The seed and the sower.


Halfway through the book of Matthew, in today’s reading of the 13th chapter, the crowds following Jesus had gotten so large that he got into a boat to address the crowd with his teaching and to speak in parables as he often did.
He got into the boat so that he would not be pressed and could be heard by all that had gathered along the beach. He presents the parable of the sower and the four types of soil. Hopefully this passage from scripture and message I’ve prepared will find a home with many of you given our agricultural based way of living in southern Iowa

I would ask you, after hearing he scripture read and the children’s message demonstrated, who is the sower and what is the seed?

Christ oftentimes spoke in parables and parables can be understood by those willing to be taught, for those unwilling they are complex and difficult. At times, Christ’s own disciples didn’t understand them.

Parables are meant for examination and the searching of one’s soul. To search for the truth in our own lives. The search for God because he is truth. God wants to draw us into relationship with him. This requires effort on our part.

Christ addressed the crowd and said, “Listen! A sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.”

This sentence could just as easily read, “A farmer went out to plant his crops and some of the seed fell on the highway, a gravel road, in his driveway or the access point to his field.”
Would we expect seed dropped in such places to grow? Of course not. Do crops, gardens or flowers grow in soil that is not broken, not plowed or prepared for the seed to be planted in it? Not usually or not very well. Our souls, our lives and our being are the same.

Some seed fell on the path, fell by the wayside and birds came and ate it. That seed laid uncovered, unprotected and was easy prey to those that would devour it. It had little chance to grow.

Christ would sometimes explain what his parables meant so that those in attendance would understand. He did not do that with this teaching, with this parable. He leaves it with the crowd to turn over in their minds and to evaluation their own being and search for truth.

First century life was hard, poverty was common and brutal. Many had to beg to survive. This crowd, these people needed hope. They needed to have their burden made lighter.
We live in an affluent country and probably struggle to fully understand the crushing weight that these people carried. We lead far more comfortable lives today, but our souls today still cry out to know that easy burden and to be nourished, just as this crowd that surrounded Christ did.

Some seed fell on the path and was immediately eaten. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. There was enough soil for the seed to take hold and grow. But the soil wasn’t deep enough for the roots to take hold and when the sun rose, they were scorched because they had no root and they withered away.

I asked earlier who is the sower and what is the seed. That might seem obvious. The seed is the word of God and the sower is Jesus Christ. That may seem easy enough. But here is the part that requires self-examination.

As I talk about the four types of soil, which one represents you…….Some seed fell on stony places, where there was not much earth or soil. The ground was shallow and although the seed took hold and grew quickly, there wasn’t enough soil or depth to sustain it.

The sun came out and scorched what had begun to grow because it didn’t have the roots or the ability to withstand the heat of the sun and it withered away. With our collective knowledge of farming we know that it is hard to grow much out of stony, rocky ground.

I could use this part of scripture to argue that this is what happens when you don’t go to church. The devil comes and burns up what faith you have. But attending worship is only a part of the Christian, spiritual life.

Being part of a community of faith is important, but so is prayer, reading your bible, being of service to your community, loving your family. If you are completely reliant on my preaching, I’m afraid that we are both in trouble.

The seed that fell on stony ground was quickly burnt up by the sun because it didn’t have deep enough roots. When things get hot, where there is pressure, too much stress, trials and tribulation.

When life seems overwhelming, nothing is going right, not only do we not get everything we want, we can’t seem to get anything we want, it is at those times that those fledgling seeds are at risk. The devil turns up the heat in order to snuff out those seeds of faith.

We’ve had the seed that fell on the path and was devoured. The seed that fell on rocky ground, didn’t have the necessary roots and was burnt up by the sun’s heat. Christ would continue, “Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.”

Other seed fell among the weeds and thorns and was choked by them. Christ doesn’t mention anything that indicates that there is anything wrong with this soil. The weeds and thorns lay beneath the surface. They spring up and grow at the same time and maybe even the same pace as the seed that was planted.

But they overtake the seed, they over take the faith that had started to grow and eventually destroyed it. The seed was sown on ground that appears to be fertile, good ground. But there was competition, it seems like there always is.

I have talked a lot about things like convenience, selfishness and all the things of this world that this flesh burns for. You might be tired of hearing about them. I have some bad news for you. You are going to continue to hear about them.

I’m not going to continue to bring them up to screw with you, I bring them up because things like convenience, our own selfishness – mine included and all the fun, exciting things that the world offers have the power to kill the church.

Just like the weeds and thorns in today’s scripture had the power to overtake the seed that was planted. For those of you that plant flowers, do you plant them in the spring and then never tend to them? I doubt it.

For those of you that garden, do you plant your tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, green beans and other vegetables and leave it idle until fall? Of course not, weeds are pulled, the plants are checked.

Do farmers plant their crops, do they not fertilize, cultivate, watch over and pray for rain for them? Of course they do all those things. It is no different with our spirituality and with our souls. They must be cared for, kept and tended to.

Christ would end this parable with, “Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears hear!”

