Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Lord has the Authority to Call and to give Growth

Mark 4:1-12 Parable of the Sower

Here is one of the most famous, if one could call these famous, story of the Bible. People have seen it in play form in the musical “God Spell”. (A version of the word “Gospel” or good news.) We may have seen it acted out during youth camps, or heard many sermons on this story of the Parable of the Sower. When Jesus spoke this parable, His followers really did not have any idea what it meant. In verse 13, Jesus asked His Followers: “Don’t you understand this parable?”

It is possible that there was a long silent “DAH” from the 12 followers of Jesus. Then Jesus added: “How then will you understand any parable.”

Were His Followers simple men? Stupid? Dull of thought? Or just out-to-lunch? Not in touch with Spiritual matters? The answer is yes to all those questions. Simply put, the Spirit of understanding had not been given yet, but still, it seemed to be pretty straightforward.

But here we are today, and we still may not understand this story. Why? There are a number of reasons that we will not go into this morning. We will talk about an undercurrent message here that drives the Church on! That current is found in the Call To Be Called.

First: The farmer is you and I. We go about our day-to-day routine and as we go, we spread the Gospel Seeds around. Sometimes it is in word, or deed or in personal response. We don’t need to think “Oh, this is hard ground, I’ll pass this area and not sow seeds here.” No, we go and scattering the seed of God’s Word anyway. The Word is shared. He’ll bring the increase.

Here Jesus mixes the terms and switches meanings. The Gospel seeds now become the people who receive the Word. They are living along the road. Any path of living, anywhere people are, there are some who live in hard places. They hear the Word. It has a short life. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the effect of the Word on them.

These people are close to the Evil One—even when they may not know that! They may not know that they are in league with him. They are not aware how dangerous it is to live so close to Satan. But there they are and almost at once the message has lost its impact-it’s meaning-on their life.

Others, (Verse 16) these people live in rocky places. These are interesting places with many challenges and thrills. It is an active place. Here, life is shallow, no depth of understanding. Little growth is expected as the soil is rough. There are short roots so there may be some sight of understanding. In fact, there is much joy with the message. But, over a short period to time—the same result. Trouble comes and they fall away quickly. Trouble or persecution comes BECAUSE of the Word and they fall away. Not a strong commitment to the Message at all. In fact, impressions that are not deeply rooted, will not last. We have seen that true here at the Chapel. Some have indeed fallen away and to their own ruin, suffered for that.

Still others are those who live among thorns. The Lord uses three thorns that ‘stick it’ to us. Three areas of personal pain and concern that dig into these people’s lives that produce no fruit:

  1. Worries of this Life.
  2. The Deceitfulness of wealth.
  3. The Desire for other things.

These come into the lives of these people resulting in choking the life out of them. They become disillusioned. They loose sight of what was given to them. The result is unfruitfulness.

Unfruitfulness must really hurt! Think of a businessman who works for 30 years in a company, and just before he retires, looses it all. In fact, even his fellows in the same field forget him and pay no attention to his problems and do not come to his aid. His world collapses. All that he worked so hard for is gone.

One such man lived not far from here, just north of Shin Tokorozawa. He worked long hours and lived very sparsely. His boss paid him well but the hours were way too much. When I would visit him, he told me of his family in his home country. He would work so much so that he could send more and more money to his family members who were, from his own words, very poor—Except for the cash he sent them, they had nothing. He told me of the TV, and the other appliances he had sent them, of his fine wooded interior of his home, of the many things he was able to provide for them-out of his wealth. The outside looked like a shack but inside—beautiful! Then, not far from his home, a volcano erupted and the lava flow threatened the dwelling. Soon, all evidence of his gifts was to be swallowed up in the fast moving lava flow. All was lost! No evidence of his labors. No fruitfulness was seen. All would be destroyed. And there was nothing he could do about it but wait of the sad news. It was all lost.

