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God gives the increase

What makes a seed grow? From my school days I know that there are a few things needed. Good soil, sunshine, water, and protection from predators (No, not the ones with clocking devices and ugly faces running through the forest chasing or being chased by Arnold Schwarzenegger…these predators are squirrels and cute things like them). But WHAT makes the seed grow? Does it matter?

Mar 4:26-29  And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,  (27)  and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.  (28)  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.  (29)  But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

In this parable, some truth is seen regarding the farmer. He doesn’t know how the seed grows, but when it is ready to be harvested, he doesn’t sit around wondering about it, he goes out and harvests. It is not a question that needs to be answered because it is a moot point. If you plant the seed in the appropriated soil, water it, let sun get to it, and protect it, it will grow. How? who cares?

It may be tempting to focus on the harvesting as if that is the big deal and….it is. In fact, the work done up to that point is important. Leave a step out and the crop can fail. However, without the seed, without that one small speck to plant into the ground, there will not be a harvest.

In many of the parables of Jesus, the seed is the word of God. Other things can impact how that word is received and if it will grow but until the seed is spread across the soil, you don’t know what will happen or if any thing will happen.One thing is for sure, we are not the cause of the growth. We might plant, we may water but God gives the increase.

1Co 3:5-7  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?  (6)  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  (7)  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Keeping count on conversions is not the thing to do. We ought to keep count on how much seed is spread. Of course, it needs to be the right kind of seed. There are those who go out and spread the seed of their denomination but not of the Bible. They talk about Jesus but they don’t follow Jesus’ teachings. They say they preach the Gospel but they preach a message the scriptures didn’t authorize.  Some do it with deliberateness, others do it because that is how they were taught (They, themselves, forgetting (or never knowing) that the first rule of Bible study is to study the Bible not the church literature or commentaries)

Our job is to spread the message that Jesus proclaimed. In the Gospels, Jesus send out his disciples with a commission. (See Mt 28) and in Acts, we see those disciples fulfilling that mission. In the epistles, we see the Apostles informing the saved of more things they need to know to be Holy but the saving message had already been preached to them.

Go. Plant. Water. But never for a moment think that you gave the increase or caused the seed to grow. That is God’s job and He does it well.

 

 

 

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The Parable of the Sower

The parable of the sower is an agricultural analogy. It uses something that we, with our limited spiritual perceptions,  can easily understand in order to offer us an insight into the spiritual truths that Jesus understood perfectly well.  Unless you are like the kid in the city who thinks that apples come from the store, not tying the apple to an apple tree, you understand that seeds need to have a good environment in which to grow.

The seed in this parable is the word of God.  It is spread everywhere as the sower goes through the field. The different types of soil represent those that hear the word and how they respond to it, how the word grows in their life, and ultimately tells us what kind of soil they are. In this lesson, one of the most interesting of the soils is the thorny soil.

It would be understandable to listen to this parable and conclude that only 25% of the soils (the good soil) produces anything. However, that is not quite true. The thorny soil also produced something…thorns. In fact, it may be concluded that if the thorny soil did not have the thorns that the seed also would have produce good fruit. In other words, the only reason for being unproductive is the thorns.

This makes it imperative that we understand what these thorns are. Understanding them helps us take a measure of our life and remove them if we find them. These thorns will choke the word of God and make it unfruitful if we do not remove them.

The thorns are the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things. These three items pretty much cover it all:

  • the cares of the world are those things that the world cares about. What does the world care about? See Luke 12:30 Food, drink and clothing.  Yet we are reminded not to be like them. Our Father knows what we need and we should be content if we have food and clothing. I Tim 6:8
  • The deceitfulness of riches are seen in those who think that wealth is going to provide everything that they need. This is not the case. Luke 12:16-21
  • The desires for other things include anything which God has not authorized. Desire that goes beyond what God has provided to us is wrong. Ahaz wanted Naboth’s field, Korah wanted the leadership position of Moses, Ananias and Sapphira wanted praise of man.

We get these thorns from the world and from our upbringing. Some who serve the Lord have been called out of the world others have been raised in the church but the influences of the world have crept in. Some of the thorns that have been brought into Christian families are these:

  • Getting an education. This can be an important thing but families should never put so much emphasis on the grades a student gets in school while neglecting the spiritual education. The job will not save their soul.
  • Buying a house because renting is bad. I don’t know who thought of this but it seems pretty common knowledge. If you rent for to long, you have ‘nothing to show for it’. Unfortunately, people rush others into buying and it becomes a burden. I could refer to the statistics of foreclosures going on right now but simply consider that the Bible says with ‘food and clothing’ we will be content…it does not say ‘shelter’.
  • Debt is ok. There is really something wrong here and especially when you are buying something that is a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’. When you do this, you are in effect saying that God is not able to provide for me so I will borrow from the future and promise to pay it back  later. When you don’t even know if you have a tomorrow…

To get rid of these thorns one needs to keep his eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2), add characteristics that allow us to see what is truly important (2 peter 1:9) and learn to be content with things you may consider to be less than you should have. (I Tim. 6:3-11)

Happy weeding!

Here’s the sermon: http://lostpineschurchofchrist.com/media/The_parable_of_the_sower.mp3

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