And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow;  and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.  “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Before they went into the Canaan Land, the sons of Israel went through the arduous journey through wilderness.
The wilderness was a very different place from Canaan.
The water was scarce, the soil was infertile and the wilderness produced no crops or fruits. They barely had anything to eat.
Unlike this wilderness, the promised land of Canaan was a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.
Numbers 13:23 says, “Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs.”
It was a land that produced such abundant fruit that two people had to carry a cluster of grapes on a pole.
I believe many of you went through a life that was like a wilderness before you met God.
Many of you say, “I worked hard having dreams and plans for my life, but I lost everything having failure after failure.”
“I lost my health, and the peace in my family was also broken.”
Others may have felt, “I had no satisfaction in my heart even though I really didn’t lack anything physically.”
Many of you said you diligently tried to cultivate your lives, but you couldn’t reap anything. It was as though you had sown in the wilderness.
But, you are saying something completely different now.
Since you have met God and you are cultivating your heart-fields, you are now bearing fruits in your lives.
You testify saying, “The fruit is born from what I have sown, and now I have wealth, health, and the happiness in the family. Above all, I have received true satisfaction and joy in God.”
You say things like this because you now possess eternal life and the heavenly kingdom.
But God tells us that now is the beginning of true reaping.
This word of promise is a promise for all you Manmin members.
You can harvest the abundant fruits like those of the Promised Land of Canaan in your lives as well.
But what is the first of the laws of sowing and reaping? It is to cultivate our heart.
In order to reap what we sow, we have to cultivate our heart and make it good soil.
Today, I will explain to you about the rocky place from among the four different kinds of fields.
The rocky field is much easier to cultivate than the roadside.
I hope today’s message will become grace and strength for many of you so that you will be able to quickly cultivate your hearts.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will accomplish the Promised Land of Canaan in your hearts so you can bear 30, 60, or 100 times more fruit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as I explained in the previous session, each of these four kinds of fields that appear in today’s reading passage is a heart-field of person who receives the word of God.
Even though the same kinds of seeds are sown in the hearts of believers, each one will produce a different result according to the kind of heart they have.
Among the fields like the roadside, the rocky field, the thorny field, and field of good soil, I talked about the roadside in the last session.
The roadside is the hardened heart, which is the stubborn heart. It is the heart of the person who does not understand or believe the word of God when he hears it.
In order to cultivate this roadside-like soil, we have to cast away evilness, and break up our self-righteousness and frameworks.
We have to keep on trying until we are completely broken.
The second kind of heart-field is the rocky field.
Matthew 13:5-6 says, “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.”
Rocky places have little soil on the rocks. In such fields the soil is not deep.
When seeds have fallen in this kind of a place, they spring up, but they will soon be scorched by the sunshine because the soil is shallow.
If the soil has no depth, it cannot hold water, and so it is heated up easily by the sunshine.
Furthermore, the rocks stop the seeds from taking root, so the little sprouts will soon wither.
Now, to what kind of heart does this rocky field refer?
Matthew 13:20-21 says, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
Those who have the heart of roadside do not make any sense of the word they hear.
However, those who have the heart of the rocky field do realize the word they hear.
As said, “who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy” they do receive grace.
But when tests, persecutions, or temptations come, those who have the heart of the rocky field soon fall.
It’s because the word did not take root properly.
Not taking the root means they didn’t have true, spiritual faith.
They listened to the word and though they understood it, it doesn’t mean they realized it in their hearts or believed it from the heart.
This is called ‘fleshly faith’.
Of course, when they receive grace and are full of the Spirit, it seems they have good faith.
But a test soon reveals the actual level of their faith.
For example, among the new believers, many people say ‘Pastor, your preaching is really true and touching.”
When they see or hear testimonies of some other believers who are divinely healed or who have received solutions to problems, they think God is really living, Heaven and Hell do exist, and that they want to live by the word of God.
They might also experience some fiery works of the Holy Spirit, too.
Namely, the seed of the Word that fell on their heart sprang up.
But even after receiving this grace, they have a conflict when they are about to go to church on the next Sunday.
They certainly experienced the Holy Spirit, but they begin to doubt feeling that it was some kind of moment of emotional excitement.
They have thoughts that make them doubt, and they close the door of their heart again.
Or, some others cannot really quit their hobbies or other entertainments they used to enjoy, and they do not keep the Lord’s Day.
If they are persecuted by their family members or their bosses at work while they lead a Spirit-filled life in faith, they stop attending church.
They greatly receive grace and seem to lead an ardent life in faith, but if they have a problem with other believers in the church, they may be offended and they soon leave the church.
It shows that their faith was fleshly faith, namely faith as in knowledge only.
They are like the blossoming flowers that are picked from a tree; initially they seem to be fresh, but soon they wither away.
Then, what is the reason why the seed of word does not take root?
It’s because of the ‘rocks’ that are placed in the heart.
The flesh of the heart is symbolically represented by ‘rocks’ and it is the untruth that keeps them from obeying the word.
Among the many untruthful things, they are the ones that are so hard that they stop the seed of the word from taking root.
More specifically, it is the flesh of the heart that loves this world.
In a more narrow sense of the meaning, it is the fleshly attributes that make people desire to take in lustful things of the world.
In a broader sense, it is the untruth that keeps people from believing in God and loving Him.
In the last session, I told you that many religious leaders and high officials who persecuted Jesus were the representative examples of the roadside.
But some of them also had rocky heart fields.
John 12:42-43 says, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;  for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
They heard the word Jesus preached and saw the things He did and they believed Jesus.
But they loved the approval of men more than the approval of God.
They loved the glory of this world more.
They believed Jesus, but because they had such ‘rocks’ in the fields of their hearts they couldn’t obey the word of Jesus.
