Are You Listening? The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9) part 1

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
Sermon Series: Mark

The Gospel of MarkDownload Sermon Outline

Sermon Manuscript . . .

Are you Listening?

The parable of the sower  Mark 4:1 to 9, part 1

 

A middle-aged man was distraught over his wife’s stubborn refusal to admit she had a hearing problem.  So he asked his family doctor for advice, how to convince his wife she has a hearing problem.  The doctor promptly told him that when he got home, he could confirm the hearing problem by opening the front door, and from there asking his wife, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

Then the doctor said, “If she doesn’t answer, move closer to the kitchen.  Repeat the question again, and if she still doesn’t answer, move right up to her ear and whisper in it, ‘What’s for dinner, honey?’ In this way,” the doctor assured him, “she’ll have to admit she has a hearing problem.”

So the man raced home with joy in his heart, and opened the front door.  “What’s for dinner, honey?” he asked.  His wife made no reply, so he moved closer to the kitchen and asked again, “What’s for dinner, honey?”  Again, nothing was said.  When he looked into the kitchen, sure enough, there she was at the kitchen counter.  So, he tiptoed over to her and whispered in her ear, “What’s for dinner, honey?”  She turned and looked at him straight in the eye, “For the third time, I said we’re having meat loaf!”  Do you have a hearing problem?

Did you know that sound travels at the speed of 1,130 feet per second?  That’s 770 miles per hour.  Your ears never stop working, even when you’re asleep.  The ear continues to hear sounds, but the brain shuts them out.  The ear’s hammer, anvil and stirrup are the smallest bones in the human body–all three could fit together on a penny.

Did you know, sitting in front of the speakers at a classical concert or a rock concert can expose you to 120 decibels, which will begin to damage your hearing in only 7-1/2 minutes?  The whole area of the middle ear is no bigger than an M&M.  Ears are self-cleaning.  Pores in the ear canal produce ear wax, and tiny hairs push the wax out of the ear.  In Africa, a tribe of people called Maabans live in such quiet that they can hear a whisper from across a baseball field—“You’re out.”

In World War I, parrots were kept on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, because of their remarkable sense of hearing.  When the parrots heard the enemy aircraft coming, they would warn everyone of the approaching danger, long before any human ear would hear it.  The roar we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sounds of blood surging through the veins in the ear.  At 115 decibels, a baby’s cry is louder than a car horn.  Dads say, “I knew it!”

Can you hear?  Are you a good listener?  Remember the Verizon commercial, checking phone coverage, and asking the famous question, “Can you—what . . . HEAR ME NOW?”  I believe your Savior is asking you the same question today—“Can you hear Me now?”  Why?  Because the Lord puts a high premium on you listening well–Jesus Christ gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.  The Lord wants you to be His child who listens to Him.  And He makes that very clear in Mark 4.  Open your Bibles, and take out your outline and follow along.

The Lord is halfway through His three-plus years of public ministry.  And what started out so amazing has now hit some road blocks.  Jump back in a time warp with me, and recall what’s been going on.  Mark 1, John the Baptist bursts on the scene breaking 400 years of prophetic silence–John, the immersing one, points to Jesus and says, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” John 1:29.

The Lord picks a few of His main men just as He silences demons, heals an entire city of illness, and cleanses a leper.  The disciples could not be more ecstatic, but then in Mark 2 and 3, everything changes.  Now there’s opposition, hostility and rejection.  Even in the midst of officially picking the twelve apostles, the Lord’s own friends think He’s crazy, His family tries to stop Him, and the religious leaders tell everyone Jesus is demonically empowered, hoping to discredit Him until they can find a way to kill Christ.

So the main question His followers are asking is:  how can people respond so differently to the Gospel message?  How can there be devoted followers and hateful foes?  It is the same message, but the responses to it are so different.  They’re all hearing the same Gospel, but only a few are embracing the truth–why?  Why don’t all who hear the Gospel message believe?  Come on, even the demons know exactly who Jesus is–how come the religious authorities don’t?  How can they utterly reject Christ and claim He’s satanic?  How come even some of the Lord’s followers eventually walk away?

