Sharon and Nicole ponder soil and seeds today. The parable of the sower teaches us great lessons about where we should plant ourselves and how we should live so we produce a harvest. Join them for a tender talk about life on the farm - God's farm - as Christian seedlings!
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Sweet Selah moments podcast. We hope this little pause in your day refreshes and encourages you friend. Let’s take time to know God through his word and love him more and more. This Sweet Selah moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to episode 43 Be Part of the Harvest. We are going to be looking at a very familiar parable today, the parable of the sower. As we look at it, we’ll be asking ourselves, are we going to be a seed that produces a harvest or not? Sharon, how familiar are you with seeds and gardens and harvest?
Well, I don’t currently keep a garden, but my grandfather and my father both were, well my grandfather was, my father is, avid at gardening. My dad is in his late eighties and he still tries to get enough vegetables to freeze and store that they don’t have to buy any vegetables all year.
Wow. That’s quite a job.
So he has everything. He has Maine potatoes and he does have extras of those. And I love potatoes fresh out of the ground. They’re so good. And everything you could put in a salad and all kinds of squash and brussel sprouts and asparagus, green beans, beets and raspberry bushes and then they have flower gardens too. My parents love having hands in the dirt. They both do. It’s really, really fun, and I’m just quite happy to take whatever extras they want to give me.
The fruits of their labors.
Yeah, how about you?
Oh, my grandmother always had beautiful flower gardens and rose gardens at her house. And my favorite thing when I was little was to walk through all the gardens and she’d tell me what the flowers were and their names. And they were gorgeous. She did just such a good job taking care of them. And now my husband’s parents have a beautiful garden and everything is so perfectly spaced apart and they have all the different fruits and vegetables in there. So we also get to benefit from their hard work.
It’s very nice. They have a nice little apple orchard so we go picking in the fall. So yeah, we really like that they live close and they garden.
Oh, I know. So I’m trying to be a little gardener. We tried last year, I got this little tiny square foot garden template, like a cookie cutter and you press it into the soil and it makes a little square foot square. And it tells you, there’s little holes in this template that says if there’s carrots put sixteen of them and you drop them in the hole of the template.
If it’s a broccoli, you put one in the middle. If it’s cucumber, I think it needs four of them. It’s like gardening for dummies and I needed that cause I have no idea what I’m doing with gardening.
I always put in too many seeds and then you have to pull some out.
I hate pulling them out. You feel like a murderer.
Yes. You apologize to them you know? So this is much better.
Yes. It’s been really fun. We’re trying this. That was our first year. So.
Oh, I think that is so cool.
Well it just never cease to amaze me that a tiny seed can produce a harvest. You look at it in your hand and it looks like nothing. And yet it grows into something and then it has seeds that grow into more somethings. So I just love this parable where we are the little seeds and where we are challenged to be part of the harvest and not a little failed plant. So let’s read straight away the parable and Jesus’ explanation that follows. And then let’s talk about it. We’re going to do some life style checking today. Are we situated in the kind of soil and environment where we will produce a harvest? That’s the question we’re going to ask ourselves. So Nicole, why don’t you start this Sweet Selah moment of reading God’s word.
Okay, then. We’ll be reading from Matthew 13:1-23, the parable of the farmer scattering seed. “Later that same day, Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake.”
“A large crowd soon gathered around him so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore.”
“He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one, listen, a farmer went out to plant some seeds.”
“As he scattered them across the field some seeds fell on a footpath and the birds came and ate them.”
“Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow”
“But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.”
“Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.”
“Still other seeds fell on fertile soil. And they produced a crop that was 30, 60, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.”
“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
“His disciples came and asked him, why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
“He replied, you are permitted to understand the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but others are not.”
“To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”
“This is why I use these parables. For they look but they don’t really see, they hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.”
“This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, when you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do you will not comprehend.”
“For the hearts of these people are hardened and their ears cannot hear. And they have closed their eyes so their eyes cannot see and their ears cannot hear. And their hearts cannot understand. And they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.”
“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”
“I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people long to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they long to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds.”
“The seed that fell on the foot path represents those who hear the message about the kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.”
“The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.”
“But since they don’t have deep roots they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.”
“The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly, the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth. So no fruit is produced.”
“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of 30, 60, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.”
Okay. Well, we’re going to start at the end. What is the harvest? What’s the end goal as we’re trying to be little seeds planted in the right soil, what’s our goal?
