Waste and Grace

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A man once said, “The church is like manure. Pile it up, and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out, and it enriches the world.” The Church always struggles with the issue of evangelism. Sometimes we want to close up in a little shell. We want to protect ourselves and keep everything as it is. My brother pastored a church that the finest house in the town was the church parsonage. Why? Years ago, the church had neglected the residence for the minister, so a lady in the church, when she died she left her farm to the congregation. The stipulation was that the church could not sell the farm and all proceeds from the farm could only be used for the upkeep of the parsonage. I guess we reap what we sow as a church. Jesus said, I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.

I had in my front yard a “Global Locust” which was a very pretty tree. It was a very brittle and frail tree that was always being damaged by storms. However, it was a tree the was very prolific and would not die. Sprouts from the tree pop up in the yard, my flowers beds and even in the cracks in the sidewalk. The presence of the tree is evident all over the front lawn! In many years of living in that same house I have pulled, cut and poisoned those shoots and nothing has stopped that trees attempts to multiply. Jesus words again, But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

All at once we realize the power of the seed. This tiny seed that falls in cracks in rocks and grows into a huge tree and shatters the rock in the process. That is great power. Lotus seeds were found in 1995 in a dry lake bed in China. They were 1,288 years old! Seven of them were obtained by the University of California at LA. The seeds were germinated, sprouted, and a plant grew from them. A seed can hold life for 1,288 years, that is power!

What I find challenging about our lesson today is that the reason of God stands opposed to the reason that you and I use everyday. Num 20:7-11 The LORD said to Moses,”Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

Matt 17:24-27 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. “What do you think, Simon?” Jesus asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes– from their own sons or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin.

That day Jesus went out of the house at Capernaum, and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. The land around the Sea of Galilee gently slopes toward the sea.

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop– a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Why does this farmer waste all of this seed? Wouldn’t it be better if the farmer only put the seed on the good soil? This is valuable seed. The farmer knows that it isn’t going to do any good to plant seed on the rocks or in the weeds. Look at how this farmer wasts the seed! He casts it everywhere that he can cast it. On the rocks, on the path and in the weeds. What a waste, or is it?

Serving the purpose of God is never a waste. How many times do we plant a seed that we don’t realize will take root one day. We don’t realize what seeds we plant in the little children we teach in Sunday school. We don’t realize what seeds we plant as we visit the shut-ins. We don’t realize what seeds we plant as we minister to those who have no family. The seeds are falling all over the place. Shouldn’t we cut the funding and only put it in areas that we see benefit?

Isa 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.

As a young man, John Harvard emigrated from England to the United States. All predicted the brightest future for him as a brilliant scholar. He died after only one year. When he died, he left a little over 700 pounds and a collection of more than 200 books for a new university. Harvard University! The death of John Harvard looked like waste, but it produced an abundant harvest. The harvest is sure.

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