Seeing What’s In Your Soil
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from the heavenly Father and from Christ Jesus our loving Savior. Amen.
The word of God that engages us today is from the Gospel lesson just read, especially noting verse 23: “But 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.”
It was spring time and a certain man walked out onto the deck of his house and looked at what the rains and the long winter had done to his yard. In the past this, yard was usually known for being one of the best around, but at this particular time let’s just say it was certainly in pretty rough shape. There were spots where the grass was bare and the ground was exposed, and there were places where the water collected and had drown the grass seed that was once there. The man looked and looked and kept looking at his lawn, planning in his mind how he was going to fix this problem he was dealing with. He thought that once things dried out, a couple good seedings should do the trick, and with a little cooperation from the weather his lawn would be back and healthy in no time. So he did what any person might do and he went and purchased the best grass seed money could buy and he brought it home and set it down in his garage next to a few other bags that happened to be sitting there as well. When it came time to seed his lawn, he filled his spreader and went over his lawn back and forth, until he used up the entire bag. Day after day passed and nothing happened, the lawn was in rough shape still, even worse than before. Frustrated, the man told his wife of all that he had been through. Her simple response to him was, “Well, are you sure you bought the right type of seed?” Without saying a word the man got up and went into the garage and he grabbed the bag he used and brought it back in the house. He held up the bag for her to see and said these words: “Well, you’re never going to believe it, the bag of grass seed is still sitting in the garage, but the kitty litter is all over the front yard.”
Kitty litter will do you no good in the ground, but thankfully God’s word is not kitty litter. It is the seed that is planted in the hearts of God’s people. It is the seed that goes out from God’s mouth and grows in the lives of His people. God’s word as Hebrews 4:12 tells us, is living and active, and it is at work here today. And today, you have planted yourself in good soil. Absorb the life sustaining nutrients of God’s word. As we take in the word of God the Bible presents us with an equation that is fairly easy to remember: good seed + good soil = good results. The Scripture readings for today repeat the theme that God’s word is indeed good. God’s word is good seed, that given the right soil and conditions WILL produce a harvest. God’s word is not kitty litter by any means. Jesus paints the picture that God wants His word to take deep root in your life and to illustrate that, Jesus gives us these four different types of soil. Which one are you?
Soil #1. We’ve all see the path before. I can picture it clearly. In my time at Concordia Mequon back in Wisconsin as a college student, I often took the dirt path that led from one of the dorms to the main campus. The path was so much easier that following the sidewalk all the way along. The path is packed-down by people walking across it. Grass grows on either side, but grass never grows on the path. The short cuts in life – the paths we take to get around the word of God, the paths just leave the planted seed sitting there in our lives. How often have the birds come down and stolen seed off the path.? Any path moments in your life where you’ve taken those short cuts around the Word of God? It’s so much easier to mumble a couple second prayer right before bed when I am half asleep than it is to give my full attention to God. It’s the path. It’s giving God leftovers. It’s easier to make excuses for God’s word, than taking it for what it really says. It’s the path. I wouldn’t never ever take anyone’s life, but it’s okay for me to hate my boss’s guts. The seed sits on the path, and it’s an easy target. Don’t let your life be filled with paths this week. The seeds given to you from God, will never last. They are easy targets by the devil when they sit on the path.
The second soil is rocky. Picture in your mind’s eye, a thin layer of soil is sitting directly on top of Limestone rock. The rocky soil is deceiving. Sometimes it looks good on the outer layer. And as the parable tells us, the seed even looks like it’s going to do something. That seed shoots up at once. We may have all met rocky soil Christians before. Maybe this day your life is feeling like a field that’s a mile wide as it can be, but there is no depth. The teachings of many false world religions are this way. Wide as can be, but so very, very shallow. The blessing of our Christian faith, and of the Lutheran heritage is the depth of the soil we have. Just think about it.. We share in the teachings of Christ passed down, passed down, and passed down some more, until they have made it all the way here, to this room, to this place, to your heart. We share a common faith with believers throughout the entire world and throughout all of time: past, present, and future. Jesus gives salvation from the marks in His hands and feet, and from the wound in His side. There was nothing shallow about the love of Jesus when he died on the cross and was buried deep inside the tomb. God’s love for you is deep, and He is asking that you go deep with Him today. Pray the God grant you the roots for your faith, so that you don’t have to live in the shallow, rocky, soil.
