Breaking Up the Ground
Posted on 06/08/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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A REASON TO REJOICE
I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am
I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control
For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost
You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!
I will bow down
hail you as king
I will serve you
give you everything
I will lift up
my eyes to your throne
I will trust you
I will trust you alone
I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise
FOR WHO YOU ARE
Standing here in your presence
thinking of the good things you have done
Waiting here patiently
just to hear your still small voice again
Holy, righteous, faithful to the end
Savior, Healer, Redeemer and friend
I will worship you for who you are
I will worship you for who you are
I will worship you for who you are
My soul secure
Your promise sure
Your love endures
I WORSHIP YOU
I worship You Almighty God
there is none Like You
I worship You O Prince of Peace
that is what I want to do
I give You praise
For You are my righteousness
I worship You Almighty God
There is none like You
*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***
Let's read this morning from Luke, the eighth chapter, beginning with the fourth verse.
Luke 8:4-15 (NIV)
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."
When he said this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
"'though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.'
11 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."
Lord, make your Word alive to us. Open our ears so we can hear, and our hearts so we can understand. In Jesus' name. Amen.
In this passage, Jesus points out four different kinds of ground: the wayside, the rocky ground, the thorny ground, and the good soil. And as we talk about these four kinds of ground, you might ask yourself: what kind of ground am I? And realize that whatever your answer may be, all of us have soil that does not receive God's Word, and all of us can, and should continually, be changed.
First, Jesus says the seed is the Word of God. While most of us want to see good fruit in our lives, while most of us want change and grow and become all we were meant to be, it's easy to forget that without good seed, nothing good can grow.
What happens to a garden if no one plants seed? Does nothing grow? Anyone who's had a garden will tell you that something grows all right... Weeds grow. And if good seed isn't planted in your heart, weeds will grow instead. That's why we should spend time every day reading God's Word so good seeds can begin to sprout and grow in our lives, bringing forth good things full of purpose and life.
Jesus begins with the wayside. The walk way if you will, where people walk and birds go to eat. The average passer-by will hear the Truth, the Word of God, but will not believe. The enemy, often times the enemy within us all, will whisper comfortable, familiar lies in their ears, and they will give up the life-giving seed of God's Word for the world's lies.
How many of us are just "passing by"? How many of us will leave this place or close their web browser today having heard but not really believed? Certainly God knows where His seed is being sown, and He brought you here to hear His Word. Don't let the lies of the enemy steal away your only hope, your only chance for true and everlasting life. Let God's Word go deep into your hearts this morning, and let it grow and bring you abundance of life.
Next Jesus talks about the rocky ground. These are the ones who receive the Word of God eagerly, and seem quite zealous and committed. The problem is, they don't have any root. The sun beats down on them, the winds of life blow, the trials and tribulations come, and because they don't have root, they fall away and walk the wide road instead.
Pride will make our ground rocky, as we imagine we can do things on our own and don't really "need" God and His Word right now. Hurt will make our ground rocky, as we imagine God has done us wrong somehow, or that He's mad at us and doesn't want us around. But He brought you here for a purpose, because you DO need Him desperately, we ALL need Him desperately, and because He's NOT angry with you, He does NOT want to destroy you, and He DOES want you to be with Him, both now as you walk through this life, and forever in the life to come. Open up your Heart to him, and let His love heal you.
Then Jesus talks about the thorny ground. These are those who hear the Word, as we are hearing this morning, but then "life" crowds out the Word of God, and it has no effect on their lives. They allow the worries of their lives, the pursuit of pleasure, the drive to make money, and their own never-ending thoughts about themselves, their life situations, their past, and their imaginary future, come before God and his Word, and as a result, their hearts are full of thorns.
I find that it's so easy to become thorny ground. I've been guilty many times in the past of of sleeping too late and then rushing out the door to work, without spending time with God and in His Word. By the end of yet another busy day, I'm too tired to seek Him. My mind, still having me in its firm control, demands that I need to entertain it with some television, and before long, it's time for bed. But God has brought us all here this morning because He longs to spend that time with us every day, because then and only then will everything else in our lives fit, and only then can we have peace and joy in the middle of our seemingly crazy lives.
