Monday, February 13, 2012

Sexagesima, Patience in the Good Soil

Luke 8:4-15 (ESV)
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: [5] "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. [6] And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. [7] And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. [8] And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold." As he said these things, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
[9] And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, [10] he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. [11] Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. [12] The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. [13] And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. [14] And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. [15] As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Bear fruit with patience. Some days I wish I had more of that. Don’t you? Of course it is lack of patience that more than anything else can turn good soil bad, that can make it so the seed just doesn’t come to fruition. One might mix another parable in, about the good and the bad seed, the wheat and the tares maturing together, the workers lacking patience want to tear the tares out. Jesus says be patient. Of course only he knows the wheat from the tares. Lack of patience, it has the ability to destroy not only your faith, but another’s as well.
But patience can be on short supply at times. It happens to me. So often I want to see more for my work. God’ tells me to sow. So I do. But the gospel it takes time to grow. This is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. Don’t know why, I mean it’s still trying to take hold in my own heart. I should know better.
But I think of this congregation when I think of that good soil, bearing fruit with patience, and with patience it produces a hundred fold. Patience. I have to laugh at myself. There was a time, I thought I might be able to come in here, and in a couple years see this congregation grow to a few hundred, have a couple hundred worshiping every Sunday. I thought it might be a matter of cutting down a few trees, and getting a new parking lot. Not that those things didn’t need to happen. Believe me investing in a church building and property is in fact investing in souls, investing in the kingdom of God. I knew it would be more than trees and parking lots, but not less. And I did wonder if they might count for more. Patience. It’s a fruit of faith really, it’s taught by the word of God. Patience, or you just might get discouraged and lose faith all together. Patience with one another, and patience to watch the wheat grow, the word of God take root, the gospel, the forgiveness of sins. It’s about patience, patience born of love, patience that God has in this world and in you, because of the love he has for you. The very same love that compelled him to send his son to die for you and give you life. Patience.
I think about it. See I am a guy who sets goals. And then I set about to accomplish them. I come up with plans, and try to follow them through. It’s a habit I started young in life, the product of a Sunday school class believe it or not. I hope the class had something more to do than teach me about goal setting, something about the cross, the forgiveness of sins and so on. But what I took away, was goal setting. Getting things done. It’s amazing what you can do with goals, setting your mind on things. Increase business, pay off debt. There are all sorts of things in your control that you can accomplish, merely by setting a goal to do so. But then I’ve had to learn in life the hard way, that other things just require patience, they are out of your control, they are in God’s hands, and all you can do is pray, and do what God has told you to do, and leave the rest. Patience.
But then with patience, You see God working, you see the gospel taking hold, you see it. Patience. I mean it isn’t something I’ve really known before. Haven’t lived anywhere long enough to know it. I have always moved on before I really developed a relationship with anyone. Never knew them long enough to have to have patience with them. Of course, patience, it takes forgiveness. Being patient with another means forgiving them their faults, rest assured you have just as many needing forgiveness. Without forgiveness you grow discouraged, you lose patience. And of course that is why god says bearing fruit with patience.
That is the kingdom of God. We sow the word, the word sown in us, we sow it where we go, with those to whom we deal, our family and our friends, and our coworkers. At times you may see quick results, at times you don’t see anything. But its’ quite possibly there that the best work is being done, slow and steady. Like your lawn growing, If you sat there and watched it you wouldn’t see it grow, but then one day you come home from work and realize you need to mow it. Patience.
It is something I admire about this congregation. It’s patience, its faith, and slowly and slowly it keeps plugging away at what it does, and the word is sown, and people come and it grows. And one day you turn and see a friend you shared the gospel with years ago, and now they kneel with you at the altar rail. I tell you, that, that is worth the patience, that is worth the wait. To see friends share in the joy of your salvation, the joy of their salvation, the joy of the salvation that is the kingdom of God, the forgiveness of sins, in the death and resurrection of Christ. And it is beyond your control, all you can do is pray, and sow the seed, and then watch it happen in it’s own time.

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