Episode 32 Why is the Parable of the Sower the Key to All Other Parables (+ Are books like Jesus Calling and apps like ‘A Sprinkle of Jesus’ Dangerous?)

Happy February! Today we are reading Genesis 33 – Jacob finally meets Esau face to face. Will there be blood? We are also reading Esther 9-10, though chapter 10 is one of the shorter chapters in the Bible. Romans 4 discusses the beautiful truth of justification by faith (and not works!), and normally that would almost certainly be our focus passage, but Mark 4 contains what I believe is the most important parable Jesus taught – the Parable of the Sower.

Shoutouts: Dr. Og Keep: It was odd that Episode 28 was so controversial. The only part of it that left me confused was the part about Jesus bringing us concrete.
Keith Heltsey: At the Life-truth.com Podcasting network.

Joy in the Word: Consider whether you find yourself in this story:

“She took her children to the park to break the monotony of summer days, and instead she broke her own heart. She watched her children run to the playground as another car drove into the parking lot. The car ground to a quick stop, and a young, vibrant woman with a beaming smile leaped out of the driver’s seat and virtually skipped to a secluded table near an adjoining lake. The imagination of the mother watching began to race. Who could this young woman be meeting in such a secluded spot with so much enthusiasm. Was this a long awaited and carefully planned rendez-vous with an over-busy husband? A lunch date with a best friend, or a tryst between secret lovers? The mother determined to stay on the lookout for whoever got out of the next car. No one else came immediately, and the mother soon grew busy watching her children, breaking up fights, cleaning up skinned knees and such. When she finally did glance up again at the secluded woman, what the woman saw made her heart skip a beat. The woman was reading a Bible and praying. The person she had leapt from the car to meet with such enthusiasm was her Lord. The mother recognized with pain that penetrated her spirit that she no longer had that same enthusiasm. Once the excitement of her own relationship with God had overwhelmed her. Once the joy of her salvation had burned warm and bright, but now the fervor was gone. Faith had become a dreary duty; God had become a detached, frowning bystander. Something had happened over the years of her walk with the Lord. She didn’t know exactly what it was, but she did know that she would not now skip to meet Him. She had lost something wonderful and she wept there in the park for her loss. 

Bryan Chapell: Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength

I think most Christians under-appreciate, undervalue, and underestimate the power of the Word of God, myself included. One of the reasons why I’m doing a daily Word-focused podcast, and post about it most days on social media, is because I think that there is great power in God’s Word. It’s not like dynamite in that you can just casually toss it around, people hear it, and BOOM – they are transformed into mature followers of Jesus over night the Word of God is much more organic than that. One of the main ways that Jesus taught about the power and impact of the Word is by comparing it to a seed. A seed is small and not terribly dynamic at first impression, but it can grow into a tremendous organic living thing. When Jesus taught the disciples about the power and impact of the Word in His Parable of the Sower, they didn’t get it at first, which prompted Him to say, ” 13 Then he said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables? ” That one line says to me that the Parable of the Sower has within it a key to unlock all of the other parables. Let’s read it!

I heard the testimony of a preacher I admired at one time, and he said that he came to Jesus while smoking pot and  listening to a person saved for a mere 2 weeks preach to him. He said he read in the King James Version for a little while after that, and notes that he didn’t hardly understand any of it, but he underlined a bunch of passages because he knew they were the words of eternal life. He followed Jesus by faith, even though his mind was hazy from the pot and his understanding was low; nevertheless, he was radically saved.

The writer Donald Whitney tells the story of a man in KC that had just got saved and was hungry to know God in a deeper way. Shortly after salvation, he was severely injured in an explosion, whereby his face was disfigured, and he lost both hands. He was so discouraged that he couldn’t read the Bible anymore. Then he heard of a woman in England who read braille with her lips. He tried it, but his lips were too dead. On an off chance, his tongue happened to brush the braille, and he found he could read with his tongue. As of the writing of the book, the man had read the entire Bible through 4 times! That’s passion. That’s understanding the power of the Word. 

