"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." (Mt. 13:20-21).
Here in the United States, persecution "because of the Word" isn't something that many of us suffer, as we have religious freedom in this land. But whether we live in a "free" country or not, trouble "because of the Word" will come to all of God's children who are determined to live according to it.
Whether we want to accept this truth or not, when we make a commitment to follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, we immediately become targets of satanic and demonic powers that are invisible, yet all around us.
Many years ago, a friend of mine made a decision to leave her life of worldliness in order to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with all of her heart. For the first month or so, she enjoyed a "honeymoon" experience with Jesus. Life was warm and fuzzy, and she was "high on Christ." Shortly thereafter, however, things began to heat up and all sorts of problems sprang up in her life. She became discouraged and couldn't figure out why God was "no longer blessing her life."
In her mind, something was clearly wrong. She was serving the Lord and didn't deserve the problems that were now confronting her life. At one point, she even said that her life was better before she committed herself to obeying the Word of God. "When I was pursuing the world, everything seemed to go right in my life, and I had no problems. But after I decided to repent and live a life of obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ, all hell broke loose. What gives? I feel like I've been deceived."
There seems to be an unspoken belief that once we dedicate our lives to obeying the words of the living God, problems will leave our lives and befall only those who do not serve Christ. But this is not what Jesus or any of His apostles taught. In this regard, we must remember the words of the Lord when He proclaimed the following truth: "In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
Anyone who is called by God to preach or teach His Word immediately becomes a marked man or woman. Satan will unleash everything in his arsenal in order to prevent that man or woman from sowing the seed of God's Word into the hearts of men. It must be understood that those who are appointed by God to evangelize, preach, and teach His Word will be targeted more than those who do not have that particular calling. But with the call to teach comes a greater grace to endure the satanic onslaught that comes with that calling.
But what about those who do not have that particular calling because their spiritual gifts lie elsewhere? Does Satan leave them alone in order to devote his attention solely on the preachers and teachers of the Word? Not hardly, for when we are determined to live according to God's Word, we are still preaching it with our lives. When we live according to the Word, we are serving as lights in this dark world, and if there is one thing the prince of darkness is determined to do it is to extinguish that light.
Satan does not want the Word of God to be proclaimed, either through preaching or teaching or through daily holy living. Therefore, it must be understood that trouble comes to all of God's children who are determined to live according to that Word, and not just to those who live in oppressed regions of the world or are called by God to teach that Word.
Jesus said, "When the sun came up, the plants were scorched." When, not if. He said, "When trouble or persecution come because of the Word," not if. Therefore, since we know that satanic trouble is going to come to our lives sooner or later, how can we protect ourselves against it? The answer is simple. We guard ourselves against destruction by developing roots. According to Jesus' words in the Parable of the Sower, the reason why the plant on rocky soil was destroyed in the end was because it had no root. Therefore, if we want to survive and overcome all that comes to us in this life, it is imperative that we develop and maintain strong, spiritual roots.
The question is, how do we do this? Although I believe there are many answers which could be given to this question, the two that stand out most in my mind are daily prayer and daily Bible reading. Whether we want to accept this truth or not, strong, spiritual roots don’t come to us at the moment of our baptism. They must be developed and maintained. This means that we have our part to do in the process of sanctification.
Simply going to Mass on a weekly basis isn't enough to develop spiritual roots. There are millions in the world today who sit in church pews every Sunday morning, and yet, they are just as "rootless" as those who have never even come to faith in Christ. When crisis hits, they don't know how to respond, and they become completely unraveled and unglued. Many fall away. They wither away, just as the Master foretold, because they never made it their chief priority in life to develop strong, spiritual roots.
In the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders, Jesus said that the man who hears His words and puts them into practice is the one who will overcome. When the storms of life hit, that house will not fall, because its foundation is built on rock. There simply is no getting away from this principle. You show me an individual who spends no time reading, meditating, digesting, and absorbing the Word of God on a daily basis, and I will show you somebody whose roots are very weak.
Study of God's Word and time spent with Him in prayer make us spiritually strong. We cannot achieve spiritual maturity or fruitfulness apart from these two disciplines. If we want to develop strong, spiritual roots, we are going to have to make up our minds that nothing save death will keep us from prayer and Bible reading. If I had not devoted myself to these two disciplines, Satan would have destroyed me long, long ago.
If I attend Mass once a week, yet pursue the world for the rest of the week, what kind of spiritual strength will I have? When the tempter comes against me, how will I be able to overcome?
I cannot tell you how much your life will be revolutionized, and your relationship with Christ transformed, if you will devote yourself to daily prayer and Bible study. You will be amazed at the spiritual growth you see taking place in your life, and you will have the strength you need, not only to endure, but to overcome everything that comes against you.
When the sun comes up, you won't be scorched, and you will not wither, for you will have developed roots that go deep. When trouble comes to your life because you are determined to live according to the Word, the violent winds will not overtake you. Instead, you will open up your arms, embrace those winds, and even dance with them for the glory of God because your strong roots have gone down so deep.
Behind every decision to put something before prayer and the study of God's Word is a satanic ploy to keep your roots puny and weak. Satan has your destruction in mind. He lives for your ruin. Don't give him a foothold in your life by neglecting daily prayer and Bible study, for he lives for the hour when he may strike.
If you have not already made it a daily practice in your life to read the Bible and spend time with God in prayer, I want to encourage you to start doing so today. Don't put it off until tomorrow because you do not know when the storms of life will hit. Don't wait until tomorrow to start developing roots, for tomorrow may never come.
Yesterday, when I was exiting the grocery store, I saw a bumper sticker that read as follows: "Those who wait until the eleventh hour to make peace with God usually die at 10:30." Don't wait until the eleventh hour to start developing strong, spiritual roots, my brothers and sisters...
...For 10:30 may be the moment when Satan chooses to strike.
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