HYMN Thy way, not mine, O Lord
1 Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
however dark it be;
lead me by thine own hand,
choose out the path for me.
2 Smooth let it be or rough,
it will be still the best;
winding or straight, it leads
right onward to thy rest.
3 I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might;
choose thou for me, my God,
so shall I walk aright.
4 The kingdom that I seek
is thine; so let the way
that leads to it be thine,
else I must surely stray.
5 Take thou my cup, and it
with joy or sorrow fill,
as best to thee may seem;
choose thou my good and ill.
6 Choose thou for me my friends,
my sickness or my health;
choose thou my cares for me,
my poverty or wealth.
7 Not mine, not mine, the choice
in things or great or small;
be thou my guide, my strength,
my wisdom, and my all.
Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
READING – Matthew 13:1-9 & 18-23
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 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. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
SERMON – Parable of the Sower.
What are we to say about this old chestnut? Everyone knows this story so well and everyone knows what it means!
Jesus is so lively in His preaching – he grips His hearers — He speaks about everyday things — and the message comes very clearly. What could be of greater interest to a farming community than a story about a farmer going out to sow. Out he goes and broadcasts the seed – here and there — all the seed is good seed — the farmer scatters the seed all around and it falls in different places.
Some of it falls on the path. The ground there is well-worn and hard — the seed will never penetrate that — and so the birds come and gobble it all up. Other seed falls on rocky places. There isn’t a lot of soil here, but the seed germinates and sprouts quite quickly, but when the weather gets hot, this plant withers — no roots. Some seed falls amongst thorns. These thorns are not visible at first – only later do they emerge with the corn seed. The roots of the thorns are very strong – quickly they choke the good seed which becomes a fruitless stock. The rest of the seed fell where it was meant to — namely on the good soil – and some of it produced 30 grains of corn, others produced 60 – and some produced 100 grains of corn.
Jesus says that seed is the Word of God. Whoever spreads God’s Word will spread it far and wide. We spiritual farmers are not responsible for the fruit or otherwise of the good seed we sow. Each hearer will make himself or herself good or bad soil.
I guess there will be some of each kind of soil listening just now. Some of you are absolutely hardened against God – nothing will penetrate your heart. As soon as the YouTube video is finished, the message of God is snatched away by Satan. You never think twice about God’s Word – it has no place in your life. (spiritual battle). There will also be some listening tonight who have heard God’s voice and responded to that voice.
To all intents and purposes you appear to be a follower of Jesus — you give all the appearances of being a Christian — but one day there will be a test. You will be given a hard time at work or in your neighbourhood because of your faith – and you will quickly renounce Jesus.
The joy you once knew of the Christian life will evaporate like the rain on the road on a hot day. Be sure there are deep roots for your faith – a sense of joy is NOT ENOUGH !!
Doubtless there are some of you who have God’s Word planted in your heart, but like the rich young ruler who left Jesus very sad, you too will fall away in due course because of the worries of this life – or the deceitfulness of money. Maybe that has happened to you already. Your worries and cares have strangled your faith and left you spiritually useless. Some worry about having no money – others worry about having too much.. Don’t allow the worries of the world to choke your faith – bring all your burdens to Jesus and LEAVE THEM WITH HIM!
There will also be some good soil Christians watching tonight. You hear God’s Word and understand it. You read it at home regularly, you listen attentively in Church on a Sunday – you give yourself to understanding it – hungry for more of God’s precious life-giving Word to you. But even here there are is variety of responses – some of you will be only a little fruitful, others will be more so.
It is no accident of birth what kind of soil you are. You make yourself what you are. You are responsible for your own eternal welfare – you need God to make you good soil – you need Him to ensure that you produce maximum fruit from your life. Are you going to go for it — are you going to be hundredfold Christians? Or will you settle for less. Others are easily fooled, but be sure GOD IS NOT – don’t mock Him — don’t try to pass yourself off as a good soil — the truth will out in the end — even if it is only in eternity.
Hymn O Christ, in Thee, my soul hath found
1 O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found,
And found in Thee alone,
The peace, the joy I sought so long,
The bliss till now unknown.
Now none but Christ can satisfy,
None other’s love for me:
There’s love and life and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee!
2 I sighed for rest and happiness,
I yearned for them, not Thee;
But while I passed my Saviour by,
His love laid hold on me.
3 I tried the broken cisterns, Lord,
But ah! the waters failed!
Even as I stooped to drink they fled
And mocked me as I wailed.
4 The pleasures lost I sadly mourned,
But never wept for Thee,
Till grace the sightless eyes received
Thy loveliness to see.