Jesus mentions the third type of soil that I think is the kind soil that stops most people from becoming a Christian and truly following Jesus with their lives. This is the soil filled with the thorns. As you read the text the interesting thing about the soil where the thorns grew up is that they didn’t “spring up.” A different word is used that gives the understanding of thorns coming up out of the ground. The seed wasn’t planted among the thorns that were already there and visibly growing, these seeds were planted and those thorns got a quick start as weeds somehow do, and “choked them off.” There is no guessing what the thorns mean, because Jesus goes onto tell us what the thorns represent, they represent the worries of this life and the hypnotic ability of money to keep us busy and away from Jesus. The word of God is often sown into the hearts of people filled with worry. There is no question that these days upon us are days filled with worry, and anxiety about the future. In what ways have our worries choked out the message and promises of God? Do you have a life filled with weeds? If so, God is inviting you to exchange your weedy soil for the good soil. Only two chapters earlier in Matthew chapter 11 Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus’ promises to us remind us that He is consistent always. Never will he leave us, and never will He forsake us. Jesus, as He promised, is preparing a place for us. The worries of this life are not greater than the promises of the Savior. Faith in money or faith in the Savior who overcame the world by His death and resurrection? The seed sown among the thorns – like the previous three DOES’T STAND A CHANCE.
The comforting word of God gives us a fourth soil type. This is good news because type # 4 is the only type that is worth-while. If you were planting crops, imagine how frustrating it would be if your ground never produced anything no matter how hard you worked. With all of the rains this year some of North Dakota’s very own farmers don’t have to imagine that scenario this year. The fourth soil gives results. It not only meets expectations but the good soil gives so much extra. It’s almost like it makes up for all the rest. The equation is true! good seed + good soil = good results And those results bless the rest of the earth! Christians bless the earth. Just like the fact that there are so few farmers worldwide feeding so many people is very similar to the idea that there are so few Christians who can still do and give so much hope to a world that is desperately in search for, and needing it. The soil determines the outcome.
So how do we see what’s in our soil? One easy way to find out, is to see what’s coming out of our mouths during the week, what’s on our minds when the weekend comes, where is the Savior in relation to the most important things in your life? Does God get placed at the top of the list or is He somewhere in between? As we love God with all that we have we are being good soil. Just like the potter works with the clay, so the Savior works with you, He takes you as you are, and reminds you with His gentle voice that you are His, He bought you from sin, death, and the devil, from the thorns, the scorching sun, and the birds, and has planted you firmly in the soil of eternal hope and everlasting life. Whatever you think your soil type is today, the Lord Jesus holds you tightly as His own, you are His, and because of that, you are good soil!
In the name of the Savior.
(written June 15th, 2011)
From the Vicar’s Desk
If there were a tag-line for my upcoming action-packed summer, it would probably read something along these lines, “This summer, in a world where the rains just keep coming, one vicar seeks to do the impossible as he keeps his head above water. In an adventure that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seats, don’t miss this action-packed, activity, and adventure-filled thriller.” Well… maybe in my own little world, that’s how I might picture things.
When I think back to my childhood days, I remember so many laid-back summers spent hanging out on the beaches of Lake Michigan swimming, or riding my bike down the country roads or through the loop in the cemetery without a care in the world. As I’ve journeyed through life, I have held onto and cherished those wonderful moments in time. They are reminders to me of the specific times in my life that God had placed me in when things were simpler and less expensive. Can you think back to your childhood summers and some of those memorable moments?
Can you believe that summer is already upon us? As I look at things for this upcoming summer, I see some differences from the way things were at one time in my life. I was glancing through the Scriptures and this verse stood out to me from Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” Even in the Bible, there are those moments where the people of God are reminded that the time is ready for them to “Arise!” As God moves forward with each one of us throughout our lives and through those troubling times, He is saying the same thing, “Arise! Shine!” It is due time for us to take what God has given us whether good or bad, hectic or not, and to take where God has placed us and use it to shine for His glory and purpose that God has in store for each one of us.
Would I love to go back to those good ole lazy days of summer? You betch ya! But am I glad that God has taken me from where I was to where He wants me to be? Absolutely! Even in the midst of changing times and circumstances. For God is doing something incredible in each one of ours lives. God is taking the old you and making you completely new each and every day. Through Jesus, you and I are new people each day, each summer, each year that passes. We live in new ways, and we see things with new eyes. I am delighted that I have a full and busy summer ahead of me, because God’s word still resounds loud and clear: “Arise, Shine! For your light has come!” Jesus has come, for you and for me, so that through His death and resurrection we may live new and abundant lives each passing day.
In my busy schedule God is glorified as I shine His love to my family, to the residents at the Ranch and to the staff there, to the children at VBS, to the baby God has blessed Margaret and I with, to the servant event groups coming to the ranch from all over the country, to the congregation, to the youth of Our Savior as we head to MN for the Sonshine music festival, and wherever else God places me this summer. No matter what kind of summer lays ahead of you, you can know for sure that God journeys with you as He continues to call you to arise and shine for Him. The glory of the LORD rises upon you, this day, tomorrow, and always. May the peace of God be yours abundantly this summer.
