Sermon September 11, 2022: Sow And Let It Go With Jesus (Pentecost 14)

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If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/748384782

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3Q60fVOXi2

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP:

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow;  Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation. 
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine. Amen.

Amen

HYMN 374 Standing On The Promises
Standing On The Promises – “Gospel Music Hymn Sing at First Baptist Atlanta”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLlJR61wKW0

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 601 Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet
Amy Grant – Thy Word (Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6LC8cu03Ig

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Sow And Let It Go With Jesus
Mark:4:26-29, John 8:29-32, 15:1-5, Matthew 9:35-38
Series: Praying With Jesus

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 4:26 NIV He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30 As he spoke thus, many believed in him. 31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

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HYMN 338 Where He Leads Me
Where he leads me – Willie Nelson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u95c_FM86ko

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

(This transcript is unedited.)

Today we want to talk about the principle of sowing, which is where you sow the seed on the ground. And last week, we talked about the principles of soil, and I suggested to you that love opens hearts, opens minds, and love opens doors. Love from Christian people prepares the soil.

And I gave you a definition of love from psychologist David Richo. Love is when we pay attention to the people around us. Love is when we show them acceptance. Love is when we show appreciation, which is gratitude for good things. Did you know that when you tell someone that something is good, they’ll have a tendency to do it again? Love is when we show people affection. The world is full of people who are deprived of any sort of caring. And affection is deeply meaningful. And also, when we allow people the freedom to live in accord with their own deepest needs and wishes. That’s another way to talk about acceptance. Love prepares the soil for the sowing of the seed.

But today we turn our attention to those seeds and understanding those seeds. You see, everything in this picture in front of you starts with a seed. The parable we talked about last week in Luke 8:11 points out that the seed that does spiritual work, what brings spirituality and people to life, the seed is the word of God. And if we’re going to join Jesus in the work of sowing, that means that we are going to find a way to let the word of God come into us and then flow out from us. So where do we go to get good seed?

Well, let me tell you something about seed that you may already know about. I did not. I grew up in Champaign, Illinois, surrounded by cornfields. And all of my teenage friends worked in detasseling. I had no idea what that was. But there is such a thing as hybrid seed corn. And hybrid seed corn is something that I did not understand till I took a college class, believe it or not, in 1976. And the professor explained hybrid seed corn. They would take a strain of corn and they would breed it, I guess you would call it. They would pollinate the corn from itself so that it would get more and more and more of a pure strain. And as it would do that, it would get weaker and weaker and weaker. And then they would take another form of corn and they would pollinate it among itself and it would get purer and purer, but also weaker and weaker. But then, they would cross-pollinate these plants with each other. And the resulting seeds that came from that cross, that came from those plants, were extremely powerful, were extremely more productive, were extremely more resistant to disease. It’s called “hybrid vigor.” The new, hybrid seeds were so much better than the seed that farmers saved from their crop the previous year that, in time, farmers were only planting hybrid seed corn.

Now, the interesting thing, this was happening in Iowa before World War II, but it still took 13 years before everyone was using hybrid seed corn.

I think the same sort of thing applies when we think about “spiritual seed” because I think we are crossing a clear, pure understanding of our lives that– remember that’s where we pray, “Lord, help me to see your world as you see it.” So often we misunderstand the world around us, but we have a really clear understanding of what’s happening all around us, and we cross that with a very clear and pure understanding of the Bible. I think then we will have a very powerful seed.

Now, that’s a very fancy way of saying this. When you and I take the word of God into our life, even if it’s just a single verse, and understand it and then we apply it to our world, I think we have that hybrid vigor because certainly, a verse that we understand but we never apply to our lives is not as powerful as one that changes our daily living.

And so I’ve been trying to do this, been trying to do this for years. I tried to do it last Labor Day. Ephesians chapter 2:10 says that you and I, we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. God wants you and I to do good. And not only that, good works which God prepared beforehand, and what that means is when you get up in the morning and you go down the path of your day to when you go to bed, just like that picture of a sidewalk that’s in front of you, you’re going to experience and encounter situations where you will have an opportunity to do good, where you will have an opportunity to apply God’s word in your life, and you’re going to meet people with whom you will interact, and you will have the opportunity to do good by sharing with them some spiritual seed.