Students, how come your friend at camp prayed a prayer, seemingly got saved, but now ignores Christ, the Bible and church?  Why are there those who seem to submit to Christ, but later live life contrary to God’s Word, while still claiming to know Christ?  Mark now answers that question in Mark 4 with parables.

Why do I embrace that Christ died for my sin on the cross, and it sticks?  I know He’s risen from the dead cause He’s alive in my life and is changing me.  I hear His Word and seek to obey it–I desire to please Him above all, I love Him more than anyone, my hope is in Him, I can’t wait to be with Him in heaven.  Not perfectly, but progressively I hear Him, follow Him, love Him and serve Him.

But some of my friends and relatives say they’ve submitted to Christ, say they love Him above all, but they don’t obey His Word and they don’t follow Him.  A few have rejected Christ outright–but some still claim to be His children but rarely go to church, live in continual unrepentant sin, openly disobey the commands of Scripture, and only give lip service to Christ, but it is obvious their hearts are far from Him.  They don’t hear, follow, love or serve Christ.

Mark 4:1 to 34 tells us why there are these different responses to the Gospel.  This section of Scripture contains a series of parables broken up with some direct instruction on the Kingdom of God.  Verses 1 to 9 are the parable of the sower, then the mystery of the Kingdom of God in this age is in verses 10 to 13, then the interpretation of the parable of the sower is verses 14 to 20, and then more parables and instruction in verses 21 to 34.

So today, Jesus asks you, are you listening?  Do you hear the Word of God?  Are you responding to truth in such a way that it changes your life?  When the Gospel was sown into your life, did it actually take root, then produce fruit?  Here’s the most important question–are you prepared to hear the truth of who you really are?  Are you genuinely hungry to know Christ?  Are you willing to listen deeply enough to embrace the truth?  Or have you already said, “Hey, I am fruitful, so this isn’t about me!”  Are you willing to compare your life to what Jesus says here?  Are you listening?

Read these verses aloud with me, and as you do, look for three descriptions of Christ teaching the only two commands in verses 1 to 34–both found in these first nine verses for you to hear/listen to . . . the four verbs describing the seed that fell to the ground.

Ready, read aloud with me verses 1 to 9, “Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ 9 And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’”

Are you ready to listen?  Then check out . . .

#1  The Setting  Verse 1

“Jesus, how come some people respond to the Gospel with faith and repentance, and are transformed so that they live for you and produce the fruit of changed lives, but others seem to respond, but then fade away, and still others hate you and want to kill you?”  The Lord is about to answer that question in verse 1—look.  “Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.”

The Lord answers most of our questions by teaching.  Mark tells us here, Jesus chose to continually teach here.  He’s going to drive this truth home in our hearts—this truth needs to form the lens we look through as we walk in this life.  Jesus had a tough day, long and emotional–Matthew 13 indicates that this teaching in parables here in verses 1 to 9 occurred on the same day the Lord was opposed by friends, foes and family–tough day?  His friends think he’s crazy, and His enemies say He’s demonic–some are following Him and others are opposing Him.

So Jesus walks about 100 to 200 yards to the shore of the big lake called the Sea of Galilee, and begins to teach.  Have you been tempted not to show up to serve or teach because you’ve had a bad day?  In the midst of growing hostility from hateful enemies, even the misunderstanding from those closest to Him, Christ ministers.  Some say the crowds were the largest Jesus ever experienced.  This actually could be the climax of His Galilean ministry.  No pander, but pointed.

Because of the potential of Christ being crushed by the crowd, and the need for everyone to audibly hear Him, the Lord sits down in a boat.  They push him off a small distance, and from this boat which the Lord made into a pulpit, with the amazing acoustics of this setting, Jesus teaches this massive crowd, who’re all standing on the shore facing the sea, looking at him and listening to every word.  I’m certain the scribal accusations affected the attitude of some, but it didn’t destroy the interest of regular people in Jesus.  I also wonder if His family stayed and listened, since this parable describes them as well.

