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—Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at

“And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” [Luke 8:4-8]

We have heard many lessons and sermons about the parable of the sower and the seeds. Jesus was teaching a very important, timeless lesson. I love the way Rick Warren explained it: “Let’s say you’re a gardener. You’ve learned that you can take the exact same seed and plant it in three different locations and get three different results. In one spot, you’ll get giant tomatoes. In another, you’ll get small tomatoes. And in a third, you’ll get nothing. What’s the difference? It’s not the seed; it’s the soil. The soil must be prepared for the seed.

The same is true when you hear God’s Word. It’s why you can take two people to church, set them side-by-side, and one will walk out thinking God really spoke to him and the other won’t get anything out of the service. The heart of one person was prepared; the other’s heart wasn’t.

Your heart has to be prepared for the Word. If you get up late, have trouble finding a parking spot, and are irritated as you rush into church, you’re probably not going to hear God’s voice! You’re not in a receptive mood.

The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).

For good reception, this passage teaches you have to have four attitudes:

You must be quiet

You can’t hear God if you’re talking.

You have to be calm

You can’t rush God. If you’re frantic, you’re not going to hear God. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” My translation of that is: “Sit down and shut up.”

You have to be clean

Before you can meet with God, you need to take out some emotional and spiritual garbage. You need to get rid of the stuff that stinks in your life. You get rid of the garbage by confessing your sin to God and agreeing with him that what you did was wrong.

You need to be humble

Be ready to do whatever God tells you from his Word. A prideful attitude won’t work.”

When I was a kid, we spent a great deal of time on the Neches River bottom. We would listen to the radio late at night. The only station we could pick up was Del Rio, Texas. I recall trying to tune the station in — the static and noise until it was tuned in exactly right. That is what we have to learn to do with God — tune in. God is always transmitting, we have to learn to tune in and receive His messages.

May we learn to do just that. Tune in, receive God’s messages and be obedient.

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— Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at