Summary: In an age when the church is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the daily life of people, when the message of the church seems to increasingly fall on deaf ears, and when the truth is mocked as meaningless and unattainable, Jesus speaks to us these words
Seeds that Survive
Pt 2 – Softening the Soil
We started last week talking about seeds that survive. We talked about the sower and the seed last week but this week I want to start sharing with you about the soil. If the soil represents our hearts I want us to take a look at what we can do to ensure the survival of the seed in our lives. Four types of soil are identified by Jesus in the parable – Wayside soil, rocky soil, weedy soil, and good soil. Each represents a condition of the human heart that is changeable not static. In other words we can do something about it. Let’s take a look at wayside soil this morning.
Wayside soil is the soil along the path or the road.
o It’s hard packed, barren, uncultivated, and unprotected. The pressure of wagon wheels and countless feet have left it packed hard so that the seed that falls there cannot penetrate. Jesus says that when the seed falls on wayside soil quickly the birds of the air come and eat up the exposed seed. When our hearts are wayside hearts the seed of the word falls on them and the enemy comes and steals away the seed before it has a chance to take root.
The Wayside Heart – how do we develop wayside hearts?
o A broken world – the constant and relentless pounding of a broken world sometimes leaves us with a wayside heart. The pressures and stresses of people, jobs, hurts, misadventures, mistakes, bad choices the list goes on and on leave us with hearts that the word does not penetrate.
o Sinful indulgence – when sin captures and holds our hearts. When brokenness becomes the friend we go to sleep with each night. When we stubbornly refuse to listen to the God who created us we are left with hearts where the seed cannot take root.
o Stubborn disobedience – I know what God wants and I know what God says but I know what I want.
o Unforgiveness – bitterness, hurt, and failure often trap us in an endless cycle of pain and victimization. We are so angry that love can’t penetrate our hearts.
o Fear – fear of change, fear of letting go, fear of the unknown, fear of expectations, fear of failure. We embrace mediocrity for fear of greatness.
o Pious Loitering – we can call it righteous stagnation. Sometimes we can be around the church so much that we forget that we are the church. The word when it finds us is a great word for the church but I already know that. People who have been in the faith for 50 years and yet still don’t know how to treat each other or how to stop gossiping and slandering others. Our churches are full of grown up 2 years olds demanding their own way and pushing people down on the playground.
So how do we change a wayside heart and make it good ground?
o Embrace the plow – have you ever seen or used a plow. It’s a sharp blade that tears into the soil, lifts it and turns it over completely exposing the dark soil that has not seen the light. It’s a violent upheaval of the quiet rest of the soil – turning it over, exposing it, and changing it forever. Friends you cannot change and stay the same. Faith that only touches the surface of your life is no Faith at all. “…must take up his cross daily and follow me.” A. W. Tozer writes “to say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.” If you want to be good soil you have to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit to dig into the depths of your life exposing the fertile soil of your heart so that a seed will grow. The process of plowing is not altogether pleasant for the soil but the result is miraculous.
o Pray for rain – look folks we can’t do this ourselves. We cannot tinker with our own spiritual lives and make them run. This is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. We simply have to surrender to the rain – letting it penetrate us and fill us not from within but from without. Holy Spirit come and rain down in my heart to make it ready to receive your word implanted.
o Protect the seed – know that we have an enemy who would steal the seed from your heart. An enemy who has come only to steal, kill, and destroy. We cannot remain passive and win. Apathy, complacency, and laziness are the tools of the enemy. They destroy relationships in this world and they destroy our relationship with Christ. Peter says we should become “doers of the word not merely hearers who delude themselves.” An active embracing of the seed makes them harder to steal.