"The Soil of the Heart"??
Matthew 13.1???9, 18???23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: ???Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!?????
18???Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.?????
Two weeks ago we talked about ???receiving Christ,??? about being willing to open the door and allow Christ to visit our heart. Last week we talked about the ???burden of Christ,??? how when we clear the clutter from our lives, we are able to hear Christ knocking on the door of our heart. But this week we???re changing the metaphor a little bit. I want you to see your heart as soil or a garden. There is soil and there is seed; our hearts being the soil and the word of God being the seed. Christ has come to sow His seed-of-life in our hearts and we must face the reality of where our hearts may be this morning.??
Jesus speaks to the crowd in the form of a parable. Parables are incredibly helpful tools to teach with because the images are so easily relatable. Parables are meant to be simple and common. If we look to the story of the Prodigal Son, many of us can place ourselves in the shoes of any of the characters or situations ??? parents, children, siblings, moments of rebellion, jealousy, and forgiveness. All of these roles and concepts are close to our own experiences. But what parables are so good at is helping us face the realities of real life. Parables turn the posture of our soul toward the mirror that we often shy away from. Because we find ourselves in the stories, we have the opportunity to be honest and upfront about our lives. We face ourselves; we face God.??
As we look at the parable, my intention is that you would see into your own life, that you would find connecting points that help you ask questions about your own spiritual journey.??
The Seed on the Path??
Here we have seed that has landed on a path, on a hard dirt trail, a surface where the seed isn't able to penetrate the dirt, and as a result has been quickly stolen away by hungry birds. The seed being stolen from the path represents a lack of understanding. The Word of God isn???t taken in, but only sits on the top. When our hearts are hard, they are not receptive and the seed that gives life is not seen as something that can be taken in. It is misunderstood or ignored altogether.??
But look at the great lengths our culture goes to in order to receive OTHER things. We spend an incredible amount of time taking interest in many other subjects. We understand the different worlds of entertainment, technology, business, history, fashion, education ??? and each of us could hold a decent conversation in some of these areas…and we do! These things are our vocabulary; we are well-versed in them. But what about the Spiritual Life? What about a Biblical vocabulary???
How many of us could hold a conversation in the subject of the Holy Spirit? How many of us could take the knowledge of God that is gained through discipleship, prayer, Bible study, and have many lengthy conversations? My point is that we are well-versed in the things of our society, but not in the things of the Spiritual Life. Our vocabulary is too secular and barely religious. We have grown deaf to the language of the Spirit. If this is the case, it is no wonder that many today have the Word of God stolen from their lives without ever being able to take it in.??
The Seed on Rocky Ground??
Look at the seed on the rocky ground. This one is very, very common. The word of God falls into a life that takes it in and the seed sinks into the soil. Here, the seed is already doing better than the seed on the path. But the life of the seed is short lived, like a flash in a pan. Many of us have seen this or experienced it: people come to church, they discover God and faith, they get excited about it, they get involved, and we see the great discovery they???ve made. But then, life gets hard, persecution comes, their faith is challenged, and their once-exciting spiritual life is abandoned. Why? Because there is no root.??
If we do not let the Word of God take root, with deep abiding roots, then it will never be nurtured. If our faith does not grow, then our growth will be stunted, our reliance upon God will be shallow, and our faith will wither. Like the man who built his house on the sand, the storms will wash away the house of faith. We must allow our faith to take root, reaching deep into the soil, so that the house of faith may be built upon the strong foundation of God. One of my favorite evangelists, Robert Barron, said one time, Jesus wants to move into the whole house, not just the front porch. Why would any of us invite Jesus to come over only to make him pitch a tent in the front yard? Relationships are difficult without intimacy and closeness. Invite Jesus into the house and build the proper relationship.??
The Seed among the Thorns
The seed among the thorns is the saddest of all, personally. We see the Word of God sown among the soil of people???s hearts, but their lives are full of thorns and weeds. The seed has little chance because the cares of the world are robbing the soil from growth and sunlight. Worldly things compete with the Word of God like weeds soaking up the water and sunlight that the real plants need in order to thrive and survive.??
It might strike closer to home if we will see it this way: when the things of this world compete with your relationship with God, we are caught in the worst forms of idolatry. We have placed above God our materials, our desires, our pleasures, and we have allowed them to be fed first, causing our faith to be choked out. I beg you today to look at your life and be honest about what is keeping you from nurturing your faith. It is a call to prioritize, to make God number one; to care for your spiritual life in a way that you are now willing to say, ???I will weed the soil of my heart and allow my relationship with God to grow.?????
The Seed among Good Soil??
And then, there's the seed that falls on the good soil, a heart that understands, has depth, and is free of the thorns of evil. The soil of the heart that receives God's word and nourishes it yields a harvest, bearing fruit that gives life to one's self and others. The great opportunity today is to till the soil of your heart, break-up the rough places, and allow yourself to take God's word deep into your life and let it set-up roots for a strong spiritual foundation.
…know this ??? that the one who does the Sowing, the Lord God, is one who spreads His life-giving seed in all types of soil. Notice here that God did not withhold from the world the seed that brings everlasting life. Through Jesus Christ, the whole world has God's seed spread abroad, opening up the effects of redemption for all humanity. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, is the seed by which we have faith; a faith that grows and gives life, to us and to others. God is fully aware that there are those who will let the seed be stolen, wh
o will let hard times cause them to retreat, who will let their faith be choked out. But…BUT…God loves and gives anyway. Another quote from evangelist Robert Barron, True love gives even when nothing is given back; it isn???t calculating and measured and careful ??? it???s reckless, free, indifferent; this is just the way God loves. And so understand: God is loving you this way today.??
Receive the Word of God in the soil of you heart, take in God's gracious seed, let it grow, let it reach down, let it bear fruit. And my all these things be so, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.??
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