Planting Seeds

Good morning, y’all! Although we’ve posted a few things here and there recently, it’s been a bit since I’ve really written anything substantial. Or shared a Coffee and Bible Time message. I just haven’t had anything much to say honestly, and we’ve had a lot going on lately as we wait for our new little grandbaby to arrive (she still hasn’t yet but should any day now so y’all please pray for my daughter, Destinee, and baby Gracelyn). I haven’t really felt the Lord lead me to share anything in a while either, so I’ve just been kinda waiting on His prompting with a really good message to bring to all of you. And this morning, it came. I’m going to pray that it’s something that someone reading this needs and that it falls on good soil. So stick with me and hear my heart as I share with you what the Lord spoke to me today in my quiet time with Him. Note: If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me post pictures there of my indoor hydroponic system, the Gardyn, and the progress I’m seeing and harvest I’m constantly taking off of them (I have two)…it’s so cool!! I’ve also shared some of my outside gardens there. If you are on Instagram but don’t follow me, look me up at @SaltySaints2 (if you’re not on Instagram, I totally get it, and you can see most of my posts on our home page at the bottom, I believe). I’m really connecting to the theme of planting seed, growing and cultivating, and harvesting fruit! You’ll see what I mean here. 😊

Now, let’s get to it. My reading and inspiration for this message today is from Matthew 13. Most of the chapter, actually. The majority of it is red letter, meaning Jesus Himself is speaking…so it’s extremely important (all of God’s Word is, but you get what I’m saying. This is straight from the Master Himself). I am going to jump around a little bit, so y’all bare with me. I have a reason for doing so. First, I want to explain WHY Jesus spoke in parables, as this chapter is full of them. And most of them pertain to farming/planting. I hope you’ll get your Bible right now and read the whole chapter so that you can follow along with what I’m saying. In verses 11-17, Jesus tells the disciples why He used parables to speak to them. Here is what He told them in response to their question in verse 10:

10His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” 11He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secretsa of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12To 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. 13That 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. 14This 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. 15For 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.’b 16“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

So who are the “they” that Jesus is referring to when He says they listen but don’t hear and look but don’t see and that their hearts are hardened and their ears and eyes are closed so they can’t turn to Him and let Him heal them? Well, we see in verse 1-2: 1Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2A 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.” So it was the crowd of people that had come to hear Him speak. And since we know that the Bible is God’s inerrant message to all of mankind, inspired by the Holy Spirit and penned by the authors to be passed down to all of us in every age until Jesus returns, we can be sure that this applies to us as well and is intended for us to understand the message Jesus was giving. If we are born again believers and followers of Christ, we understand that all that Jesus said to His original disciples also holds true for us, as we too are His disciples. It is comforting to hear Jesus say that we are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven…wow, what an honor, right!? But why does He say that others are not permitted to understand? I believe the answer is right there in the same verse–“to those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given and they will have an abundance of knowledge.” Jesus reveals Himself and gives knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to those who have “ears to hear.” Those who are listening. Those with hearts that are open to Him. So we also see that what Jesus said about some in the crowd holds just as true today for those in the “crowd,” the world, who refuse to hear, see, and understand His message and thereby reject Him and refuse to come and let Him heal them. They have hardened their hearts and they don’t want anything to do with Him or the only Truth that could really set them free. It’s a total shame and especially frustrating and saddening to Christians to see our lost loved one reject His offer of forgiveness and grace and miss out on the saving relationship they could have with the King of the Universe, if only they would come so that He could heal them. Let’s never grow weary or give up in our prayers and supplications and intercessions for them though, always loving them and sharing hope and encouragement and our faith with them as we have opportunity. Time is short, friends.

So having said all of that, we now understand what Jesus was saying and why He was saying it in this format, so let’s get into the parables. In verses 3-9, 3He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

And He gives the interpretation of the parable in verses 18-23 where He says, “18“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19The 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. 20The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21But 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. 22The 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. 23The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Do y’all understand what He is telling us about the soil of our hearts and the seed of the Gospel and how the state of the soil (our hearts) determines whether we will endure the opposition/conditions that may come early on after we accept the Good News and develop strong roots, and if good fruit will ever be produced? Many, many, many people say yes to Jesus because they want a better life, they don’t want to go to hell, they were raised in church to do so, they made a decision at youth camp, etc. etc. etc. The reasons are many, but sadly (especially here in the West), we’ve given such a watered down version of the Gospel and have not been nearly as clear and direct as Jesus was when He told people that being His disciple would cost them EVERYTHING-family, friends, status, their very lives. He didn’t beat around the bush. And this was one of His messages where He reveals the sobriety of the situation.

We see it in the next parable in verses 36-43, about the wheat and the weeds: 24Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. 27“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ 28“‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. 29“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

And again, Jesus explains what He means here: 36Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.” 37Jesus replied, “The Son of Mand is the farmer who plants the good seed. 38The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world,e and the harvesters are the angels. 40“Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

There will be a separation on Judgment Day. A reckoning. All things will be made right by Jesus Himself, but before then He tells us how to live our lives, how to have open hearts/ears/eyes, how to gain knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and what things to expect as we live on this earth but are not of the world as we encounter others and share the Good News with them. We get that not all will receive Him and our hearts break for this fact. So did His. And as long as there is breath in our lungs, every single one of us has the opportunity to look for good soil (softened hearts), plant good seeds (the Gospel), water them (encourage, serve, love others to Christ, make disciples), and watch God bring the increase (true born again believers who love and serve Him as well and reproduce the process). We also understand that as Jesus was rejected, we will likely be as well. This is not a surprise to any believer who’s been in the Kingdom and family of God for any length of time, especially among those closest to us. In verse 53-58 here, we see how Jesus felt about it. “53When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. 54He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” 55Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph,f Simon, and Judas. 56All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” 57And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” 58And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.” So after returning from preaching to his disciples and the crowd, he was scoffed at and rejected by those in his own hometown. Has this been your experience? Are you an outcast among those closest to you? Jesus said we would be. We live in an upside down kingdom, and the truth of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…to those with hard hearts and closed ears and eyes. Those not permitted to enter the Kingdom. Those who have heard the Gospel and have rejected it in any of the first 3 examples of soil in the first parable. Only the one who Jesus considers good soil, who has strong, deep roots and produces good fruit for God’s Kingdom is going to enter in.

This whole chapter was just really good…encouraging and convicting all at the same time. It really resonates with me right now because of all the planting, watering, nurturing I’m doing (with real plants) and reminds me of the parallel between that and all that I’m constantly trying to do for God’s Kingdom, in response to His great love for me. I love Jesus with everything in me and simply want to sprinkle good seed (the Gospel and His love) on good soil (people with soft, ready hearts) and be excited to watch little seedlings pop up, grow strong roots and eventually produce good fruit! I love this process in the natural…it’s so fun and rewarding…and even more so in the spiritual. I can see why Jesus used these parables. They are easy to understand when your heart is soft and your eyes and ears are open.

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