I think the harvest is referring to the bearing of spiritual fruit. You know, like the fruit of the spirit, all those wonderful things that sprout in our life as we read the word and learn more about God, the Holy Spirit brings about the change in the form of those fruits. I’ll read it since it’s so good. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” So I think it also referred to other souls that are reached for the kingdom of God. A really healthy and vibrant plant or tree not only produces fruits, but it also sends out lots of little seeds to grow more trees and plants just like it.
Yes. Yes. I see both. Yes. I’ve always seen it primarily as I’m to go and make disciples. So I’ve always seen it more in that way, but the fruit of the Spirit is how disciples are made. It’s our love and our joy and our peace and our patience and goodness that attracts people so they want to ask us questions about Jesus, right?
That’s true. Because a healthy plant produces fruit. If we’re not healthy and growing, then we’re probably not sending out seeds.
No, we’re not. And if we’re not healthy and happy ourselves, we’re not as likely to share the good news with others because we’re not feeling like it’s good news.
So I think it’s all wrapped up together. But what we want to do when we get to heaven is to bring a harvest with us. Other people that have come to know Christ or even grown closer to Christ and gotten more love, joy, peace, patience, la, la, la, because of us, right?
Right. That’s true.
All right. Well, that’s the harvest then. We want to bring more people into heaven with us and we want to help more people bear fruit.
So, okay. Now that we have the goal in mind and it’s a pretty fine goal, let’s look at our four little seeds and their life journeys, and we’re going to start with poor seed number one, who actually doesn’t even really get started cause he’s not even planted in soil. I’m going to read the story and explanation verses together and then we’ll talk about it. Just so we can remember, because that was a long reading. So seed number one’s story. “Listen, a farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field some seeds fell on a footpath and the birds came and ate them.” Jesus’ explanation for seed number one’s story. “The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.” So actually in order to understand seed number one, we have to look at that middle section that we read, where it talks about people seeing, but not seeing and not hearing, that part because here’s this little seed that’s not understanding.
So, let me read this middle section, which only was said to the disciples, which is interesting. He tells a parable to everybody and it’s almost like the people that hang around and want to get it he goes deeper with. So the crowd is like, Oh, cool story. Let’s go home and roast some marshmallows or whatever they did back then. You know, they’re gone and now the ones that want to go deeper are there. So here they are. “His disciples came and asked him, why do you use parables when you talk to the people? He replied, you are permitted to understand the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be give and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have, will be taken from them. So we’ve got to listen. If people aren’t even interested, then they’re not going to ever get it and Satan’s going to come and just snatch that away. So then Jesus says, that is why I use these parables for they look, but they don’t really see, they hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. And that just, that just breaks my heart, Nicole, you know, to not have eyes to see. It’s like, when you look in the heavens, doesn’t it make sense that something bigger than you made you. And it’s one of my favorite prayers to pray for people that don’t know the Lord, open their eyes, unstop their ears, help them to see you’re right there.
All of creation just cries out to him.
Yes! Right. And so then Jesus says, but blessed are your eyes to the ones that are still hanging out and want to know more about the parables because they see and your ears because they hear. You’re blessed if you get to see this and hear it. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people long to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. They long to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. Here they finally hear that Jesus is here and they get to see him. And it’s just such the coolest thing. So. But, people harden their hearts. So, Nicole, what are some of the things that would harden a person’s heart so their eyes are shut and they can’t see, and they don’t really listen to understand? What does that to somebody?
Experiences on earth. I think we talked about this in a previous podcast about if you have a bad, if you don’t have the best earthly father, sometimes you have a hard time relating to your heavenly father because the example you had was harsh. So maybe something like that, trauma in their life, or just being too focused on the pleasures of this life, you know, just being so enthralled in the world that you just harden your heart against following God. You don’t want to follow rules. You want to do what you want to do
When you want to do it. Yeah. Right, right. I think that’s true. It could be all kinds of things that harden a heart. Selfishness, hardens, the heart. You just want to be comfortable and that’s it. And you really don’t want anybody messing with your mind and telling you that there might be God, that has stuff for you to do.
So you block it out and that’s the hard path. There’s no way for the seed to get in to soil on a hardened path. Even if maybe the path back then would be dirt – paved? Not back then Sharon – but so hard that the seed can’t penetrate it. And then Satan, just to make absolutely sure, the birds, you know, snatch it away.
There’s no chance of it ever growing.
