HEALTHY CROPS HEALTHY HEARTS
MATTHEW 13:3-8; 18-23
SEPTEMBER 15, 2002
Parkersburg Baptist Church
WE LIVE IN AN AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY; MANY OF YOU MAKE YOUR LIVING BY RAISING VARIOUS CROPS. MANY OF YOU WHO DEAL WITH LIVESTOCK, KNOW ABOUT THE CROPS BECAUSE YOU DEPEND UPON GRAIN TO KEEP YOUR ANIMALS ALIVE.
IN FACT, EVERYONE?S LIFE IS TOUCHED BY THE FARMER.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR CROPS TO GROW? HARD ROCKY GROUND? WEED AND THORN INFESTED AREAS? GROUND THAT IS NOT PLOWED UP SO THAT THE ROOTS CAN STAY EXPOSED? BAD SOIL?
IT TAKES NONE OF THESE THINGS FOR CROPS TO GROW. IT TAKES GOOD SOIL, SOFT PLOWED GROUND. SOIL FREE FROM WEEDS AND THORNS THAT CHOKE OUT THE CROP. IT TAKES FOOD, (FERTILIZER) AND WATER TO KEEP THE CROP HEALTHY.
AND WHEN THE SEEDS ARE PLANTED IN GOOD FERTILE SOIL THEY SPROUT AND GROW. DURING THIS GROWTH THEY MUST BE FED AND WATERED?THE WEEDS MUST BE KEPT AT BAY. HARMFUL INSECTS MUST BE KEPT AWAY.
THE PLANTS MUST BE KEPT HEALTHY IN ORDER TO AVOID DISEASE.
IF ALL OF THIS IS DONE METICULOUSLY THEN WHEN THE PLANT IS MATURE IT BEARS FRUIT. A PLANTS GOODNESS IS EVIDENCED BY THE FRUIT THAT IT BEARS.
IF THE PLANT IS UNHEALTHY, IT MAY YIELD SOME FRUIT, BUT IT WILL BE VERY FEW, AND THE FRUIT WILL USUALLY BE BAD. IF THE PLANT IS HEALTHY THEN IT USUALLY YIELDS AN ABUNDANCE OF GOOD FRUIT.
THE FRUIT IS THEN USED TO KEEP US HEALTHY AND FULL OF LIFE.
DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH EVERYTHING THAT I HAVE JUST SAID?
NOW THAT YOU AGREE WITH WHAT I HAVE SAID, I WANT US TO APPLY THESE PRINCIPALS OF GROWTH AND PRODUCTION OF FRUIT TO OUR LIVES AS CHRISTIANS.
WE HAVE MENTIONED SEEDS, SOIL, WEEDS, THORNS, HARMFUL INSECTS, FOOD OR FERTILIZER, WATER, AND FRUIT.
LETS LOOK AT EACH OF THESE IN A SPIRITUAL POINT OF VIEW.
FIRST LET?S LOOK AT THE SEED. THE SEED REPRESENTS GOD?S WORD. GOD?S WORD IS PRESENTED TO US IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. THROUGH THE BIBLE, THE PREACHED WORD, TEACHING IN Sunday SCHOOL AND BIBLE STUDY.
THESE SEEDS OF SALVATION ARE SOWN TO US AS A LOST PERSON.
SECONDLY, I WANT US TO LOOK AT WEEDS AS DIFFERENT BAD INFLUENCES IN OUR LIVES. THERE ARE MANY WEEDS THAT CAN INFEST THE CROP AND DESTROY THE PLANT IF THEY ARE NOT TAKEN CARE OF AND DONE AWAY WITH.
THE SAME HOLDS TRUE IN OUR LIVES AS CHRISTIANS. WE CAN DESTROY OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR FAMILIES, OUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS, AND THE MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP OF ALL, OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SAVIOR.
LETTING WEEDS CREEP INTO OUR GARDEN, WHICH REPRESENTS OUR LIFE, WEEDS CAN BE IN THE FORM OF PEOPLE, (FRIENDS, FAMILY, and CO-WORKERS), IT CAN BE IN THE FORM OF TV.
IT CAN BE IN THE FORM OF BOOKS OR ANY OTHER ENTERTAINMENT THAT COMES BETWEEN US AND WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING AS A CHRISTIAN.
