Good Soil
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Today's Gospel Lesson, The Parable of Sower, is a well known parable. I'm sure you've all heard sermons on the parable before.

Seeds are sown on the path - birds come eat them up.

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart. Many people come to church and hear the Word of God in Scripture lessons read. But they don't retain it because they don't understand it. The lesson has nothing to take root in. It quickly gets eaten up by other thoughts.

Other seeds fell on rocky ground; there wasn't much soil. Plants sprang up quickly, but with no depth of soil, so when the sun rose they were scorched. Since there was no root, the plant withered away.

This is the person who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy-yet such a person has no root, so what they received endures only a while, because when trouble or persecution arise on account of the Word, that person immediately falls away. They only minimally understand what they heard but that wasn't enough to face the challenges of their days.

Other seeds fell among thorns, and thorns grew up and choked them.

Seeds sown among thorns: this is a person, who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. We need to continually study God's Word to understand it in the context of how we live our lives at any particular age. Youth get caught and their faith gets choked out of them by what they encounter at school and with their peers. Adults get caught in the constant grind of providing food and shelter for themselves and families. They get caught by the lure of wealth and get rich quick schemes. Or they work extra hours just to have enough money, or work extra to have more money to spend on things.

Some Seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some 100 fold, some 60 fold, some 30. GOOD SOIL. This is the person who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields 100 fold, or 60, or 30.

Good soil. Ready, prepared, tended to. In order for you to be good soil, you need to attend worship and receive the good energy and love of others gathered with you; read/study Bible, not just read a short verse or two each day for a devotional. You need to focus on inspirational reading, not just reading the newspaper or magazines. You need to focus on good works. Most all of us don't have connections that what we do affects people through out the world, as say the leader of a country or national organization does. But doing works of compassion and care right where you are affects not just the person you are helping, but goes way beyond that. The energy created from doing good works continues beyond any one act. It never stops. It affects many more people that just the one person you helped. The energy of a loving act for a neighbor or friend never stops and its blessing is not limited to your seeable, knowable world.

But most of all to be good soil, we need to focus our attention on PRAYER, on being in communication with God.

Good soil keeps your mind on God in the face of the challenges of this world. When ever you hear or read about a tragedy or trauma in the life of someone else, pray about it immediately. Don't take that information into your mind and spirit and let it sit there and fester. Don't become another victim. Turn your fear or frustration or anger, whatever it is, turn it over to God in prayer immediately. Pray something positive about the person or situation. This frees you of the negative energy, and connects you to God and a positive force and energy. Plus you are acting like a blessing rather than a negative force.

In the Lord's Prayer today, the petition, "save us from the time of trial" expresses what folks believed at that time. They believed that a time of trial would come when the world appeared to be caught up in evil and people would lose hope and folks would turn to the lies, the unreal because it looked more real. Folks would start believing the lies of the evil one rather than holding on to the truth of Christ and they would fall away from their faith.

We, too, today in this day and age, should fear falling away. We fall away from our faith when we let devil get hold of our thinking - make us fear so much it's an underlying factor in our attitude and outlook and approach to life. When we listen to the devil working through the words of the world, making us believe hate and evil are conquering the minds and hearts of people.

The devil likes to drive a wedge between us and God and makes us believe love cannot conquer all. Makes us believe hate and evil are more powerful than love.

It's not true - don't believe it. Millions upon millions of good and

positive and loving things happen in a minute. Yet we create our attitude and approach to life from a half hour of news on TV, or by the few columns of information in a newspaper or magazine.

OR even worse, we believe gossip-second or third or fourth hand information about something. Or we believe something passed on to us on the internet. Whether gossip or something of info on the internet, or even what we hear on TV or see in newspaper from journalists, we should never just out of hand believe something. If it is something we want to believe, then we must check it out as to the truthfulness or accuracy of it.

GOOD SOIL. In order for us to be good soil we must prepare our hearts and minds to receive the truth (many people close their hearts and minds to any information). If we believe lies, we will not hear the truth no matter how it comes to us. We need to prepare our hearts and minds to receive the truth that God wants us to hear and believe. We must prepare by worship and study of the Bible and good works and especially prayer.

If we are go be good soil, we need to tend to that good soil, nurture it so that when it receives the truth, the truth will grow. But if it is not prepared properly and if it is not tended to regularly and nurtured, the truth will not grow in that soil and negativity will sprout and choke and take over.

Let your prayer life be a constant in your life. Don't let a day go by with out prayer, and pray often, at any time. Simple prayers of communicating with God are what keep us alert at all times. God gave us this incredible gift of prayer. It's a shame to waste it, yet so many people do. There is no 'right' position and no 'right' introduction of words. The only requirement for a prayer is that it be sincere and genuine. It is you in communication with God.

In the words of a wonderful hymn, one of my favorites, "Lord, let my heart be good soil, open to the seed of your Word. Lord, let my heart be good soil, where love can grow and peace is understood. When my heart is hard, break the stone away. When my heart is cold, warm it with the day. When my heart is lost, lead me on your way. Lord, let my heart, Lord, let my heart, Lord, let my heart be good soil." (From the book of worship, "With One Voice," hymn number 714, text by Britt Hallqvist.)

Pray each day as though your life depended on it, because it does.


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