Good morning. The men returned home after a successful trip. Let’s pray for the future of their business as well as their part in Village Mercy. Pray for a couple in our son, Nate’s church, Alan and Kathy. She is hospitalized with Corona. The next few days are very critical. Please pray for God’s will in their lives and for the God of all comfort to comfort them with His will. Let’s pray for Johannes’ preparation today and for the putting together of tomorrow’s service. Let’s also be praying for tonight’s prayer service.
This chapter doesn’t introduce much new material so we’ll emphasize the issue of hearing.
- Vv 1-20—If we hear the Word, what does that tell us about ourselves?
- We’re blessed with ears to hear. In Matthew’s account, Jesus had said that He spoke in parables because the general population did not have eyes to see or ears to hear. He then said, blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear. If we hear the Word of God it’s because we’ve been given ears to hear.
- Now, of course, this is speaking of hearing with perception and application. We need to put it all together. Hearing doesn’t mean sitting in church and hearing the message preached. True hearing bears fruit or as James puts it, don’t be a forgetful hearer but a doer of the Word.
- But if the Word is effective in our lives, if the Word is producing fruit in our lives, it should drive me to my knees in thankfulness because there is absolutely no difference in me from those around me who are hard, shallow or distracted. It is fully the grace of God that enables me to hear His word, to believe it and to act upon it. Like Peter in Matt 16, we are blessed because these things have been revealed to us. This should cause us great thankfulness and humility. It should never produce in us any sense of superiority because it’s been given to us, not earned by us.
- Which of the first three soils is the most dangerous for us today? In other words, which soil am I most likely to be if I’m not good soil?
- I think a case could be made for any of the soils being prevalent. We’re seeing a growing flavor of liberalism in our days where the Word is rejected outright and more and more people are treating it as merely the words of men and not the word of God.
- We could also make a case for the shallow hearers who quit because the Christian life gets hard.
- But I think the most prevalent and dangerous of the soils in our time is the third. God has blessed us with much prosperity in this day. We have more things than our fathers had. We have so much access to wealth that was unavailable in past generations. We have so much access to information through the internet that was never known before. It’s, therefore, very easy for us to become distracted by the things around us. I was attracted to v19 where Mark adds a phrase: the desires for other things. Riches, cares and this miscellaneous “other things” can all serve to choke the word and though it started to produce fruit, it proves unfruitful. Living in the age in which we live, these other things can distract us too easily.
- I think the danger of all this lies in the fact that if so many others are doing it, we will tend to not see it when we do it too. Because so many who call themselves Christians (and note that these hear the word, gladly receive it and start to produce fruit) are distorted by this life, we will tend to blend in with them and get equally distracted. We might get distracted by wealth, we might get distracted by concerns about Corona or we might just get consumed by the news. We can get pulled into ministering to physical needs and get distracted from the Word. We need to be very careful that the Word isn’t getting choked by these other things.
- Vv 21-25—What is my responsibility to do with the Word that I hear?
- So here comes the warning. With privilege comes responsibility. I need to pay attention to what I hear—v24. I’m sure this was to some degree spoken to the crowd who were of varying soils. But it’s also spoken to us that we not take these things for granted. The scary thing of all of this is that we can become unfruitful. The book of Hebrews is given to us to warn us that we can start out well and then become unfruitful. We can digress in our understanding and application of Scripture. We can go back, even to destruction (though that shows we were never saved in the first place). I need to be very careful what I do with what I’m taught. Am I merely a hearer or am I a doer of the Word? Does the word impact me? Do I engage with the word? Is the word effective in my life?
- Vv 26-34—What is our responsibility in producing fruit?
- The one new section is vv 26-29 and a key phrase here is “he knows not how”—v27. Paul speaks of our being co-laborers with God in 1 Corin 3. We have our part in sowing the seed and in producing fruit and God has His. Our job is to labor. God’s job is to produce life. We cannot produce life and God has left to us to spread the gospel. We need to, therefore, be diligent to speak to others about the wonderful works of God. We need to be ready to give a defense of the hope that’s within us. But we need to remember that I cannot produce life. Those who are going to be saved won’t be saved by the will of man—even my will. I cannot preach someone into the kingdom of God or to put it in the terms we’ve been focusing on this morning, I cannot give them ears to hear.
- We tend to focus on our part of ministering, but we need to constantly remind ourselves that salvation is of the Lord. We sow or we water or we reap, but God gives the increase. So our duty is to work the field where God has placed us. Work hard. Sweat over the people God has placed in our paths. But constantly remember that He alone can produce life.
- Vv 35-41—What do we learn about the Word from this section?
- Why do so many fail to believe? As we look around ourselves it seems like unbelief is winning. It somewhat shocks us in a time of Covid-19 that more people aren’t flocking to Christ. Of all times in history, at least recent history, it would seem that people should have ears to hear. And yet, for the most part, they don’t. Where’s the failure? Is it in the word? No. In this section we see that the words of Jesus are powerful words. His words in Genesis created the universe out of nothing. His words in the storm created peace out of chaos. His word is powerful. The problem is not the word.
- Is the problem the preaching of the word? Possibly. We can obviously preach such an emaciated version of the gospel that no one can get saved from our preaching. But generally, that’s the problem either. We certainly need to work on our presentation. We need to make sure we know the word and that the Lord God is sanctified in our hearts. But generally that’s not the problem either.
- The problem with hearing is the ears. Or to put it back into the context, the soil isn’t producing fruit.
- What lessons did you learn this morning?
- I think, for me, the lesson is that I need to be overwhelmed with thanksgiving that God has given me ears to hear but that I need to be constantly examining myself to make sure I’m still hearing and haven’t become dull of hearing.
Your Thoughts or questions?