Planting and Planning
The text will be a few words found in the third verse of the thirteenth chapter of Matthew: “Behold a sower went forth to sow.”
God has made man and the Earth very close together. It is only lately that man’s inventions have lifted him into the air. God made man out of the dust of the ground, and though he builds a sky scraper he still has to go to the soil for his food. God was the first gardener, and He will be the last gardener. His last act will be to take all the weeds out of the garden and let the wheat spring up. Mary supposed Jesus to be the gardener on the morning of the resurrection and what great delight is ours today in knowing that He really was. It was all made “for Him and by Him.”
Jesus the Truth
God gave us this parable that we might apprehend what He was talking about when He began to tell us of the sowing of truth in human soil. Jesus said, “I AM THE TRUTH.” Not only what Jesus said was the truth, but Jesus Himself is the Truth, and every outcropping of His life is connected with the Truth; every promise of God has to do with the Truth, and runs back into Jesus.
Vine and Fruit
The vine sheds forth the blossom and the blossom brings forth the fruit, but the fruit and the blossom and the leaf and the branch are all connected with the vine. So all the truth is in Christ Jesus, and every promise of God must be amen in Christ Jesus. Every bit of fruit is amen in the vine, and without the vine there is no fruit. Without Jesus Christ there is no promise. Without Him there is no fulfillment of any of the plan of God.
Now in order for God to have His plan, He must plant, and He must plant that which held His plan—Jesus. He wants not to plant a doctrine in your heart, alone, but praise God He comes to plant Jesus Himself that the life of Jesus might bring forth fruit in your heart.
So the sower, He says, goes forth to sow. Here in the human heart is the soil and there in the glory was the seed. It came to Earth in human form to reach the soil, and he throws it and casts it forth into the soil, and if the soil will but open up and take it in, it does the work and brings forth a hundred-fold—less or more. Christ gives the picture of the human heart as the soil, where the Truth may be planted, and He says it depends upon the condition of your heart as to whether you will take it up or not. He has sown life in the world, and it depends upon the world whether they will take Jesus or not. The Jews, with stony hearts, not only cast Him out but tried to crush the seed that God wished to sow. They bruised it, and it went into the ground, but praise God it sprung up again and Jesus came forth into life and is now seated in the glory.
Seed and Soil
Now God says it takes good soil to produce good crops. There is one thing in the seed; there is another thing in the soil. For a long time the American government experimented with seed out in the Western country. They tried their best to get seed that would live in an arid country, and experimented entirely with seed, seed from other dry places in the world, that could stand the dryness of the western climate. The condition of the soil was considered a secondary matter.
Finally one of these Western fellows, a peculiar sort of a man, a “poor rube” he called himself, while he was in the city one day stuck a piece of loaf sugar in his coffee. He only put the end of it in, but the coffee came up into the loaf of sugar, and he said to himself, “Where is the power that draws the coffee into this sugar? I am holding this loaf of sugar above the coffee. I can put my bucket above the well but the water doesn’t jump up into it.” And immediately he had an idea. He said to himself, “Now I know why my land goes dry. It is because there are clods in it that pull up the moisture from the soil, just like this loaf of sugar pulls up the coffee and then the wind gets a chance at it, and fans it out.” He put some pulverized sugar in the coffee, and it floated on the top. “Now,” he says, “I know what I will do. I will go home and pulverize my land.” So he put a drag on it and a harrow on it, and pulverized it, then he planted his seed, and pulverized it again, and found out that when he knocked out the clods and smoothed it down the wind could not get at the moisture to dry it out. The farmers all found it paid to prepare the soil for the seed.
The United States government experiments to find out what the different soils contain. All good soil I understand contains phosphorus, lime, nitrogen and potash, and if any of these elements fall below their proper percentage the soil does not produce the crop as it should. Therefore a system has been adopted to put something into the soil that will yield back the crop. The farmer had taken three crops off his farm and put nothing back, and the result was that it produced less and less crop.
A Heart Change
God knew that the greatest thing heaven had, the best Christ could give, all the truth that heaven could give, could never take root in a human heart unless God changed that heart and praise God, heaven by His own decree demands that a man be born again before he can raise a crop. This idea of thinking that in a poor sinful soil, besmirched by iniquity and led of the devil, somehow a man can raise a holy crop, is an infamous lie. The greatest enemy to a real new birth is church-anity today. I mean simply joining some organization. Men do not believe what Jesus taught, namely: a change of heart, a heart change that makes Jesus master. There are Christian people fighting the reception of the Holy Ghost also; there are Christian men and women who will not entirely break before God—then wonder why they cannot raise a hundred-fold crop. God can never raise a crop in your life until He breaks down the hard places in your life; the clods in the soil must go. Let pride be there, and you will find that it is a clod, swept by a wind that will sap every bit of your spiritual power. You would not talk to the person across the aisle from you in the street car—pride is boss. You would not come to a street meeting—pride is boss. Do you know the truth? Yes, but there is a change that is necessary in your heart before truth and faith will mix, and until God gets the consent of your life that the soil of your life may be pulverized, and yielded in humility before Him, He cannot produce the crop.