Right. Right. So whatever they thought of for a minute, it was snatched out of their head.
Oh, that’s so sad.
It is so sad. So anyways, the snatch is interesting to me, that the bird snatches it. So I actually looked up the Greek word for it, which I don’t always do. But look at me. So here we go. It’s called harpazo, and it has a lot of different meanings: to seize, to snatch away, to catch up, to take by force. It reminds me that there is an enemy out there, the devil and he is not passive. He’s active, looking for who he can devour. So he’s a seizing, snatching devil, not passive.
So sad. So Nicole, how do we help these seeds left on the foot path? How do we help those who aren’t even planted in soil for crying out loud? What do we do?
That’s a great question.
I don’t want them just sitting there and having them snatched away.
Right. Hanging out in the open. I think if we have someone in our life that has heard God’s word, I think trying to push the seed in the soil, but just mention, keep bringing it up, talk to them about God, be there to answer any questions they have. So if they do have a question and maybe think about that root going in, we’re ready to give an answer for our hope and our love, you know?
We certainly don’t give up on them.
Prayer, that prayer thing of, you know, I want them to hear Lord, help them to hear. And sometimes I wonder if maybe we have to do some plowing of their hard soil just by loving them.
Just by caring for them, by exemplifying the fruit of the Spirit, being patient with them.
Sometimes that hard soil is because of the traumas in their lives and if we can pour into them some love, maybe we can break up that hard soil by the help of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it on our own. And then, then the seed can go down you know? But until it’s furrowed a bit it can’t.
It can’t. So anyways, poor seed, number one.
We need to pray for people that have a hardened heart and see how we can help soften it, basically.
All right. Your turn.
All right. So now let’s look at little seed number two. Seed number two’s story, “Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow, but the plants soon wilted under the hot sun. And since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.” Jesus” explanation for this seed, “The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.” But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. So, unlike the first little seed, this one gets to at least sprout.
But it doesn’t last very long and it dies before it grows its deeper roots that will anchor it there during life storms. I think this can happen when people are caught up in maybe the emotional experience with God. Maybe they get swept away with just feelings or wanting to be part of something bigger than them. Everyone wants to be part of something, we all want to belong, you know, and it feels really good to be belonging, part of the club. And maybe it was a really good Christian concert or evangelical event or something, but they didn’t fully understand and commit their life to God. So they weren’t sure what to do next to grow as a Christian. And so when life gets tough and it always does.
They just go back to the way they’ve always lived because they’ve never really let the Holy Spirit really take root in their heart and start to change them.
Yeah. I like that. I’m thinking about it, an emotional experience where you’re just, high with happiness with God is not going to sustain you when life gets hard. And I think we do a great disservice to people if we aren’t upfront with them about the fact that accepting Christ could cost you your life basically.
Yeah. The valleys with the mountains cause there’s definitely both. There’s always both.
And there may come a time of persecution.
Where we really will lose our lives because we refuse to say we’re not Christ followers.
So it’s not always easy. I mean, Jesus loved his disciples. They were his best friends and they all died horrible deaths.
It’s not like, it’s not like God says, you’re my favorite, so you get to die in your sleep. So, we’ve got to get over that notion.
That because God loves me he will keep me safe and happy all the time. No, because God loves me, he will use me for his great purpose and I will get to heaven and he will say, well done. And there will be rewards. We talked about rewards last week, but he will test me and he will allow hard things in my life for the greater good. And I have to trust him with that. And that can be really hard. And you and I have both gone through hard.
We know it can be hard.
So, but that’s part of it. So if we’re just floating along on an emotional bubble it’s going to pop.
It’s gonna pop. Yeah, isn’t that the taproot though, that center root that knowing that you’re going to face hardship for him? I think if we can grasp that hard times are coming, but that he goes through it with us. That’s like, okay, I’m committing to this walk with him. I’m committed to this faith.
Oh, I like that, the tap root is the knowing it’s going to be hard.
Oh, that’s fascinating.
I think if we can accept that it makes being a Christian like, okay, I’m in this God. I’m in it until death.
I’m in this til death and we might be.
Yeah. That’s hard though.
Right. Oh, I like that so well, that’s a really good thought because if we’re going to surrender to him, if we’re not just going to say yay, you’re giving me heaven.