So picture the Son of God, surveying the sunlit multitude here, totally aware of the completely different hearts in the crowd, the varied types of hearing, and the different responses He’d witness, as the Living Word teaches the written Word.  The Lord definitely wanted them to listen with receptive hearts, so He taught them in a way everyone could understand.  The Lord would now describe what life would be like in His Kingdom for now.  He’s showing you what it’s like today.  How would Jesus teach them?

#2  The Style  Verse 22

He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:”–this is Mark’s first mention of Jesus’ teaching ministry.  So now we enter the realm of the Lord’s teaching.  Don’t miss this–for a moment, contrast the Lord’s teaching ministry with His compassion ministry.

Let’s face it–outside of the hardest-hearted Pharisee, who will ever complain about Jesus’ compassion, love and mercy?  No one.  But now we are entering the territory of His truth.  This will be harder for some then, and is harder for some now.  We don’t mind Jesus healing, freeing people from demons, raising the dead, or loving the unlovely–nobody is offended by that.  But the Lord’s teaching is much more difficult.  It is absolute, propositional, black and white, no shades of gray–and like an X-ray or MRI, it exposes what is really going inside.  We don’t like that.

Which is easier to love–His compassion or His truth?  I fear we now today are a generation of Christians who love Jesus’ grace, but loathe Jesus’ truth.  Tell a churchgoer what you’re doing is clearly disobedience to the Scripture, it goes against God’s Word, and today they might respond to you with, “You’re judgmental, unloving, hateful, or you’re bigoted.”  Listen friends, no one was more gracious than Jesus Christ–so we must strive to be loving and gracious.  But Jesus Christ never, ever violated truth.  He is the Truth.

The apostles taught homosexuality was clearly sin.  Jesus taught adultery was wrong, and has consequences that may disqualify you from being above reproach.  In the New Testament, Christians are commanded to attend church, use their gifts in service to each other, generously give a portion of their income, forgive one another, share the Gospel with the lost, and so much more.  Be prepared, friends, truth today, even when spoken graciously to the untrained, sometimes feels like a club to them.

And Mark 4:2 says, “He began to teach them many things in parables.”  This is the first parable in Mark, so don’t be confused.  Parables are not fables–fables include things like talking dragons, in fictitious and impossible scenarios.  Parables are not allegories–an allegory is like CS Lewis’s, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  No, parables are simple earthly stories, each with a heavenly meaning.  Parables were stories drawn from life to illustrate spiritual truth.  There is usually one main lesson per parable, so beware of assigning meaning to every aspect of the story.  Parables are real life stories, usually with one clear meaning, one key truth.

The Greek word parable means comparison or side-by-side, comparing two events—side-by-side to make a point.  Christ taught spiritual truth by using illustrations drawn from the familiar occurrences of the everyday life of the first century Jew.  Plus with the growing opposition, the Lord used parables to hide truth from the unbelieving, and reveal truth to the believing.  Previously, the Lord had been more direct, but now His teaching concerning His Kingdom, His rule was now exclusively parabolic.

And this was not new to the crowd–the rabbis often used parables or parallel stories in their teaching.  But the Lord’s teaching skill raised the use of the parable to its highest level of perfection.  Jesus knew how to use the common things of everyday life to describe profound truths in an unforgettable manner–better than anyone ever did.

So Mark tells us Jesus was continually teaching them–He kept teaching.  Not just once, but continually, over and over, until they lived it.  But don’t be American about teaching.  The Greek term teaching, didasko, gets its root from “to demonstrate and perform”, meaning this–in America when you’re taught something, you learn it.  With Jesus, when you’re taught something, you live it.

