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The parable of the sower - june 1 2020

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Just as farmers all around the world have to test and treat their soil so their seed will produce a fruitful harvest, so, too, should we check and manage the Spiritual condition of our hearts. Ideally, we'll live with humility -- realizing everything and everyone are gifts from God; revering Him; and seeking to know and do His will. Continually preparing our hearts to receive and live out God's Word -- and the example of Jesus' life, which is described in the Bible -- will be key to living a humble and fruitful life.

Interestingly, the root word for humility is humus -- meaning "of the earth" or the rich "organic components of soil.' Good soil produces fruit when it receives good seed.


The Parable of the Sower illuminates this lesson. Making sure our hearts are full of humility can help us live fruitful lives. Lives seeking to know and live like God, based on receiving the seed of His Word; reciprocating back to God for all His incredible gifts to us; and doing this by "re-gifting" (or sharing) the many gifts He's given us -- to show others love. Now, that's fruitful living.


This Bible study was developed at the request of Father Leo Walsh, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C

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The parable of the sower - june 1 2020

  1. 1. Q: Will My Life Be A Fruitful Life? A: Do I Have The Right Heart Condition? A Bible Study On The Parable Of The Sower www.institutefortransformation.org; (402) 212-7973
  2. 2. Just As Farmers Test, Treat And Monitor The Condition Of Their Soil To Assure Fruitful Harvests, So Too, Can We Assess, Prepare And Monitor Our Hearts To Produce Fruit InOur Lives Jesus often considered what people were thinking in their hearts – and our thoughts and feelings often become the roots of our behaviors and actions. Using the insights provided by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower -- as well as in correlating Scripture verses -- we can examine the conditions of our hearts and minds and prepare them to receive God’s Word -- and Jesus’ living example – in order to produce fruit. It’s much like a farmer who tests the soil, then administers any necessary treatments before planting the seed, and then continually monitors and treats the soil to assure sufficient conditions exist for the seed to produce a fruitful harvest. The following pages map four conditions that could constitute the readiness of our hearts and minds to accept and nurture God’s Word and Jesus’ living example throughout our lives. They also provide “Transformational Thoughts” – additional Scriptural perspectives we can follow to assure the proper conditions exist in our hearts and minds in order to produce fruitful yields for God’s Kingdom.
  3. 3. Is the soil too Shallow? Is the soil Rocky? Is the soil Thorny? Is the soil Rich and Fruitful? Farmers need good soil for their seed to produce fruit. Farmers test and assess the soil’s condition, then make adjustments to assure fruitful harvests. It’s a process that starts at the beginning of the planting season and continues until harvest. Our hearts and minds must be examined and conditioned in order to receive the seed of God’s Word and Jesus’ example, which can then guide our behavior and actions in producing fruit. Farmers consider the same conditions that Jesus assesses in the Parable of the Sower: But what constitutes is Rich and Fruitful soil? In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus examines the capacity of our hearts, minds and lives to produce fruit…
  4. 4. Comparing our hearts to farming soil, Jesus asks us to evaluate what is the condition of our hearts. Is my heart condition: The Parable Of The Sower Can Lead Us To A Very Fruitful Life Using Farming As A Transformative Faith Formation Lesson: A Parallel Between Fruits Of The Harvest And Our Lives Heart Condition Map Modeled After Soil Condition Maps Used In Farming : Shallow top soil, where Jesus’ example and God’s Word never really take root but get easily plucked up and abandoned, doing no good? Rocky ground, where Jesus’ example and God’s Word get suppressed by persecution or daily troubles? Thorns, where cares of the world and the lures of things other than God’s will choke Jesus’ example, God’s Word and our harvest? Rich, fruitful soil (what’s known as humus -- the root word of humility) humbly absorbing and nurturing Jesus’ example and God’s Word and producing an abundant yield as a result?
  5. 5. 3 Like A Soil Assessment, Jesus Says We Need The Right Heart Condition To Produce Optimum Fruit , A productive harvest requires rich soil (humus-theroot word of humility). Are wehumbleenough to receive, nurtureand propagateJesus’ example and God’s Word to produce fruit? Will the seeds of Jesus’ example -- “the Word of God Made Flesh” -- and God’s Word itself yield a fruitful harvest in our lives? Like Soil Condition Assessments And Treatments Used In Farming, The Parable Of The Sower Explains We Need The Right Heart Condition To Receive God’s Word And Example And Produce A Bountiful Harvest
