Sunday, October 10, 2010

Growing in the Faith

Indian Summer has been keeping us upbeat this past week, and this morning was no different as we drove to church under sunny skies, generously warm for this time of year. As we entered the sanctuary it was quickly evident that we were having some special music, with all the trappings of a first class sound system. We had the privelege of being joined today by the DeLoach family singers to lead us in worship.

Pastor Brad greeted us warmly as always and after tipping his hand on the theme of his sermon we got updated on announcements.

1) Thursday October 28 we will be having our semi-annual meeting, with the title Navigate 2011, from 6-7:30. Meal included.
2) Tuesday evening is a building committee meeting at 6:00 p.m.
3) Norm stood and noted that this is Pastor Appreciation Month, and today is Pastor Appreciation Day. He served Brad with a hug on behalf of us all. Thank you Brad, for your vision and commitment for this community.
4) Steve Borndal was recognized for having achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Congrats, Steve.

The DeLoach family then ushered us into worship.

After the offering, Len read today's Scripture reading from Luke 17:11-19, followed by a special time of prayer. Christina DeLoach then shared a song from her heart about God's amazing grace.

Growing in the Faith
Pastor Brad began by noting that there is a tendency of really smart people to let everyone know how smart they are. But the smartest and wisest of all was Jesus. What's amazing is that with all His brilliance and understanding, He never tried to impress people with it.

When it came to teaching, He chose to teach through a method that would instruct both the learned and the simple. His method was to use parables.

Our text this morning was from Matthew 13:1-23, the parable of the sower. Brad stated that he would love to see this become the theme of our church. It is a parable about growth. Growth is a sign of life, and is something miraculous. When you cease growing, you start to die.

In medical terms, there is a terrible condition called failure to thrive. It is uncertain what all the causes are, but children are meant to grow. Failing to grow is a strong indicator something is wrong.

Spiritually also, God wants us to not only grow, but to thrive, to flourish. Two signs of spiritual growth are that sin is less attractive and that we love more fully.

In His own time Jesus saw the countless ways people were held back, failing to thrive spiritually. For this reason he sat and told a story about seeds, a sower, and soil. Brad pointed out that the parable is not about the seed, because the seeds do not change, and the sower sows liberally, so it is not a matter of the sower either. Rather, the Lord's intent is to draw attention to the nature of the soil. Whether the seed takes root and thrives is totally dependent on the condition of the soil.

Soil Analysis

1) So, there are four types of soil in this parable. The first is the path. Paths consist of compacted soil, hardened soil. Jesus knows that people with hardened hearts will not be receptive, will have their defenses up. Hence the aim of the parable is to get past those defenses with thought provoking imagery that will awaken in them later.

Some are hardened due to hurts, others through cynicism. The plow needs to come and tear open a crack in the soil so that the seed will take root. It is painful, but there is something worse: failure to thrive, and a lifetime of bitterness.

2) The rocky soil is a terrain that looks okay on the surface but a few inches below there are rocks so that there's no place for the roots to go. Roots need to go deep.

Richard Foster has stated that superficiality is the plague of our nation. Is there depth in you?

3) Clutter is a the next type of situation the seed falls into. Cluttered lives choke the seed. The heart is soft toward God, Jesus says, but the thorns and weeds choke the seed. There may be depth, but the soul still fails to thrive.

Weed rarely go away on their own, Brad noted. Some of you need to do some weeding.

4) Where soil is soft and soil deep and uncluttered, look out. There will be fruitfulness beyond comprehension.

In turn, sow the seed. Be lavish. And let God do His miracle.

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