Spiritual Training in the Offseason
Spiritual Training In The Off Season
Matthew 13:1-9; 19 “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear… 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”
This is the parable given by Jesus of the sower. In verse 4 it says, "some fell along the path..." What fell along the path? The seed. What do we know the seed to represent? The gospel; the message of Christ per verse 19. Therefore, ultimately, this represents a hard heart.
In those days, there were many people with hardened hearts. They simply didn't know it. The people expected a messiah totally different from what they were seeing, so much that they weren't open to the message that was being shared with them. Here, the message is described as a seed along the path. The type of soil the seed landed on was constantly trampled. Over time, it would be hard as a rock. The seed would fall on the ground, but since that path was so hard, it didn't sink and take root; capable of being tossed around. Since it didn’t take root, when the birds came, (which Christ compares with the enemy satan) they rid the ground of the seed. In other words, they got rid of "the message."
Jesus was saying, due to the hardness of that heart, it wouldn't allow the seed (message) to enter. Church, what causes someone’s heart to harden? There is only one answer: Sin! It is sin that hardens the heart, and the hardened heart... sins even more! That same type of person is described in Romans 1:18-32. We notice how people first began to take the truth of God lightly (vs. 18-20), then inevitably came their ignorance of the spiritual matters, along with moral degradation (vs. 21-31), and eventually they began participating in the sinful acts, too Romans 1:32 "... they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." Sin obviously leads you to rejection of God and His truth. Rejection of God's truth leads to even greater sin. You and I both know, when someone is living in sin, they are blind and completely closed off to God’s message of grace. They don't want to receive the message of Jesus Christ. Without knowing it, they are in complete opposition to Christ and all that He represents. When someone is in opposition to Christ, they are in opposition to His kingship here, and in the kingdom to come.
Sadly, things have not changed. This is probably the biggest reason why there is so much rejection of the gospel. A man once said, "I believe that Jesus is the son of God and that He died for sins. But I don't want to give my life to Him because I don't want Him to rule over me, I want to make my own decisions." There are so many who think this way, they don't let the goodness of the gospel in their life, simply because they’d rather keep living in all their sin.
Why do I mention this today? Well, statistics show that when one misses a couple of church services in a row, it's extremely difficult to get back to the routine of attending church. Usually an illness or a vacation will suffice in getting any Christian away from their church going routine. Well, as you know, we have been hit with the longest "stay-cation" known to man; the coronavirus. This virus is keeping most Christians at home, away from all church activities, not allowing for us to gather with the body. My fear is not so much the physical ailments the virus will bring, but the spiritual ones caused by a malnutrition of God's word during this mega interruption to our weekly spiritual schedule. Due to the recommended “social distancing,” will be spending more time at home, possibly tripling our typical time spent on social media, Netflix (or the like), online shopping, or hobbies. We will brush up on our guitar or piano playing skills, and maybe even finish half of our honey-do list. But, sadly most won't even bother to keep up with the "Read the Bible in a Year Plan," even if one has been needing to catch up since January.
I pray that during these weird times you not neglect spending time with Jesus. I pray we stay focused, away from sin in our lives that will cause our hearts to be hardened in such a way that we reject the kingship of our Savior. I pray we grow stronger spiritually, especially now that we've been given time to reflect and invest in what really matters. I pray that when we are able to meet again at church, we come back spiritually stronger than ever before, due to our efforts to be “spiritually training in the off season.”