Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Seeds of Grace: The Sower’s Journey, Rocky Soil

We are in the middle of our study of the parable of the Sower in Luke 8:4-15. Today, we will talk about the seed that falls on rocks and initially takes root, but the lack of rain and the harshness of life withers the plant, and it dies.  The plant cannot take root.

This represents people hearing the Word of God and receiving it with joy but the difficulties, disappointments, tragedies, and loses of life take their toll. With no root and no depth of faith, with a shallow relationship with Christ, they believe only for a while and fall away.

When Jesus told the parable, he was travelling around Galilee preaching and healing people. He and his disciples travelled together sowing the Word of God among many villages. Many came out to hear the teachings of Jesus from villages far and wide. While many were eager to hear and allow the Word of God to take root in their lives, many others faced the hardships of life under Roman rule, excessive taxation, poor living conditions, poverty, disease, disabilities, and the death of many in their family. Life proved just too much for them to hold faith in a God who did not make their lives better.

Let’s read our passage for the day.

Luke 8:6

Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture.

Luke 8:13

The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.
For people who lived with Jesus and those in the small villages around Galilee, they held the belief that if one had material wealth and health that they were blessed by God. On the other hand, if you suffered, were poor or had a physical ailment, then God had cursed you. There was only rocky soil. It is no surprise that people would lose faith if they believed they were cursed. Jesus would reverse this idea.
The blessed, the wealthy Pharisees were greatly criticized by Jesus: Matthew 23:13-15But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Jesus consistently healed and ministered to those believed to be cursed and cast out of the Kingdom of God. Jesus doesn’t specifically single out the disabled. He does show them compassion and heals them. Those cast out by society, Jesus empathizes with and speaks of their value in the Kingdom of God.
1 Peter 1:6-7 tells us that trials and tragedies are to build our faith They do not diminish it.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Roots of Faith:

In some circles, our faith is linked to material success and personal well-being. Unfortunately, when our faith is founded on this world and not on Christ and the coming Kingdom of God our faith is shallow. The trials of life challenge our faith and can destroy it. The Gospel of John tells us in the words of Jesus: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The Sower tells us we have a deep-rooted faith that can withstand trials and tribulations. Deep faith persists even in the face of hardships, not only in times of blessing.

Response to Trials:

In some circles, hardships or lack of wealth indicate a lack of faith or failure to ‘claim’ God’s promises. Followers of Christ can feel abandoned or punished by God during tough times.

The Sower tells us that trials are a natural part of life and the spiritual journey. The seed on good soil, representing enduring faith, grows and thrives even in hard circumstances.

Focus on Material Wealth:

In some circles, there is a focus on material gain as a sign of God’s favor.

The Sower tells us to focus on spiritual growth and the fruits of the Spirit. The crop desired by Christ Jesus is spiritual maturity, impact on others, and inner peace.

Nature of God’s Blessings:

In some circles blessings are believed to be physical health and wealth.

The Sower tells us that our blessings encompass spiritual depth, resilience, and the ability to positively influence others.

In some circles, suffering is seen as a sign of insufficient faith.

The Sower tells us that suffering is part of the Christian experience, often used for spiritual growth and strengthening of faith.
Personally, a Gospel that ties health, wealth and well being to our faith and our behavior as a Christian turns our relationship with Christ Jesus into a transaction. Our relationship with Christ is not a transaction, but an all-encompassing familial bond that transcends all of life’s difficulties. All the gifts of God and the grace of Christ are ours today. Those gifts may include health and wealth. Christ can certainly heal us and change our circumstances, but the ever-present love and presence of Christ in every moment of our lives is so much more then our current comfort. The world is full of beauty and Christ, it is also full of evil, suffering, challenges, brokenness and the ravages of time. A faith of depth accepts the circumstances and challenges of life and clings to Christ who has defeated the world and given us an eternal world filled with grace and love.

Consider the story of Maria, a young woman who embraced Christ during a prosperous time in her life. She found community in her church, her work was going well, and her life was filled with joy and accomplishments. Maria attributed her success and happiness to her faith. She often shared testimonies of how accepting Christ brought blessings and prosperity into her life.

However, the situation changed when Maria had a bad car accident. Her life took a bad turn after the accident. She began to have challenges. She lost her job and faced health issues following the accident. Amid all this, her fiancé walked out. Maria felt abandoned and disillusioned. She questioned her faith. She felt like God was no longer listening to her. She believed God stopped caring for her because her life was no longer blessed.

Maria’s relationship with Christ had been based on the belief that her faith gave her a life free from hardship.