  6. 6. Jesus tells us a Parable using a farming analogy about the conditions where seeds are often planted. Good soil condition is essential to fruitful plant growth and yields. In this Parable, the seed planted represents God’s Word and Jesus’ example as a model for our lives, the soil represents our hearts, thoughts and behaviors. "Hear this! A sower went out to sow. …And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up… …Other seeds fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots… …Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain… …And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold…“ Insights For Living From Jesus: The Parable Of The Sower (Mark 4:1-20, NAB) CONTINUE READING TO BE CHALLENGED AND ENCOURGED BY RELATED TRANSFORMATIONAL THOUGHTS – BASED ON REAL-WORLD QUESTIONS AND SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE VERSES
  7. 7. GIFT Transformational Thoughts On The Seed Sown On A Shallow Path Jesus explains the first soil condition encountered by the sower: “The sower sows the Word. These are the ones on the path where the Word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.” GIFT’s Transformational Thoughts: • Are we pursuing God's Word regularly? Is God's Word planted deeply enough in us to take root and not be plucked by Satan's deceitful lures? • Do we accept God's Word as being truth – powerful, full of love and for our good – and conversely, do we also recognize that Satan is real, a liar, and seeking our destruction with his deceit? Jesus explained, "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.“ (John 8:44 NIV®) • The Bible also describes Satan’s craftiness and attacks against us and against God's Word. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ ...’You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman.’" (Genesis 3:1-4 NIV®) • We need to plant God's Word deep in our hearts and not let Satan or the world distract us from learning and living out that Word: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV®) “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17 NIV®) • Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 NIV®) • Our solution: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11 NIV®)
  8. 8. The Parable of the Sower Transformational Thought #1
  9. 9. GIFT Transformational Thoughts On The Seed Sown On Rocky Soil Jesus explains the second soil condition encountered by the sower: “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the Word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away.” GIFT’s Transformational Thoughts: • Do we truly receive God's Word with joy, and hide it in our hearts, so persecution or rough-going don't hinder us, and so we don't succumb to trials and persecution that suppress our joy, righteous living and witness? • God's Word even assures us that it's Him, the Creator of the universe, we can turn to in times of trouble, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7 NIV®) • Amid the difficulties we face, God's Word also tells us that Jesus is providing an advocate who, along with His own real presence, is ever with us, guiding and comforting us in the love and peace of our Lord, so we need not be vulnerable to persecution or trials. "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:26-27 NIV®) • But God's Word also cautions that we should be prepared to face and endure persecution: "In fact, everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV®). If we're not being persecuted, maybe we're not living such a Godly life after all. • Most importantly, we must consider the eternal blessings that come to those who hold true to God's Word and withstand persecution: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV®)
  10. 10. The Parable of the Sower Transformational Thought #2
  11. 11. Jesus explains the third soil condition encountered by the sower: “Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.” GIFT’s Transformational Thoughts: Does God's love for us and His instruction to us mean enough to us, such that worldly desires and concerns don't derail or impede us from internalizing God’s Word and showing Christ's love? Consider these admonitions about putting God and His commands first -- and seeking to love God and others, rather than being caught up in issues of the world: • Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life —comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15 – 17 NIV®) • "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12:24-26 NIV®) • If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17 NIV®) • As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered, you know the commandments: "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother." "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," Jesus said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:17-25 NIV®) GIFT Transformational Thoughts On The Seed Sown Among Thorns
  12. 12. The Parable of the Sower Transformational Thought #3