It’s the same with today’s believers. If they love some form of worldly entertainment, it’s difficult for them to keep the word telling them, “Keep the Sabbath holy.”
Also, those who have the rock of greed in their heart cannot really obey the word telling us to give proper tithes and offerings.
Some people do not come to church because they hate giving offerings to God.
Some people have the rocks of hatred in heart, so the word of love cannot take root in their heart.
But not all rocky places are the same.
Some fields have shallow soil on top of the rocks. Some others have many pebbles mixed with the soil.
Also, each field has different types of rocks. The same goes for the heart-field.
The amount of untruth placed in each heart-field is different from person to person.
First, there are rocky fields that have big rocks placed deeply in the field.
As you preach the gospel, you come across some people who say they know the word of God very well for they used to be choir members, Sunday school teachers, or cell group leaders in the church.
If you suggest that they begin to attend church again, they say they will do so when they have more free time.
Or they say they will do that when their children all grow up and they become old.
Although they received the Holy Spirit and led a faithful life in Christ, they left God.
Because of the rocks of desires for earning more money and for enjoying more worldly things, the seed of the word did not take root in them.
We can say such fields have big rocks placed deep inside the field.
But these rocky places are not only applicable for those who are not attending church.
Even among those who are diligently coming to church, there are some who still have the rocky fields because they do not cultivate their field.
In these cases, we can say the rocks of untruths are smaller and placed less deeply than the first case.
These people will receive grace and fullness of Spirit when they hear about the spiritual realm and see the works of God.
They may even make up their mind to live by the word of God.
But if faced with temptations of persecutions, their fullness of Spirit disappears. They soon go back to old habits and befriend the world.
They live in sins compromising with the world.
For example, among those who are born and raised in Christian families, there are some people who do not live by the word, even though they learned it from childhood.
They experienced the Holy Spirit and sometimes receive grace, too, but they do not cast away their love for the world.
While they are listening to the word, they think to themselves that they shouldn’t live like that, but when they go back home they go back to the world again.
They live their lives straddling the fence with one foot on the side of God and the other foot on the side of the world.
Because of the word they heard they do not leave God, but they still have many rocks in heart that hinder the word of God from taking roots.
Also, some rocky fields are only partially rocky.
In this kind of field, some seeds will sprout, grow up, and bear fruits partially.
People like this are those who practice some of the word of God but not all the word of God they hear.
In this case, it is better than not bearing any fruit, but they may stop cultivating their heart-field.
Because they have accomplished some things and have been recognized for them, they don’t really realize what they still lack.
As if their eyes are covered, they do not realize themselves and thus they do not try to cultivate their heart.
For example, some people are faithful without any changing of mind. They also bear some fruits.
But they have hatred in heart, and they have conflicts with others in every matter.
They also pass judgment and condemnation, thus breaking peace everywhere.
For this reason, after so many years, they do not bear the fruit of love or fruit of meekness.
Then, they can bear relatively little fruit compared with the amount of their hard work.
If such people are taking care of the souls, they cannot bear great fruit of revival.
But rather, the good part of their heart, which is the unchanging heart, cannot really give out its light because they are breaking peace.
Or, some others have gentle and good heart considering and understanding others very well, but they are not faithful.
They break promises very well and are irresponsible in many aspects.
For many years this kind of shortcoming does not change.
In these cases, the fruit of peace or the fruit of love can be borne to some extent, but it’s difficult for them to have an upright heart.
Then, they can also receive only limited blessings of God.
We may consider these people’s good points greatly, which is peace-making, and give them some duties, but we cannot really give them very important duties.
Suppose these people are running a company. Then, even though God wants to bless them, He can give them only as much as they can receive and handle.
As explained, if we are not bearing fruits in a certain area even though we have been believers for a long time, then it means there are rocks of untruth in that particular area.
That part of the heart is the rocky field.
Only if we find out these parts and cultivate them, we can go into spirit very quickly.
From the next session, I will talk about how to cultivate this rocky field.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, during the Exodus from Egypt, the sons of Israel witnessed great signs and wonders many times.
They rejoiced greatly every time.
But if they faced some difficulties, all that fullness of Spirit disappeared, and they soon began to complain against Moses, the servant of God.
Just like sowing the seeds in the wilderness, their spiritual faith did not grow up.
Since the Exodus, the sons of Israel stayed with Moses who was a servant of God and manifested God’s power.
They saw many works of God’s power shown through Moses.
They saw the Red Sea being parted into two, water coming out from a rock, and the manna from heaven.
But when they were about to go into the Canaan Land they couldn’t rely on God.
They became afraid of the big Canaanites and collapsed upon themselves.
It’s because they were people of God on the outside but they did not have true faith in Him.
Thus, except for two people, Joshua and Caleb, all the first generation of the Exodus died in the wilderness.
How agonizing it will be if all the seeds are scorched as soon as they sprout, no matter how many seeds you sow!
But God the Father does not give up on even these infertile, rocky fields. He just keeps on sowing and sowing the seeds.
He also gives the sweet rain of grace from time to time.
On this forthcoming Lunar New Year, God said He would give us the grace to realize and break our self-righteousness and frameworks that we weren’t able to realize before.
If you make up your mind now and diligently cultivate your heart, God will certainly give you the grace.
To believe in God truly and to love Him is by no means something difficult.
God the Father always offers His hand to us first.
He tells us how much He loves us and shows us the evidences.
It is faith not to doubt this love but to rely on it and diligently cultivate our heart.
I hope all of you will quickly cultivate your heart into good soil so that all this hard work and endurance of God the Father will not be in vain.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will give great joy to God by bearing good fruits abundantly and also fill your heavenly dwelling place overflowingly.