By Who & How You Love

By Who & How You Love

For the month of October – as has become the tradition here at PB UMC – we will be engaging in Stewardship conversations. We will do so alongside concepts from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christenson’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? (available online here for those who wish, though not required).

Note: Some of this series and supporting materials are sourced from sharechurch.com, a ministry of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

This Sunday’s text focuses on planting seeds. At the time and place that Jesus told this parable, farming was likely a familiar vocation – certainly more common than it is today. But farming was surely a practice undertaken largely by hand. The soil was tilled in the fields by hand. The seeds were sown by hand. As the parable teaches, it is not the seed that makes the difference in how much is grown; it is the soil that matters.

Matthew 13:1-9 (CEB)
1That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore.

3He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed. 4As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. 6But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots. 7Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. 8Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. 9Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

Consider these questions:

  1. What person or persons played the biggest role in planting the seed of God’s message in your life? Is there anything you wish they had done differently in doing so? What are the primary ways that your gifts, talents, and temperament equip you to “sow the seed” in other lives?
  2. Jesus was a master at taking ordinary activities of everyday people – fishermen, farmers, even parents and children – and using them to teach big ideas and deep theology. How easy or hard do you find it to share God’s message without using “church talk” that may not seem to have much to do with “real life?” How can Jesus’ model help you learn to connect God with people’s day-to-day concerns?

Daily scripture readings:
Suggested scripture readings for each day of the week. Monday will always be a return to Sunday’s text.

  • Monday 10/15/18 – Matthew 13:3-9
  • Tuesday 10/16/18 – Matthew 13:18-23
  • Wednesday 10/17/18 – Matthew 3:1-10
  • Thursday 10/18/18 – James 2:8-17
  • Friday 10/19/18 – Matthew 25:1-12
  • Saturday 10/20/18 – John 15:1-8

Post-Sermon Update on 10/16

Audio from the sermon can be heard below. Due to a technical issue, no video is available.

In the beginning of Sunday’s message time, we announced the daily scripture suggestions that would be made to support this series. Hopefully, you’ve found these above and have begun this reading. As this update is made on Tuesday the 16th, today’s reading invites you to consider what type of soil describes your life of faith. Surely, your life and experiences have affected who you are, and perhaps have shaped how you receive the seed of God’s grace.

Perhaps difficult or even harmful circumstances have hardened your heart. Perhaps limited opportunity – or, let’s face it, willingness – to engage in practices to deepen your faith have resulted in shallow soil. Perhaps you find it difficult (as I do) to prioritize matters of faith over “real life,” allowing matters of the world to limit your receptivity to spirituality. And perhaps you’re an eager recipient with a nurturing heart, allowing God’s grace to transform you.

A quote about deepening our openness to spirituality attributed to scholar N.T. Wright goes like this:

This takes time, and sometimes hard work. A quick glance at the Bible, an occasional sitting in church or a study group and being entertained by some new idea, is probably not enough. Care and thought needs to be put into the task of hearing the word of the kingdom until it has taken proper root.

Consider these questions:

  1. Which of the three issues Jesus identified has posed the biggest challenge to you in being a Christ-follower? In what ways have you and God already overcome some of those challenges?
  2. In what ways has a change of attitude or heart showed itself in changed conduct in your life?
  3. Thursday’s reading from James challenges us to look beyond the limitations of a 50/50 balance between faith and works and give 100% of both! What are some of the actions, the works, that you have seen grow in your life as you respond to God’s grace?
  4. Do you have your three pennies? (Note: If this question doesn’t make sense, be sure to listen to the last few minutes of the sermon above.) How many are in each pocket today? What has your experience been like as you focus on sharing sacrificial love?

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