“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,
In the countryside, most fields look alike from one field to another, but we can see the difference if we look at them carefully.
Some fields are cared for very well and have no weeds, while some other fields are just full of weeds, and we can’t even tell whether it’s really a field of growing vegetables or not.
Some rice paddies have only rice growing while some others have so many weeds among the rice.
Where does this difference come from?
In almost every case it depends on what kind of farmer is cultivating those fields.
In my childhood I remember the diligent and hard working mothers who always went out into the fields to constantly weed the fields.
Diligent fathers also always weeded their rice paddies.
To weed out their fields and rice paddies, they had to work from the early morning hours, throughout the day time, and until it became dark.
It is hard work, but if you cultivate your field this way, the amount of harvest will be completely different.
The weeds will hinder the vegetables or the grains from growing, and thus decrease the amount of harvest.
In fields of the same area, the fields that have many weeds will produce far fewer crops.
Now, what is your heart like?
Your heart isn’t the kind of heart that is so full of weeds that the crops won’t grow or bear any fruit, is it?
If you are one of them, I hope you will pull out all the weeds in your heart through this message.
Proverbs 28:19 says, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food. But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.”
I hope you will not be the kind of a farmer who sleeps and rests as much as he wants, but be a diligent farmer who works hard to cultivate your field into good soil.
Then, the seeds that you sow in your field will surely bear abundant fruit.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will cultivate your heart-field so that you can live a prosperous life on this earth and also enjoy great honor in Heaven as well.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, through the last session I talked to you about the roadside and the rocky field, and today I will talk about the thorny field.
What kind of field is a thorny field?
Matthew 13:7 says, “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.”
Here, the thorns are the multiple branches of thorns that look like a bush.
When we sow the seeds, the seeds might fall near the thorns outside of the field.
If the seeds fall on the roadside, they won’t even sprout. If they fall on rocky field, they will sprout but soon wither away.
But if the seeds fall among the thorns they can sprout and grow up to some extent. It’s much better than the roadside or the rocky field.
But eventually they cannot bear fruit.
They do sprout and grow up to some extent, but then, they cannot grow any more because they are choked out by the thorns.
In Matthew 13:22, Jesus explained what the thorny field means as follows.
He said, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
The roadside cannot accept the word in the first place. The rocky field can understand and receive grace upon hearing the word, but they cannot practice the word.
Unlike these fields, the thorny fields believe and practice the word that is given.
But the problem is that they cannot put the word completely into practice.
It’s because they have thorns in their heart, which are the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth.
They have these fleshly attributes, and they obey the word within such fleshly thoughts.
For this reason, they say they live by the Word, but they still live in tests and trials.
They have difficulties in their financial situations, in their families, or in health.
Therefore, they have to remove these thorns and practice the Word completely.
Only then can they bear abundant fruit in spirit and body.
Then the bud of the word will be able to grow and bear the fruit.
From this point, let me explain how the thorns have their effects on people.
I hope you will check whether or not there are thorns growing in your heart.
First is the case where the thorns called ‘the worries of the world’ block the Word from growing.
Now, you are obeying the word of God telling us to keep the Sabbath holy by attending this worship service.
The worldly people take a rest on Sundays but you are in the church worshipping God.
One of the reasons you are here is because you believe that you can be recognized as true children of God and can receive blessings when you keep the Sunday holy.
But there might be somebody who is in the church but cannot really enjoy the true Sabbath, the rest.
They have constant worries of physical things such as house chores, their businesses, or their work tomorrow.
If they have such worries, they cannot worship in spirit and truth.
They are supposed to gain comfort and new strength while attending the service in the church, but they only have growing worries.
Then, even though they spend so many Sundays in the church, they cannot taste the true joy and peace of keeping Sundays holy.
If they kept Sundays holy, their souls would prosper and they would receive spiritual and material blessings. But, they are not able receive such blessings.
Namely, they are obeying the word telling us to keep the Sabbath holy, but they cannot bear the fruit.
The reason why God the Father gave us the Sabbath is for us to enjoy true rest in the Lord.
He wants us to leave all the worldly things to God by faith and enjoy peace and joy in spirit and body.
We can say we are keeping the Sabbath holy only when we keep it according to this will of God.
Then, we can also receive the blessings in spirit and body that are given when we keep the Sabbath.
It’s the same when we worship God, pray to Him, and work for Him on other days.
We may or may not be able to bear fruit depending upon what kind of heart we have in accomplishing those works.
For example, to work for God, we have to give our body and time.
Here, if we give them while worrying about our businesses, studies, or other housekeeping chores, God cannot accept them joyfully.
The same goes for when we give of other things such as our body, heart, time, and talents or in our monetary offerings.
When we give to God, if we have thoughts like, “I should be doing this work at this hour” or “I need to spend this money for some other purpose” then, God cannot accept the offering with joy.
Even though He wants to pay us back 30, 60, or 100 times more than what we give to Him, He is not able to do it.
Then, with what kind of attitude do we have to practice the word?
Jesus gave us the following answer in Matthew 6:31-34.
He said, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Whatever we give to God or whatever we do for God, He wants us to do it with faith.
Therefore, we have to act with faith that God will take care of our business when we work for Him, and He will give us more precious things when we give Him our precious things.
Colossians 3:1 says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
The glorious Lord is preparing our dwelling place in Heaven and He is waiting for us.
How foolish it is when such precious children of the Lord cling to only the earthly house and this earthly life existence?
Thus, I urge you to remove the thorns called ‘worries of the world’ and practice the word with perfect faith.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will reap the fruits with joy that God enables you to bear every day.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, next, let us consider the case where the seed of the Word does not grow due to deceitfulness of wealth.
If we have greed for wealth, fame, social power, or material gain, we cannot completely obey the word of God.
