Turn to .
Question: Do you like stories? Everyone likes to hear a good story told. Some people can leave you spell-bound when they tell stories!
Much of the story-telling that is done in modern times is done more for entertainment. As a sidebar, let me add that much of what we pass off as entertainment is teaching us worldly lessons, but I digress from today’s text, except to note that as we follow Christ, we must combat our heart’s desire for worldliness if we’re going to follow the Lord.
Sometimes, we would rather hear a great story than live out something in life. We like to be inspired, but our lives often pale in comparison to the inspirational stories we see and hear.
Jesus often spoke in a way that was to the point by way of parables.
We can see what was going on in the story.
Jesus was going out to meet people.
He told them about the Kingdom of God.
His disciples were with Him watching and learning.
Jesus touched lives, healing people and casting out demons—including Mary Magdalene, out of whom seven devils were cast.
As Jesus ministered, people who believed, and those people gave to God’s work to minister to Jesus and His disciples and to advance the work of the Gospel.
. As Jesus traveled, He often told parables. Parables are often described as earthly stories with heavenly meanings.
Stand and follow with me as we look at a small parable with astronomical implications. Read .
. Parables will often have symbols that picture things.
Let’s see the pictures Jesus uses. (Today this would be like Jesus playing a YouTube video for us to see what He is illustrating.)
First, there is a sower. The sower is the one needing the encouragement.
ILL: Planting a garden is hard work, but you do it in faith that things will grow!
Jesus describes the sower casting seed. The sower is interested in getting the seed everywhere he can, but not every place the seed lands is as interested in receiving the seed.
Let’s note four places the seed lands.
First, The Wayside.
Some of the seed fell outside the field, and it got on the path next to the field. It landed on the sidewalks and roads where people travel and are busy. The seed gets run over and eaten by birds.
Second, The Rock.
Some seed fell on a rock. To observe it, wow!—it had great promise, but the little seed grew and died suddenly because there wasn’t enough water to get it to grow.
Third, The Thorns.
The thorns and weeds came and choked the new plant.
Fourth, The Good Ground.
Some seed fell on soil that was ready for it.
ILL: Goldilocks and the three bears…this soil was “just right!”
When the soil is good, it has the ability to grow seeds into plants that bring a big harvest! This is the desire of every farmer!
You and I know that the power of a seed is astronomical. We should not discount the power of small things.
Every one of us wrestles at some point with the question, “Can God use me?” We have lots of excuses and doubts, but if God can use a little seed, God can use you.
Think about it—When the New Testament was written, Christianity was essentially “hanging on by a thread” and was being led by just ordinary guys—none who were of Caesars household, no great military leaders—they were unlikely revolutionaries introducing Christ’s kingdom to the world—they were fishermen, tradesmen, tax collectors, and zealots. The “Vegas gambling odds” of Christianity reaching past AD 50 were exceedingly slim…but today the Gospel has made more difference in the world than any other faith.
Why? Because the early disciples learned the principle of the harvest—the power of small things—and even small faith enough to trust God.
ILL: Do you know that a domino is a very powerful thing? In fact, a small domino can knock over another domino twice its size. If you were to consider 29 dominoes increasing in size, the first, just 1/2-inch in size, would be able to set in motion a chain reaction that would topple the last domino that would be as tall as the Empire State Building!
Proposition: Reap a spiritual harvest for Christ!
Let’s start by looking at the farmer standing in the empty field. He may doubt the field can be transformed into a harvest, but when he applies faith, he can see great things happen!
1. The Seed of Faith.
The Seed of Faith.
First, The Picture Jesus Painted.
It wasn’t complex. People often make learning and obeying the Bible difficult, but It’s not!
The Seed is the Word of God.
Other passages/applications re: the Bible
The Wayside is a picture of people who hear the Bible, but Satan steals it out of their hearts.
The Rock is a picture of people who hears the Bible, but they never grow to produce fruit because they have no root.
The Thorns are a picture of someone who hears the Bible, but he does not grow and produce good fruit because life’s cares, riches, and pleasures choke it. It is unhealthy.
