The Lord’s Message:  What Kind of Sower are You?

The Lord’s Message:  What Kind of Sower are You?
Date:  January 28, 2024
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 4: 1-20

            We are continuing to study the Book of Mark.  I would encourage all of you to read all of Mark 4.  This chapter is about evangelism.  The chapter starts off with the Parable of the Sower, in verses 1-20, which we are going to explore today.  Next it commands us to shine the light of Christ out of our lives, just as a lamp is put on a stand and not hidden, for all to see it.  It proceeds to growing seeds for planting, to harvest, to the growth of the mustard seed from the smallest seed to grow to a plant that is 8 to 10 feet tall.  The chapter ends with Jesus calming the storm.  The faith that we display when faced with trials and temptations may be the difference in drawing people to Jesus.  I hope that you will take time this week to read this important chapter.

            Let us pray. 

            Let me first state that the farmer in this parable has to be the dumbest farmer that I have ever heard.  Seed is precious.  Spreading seed willy nilly is not a good practice.  Seed falling where it is going to fail is a poor practice.  As with all parables, the purpose is to use examples of life to explain the Kingdom of God. 

            In this parable, God is the farmer.  The Seed is the Kingdom of God, John 3:16-17.  Belief is not head knowledge, but heart knowledge.  We receive the Kingdom of God, when our hearts are receptive to Him.  The ground is our heart.  There are four types of heart:  The Hardened Heart, The Defeated Heart, The Distracted Heart, and The Joyful Heart. 

            The first condition of the heart is the Hardened Heart is described in verse 4.  The seed was sown on the path where people had packed down the soil and the birds came and ate it up.  Jesus explains what this means in verse 15.  It is easy for us to become hardened in life.  Watch the evening news.  A six-month-old stabbed to death by his father.  The senseless killings going on in Gaza and Ukraine, Africa, and other parts of the world.  Shootings in schools and colleges.  Starvation is happening in many places throughout the world.  Seeing this over and over again desensitizes us, to the point that we do not care about or are unconcerned with these horrific incidences.   A Hardened Heart is not receptive to the Gospel, nor to sharing it with others.  The result of a Hardened Heart is that the Seed of the Kingdom never comes to fruition.

The second condition of the heart is a Defeated Heart.  This is found in verses 5 & 6.  The seed falls on the rocky ground.  It sprouts and grows, but it has no root system.  When the hot sun scorches the plant, it shrivels up and dies.  Jesus explains what this means in verses 16 & 17.  The person hears the Word of God and are on fire for God.  They attend worship services frequently.  They are not involved in Bible Study or involved in the groups in the church.  They do not volunteer at the church.  Their financial support of the ministry of the church is only marginal.  Soon, their attendance becomes very sporadic.  Then, they stop attending all together.  The result of a Defeated Heart is the Seed of the Kingdom of God never comes to fruition. 

The third condition of the heart is the Distracted Heart.  This is found in verse 7.  The seed falls on soil that thorns and weeds are already growing in.  The result is that the seed can not take root and is choked out by the thorns and weeds.  Jesus explains what this means in verses 18-19.  The person hears the Word of God, but worries of this life, desiring wealth and fame come in and choke out the Word.  Trying to keep up with the Jones’ results in financial stress and broken relationships.  I believe one of the causes of anxiety and depression is trying to follow others, instead of following Jesus.  Some think that the busier they are, the better their life will be.  In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus explained to Martha that business causes distraction. When we stop reading our Bible, praying, seeing the needs of others, attending worship services, because we are too busy, then we have a distracted heart.  The result of a distracted heart is the Seed of the Kingdom never comes to fruition. 

The fourth condition of the heart is the Joyful Heart.  This is found in verse 8.  The seed fell on the good ground and produced a bumper crop.  The crop exceeded thirty, sixty, even a hundred times what was expected.  Jesus explains what this means in verse 20. The person hears the Word of God, and the person allows their hearts to be moved by the Word of God.  They begin to pray and read their Bibles.  They begin to put into practice what God is telling them.  They not only attend the worship services, but give generously of their time, talents, gifts, service, and witness.  They surrender their lives to Jesus and follow Him.  The result of a  Joyful Heart is the Seed of the Kingdom produces far more than expectations. 

If we are truthful, all four of these conditions have been in our hearts.  At times our hearts have been hardened, defeated, distracted and I hope now, joyful.   Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit working in us, hardened, defeated, distracted can become joyful.  A  Joyful Heart can produce a tremendous harvest for the Kingdom of God. 

I would like to share a story with you.  Some years ago, an ordained minister working as a reporter at CBS, Charles Karault, produced a Sunday morning show called “On the Road with Charles Karault.  He would drive around the country sharing heartfelt stories of ordinary people.  In the very first episode, he went to Stanton, VA.  He discovered a fifty-acre park that he described as the most beautiful park in all of America.  There were winding trails with tulips that were neatly manicured.  Large oak trees were neatly maintained.  Hundreds of azalea bushes and ferns of all sizes and kinds.  As he walked through this park, he was thinking that it must take an army of maintenance workers to care for this park.  Much to his surprise he met an 83-year-old man was the only person that maintained this beautiful park.  The man explained that he owned a nursery in Stanton.  His parents had raised him to believe that if you do not leave this earth a little better place than when you came into it, then what is the purpose of living.  So, this park was his gift for his life.  He had worked on this park for twenty years after his wife passed away.  They did not have any children.  Charles Karrault asked him what is going to happen to this beautiful park.  The man sadly replied that the thorns and weeds are most likely going to take over this park.  Fast forward, twelve years later, the old man had passed away.  Charles is wondering what has happened to that beautiful park.  So, he decides to drive to Stanton and see for himself.  Charles admits that he was feeling very apprehensive thinking that this beautiful park may be just like the old man predicted, grown up in thorns and weeds.  Much to his surprise, it was more beautiful than he remembered it.  He questioned, “Who was maintaining the park?”   His question was quickly answered when he saw a Korean woman pulling weeds.  She told him how, after seeing the story, she had flown from the West Coast to see for herself this beautiful garden.  It was such a beautiful park.  She did not want to tour the entire park, but the old man insisted.  After returning home, the old man called her.   He begged her to come and stay in the guest cottage.  He told her that when he was gone this would be all hers.  At first, she refused, but eventually gave in.  Just as the old man told her, when he passed away, she inherited the park.  She has been maintaining it ever since.  After explaining her story to Charles, she concluded with next to my mother, no person in life ever showed so much love to me as did this old gentleman.  Charles closed the show by saying that the old man would be pleased to know that the weeds and thorns had not taken over his beautiful park.  Charles went on to say that where the seed of love is planted only good fruit comes forth. 

Yes, we have all at one time or another have been hardened, defeated, distracted, but if we open our hearts to the Lord, we can become joyful.  It is in joyful hearts that we grow together in faith.  It is through joyful hearts that we produce an abundant crop for the Lord and spread God’s love everywhere.  What Kind of Sower are You? Amen. 

January 31, 2024 11:19 am