The Sower

2020-07-12 – Year A – Proper 10 – The Rev. Carrie Klukas

Lord Jesus open our eyes, hearts, and minds to your working in the world. Help us to be a people on the way towards you seeking out the parables of your kingdom. Help us to be the ones who hear you and respond to your call. Give us a position in your restoration work. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Our Gospel for today comes from the Gospel of Matthew and begins a series of parables speaking about the kingdom of God. Jesus has been traveling from town to town sharing the Good news of the kingdom of God. 

Word of his ministry and what he has to say has spread from person to person. When someone was deeply moved by what Jesus has said they might literally run/walk the whole way to another village that might be miles and miles away to be the one to tell others of what they have heard. They did not have transportation like we do or internet like we do but rather the willingness of one person to share the news of the restoration with others who need hope. 

This often meant risking their own lives for the sake of others and arriving in a town with no connections but relying on the kindness of others to be given water, food, and a place to stay for the night. Jesus’ radical message of hope was for all people and it was spreading like wildfire. 

So today we find Jesus coming out to find a group of people congregating along the lake waiting to hear him speak. The word was getting out as to which place he was going and people were flocking to hear his message. 

The topography around  the sea of Galilee is such that the land is risen up from the lake and as you draw close to the lake pitches at an angle. Jesus climbs into a fishing boat, goes out into the water, and begins to teach and speak. 

We have a lake behind our house as it used to be a farm for cows. The lake was likely the watering hole for the cows. It is large enough to take a fishing boat, kayak, or canoe out and boat around. 

And one of the interesting things is how sound travels across the lake. Our neighbors who live opposite the lake often have band practice and when they do we can hear them as if we lived next door. When people talk out in boats we can hear their conversations clear as day. In our last house in Pittsburgh we lived on an edge of a hillside in which our neighbors across the street could speak in low tones and if our windows were open we could hear every word. 

Sound travels very well across water and up hillsides. Jesus was perched in such a way to reach many people with his message of hope, restoration and good news. 

Many of the Jewish people came to hear Jesus with the hope that he was the leader that was going to end their persecution, push down the oppressors, and restore them to a righteous position. 

The Old Testament passages are filled with prophecies of one who will come and set right those things that are broken. Many of the people were anxiously waiting for the One who would set them free and give them a hope and a future. This passage includes several of the parables that look ahead to the warnings of a great coming judgment, in which God will establish the kingdom once and for all by rooting out all wickedness. 

The crowds of people came because they were starting to guess that the judgment was already beginning, and that Jesus was part of it. They came because they hoped he would tell them more about the way in which the one true God was beginning his work of rescuing them from their enemies then and there, and wanting them perhaps to help in the process. The people were flocking to Jesus to learn what it means to be a part of the kingdom of God here on earth. 

They likely thought that the restoration would have a tone of revolution and possibly a taking up of arms. Jesus however never said that instead spoke in a series of parables that hid part of the truth. For those who longed and hungered for the wisdom of God as given by God and not made up in their own minds and heart, they would hear.

 However those who sought out the answers to their oppression through the lens of their own minds and hearts would miss the point of the parables. We are no different today. If you want God to remain in a tight defined box in your mind that stays totally separate from the rest of your life then you will miss the meaning of the parable. God’s ways are meant to permeate every aspect of our lives.

I once had a mentor who told me that you should be rather comfortable doing almost everything that you do in your life in front of your church family or in the midst of your church. That really helped me see the area’s of my life that I would be greatly embarrassed if someone saw. I still use this today as I daily seek out the area’s in my life that are in need of God’s refining fire, like speeding down the road, cutting people off with my grocery chart, or yelling at my children instead of practicing self control. God is in the business of restoration and revealing of himself to us if we will only listen and humbly bend our wills. 

Jesus speaks to the people about a sower who is casting seeds across the ground for planting time. There is an artist named Jean Francious Millet and he painted a painting titled the Sower. It is a famous painting recreated over and over again, and In it a farmer is carrying a satchel on his shoulder full of grain and tossing it in the field as he is taking large strides across the land. Sowing before the use of machinery was all done by hand and fast as you might have a very large area to cover. The seeds were cast and what landed on rocky solid would not make it, what landed on shallow soil would come up quick and lack the depth to withstand for long. The seeds that landed on good soil had room for roots to go deep and to withstand the rigors of storms, poor weather, and possible lack of rain. Jesus encourages the people to cultivate in themselves good soil. 

What does it look like to cultivate a life of good soil so that the kingdom of God might grow in our lives and the lives of our families? What we read, listen to on the radio or podcasts, or post on social media will train and mold our minds. Before I had children I used to listen to whatever was on the radio and I thought there wasn’t any harm in listening to some music. When I entered seminary I went to a school that trained us in a classical method in which we were taught how to think systematically through the content we read or listened to. 

