Eighth Sun. aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
July 18, 1999
(As Linda and I traveled to the Midwest just a short while ago, one of the things that struck us was the amazing plant growth that hot sticky weather engenders. How tall the corn was! How big grass the trees were forming canopies over the St. Louis streets. One of the things we noticed on the way back west coming through Oklahoma was the differences in plant growth between good soils and poor ones. In some places the crops were abundant and nearly exuberant in their growth and in other places some were still struggling to make an appearance. In our Gospel lesson today, Jesus tells us a parable about soil and seeds. Under the instruction of the Master Teacher, we might ask the question that is implied in this text: “How are your crops doing?” Does it look like a bumper crop this year? Are there sections of your lives that look like a total crop loss? Let us apply the teaching of our Lord to our lives as we walk through our Gospel to see if we are fruitful people?
HARDPAN SOIL PRODUCES NOTHING.
Hardpan lives repudiate the seed of God’s Word. (vv. 18-19)
These are people with their hearts turned inward rather than toward God.
ILLUS: You’ve all heard of “R” factors with respect to insulation for your homes…there is also a “Resistance” factor with respect to God’s Word.
Some have no time for such foolishness as church, preachers, Bible study or reading.
Hardpan people have made up their minds that God’s truth is either a lie or is irrelevant and have chosen to disregard it completely.
They have developed an impenetrable “R” factor to Jesus Christ.
Make now mistake, Satan is always there to encourage that hard-heartedness.
Hardpan people unknowingly serve the master of sin instead of God.
ILLUS: People mistake personal freedom as a way to serve self. In fact the Scriptures inform us that all people serve a master other than themselves…Satan or God.
ILLUS: Freedom is like a river….
The Pharisees were hardpan legalists and merited Christ’s righteous anger.
They were so impressed with their own “righteousness” that they were not impressed with Christ, the holy, righteous Son of God.
These men were very religious, but could not see God for who He was.
Listen to Christ’s words to such hardpan people: (Mt. 23:25-26)
ROCKY SOIL HAS NO STAYING POWER. (vv. 20-21)
Rocky, shallow soil usually produces an emotional beginning of faith.
Such faith is usually based on how the individual “feels” about it at the time.
“If I don’t feel close to God, then I’m not.”, goes the reasoning.
In such cases, emotions dictate the genuineness of faith.
When adversity comes, such faith is destroyed when the good feeling goes away..
Promoters of the “Prosperity Gospel” proclaim that God wants us to have all the good feelings, all the material blessings, our hearts desire.
Such false teaching bases a person’s relationship with God on the level of success they have experienced.
If abundant life without adversity is what we are intended to experience, then it seems obvious that God is a traitor!
Virtually all Christians are subject to every kind of adversity:
What would this say about the Martyrs for the faith both in the past and in the present day? Are they less godly because they suffer?
What can we conclude about our Lord? Since He suffered beyond all others, was He less than He should have been?
THORNY SOIL CAN’T KEEP ITS EYES OFF IT’S NEIGHBOR’S WEALTH. (v. 22)
The person with thorny soiled faith longs for God, but also for worldly wealth.
The rich, young ruller wanted a compartmentalized Christ.
He wanted a Christ who would save him.
But he did not want a Christ who would demand total loyality.
Our nation is full of thorny-soiled people desiring a Savior without any service being rendered.
This is always a convenient way to look at Christ.
We want to have our cake and eat it too…all the benefits, none of the service.
The bottom line for thorny soiled people is earthly comfort.
When push comes to shove, such will not give sufficiently, will not serve with a willing heart, and will not get out of a “receive only” mode.
Our Lord not only wants the first place in our lives, He also wants the last place and every place in between!
No holding back, no second guessing, no if’s, and’s or but’s.
God is simply not willing to play second fiddle in anyone’s lives.
GOOD SOIL, HOWEVER, PRODUCES FRUIT IN ABUNDANCE.
A profound truth: It is the seed itself that produces good soil to begin with.
When it comes to receptive people, it is always God who makes us receptive.
You see, there is no such thing as naturally good soil.
All of us are hardpan…not even rocky or thorny
It is the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross and presented to us in His strong Word which converts us from hardpan into rich, bountiful, fruitful soil.
Our sins have been forgiven, our punishment for faithlessness paid by the only one who could change us…Jesus Christ.
The curse of death has been defeated and we no longer must serve Satan as our master.
We have been freed by Christ, not to do as we please, but to do what pleases Him.
We were dead trees in dead soil, producing nothing but evil, but we have been transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit of the Living God to become a beautiful and godly creation.
The fruit of faithful response brings manifold blessings to God’s people.
Our hardpan lives have become God’s fruitful soil.
This transformation is beautiful, regardless of our earthly circumstances.
Not merely in our prosperity, but also in our greatest need we are His beautiful creation.
In poverty, ill health, in tragedy as well as blessing we are God’s treasured possession.
Even in death, there is purpose and direction and yes, beauty for then we shall receive eternal life forever through Christ.
(So we conclude as we began by asking a question: “How are your crops doing?” How high is your resistance factor to the transforming Word of God? Are we permitting the Lord to make us into something beautiful or are we insisting that we have our own way and by so doing, choosing the ugliness of selfishness and slavery to the Evil One? By God’s power and grace, let us open our hearts and minds anew to the beauty of God’s Word in our lives. Let is that root and grow into His ideal for us. In Jesus’ name.
Copyright © 2001 CrossTies Counseling
All Rights Reserved