God’s Pulverizing Plan
So God wants to plant, but God’s plan, my friend, is the plan of sanctification, when it comes to crop raising. God wants your body to be given to Him a living sacrifice. Friends, I say to you, it is a delightful experience, but all the joys of crop raising cannot come to you until first of all God’s plan of pulverizing your heart comes. God must let you go through the rough experience of having no crop, of seeing your efforts come to naught, and when He gets you to that place, you cry out, “Oh Lord, why can’t I raise the crop?”—and through some little bit of a thing, just as that farmer found out what was the trouble with his land, God will show you through the reading of His word, through some crisis, through your very failure, that you need a deep heart work that has never taken place in your life. You need a breaking crisis, an experience before God, that God’s power may come upon you and lay you low at His feet, in humility. Undone in your self-sufficiency, then He can trust you with His power and the crop.
Jesus says the sower went forth to sow, and when the seed fell into good soil it would bring forth the fruit. You know whether your heart is good soil or not. We know when we run up against the stumps when we are plowing. You know when you strike an awful stump in your disposition and pieces of the harness fly, and “pieces of your mind” are freely given. No wonder God cannot raise a crop in such a life as that. You know whether the stump, the rock, is there just now, and God Himself wants to prepare that soil. I tell you, it takes a great soul to hold a great vision, and if you will look at men and women who have had visions of God and done the work of God, you will see them point you right back to the place where God pulversized their hearts, brought them down low before Him, and they saw they were not to plead for power, but plead for soil. God gladly gives all the power of the Holy Spirit to a yielded life. He gives the Holy Spirit in His fullness to them that obey Him.
A Cut-up Heart
God is a wise gardener, God is a wonderful gardener, and He is not foolish enough to think that the soil that is not prepared is going to bring forth the crop. He says to the man that is humble, of a contrite heart—(a cut-up heart), a heart with the harrow gone over it, with the roller gone over it—“to this man will I look”—to a man who is so susceptible to the voice of God that he goes down before God. God can begin to use your life, my brother, my sister, whenever you begin to give your whole life to Him. “The eyes of the Lord go to and fro in the whole Earth to show Himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” But you will find out that when you go into your closet and shut the door and say to Him, “Lord, I came that you might break my spirit,” that there is a drawn battle on. There are men and women here this morning who can look back over the past years and see where God tried to break them, but they came right up again—then came another blow—perhaps right now they are in the crisis of a blow. Oh! Let Him have His way now. Is God trying to afflict your life? No, He wants only to put the plow in and the harrow in, so that you will say a big “Yes” to Him, and be anything, go anywhere, for Him; yielded and fit for the master’s use; clay in the potter’s hand.
Oh, you will find out there is a strong streak of objection in your nature. I used to have a horse for cattle chasing, that every time I wanted to go one way, he wanted to go another. When I had time to ride that horse, I would ride him. He could stand a hard trip, but the trip was about as hard on me as it was on the horse. It meant a battle every time we came to the cross paths,—about fifteen minutes of bucking and laying on the whip. That horse might turn around and say, “Paul, I am your horse—ain’t I your horse?” Yes, he was my horse, all right, but he wouldn’t mind. I had another little horse that would just wear himself right out going just as I wanted him to go. Which horse would I use when I couldn’t take a chance on any kind of bucking? The answer is easy. That little fellow was skinny all the time, I rode him so much; I was sure of him.
Too Much Bucking
You will find out in every church there are some folks just ridden to death; God can use them, and He can’t take time to fool with some of you buckers. He does not dare to put you at anything. You are full of nettles, and every time God goes to put you anywhere you have so much objection, so much planning, so much bucking, that He cannot afford to use you. I tell you, friends, God is looking for men and women on whom He can lay a burden without a thousand objections. God help you to get to the place this morning where God can afford to trust you with His plan. God knows whether you are yielded or not. It doesn’t make any difference how many talents you have, or what kind of a person you think you are, God Himself knows whether He can use you, and the proof of your yieldedness is in raising the crop.
Running Your Own Life?
