there are people who receive it and they say, Yeah! But they get all caught up in I can this, and it’s all me, me, my, my. They are just bowled over when they actually run into failure on the whole thing.
Then there are people, like me, who have received it, tried to understand it and yet, whenever we run into conflict, we focused on the cares of the world rather than the goodness of our God and Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. I focused on the wrong thing. Recall the greatness of our God. If you’re in a situation like I am, recall the greatness of our God. How do we do that? Well, for one thing, just sit down and think about it. Go to the Bible and read about Jesus; read about Jesus’ sacrifice.
Here’s another great way to recall the greatness of God. Go get some grape juice or wine. Pour yourself a little glassful. Go get some bread, preferably a flat cracker. Pray over it and take communion, because He said we’re supposed to reflect. This is what we do to remember His death until He comes. It is important to remember his death, because His death gave us life.
He was deprived to give us plenty. He gave up everything, even His clothes. He became naked upon the cross so we might have clothes. He did without so that we might have. He was deprived so that we might be blessed. He was cut off from God (“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”) in order that we might become children of God. This exchange is that He took our place so we could step into His place. Yeah! How cool is that?
He took all of that and then He died, but He rose up from the dead to guarantee to us those blessings whenever we’re willing to accept them, receive them and understand them. Receive the word of God, seek to understand it, take it to that good level and quit focusing upon the cares of this world or the works of the law. The works of the law is what so many churches seem to be doing and what I did for years. Give up on that, give up on the cares of this world and focus only on Jesus Christ. When we focus upon Him, we will come into a place of blessing, a land flowing with milk and honey. We’ll cross over into that place where we all want to be.
We need to realize that we have an exchange. Christ took our place, we took His. We need to recall the blessings that He has caused to come into our life. As we do that we can move into this place of receiving the Word, understanding the Word and then being blessed by Him; focusing not on what is in this world, but upon Jesus Christ.
I’d like to pass on something I’ve read. A lot of people say you’ll never get into the presence of God. But God does not lie, nor does He change.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)
Notice what He says. He has thoughts of peace towards us, not thoughts of evil. Anything bad that happens to us is not sourced in God. It is sourced in the world, the flesh or the devil, not in God; because He promises that all things work together for our good and will be transmuted. It will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but all bad things will be changed to become good to us.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” ~ Jeremiah 29:12-13 (KJV)
Get that? We’re to go, to pray and he will hear us. And we find Him when (this is codicil that we have to pick up) when you search for me “with all your heart.” Go after the presence of God with hammer and tongs. I was driven to it because of my need and the cares of this world. I’m saying, God, I don’t understand it, I don’t get it, I’m suffering. God is saying: now you sought Me with all your heart, you found Me and now I’m going to explain to you what’s going on in your life. And He used the “Parable of the Sower” to do it.
Anytime you are in any situation, go to God with great passion. Go after Him with all your heart. Don’t give Him lip service, nor the prayers of the table and bedtime. Be very passionate and tell God that things are very good in your life, you want to be in His presence and you want to recall Jesus Christ to your memory and all the great things He has done for you. You want to be in His presence. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you.”
What we are being taught now is to go after the presence of God and quit focusing on the cares of this world. We have been redeemed from the cares of this world by the blood that anointed the thorns on Christ’s head. We don’t have to dwell upon them and think upon them. We’ve been redeemed from that. We are to dwell upon and think upon the death of Christ and what He accomplished for us through that death. We have been blessed by our God. We need to accept it. We need to understand it. If this is not clear, get into the scriptures, read it for yourself and seek Him with great passion. We will then come to a place of understanding where we will move up to that level where we will bear fruit thirty, sixty or the hundredfold. I want it all. I want all the blessings.
So now I am going to ask God to give us, myself and you, those very blessings. Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus, I ask that You bless us with your presence. We seek your presence right now. God, through Jesus Christ and what He accomplished upon the cross, we ask to come into Your presence. We want to hear from You. We want to see the great things You’ve done. Help us to focus totally upon You and forget this world that we live in. Because You are our Shepherd. You cause us to walk, to follow after You, to come to those green pastures and to lie down right there. Father, we trust You, we praise You and we give You glory. Help us to recall, help us to recall, help us to recall. All glory and honor to Your Son because of the great things that He has accomplished. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
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