“A Sower Went Out to Sow!” #2

Sermon Notes (Sunday October 4th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

A Sower Went Out to Sow!” #2  

Isaiah 27:6; Matthew 13:1-9

 

An old farmer who was about to die called his two sons to his bedside and said, “My sons, my farm and the fields are yours in equal shares. I leave you a little ready money but the bulk of my wealth is hidden somewhere in the ground, not more than eighteen inches from the surface. I regret that I’ve forgotten precisely where it lies.” When the old man was dead and buried his two sons set to work to dig up every inch of ground in order to find the buried treasure. They failed to find it but as they’d gone to all the trouble of turning over the soil they thought they might as well sow a crop, which they did, reaping a good harvest. In autumn as soon as they had an opportunity they dug for the treasure again but with no better results. As their fields were turned over more thoroughly than any others in the neighborhood they reaped better harvests than anyone else. Year after year their search continued. Only when they had grown much older and wiser did they realize what their father had meant. Real treasure comes as a result of hard work and digging deeper.

 

The Rocky Soil

Today we continue our study on the parable of the sower from Matthew chapter 13. Last week we studied the first kind of soil, the hard soil. The second type of soil is mentioned in Mathew 13:5-6, “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”

 

The second type of soil Jesus speaks about is the “rocky places.” These rocky places are very common in Palestine and were so familiar to Jesus’ listeners. Often there will be an outcropping of limestone rock covered by a thin layer of topsoil. Shallow soil is common there. There’s an old Arabic story that says that when God was creating the world, He entrusted all the stones to two angels, each with one full bag. As they flew over Palestine one of the bags broke spilling half the stones intended for the whole world. There must be some truth to this story because I remember looking out the window of the plane as we circled for a landing at Tel Aviv when I went to the Holy Land a few years ago I saw rocks poking out everywhere. Much of Israel is indeed very rocky and because of this it can be a tough place to farm. So, what is the problem with the rocky soil? What did Jesus mean by the stony soil? As we think about the rocky soil, please allow me to highlight a couple important observations:

First: False Profession of Faith

The rocky soil looks like it is ready to be sown. This ground looks good and productive and seed cast there will germinate and quickly spring up into a promising plant. But, because there is no depth of soil, as soon as the sun beats down on the tender plant, it withers and dies without producing any fruit. In Matthew 13:18, 20-21 Jesus said, “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives 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.”

 

This kind of soil speaks of that heart that makes an emotional response to the presentation of the gospel. They receive the gospel gladly. They are excited about being a Christian. They start coming to church or Bible study. Perhaps this person heard the gospel and said, “That’s what I need!” They make a profession, but it is a shallow one at best. They may even show signs of life in the Lord, but when Christianity doesn’t turn out like they thought it would, they quickly fade away and disappear! They shrink away from the radical claims of Christ and the cross. They like the idea of forgiveness and heaven and receiving “God’s favor,” but don’t want any difficulties. Notice that it doesn’t say “if” trouble or persecution comes, but “when” it comes. Trouble and persecution will strengthen true believers and it also reveals those who have only had an emotional experience. It was a false profession. They only had faith on the surface. It was not truly in their heart. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” A surface faith is not a saving faith.

 

So how do we prevent a false profession of faith in Christ? I don’t believe we can eliminate false professions completely, but there are things we can do to make them less common. First of all, we can help people count the cost of following Jesus. We don’t just present the gospel as a “get out of hell free” card, but we help people understand repentance from sin and the cost of discipleship. Secondly, we present not just a message but a person. The basic Christian confession is not “I believe the Bible,” though we do, but “Jesus is Lord.”

 

Second: It Takes Time to Develop Roots

Colossians 2:6-7 says that we need to be rooted in Christ, and so a person with no root is a person without Christ. Effort needs to be put into getting rooted and grounded in Christ. Don’t dwell on the visible results. Take the example of an oak tree, for every foot above the ground there is three to four feet of roots below the ground. By the time the seedling sprouts it is already well established. Then throughout its lifecycle, it withstands the storms because the strong roots make it stable. Put your effort into your root system. Get established in Scripture and God will take care of the plume. Meditate, study, strive to understand and get some depth of soil. In the Christian life, visible results in life and ministry is a direct result of how deep your root system is.

 

Friends, would we examine our lives today least our hearts have become rocky ground? What kind of faith do you have? Do you have a deep root system? The only way to prove that our faith is genuine is to bear fruits. The only way to prove that we are rooted in Christ is to bear fruit. In the last chapter of the book of Hosea, in Hosea 14:6-8, the prophet repeats the image of Israel as a fruitful plant or tree watered and sustained by his relationship with the Lord: “I will be like the dew of Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; he shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain. They shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon… Because of me you bear fruit!” And in Isaiah 27:6 we read, “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Nothing serious and major will take place in our lives until we strike root. No real growth will ever happen until we base our lives on God’s teaching and Living Word, the Scripture. The health, strength, and fruitiness of the plant totally depend on how good their root system is. Friends, let’s examine the soil of our heart. Let’s see if our faith is shallow. Let’s see if our faith needs to be deepened. Remember … it takes time and effort to develop roots and maintain them. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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