Summary: Good sowing is done with confident hope that God will give the harvest! Let us ask the Lord for wisdom, faith and guidance in knowing how to be the best spiritual farmers He wants us to be.

Twelve Truths That Jesus Taught About Farming (Mark 4:1-4:22)

Illustration: Other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased, and produced. --Mark 4:8

John Chrysostom was one of the most captivating preachers of the early Christian church. However, he recognized that even great orators cannot make everyone listen.

Chrysostom noted, "My preaching is addressed to all . . . , but it is the duty of each one of my listeners to take what is suited for his affliction. I do not know who are sick, who are healthy. Therefore, I discuss subjects of every sort and suited to every illness."

In Mark 4, the parable of the sower and the soils teaches the importance of how we respond to the Word of God. It tells us that the success or failure of a crop isn’t necessarily in the skill of the farmer or in the power of the seed, but in the quality of the soil.

Some listeners are like rich soil, and the message takes root in their heart. Other audiences resemble the church parking lot, and the seed simply bounces off them. Still others are like a weed patch that chokes potential growth.

Preaching is not "the fine art of talking in someone else’s sleep." We need to "drink in" the teaching of the Word just as the sick need medicine or as crops need rain. That’s why Jesus urged, "Take heed what you hear" (v.24). Whether or not you benefit from a sermon is largely up to you. (Our Daily Bread)

As planted seed in fertile soil

Has life and will take root,

God’s Word, if nurtured in our hearts,

Will grow and bring forth fruit. --Hess

In good soil, the seed takes root and will soon bear fruit.

1. Jesus equated the ministry of the His kingdom with farming in Mark 4:1-20 where He said, "The farmer sows the seed along the path, where the word is sown. Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries, riches and pleasures of this life choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it and produce a crop - thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."

The Lord knew that farmers must be wise in determining the best places, times and methods of sowing their seed to get the greatest return for their investments. Resist the temptation to hop from one place to another thinking that you will do a lot of good through frenetic activities.

2. Jesus knew that farmers concentrate on looking after one field at a time rather than flittering from place to place hoping that by haphazardly spreading the seed it would miraculously spring up and yield a harvest. People who are apt to be a "bumblebee" type minister are failing to follow the example of our Lord’s teaching on the principles and practices of wise spiritual farming.

Application: Ask the Lord for the ability to remain in one ministry long enough to bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciples.

3. Jesus knew that most godly people are called to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness through a long-term relationship with a network of local relationships. The Lord knew that people who were willing to remain in one area for a long period of time and establish their roots in a location would be able to see long term fruit.

Application: Ask the Lord for the wisdom to overcome the tendency to hop from place to place or person to person without getting beyond superficial relationships. (Psa. 37:3-5)

4. Jesus knew that the ministry of each local church would best be analogized to a farmer who knows the ins and outs of local territory along with its accompanying problems. Even Paul the apostle wrote, "The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." (2 Tim. 2:2-6) In order to produce disciples we must be willing to work with faithful people over a long period of time to develop them spiritually, socially, mentally, Biblically and in their ministry skills. No one can develop mature leaders without a concentrated training curriculum that allows people to develop uniquely over time. Every local church can best develop its own contextualized curriculum that is relevant, appropriate and suited just for the needs of people. Without a customized farming approach to disciple making, the Great commission of Christ cannot properly be fulfilled. (Matt. 28:18-20)Ralph Winter has said that missions is more about being a locksmith to find the right key to open the doors to unreached people groups than anything. I agree.

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