Brian Smith - Findochty, Scotland Convention - 2002

Matthew 13:3-9, there are four different kinds of ground spoken of in these verses, but only one brought forth a harvest. The sower in these days would be broadcasting seed, and it would be falling on different kinds of ground. In the world, there are different kinds of people, but we all have a soul and we are all human. Our nature fits in perfectly with the earth. God would like to give us a new nature that would fit in with Heaven. It all begins when we listen to the Gospel message. There are not so many even willing to listen today. Not only here but in other places, also. When the workers came to our district, it was by faith. When Jesus went forth it was by faith. He had nothing to eat in the wilderness; He had nothing to eat for forty days but God made provision for Him, and Jesus sent His disciples the same way. Religious people say there's no need for that today, but Jesus said it was to the end of the world ... it's God's way.

Some seed fell by the wayside. These people did not understand, and the devil took away what had been sown. An aunt and uncle of mine attended Gospel meetings before my mother did. They both decided, but it didn't last long. Troubles came and health problems and my aunt's suffering broke my uncle and her down. They didn't feel worthy to go to meetings again, but they did, and this time, they understood. Previously my aunt had been strong in her own beliefs and wasn't willing to change at first. I'm so glad God knows how to deal with each person as they need it.

Next we read of the stony places. Soil can be very shallow and some peoples' hearts are shallow, but there's a hardness underneath. A man came and listened in our meetings and after the second meeting he said, "This is the truth and I'm going for it." He seemed full of zeal but later something went wrong and he left his wife and finished with the meetings. Something wasn't right in his heart and experiences brought it to light His wife professed then and is now getting on in years, but she takes a taxi to the meetings. She has faithfully persevered. It's when the sun comes up that the stony ground shows what's in it. It's when tribulations and experiences come and we don't hide that fact in missions. If anyone is thinking of giving their life to God, I'd like to tell you that you are entering a battleground not a playground.

God is called "Lord God" in some parts of the Bible and rightly so. If we choose to serve Him we make Him our Lord and Master. Some experiences are not easy, as Paul called to mind in Hebrews 10:32, "After you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of affliction." They suffered for following Jesus, but they were willing for it. Jesus said that when you suffer, your reward in Heaven will be great. In life, what we pay most for what we value most. It's the same with our spiritual life. Those with stony ground were not willing for that. Some people think that once saved you are saved forever, but that's not true. Those on stony ground received life, but they also lost it. "Every branch that abideth in Me brings forth fruit, but every branch that doesn't bring forth fruit God takes away." God is the husbandman and removes all who do not produce fruit, but He does all He can to help them first. When the shepherds listened to the angels, they obeyed and they found the Babe, and then they praised God. First they heard; then they obeyed, then they saw Jesus.

Why would anybody sow corn among thorns? Sometimes it can't be avoided, but the crop will be lighter. Thorns are the cares of life. At home where the thorns were, the ears were so small and the grain was so dry and thin, it wasn't suitable even for animal fodder. The devil may not be able to stop us sowing and if he can't prevent us starting, he'll do all he can to take away what God gives us. He is an enemy of God's people and we can't defeat him alone.

Mary and Martha prepared a meal. They were doing a good work, but Mary knew when to stop and listen to Jesus. Martha was too concerned with the meal and Jesus had to tell her. There is a balance. To Jesus, Zion was above His chief joy - it meant more to Him than His food. He said that man shall not live by bread alone. One of our old friends used to say, "If there's something on my mind to do, I do it straight away." I admired her for that. She was old and weak in body but she still put first things first.

The deceitfulness of riches: something deceitful seems all right on the surface, but it is afterwards that we discover it's not all it seems to be. Abraham was rich and increased in flocks because he was a very good stockman, but none of that came first. Whatever God showed him, that's what he did. On the surface, he
seemed to be the loser when Lot chose the well-watered plains but God gave Abraham all the eye could see. Some in Paul's day went after riches and only brought sorrow on themselves. God wants to save us from sorrow. There's a difference between sorrow beyond our control and that which we bring on ourselves. Abraham had sorrowful times when he was told to cast out Ishmael
. Although Abraham valued Ishmael, he valued Isaac, who was given to him by God, more. It was sorrowful but brought joy in the long run. When God speaks, it's for our good.

Now we come to the good ground. That's those who heard and understood the word. We have one woman who attends our meetings in Cornwall. When she's there, there's great liberty, God is trying to help her but we need more than an ear; we need understanding. "He who has an ear, let him hear." The sweet words of
Jesus bring life. Some turned away from Jesus and He asked His disciples if they would also go. Peter said, "Thou hast the words of eternal life." Peter had a revelation. Why do some understand while others don't? It's because of the condition of a person's heart. There's nothing to hinder growth in good ground. Good ground also brings forth good weeds, but when it is cleared, the wheat can smother any small weeds. When we accept the word, that will smother things that would hinder. Thorns are deep-rooted but they too can be smothered.

Paul spoke of the fight of faith. It's a battle. I can't say I've not made mistakes, but I can say I'm fighting the good fight of faith. If we go to God in different experiences, He will guide us. If His words abide in us, that will lead us. If we do what He shows us, we will answer His prayer. Ask according to the will of God. Jesus said that if we abide in Him, we will be abiding in the Father. If we are willing to let Him be our Master, we will be in the condition that what we ask will not be for ourselves - it won't be selfish. We'll just be asking for help and guidance. He'll give in His own good time. Sometimes God doesn't seem to answer and we just have to use common sense. If we do take a wrong step, God will soon convict.

If the word of God doesn't have free course in His servants, He won't be able to use us. God sees where honest seeking souls are and He opens up the way. It's not the will of God that everyone goes in the work, but we can be ready to have Him use us or not be used at all. Whatever is the will of God is wonderful if we are willing for it.