WHAT WEEDS DO WE LET COME INTO OUR LIVES AND ALLOW THEM TO INFLUENCE US IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
I PUT THORNS INTO A SEPARATE CATEGORY, BECAUSE THESE THINGS CAN GRAB US AND REALLY GET INTO OUR SKIN, THESE ARE THINGS THAT WE LET KEEP US OUT OF CHURCH AND CHOKE THE SPIRIT RIGHT OUT OF US.
IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO EXCUSES. OUR FAVORITE SPORT IS ON THE TV OR IN TOWN, THE WEATHER IS TOO HOT, OR TOO COLD. I?VE GOT TO WORK TODAY. I?VE JUST GOT TO OR MY LIFE IS GOING TO COME TO A STAND STILL. MATERIALISM. FEELINGS ABOUT OTHERS.
WE CAN GO ON AND ON. WE CAN?T PUT THE WORLD ON HOLD FOR AN HOUR OR TWO. WE HAVE GOT TO LET IT CONTROL US. THE BRIARS ON THIS THORN BUSH HAVE SUCH A HOLD ON US THAT WE JUST CAN?T BREAK FREE.
WE DO BELIEVE THAT IF WE DON?T DO WHAT EVER IT IS, INSTEAD OF GOING TO CHURCH OR SERVING THE LORD IN SOME OTHER CAPACITY, THAT OUR LIVES WILL JUST COME TO A COMPLETE STANDSTILL.
THE DEVIL HAS PAINTED SUCH A PRETTY PICTURE THAT WE JUST CAN?T MISS WHAT IS GOING ON OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH. WE FEEL THAT WE WILL BE DEPRIVED, IF WE MISS OUT ON WHAT THE WORLD HAS GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME CHURCH IS GOING ON.
ALL THE WHILE, WE ARE NEGLECTING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, AND THE WORLD IS CHOKING THE LIFE RIGHT OUT OF US, BECAUSE WE ARE LETTING IT.
WHEN WE LET OTHER THINGS COME IN BETWEEN US AND GOD, THINGS THAT COULD BE PUT ASIDE FOR A LITTLE WHILE, IT IS OUR OWN FAULT. WE LET THE WORLD WIN. WE SAY THE WORLD IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ONE WHO GAVE ME ETERNAL LIFE.
FOURTHLY, LET?S LOOK AT HARMFUL INSECTS. I CATEGORIZE THIS AS THE THINGS THAT COME AND GO IN OUR LIVES, THAT KEEP US FROM DOING AS WE SHOULD FOR A SHORT WHILE.
THINGS THAT COME AND GO. LOCUSTS HAVE DIFFERENT LIFE CYCLES, THEY ARE WORSE IN SOME YEARS THAN IN OTHERS. IT IS TRUE USUALLY WITH ALL OTHER PESTS, THEY ARE WORSE AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE YEAR THAN OTHERS.
THINGS LIKE THE SUMMER TIME WEEVIL. IT ATTACKS WITH SUMMER TIME WARMTH. THE WARM WEATHER GETS INTO US, IT BITES US WITH TEETH IN THE GUISE OF FUN.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET AWAY. JESUS CHRIST EVEN SET AN EXAMPLE IN THIS. BUT HE DIDN?T STAY AWAY. ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THESE HARMFUL INSECTS, ARE SINS THAT WE KNOWINGLY COMMIT.
BAD HABITS, THAT WE TRY AND GET CONTROL OF, AND WE DO FOR A WHILE. AND JUST WHEN WE THINK WE HAVE IT LICKED, HERE COMES TEMPTATION, AND WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO FALL AGAIN.
AND NONE OF US AS CHRISTIANS CAN SAY THAT WE CAN?T HELP IT. WE CAN CONQUER THE TEMPTATION. THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT WE CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.
LOOK TO HIM WHEN TEMPTATION HITS, AND YOU CAN OVERCOME IT.
LET?S TALK ABOUT THE FOOD NOW. THE FERTILIZER. THE FOOD THAT OUR LIVES AS CHRISTIANS NEED INCLUDES, CHURCH ATTENDANCE AND FELLOWSHIP WITH BELIEVERS.
THIS INCLUDES, Sunday SCHOOL. IT INCLUDES MORNING WORSHIP. IT INCLUDES WEDNESDAY EVENING SERVICES. IT INCLUDES THE WMU. IT INCLUDES ANY OTHER ACTIVITIES THAT THE CHURCH MAY SPONSOR OR SUPPORTS. IT INCLUDES ANY MINISTRIES THAT REACH OUT AND SERVE OTHERS.
