JANUARY 11, 2023

Dear Friends,

“A sower went out to sow some seeds…”

With those words, Jesus begins one of his best known, and in some respects, most hotly debated parables. It’s also one of the few parables where Jesus actually explains who represents what in the parable.

In reading through Matthew 13 this week, I was struck by one element in the Parable of the Sower. As you likely know, some of the seed which the Sower scatters in this parable lands on the path. Some lands among the rocks. Some lands on thorny ground. And some lands on good soil. The seed that lands on the path, we’re told, is devoured by birds before it ever sprouts. The seed that lands on the rocky groud sprouts but never grows roots. The seed that lands amid the thorns is choked out. Only the seed that falls on good soil bears fruit.

While my personal conviction is the four soils represent four different responses to the message of the gospel, and that the first three responses represent the responses of unbelievers, I was reminded this week that as a believer, it’s easy for me to fail to respond rightly to the gospel each day.

Sometimes, the gospel message can bounce off my own hard heart, failing to penetrate my soul in any meaningful way.

Sometimes, there’s a response that may be sincere in the moment but that fades quickly because it’s not an anchor for my soul. Because it lacks deep rootedness in my soul, my momentary belief and faith can evaporate in an instant, especially in the face of persecution or trials.

Sometimes, the gospel message is restrained or drowned out by “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.” Ouch. How often is that the case?

The good news of the gospel is that when it falls on the ears of those whose hearts have been plowed up the Spirit and made ready to receive it, it does take root. And it will bear good fruit.

While my life is not characterized by indifference toward the things of God, I clearly have my moments when I’m thinking about other things.

And while I’m not characterized by anxieties or fears, my faith wobbles and wavers in the face of trials. I can wilt when the possibility of persecution is present.

And while I don’t fit the mold of someone we would think of as a “worldly minded” person, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the cares of the world or the deceitfulness of riches, and to place a higher priority on either of those than I do on loving and serving Jesus.

Which of those three areas would be your Achilles Heel?

As a believer in Jesus, is it easy for you to compartmentalize your relationship with Him and live in functional indifference?

Do fears and anxieties uproot your faith?

Does your love for material things or your concerns about the here and now crowd out your love for Jesus?

It is the job of the gardener to prepare the soil to receive the seed. He clears the land a breaks up the fallow ground. The soil can’t make itself good soil. Only the gardener can do that. And the whole reason the gardener tills the ground and prepares the soil is so the seeds he plants will bear fruit.

Guard your heart this week against indifference. Against anxiety and fear. Against worldliness and materialism. Any of those things will interfere with your fruit bearing. Ask God to produce in you a bountiful harvest.

I keep my calendar on my devices. Mary Ann keeps hers on paper. However you keep yours, click here and download a copy of our spring calendar and make sure you block out key dates for our church. Lots of events to plan for and circle on your own calendar!

How was your small group time this week? If you’re not part of a small group, you’re missing out on a key opportunity for fellowship and community. Check out any of our small groups – everyone would love to see you!

Men, three things to prioritize in the next couple of months.

First, there is the Thursday Men’s Bible Study that kicks off on January 26. The study happens during the lunch hour (noon to 1:00 pm) at Pastor Matt’s house. You can get more info or sign up for the study by clicking here. Contact Pastor Matt with any questions. Next, our monthly First Tuesday gatherings will start up in February. Add this to your calendar now and plan to attend. There are rumors that my goulash might be back on the menu…And finally, go ahead and block out March 24-26 on your calendar for our Men’s Retreat. Jeff Terrell, the pastor of Ascend Church in Olathe KS will be our speaker. More details to come.

Ladies, the Spring Women’s Bible Study begins January 23. You’ll be spending time in three short Old Testament books, beginning with four weeks in Jonah and followed by studies in Habakkuk and Malachi later in the spring.
There are two meeting times. You can choose the Monday night group, meeting at 7:00 pm. Or the Tuesday afternoon group that meets at 1:00 pm. Both groups will meet at the church.

The registration deadline is next Monday. So click here right now and sign up for the Mercy in the Storm four week study of Jonah. And students – make sure you’re planning to be part of the D-Now weekend happening February 3-5. Info and registration can be found here!The arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was the beginning of the fulfillment of His mission. He had been seeking the lost for the past three years. Now He was beginning the journey that would lead to the salvation of the lost. And as we’ll see clearly this week, every step on that journey was a step He chose to take.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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