Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to grow in your faith

  “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 ESV)

 My wife loves her gardening. Each year she buys packets of seeds like Black Eyed Susan seeds, Zinnia seeds, Daisy seeds, etc., and she dutifully plants them at various spots around the yard. 

Her expectation is that before the summer is over her garden will be transformed into a mini garden of Eden for everyone to enjoy.

How many seeds are in each packet? I don't know. A lot. 
For reasons we don’t always understand not every seed germinates and grows into a beautiful flower.

What’s true in nature is also true in the Kingdom of God. Growth or lack of growth in the church is determined by the condition of our hearts.

The truth of this parable is quite sobering. Every soil is a metaphor for four types of people in our congregations. The issue is not access to the word of God. The issue is the condition of each person’s heart. The sower, who is Holy Spirit, the preacher, or the bible study leader, liberally distributes the word of God to all.

Sadly, some folks go through the church year after year, and nothing changes in them. Why? Read through the parable again. According to Jesus, the number one reason why people do not grow and bear fruit stems from an inner life that cannot receive and obey God’s word.

Is my heart hardened by unconfessed sin? Sorry, the seed has no impact.
Is my heart filled with rocks or bad habits? The results will be disappointing.
Is my heart shallow, or immature? Then only minimal growth will occur.
Is my heart choked with thorns of worry, anxiety, and concern for this world? Growth will be a flash in the pan.

But if the soil of my heart is receptive, open, desirous of truth, grow happens and fruit will be seen by all. 

If you feel stuck, don't blame your pastor, or your church, or the people around you, or the music; look at the condition of your heart. The most compelling point of this parable for me is the word of God which Jesus calls seed. No seed, no growth. No interaction with God's word, no growth.

What’s the solution? Well, before you attend the next worship service, read the bible, or participate in a small group study, pray this prayer of David:

            Search me, O God, and know my heart!
                        Try me and know my thoughts!
            And see if there be any grievous way in me,
                        and lead me in the way everlasting!
            (Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)