Just like James admonished in James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”  Or Jesus questioned in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?”  Or Matthew 7:26, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”  Biblical listening results in life change.  How good a listener are you?  You cannot truly listen to anyone, and do anything else at the same time.  True listening requires time, focus, effort and application.  Let’s find out how good a listener you are by asking you three questions:

1  Do you bring a Bible with you every week?

This is Faith BIBLE Church–BIBLE is our middle name.  Every Sunday we produce outlines to assist you in reviewing the Scripture, not to replace your Bible.  The expectation of every regular attender is to bring a Bible every week.  Are you listening?

2  Do you take notes every week?

It is a known fact that no note taking gives you only a 5% chance of remembering what you’ve heard, but note taking increases the remembering percentage up to 34%.

3  Do you review your notes every week?

The application of truth leaps 50% higher if you merely review your notes once, and increases if you continue to review them alone or with others.  On the other hand, most information is lost in 24 hours if it is not reviewed at all.

As my mentor used to say, sometimes it seems like people fill their thimble up in the service, then spill most of it on the patio before they get to their car.  Are you a good listener?  Do you bring your Bible, take notes, and review them?  Do you really want to be like Christ, because Jesus is going to rock your world, and help you understand why there are humble responses to His Word and hateful responses to His Word with the parable of . . .

#3  The Sower  Verses 3 to 9

In verse 3, Jesus hits us with His first command in this section.  Look at verse 3, “Listen! A sower went out to sow.”  Notice the other bookend to this parable–in verse 9 is the other command.  Verse 9, “And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’”  Are you getting it?  Jesus wants you to hear the truth, illustrated by this common, everyday practice of . . .

First  Listen!

This verb listen is used ten times in Mark 4.  Here it is an order from master to slave, from a commander to soldier, from the Lord to his servant–an imperative command.  The verb is present tense–listen continually to God’s words.  And the verb listen is active voice–you act, you choose to listen.  This is not passive listening to see if anything gets through.  This is not like watching TV with indifference.  This is not like reading so you can even pass an important exam.  This is not, “I’ll apply it if I’m moved in my heart emotionally.”

This is listening in order to live–the ship is sinking, here are your instructions.  This is listening to the One who created you and redeemed you.  This is not life or death listening, but eternal heaven or hell listening.  This is me, forcing myself to actively listen and own the truth, because I know Who is speaking.  These are God’s living words!

Everyone listening to Jesus on the shore completely understood what a sower was, and what a sower did.  This was a common scene in Israel in the first century.  Verse 3, “Listen! Behold a sower went out to sow.”  He went out to the fields, had a leather bag containing seed tied to his waist and over his shoulder, and by hand he’d scatter seed on plowed ground, or to be plowed in later by means of a pair of oxen.  And in the process of sowing, every farmer would experience the following–this is commonplace, regular, first century sowing, but with a crucial spiritual point.

Now, today we don’t have to wait for the full explanation in verses 10 to 20–the sower is the evangelist, the seed is the Gospel, and the soil is human hearts.  And our Lord is going to tell us why people respond differently to the Gospel–because there are at least four different hearts that are being illustrated by the soils being described here . . . four B’s today Mark tells us the seed fell on four different types of soil.

1  Birds  The unresponsive heart  Verse 4

And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.”  As the man is sowing, it was unavoidable that a portion of the seed fell along the footpath on which he was walking through the field.  In an effort to cover the entire field, to get the seed right to the edge and not waste any land, some of the seed would fall on the walking path, usually on the edge of the field.  And since the place where the seed fell would not be reached by the plow, and since many feet walk on those paths, the soil was too hard for anything to fall “into” the soil.  So this seed remained on the surface, and as a result the birds would come and gobble up the seed.

I put some sunflower seeds just under the surface of some good soil, and the birds came and ate my seed–dirty birds.  Just like all those sea gulls following, swooping, and diving at all those deep sea fishermen, attempting to grab guts or bait.  On the ancient farm, there’d be birds on the lookout for sowing, and when given the chance, they’d eat between 1/3 and 1/2 of the sown seed–always going for the easy seed first, the seed which fell on the hard surface walking path.

