“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23
In my front yard towers a mature honey locust tree. It has tiny leaves and enormous, brown, snake-like bean pods. My husband Mark and I went out yesterday and cleaned up bean pods for at least the tenth time this year. We have removed about 50 leaf bags filled with nothing but bean pods. And despite strong winds, freezing rain and fierce cold, many of those bean pods are still hanging on the tree. It never cease to amaze me where those bean pods land either. We have found them in neighbors’ yards two houses down the street, stuck in bushes and trees all around the house, out in the street and gutters, and on top of the roof. Although they can be a major pain to clean up each fall and early winter, they are a testament to our tree’s age and good health. And in the spring at least a few of the beans will germinate in the rich soil, and I’ll be out plucking tree seedlings throughout the yard.
As Christians, we are called to plant seeds for the harvest. What is the seed? Luke 8:11 and 1 Peter 1:23 tell us it is the Word of God. And how are seeds planted? Proverbs 11:24 and Luke 11:5-15 tell us they are scattered around widely into all kinds of ground (Mark 4:26-27; Matthew 9:36-38). This is done by sharing, preaching and teaching God’s Word (Acts 8:4; Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15). Unfortunately, many Christians don’t go out and sow seeds (Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:37). Where are they scattered? Matthew 13:38 says into the world, which is the field. There are many obstacles to a seed’s growth. It can rot (Joel 1:17, Malachi 2:3), be consumed by locusts (Deuteronomy 28:38, Joel 1:4), be consumed by enemies (Leviticus 26:16, Deuteronomy 28:33, Deuteronomy 28:51), choked by thorns (Jeremiah 12:13, Matthew 13:7), fall in bad places and bad soil (Mark 4:4-7). How does it grow? It needs to be planted in good soil (Mark 4:8; Mark 4:20). God makes it grow (1 Corinthians 3:6). The Bible says God’s Word is never sown in vain. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11.
Just as the Word of God is described as a seed, the Bible also describes people as seeds. Seeds are sown by hearing God’s Word. Mark 4:15-20 explains that some seeds are taken by Satan; some seeds are planted too shallow and fall away without root; some are destroyed by the thorns of the world; and some hear the Word, accept it and produce a crop. Everyone’s crop looks different. The more seeds one plants, the greater the harvest will be (2 Corinthians 9:6). What is the harvest? It is Christians, children of God who accept God’s Word in their heart and in their lives.
Seeds are not dead. Seeds are alive! Looking at a seed will tell you little about it. Dissecting a seed would give you a little more information, but this would surely kill it. Planting a seed would tell you much about it. First, it needs to sprout from the ground where it will be seen by the world. It takes many years of being watered, protected, nourished and nurtured to sprout, grow and mature. It may have to overcome periods and seasons of intense and long drought, heavy and saturating rain, thick and blanketing snow, scorching fire and searing heat. Hopefully it will one day turn into a mighty and fruitful tree to be enjoyed by all (Psalm 126:6, Matthew 13:31-32). It requires both time and patience to see the end result. And its seeds will produce even more seeds of its kind (Galations 6:7; Genesis 1:11).
Are you planting seeds, bearing witness to the Word of God, and laboring in Jesus Christ? Have you watched a seed begin to grow? Are you doing your part to help nourish it? Have you watched a tree that came from a tiny seed reach its full maturity? There are seeds and trees everywhere. Each one of us would do well to notice them, encourage them and help them in whatever fields God has planted them. We would do well to sow even more seeds so that a great harvest will one day be brought to the threshing floor. It is when we have reached our full maturity that we hope to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).
Pray the following beautiful prayer for a great harvest by online “Godspace” blogger and author Christine Sine (http://godspace.wordpress.com).
God we thank you for your harvest which feeds us so many times each day.
We are nourished with your forgiveness and hope
We are sustained with your strength and patience
We are filled with your grace and compassion
God we thank you for feeding us with a harvest of plenty
We are restored through your generosity and healing
We are replenished with your abundance and joy
We are reminded of your selfless abandon
God we thank you for feeding us with the bread of heaven
Your gift of Christ sustains our lives
His presence restores the promise of your love
His life fills our hearts with your everlasting light
God we thank you too for filling us with the water of life
May we drink deeply that our thirst may be quenched
May your river continue to flow
Over us, in us, through us
And out into the world you love.