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We have spent the last four lessons talking about things that hinder a move of God. We started by looking at external resistance, at what Satan does to try and hinder it. He does not like it when we pray and intercede, because God's kingdom advances and he looses territory. So he strikes back and counter attacks. He is persistent and does not give up easily. So it is important for us to maintain in prayer the ground we take in prayer. We need to be persistent for advancing God's kingdom through intercession.
And yet, despite all of Satan's activities, the biggest hinderance to a move of God does not come from external attack. It comes from internal things that cause us to resist God or to hold back. We looked at the various soils from the the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Then we examined three of these soils, or "hearts" or "mindsets" that oppose a move of God.
Now it is time to look at the "good soil". This is the one that we want to sign up for because is the receptive heart. It is the one that each of us desires to have. It is the soil that has cleared the rocks and cut down the weeds. It represents a man or woman who is open and receptive to God. It is not a hard heart, but an open, receptive heart. One might say, "I don't know if I want to open my heart that much. What if the devil comes in and plants some seeds?"
Well, this heart has a greater faith in God's ability to bring us the truth, than the devil's ability to bring us into deceit. Also, when you have that kind of open heart and weeds do get planted and grow quickly, you will be able to discern that and pull them out. It is good soil. Good soil is one that is teachable. The seeds can land and take root and grow. It is one whose rocks have been removed. They have addressed the rocks of woundedness, rocks of sin and fractured relationships. It is the soil that simply takes out the weeds whenever they face them. They have a sign on their heart that says - no weeds allowed! They carry with them a spiritual bottle of weed-be-gone. Any kinds of weeds that come up, they are taking out with a vengeance.
A person with a receptive heart has not fully arrived. They have not been perfected yet; they are still "in process." The Holy Spirit is still transforming them. But a person who is "good soil" walks close to God. They are in tune with what God is doing and they cooperate fully with God. They have resolved in their heart to obey God. They have removed the major hinderances from of their lives. The have taken on God's priorities and they have His perspective on things.
That is a good, receptive heart. I believe that everyone here, if they wanted to, could have good soil. There is not anyone that cannot have good soil. I do not like the percentages, though. Three out of four don't and cannot sustain it. The first one doesn't even receive it. They just simply ignore it and run from it. They don't have anything to sustain. The other two I believe receive the move of God and His Presence, but they cannot sustain it. But that good soil may take a little work. When it gets a little crusty, you might have to plow it up. You might have to work on some stones that you did not see. Have you guys ever planted and garden and removed the stones, and then you plant again and wonder - where did that rock come from? But you continually work at it. You continually cultivate it.
So let's talk a little bit about how to cultivate our soil into good soil. Farmers know how to do this, don't they? First, they clear out any rubbish on the top of the soil.. they haul it away. Then they take a plow and till the ground, exposing the rocks and softening the soil. If necessary, they will add some nutrients to the soil, usually in the form of fertilizer. They don't rush the soil, they wait until it is prepared and then the plant the seed. The Holy Spirit is like a farmer, patiently and faithfully working the field of our heart and preparing it. But there is one area where we are not at all like the plots of ground that farmers till. You see, the field has no choice. It must lay there and receive whatever attention the farmer gives it. The ground does not have a choice. It cannot get up and walk away and say, "This is too hard. I quit." And the ground does not get impatient and say, "This is taking too long.. hurry it up!" The ground is not capable of planting seeds in itself before the farmer decides it is time.
God is wanting to do some preparing of our soil, to make it into good soil that yields a big harvest. Let me go briefly over God's soil-conversion process, and what it might look like in our lives. Jeremiah 4:3 says "this is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: 'Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.'" In other words, we have to break break the things in our life that are not of God. We must not sow in thorns.. we can't hang on to the things that choke God's life out of us and expect to thrive in Him at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive. The very first step in God's soil conversion process is getting rid of the thorns and any other rubbish so that He can begin to plow. That means God will ask you to let go of those things that separate you from Him. We cannot begin to open ourselves to God's process while we are hanging onto things like sin, disobedience, bitterness, worldliness, carnal mindedness, etc. This stuff has to go! Some of you are asking, "Do you mean God might take some things away from me that I don't want to give up?" Absolutely. And what loving father would not take a sharp knife or a book of matches out of a toddler's hands even if the child wanted to play with it and even if they threw a tantrum! You see, if it is a dangerous thing where you are going to hurt yourself or hurt your relationship with God, He will take it away from you. What we have been talking about here is all part of clearing off the rubbish so that the farmer can begin to plow the soil.
The next step, of course, is the plowing itself. In Ezekiel 36:9, God says, "I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown." So we see the plowing is not a punishment, even if it feels like it at times. God does this because He cares greatly for us. He wants to prepare us so that He can sow His glory in us. This means He has to dig deep. He has to expose some of the rocks in our heart, bring His light to them and get them out of our lives. He does this to heal us, but He digs deep and that can be painful. Emotions and attitudes that we have hidden for a long time, sometimes even hidden from ourselves, come up to the surface so God can deal with them. We might not like what we see when God plows. We might be upset with ourselves, or we may feel angry with God for bringing them to the surface. Old hurts that we have repressed for a long time may come to the surface and cause us some discomfort, but God exposes them to heal them. If they come up, bring them to God and Him them heal you. That is what He wants to do. Plowing is like surgery; you have to cut the person open to get at the cancer so you can cut it away. And the cutting can hurt but it would be certain death to just leave the cancer in there. So the surgeon cuts at perfectly healthy skin to get to the bad part and remove it. Then he sows it up and lets the wound heal.
Or plowing can be like how gold is refined.. it is heated in a very hot fire until it melts. Then the impurities float to the surface and are cleared away. Has God been putting you through some fires and adversities lately? He may be doing that to get the impurities to the surface so He can remove them. Cooperate with God. The more you cooperate, the faster the plowing process will be.
Hosea 10:12 says, "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you." The plowing is not the end in and of itself.. it is a step in the process. The next step is the preparing the ground, the showering of love and life onto it. This is similar to when the farmer puts fertilizers in the soil.. he adds the things that are missing so that the soil can be rich and good soil. God is going to pour His love and His acceptance on you. He is going to bring you into activities that breathe life and build you up in Him; activities that nourish you. This will include God spending intimacy time with you. It will also include God having you become involved in activities that build you up and encourage you. You will be putting His word into you, doing worship, fellowshipping with other believers who love you. Plus God will meet you in those areas were you are deficient. If you grew up without love, He will surround you with His. If you have trouble trusting, He will demonstrate His trustfulness to you over and over. For some of you, God may want you to get involved in a recovery program, to have structured and efficient help in dealing with some issues. God will give you the opportunities and resources you need to be nourished in Him so that you can become good soil, lacking nothing.
What is your soil like today? How badly do you want to experience the continuous move of God? How badly do you want to sustain it? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have good soil?