Start with the Seed: A Call to Read

 
markus-spiske-624932-unsplash.jpg

In Matthew 13, Jesus shares about a sower who plants seeds upon the ground. A lot of seeds fall on infertile places - paths with hungry birds, rocky soil, and thorny grounds. Unsurprisingly, these seeds die quickly and produce no fruit. Yet, some seeds fall upon good soil and grew, producing grain thirty fold, sixty fold, even hundred fold.

What is God saying? We need willing hearts for God to do His will in us and through us. Jesus needs space in our lives to work. Even as a non-Christian, I understood this. And for a long time, I'd always cry out for a good heart from God. But even after great periods of ministry and missions and revivals, I'd eventually drift back into League of Legends, Seinfeld, or, let's be real, porn. It was an unfruitful, numbing cycle. Something in my theology, my lifestyle, was missing. And eventually, He provided a clue.

You know what you absolutely need for any plant to grow? Seeds. You can have the most available, fertile ground. Yet no seeds? This ain’t Hogwarts - you can’t conjure avocados out of empty dirt. And what happens to purposeless, dead dirt? Look at empty lots or highway fields: left alone, even top grade soil cultivates weeds. Pests and insects skitter freely through the shallow grasses. Plastics, broken glass, and soda cans collect.

But when a sower plants seeds into good soil - trees grow. Apples drop. Flowers of every shade blossom. Beauty is restored. Purpose is given to the ground. People grow inclined to care for the blooming garden, to tend the pleasurable vegetations. Seeds not only produce fruit, they also give meaning, context to the ground. In the same way, Jesus explains to His disciples that the seed represents His word which bears good harvest in His followers.

The implication is clear: if a person wants to be fruitful for the Lord, he or she must read God's word. If we love God, we need His word.  If you desire to serve Him, to really know and walk with Him, the Bible is absolute. His Word must be a constant presence, the highest priority, a non-negotiable. As 2019 begins, one pillar of any real Jesus movement will be God's everlasting Word. Brothers and sisters, let us study God's love letter to us. Here are some things that have helped me:

Let the Word be Daily and Present:

I won't tell you how long or how much to read. But read enough each day to let it take root in your heart. Just as roots break the ground more as they grow, the Lord sanctifies and refines us as His Word deepens in us. As we meditate and pray through the Bible, He enlightens hidden rocks, brick paths, and newly sprouted weeds in our hearts. Our ears grow more keen to His voice. He empowers us to remove idols and make more room for His in-dwelling Spirit. Our beliefs and patterns are molded more with His thoughts. Ask yourself: What does this passage say about God and the Christian life? What will I do about it? And think on it. Whatever reading plan you're using, however much time you consciously give to Him, let it be a daily, deliberate devotion with Jesus.

Share the Word with Others:

Farmers don't just grow fruit for themselves - they do it so the community can eat. If farmers refused to distribute their harvest, not only would the town die off, but they would have piles of rotting crops. When spiritual fruit grows within us, we have a responsibility to share what He’s given. And because we uniquely relate to God, my fruit is not the same as your fruit. When we gather our individual fruit, we feast on all essential vitamins and tastes to grow strong in Him. And just as meals shared with loved ones let us enjoy one another, our sharing leads us to celebrate Christ's life-giving sweetness. We grow into more worshipful and Christ-oriented testimonies for non-believers. When you read - tell a friend, whether Christian and non-Christian.

Put the Word to Action:

I can study farming all I want through books and podcasts - but until I plow the ground myself and water the seeds personally, I will never be a real farmer. I thought if I knew the right verses, references, theology, I was a superior Christian. But all I became was a prideful Bible trivia machine. Only when I spent real time and money in youth ministry, mission organizations, health fairs, or charities did God's word become real and start to truly change me. Authentic faith in God's word produces visible, righteous deeds. Don't misunderstand me - good works won't get you into heaven. But it is only when we practice and apply God's word to our daily work decisions and social interactions that God's word really bears fruit. Think of practically applications of the Word in your daily life. And do it.

Pray the Word with the Holy Spirit:

Have you ever tried to wash your hands with just soap, no water? Bar soap does nothing. Liquid soap gets sticky and dry. But add water? Foams, baby! As we read, let us not simply study the Word academically. Respond to God with His words as our prayers. As my prayer life is growing, it has helped me to utilize what I've just read to direct and guide my thoughts, requests, confessions. It helps to invite the Holy Spirit to speak in the silence. We need His Spirit to give these verses life. We need the Living Water to breathe in us so we can put these words into action. Among our thoughts and longings, we ask God to permeate into those spaces. Just as David spoke to the Father with Holy Spirit inspired Psalms, we too can communicate intimately with our Father through the Spirit-inspired words of the Bible. Use the verses you read during your prayers, asking God to enter and shape you.

This year, as we pursue joy in the Lord, as we wage war on sin and rise from the ashes of burnout, let's read the Word. Do not delay! Let God shape our opinions, feelings, convictions, desires, hopes with His own. Father, prepare our hearts to glorify and love You by giving us an urgency and real desire to read the Scriptures. Plow through our hearts, break the ground, so Your kingdom may come on this earth.


Daniel Lee has a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northwestern University and is currently a dental student at UCLA School of Dentistry. He lives in Culver City, CA and loves what-if scenarios. Special thanks to Will Chung and Andy Kim for discipling Daniel in the art of reading God’s Word these last ten years.

 
esther chungComment