Oh, seek God’s plan. The reason your life hasn’t been as it should be is because you have had your own plan. You have seen the why of failure in the sinner, but you don’t see it in yourself as a Christian. You go out and say to the sinner, “My dear brother, you will never be saved by works—you need to be born again.” He could turn right around and say to you as a Christian, “Yes, and you don’t get along any better.” Why? You have your own works. You have your own plan. You are running your own life. You have the streaks and streaks of objections that have never been yielded.
Here is a mother who wants to talk to her daughter, and she knows that every word she says goes in one ear and out the other. Here is a father who wants to talk to his son, and what he says passes right over him. You go into a foreign country and talk to men and they look at you with blank faces. That is the way God feels, maybe, in your presence. God has the mightiest things in the world to give you, but you cannot get it until you give Him your attention, until you become yielded. A man might preach the holiest kind of calling on Earth, lift up the greatest experiences possible for a man to have, but unless there comes the breaking to a congregation, he will find that even the truth becomes a hardener of the soil, it becomes a curse to us unless we hear it with humility and contrite hearts. May God cut our hearts now, until all say to Him, “I must know you, I must have tender ears, I must have seeing eyes, I must have a heart that feels God’s voice and minds the least thing He says.”
Now God says He wants to sow the truth in the soil. The reason people have indigestion is not because they are starving, but because they have something in their stomach that won’t digest. In the world at large today, in America, in places where men and women have heard the gospel, the great majority of people know what you are talking about when you talk about salvation, but they won’t digest it. We were going up in an elevator the other day. I spoke quietly to the elevator boy. He turned around and smiled, and I said, “I see you know what I am talking about.”
“Oh yes, sir.”
“Did you have a Christian mother?”
“Did you have a Christian father?”
“Well, where did you learn about these things?”
“Oh, that stuff is in the air.”
I said to him, “If you were dying right now, how would you be saved?”
He replied, “I would call on the name of Jesus Christ.”
“You know the truth like that?”
“Oh, I go to a church once in a while.”
“And with the truth in your heart you are going on in sin? You are about the worst kind of sinner on Earth.”
There are thousands and thousands like that. They know the truth. The greatest trouble we have today is so many learned men know the truth, so many ignorant men know the truth, so many of all sorts of folks know the truth—but they don’t mix it with the faith in the soil of the heart. God says it must be mixed with faith. The food that goes into the stomach must be mixed with gastric juices, or it will not digest. You must say to Him, I believe You, I take You, You came for me. The soil and the seed must come together in a chemical combination. The seed gives itself up to the soil, the soil gives itself up to the seed, and soil and seed start in together to make a tree, and the chemical combinations mix down there in the roots. Can the little tree take the oil and run little pieces of dirt out to the ends of the branches? No, it mixes with water, and little chemical combinations in the plant, it mixes itself with that fundamental power of life in the plant and thus is made into the tree.
Oh, friends, let there be faith in your heart as the truth comes forth.
You may catch the vision, but here is the thing God wants to hear from you: “Lord, that hundredfold business must be mine. I must produce the crop. Not only other men, but Imust produce the life. I must have this holy life in Jesus. I must have this life given up to Him. I must have the Holy Spirit.” Paul says, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Shipwrecked? What did that matter? His faith was clinging to truth, clinging to Jesus. Does the tree give up because the northwester swings around? No, its roots only go deeper. If your soul is clinging to Jesus, the very adverse things will be the things that strengthen your hold. You won’t kick back at the people that shoot at you—you will take it, and it will only drive you closer to Him. You will cling to Him by faith.
Grabbing by Faith
Now God in the first chapter of Genesis shows us His planning and His planting. First of all God rolls the waters back and He gets the soil there. That is what He gets first in you. Afterwards He begins to plant something. He says, “Now let the earth bring forth grass.” But remember, my friends, it is the Earth bringing forth the grass. God doesn’t say, “Let the sun bring forth grass. Let the sky bring forth grass.” Some of you are saying, “Let God bring mean experience.” Oh no—God says, Let youbring forth. God put the seed there, but you grab it by faith, and the crop springs up. Some folks wait for feeling. You will get all the feeling you can possibly hold if you will trust God and stand on His Word. Where is this thing going to happen—in my head? No head was ever made to have experiences. It is only the roadway; the eyes are a roadway, the ears are a roadway. God says your heart is the soil and Jesus Christ comes into your heart; He will satisfy everything through your brain, and will meet you on every line, but He wants you to take Him in your heart and say Praise God, He is mine.
“LET There Be”
Then God comes to man, and says, “Let us make man in our own image.” Now He says, “I have made the whole plan. You come into my plan.” He planted the garden of Eden, filled it with other creatures, then put in man and woman and said to them, Here is the whole thing. Now just obey Me and everything will be delightful.
