Sermon on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), “This is God’s Work”

 Sermon outline: (Listen to full audio on the podcast app)

·         This is God’s work: the Sower, and the Seed (Word) which has the power to grow.

·         Hindrances are the work of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.

·         Our job is to hear; to listen. Hear the Word of the Lord b/c faith comes by hearing.

·         This is God’s work—gracious and reckless (throw seeds) “Though some be snatched and some be scorched and some be choked and matted flat, the sower sows; his heart cries out: “‘Oh, what of that and what of that?’” Not stingy or selective of who receives the Gospel—God knows His Word will be rejected—this is why Jesus taught in parables. Those who would hear and understand would be blessed.

o   This is God’s work—the seed that grows is God’s powerful word. Not from us. The Word-seed contains the very life it gives and grows. Fruitful members in good soil are a product of the Word-seed implanted in us. (ears!)

o   This is God’s work—the Word-seed produces more than what was planted. “God gives the growth”. A life of faith is not self-contained. That would be a seed that never germinates or sprouts. Not to swallow up the seed in the soil and never give forth growth or life. God gives the growth, and the Christian life is lived outwardly. Not for show, but for service and love to others. Not flashy or seeking attention but to bless and feed others with much fruit. Begins with receptive hearing.

o   This is God’s work—the Word-seed makes you a joyful, fruitful servant. Gives you a heart to see your neighbor’s need, to be a good neighbor, to have a heart that pours out in giving for your family, your friends, your community. Hearing the Word activates and transforms your faith.

o   This is God’s work—to give you understanding of the Word-seed when you hear and receive it. Taking away the dullness and deafness of our heart and ears and open them to hear and receive with joy and believe it.

·         The devil’s hindrance—snatch the Word-seed away before it’s understood (Seed snatched from the path). Examples:

o   “You can’t trust the Bible—that’s an old book written by men and translated so many times you can’t know what originally was meant.” How many times have you heard this one? Bible study on “How we got the Bible”. Digging in past a bumper-sticker challenge to faith. Too lazy to dig deeper for an answer. Bolster your faith by learning the answers. The truth is that any question of translation can be immediately addressed by going back to the original languages—we don’t have to cut through multiple layers—its one step back to the originals. And the documentary record of how well the Bible has been copied and transmitted is far strongest than any other ancient writing. You CAN trust the Bible, and when you hear the Truth with an open heart you’ll recognize it’s truth and value.

o   “There’s no such thing as absolute truth.” YOU would have to have absolute knowledge to make such a claim; so it’s self-defeating. Think about that for a while. Even the seemingly smaller claim: “There’s no such thing as truth” is still an assertion of at least that one truth, and therefore again is self-refuting.

o   “Science has refuted the Bible.” Or “faith and science are incompatible.” That would be news to the Christians who invented the scientific method and made some of the landmark discoveries of science, such as Francis Bacon, Johann Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Samuel Morse, Louis Pasteur, George Washington Carver, and a host of modern scientists who believe in the Bible. Many scientists explicitly believed that, like Kepler said, they were bringing glory to God by “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” by discovering the natural order. They all believed God gave them their reason to glorify God. We don’t have our reason to sow doubts or let the Word-seed be snatched away before we can hear it or give it serious consideration. Don’t let the devil use bumper sticker challenges to steal the Word away from you or someone else. Dig deeper and know that if someone has raised a challenge, guaranteed Christians have given it a thoughtful response. The thing about the devil’s lies is that they can’t stand up under close examination by the truth. Be an examiner. Have discernment.

·         The world’s hindrance—persecution or trial on account of the Word. (rocky soil, shallow roots). Standing for the truth makes enemies. Need deep roots to withstand the storm and opposition. Trees with no roots are easily leveled by storms. Roots that run deep hold strong against the storm. Grow roots in God’s Word, don’t stay shallow—go deep! So you will be well watered and survive the heat of life and the troubles.

·         The world and our flesh’s hindrance—cares and worries (thorny soil). Talked about this last week as the “wearisome changes” of life—burdens and worries that weigh us down. They choke out the life of the Word. And Jesus mentions the deceitfulness of riches. Not all that glitters is gold. The devil will happily sell us the mirage of all the material things we can gather for this life, until it perishes like dust in the end and we’re grasping at things that have no permanence. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Don’t trade eternal treasure for deceitful riches. All these can keep the Word-seed choked out and fruitless.

·         We want deep earthy soil for the deep roots of the Word-seed to grow in our life, and for the rich full branches of growth to push back the choking thorns and give us life and space! The Word-seed can thrive in your life, and that’s God’s work! You hear the Word and He makes it grow; He will bless and make us thrive! His Word, His Spirit, His life is ours for the hearing! He’s given it, continues to give it, without limitation. I want to be like a mighty oak tree, or like a fruitful vine with heavy fruit to feed many! God gives the growth! His Word yields the fruit and creates more growth. This is God’s work. Jesus gives you life by the Word-seed, and connected to Him you grow deep roots, become steady, strong, and fruitful. Read His Word, receive His gifts in worship, come to Jesus in the Sacrament and be forgiven and receive His life given for you. God, make me fruitful and deeply rooted for Your glory and my good, in Jesus’ Name, Amen!



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