TIME TO PLANT 5-5-19

Time to Plant!

May 5, 2019

It’s that time of the year again…  Time for the farmers to plant their seeds in the fields so the crops will be ready to harvest come Fall.  Whether it is corn, soybeans, or even pumpkins, if the seeds are never planted, there will be no crop; and if the farmer waits too long, the crop will not be ripe come harvest time.

But the farmer’s work begins long before the seeds are planted.  The field has to first be chosen for the type of crop the farmer wishes to grow.  The climate and soil conditions will affect the potential of the seeds to sprout, grow, and mature.  Then the soil has to be plowed and prepared; rocks and undesirable plants removed, and nutrients added. 

And then, at just the right time, the seeds are planted.  Too early and frost will kill the young sprouts.  Too late and the plants will not have enough time to mature.

The farmer must then nurture the young crop, taking care to eliminate weeds and pests, control diseases, and ensure adequate irrigation. 

Mother Nature on the other hand, is not so calculating.  She uses an entirely different method to ensure the propagation of the next generation.  Think of the dandelion.  Despite all of mankind’s efforts to subdue them, at this time of the year you will see them almost everywhere.  It only takes 9-12 days for the flower to produce seeds, and one flower can produce up to 400 seeds.  Ripe seed is able to germinate at once and gives around 90% germination.  Mature dandelion plants have a very deep taproot, which makes them very resistant to hoeing and other manual forms of eradication, and they can live from 10-13 years.  Buried seeds can be viable for up to 5 years.    

So how does this relate to what we are called to do as Christians?  We are called to plant the seed of the Word of God into the hearts of those who do not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and then to nurture the seedling until it grows into mature faith.  Not all of us are dandelions, with a reach so prolific in spreading the Word that new Christians sprout up by the thousands, even millions. “Billy Graham achieved a reach unlike any other evangelist, serving as a counselor or minister to a dozen U.S. presidents. He preached to an estimated 215 million people in 185 countries around the world during his life, and his message reached millions more as he maintained a near-constant presence on radio, television and the internet.”  (NBC news) 

We praise God for men and women like Rev. Graham, but that does not mean the rest of us are not called to plow our field, plant seeds, and raise up crops for Christ, even if it is only a single ear of corn or one fragrant rose.

Each of us is different.  We have different strengths and different weaknesses.  We are placed in different locations with different types of ‘fields’ in which to plant our seeds.  So how we go about our task will vary from one person to the next, but there is no one that can truthfully say there is absolutely nothing they can do to plant and/or water the Word of God.  And we all have received the same promise in Isaiah 55:10-11, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   Yes, just as the apostle Paul said in our 2nd Scripture reading (1 Corinthians 3:6-9), as long as we do the planting and watering, God will make it grow.  Some of us might only have rocky soil in which to plant, and become discouraged when the seedlings don’t mature.  Some of us might be surrounded by thorns and feel as if we ourselves are choking.  But we must persist.  The more seeds we throw out, the better the chances that a few of them will fall into good soil, sprout, and grow. 

And when one of those seeds does sprout, we need to immediately make sure that it is watered.  New faith is very fragile.  It needs nurturing until it can develop strong roots.  It needs to be surrounded by love, understanding, and encouragement so it can grow, mature, and eventually also spread more seeds. 

So how do we do all of this?   We all know someone who needs Jesus - someone who either has never heard the Gospel message, who has heard it but failed to believe it, or who maybe believed it at one time but became discouraged and turned away from it.   Ask God to show you how to reach out to that person…  Meet a need in their life.  Lend them a helping hand.  Show them love.  Love prepares the soil.  Love makes it receptive to the seed of the Word.  Then when the Holy Spirit leads you, plant the seed.  That doesn’t mean hit them over the head with a Bible.  You want to plant the seed into their heart, not crack their skull.  Tell them how God helped you through a situation in your life.  Give them a book written by a Christian author that really moved you.  Invite them to a special event at your church.  And pray.  Pray for them every day.  Remember, it is the Holy Spirit that will cause the seed to sprout, not you. 

And then, when that person does open their heart to the Lord, and the seed begins to grow, be sure to water it.  Give them a Bible and invite them to Bible study.  Bring them to church with you.  Listen to their concerns and answer their questions.  If they need more ‘water’ than you can give, be sure to refer them to someone who can provide them with what they need.  Remember, your pastor likes to garden! 

And beyond the one on one, there is still more you can do.  Social media is a wonderful place to plant seeds.  I know many of you already do.  You can support mission projects through personal or financial involvement.  Leave a gospel tract, daily devotional, or even a New Testament with your tip for the waitress, in a public place, or among the magazines in a waiting room.  Use your imagination.  There are many ways in which you can plant the seed of God’s Word.  You might never see the results, but God will.  So as you heard in our third Scripture reading (Ecclesiastes 11:6), “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

And praise God that, as the apostle Peter wrote, we “have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23).  Amen.

VIDEOS: 

"Song of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed"  (Take Care of Me)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2bVgSWb7mA

"Bringing in the Sheaves"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad54bH-nQTM