What is the great word here in God’s account of creation. The great word here is this wonderful word LET. God simply says, “Let”—“let there be light.” God didn’t create light that day. You know the Earth was cursed and the first view you get of it after those first ten words in the Bible is of a cursed world wrapped up in darkness and in water—wrapped up and hidden away because of the curse that was here before man. God shows us in his account the world first of all as a wrapped-up package, swinging out, without form and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep, as if God had hung crepe on it, to let all the rest of the stars and the universe see it as a dead, cursed thing. Then God says, We will make him a little lower than the angels, give him an emotion, a will power and an intellect, and put him down there. So God begins to make His preparation. Now He says, Let there be light.
All Provided For
Here is the point I want to give you. Whenever you start out to walk with God, remember that God has made all the provisions ahead of time; everything you will ever need, God has for you in Christ Jesus, and He says to you LET Jesus in. God knows the soil of my heart, God knows whether Jesus has conquered this disposition of mine. I don’t have to ask any bunch of high-brows what Jesus can do to my soul. I just let Him in and I will have a testimony. I am getting sick of folks who sit around without an experience, without a testimony. It is a sore trial and I have been before God in nights of prayer, asking that you come to the place where you give yourself up and LET Him do a work in your soul. God wants to show what He will do with The Moody Church if we will let Him—let Him—let Him. He knows what He wants us to do in the coming days, but Oh, He wants a people down on their faces before Him, to let God do the thing He is already planning. Somehow our poor little minds seem to think we have to plan. Hallelujah, we don’t! God planned this Tabernacle, God Himself is running it, and if we will let God keep His hand on it, He will bring us where He wants to bring us.
“Will You Be Good?”
Now He says, Let there be a firmament. Praise God, I am so glad for that! God never shuts us up entirely, if we walk with Him. Some part of the sky is open. Sometimes we need it. Old clucking hens need to be shut up, and some of these fellows who are all the time quarrelling with God need to get jailed once in a while, until they say, Yes, Lord, I will be good. Like the mother who shuts the door on her little child, and he cries on the inside. By and by she opens the door and says, “Are you going to be good?” “No, I am going to cry some more.” He cries some more, and after a while she comes back. He’s ready to say, “Yes, Mother, I will be good.”
But to the man who minds God, there is a firmament.
I’m living on the mountain,
Underneath a cloudless sky, praise God!
I’m drinking at the fountain
That never will run dry—Oh yes,
I’m feasting on the manna, from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land!
Then He says, “Let the waters gather themselves together in one place.”
Oh, my friend, that is a wonderful verse to me spiritually. He said to the old sea, Don’t you come up here again. The ground, the dry land, must come forth or the sower could not go forth to sow.
Dry Land Appears
My life was covered with water, but bless God, He said to the sin and the rolling waves of my own passions, the rolling waves of my own personality, my own heart, thank God, He said to them one day: “Go back there, and stay there.” And He gave me a place to live in, dry ground. The land came forth that used to be submerged with sin, submerged with doubt, submerged with fear, and God gave the dry land and the waters went back.
I don’t know what it means to you, but bless God, it means life to me this morning, that He commanded the waters to gather themselves into one place.
When the children of Israel came from Egypt, led out toward Canaan Land, they had to cross water. If you are going to change your living place spiritually God lets you cross over water. When Abraham came out of his own country, what did he cross?—Over a brook. When the folks came out of the wilderness and went over Jordan, God rolled back the water and let them into a new living place. Who will roll it back? God will. You cannot do it. You cannot force yourself into Canaan Land, you cannot force yourself into sanctification. You will have to let God do it. You will have to get to the place where the sea is behind, the enemy on either hand, and then cry out, “O Lord, I am up against it. I am up against it.” Then let God strike the water, and you will go through into a new land. You will cross over that dead thing and leave it behind with its enemies.
Water and Blood
Oh, I beg you by every art I know of the Holy Ghost, to enter into the victorious life just now with Jesus! Cross over Jordan and get into Canaan Land!
When Jesus died, He shed both water and blood. What for? To show you that the old death life had been passed through. He moved out of the old flesh country of death, the old sad life of death that had corrupted the world. God let the stream come out of Jesus’ side, both water and blood. The proof of His death was the water. Water does not gush out of a side that isn’t dead. He was dead. He had crossed over from death unto life, and the water that came from His side was a proof and whoever plunges across that stream, praise God, has life forever! And the blood came out to prove that it was life that had passed over the death stream. “The life is in the blood.” Across the stream that came from His side whosoever will may cross into a new country and dwell with God. Let Him roll back the waters now. Let the dry land be yielded to Him and then He will let the harvest come on.