Summary: We are called to reach out those around us with the hope and message of the gospel.
Recognizing the Receptive
Series: Spring Life - Identify
March 4, 2007
This message was prepared using the Springlife materials supplied by the Wesleyan Headquarters.
When I was young, we always planted a garden at my grandmother’s house. It was a lot of work and seemed like a major pain at the time. One of my favorite parts was actually getting the ground ready for planting. Depending on what we were planting, we either used the actual plow, I was allowed to drive the tractor a few times, or the roto-tiller. No matter how you did the garden, you still got to mess around in the dirt and mud.
It would have been incredibly difficult to plant the seeds or small plants without first getting the ground ready. The same is true for outreach and evangelism. Many times we want to reap a harvest without doing the hard work of cultivating and sowing.
Before any ground can be ready for planting the ground must first be prepared for the seed. It must be cultivated. The first section of study that we will be looking in Spring Life is the aspect of cultivating. We are called to labor in the field of souls and do the work of Christ’s Kingdom and this begins with cultivating. How do we cultivate for Jesus?
In your bulletin, you will find a sheet marked Cultivating List. This sheet is a simple and straightforward way to begin your cultivating. Take just a moment right now and think of two people that you know who do not know Christ or attend church. Write down those names in the places provided. You can finish your list later
We begin cultivating in areas where we are familiar. How many of you invited someone to the Christmas program? That can be a starting point for cultivating. Any person that you know who does not know Christ is a target for cultivation.
This morning if you have your Bibles open them to Matthew 13:1-9
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:1-9
The goal of personal evangelism is to scatter seed. Our hope is that people will be won to Christ through our service. However, it is important to remember that the average person has to hear the gospel at least 18 times before they will respond.
When Jesus tells this parable it is not just about the efforts of spreading the gospel but about different kinds of people who hear the gospel.
Four Kinds of People
The Unresponsive – The soil on the path
The paths in the ancient day would have been packed down to allow for ease of walking. There are people who feel like they have been walked on and stomped down in life. As a result they become hardened and cynical. Many people like this become indifferent to anything spiritual. They are focused entirely on self – self centered, self sufficient, self satisfied, self serving and self righteous.
The Superficial – The rocky soil
These are people who are quick to respond and even quicker to turn away from their belief. People who make commitments out of the depth of a mud puddle. Their faith was on the outside for others to see. The focus is on being religious. It is nothing more than showing an outward appearance with no inward change. The old phrase: “fake as a three dollar bill” would seem to fit.
The Worldly – The thorny soil
These are people who busy trying to live two separate lives. These are people who never make a commitment to live the Christian life. They go through life with a double focus on both the world and on God.
The Receptive – The Good soil
These are people who allow the Word to take root and grow. Their hearts have been cultivated by the Holy Spirit to receive spiritual things. It is this cultivating that creates openness to the gospel. These are people who produce spiritual fruit.