WHY STORIES?

I confess.  I am a storyteller.  I loved to tell make-believe stories to console, distract or redirect my own children from doing silly things like fighting with each other or getting into situations that would hurt them.  I especially used storytelling while our family drove many miles on vacations or church trips.  I remember making up a particular story about the legend of the Hubangees.  (No, you can’t google this!  They don’t exist!)  Years ago, when our kids were very young and very active, the idea came from seeing huge grass like plants along the side of the road.  See, that kids?  Those are the tops of the heads of the legendary Hubangees.  You see, they were buried feet first in the ground.  We now only see the tops of their heads.  That got their attention.  Then the story was built, bit by bit, to my wide-eyes very young listeners.  The fighting and messing around in the van stopped for a few moments to really listen to the story of the Hubangees. 

Years, before marriage and children, I was called by God to be completely His.  No matter what vocation or task He might lead me to in life, my desire was to follow Him while doing it.  One of those mission tasks was to be a public school teacher.  As God began to equip me for this, I took cues from Jesus, the Master Teacher, to form my philosophy and practice of teaching along with all that my local University would teach me.  Yes, storytelling was a huge part of the teaching process.  Begin with what they know in their own lives to be real and relevant, form a story around this knowledge, then extend what they know with what they need to know to grow.  Jesus is a storyteller.  I’m in good company.   

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 13:1-15, NLT

Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
    and let me heal them.’

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM JESUS’ STORY?

  •  “Those who truly listen will be given the understanding” to learn from Jesus about Kingdom of God living. 
  • The more we listen the more knowledge will be given!  YES, it’s true!
  • Prophecy fulfilled once again.  (Thank you, Matthew!) The prophet Isaiah wrote that many will listen but not hear with understanding so they will walk away not knowing God.  They will walk away, turning their backs of God, not knowing the benefits of walking with Him in His Kingdom way of life.  Hard hearts result in harder living.  God cannot heal an unyielding, hard as stone, heart.  We have two choices.  Be wise, gain more wisdom from listening with understanding as we follow God to eternal life or be foolish, refuse to listen, lose what you little you have in understanding, and live foolishly that leads to death. 
  • Life or death? I choose life.  How about you?  Isaiah’s words still describe many.
  • “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear…”  The disciples were the “seeds” of faith in Jesus, answering the unconditional call to “Follow”, leaving their former lives behind, to learn from the Master Teacher.  These “seeds” were thrown into the fertile soil of the knowledge of God by Jesus the farmer of our souls.  Wow!  What a thought!
  • Jesus shares the results of what the harvest bearing disciples will accomplish later on their journey, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  Wow!
  • Evil is the enemy who wants to take our seeds of faith from wherever we have been planted and destroy our growth.  He will send “angry birds”, those demons who like to work through people of little faith to peck us to death in our walk with God so we will turn away from God.  He will send his demons to work through people to speak lies to us to throw us off from the real work, because Satan is a liar.  He will grow weeds of frustration right next to us as those “thorns in the flesh” of our daily lives.  He will put rocks in our path to make us stumble.  HOWEVER, if we believe in Jesus with ALL our hearts, minds and souls, God will remain with us, feed the soil of our faith, grow us, build our faith, equip us and multiply our faith if we listen to hear and understand what He is really saying.  May our harvest be productive in His Kingdom!

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Hallowed and great are you, Lord, God of all!  You teach us still because we want to learn.  Give us wisdom to hear with understanding as we come to you with Cheerios and Coffee to have “breakfast” with you daily.  I love sitting at your table of grace as I adore you, confess my sin, thank you for all you’re doing in my life and ask for more knowledge to live well with my soul.  Yes, Lord, Feed my soul.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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