Bible passage: Luke 8:1-15
- Thinking back to Craig’s message, what were the main themes that stood out to you? What questions did it raise? And what was God saying to you at this time?
Exploring the Issue
Pastor Craig writes: I am NOT a green-thumb!
Ten years ago I’d planted a lemon tree in the backyard and in all that time it’s only ever produced one small, very dry, lemon … it was pitiful really!
Around 12 months ago a friend of mine (who it turns out is far more gardening adept than I) let me know that lemon trees are supposed to be in full sunlight, receive regular watering and have rich soil (who knew!).
My poor tree was in complete shade, was watered only when it rained, and had to tough it out with other trees and weeds to get access to anything that looked like soil.
So, I decided to do some ‘radical surgery’ in our backyard.
I pulled that lemon tree out, roots and all (yeah, I know I’m supposed to move it with soil, but I figured it had survived this long in sub-optimal conditions, so it must be pretty tough already), and I replanted it in the front yard in a location which receives full sunlight.
Before replanting, I purchased some high-grade soil and citrus fertiliser, so that it’d have a nice new home. And since planting it, I’ve watered that plant like it had never been watered before (which in hindsight wasn’t that much).
See those green oval-shaped things in the photo? They’re lemons on my tree! At the time of writing this Connect Group study I count about 10 of them and they’re looking great!
The radical surgery that my lemon tree went through reminded me of Jesus’ words about soil in Luke 8.
Jesus used an image that his audience of a first century agriculturally-based society would know very well – the image of good/fertile soil. Those people, who lived in the rich farming area of northern Israel (an area that is still agriculturally productive to this day), heard Jesus tell a story:
“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” (Luke 8:8)
While we’ll return to this parable in a couple of studies time, given that the theme for 2020 is ‘Good Soil’, I’d like to unpack this idea some more.
Read Luke 8:1-15, and as a summary of this passage, complete the table below.
|TYPE OF SOIL||RESPONSE TO THE WORD||OUTCOME IN THE PERSON’S LIFE|
|Path||E.g. only hears the word||E.g. seed stolen by the devil|
- As you look at the description of each type of soil, which one best describes the current state of your life?And which type of soil would have best described you 10 years ago?Where there is a difference between now and 10 years ago, reflect with your group on why that might be the case.
- Read John 15:5-8 and Galatians 5:22-26. Jesus describes the role of ‘the branch’ (you and me) is to abide/remain in the vine (Jesus) – to have a deep and vital connection with Jesus. Fruitfulness therefore is not a matter of simply ‘trying harder’, it’s a matter of ongoing relationship with Jesus.As you look at the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ that Paul describes in Galatians 5, what fruit do you sense Jesus is wanting to grow more of in your life? What specific ways do you sense He’s inviting you to cooperate with Him in this endeavour?
- In his message, Pastor Craig described a number of key areas where we hope to cultivate good soil in 2020 – both personally and collectively as a church community. As a group, discuss what stood out to you from Craig’s message. What excited you? What concerned you? What questions did you have? Did you sense the Spirit saying anything to you from this message?
- What might cultivating good soil look like for you personally and as part of the NVBC church family? What practical next steps would help to see this happen as part of deepening your faith journey?
Spend time as a group praying for each other that 2020 will be a year of deepening ‘good soil’ and growing fruitfulness.