Sermon on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Aug 9, 2007
Sermon on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

This is still a work in progress, but I would be interested in any thoughts on this message for tomorrow.

Especially with regard to the way we treat others and compare ourselves to others.

(I would be especially pleased if someone were to post a strong uplifting conclusion for me! :D

Grace peace and mercy from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear."

As I drive through town, I see signs in front of some of the bars, “Girls, Girls, Girls” “XXX” “Nude Dancers”

You may think that I find them offensive, or insulting, but the truth is… They don’t offend me or insult me, ….They make me sad. I find them disheartening.

Because the people who I see going into those places, are people just like you and me. They are people who God dearly loves. They are people who God deeply wishes to bless.

They are people who are looking for something, but they’re looking in the wrong place. And just like planting grass on a brick wall, they won’t find the nourishment they need, they won’t find the strength, the support they are seeking, and they will wither and die.

Some are young men. Men who spend all day, every day, laying bricks, or in construction fields, or in the military. Every day they hear; “Be here at 5:00 sharp, do this, do that, get to work!”

Day in, and day out. But when they go into one of these bars, the first thing they hear is; “What can I get you sir?” “Have a seat” “Make yourself at home.”
Pretty young girls dance for them, while others wait on them hand and foot.
For a time, for a short time, they are treated like royalty. Like Kings or Princes.
They think they’re getting respect, but the truth is, they’re getting made fools of.

If you don’t believe me, try walking into one of those places some time without your wallet,…. And tell me how much “Respect” you get.
Respect and integrity aren’t something you can carry in a wallet. It isn’t something you can buy.
What they’re selling in those places isn’t respect. It’s an illusion.

Let’s read versus 18 and 19 from today’s Gospel lesson… 18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

You won’t just find young men in those places, you will find just as many mature men, men with good jobs, money in the bank, a nice car, a house that’s paid off, a wife of 40 years, kids in college. ……. Men who,…….. “Have it all.”

The kinds of men you see in church on Sunday mornings, and out trimming their lawns on Sunday afternoons. And you look at them and think to yourselves,…
Boy! Mr. Jones sure has it made.

Truth be known, Mr. Jones and his darling wife of 40 years, don’t even know one another anymore.
They don’t talk, they don’t do anything with one another, they don’t even have dinner together now that the kids have grown and moved away.

And Mr. Jones, misses something. Mr. Jones misses that intimacy, he misses that excitement, he misses those feelings he and his wife shared,…so long ago.

And because Mr. Jones hasn’t listened to Gods Word for such a long time, because he hasn’t been praying to God for guidance, because he hasn’t been communicating with the wife God has blessed him with.

He doesn’t know what to do. And he goes out, looking to fill that empty space, that… Missing part of his marriage, but he fills it with illusion, with lies.

He doesn’t SEE, he doesn’t UNDERSTAND, …he doesn’t perceive that he too is being made a fool.

Versus 20 and 21; 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

I’ve talked about the men who frequent these places, but what about the women?
What kind of a young lady would ever work in a place like that?
It would be very easy for us to brush them off like dust on our shoes.

We could just write them off as heathens, label them as tramps, or worse.

But just for a moment, let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes.
Let’s try to imagine, what it would be like, to be a high school dropout, with a two year old child with no father in the home.

And you’re faced with the dilemma, of working 40 hours a week, for around $300.00,… or working three nights a week, for a thousand dollars, or more.

Imagine yourself, cashing your $300.00 paycheck, and setting some aside for rent, paying your babysitter, paying your utility bills, putting some gas in your car, go buy some milk, and toothpaste, a few packs of diapers, …….. some food,…..

Do you have enough left, for a birthday cake? Maybe a new toy ? some new shoes?

That extra $700.00 or so a week would be very tempting. Wouldn’t it?

Verse 22; 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

Is it really, so hard, for us to understand, why so many people today, turn to these types of employment?