But, you’re Lord, as well as Savior, we’re basically losing our lives so that we gain eternal life. And that’s the taproot. Oh yes. All right. Okay. All right. So if we are to produce a crop of believers, other believers, we not only need to pray against the enemy for those that aren’t even planted in soil yet, because they’ve got the hard hearts. We need to help people who accept Christ to grow. And that means we speak truth to them about the hardships as well and the troubles and help them plant themselves by living water sources, basically studying the Bible.
Learning, so the roots can go deep. So good. All right. Seed number three, seed number three’s story is, “Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.” Jesus’ explanation, “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly, the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth. So no fruit is produced.” Well, as it’s sort of in a Greek word mood. So I looked up the word for worries. And the Greek word for worries is merimna. And it has a lot of meanings, worries, distractions, anxieties, burdens. It means to divide the mind. A divided mind. Isn’t that interesting?
Or, I love this one, to be anxious beforehand about daily life.
I am often anxious beforehand about daily life.
I was going to say that sounds eerily familiar.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That’s so funny though. Thinking about it, to be anxious beforehand is so counter productive.
Yeah, it sounds so foolish when you read it.
Oh, man alive. So, I worry about things that might not ever happen sometimes, which is really a waste of time and energy. So, and when our focus becomes that we’re paralyzed, we’re absolutely paralyzed. And we’re not bearing fruit. We’re not going out and sharing Jesus with people and we’re not showing love and joy and peace and patience.
We’re stuck in this worry spot. And we’re certainly not waking up in the morning asking God, what’s my mission for the day?
Right. Yeah, our focus is off.
It’s being choked out by all the stuff that can keep us from it. So, um, alright. So seed number one hadn’t even had a chance to process what they heard. That seed needs a redo and a new ability to listen. Seed number two started off with enthusiasm, but had no depth and no training on how to withstand the hard things. Seed number three gets distracted by fears and worries and all the stuff that seem important at the time, but really doesn’t have any eternal value. So Nicole, what are some examples of the kinds of things that can trip you up in your stage of life that keep you from producing fruit? What are the worries and the things of this world that get in the way?
Ugh, that phrase the tyranny of the urgent rings in my head all throughout the week. It’s just the daily stuff. Like just being there to support Josh in his high stress job and getting the girls to school on the right day when they’re not remote learning, taking care of the puppy and feeding them and clothing them and all of that. It’s so much sometimes, you know, it’s just the daily things that really catch me up. And then if anything outside of that comes up like a friend in crisis or an illness, you know, it can be completely overwhelming.
Put you over the top? Yeah.
Yeah, completely overwhelming. So I think Satan loves busy-ness.
He loves it when we’re so frazzled and so exhausted that we don’t even have the energy to pray. There’ve been many days where I’ll fall into bed at night, completely exhausted and realize I have hardly spoken a word to God all day.
And that makes me so sad that an entire day can go by, without me checking in with him. The one that gives me my mission and gives me that, that breath of fresh air to keep going. It’s awful. So I think in this season of life, I really need to be intentional about finding time with God, because it’s not going to happen. Free-time rarely pops into my day.
Oh. No. Surprise, you have three hours. Never.
What! Right. But I need that time with him or else I’m not producing any fruit.
Then I’m getting choked out so quickly. Just the worries.
Yeah. Yeah. And you’re probably in the 10 minute, a day category. I mean, you can’t have the hour I get at my stage of life where I can just sit. But you can grab the 10 minutes.
Absolutely. And he gives me, he knows, I think he gives me an extra charge dose in that 10 minutes. You know what I mean?
Oh, he does.
He knows like the talent, you know, that the parable of the talents, what we work with.
Right, right. Whatever, whatever little bit you have, if you give it to him he doubles that.
Yes, he doubles that absolutely.
Right. Right. So yeah. Well at my stage of life, worries can include retirement. Do we have enough money to live on for retirement?
What if Social Security fails? I’m getting closer to wanting that Social Security. Getting sick and having to burden your children, you know? And that’s really the only one that fazes me. I just, I don’t want to be a burden to my kids, even though it’s so silly because Dad Gamble was quote, ‘technically a burden to me’. And it was one of the best times of my life. So, but I still don’t want to…
Do that to them.
So those are some of the worries that can hit a person at my age. And also, you know, I won’t have Ray forever and I know that one of us is going to die first. Most likely unless we, you know, have a car accident or something which doesn’t sound ideal either.