The Good Ground is a picture of someone who hears the Bible, and he or she looks at life honestly, they size up what they hear from God, keep it, and produce fruit, growing it patiently in life.
This is not a “flash in the pan” person.
Examples of prayer in the Bible of those wanting to hear and obey the Bible.
Second, The Principle Jesus Preached.
Jesus is walking His disciples through the process of learning and then living the Bible.
When the seed of truth springs up, it produces fruit—it is shown—it is manifested!
Elsewhere in the Bible, this fruit is described as souls that are won and discipled and a lifestyle that is holy and filled with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ().
The disciples may have still been scratching their heads, and then up walks Jesus’ mother, Mary, and Jesus’ half-brothers and sisters. Jesus knew who His earthly family was, but He underscored all the lessons of the day by saying (), “My brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.”
So the lessons were great, but there was something left to do—live them out in action.
Jesus wanted His disciples in the harvest field casting the seed, trusting Him for what could be done.
A seed doesn’t look like much, but it is very powerful. Sometimes we doubt our own ability, but don’t doubt the power of God to use you to distribute the seed!
ILL: This past week, Christianity said, “We’ll see you later,” to Evangelist Billy Graham. He probably had more opportunities to win people to Christ than anyone in history. How did that happen? It didn’t start with Billy Graham. No, the Gospel seed was planted a long time ago by Christ, and eventually it reached a Sunday school teacher who was nervous to share Christ with a teenage shoe salesman named Dwight. Dwight L. Moody trusted Christ became the foremost evangelist of the 19th century. He influenced F.B. Meyer…J. Wilbur Chapman…Billy Sunday…Mordecai Ham, and almost 75 years later another 17-year old was reached with the Gospel seed on a field in North Carolina, Billy Graham!
Transition: It is not enough to be filled with all the knowledge of the universe, you must use it in the harvest field of life! There are coming opportunities to exercise faith. Do you think Jesus’ disciples learned this lesson?
2. The Sea of Faith.
Earlier, I told you that we often like the inspirational stories. Here, Jesus’ disciples wish they were hearing another story…this time they are a part of the story!
We like to use the Bible as an encyclopedia of self-help tips, but it is much more than that! The Bible is a story woven in time, and Its context yokes with ours to help us know how to live in God’s will.
Jesus started out with a farmer in the harvest field, but now he is taking us out on a boat. They’re out with the “skipper on a three hour tour...”
Jesus is reminding them of the principle of small things—including exercising their faith that may be small!
19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
If Jesus’ disciples failed to learn this lesson, you can believe there’s a disconnect by many Christians today between God’s truth and living out God’s truth as we represent Him.
You may not face a storm at sea, but someday someone may be yelling in your face—you have a choice as to how you will respond. Someday, your marriage will seem like a storm and hope is far gone—you may want to end it prematurely—you have a choice about being the best spouse you can be for the glory of God. Somewhere, there is a young lady with a baby growing inside her—she can choose to obey the Word of God and cherish life, knowing God will bless her. There are people standing in front of their mirrors getting ready for the day feeling like they must conform to the fleshly styles of the world—but according to the Word, they may choose what is modest and will point to Christ rather than their bodies. An employee is pressured to lie about a few insignificant details, but in the power of Christ, he may do what is right and tell the truth. A fellow believer may say something that seems offensive to you, but you can live with a heart of forgiveness and stand in the truth as you live for Christ
Jesus was equipping His church for the time He would be gone. In Christ, we stand through the turmoils and troubles of time not just knowing His truth but living His truth!
This is where the seed and the storm meet—it must be cast no matter the world’s condition.
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Jesus asks us to have faith in Him and to keep following Him as we share His truth.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Whether it is the little things like planting little seeds, or the big things, like being tossed about in tumultuous seas as you go about sharing Christ, the harvest is going to be accomplished by trusting the Lord.
These are faith principles we cannot and must not ignore!
Do you believe God works mightily through even the smallest of things?
Do you believe God can keep you and will be by you in the toughest disasters and hardships of life?
Trust God with them, and as you go about casting God’s Word, the seed of the Gospel, and He will be your assurance—He will be your calm—He will be your peace!
Close with this verse: .
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.