Since this podcast is an ongoing concern, and since we will encounter the Parable of the Sower SIX times over the next year, and since this parable in particular is incredibly deep and meaningful – we won’t be able to plunge its depths today. However, we can gain at least a few powerful nuggets of truth that will be worth our time:

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more  25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Mark 4:24-25

Listening to and absorbing the Word is critical here. The deeper it goes – the more you listen, meditate, absorb – the greater the work of the Kingdom in your life. The shallower it goes, the less. With the measure you use to receive the Word, that will be the measure of the power, transformation, encouragement and fruitfulness of the Word in your life! Think of it this way. When you come to the Word, you can bring a small cup, and hear only a bit, or you can bring a giant barrel and get TONS of it. There is a direct correlation to the amount of fruitfulness in your life and your getting – hearing of the Word of God. So then – the person that might look at a Verse of the Day app four times a week will be receiving an intake of the Word, but only a tiny, tiny amount – almost certainly not enough to live on. The person who changes her schedule and priorities to make time for the Word of God – for real depth in the Word – that person will receive from that an abundance!

One caution: Be sure you are listening to the Word of God. A preacher’s opinion, a pastor’s sermon mostly devoid of Scripture, a best-selling book that tells you to wash your face and mentions God a little bit but is mostly devoid of God’s Word, a Sprinkle of Jesus and Jesus Calling – these are NOT the Word of God. Just because somebody talks about God does not mean that they are bringing the Word of God. The message of pastors and preachers must be soaked in God’s Word, based on God’s Word, completely agree with God’s Word and be filled with God’s Word to be of any use and power to you – otherwise you are just getting opinion. Jesus Calling, the bestselling ‘devotional’ book, is not God’s Word, but rather the words of a modern writer who somehow claims to be speaking for God.

A Sprinkle of Jesus is not the words of Jesus, but a counterfeit meant to give you a shiver and a comforting feeling, but contains 0% The Word of God! It would be like having a deficiency of Vitamin C and taking an orange candy to correct that deficiency, but the candy is completely devoid of any vitamins whatsoever, even though it is the right color and shape. Beware imitations.

Imagine writing to your favorite sports star or celebrity and asking for an autograph. In most cases that celebrity never reads your request, and what you get back in return is a glossy picture with a facsimile autograph on it done by machine, or by an assistant. There is no value in it, because the person you are interested in hasn’t interacted with you in the least – their assistant has (or their assistant’s assistant!). Can we receive good things from modern preachers, pastors and writers? I believe so, and I am myself a modern preacher, pastor and writer! The danger comes when I (or anybody else) try to pass off my words as the Word of God, or my opinion as God’s opinion. I don’t speak for God, and my words of teaching (and my books, and this podcast…) are only valuable when they adhere to God’s Word and are founded on God’s Word and point you to God’s Word. My opinion is worth about what it costs you, which is nothing. It is worth much less than that – and becomes a danger to your soul – when I try to frame my opinion as the actual Words of God. It is a dangerous and brazen thing for a writer or teacher to take their words and speak/write them as if they are the Words of God.

“Because I am your constant Companion, there should be a lightness to your step that is observable to others.”

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Jesus, John 16:33

Notice the difference between these two quotes! Jesus never calls His followers to something quite so superficial as a ‘lightness in their step,’ because the Bible is much more realistic and grounded than that.

Consider these two quotes below from ‘Sprinkle of Jesus’ Does this sound like the Jesus of the Bible?

Not Jesus!
CERTAINLY not Jesus! This kind of thing is much more akin to Buddhism than the teachings of Jesus.

Imagine texting the one you love, or a special friend. Imagine that their assistant, or secretary, or even a virtual assistant that is a thousand miles away from them answers you, and tells you something sweet and lovely that they (the secretary/assistant) made up themselves. That’s nice and everything, but you haven’t actually heard from the person you love, but from a substitute. There are no substitutes for God’s Word, so let us be about the business of reading, studying and following it!

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