Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 21, 2013

"He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up." Mark 4:2-4
When someone who is in authority says, "Listen!" you should listen. When that person commanding you to listen is Jesus, well..............!
After He called the crowd to attention He began telling the parable about the sower and the seed. Sowing is how they planted seed in those days. First they would plow the soil of their field and then walk across the field and back tossing the seeds onto the soil from their hand. I assume the more experienced a sower was the more accurate his tossing of the seed, but still there was seed that landed in unintended places. In His parable the Master made each place represent a different type of hearing heart and the seed represents the Word of God.
Some seed landed on the path. The path would be the equivalent of a sidewalk today. It was where everyone walked when they passed by that area and because it drew so much traffic the dirt was packed down hard. So hard was this packed down soil that seed landing there had no chance to put down roots before a bird swept down to snatch it. Any seed that landed on the path was wasted seed unless you were a bird.
A heart becomes hardened just as a path gets hardened, by the pressure of constant use. When a heart frequently hears the Word but never listens to it that heart becomes hardened. The Word of God never has a neutral result. When the Word is heard and obeyed it becomes soft and molded like clay. But if the Word is heard and deliberately disregarded or disobeyed that heart becomes hardened.
My mother tells me I earned my first spanking when I intentionally disobeyed her. I was three years old at the time and loved to crawl into the cabinets under the kitchen counter and play with her pots and pans. She gave me stern orders to not do so again.
One day she couldn't locate me and began to call out my name. As she continued to call with no response her level of concern increased. Just as she was about to panic she heard a clank in the area of the lower cabinet. Opening the doors she saw me sittting under there playing with her pots and pans.
Relieved but angered, she sternly rebuked me, "Bradley, didn't you hear me calling you? I have been calling your name for quite awhile now!"
According to her my response was, "I hear you - but I pay no attention!"
She got my attention! She warmed my cold, disobedient heart from the backside up!
What is the condition of your heart? Are you obeying God's Word? Are you hearing but paying no attention? Do you listen to what He says to you? Are you yielding to conviction or are you resisting it?
Once a heart grows hardened it is hard to change. It is a dangerous condition to allow.
When you hear God's Word today - will you listen?

March 20, 2013

"Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:1-9

As someone who has been married for over a quarter century, I know the importance of listening to my wife, Barbara.

I discovered early and painfully the difference between hearing her and listening to her. It is the one area where I find the most trouble. If she senses that I didn't pay attention to what she told me she will ask, "What did I just say?"

I'd better give her that right answer when she asks or she gets her feelings hurt and I get in trouble.

Failing to listen to Jesus is a sure prescription for disaster as well.

In this part of Mark's Gospel Jesus begins His parable by saying, "Listen!" and ending the portion by again saying, "He who has ears to hear, let them hear!"

Parables were Jesus' favorite and most effective way to teach. In this parable of the sower He is teaching us that there are four types of listeners. And we also discover that hearing happens with the heart, not just the ears.

Over the next several posts I want to explore those four types of "hearing hearts" but this evening I want to call you attention to how Jesus addressed the audience assembled on the lake shore that day. And according to Mark's account it was a large crowd.

Those familiar with this area where Jesus did this teaching tell us the rocks that line the shore are positioned like church pews. Behind those rows of boulders are steep banks that rise above the level of the lake. That combination of terrain made an ideal ampitheater. When you consider that Jesus was in a boat on the water several yards from the shore speaking over the water, he had perfect accoustics for being clearly heard by anyone who was present that day.

So when Jesus began His teaching by saying, "Listen" He had no doubt that everyone could hear Him clearly. He wasn't so sure everyone who was hearing was really listening.

Jesus knows how to position Himself in your life so you can hear Him when He speaks to you. But you must position your heart so you will listen.

Will you listen to God today? Will you open your heart to hear what He will say to you? He will be speaking! I hope you're listening!

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22