Keeping our Hearts and Minds Fertile to Grow God’s Love

August 29, 2010

Frank Picone

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

 

It is truly a blessing for me to be here this morning. This is my third sermon and each time the process of preparing a sermon has been amazing. The first thing I experience is the feeling that I don’t seem worthy to be up here.  After talking to some of you I have been reassured that I do not have to be a model Christian to have something meaningful to say. As my friend Steve Lainie told me. “It’s about progress not perfection”.  I think I am making progress as a Christian and believe it or not the process of writing a sermon has been so helpful in deepening my relationship with God. This process opens my mind and my heart to God’s love and guidance. In the weeks that I am putting my thoughts together I find myself looking for God’s influence all around me. I am reading the bible more, talking to friends more about God and reflecting on my relationship with God. I have also realized that despite trying my best to share a different message all of my sermons have been about the same thing. God is our father we are his children and he loves us and wants us to feel that love, hear his message and live a full and happy Christian life.

 

The bible passage I chose for us to reflect on is:

Matthew 13: 1-10 The Parable of the Sower”

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood at the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “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 hears, let him hear.

 

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

I love that the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables. I suspect they were struggling to figure out what each thing in the parable means and they wished Jesus would just spell it out for them. He ends up spelling out what each part of this story meant. The sower is God, the seeds are his message to his children about life on this earth and everlasting life. The different types of soil reflect the level of receptiveness of our hearts and minds to his message. The crop or harvest reflects the result of living the life Jesus wants us to live.

 

As I reflected on this passage many thoughts flooded my mind and feelings my heart. God is our father trying to raise us right. Like many of you I am a parent trying to raise my children right. Sometimes my kids don’t listen and it is very frustrating. Sometimes we don’t listen to God and

it must be very frustrating for God. God knows so much and is so wise and it seems a no brainer that we should listen very carefully so we can negotiate this very confusing world. But sometimes we do not even seek his guidance. Why don’t we listen to the wisdom of our father in heaven?

Seems foolish. Then I thought about my job. I try to convince troubled teens to change their troubling ways. often they close their hearts and minds to my guidance. All efforts to plant loving seeds but some times the seeds are lost when people are closed.

 

4 Types of Soil

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of soil in the sower story. As I go through each type I ask you to consider what type of heart and mind exists within you. The seed landed on hardened soil and could not take root at all. Jesus tells the disciples that the hardened soil represents people whose hearts and minds are closed to God’s message. How do our hearts get so closed off to God that we do not even comprehend that he is talking to us?. Maybe it’s because something terrible happened to us and we blame God. Maybe the times we live in make it seem foolish to or even primitive and unenlightened to believe in God. I know that for the youth I work with they have experienced so much pain and suffering and so few examples of God’s love that they are emotionally guarded and closed and miss the very thing they need so badly, Gods love.

 

Next the seed fell on shallow soil and took root but because the roots could not deepen and become strong the plants died. Jesus explained that this type of soil represents when people hear God’s word and become excited about the message but can not sustain the excitement and go back to their earlier ways. What could possibly cause us to turn away from God after we really get his message? I can relate to this type of heart. I find that I am closest to God when I need something. If I am ill or a family member is ill I snuggle up to God and receive great comfort from him. But when things are going well I return to the philosophy that “I can take it from here, God”.

 

Some seed fell on soil that was also growing thorns and weeds and while the seed took root and started to grow the plant was ultimately choked out by the thorns and weeds. This type of soil represents people who want it both ways. They want to hear God’s word and live a Christian life but they also want to store their treasures on this earth and not in heaven. They want to love money and use people instead of the other way around. Jesus is very clear on the fact that you can not serve two masters God and money. There’s a bit of this soil in my heart as well.

 

Finally the seed fell upon rich soil that provided a welcoming and fertile ground for the seed to take root, grow strong and bear a bountiful harvest. How receptive is your heart and mind to God’s message? How fertile is your heart to feel God’s love and how fertile is your mind to understand and accept God’s message?

 

Keeping our hearts and minds fertile for God’s message

 

It starts with making a conscious decision “Do I want to make my heart and

mind more fertile so I can better receive God’s guidance and grow in my

ability to understand and do what God wants me to do?”

Three suggestions.

 

Matthew 6: 19-21 Store your treasures

Dont store up treasures here on earth where moths eat them and rust destroys

them store your treasures in heaven where moth and rust can not destroy and

thieves do not break in and steal where ever your treasure is there the desires of

your heart will be”

This passage reminds me that our time on this earth is about earning eternal life with God. Think about every decision you make, thing you do and ask yourself, “Would God be pleased with this decision or act? If so, you are storing your treasures in heaven.

 

Matthew 7: 1-2 Judgment

Do not judge others and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you

treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be

judged.”

A few weeks ago my son and I were in Florida at Universal Studios. We were in the park all day and were very tired. We decided to take the hotel shuttle bus back to the hotel but we could not find it. I called the hotel but they could not help. I was tired and annoyed. I asked one bus driver if his

was the bus to my hotel and he said yes. Just prior to departing the driver turned around and asked me what the name of my hotel was. I told him and he countered, “I don’t remember you on this bus this morning.” I responded, “I did not take the bus in.” The driver then turned around and started off. I felt quite annoyed and singled out and said to no one in particular, “What is

his problem? Why am I being singled out?” A young girl behind me calmly shared the following. “I agree that was unusual but I remember when we took off this morning he told us he would remember us all to make sure he got us all back. I think he was just making sure you were on the right bus.” Then I realized this was exactly what he was doing. He was just being considerate and I was hostile to him because I made a snap judgment. I think I will be a better Christian if I am more careful not to judge people as hostile and give people the benefit of good intentions.

 

Matthew 7: 7-8 effective prayer

Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you

will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who

asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds and to everyone who knocks the door

will be open.”

 

This passage reassures me that persistent faith will be rewarded. God is our father and we are his children. He wants for us what we all want for our children. For them to grow up as good Christians, discover their talents and gifts and use them to in ways that please God and produce bountiful fruit in their lives and the lives of everyone they encounter. God wants us to be filled with His holy spirit and filled with joy and love.

 

I pray that all of us today are committed to moving in the direction of more

fertile hearts and minds to grow God’s love.

Amen

 

  © 2010 Frank Picone