Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 35, November 16, 2008
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 35, November 16, 2008
Mark 4 Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams. Are you listening to this? Really listening? When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, You've been given insight into God's kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can't see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people— Whose eyes are open but don't see a thing, Whose ears are open but don't understand a word, Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven."
He continued, Do you see how this story works? All my stories work this way. The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them. And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.
Mark 4:15 Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.
Mark 4:16 … immediately receive it with gladness
Mark 4:17 … endure but for a time: when affliction or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
Four types of thorns are described (Mark 4:18)
¨ The care of this world; What’ll I eat, or drink? What’ll I wear? How can I keep what I got? How do I get more? .
¨ The deceitfulness of riches: not riches themselves, but the deceitfulness of riches. Your line of conduct ought never to be ruled by gain or loss.
¨ The pleasures of this life. This is the age of excessive amusement; Many have had all holy thoughts and resolutions murdered by a continual pursuit for pleasure.
¨ The lusts of other things: All things except the things that glorify God are “other things”. Seed is choked.
The result: The seed was unfruitful. The seed grew, but brought no fruit to perfection. A person may look like, walk like and talk like a Christian... but the proof is in the fruit!
Far too many are growing weak in this late hour. Thorns are choking out the very life of the Christian’s spirit!
Consider: Thorns are natural to the soil. Sin is very much at home in the human heart.
Thorns are already established in the soil. The roots of sin run through our nature.
Watch and pray lest temptation choke that which is good in you! Mark 14:38
Many professing Christians are like the thorny ground?
I believe it is because the process of dealing with sin has been so watered down. Thorns need to be pulled out by the roots and burned on the spot. It is easy to say you’re a sinner without feeling what it means!
I in instantaneous conversion and I love to see it take place - but I’d rather see the thorough work of grace, awakening a deep sense of sin. You can’t get rid of dandelions by delicately nipping off the buds!
In the stony ground we see a group of people who:
· received the Word. They recognised God's truth!
· received it immediately. They jumped right in!
· received it with gladness. happiness vs conversion
These people in not counting the cost, didn’t figure in temptations and persecutions to come. They made rapid progress... but in due time came the trial.
No one gets to heaven without being tried! Not one fragment of God’s gold hasn’t first passed through the fire! The Lord Jesus said this testing came because of the Word!
These people believed, yet were immediately offended ... just as fast as they fell in love with the gospel they fell out! Their radical defect lay in an unbroken heart!
This ground was not soil with rocks in it was bedrock, a hard layer of rock with a thin layer of soil over it. The seed sprang up immediately.
These folk were so fast at accepting the seed they were:
· healed before they recognised they were wounded!
· clothed before they saw the shame of their nakedness!
· filled before they were empty!
· made alive before they were dead!
They were unbroken in heart and that is a fatal defect!
Psalms 34:18 The LORD is near those that have a broken heart and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.
They lacked depth! Everything was superficial - surface! This seed did sprout - but it had no root! No prayer, no bible study, no fear of God. No intimacy with Jesus.
Dear friends, guard your spiritual life.. Think about this - if your boat is near ready to go down in calm waters, what’ll become of you when a storm arises.
We need the Holy Spirit to cultivate our hearts.
I am called to be your Spiritual Husbandmen, my chief work is to sow the Word. Multiplying what God has revealed, not human speculation, not human news, not scientific discoveries however good they may be - not theories about the Word - just the unadulterated Word of God. That is my chief job… sowing the Word.
Each and every one of you is able to sow the Word. Each life touches another—and you multiply power for good or for evil.
Sow the true seed and you may count on a sure and large harvest. The seed’s fruitfulness is according to the condition of the hearts receiving it. Jesus said, “He that has ears, let him hear”. Divine truth needs attention.
A good hearer of the Word:
· Stirs him/herself up to listen.
· Their hearing is an opportunity and they take care to make the most of it.
· What he/she hears is kept by reflecting on it (meditating), and assimilating for their own edification and growth in grace.
· They “do” what they hear. To hear without obeying is to harden the heart.
· Some of course will make more of their opportunities!
Zechariah 13:8-9 it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined and try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.