The Power of the Word of God
Is not my word like a fire?….And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)
The power that belongs to God is stored in the great reservoir of His own Word, the Bible. “Power belongs to God.” Psalm 62:11) If we wish to make it ours, we must go to the Bible. Yet people who are praying for power, but neglecting the Bible abound in the church. Many long to have the power for fruit-bearing in their own lives, yet they forget that Jesus has said, “The seed is the word of God”(Luke 8:11). They long to have power to melt the cold heart and break the stubborn will, yet they forget that God has said, “Is not My word like a fire?…And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”(Jeremiah 23:29)
If we are to obtain fullness of power in life and service, we must feed on the Word of God. No other food is so strengthening. If we will not take time to study the Bible, we cannot have power anymore than we can have physical strength if we will not take time to eat nutritious food.
In the parables of Jesus, perhaps one of the better known and explained one, He described the importance of receiving the Word of God into our spirits. He indicates that the seed of the Word is the same seed that is sown into the various grounds. We may conclude that the power of the Word of God to work is conditioned by the soil upon which it falls. Let’s read the parable.
He told them many things in parables, saying, “Listen carefully: a sower went out to sow [seed in his field]; 4 and as he sowed, some seed fell beside the road [between the fields], and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil; and at once they sprang up because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and thorns came up and choked them out. 8 Other seed fell on good soil and yielded grain, some a hundred times as much [as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.
18 “Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy; 21 yet he has no [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation]. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.”
As someone growing up in the country, planting gardens and trying to grow grass, I can tell you that the soil is critical to crop production.
In the first example, Jesus tells about seed that was sown by the road. Some years ago we had planted grass in our lawn and our dog would run in circles around the house and it wasn’t long before there was no grass. He literally wore out a path through the grass until the ground was bare. Jesus tells us that the one who hears the Word and does not understand it is like this. In our case we realized that if we were going to have grass, we had to change the cause of its destruction. We worked on training the dog to cease running in circles. For us we too must stop the cycle of hearing without understanding. What this means is that we must become involved in some sort of Christian Education that helps us learn. Romans says that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word…and how shall they hear unless someone proclaims?” One mistake that many make is the idea to just read though the Bible as though it were some novel. Second of all it is also a mistake to attempt to try to understand the Bible intellectually only. As the Word of God, it must be revealed to us by the Teacher, the Holy Spirit. Some have said it takes around 21 repeats to make a habit. Why not start today and for the next 21 days begin your day by picking up your Bible in whatever format you have, ask the Holy Spirit to show you and help you understand what you will read. If possible, join a study group of believers who wish to grow their faith as you do.
The second seed fell on rocky ground. Now down where I live, rocks abound and if you’re going to plant a garden or have a lawn, rock removal in a necessary task. What I’ve learned is that it seems like rocks grow. No matter how many I pick up, there seem, at least in the garden, to be another crop. It’s a constant chore, for the more I till the garden the more rocks surface. I’ve also discovered that in life rocks just appear. Things that cause us to stumble and fall, things that disappoint and hurt, and those difficult times and challenges grow with almost the same tenacity as those rocks in my garden. It’s in the crisis that we must choose to draw nearer to God. In the difficult times we must pray that we can learn to trust God with even what we cannot understand. These things come to everyone without exception. Consider Job, David, Jeremiah, Peter, John, and Paul to name a few, in addition to the fact that Christ suffered also. In every case the strategy of the devil was to pressure them and us to abandon our faith. Unfortunately this happens more often than we would like to admit. We may start our journey with Jesus with great joy and enthusiasm only to have the difficulties of life or the unanswered prayers to drain our souls until we become mere shells. Dig up the rocks, and cast them away and let God sow His Word in your heart again.
The third seed fell among the thorns which Jesus describes as the worries and distractions of the world. Again, I can tell you that both my garden and my lawn will grow weeds when it won’t grow anything else. I found it true in life, that like weeds, worries and distractions frequently spring up in my soul. In the garden I have to dig them up over and over again else they will choke out what I’m trying to grow. In my lawn I’ve learned to kill them at the roots and the thicker my grass grows, the less room there is for weeds. When you look at a lawn from a distance, the weeds blend in with the grass and everything looks green, but when you take a closer look you will easily see the weeds. In the same way I’ve learned that the more of the Word I am learning and applying to my soul, the more the “grass” is growing, the less room there is for the “weeds.” There will always be things that concern us. I am not minimizing those at all. It’s not that we just sail through life without cares, anxieties or distractions. The devil makes sure that there is a steady offering of these. But in those times of concern we turn to God in prayer, “making our requests known with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” We “cast our cares upon Him, who cares for us.” I’ve found that it’s easy to be distracted by life and sometimes to forget eternity because I’m so busy living in the moment- both good and bad. I need to be reminded daily that I am an eternal being with an eternal destiny, being led and cared for by an Eternal Being. Recently working with one of my grandchildren with their school work, the picture of this became so real to me. It was obvious that school wasn’t high on their priorities of things to do that day and so almost anything would get their attention and I had to continuously remind them that the work needed to be finished and then they could focus on the other things. I’m thankful for the Teacher, the Holy Spirit who repeatedly comes to this student and reminds him of his priorities of growing the spiritual life.
The ultimate goal is to develop good ground. Like my garden and lawn, we are not always-as a matter of fact, rarely- are born as good ground. Most of us have habits, those rutted out places in our lives that keep repeating themselves again and again. Like the path worn by the dog, the devil has run us in circles and no matter how hard we try to break out of that rut, we find ourselves sliding back again. This is the power of Christ, the Word, who comes and picks us up, makes us a new creature and sets us on a new path. Like my garden that continues to produce rocks, my soul seems to have those things which causes it to stumble and hinder my spiritual growth, sometimes burying the seed under its weight. Like myself as the gardener, the Holy Spirit comes along and lifts those rocks, removes them from my heart and makes room for the seed of the Word to come up in my life. Just as almost daily, I have to weed my garden or treat my lawn, for weeds have no shame in growing, I find that I need the Holy Spirit to filter my thoughts and feelings and perceptions lest those weeds that look so green choke the very seed of the Word out of my heart. We’ve heard the old saying, “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” May I say it may seem so, but in truth it’s usually weeds. Satan offers us distractions that may seem attractive until we yield to his enticements and then we find ourselves feeding off weeds rather than the “green pastures” of the Shepherd. So break the cycle by yielding to God, let the Holy Spirit dig out the rocks, ask Christ to “make you lie down in green pastures…and restore your soul”, let God handle the “thorns” of life with sufficient grace. Prepare the soil of your heart to receive the seed on good ground and grow a crop of spiritual fruit that will not only satisfy your soul but will also feed others on the goodness of God.
Dr. John Thompson