Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Jesus used parables to convey many of his deepest thoughts, using visual images from rural settings many in his audience lived in and could relate to. The parable of the sower is a good example of this type of allegorical teaching. ( Mark 4:1-20) It still resonates with people today whether they be farmers, backyard gardeners or city-folk tending flower boxes; addressing soil conditions and preparation in anticipation of planting. As any experienced grower knows the fruitfulness of a crop depends largely on the receptivity of the soil; your soil’s fertility being dependent on how well you’ve cared for it, how well it’s been fertilized or “fed” in anticipation of receiving the seed of a desired crop.
Many people have had a hand in preparing us for a productive life, anticipating a fair return on their investment as well. Parents expect well-behaved children; teachers deserve respectfully inquiring minds; preachers seek a tender heart. Yet ultimately, you are responsible for the fruitfulness of your life, for your actions and reactions to life’s challenges and God’s expectations. How much benefit you get from life in relationship to God depends in large part on how receptive you are to his word, how prepared you are to multiply its seeds of wisdom into a bountiful harvest for you and everyone around you. ( Galatians 6:9)
So what condition are you in? Are you like the hard-packed earth of an oft-traveled path, unyielding to God’s word because of familiarity with sin as a traveling partner; Satan snatching the un-noticed, unappreciated seed up before it becomes useful? ( Mark 4:4 & 15) Or are you shallow, lacking depth in your convictions; joyful at hearing God’s word and realizing it’s possibilities yet bruised and stumbling as a result of the rocks of sin still strewn about your life, distracted by the inevitable questions and challenges of life and faith? ( Mark 4:5,6 & 16,17) Will your joy be short-lived as a result of rootless immaturity and an unwillingness to put into practice what you learn? Have you been scorched and withered by attempting to match the world’s definition of success and the reality of life or have you found sustenance in God, finding life in the radiance of his glory ( Hebrews 1:3) and relief in the living water found only in Christ? ( John 7:38) Are you pre-occupied with earthly concerns, attempting to satisfy the yearning of your soul with what the world has to offer; deceived by the wealth of choices while lusting for more, finding a fleeting sense of accomplishment in boasting about possessions and accomplishments? Forgetting that, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17; we become ensnared and hindered in our quest for righteousness, inflicting pain on ourselves as the seed of God’s word is ripped from our grasp and its influence choked out of our lives. ( Mark 4:17p-19) On the other hand, you could be earnestly seeking God’s will ( Hebrews 11:6), preparing your minds for action ( 1 Peter 1:13), actively working to insure an abundant crop in your life. ( Mark 4:20)
Some may ask: How do I prepare myself for fruitfulness in the Lord? The answer, though not all-inclusive, may appear simplistic and is nothing you haven’t heard before, although crucial to your success and effectiveness as a Christian. Time, spent in God’s presence in prayer and seeking His will through His word. We are to seek God’s will first in all we do, righteousness and success following in the wake of that quest, comfort being found in the promise of His provision. ( Matthew 6:33 & Philippians 4:19) Yet you can’t put first what you don’t understand, therefore we are encouraged to study Him ( 2 Timothy 2:15 KJ), purposefully knowing who He was – who He is; what He did – what He does, and what He expects of us as individuals in response; making every effort (NIV) to handle His word well. As such we will no longer conform any longer to the world’s way of thinking but transform our lives by the renewing of our minds. ( Romans 12:2) Actively seeking guidance and communion with God through prayer will foster dependence and confidence in him while encouraging independence from the world. ( John 15:7 & 1 John 5:14,15) Guarding our hearts and minds from exposure to the commonplace and evil ( Proverbs 4:23 & Philippians 4:9) will enable us then to exercise caution in what we do and who we do it with as, “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
So, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,…” Hebrews 12:1; realizing that, “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Colossians 6:7,8
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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