I’ve been talking about, young people in search of status, and recognition, older, wiser men, and women, trying to rekindle, to regain, something they’ve lost, and about people, who are just in search of their daily bread.

And we don’t have to look inside strip clubs to find these people. They’re all around us.
I only used that as one example.

But the one thing, that each and every one of these people has in common…. Is a lack of faith.
They have not learned to trust in God, because they have not seen the truth.

What do you think the response would be, if I ,…. Or if one of you, went up to one of these young girls and said;
“The lifestyle you have selected is destructive, and dangerous, put your trust in the Lord! And he will bless you with a miracle, just as He has promised?

What do you think the response would be?

Probably, something like… “Go thump your bible somewhere else.” “I don’t need your God.” “God’s never performed any miracles for me!”

Let me ask you this,…. How would you respond to that?
What might we say to this person?

After all, they have a point, when was the last verifiable miracle you can think of?
The parting of the Red Sea was a big one. Causing the blind man, blind from birth to see.
Raising the dead to life again!.... Now THAT’S a miracle. You can’t fake that one.

Why doesn’t He do miracles like those anymore?

Better yet, let me ask the question this way,…. Why did He do them in the first place?
To show off? To display His might? To impress people?
God doesn’t need to do any of that. He did them, in order to “Produce Saving Faith.”

It is by faith alone that we are saved, and God desires that ALL come to faith and receive eternal salvation.

The parting of the Red Sea during the Exodus produced Saving Faith in the Isrealites.
Exodus 14:31, When the Israelites saw the great power with which the LORD had defeated the Egyptians, they stood in awe of the LORD; and they had faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

The healing of the blind man, was to produce saving faith,
Remember what Jesus said to him after he could see?
John 11:35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

And what was the prayer that Jesus spoke before He raised Lazarus from the dead?
John 11:41 "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

Miracles aren’t about the burning of the bush, or the parting of the water….
Miracles are about the Saving Faith that they produce!

Show me a young man with enough respect for himself to say no! when his best friend offers him a hit off of a joint, even though “ALL” his friends are doing it.
And I’ll show you a miracle.

Show me an 18 year old girl, with a baby in one arm, reaching out with the other to take hold of her High School diploma, that she earned, and I’ll show you a miracle.

Show me a 65 year old couple, who after 40 years of faithful marriage, still hold hands in church,…And I’ll show you a miracle.

Show me a single mother working two jobs, who still somehow manages to put food on the table, and then teaches her children to bow their heads, and give thanks to Almighty God for His blessing….. And I’ll show you a miracle.

Verse 23: 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

He who hears the Word,………… And Understands it.
Apr 6, 2008
Westport, CT
The Cape of the Matador

You might find this work of poetry I wrote sums up the sermon.

In the ring, the Toro spies the crimson cape of Matador
Like a young sailor just ashore, lustily staring at a whore
Whether dumb or savvy beast, instinct rises to the fore
Bearing little reason – remembering only the timeless oath his ancient swore
To charge that hot and angry hue with horn erect, thinking only gore, gore, gore!

In side of man lies another, less violent but no less focused, primal urge.
A feeling queued by lovely visions, with hope of procreative merge.
Through the heart and limbs a harder, quicker, scarlet surge
But is it for his pretty wife, or a photographic image from the media dirge?
Stealing tender moments from his spouse, Pornography tempts him over the verge.

Sexuality is a great gift from God, for the blessing of a man and wife.
Accompanying the most important responsibility: to create another life.
It is not for the pages of a magazine, though the newsstands are already rife,
With the exploitation of our sons and daughters in obscene acts – Society is rife
With selfish disrespect, and perverted expectations. Remove this infection with a knife!

Beauty is a blessing – a wondrous heavenly creation.
And there is nothing wrong with having a healthy appreciation.
But refrain from that which tempts the heart away from present or future marital station.
And keep in mind, that patronizing pornography drives the horrible exploitation.
Which perverts both young and old, and leads to untold, unhappy, unrighteous deviation