Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Faith on the Homestead

Faith is a necessary part of our lives. I have found that most people are searching for meaning. I believe that the scriptures are a guide for our lives. Many times people and even congregations will let us down, but the Word of God will never let us down. 

I have decided that we are going to add a devotion to our blog. I have no idea how often these posts will be made.  Most if not all of the posts will fall under a category I will call "Spiritual Lessons From The Garden". I will be as diligent as possible and promise to do my research well. 

As I have studied the scriptures I have always found it interesting that most of Jesus's parables had to do with the farm life. I have heard several preachers and theologians say that he used farm and garden stories because that is what the people understood. While I agree there is some truth to that evaluation, I believe it goes much deeper. I believe that lessons from the garden are directly related to spiritual lessons.

Looking at history I can see that during this period of time there were several trades that were active. There were blacksmiths, carpenters, traders, physicians, and even scholars. There were plenty of trades that could have  been offered as examples, but Jesus chose rural life as his way of explaining heavenly principles.

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13: 3-9

3  Then he began to tell them many things in parables. He said, “Listen! A farmer went out to sow. 4  As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and birds came and ate them up.
5  Other seeds fell on stony ground, where they did not have a lot of soil. They sprouted at once because the soil wasn’t deep.
6  But when the sun came up, they were scorched. Since they did not have any roots, they dried up.
7  Other seeds fell among thorn bushes, and the thorn bushes grew higher and choked them out. 8  But other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop, some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown.
9  Let the person who has ears listen!”

Here is Jesus's explanation of this parable to the disciples.

Matthew 13: 18-23

18  “Listen, then, to the parable about the farmer.
19  When anyone hears the word about the kingdom yet doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
20  As for what was sown on the stony ground, this is the person who hears the word and accepts it joyfully at once,
21  but since he doesn’t have any root in himself, he lasts for only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes along because of the word, he immediately falls away.
22  As for what was sown among the thorn bushes, this is the person who hears the word, but the worries of life and the deceitful pleasures of wealth choke the word so that it can’t produce a crop.
23  But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word, understands it, and produces a crop that yields 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown.”

Let us bring this to today. I am not foolish or arrogant enough to think that I know better than Christ, but I believe that a bit of elaboration will help.

Every action we take and every word we say are seeds. Every person we come in contact with is our field. On a daily basis we have the opportunity to sow seeds of faith or seeds of contention.
We are the ambassadors of Jesus. Even when we are not so lovely. Every seed we sow lands somewhere and a seed is going to do what a seed does.

If you have ever sown a seed, you will know that not every seed falls in the rows. This seed is left exposed. This seed is easily lost. It never really even had a chance to grow. As long as we are sowing good quality words and actions, we shouldn't be concerned about where the seed falls.

Some words and deeds we do in our lives will be received by those who are shallow. By shallow I mean there are people who honestly don't want to believe in anything. They fight against all belief systems. Anything that takes away their ability to feel blameless. These people may listen and some will even accept your faith, but as soon conviction comes they may leave the faith.

Yet others will see what you do and listen to what you say. But some people trust too much in money or are even too bound by poverty. There are so many things that when we focus on them take away from the power of the scriptures. 

The good ground mentioned in the scriptures represents people who have not been hardened by circumstances and who are at a point in their lives where they know there must be something more. These are the ones that produce fruit. What is the fruit of a Christian? The most obvious answer is another Christian, but there is more to it than that.

The fruit of a  Christian's life is a peace even in the middle of crisis. A faith that no matter what happens it will all be for the best. A desire to keep on going when others have given up. 

Another point I would like to make is that we as Christians are a kind of paradox. We are farmers of God's love, but we are also fields. Words and actions of others can and will have an effect on our joy and by extension our fruit. Every time we allow hurtful words to injure us a seed is planted, a seed of insecurity maybe. We have to work hard at removing these hurtful seeds. 

We can also sow bad seed into our own heart and mind. Focusing on negative thoughts only erodes faith. A weakened faith is a weakened Christian.

I hope you enjoyed this devotion. I would love to hear your feedback.

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