And so on Labor Day, I headed for the jump houses at the Kinmundy Labor Day Celebration. I knew during my 3 hours at the jump houses, I was going to see over 100 people. And I parked my chair on this grass right there where people would be walking past me all day, and I smiled at them. And if they wanted to visit with me, I greeted them warmly. And any who wanted to talk to me, I listened. I had two women come up to me who simply wanted to say thank you to all of you, for providing the bounce houses to make the children happy. And I said to them how much we appreciated the opportunity to do that. Most of my conversations were just a few words. I did have a longer conversation with someone about their life; that was good. Most of my conversations were nonverbal. It was just me smiling and being friendly and being present. But I trusted that God would take anything I did and bring good out of it to help people. Because I was available for God to use.

And I want to suggest to all of us, friends, during the day, when you’re around other people, be willing to be available to do good. Now, somebody might say, “Pastor Dave, what do you mean?” And unfortunately, all I have to say to you is that every single person’s day is going to be different. And it may be that the good that you do today is just simply to be a smiling, friendly person, it might simply be that.

But you may be in a conversation – you may even be in a long conversation – about how God can help someone in their life. But if you’re open, you can be at peace knowing that God has arranged for these things to happen. And it is God that is working. God has created an opportunity for us to connect good soil – that’s people – with good seed – that’s what’s on our hearts to say. There is a connection, and we kind of need to be like a detective so that we can find what it is that we should say.

Because here’s what the scripture says – now, this comes from Mark; this is the New International Version – “Jesus also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground,'” and then he goes away. Look at verse 27: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up“– no matter what he does, “Night and day, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”

You see, the point is – look at verse 28 – it’s God that’s working with the seed. “All by itself the soil produces grain.” Now, I’d like to apologize to all the farmers who understand that the farming that they do, it’s not all by itself. There’s a lot more work involved. Any of you that have a garden, you know there’s a lot more work involved. But I think the point that Jesus is making is the majority of the work is done by the seed.All by itself,” Mark 4:28 says, “the soil produces grain: first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” And this farmer who, in the scripture, is dozing and napping and not paying much attention at all, except to occasionally check on the field– all of a sudden, verse 29, he wakes up. And the verse says, “As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

You see, what this suggests to us is this sort of sowing into the spiritual lives of people. We get it started, because God uses us to share a seed. And please remember, again, a seed can be a smile. It could be something we say. It can be something we say that comes from the scripture. It can be something else that we say. But the seed does the heavy work. And we don’t need to fear that everything depends upon us because God is watching over the seed. So let’s think about what seed does for a moment.

Now the parable is this, Luke says, “The seed is the word of God.” John 8:29, “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone for I always do what is pleasing to Him. And as He spoke thus many believed in Him.” Jesus then said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

The seed, when it grows, gives information about the truth. That’s why we need to let it grow in us so that we understand the truth about the world around us. But as we sow seed into other people’s lives, the seed will inform them and help them with the truth. Seed will help people to know what they’re doing. Remember what Jesus said from the cross? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Seed will help people to know what they’re doing.

In another place, John 15, Jesus says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit He takes away and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.” Notice this third verse. You are already made clean… Now the Greek word there that’s translated clean in verse 3, is translated prune in verse 2. The Bible in your life cleans you up. It straightens things out. It takes chaos and confusion and reduces it. The Bible, when you take it into yourself, begins to reorganize your life in a way that is not only pleasing to God but is effective and the best way to live. We want to let the seed work on us! But also, when we spread it, we want it to work on people around us.

And in the 7th verse comes a promise. Remember at the beginning of the service we sang that hymn, Standing on the Promises? Here’s a promise: If you abide in me and my words abide in you ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you. By this, My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.

Now, I don’t want to imply that this is some sort of magical thing but here’s what Jesus said: If these words flow into your life God will begin more and more to answer your prayers. Now it’s possible that if your prayers are influenced by the scripture there’ll be prayers that God, God is more able to answer. But the flat promise is there if you want your prayers to be answered. This is the most powerful way that the Scripture plainly speaks of, for your prayers to become more powerful, if you abide in me and my words abide in you, Jesus says.