  13. 13. Jesus explains the fourth soil condition encountered by the sower: “But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” GIFT’s Transformational Thoughts: • Humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:21-22 NIV®) – Importantly, there's a key question we must answer in order to assure fruitful, Christian living: Is God's Word being planted in the right conditions in our hearts, minds and lives - in humus-oriented soil conditions that enable the seed to produce a yield? NOTE: Humus is defined as "dark organic material in soils, produced by decomposition of matter and essential to the fertility of the earth." It’s the “rich” soil Jesus speaks of in the Parable. (NOTE: humus is the root of the word humble, being "of the earth/grounded and not lofty." Humility is a key virtue we must embrace in our hearts, minds and lives for God’s Word to be fruitful.) • Have we considered just how much Jesus desires that we humbly accept and retain his Word and produce fruit? In fact, Jesus even prayed for us and sanctified Himself for us, so we would produce fruit through His Word, while compassionately acknowledging that we'll face difficulties: "I have given them your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." (John 17:4-19 NIV®) • He also instructed us in how to produce a fruitful harvest: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:5-8 NIV®) • "And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8 NIV®) Did not Jesus walk humbly among man – obedient to God’s will -- to bring the Word and love of God to us? • "In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:1-8 NIV®) • "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble... In your hearts revere Christ the Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:8, 15 NIV®) GIFT Transformational Thoughts On The Seed Sown On Rich Soil Rich, fruitful soil – what’s known as humus (the root word of humility) – involves a heart condition of always appreciating, embracing and nurturing God’s Word, His loving example in Christ, and all His gifts; then continually transforming our lives to live and love more like Jesus, producing a very fruitful harvest and transforming our world
  14. 14. The Parable of the Sower Transformational Thought #4
  15. 15. According to Christian Leadership Magazine, "Transformation is not just an attitude; it's a changed life... a response to God and God's action. It requires our deliberate, humble participation." To help us achieve a Spiritual transformation in which we're living in a humble, right relationship with God, we’ll want to leverage the wisdom in the Parable of the Sower. This wisdom can guide us into living more like Christ and impacting others with His love. Importantly, as we walk along life's path, we need to make sure we're continually growing in a closer relationship with God, being transformed by His Word, with His Presence and the Holy Spirit always directing us, undeterred, so we’re living and loving more like Christ. • We should take time often to reflect upon the Parable of the Sower and the condition of our hearts. • We should reflect on Jesus' explanation in the Parable regarding what kind of soil the seeds encountered when sown along the Path and examine our lives -- are we nurturing God’s seed/Word to assure a harvest from His awesome Word, resisting Satan’s lies and lures, contending with persecution, avoiding our life’s impact being choked off, and producing good fruit and a huge yield? • We may want to regularly reflect on some of the related transformational questions, Scripture and thoughts provided here, regarding what the Parable means, and how it applies to our life. • A key thought: we find that humility (from the root word “humus,” being of the earth – a condition in which good growth can occur) plays a big role in enabling our Spiritual growth and fruitfulness. • If ever we veer off the path and go in the wrong direction, knowing that our God is a loving, merciful and forgiving God can help us redirect our hearts and minds back to the rich, humble, Word-infused soil that can yield much good and significant fruit. • The next time you walk through a garden, pass by a farm or visit the produce section in your nearby grocery store, consider the wonder and goodness of a fruitful harvest, and live a life grounded in humble acceptance of, appreciation for and adherence to God’s transforming Word. Take The Humble Path To Spiritual Transformation And Produce A Fruitful Harvest
  16. 16. Achieving Spiritual Transformation That Yields Fruit Requires Following Four Key Scripture Insights Aligned With The Parable Of The Sower 1 2 3 4
  17. 17. * The Explanations (And Warnings) That Jesus Provided, Regarding The Seeds That Were Sown, Can Guide Us In How To Best Live Our Lives To Produce Fruit And Please God www.institutefortransformation.org 402-212-7973
  18. 18. www.institutefortransformation.org Timothy Maurer President Global Institute For Transformation (GIFT) timothy.maurer@institutefortransformation.org 402-212-7973

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