It really shouldn’t be “angry birds”, but “angry farmers”.  And just like that soil, there are people like the religious leaders who have hard, unresponsive hearts.  They hear the Gospel, but it never takes root–there is no response.  It never gets in.  As soon as the seed is sown, it is picked up and nothing happens.

This is the guy who responds to the message that Christ is God, who became a man, lived perfectly, then took our punishment on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven–and calls that a myth.  And if we believe it, we are mentally ill.  The seed never took root.  It doesn’t mean it won’t take root, but with this first sowing, it hasn’t taken root.  The unresponsive soil heart doesn’t respond to the Word of God at all.  But there is another kind . . .

2  Burnt  The impulsive heart  Verses 5 and 6

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away.”  This is a typical soil problem in Israel–a considerable portion of tillable soil is found on top of layers of limestone.  The flat rock is too deep for the plow to reach, and too shallow to allow a plant to reach water and develop a decent root system in the small amount of soil that covers this rock strata.  So the seed has only one way to sprout—namely up.

Because of the rock beneath, the warm sun radiates back from the rock, causing a rapid germination process in this soil.  There is no depth here–there is no root here.  This is only surface.  So in this shallow, warm soil, the seed “springs up quickly”–it grows even faster than normal.  But when the sun gets hotter in late spring, then summer, the little plant gets scorched because there was no root system.  And the gospel of Luke adds, because it was unable to get moisture from below–so it withers away.

What heart is this?  The impulsive heart–these are people who hear the Gospel, love the idea of being forgiven, promised heaven, given love and peace, but have not been born again.  They appear to follow Christ, but later fade away when it gets hot with difficulties–the cost of following Christ is too much.  So birds pick up the seed from hard soil, and the sun burns the seed in the rocky soil.  The third kind of soil is . . .

3  Blocked  The preoccupied heart  Verse 7

Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.”  This soil is infested with weeds and thorns.  Thorns are tough, thistle-bearing weeds that use up all the available space, light, and water which good plants need.  They suffocate the good plants.  These weeds are all over at my house, cause I’m picking them, digging them, and spraying them out of my yard continually.  Since nothing grows faster than that which is not wanted, and each patch of ground has adequate room for a restricted amount of healthy plant life, it’s not surprising that the faster growing weeds are soon choking the very life out of the healthy grain.  Mark says in verse 7, the result is–it yielded no grain.

There are people who respond to Christ, but later girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, children, spouses, money, fun, entertainment, sports, or possessions begin to strangle their walk–their life with Christ is choked out, exposing them as so-called Christians, make-believers, phonies, self-deceived who produce no fruit.  This is crucial, because the real believer is one who is . . .

4  Bearing  The responsive heart  Verse 8

Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”  Real Christians bear fruit.  Faith without works is dead.  When you’re indwelt with the Spirit, you produce the fruit of the Spirit.  Your character will mature, your love will grow, your life will change, your desires will be more biblical, and you’ll impact others for Christ—you’ll produce fruit . . . Christlikeness in and through you is fruit.  Some a lot, some even more and a few incredibly, supernaturally–notice the three words used to describe the difference between this genuine, real heart soil and the previous three phony responses.

Verse 8 says, “growing up, increasing, and yielding.”  You’ll increasingly grow mature, you’ll increase in influence, and you will yield fruit–is that you?  Are you maturing?  Is your impact for Christ greater than it was?  And are you producing fruit in and through your life to others?

Second Peter 1 says it this way in verse 5 through 11, “For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with [FRUIT] goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing [GROWTH] among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For anyone who lacks these things [NO FRUIT & NO GROWTH] is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, [take this seriously] for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.”

And Jesus put it plainly in John 15:8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”  True Christians bear fruit, change, grow, and influence others.  And because this is so important, Jesus ended this parable the same way He began it, with a same command, to . . .

Second  Listen!

Verse 9, “And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’”  Ears must be used to hear, meaning listen closely, own it and live it.  In all of Christ’s teaching, it is difficult to discover any exhortation He repeated more often, in one form or another, than this one command in verse 9.  He who has ears, let him hear–listen up people, wake up!  Stop merely listening, and start hearing–applying, living the truth, dependently acting on the truth.  You need to hear and to heed.

