Preparing to plant
! Text: Matt: 13:3-9; 18-23
Introduction: So many people come to church and they rush into service at the last minute. Their week has been hurried, and their minds are filled with the events of the past week, and the week to come. They have not prepared for services in any way except to make sure they look good in front of others and have picked out their clothes with that in mind. The question is, “Are they ready to receive, . . . Are you ready to receive the things of God.”
In order for God’s word to bear fruit in our lives, We have to prepare ourselves to receive it.
Just as a farmer must prepare his fields to receive the seed, we must prepare ourselves to receive God’s word.
1) We Must Protect the Seed
a) Through Understanding
When we find ourselves deficient in wisdom, it is not because the Word of God has pages missing, but because we have not seen all there is on the pages we already have. It is not another book we need, but better attention to the book we have; it is not more knowledge we require, but better vision to see what has already been revealed in Jesus Christ.
-- Eugene H. Peterson in Living the Message. Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 7.
b) Through retention
Memory preserves the seed until it can be planted
A rabbi was asked a question by a pupil, referring to Deuteronomy 6:6-- "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart." "Why is it said this way?" the pupil asked. "Why are we not told to place them in our heart?" The rabbi answered that it is not within man's power to place the divine teachings directly in his heart. "All that we can do is place them on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks they will drop in."
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 12.
2) We Must Prepare the Field
a) Plowing deep enough to get root
When I was about 10 years old, I had the privilege of getting up at 4 a.m. to get the cows so we could milk them. As we came in for breakfast, I would smell the beginnings of this soup my mom used to make. She would put in hunks of beef and carrots and peas and potatoes and all kinds of good stuff. And you'd begin to smell it.
I remember coming in at lunch thinking that was what we're going to have. I'd go over to get some, and she'd say, "No, Son, you can't have any yet. You'll have to wait till tonight." We would work hard all afternoon.
And as we came back for the evening meal (that's the only time my dad beat me into the house), we would sit down, and my mom would set this huge cauldron of soup on the table. She would put this ladle in the soup, and the steam would rise off of it. And she would put it down into the bowl, and you could put your face over it and--can you smell it right now?--we would take our spoons and dip in there. It was wonderful.
I remember asking my mother, "Why is it that we had to wait all day on this soup?"
She said, "Son, it needed to simmer so we get all the juices out of all the ingredients. And then they're all mixed together; that's what brings forth that good aroma. And when you taste it, you're getting the best of what's in each ingredient."
That's the way I look at worship. Sunday morning is a culmination of a people who've been simmering all week in the presence of God. When we simmer every day in the presence of God and then come on Sunday morning and mix all of it together, there's an aroma and a smell of the grace and the goodness of God that lifts up to heaven. And God pulls off the lid and goes, "Mmm, that's my people in Galilee Baptist Church." That's worship.
-- Rod Cooper, "Beholding the King," Preaching Today, Tape No. 150.
b) Plowing deep enough to get more than superficial joy
I have a friend who radiates joy, not because his life is easy, but because he habitually recognizes God's presence in the midst of all human suffering, his own as well as others'. ... My friend's joy is contagious. The more I am with him, the more I catch glimpses of the sun shining through the clouds. Yes, I know there is a sun, even though the skies are covered with clouds. While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds.
Those who keep speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day.
-- Henri J. Nouwen in Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 13.
3) We must Plan for Weeds
a) Spray for competing priorities
I heard a joke this past week about a young man who was driving his BMW around a curve when he realized the car was out of control and about to plummet over a cliff. The young man jumped out, but his left arm was severed from his body. He stood there looking down at his burning BMW and said, "Oh, no! My car! My car!"
A man, who had stopped to help, said, "Mister, you have just lost your left arm, and you're crying about your car?"
The young man looked down and said, "Oh no, my Rolex watch!"
-- Frank Pollard, "Do You Like Where You Live?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 104.
b) Not be deceived into growing wrong crop
Making a life is more significant than making a living.
-- William Willimon, Preaching Today. Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.
4) We Must Plant the Seed
a) Ready to receive it.
If you are religious, it is easier to read some pious book than the Bible. The Bible treats you like human life does--roughly.
-- Oswald Chambers, Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 11.
Most people are bothered by those Scripture passages which they cannot understand. But for me, the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand.
-- Mark Twain, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 5.
b) Be prepared to yield fruit
You can call yourself a farmer, but if you grow nothing, you are not.
If you are not willing to allow yourself to let your religion so impact you as to let it show right out in public, you are not really prepared to yield fruit. Expect your life to change. That is what the Word wants to do. Change you, and change others through you.
We have to make the first thing, the first thing.
We have to distinguish between what’s important, and what’s necessary.
Title: A Reminder of What's Really Important
It was a 99-degree September day in San Antonio, when a 10 month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth.
It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free. Was he heralded a hero? He said, "The lady was mad at me because I broke the window. I just thought, What's more important--the baby or the window?" Sometimes priorities get out of order, and a Fred Arriola reminds us what's important.
-- Ray Tiemann, Fredericksburg, Texas. Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 3.
See: Mt 6:25; 10:31; 16:26.