YOU CAN?T HAVE FOOD WITHOUT HAVING SOMETHING TO DRINK TO WASH IT ALL DOWN WITH. SO I WANT TO TALK ABOUT WATER JUST A BIT RIGHT HERE.
THE WATER IS EQUATED WITH BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER. THE FOOD AND WATER IN A CHRISTIANS LIFE, HELPS US TO GROW SPIRITUALLY. AND WHEN WE DO THIS WE BECOME MORE CHRISTLIKE, WE CAN BE AN EXAMPLE TO YOUNG CHRISTIANS, AND YOUNG PEOPLE.
IT ALLOWS US TO REALLY FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER BELIEVERS. NOT JUST HEY, HOW YA DOING, BUT REALLY, HOW ARE YOU DOING. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO FOR YOU OR PRAY ABOUT FOR YOU.
FELLOWSHIP IS NOT JUST SMALL TALK. IT IS DEVELOPING A FULL FLEDGED CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER WHERE WE CAN FEEL FREE TO TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT OUR NEEDS AND PROBLEMS.
THE FOOD AND WATER, HELPS US TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SCRIPTURE, GOD, AND EACH OTHER.
WHEN ALL OF THIS HAPPENS, WHEN WE REMOVE THE WEEDS, THORNS, INSECTS, AND WE TAKE IN THE FOOD AND WATER.
THIS IS WHEN WE MATURE AND START PRODUCING FRUIT. JESUS SAID IN MATTHEW 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. FRUIT IS THE TEST OF TRUE SALVATION.
I FIND IN THE SCRIPTURE SIX FRUITS THAT THE CHRISTIAN MAY BEAR. THERE ARE PROBABLY MANY MORE, BUT I WANT US TO LOOK AT THESE SIX.
THE FRUIT OF HOLINESS. ROMANS 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. NIV
WHEN WE ARE SET FREE FROM SIN, THROUGH THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST THEN WE START ON THE PATH OF HOLINESS, LIVING LIVES THAT ARE PLEASING UNTO GOD.
THE NEXT FRUIT IS THAT OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. GALATIANS 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
OUR CHARACTER CHANGES ONCE WE BECOME SAVED. WE BECOME JUST THE OPPOSITE OF THE WORLD AROUND US.
NEXT IS THE FRUIT OF GOOD WORKS COLOSSIANS 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
IT PLEASES GOD WHEN WE DO GOOD WORKS FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS WITHOUT ANY ULTERIOR MOTIVE. WE DO IT FOR THE LOVE OF DOING IT, NOT FOR WHAT WE CAN GET IN RETURN.
FOURTHLY THERE IS THE FRUIT OF SOUL WINNING ROMANS 1:13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
PAUL WAS WANTING TO GET TO ROME IN ORDER TO LEAD OTHERS TO CHRIST AS HE HAD BEEN ABLE TO IN OTHER PARTS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
WE NEED TO HAVE A DESIRE IN OUR HEARTS TO BEAR THE FRUIT OF SOUL WINNING. BECAUSE IT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO DO BY OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.
FIFTH IS THE FRUIT OF GIVING UNTO OTHERS. ROMANS 15:25-28 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there.
For Macedonia and ACHAIA were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.
THE EARLY CHURCH MADE NO BONES ABOUT GIVING TO OTHERS SACRIFICIALLY. THE BIBLE EVEN TELLS US IN ACTS THAT MANY WENT OUT AND SOLD ALL THEY HAD TO GIVE TO THE CHURCH AND TO THOSE IN NEED.
DO WE GIVE SACRIFICIALLY TODAY?
THE SIXTH FRUIT IS THE FRUIT OF PRAISING GOD. HEBREWS 13:15-16 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE. DO WE PRAISE GOD AS WE SHOULD?
ARE WE BEARING THE FRUIT OF MATURE CHRISTIANS? ARE WE EVEN BEARING FRUIT IN OUR LIVES. THIS IS A QUESTION THAT WE ALL NEED TO ASK OURSELVES TODAY.
NOW WE HAVE LOOKED AT MANY THINGS THIS MORNING. BUT DO YOU KNOW THE ONE THING THAT WE HAVE YET TO LOOK AT THAT CONCERNS THE GROWTH OF CROPS, AND OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH?
WE?VE LOOKED AT SEED, WEEDS, THORNS, INSECTS, WATER, FOOD, AND FRUIT.
