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Posts Tagged ‘parables’

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Earlier this with week, I started a YouTube Influence Challenge through Think Media#GrowWithVideo.  Sean Cannell  kicked the 7-day challenge off in Day 1 Session #1 by driving home some hard points that call for self reflection, but he was careful to state that making videos for YouTube also requires a formula. Heather Torres led Day 3 into a challenge to develop our own introductory videos using the “secret formula.” The point of this is real simple: even developing and posting videos to YouTube requires a formula.

Oftentimes, I hear the cake baking analogy to the point of exhaustion when it comes to the right ingredients or mix of items. Whether it be a Sunday sermon or a professional development Zoom meeting with PowerPoint slides shared, cake baking seems to be the way many explain what is needed to reach a point of success.

Jesus used a differed methodology during a different time. He used what people understood to teach a life lesson.  He shared allegorical stories called parables to capture attention and drive home a point. He mastered the teachable moment and made the most of the opportunity to teach a life-changing message on a miniature scale.

The parable of the sower offers a word picture of sowing seeds and the potential outcomes. The parable occurs in Matthew 13:1-9. Jesus shares it and ends it with “Whoever has ears, let them hear” in verse 9 according to the NIV.

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The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”              – Matthew 13:10 (NIV)

At some point His disciples want to know what’s behind the parables.  That is when Jesus opens the spiritual floodgates. He unleashes the formula for fruitful ministry through His explanation of the parable to His disciples in verses 18-23.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. – Luke 8:11 (KJV)

Jesus broke down the faulty and failing, even fertile, hearts as the soil. The seed is identified as the word of God. The results vary based upon the conditions, the season. Rocky and thorny soil doesn’t allow the seed to take root. Thorny soil leaves folks in a condition where they “bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14, KJV). The seeds on the pathway are snatched up by the birds quickly, not even reaching the soil. It is the see that finds the “good ground” that is fruitful, “which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, KJV).

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So, what’s the formula for fruitful ministry?

You need to sow the RIGHT SEED in the RIGHT SOIL in the RIGHT SEASON.

You can sow tirelessly under the wrong conditions and find no fruit. You can sow time and time again with no results due to it being the wrong kind of soil or the wrong season. You cannot force the fruit. Jesus said the right mix will “bring forth fruit with patience, according to the King James Version.

  • RIGHT SEED: Your ministry work must be rooted in the Bible, God’s Word. If your message is about anything else, it won’t take root in the soil of the heart.
  • RIGHT SOIL: You minister to the heart and soul of people. You do not win souls via debate and logic. You win souls based on the Spirit and the Word working on the heart of an unbeliever. Heartache and pain might have prepared the way. Disaster or disease might have readied the person to receive the message. Unemployment or a new normal via COVID-19 might have opened the heart to hear the message, but the soil has to be right and receptive.
  • RIGHT SEASON: You cannot force the fruit. Fruit emerges in its season. Psalm 1 speaks of a believer when it says: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (verse 3, KJV). You do not determine when it’s fruit-bearing season. That’s God’s work. Like Paul one shared to the brothers and sisters of Corinth, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV). God gives the increase and He does so in the season in which He determines for it. Bringing forth fruit requires that patience Jesus mentioned.

Take this formula into consideration while you are ministering to others. It might not be the right season. Just remain patient. God can turn things around in His own timing. It might not be the right soil. If you do not feel like you are breaking ground and getting anywhere, you can continue to support and allow someone else the opportunity to be used by God in the situation. Imagine if God wanted you praying for the person (like Paul planted) and another was to step in and usher the person into the faith (like Apollos watered) , and then God would give the growth.

Finally, check yourself. You must keep the Word as the message. That is the right seed. Without the right seed, your ministry and its work will fall flat all of the time.  You might see some growth spurts but nothing will remain sustainable.

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, NIV).

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Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.-1 Corinthians 11:1

Paul outlines the dynamics of discipleship that most church leaders should take today. He doesn’t offer a do-as-I-say-not as-I-do leadership credo. He simply shares truth with a church that had numerous internal struggles a way for getting on the right track and simply following another follower of Christ. Such an approach echoes much of what Jesus shared after offering the parable of the Good Samaritan when He stated: “Go and do likewise.”

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.”

Church leaders have to see themselves leading others down the right path of Christian living. Just as Paul shared, an example of faithful Christian living should be provided to the Christian newcomer in the form of a living, breathing believer who can mentor others as the embark on their personal journey with Jesus. Every pastoral leader should have a body of people he has trained and taught for leadership roles that may or may not fit into the church’s organizational chart. If you can’t find anyone you have taught and trained for leadership, then your first move may be to pray to the Lord for insight and ideas on how to identify and start training others for future leadership roles. Here is where vision serves as a key ingredient. You’ll have to see where you want to go and design a pathway for getting there.

Paul demonstrates another key component of discipleship. Discipleship is personal. You have to be willing to allow someone to examine you up close and personal as you seek to disciple them. They’ll hear you more as they come to know and understand you more. They need to know that you are still flesh and blood behind all of that saintly speaking and righteous rhetoric.

Don’t expect to be perfect. Try with all your might, but don’t simply expect it. We are all imperfect people privileged to be working on God’s perfect plan. The journey is worth telling others because they can look forward with hope to the joy that they will experience when their Bible students get a grasp of their weekly small group lesson on righteous redemption or when the man who struggled with his identity in Christ becomes at peace with striving to be more like Him. Discipleship is exactly that; a journey that you have agreed to go on with someone else as you serve as their tour guide. Yep. That’s what it is.

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