Finally, Jesus talks about the good soil, those who have a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, keep it, and persevere, producing a bountiful crop.
How many here have ever had a garden, or lived with someone who had a garden? Then you know they can be a lot of work. You don't just go out there and throw some seeds around, then go back in a couple of months and pick bushels full of beautiful produce. No, you have to work the ground, just like the Holy Spirit has to work our hearts so we will be ready to receive His Word and so it will go deep, take root, and produce life in us.
So how do you prepare a garden for planting?
You break up the ground.
If I were a betting man, I'd be willing to bet that none of us in this room or listening elsewhere start each day by saying, "Lord, please bring problems and tradgedies into my life today. Please let me go through pain and suffering. Please let disasters plague me and failures come forth abundantly from me, so that my ground can be broken and I will produce life."
Well, I say "none of us." Perhaps you do. I don't know. But I know I sure don't! I'm more likely to ask for blessings, and a peaceful, joyful day, and that things will go in a way that I think is right. And these are good things, God's plans for us are for good and not evil, to give us a future and a hope. He wants to prosper you and give you peace. And He certainly will do all this and more if you follow him and keep yourself under his hand of blessing.
But it's an inescapable fact that all of us will encounter pain, and disaster, and hard times, and sorrow. We will go through pressures and stress, through agony and regret. And some of us will believe the father of lies or our insane minds and blame God, turning our hearts to stone against the only One who has the answer we so desperately need and for which we are searching.
But the person who has found wisdom will allow these things to plow up their stony ground, until it is good soil, and until the seeds of the Word of God can go deep, and take root, and grow, producing life and peace and righteousness and joy.
I know that each of us in this room have gone through tough times. Perhaps you've already gone through the deepest darkest time of your life, or perhaps you're going through it right now. But don't think for a moment that God has forsaken you, or that He doesn't know, or that He doesn't care. Every single circumstance is in His hands, and He has promised to work it out for your good; so whatever the situation in your life, let it be. Don't judge it, because its end result will always be good. Just let it be exactly as it is at the present moment, and rest in the goodness, the wisdom, and beauty of God in it.
Remember that without plowing, nothing good can come of your life. And the more you are plowed, the more life can grow from your freshly-turned earth.
Have you had a life that has been full of turmoil and heartache? Have you had more than your fair share of plowing? Don't stop now, don't give up yet, because while God does not cause bad things to happen to us, He will use those hardships to turn the soil of our hearts, so that the seeds of His Word can take deep root and produce an abundance of life, peace, and joy, not only for us, but also for all those around us.
Diamonds are created under great pressure. Gold is purified by great heat. Light is produced by a burning fire. And life is created by the Word of God which has taken deep root in a heart plowed by the storms of life, a life surrendered to the loving hand of its maker.
Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for the things through which we've gone, without which we would not be the people we are today, and whithout which we would not be able to receive your Word. Continue to turn our earth, continue to use the bad things that will inevidably happen in our lives, to turn our stony hearts so they are able to receive your love and your life.
I pray for those of us who do not yet know you, who do not have a personal relationship with you. May they surrender their lives to you this morning. May they simply say, "Jesus, come into the center of my life. Forgive me for my sins. Make me brand new. And let your Word take deep root in my heart, so I will have abundant and eternal life with you."
I pray for those of us who have strayed away from you. May this be the day they come back home to you. May they simply say, "Lord Jesus, I know you love me regardless of what I've done or how far I've strayed from you. Forgive me, make me clean. Give me a brand new start, for I know your mercies are brand new every morning. I choose you this morning. I surrender to you, Lord Jesus."
And Lord, I pray for all of us, that instead of becoming hardened by the trials through which we go, we instead yeild to you, seek after you, and allow you to turn these seeming tragedies into triumphs, as our hearts are turned by hardships and pain, and as your seeds of life are planted by the reading of your Word, and brought to life by your Holy Spirit as we spend time every day in your presence.
And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
You're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front for a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. If you just want to spend some time in God's presence, come to the front. Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way up the steps into the room to your left when you're ready, and we'll meet there in a few minutes for some fellowship.
Come, and let's surrender to the hand of God, as we give Him our thanks and praise for Breaking Up Our Ground.