IN ORDER TO GET THE FROM THE SEED TO THE FRUIT, WHAT HAVE WE YET TO LOOK AT TODAY?
WE HAVE YET TO LOOK AT THE SOIL.
OUR HEARTS REPRESENT THE VARIOUS SOILS. THE SOIL HAS TO BE PREPARED, AND MAINTAINED IN ORDER FOR FRUIT TO BE PRODUCES. THE SOIL MUST BE FED AND WATERED IN ORDER FOR FRUIT TO BE PRODUCED.
THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF SOILS THAT JESUS TALKED ABOUT, LETS LOOK AT OUR TEXT FOR THESE.
THERE IS THE WAYSIDE, VV. 4 & 19.
THERE IS THE STONY GROUND VV. 5-6 & 20-21.
THERE IS THE SOIL WITH THE THORNS AND WEEDS VV. 7 & 22.
THEN THERE IS THE GOOD SOIL VV. 8 & 23.
IN ORDER FOR THE CHRISTIANS HEART TO REMAIN GOOD SOIL AFTER THE SEED HAS BEEN PLANTED AND SPROUTED. HE OR SHE MUST MAINTAIN THE SOIL IN GOOD CONDITION. YOU MUST WEED YOUR HEART OF THE DISTRACTIONS, AND HINDRANCES.
YOU MUST ALSO FEED AND WATER YOUR HEART. YOU CAN?T DO THIS JUST ONCE A MONTH, OR TWICE A MONTH. IT NEEDS TO BE DONE DAILY.
IF YOU DON?T WATER AND FEED YOUR CROP DURING THE INTENSE HEAT OF THE SUMMER WHAT HAPPENS? IT WITHERS AND DIES. IF YOU DON?T WATER AND FEED YOUR SPIRIT IN THE INTENSE HEAT OF THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE IT TOO WILL WITHER AND DIE.
FOLKS, WE NEED TO BE MORE FAITHFUL TO CHURCH. NOT JUST TO PLEASE THE PREACHER, OR PLEASE A PARENT, OR A FRIEND. NOT EVEN TO PLEASE YOUR SPOUSE.
WE NEED TO BE MORE FAITHFUL TO CHURCH, IN ORDER TO KEEP OUR LIVES IN ORDER. WE NEED TO BE MORE FAITHFUL IN WATERING AND FEEDING OUR HEARTS, TO PLEASE GOD.
WE NEED TO BE MORE FAITHFUL IN FEEDING AND WATERING OUR HEARTS, FOR THE ETERNAL BENEFITS THAT IT BRINGS. THE ETERNAL REWARDS. AND NOT ONLY THE REWARDS, BUT TO HEAR THE WORDS OF JESUS CHRIST WHEN HE SAYS WELL DONE!
LET?S LOOK AT IT IN THIS PERSPECTIVE. LET?S LOOK AT OUR HEARTS AND LIVES AS CHRISTIANS AS A VASE OF BEAUTIFUL RED ROSES. LONG STEMS AND DE-THORNED. NOW LETS IMAGINE THAT WE ARE GOING TO GIVE THESE ROSES TO CHRIST, AT HIS JUDGEMENT SEAT.
IF THE ROSES HAVE NOT BEEN WATERED AND CARE FOR WHILE IN THE VASE, WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO LOOK LIKE, JUST A DAY OR TWO DOWN THE ROAD. THEY ARE GOING TO LOOK DEAD AND WILTED.
THE BUD?S ARE GOING TO BE SHRIVELED UP. VERY UNHEALTHY LOOKING. BUT IF WE HAVE WATERED THE ROSES AND DONE OUR BEST TO MAINTAIN THEM,
THEY WILL LOOK FRESH AND SMELL SO FRAGRANT. THE BUDS WILL HAVE OPENED INTO BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS.
NOW, WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER TO GIVE THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS? A DEAD, DRIED UP AND SHRIVELED BOUQUET,
OR A BOUQUET OF FRESH FRAGRANT FLOWERS THAT LOOK APPEALING AND PLEASING.
WHAT KIND OF HEART DO YOU HAVE? ONE BY THE WAYSIDE, ONE THAT IS STONY, ONE FULL OF THORNS, ARE A GOOD ONE BEARING FRUIT FOR THE SAVIOR.
IF NOT, THEN WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT YOUR SOIL, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT YOUR HEART?