Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Seeds of Grace: The Sower’s Journey

As we begin the New Year, I want us to explore a popular passage from Scripture. The Parable of the Sower. It is spoken of in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:1-15. I will be speaking from the Luke passage over the next several Sundays. A few things about the passage before we begin. Jesus was travelling around Galilee preaching and healing those in need. He had not begun his journey to Jerusalem to fulfill his role as our Savior. He was a preacher who travelled with a crew of disciples, both men and women. Jesus tells a story of a Sower who spreads seed. The seed he scatters, is the Word of God. As a play on words, Jesus is both the Sower of the Word of God and the actual Word of God. To accept the Word of God is to recognize Jesus as the Messiah or the Son of God. Jesus is the Word of God sent by God to save humankind.

Let’s begin with Luke 8:4-8:

4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
When we read this passage, it asks us the question, what kind of dirt are you? Are you a hard path that will not accept the seed of God’s Word and have it snatched by the devil? Are you the rocky ground on which the lack of water and the hot sun wither God’s Word during periods of stress and challenge? Are you the thorns that let the concerns and the cares of the world pile up, so that you forget about the seed of God’s Word planted in you?

Just before this passage, Jesus’ feet are washed by a sinful woman. She recognized Jesus as the one sent by God. Her recognition meant that her sins were forgiven. Her faith saved her. Jesus told her to go in peace because her life had been saved by her faith in him. After this story of the sinful woman comes the parable of the Sower. Are you someone like the sinful woman whose heart was rich dirt ready to receive Jesus as her Savior and let the Word take root and flourish.

What kind of dirt are you?

Did you ever hear the Word of God and ignore it, and let it be snatched away? Perhaps you accepted Christ and then just let time and apathy carry it away. If that has ever, been you, take a moment to reflect on it.
I think many who rush to the altar at a big evangelical event and say the sinner’s prayer may eventually fall into this group. Without a community to support them, their relationship with Christ is snatched away by devil birds who will not let it take root. Sadly, the devil snatches the Word of God from the hearts of many people.

Have you ever felt like a plant planted on rocky soil with no water?

In my experience this is the worst kind of dirt.  

Those who hear the Word and then have it snatched away can, on a different day, hear the word again and have it take hold. Their hard-packed worn dirt can be plowed, disced, tilled, have mulch added to it, and eventually receive the seed of the Word of God. The weeds and thistles can be hard to grow in, but there are hardy plants that can grow. There are combinations of plants that can ward off the weeds. But rocky soil, no water and the blistering sun of tragedy can leave dirt forever unable to receive seeds.

This group can turn from God permanently. They could have accepted God in the past and had a deep faith. They could have been evangelistic and a super church volunteer. Then, tragedy strikes. They feel like God abandoned them or worse: that there isn’t a God. They walk away never to return to Christ.

Maybe instead, you have been under the sweltering sun of life without the holy water of the Holy Spirit, and your faith has wilted. Some tragedy happened and there appeared to be no Christ, no Holy Spirit, no God, and faith in God just stopped making sense.

Today, you’re here, so you found your faith again, but it was a dry, hot, painful experience, and it took time to come back from. Maybe during your suffering, God showed up and you sensed the presence and love of Christ.

For me and likely for some here today, eventually the rains of God’s grace returned. You were refreshed, and your roots grew deeper. The next tragedy was hard, but God was there. Today, your roots are deep and have weaved their way around the rocks of life to form a firm foundation of faith. A season of little rain is okay because you know God is present and will bring the waters of grace and love.
Have you been the dirt full of thistles?

The cares and concerns of the world drown out your faith or make it just seem not important. So many life concerns can do this – a loved one, family, career, work, finances, health, caring for a sick family member. Often these concerns on their own can’t choke out the Word of God, but we can choose to have them become thistles that choke out our relationship with Christ.

For example, in my life, I can be very intense when it comes to my work, and that can become a thistle. Even this church with all the things involved to oversee it as your pastor can become a thistle. My focus can become so strong on the church that I lose sight of the Word of God in my life and the greater mission and vision of the church.

Reflect on your life and faith as we read Jesus’s explanation of the parable he told.

Luke 8:11-15

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
My hope for everyone here today is that no matter what you have experienced, you feel like you are finally planted in good rich soil, free from rocks, devil birds, drought and thistles. Do you feel like you have accepted the Word of God? Are you of Good and Noble heart? Do you hear the Word and retain it and hold onto it as something precious. Even during the worst life throws at you, can you feel the cool rain of Christ’s Spirit. Can you feel his love and his presence? Do you produce a crop abundant with good works, love, grace, understanding, care and empathy?

As a church, I believe all of us do and that our plants are planted in good soil. We produce an abundant crop. Rest assured that you are good soil.
Now I have a challenge for you. Stop worrying about the soil. You are followers of Christ. The parable was not intended for you as soil but as Sower.

It is you who sow the seeds of faith. You are supposed to scatter the Word of God throughout the world.

The disciples of Jesus and the women and men in the early church that Luke wrote his Gospel to were never meant to consider what kind of dirt they were. No, they were meant to consider the people to whom they would carry the Word of God.  Like the Disciples of Jesus and Jesus himself, we are not the dirt but the Sower.
What do we know about the Sower? He has an abundant supply of the Word of God. The seeds of God flow from his mouth. Even though “planting seed” was a valuable and limited commodity in Galilee, the Sower in the parable scatters seed everywhere with no concern with where it lands. His seeds are plentiful, in fact endless. God’s Word is abundant and to be liberally shared with every kind of dirt.

It is not the Sower’s responsibility to concern himself with where the seeds of God’s Word land. It is the Sower’s task to liberally scatter seed everywhere.

Rev. Dr. Melissa Pratt, in her book Impact, writes:

“There are many reasons why people reject the good news and keep Jesus at a distance. Many won’t accept the seed of the gospel when it is sown, but some will. And because some will, it is worth making every effort to scatter the seed of the gospel as often as possible and in as many places as possible.”

So today, to all the Sowers here, where do you scatter the seed of God’s Word? Do you sow liberally? With whom do you not share it?
We are to scatter seed everywhere to everyone. We are not to judge the quality of the soil. In fact, the Sower in the parable is well aware of the fact that his seeds are landing on a hard path and birds are eating them. He sees the seed land on rocks in the midday sun. He sees them land in the thistles. Finally, he sees the seeds land on good soil. The Sower knows the quality of dirt the seeds land on, and he sows anyway. God’s Word is abundant and to be shared with all the different soils. Beautiful plants grow on rocks. We see that everywhere in San Antonio.

If we follow the example of Christ, we sow and forget about being soil evaluators.

This week, reflect on the Sower’s journey. Can you see yourself scattering seeds of God’s Word across the different kinds of places you find yourself?  How do the seeds of God’s word find their place in the human heart? Imagine yourself not just as the soil but as the Sower. Embrace your role as the Sower. Begin planting by sharing God’s Word with an open heart, free from judgment, and full of grace.

Look for opportunities to share God’s Word in your everyday interactions. It may be through a kind gesture, an empathetic ear or a word of encouragement. Remember, it’s not about judging the quality of the soil but about generously scattering the seeds of faith, love, and hope.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, as we leave today, as Sowers of Your Word, we ask for Your guidance and wisdom. Help us to scatter the seeds of Your love and truth in all corners of our lives. May we be instruments of Your grace, touching hearts and nurturing faith in the diverse soils we encounter. Strengthen our commitment to share Your Word unconditionally, trusting in Your plan for growth and harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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