He had worries in this life. His social activity put him at risk of illness. His thirst for wealth drove him to ruin. His desire for more than his wife made him a very ill man. He had also rejected the Teachings of Jesus. He was destroyed. And he had heard the Gospel message and yet it did not take root in his heart-in his life. A very sad story indeed! The worries of this life choked the Word in his heart making him unfruitful & unjoyful.

But all is not lost! There is yet another set of people-or seeds-of action that does respond well to the Message. In fact, the story called them “good soil” and like the others, they accepted the message. And the result of taking the Message to be true, produced a crop—30, 60, even 100 fold. God expects and requires fruit from those who enjoy the Gospel’s rewards: salvation, Peace, growth, understanding. One way to express that joy is to give back to Him a portion of what He has blessed us with in our offerings.

Take a look at an ear of corn, or a pomegranate. Each bud of seed, each grain of corn would produce 30-60-100 ears of corn. One fruit has so much seeds in it, it is even hard to eat! Yet, when those seeds are placed in the ‘good soil’ it would produce fruit.

There is the parable and there is the meaning. The undercurrent once again flows from the Authority of the One which gives the seeds power to grow. This One who calls all Mankind to Himself is the One God of the Universe. He has chosen Jesus, His only Son to come and ‘deliver’ that Message in His Own person. He is the One who directs the falling of the seed. He is the One Who cause the seed to break out of its dead state—once water is added. Once the Sunlight warms the surrounding soil.

He is the One who calls us to spread the seed.

He is the One who placed us where we are today. Wherever we are, He is the One with the Authority to encourage us to follow His Will and for us to ‘get the word out.’ His authority is based on Who He is.

Last week, we spoke of our response to this God—to serve the Lord IN our families. (Over 60 signatures were placed on the sheet.) May God Bless us and guide us in that promise. But today, we are asked to consider our role in the spreading of God’s Message to those who need it most.

A question for you: How many non-believers are you friends with? Are most of your acquaintances followers of Christ? Do you even know non-churched people in a friendship level? I will encourage you to look for people who are not in your circle of friendship yet as a possible ‘field’ to scatter some Gospel Seed onto. I, myself, took a hard look at who I spend time with and there are very few who do not know Jesus. I have many, many friends who are followers of Jesus. That in itself is not a bad thing but where am I stretching myself in bringing this Wonderful Message to those who do not know Him yet? I need to cultivate non-Churched friendships. It will take time but it is needed. I am asking you to do it: I need to do it too.

At Cape Town this week, the Lausanne Congress with about 5,000 people are assembled to learn and plan in the reaching of the Lost in the world. One of the topics was who will reach the children of the world. One man said that that there are no un-reached Children—either they will be reached for Christ or someone or something else will reach them. The question is, who will reach them? There is a deep need to rekindle the fire for evangelism. Billy Graham spoke via video and said: Keep evangelism at the center. Make Christ your focus. Base everything on Scripture. And pray, pray, pray.

The first week of November is Persecuted Church Week. So many are being hurt or killed because they love Jesus. Even when there are thorns, even where there are worries, and where there is a pull to fall into worldliness, some will survive. Some, no, many, will not fall away. We need to come along side them and hold them up in Prayer. In fact, we as a church need more time in prayer. I would ask you to come to the Chapel during the week to pray. You might be the only one here, but bring your hearts to the Foot of the Cross and offer up prayers of petition, request, and praise to the One who hears and acts. Let us take on the role of one who sits on the wall and sends out the warning to those who are lost, to come to the Savior for forgiveness for their sins and for Salvation.

And as for the World: The world is coming to us! In December, about 10 people will return to Enoki to help us in reaching our neighbors for Christ. They are from Singapore. We can go as well. Let’s plan together to travel to other Asian countries and help local churches there in their outreach. This can be done, with prayer and with His Guidance, we can help in the harvest and spread the seeds of the Message of God’s Gospel to others. He has given us the authority to do so.

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”