In Easter Joy and Hope,
Vicar Josh Baumann
Dean and Jyl Dunavan, with their daughters Amelia and Grace will be sharing a time of music and message here at Our Savior on Tuesday, July 5th at 7:00 p.m. They live in Shoreview, MN and are spending the summer touring the western United States. Dean Dunavan was the recipient of the 2010 “Lutheran Educator of the Year Award”. As long time teachers and musicians this family has been led to begin a ministry outreach to churches, communities and missions around the country. Their stops include several homeless shelters, boys and girls ranches, churches and camps. You are invited to an evening of music and message with the Dunavan family. They pray that God will be expressed, enjoyed and exalted in all aspects of their ministry and bring with them a message of hope and trust in His provision wherever they serve.
A Time of Worship With The Dunavan Family
Our Savior Lutheran Church
July 5, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.
Vicar Josh Baumann
Greetings in the name of Jesus our risen Lord and Savior! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! Ever stop to think that over 2,000 years has separated us from the events of Jesus’ life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the tomb? It’s been quite a long time since all of that took place, and yet it has meaning for us today. Time doesn’t drain the significance of what took place for the people of God on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as some may think it does. The temptation is to say that it doesn’t affect me, and Jesus’ death doesn’t matter to me since it “supposedly” happened so long ago. For some, that is indeed the case.
But what about you? Has Jesus’ death and resurrection affected you some 2,000 years after the fact? Is your life different because of what Christ did for you? Sometimes we need the simple reminder that life is indeed different because of what Jesus did for me. Our struggles are different – we have a Savior that walks through them with us because He knows what great trial and suffering is like and can help us through ours. Our relationships are different – we see Jesus in each person we meet and seek to serve them as best as we can and know how. Our possessions look different as well – they are all God’s possessions as we use them to show love to Him and to others who may be in need.
Our lives are different because of the Resurrection of Jesus. His rising from the dead shows that our God is greater, and our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other. Jesus has victory over death and will one day give us that same victory too, because Jesus Himself trampled over death and the grave.
St. Paul writes in Romans 8:31 “What shall we say in response to all this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” The answer… ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AND NO ONE can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Not even 2,000 years, or a tragic death, nor the governments of the world, or depression, or deep-dark sadness, nor world religions, or addictions to drugs and alcohol. Nothing, nothing can hold back God’s relentless love for you through the Savior Jesus Christ.
The blessing of Vicarage is that I have had so many opportunities to convey the great love that God has for His people through the all-powerful death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In mid-April I was able to lead a group of 9 men from the congregation on a men’s retreat to Shepherd’s Hill in northern North Dakota. We studied God’s crazy love for us and we shared Jesus’ love through service projects to the camp. A week later I was able to spend a Friday night with some 4th-6th graders at a lock-in held at the Boys and Girls Ranch and share what my faith in Jesus and His resurrection has done and meant for my life. 2,000 years later, Jesus is touching hearts and changing lives through His triumphal death and resurrection! Jesus is making a difference in people’s lives today as I have been able to witness and experience firsthand.
May you be reminded this day of the awesome love God has for you, no matter what you have been through or what you may currently be going through. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, not time, or struggle, not death itself, nor 2,000 years. May the powerful and purpose-filled love of Jesus touch your heart and your life this day and for eternity.
In Service for Christ our Lord and Savior,
Vicar Josh Baumann
Do you ever feel like you’re banging your head on the wall or like life is out of synch? Join Pastor Dan for “God’s Rhythm of Life,” a look at some key Biblical passages that speak about God’s design for life that will bring a harmony to your life.
Join him in the 8:30 and 11:30 worship services on May 1st, 8th, and 15th and the 9:45 worship service on June 12th, 19th, and 26th.
When life comes crashing down there is nothing more powerful than hope! Here how the God of Miracles turns heartache into hope as He miraculously meets His people in the deepest moments of their life. Discover that God still does the same for you. Join Pastor Krueger and Vicar Josh Bauman for the sermon series, “There’s Nothing Like Hope!”
May 22, 2011 – “When You’re Running Out of Everything” – 1 Kings 17:7-16 – Pastor Krueger
May 29, 2011 – Memorial Day Weekend Pastor Voth preaching all three services
June 5, 2011 – “When You Need a Fresh Start” – Mark 10:46-52 – Pastor Krueger
June 12, 2011 – “When You’ve Come Up Empty” – Luke 5:1-11 – Vicar Josh Baumann
June 19, 2011 – “When You Feel Like You’re Sinking” – Mark 6:45-52 – Vicar Josh Baumann