As I learned I began to think more critically I could suddenly hear the lyrics for what they were, I could see what magazines were trying to sell people. I began to think much more critically about what I consumed and how it was shaping my mind and heart. 

I had the privilege to have someone share some books with our family, and as I sat on their floor sorting through books I was amazed at the content of almost every book. This family had classic Christian books that spoke of character, godly living, and God’s beautiful creation. They had filled their minds with the knowledge of nature, of living a joy filled life, and of seeking holiness. 

They had classic christian authors of G.K. Chesterton, Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, and John Edwards. The books they chose had informed their minds and therefore affected their attitudes towards situations they encountered in their lives. What we consume on a daily basis can either sustain us through the darkest times or cause us to lose hope or to become enraged in the midst of our difficult lives. 

This pandemic is a wonderful opportunity to up our game in consuming classic Christian literature, reading our Bibles, and listening to godly Christian speakers. In this life our goal should be to prepare ourselves for heaven. We need to read and listen to godly influences with a passion and fervor as we may reach a time when we can not do this for ourselves. 

We have watched many people experience extreme illness and personal tragedy and the ones who take in godly influences walk through difficult times with such grace and mercy. They can see Christ in their situation. You know you are consuming godly material when you are becoming less reactive, less angry, and less selfish. The fruits of the spirit will take hold in your life and you will have more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control. 

Your words spoken and unspoken will be more gentle and more pure. Your heart will be able to rest in what God has for you and your fear of the future can dissipate into trusting the One who loves you. How are you seeing God in your everyday life right now? How are you wrestling with Him and seeking Him out? What might God be leading you to read in the Bible in order to grow in your faith?

Jesus gives us words of wisdom today in our scripture in regards to how we can avoid pitfalls in our Christian walk. The seed that lands on the pathway is that which is misunderstood. 

If you do not understand an aspect of the scriptures or of something in one of our sermons please come to us, dialogue with us and give us a chance to talk with you. We love the word of God and we love serving you and it is our heart’s desire to explain what we meant and to share the good news of Jesus. 

And if we are wrong in something we said we openly desire to grow and learn.  The seed on rocky ground is that which shoots up quickly and does not take root deeply. The Christian walk is one of duration and perseverance, we need to grow our roots deeply in the soil of the word of God in order to interrupt the world around us in a biblical view. Because without deep roots we will be tossed back and forth and walk away quickly from our faith. 

The seed that grows up in the thorns ends up being consumed with the world and the deceitfulness of riches. The ways of the world are constantly pointing out how we need more money, need more things, a bigger house, nicer car, or better clothes. 

We are constantly barraged with messages of not enough. The love or pursuit of those things can take us away from God. In our early years of marriage once we graduated seminary and started into full time jobs we realized the amount of debt we had and it was staggering. We also found out we were expecting a baby. 

The Lord used a biblical woman’s blog to expose me to the idea of living without debt from a Christian perspective. I had caught the vision and shared my heart’s desire with Chris. I found a book by Dave Ramsey and inhaled it and asked Chris to read it as well. Whenever the Lord moves one of our hearts towards something the other one usually follows. 

Over the next nine years we lived extremely simply, hanging our clothes out to dry in order to not use electricity,never using the air-conditioner, making almost everything from scratch, sharing one car, and living on a tight budget from one full time income. Meanwhile I had many friends in the area living off of two six-figure incomes and while our lives seemed greatly different they really weren’t as we were bound together by a love for our Savior. It was really easy during that time to feel sorry for myself and to long for more money, more resources, and a serious change in our living circumstances.

I struggled deeply to cling to Jesus and to be shaped by him. During this time I fell in love with making things from scratch. I fell in love with watching food grow in our yard. I fell in love with discipling our kids in the faith. I fell in love with my husband who gave so much to care for us. 

Those lean, difficult years taught me to let go of my love of money and my desire for more. I fell in love with simplicity and beautiful provision from the Lord. God’s ways are good and the love of money can never truly fill us. 

A brand new car or a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood wouldn’t usually fill us but rather leave us with a sense of what’s next. But a simple meal shared in fellowship with one another laughing, talking, sharing our hearts or ways in which we have been changed is priceless. Hiking, being in God’s creation, gardening, working with your hands and serving other people can bring joy to our souls. 

The Lord wants you and I to live abundant lives with souls soft for the Word of God. The Lord wants you to be willing to lay down your own ideas and thoughts to be taken captive and set before the throne for correction and forming. The Lord wants us to fill our ears, eyes, and minds with the words of scripture and classic Christian teachers who are faithful to the Word of God.  

How might God be calling you to step more fully into the kingdom work that He has for you? How might God want you to learn more about Him or to fall in love with Him more deeply? God has such a profound love for you and deep desire to see the Word of God grow and expand in your life. I encourage you to seek out with passion the ways of the Lord and the way to the Father because I promise you that if you do He will find you, fill you with wisdom, and quiet you in your fears of life. To God be the glory now and forever. Amen

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