If you don’t listen to the parable today, and you persist in not hearing, then you’re doomed spiritually–you’re not saved, and you have no home in Heaven, only Hell.  Even if you sprung up once, but then dried out–even if you looked real, but then were choked out by distractions . . . today do not be that guy, the one who is unwilling to hear.  And here is the scariest part of all.

A  Only those who are born again can hear the truth

Read Acts 16:14, “A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.”  The Bible says, as non-Christians we are dead–we can’t make ourselves alive.  We are blind, we can’t make ourselves see.  God has to open our hearts to listen to the truth.  If you think you can’t hear, don’t give up–if you don’t believe Christ is alive in your life, if you’re not producing fruit, growing, maturing, then today cry out to the Lord to open your heart to hear.

The person who is truly saved is the one who believes Christ was God, became a man, died in our place for our sins on the cross, and rose from the dead.  The genuine Christian is born again–they’ve been transformed internally so they love Christ, and want to follow His Word in everything.  This parable teaches only those who are born again can hear the truth.

Only those who continually REPENT of distractions are saved–are you?

Only those who ENDURE through trials are born again–are you?

Only those who bear FRUIT are truly God’s children–are you?

Only those who are INDWELT with the Spirit can understand Christ’s teaching with this parable–do you?

Friends, I am pleading with you–make certain you’re saved.  It is not because you prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, signed a card, used to serve, felt emotions, or like Jesus and the church.  It is that God in His incredible graciousness raised you from the dead, gave you eyes to see, and ears to hear so you’d see just how ugly your sin is, and just how much you deserved Hell.  And He gave you the gift of faith to depend upon Him, and the gift of repentance to turn from sin to follow Him–is that you?  Cry out.

Too many people in our country, region, and a few in our church are just like the people of Laodicea–God warns you in Revelation 3:17 and 18, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”

You must cry out to Christ to be clothed in white righteousness

You can’t stand in God’s presence as you are now–you are dirty with sin

You must come to an end of yourself and turn to Christ–do it today

B  Family and friends respond to the Gospel differently

The Gospel message will be misunderstood by many.  Some will reject outright like the hard soil, others will accept Jesus then fade away when it gets hot like the rocky soil, others will turn to Christ then later be drawn away by some possession or person or lesser priority like the weedy soil.  Don’t let that shock you.  Even the Lord’s family, friends and religious leaders rejected Him.  And never forget, the true believer always produces fruit—always.

C  Your responsibility in this life is to sow seed

God produces the fruit–your job is to sow the seed of the Gospel

You are not responsible to change hearts–you can’t raise the dead

You are not responsible to make them believe–only God can

You are not responsible for their response.  You are responsible to clearly communicate the message of what Christ has done by dying on the cross, by taking our punishment and rising from the dead

Keep sowing to everyone you know that God saves sinners, will you?

D  Are you genuinely hungry for the truth?

This entire crowd on the seashore is listening to God’s Word.  The Living Word is teaching God’s Word, but never forget, friends, it’s the same Word you have in your lap.  The Bible is as if Jesus were sitting next to you, speaking to you.  It is His living and active words–God’s words to you.  Jesus said in John 14:23, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

I thank God for a church where you love His Word.  You understand the difference between using the Bible to teach what people think, and expositing out of the Bible what God said.  Like Paul I say, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”

But not everyone values God’s Word taught in a manner that exposes only the author’s intended message–and just like during the time of Amos, today there is a famine for the Word.  Amos 8:11, “’The time is surely coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.’”

Are you hungry for truth?  Do you love His Word?  Really?  It will show in how you listen each Sunday, bringing a Bible, taking notes, reviewing them . . . and it will show in what you do with the Bible throughout the week.  Are you hungry for truth?  Let’s not be the people the prophets describe like in Jeremiah 13:10, “This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own will.”  Let’s hear the truth.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church – Murrieta.

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