Like the seed on rocky soil, her faith lacked deep roots. It thrived when blessings were plentiful and withered under the scorching sun of life’s trials. The lack of visible rewards shook her faith and she drifted away.
Sarah a friend of Maria noticed a change in her friend.  Maria, before the accident, was a person of. The tragedy seemed to cast a long shadow over her belief. Sarah reached out and invited Maria for a walk in the local park, a place they both enjoyed. With the injuries suffered by Maria, the walk was slow with frequent breaks. Yet, the trees were beautiful, and it was good to be together again. Sarah finally asked: “Maria, I’ve seen you struggling, and I remember how much strength your faith used to give you. Can we talk about it?” Maria’s gaze was distant as she replied, “After the accident, it feels like my faith just… vanished. It’s like I’m talking to the walls when I pray.” Sarah’s heart ached for her friend. “I can’t imagine how that must feel,” she said gently. “It’s okay to feel that way, to question, to be angry. It doesn’t diminish your faith. It’s part of the journey.” Maria asked, “But isn’t faith supposed to be stronger than this?” There was desperation in her voice. “I feel abandoned.” Sarah thought for a moment before responding. “Scripture talks about facing our challenges head-on. It says that trials are part of every life. It tells us that Christ is with us in all circumstances, even if we don’t feel Christ’s presence. It’s not the trials that show a lack of faith, but how we respond that defines our faith. Your feelings are natural. Struggling doesn’t mean losing faith; perhaps it’s a sign of your faith growing, adapting to what life has thrown at you.” Maria sighed, “I just feel disconnected, like my prayers are unheard.” “That sounds incredibly hard,” Sarah empathized. “What if this silence isn’t emptiness but an invitation to seek God in new ways? Your faith journey is evolving, not ending.” As they sat on a bench, Sarah continued, “I’m here for you, Maria. To listen, to walk this path with you. You’re not alone in this.” In the weeks that followed, Sarah became Maria’s anchor. They attended church together, discussed scriptures, and often just sat in silence. Slowly, Maria began to find comfort in their conversations, a glimmer of faith during her doubts. One evening, as they watched the sunset, Maria turned to Sarah, “Thank you for being with me in this darkness. I’m not sure where my path leads, but having you here makes it less hard.” Sarah smiled, knowing that the journey of faith was often winding and unpredictable. In her heart, she believed that with time, patience, and love, Maria would find her way back.
We are an older congregation and many of use have lived lives full of struggle, loss and challenges. Our roots have grown deep and no longer rely on the intermittent rain of blessings. Our roots go down deep into the river of life that flows from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With our roots in the crystal-clear water of life, we experience the abundant gift of God’s grace, love and life. Fleeting blessings are wonderful, but the life-giving water of Christ brings us so much more. We are ever connected to the tree of life. In Christ, even on rocky soil, we will always receive sustenance, renewal, and restoration.
Now, how do we share it with those whose roots do not yet go deep and who are wilting in the scorching sun of life and its challenges?

In the parable, the rocky soil provides no room for roots to grow. When we listen and nurture with living water, we provide a place for doubts and questions.  

The rocks in the parable prevent the roots from penetrating the soil.

We can help people address the ‘rocks’ in their life – these could be unresolved grief, anger, or disappointment. This might involve counseling, pastoral care, or simply being a listening ear. It also involves creating a space for AA and NA. Offering and participating in GriefShare and providing food to struggling families.

Just as plants benefit from rich soil, a struggling faith can be revitalized by a supportive community. Invite people into our faith community.

Plants need sunlight to thrive, and faith needs the sunlight of hope. We can be a source of encouragement and affirmation. Share your life of faith and share stories of how it has sustained you, offer positive affirmations, and remind people and our youth of God’s presence and love.

A gardener regularly tends to their plants; similarly, faith needs ongoing care.

Become involved in people’s lives, check in regularly. Be consistent in your support, showing that you are there for the long haul, not just during the initial crisis.

Patience in Growth. Growth takes time, both in gardens and in faith. Be a voice of calm assurance.

Remind people that growth and healing take time. Encourage patience with themselves and their faith journey. Celebrate small signs of growth and resilience.

Pray for Rain. Just as rain is a gift that nourishes the earth, prayer is a spiritual gift. Pray with and for them. Your prayers can be a source of comfort and a reminder that they are not alone in their journey.
Let us pray

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for the deep roots and rich wisdom of our congregation, nurtured through years of faith and perseverance. As we stand together, we ask for Your guidance in using our strengths to serve those around us.

Lord, empower us to be bearers of Your living water to those thirsting for hope, and to be gardeners who help plant deep roots of faith in rocky soils. May our experiences shine as beacons of Your love and compassion.

Grant us the courage to reach out, the wisdom to guide, and the compassion to nurture. In all our actions, let us reflect Your grace and be vessels of Your transformative love.

Bless our journey ahead, Lord, as we seek to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. May our collective service bring glory to Your name.

In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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