Sunday, July12, 2020

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

That day Jesus came out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he sat in a boat and moved out into the water while the crowds gathered at the edge of the water. One biblical translation states, “The Word of God, got into a boat while the people stood at the waters edge (a favorite way of stating Jesus’ name).

Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came p, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has dears, let him hear.’

The ‘good seed’ is powerful, but it must be planted in good soil to germinate and produce a crop. Hearing the parable we might we must ask: What sort of soil am I: rocky, shallow, weedy, or fertile? That determines how we will receive the Word of God. God’s Word will always have a mixed reception. Even God’s people do not always receive it gladly. The lost frequently reject it. God intends His Word to bear fruit—-in the saved to bear the fruit of the Spirit and in the lost to bear fruit unto salvation. Many things seek to rob the seed of its opportunity to bear fruit in us and in those to whom we witness. Jesus calls us to receive and obey His Word so we will bear fruit for Him.

The truth of God like a seed, encourages various reactions. The ground or attitude that is receptive and ready produces a response that multiplies God’s love and plan in that life. Parables were favorite ancient way of telling a truth. They were usually designed to communicate one main truth. The four reactions which the seed encountered on different grounds are he ways in which people respond to the revelation of God: unreceptive, unfaithful, untruthful, and unexpectedly productive.

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes ans snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the one who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the one who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

So beloved, which one of the types of soil are you and what type of hearer are you? If you are one of the first three of each group, you may need someone to shepherd you, to develop yourself into a faithful disciple. It takes listening, it takes a willing heart to change and it takes a commitment to not only change, but to become what God wants all of us to be. First, pray to Him to open your ears and your heart to listen and learn the Word, and then to be able to live out that life-style daily. Than, you may want to ask your clergy for help. A strong prayer life is good; a strong commitment for Bible study is great; and finally a willingness to reach out others to help them (witness) gives your faith strength. I pray all will respond to this message by going to God in prayer, to help you in whatever need you might have, to become a strong witness for him. Amen

Drawing upon well attested conditions that are observable in Jordan and Israel even today, Jesus used a parable to teach a master lesson on four responses to evangelism and missions. The seed is he same in each planting situation—-the message of God’s kingdom. The hearers, represented by the varied types of soil, are difficult. 1) The hard-hearted. By the side of the wheat fields and running through them are paths, packed to asphalt-hardness by centuries of feet walking across them. Hearers, like the soil have heard and rejected the message so often they have become gospel-hardened. They cannot understand its beauty or its life-giving hope. 2) The emotional responders. In the Holy Land, fields sometimes lie in the midst of rocky soil. A seed can fall into a little dirt in the cleft of he rock and spring up, but growing roots cannot penetrate the rock. The hot sun comes out, and the plant withers. So many people make spur of the moment emotional decisions which quickly fade because they have made no personal commitment. The first bit of spiritual trouble sends them running looking for the next emotional pick-up. 3) Those unwilling to pat the price. Briars and thistles often grow up in the wheat fields and can crowd out the small wheat. Many people are attracted to Jesus but are unwilling to to pay the cost of following Him. 4) The faithful disciples. God has always prepared a fourth type of hearer, those with willing hearts who respond to the good news. They have these characteristics: They hear the word willingly; They understand it and respond to is in true commitment and faith; and With the power of God within, they are changed and produce fruit, that is, they enlist other followers of Jesus. This promise of response encourage the witness, the pastor, and the missionary.

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