Not everyone that hears the word of God will hear it, listen to it or pay any attention to it. But for that good soil, that fertile soil – from that will come 30, 60, 100 fold. That soil that has been broken and is ready to be seeded.

Like that soil we are all broken whether we realize it or want to admit it. We are all broken people. All capable of being or becoming that good soil. Everyone has the ability to bear fruit, to be the fertile and rich soil.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear. Not just to hear the audible words, but to allow these words of Christ to take hold in your soul. That this parable would not be about information, but transformation.

 

Pastor Shawn, Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

incompletedevotional.com

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Faith v. Flesh


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Paul’s letter to the Romans takes place near the end of his ministry.  It includes his mature reflections on the Christian life.  In the seventh chapter he writes, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.  I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”

In spite of our best efforts we still lose our temper, say things we shouldn’t have and may not accomplish everything we want in this life.  Lust, greed, envy and pride are all day every day temptations.

It is only when we understand that this flesh is rebellious, wants everything in it’s path and can only be tamed with faith, that life changes.  Faith and the belief in God is the only context in which our being makes sense.  We are given life freely by our Creator.  We can choose to follow him or reject him, we can pick earth or eternity and convenience or Christ.  We choose to tame the flesh by faith or feed its every desire and ultimately choose death.

 

Pastor Shawn, Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

incompletedevotional.com

Bloggers you might ❤ 06/07/2017


I have a promote your blog link on my site where I encourage people to leave a link to their blog and a short description about their site or themselves.

“Hint: Please write something interesting”

These are a few blogs that I would like to feature today

https://mckaiagraceblog.wordpress.com/: Hi! My name is McKaia, and I’m a high school senior (about to step into the real world) and use blogging to share with my friends and family what living a life of Faith as a young adult is like. It’s hard to start a blog and have it become popular right away, but I think that for a younger audience a perspective from a teenager on such a deep and passionate topic is unique and diverse. I push to evangelize, inspire, uplift, and show my overall life of goal of having others see Christ in me. I would love a comment, advice, or follow. Follow me on a journey of a life worth living… a life committed to Jesus Christ.

Fountains Of Hope Poetry: Hope makes you wake up every morning. I find my hope in Christ, through this blog  I want to share that hope. May you find hope in Him too, God bless you as you read!

Vatsala Srivastava :My name is Vatsala and I am a college student and human being curious about the purpose of life. I am as lost in this race called life as most of us are. I wish to stand out of the crowd that wants to stand out. I like writing about anything that hits my mind and leaves me thinking for hours. Well I really don’t have a long long description of me and blog. In short, I am just an extraordinary person like every individual on this planet.

Emma Martine : Hi there! My blog is called Musings of a Millennial. I typically write poetry and most of my recent work is related to mental health! I really enjoy your page, kudos!! https://formerprincess.wordpress.com/

nharv89 : Hello! My blog is called Letters From a Dead Man. What I write about it mainly my faith, a daily devotional, and just musings that I have. I will sometimes post and feature poetry. I am trying to create a community of faith and support for every walks of life that need hope. I am looking to aggressively expand into video teachings and music projects and work side by side with other bloggers that want to do the same thing as I do. My calling is disciplining the word and I aim to do that one post at a time! https://lettersfromadeadman.com/

Do not fear….


“Do not fear those that can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”  Christ is instructing his disciples in the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew.  The disciples would face persecution for what they believed, taught and preached.  We are fortunate not to live under such a threat.  Christ knew what his first century disciples would face.  Christ would be killed and his disciples targeted.

Do not fear.  Unfortunately, fear is a common thing, oftentimes learned at an early age.  But we were not given a spirit of timidity, doubt and fear.  We were meant to live bold lives of faith with the courage to step out of the shadows when God calls.  Do not fear those that kill the body, but cannot touch the spirit.  Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul.

Do not fear those that mock, insult or defame your Christian way of living.  Do not fear those that refer to faith as superstition and the church as irrelevant.  Only fear the one that can destroy both the body and soul.

Pastor Shawn, Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…..


Word of God

Word of God

A crowd of people had gathered around Christ and he had compassion for them.  What was it he felt…..He was moved because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  Many of the first century Jews were lost, harassed, troubled and vulnerable.  Life was hard.  Few could read or write.  Those in leadership positions in the Jewish establishment did not nourish their spirit, they taught them rituals, the law and public acts of piety.  All of those are hollow in and of themselves.

It is the spirit that brings life.  It is the very presence and the spirit of our God that we experience when we celebrate communion, baptism and sacraments of the church.  It is the spirit that brings people together to worship.  It is the spirit that brings life.

People were drawn to Christ because he was speaking truth into their lives, he was lifting their spirit and easing their burden.  After observing the crowd and feeling their pain he says, “The harvest in plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

One doesn’t have to read or quote from the bible to labor effectively.  One only needs to be intentional about their faith and allow themselves to be led in the direction that God would take them.  There is work to be done.  We are called to do it.  It will require commitment, it will require time and it will require listening to what God has been speaking to each of us and stepping out in faith.

Pastor Shawn – Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

shawnlarueorg.wordpress.com