We can be so easily tempted by any temptation that we cannot do the will of God.
For example, you believers long for the blessings of God.
You want to give glory to God and accomplish His kingdom by receiving blessings of wealth and health.
So, you try to act according to the will of God.
I believe male church members will pray to God when you have to make an important decision for your business.
Then, do you obey when you receive God’s answers?
Or, do you just act with your own knowledge and experience when you actually do the work?
When God shows you a certain way, you just take another way.
It’s because the other way seems better according to your knowledge and experience.
So, you ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow your own thoughts.
Also, in the same situation, you think you are taking the way that God showed you, but in fact you might be going to a completely different way.
No matter how much you want to obey, you cannot really obey God’s word if you are filled with fleshly thoughts.
These fleshly thoughts are usually derived from the greed of wanting to gain much in a short period of time.
Of course, according to your knowledge, experience, and common sense, your way seems to be right.
You might even actually gain some short-term profit.
But, the result can never be that of a good fruit.
Brothers and sisters, God’s will is that His children walk in the way of righteousness.
He tells us to keep not only God’s Law but also the law of the country.
But many people say it is difficult to keep all the laws of the country.
They say that if they violate the law just to a minor degree, then they can have greater profit.
But this is merely human reasoning.
It’s not true if you look at the things with the eyes of faith.
You might get away with breaking the law of the country, but you can never get away with breaking the law of the spiritual realm.
You can never mask the eyes of God who controls life and death and blessings and curses of mankind.
Therefore, all things will go well and you can receive blessings when you keep the law of the spiritual realm.
It’s because it is God who watches you and gives you blessings.
Also, God is wiser than any person on this earth.
The way that God leads us to take is the shortest way, and the surest way to bear much fruit.
If we believe this fact and follow the will of God by just walking in the way of righteousness, we will definitely experience works of faith.
If we cast away deceitfulness of wealth, we can see the clear way of understanding.
Greed gives rise to fleshly thoughts, and fleshly thoughts cover the eyes, so that you might go the way of troubles.
Of course, some people can gain success to some extent according to their knowledge and experience.
But eventually, they cannot receive the complete blessing from God.
Suppose some people do some work according to their ideas and when things go well to some extent, they say they have received blessings.
But for their work to continue to be successful, they constantly have to rely on the knowledge and methods of this world.
Sometimes they may even need to do something unlawful.
Once this happens, they cannot prosper any more because God cannot protect them.
All their previous works might as well just fall away in a moment.
They said they were relying on God, but in fact they were acting at their own discretion, thereby disgracing God.
For this reason God cannot give blessings to His children who have thorny fields to the extent they desire.
God can bless them when they first remove the thorns of greed and can obey the will of God in all circumstances.
It’s the same when God’s workers do the works of God.
What do they have to do to become workers that are acknowledged by God and loved by the believers?
As Jesus said in Mark 9:35, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all,” they have to serve others. This is the will of God.
But those who have selfish-motives do not act according to the word of God but use human methods to lift themselves up.
For example, they do God’s work with their own wisdom.
They take care of the flock entrusted to them with fleshly goodness.
When they do that, it may seem that the members are gathering their heart and God’s works are done very smoothly.
But such fruits can be destroyed completely just like a sand castle falls by just one wave.
It’s because, they did not fulfill their duties by following the voice of the Holy Spirit, or they served the flock with spiritual love.
The members may turn their backs easily due to small things, or they do not obey unless a great amount of pressure is on them.
Also, workers might reveal their fleshly attributes by showing anger or other hard feelings, even though they say they are serving the flock.
Even though they act as if they are good-hearted, since they did not get rid of their selfish-motives, they will be revealed unless they are cast off completely.
Now, how can we cultivate the thorny field? We have to pull out the thorns at the root.
Thorns symbolize fleshly thoughts. Their roots symbolize evil and fleshly things of the heart.
Namely, the evil and fleshly attributes in heart are the sources of fleshly thoughts.
If the branches are just cut off from the thorn bushes, they will grow again.
Likewise, even though we make up our mind not to have fleshly thoughts, we cannot stop them as long as we have evil in our hearts.
We have to pull out the flesh of the heart from the root.
Here, if we pull out the main roots first, other smaller roots will come out together with it.
Among the many roots, if we pull out the roots called greed and arrogance, we can cast away flesh from our heart to a significant extent.
We are apt to be bound by the world and worry about worldly things because we have greed for fleshly things.
Then we always think of what is self-beneficial and follow our own way, even though we may say we are living by the word of God.
Also, we cannot obey completely because we have arrogance.
We utilize fleshly wisdom and our fleshly thoughts because we think we are capable of doing something.
Therefore, we first have to pull out the roots called selfish motives and arrogance.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, there is an easy way to pull out the thorns.
It is to realize that how much the thorns can cause our hearts pain.
For example, there might be things of this world that make you worry all the time.
God tells us to rejoice always. But if we have worries and concerns, it would be so hard!
Also, there are things that you want to have, and you become disheartened if you don’t get them.
For some people, these things might be money, or for others, fame or social power.
But no matter how much of these things you have, they can never satisfy your heart.
Trying to have these things is the same as trying to catch the wind.
Then you may believe in God but you have many worries and no satisfaction in heart.
And you don’t even receive any significant blessings. How agonizing this situation is!
If you always meditate on the word of God and pray thinking about why you are still keeping the thorns that cause you pain, then the Holy Spirit will let you realize it.
If you deeply realize it, you can pull out the thorns at once.
Then, the bud of the word will grow up quickly and bear the fruit, and happiness will be yours.
What you really have to long for and desire is Heaven, and especially, the best dwelling place, New Jerusalem.
I hope you will never look back but just keep on going towards the pearl gates. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will enjoy the greatest happiness there.