So here’s the reality, friends: everything preaches because everything is a seed. St. Francis may have never actually said this, but it’s attributed to him: “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” We sometimes think that everything must be said in words, but sometimes, what we say through what we do has the greatest power in someone’s life. So preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words. Let the Bible come into you, and then at the right time, in the right way, maybe it’s by something you do, maybe it’s by something you say, let that scripture flow back out like seed into somebody’s life.

Let me give you an example. And by the way, I am traveling a path this morning. I traveled a path across the street to here, and I get to preach to all of you. Then I’m going to travel down to Wesley and preach there and then throughout the rest of the day. I’m not sure exactly all the conversations I’ll be a part of, but I want to say that this morning– today is the 11th, so I turned to Matthew chapter 11. And I read Matthew chapter 11 because you see, I’m looking for seed. And in Matthew chapter 11, I came across these words, verse 28. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,” Jesus said, “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.” And each day I look for a verse that’s going to sort of be my seed for the day, and that’s my seed for today.
And all day long today I’m going to be looking, “Lord, is there somebody here who’s feeling overwhelmed by the burdens of life?” And if I have a chance, I will share these words that Jesus spoke with them. And I guess by sharing them with you, I planted that seed in everybody’s heart this morning.

That is a powerful way that God can change lives, because here’s the reality, folks. The people I see every week might not be very many, but when you add in all the people that all of us see every week, God can touch literally almost every person’s life in our community. The span of separation in the United States is about three people. And what that means is you know everybody if you count the people you know and then all the people they know. So every one of us, if we are a part of this seed sharing that Jesus talks about, can touch the lives of every single person in our community, because either we know someone or one of the people that we know that we could share a seed with, they know everybody else that we don’t know.

So I want to encourage you to find a way to let the Bible flow into your life. Maybe you read the upper room. Maybe you just open the scripture and read a chapter a day. I love to use Matthew because there are 28 chapters. I love to use Proverbs because there are 31 chapters. So there’s a chapter I can read every day. But however you do it, let God give you a verse and let it be a seed for you and a seed for other people.

I’d like to invite you to consider each Bible verse as being like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I don’t know if you do jigsaw puzzles. Kim loves to do them. You take the piece, you hold it in your hand, and you say to yourself, “Where does this fit? Where does this fit in the puzzle?” And when you’re doing this with a Bible verse, what you’re saying is, “Lord, where does this fit in the puzzle of my life? Where does this fit in the puzzle of the lives of people I will encounter?” And lo and behold, if God helps you, you will find the place where it fits. Because as we said earlier, during this Pentecost season, the Holy Spirit teaches you, teaches every single one of us by reminding us about Jesus’s words and deeds. And these words and deeds from Jesus become seeds.

And when you see where they fit in your life, boom, it’s right there. But you’re on a path that intersects with the lives of other people. And when you see how it fits in someone else’s life, boom, it’s right there. Because God can use you. And God wants to use you.

But we have to be a little bit like a detective. I ran across this beautiful poem by Sean Thomas Dougherty this week that just seemed to speak to me about this detective work of finding the person who needs the word that God has given us. The title is “Why bother?”

Because
right now
there is someone out there
with a wound
in the exact shape
of your words.

And God creates an opportunity– if you will allow God to use you, God will create an opportunity for us to connect the good soil, that’s people, with good seed, that’s the scripture, and we will see the lives of people all around us begin to change. Allow yourself to be used by God not only to love other people but so that what God wants them to know flows from our minds to their mind, flows from our hearts to their hearts, flows from our lives to their lives.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, in the Bible this is called prophecy. You share with people what you want other people to know, and they carry your message. Lord, we know that’s what preachers do. Lord, we know that’s what pastors do. Lord, we know that’s what saints and holy people do, but sometimes we don’t perceive that God also uses us. Because sometimes, Lord, the perception we have of ourselves is as a people that can’t really do much, can’t really achieve much. We underestimate what we can do because we underestimate how much you can do. Lord, in Mark chapter four, you talk about us as people who are just supposed to sow the seed and then let you do the work from then on. Lord, help us to understand how we might sow the seed, whether that’s something we say or simply a smile and being kind. Lord, help us to see how we can sow the seed and remind people around us that a living God loves them. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

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