So, but that should not be my focus. Oh no, I’m getting older. Oh, no Ray or I could die. Which actually with a Christian is like, Oh yay. But anyways, in the meantime I’m supposed to be producing fruit and that is not to change. And no matter what age you are, you can let daily life crowd out that quiet time. You still have to carve out the time. It’s so silly, but true. You can still fill it with other things. And I think Satan really enjoys helping you fill it with other things. So I always do it first, always do it first, has to be first so that I don’t get caught up in my day. So because we can always be too busy, we need to rest first and listen hard. That is the Sweet Selah way. And then we get his direction and we know what we’re supposed to do and what we’re not supposed to do for the day.
Gotta listen to him.
And the day goes so much better that way.
It so does, so let’s not be seed number three.
Let’s find out about seed number four. Let’s see how they do.
Let’s do that.
Well, we’ve really kind of covered it, but let me read the verses that apply before we close out this podcast. Seed number four’s story, “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil and they produced a crop that was 30, 60, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Jesus’ explanation of this, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of (60, 30. I did it backwards) 30, 60, or even a hundred times as much as has been planted.” So this last seed represents all of us who have heard the good news of Jesus and have truly accepted Christ and have followed after him with how we live. He ends with saying that anyone with ears should listen and understand. I think he’s stressing the importance of this last section, how this is the heart soil that we all should strive to have. Sharon, how do we do that? How does it look? Like how does that look like in our daily lives?
Yeah. And that is the big question isn’t it? Well, I feel like the seed that grows is the one that’s planted in the word of God, planted in spending time with him and in prayer and seeking. That’s how we do it. And then from that, God gives us our mission, but we can’t start with a mission because then we create our own mission, which might not even be God’s mission. We have to start with him. Knowing him, relationing with him, loving him. And from that comes the mission and the way to do other things.
I love that.
So, well, I’m going to be doing some ‘ears-praying’, Nicole. Praying that those who have stopped up ears will learn to hear. And also that my ears don’t clog, you know, because I could still be seed number three. I could still let the worries of the world clog me up so that I’m not listening, so that I do other things instead.
So I want to listen carefully and then move forward toward bringing in that harvest. I’ve got some really fun harvest verses that Jesus speaks. So first one is John 4:35-36, “Don’t you have a saying, says Jesus, it’s still four months until harvest. I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life.” There’s the souls we want to bring into the kingdom so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. And then Matthew 9:36-38, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Isn’t that interesting? Jesus’ direction is prayer. Pray that there’ll be more workers that will actually actively share the gospel with others. More workers that are bearing fruit. So people actually want to listen to them.
So if we want to be part of that harvest and we want to be bringing people with us, we’ve gotta be intentional about it.
You know, one thing I do every Tuesday is my testimony day. I always pray for people that don’t know Christ on Tuesdays and especially those that I’m wanting to pour into in that way. They may be neighbors. They may be family members that don’t know the Lord, but there’s always those people because they’re there, they’re laying on that hard soil. Satan’s gonna snatch them away. And so I really pray for them. And then even the praying for them gives me more of a sort of awareness that I’m to share the gospel as I’m asked, you know, as God leads in daily life. So I really want to do that. I want, I want to bring people with me.
It’s going to be such a beautiful place.
It will be, Oh.
So disciple-making, this is a lot about disciple-making.
Yes, it is.
Isn’t it. Because people can accept Christ and then kind of do nothing and get to heaven, but not have a whole lot of rewards because they didn’t really do too much with it. And we want to help people be producers and produce that fruit that leads to other people wanting to know the truth about Christ. The time is short.
We need to be in that harvest field. So, well, let me pray. Lord Jesus, I love that you had compassion on the confused and helpless crowds. Your first response wasn’t disgust or disdain but compassion and you taught them. Oh, Father, give us great compassion and love for those that do not yet know you or for those that are being choked out or for those that got the emotional experience but haven’t understood the hard that goes with the good. Father, use us, Nicole and Sharon, and this listener to the podcast. Use us in those fields, white unto harvest. Help us to speak truth in love and share the good news that you love and die for us so that we might be with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thanks for joining us. We hope you’re leaving this podcast inspired to be a part of the harvest. Write us anytime @sweetselah.org/podcast, join our special email list by becoming a podcast partner, donating monthly, to keep these podcasts coming. Next week, join us for episode 44, The King and His Kingdom.
Speaker 1 (31:05):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this Sweet Selah Moments podcast, including show notes, can be found at sweetselah.org and at wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.
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