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Apr 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 10, 2011

The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trapmled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Luke 8:5 (read 8:1-21) 

INTRO: From the time we were big enough to carry a lunch sack, we were sent off to school every day to learn
– first, to read and write, and then everything else (history, gramar, science, etc.) 

Do you remember ever being taught how to learn?
We were constantly told to pay attention, but were you taught how to pay attention?
– it was assumed from our first day of class that we knew how to learn, focus our attention, and use good study habits 

Jesus taught his autdience how to listen to his teaching 

Some believers do not experience of God’s Word
They may have a knowledge of it–and their knowledge maybe identical to that of others, but they don’t experience it
– knowledge alone does not work transformation in us 

So in this passage, Jesus’ goal is to get people to listen to him in a way that allows the word to come to life in them
∙ v. 8, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”
∙ v. 18, “So take care how you listen”
∙ v. 21, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” 

Verses 1-3 provide a transition from previous story 

In these verses we have a flash-forward to what is coming in the rest of the chapter: 

  • “proclaiming and preaching” – what he does in vv. 4-21
  • “twelve were with him” – “with” for their education and training (vv. 22-25)
  • “women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses”
    – a demon-possessed man (vv. 26-39) a dying girl and a sick woman (vv. 40-56)

Jesus was going around communicating a message
– what was it? “The kingdom of God”
– he was bringing the kingdom to people and inviting them to enter it 

What happened to the person who heard his message?
– either they were transformed or nothing
– that is what he explains to the crowd that gathers; how it is that his word is powerful yet in some people it produces no fruit 

Verses 4-18, His teaching method: “by way of a parable” 

He packs a mystery inside an ordinary scene, event, or object
– anything from agriculture would be familiar to these people
– part of the power of Jesus’ parables is that the logic in them is so obvious 

For now, I only want you to notice the prepositions in parable (vv. 5-8)

  • beside – nothing came of it
  • on – some growth, but short life
  • among – moderate growth, but no fruit
  • into – significant growth and remarkably fruitful

The parable reveals what was happening as Jesus “went around” proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God
– seed was being scattered 

The disciples asked for clarification
– “To you . . .” they had an advantage regarding the mysteries of the kingdom
– but Luke indicates that the crowd also heard Jesus’ explanation (v. 19)
Why would Jesus allow the crowd to hear information that was meant for insiders’?
– because anyone who wanted to move into this category could
– and the parable reveals how 

“Mystery” in the New Testament refers to truth that is unknown because it is hidden in transcendence
– one of those mysteries is the way the word of God works in the soil of human hearts 

So how do we have to hear God’s word for it to transform us? 

  1. v. 12, We have to pay attention to it and hang on to it
    – the weakness of some methods of reading through Bible, is we read our chapters for the day, but don’t pay attention or retain anything
    – if nothing sticks in our mind, then nothing will come of our reading
  2. v. 13, We have to give it space to put down roots
    – the word comes to life only when it penetrates the surface – it has to get down into our long-term memory
    – that requires focus, concentration, and meditation
    – the spiritual life that the word produces may go through dry spells, and we need to survive them
    – the truth is, our faith needs those difficult times. Without temptation, stress, hardship, and so on, the word in us is only a potential and our spiritual life is only a possibility. Spiritual strength, like physical strength is developed through resistance
  3. v. 14, We have to protect it from competition
    – the kind of thoughts that compete with listening to God include:
    Worries, which drag our thoughts away from our here and now moment with God
    Riches – and it makes no difference whether you have riches or not, both rich and poor can obsess over money
    Pleasures of life – the mind can day-dream all kinds of fantasies while we are trying to listen to God
    “and bring no fruit . . .”
    – there are Christians who have a life in God, but no one else benefits from it
    Too many believers think this is the normal Christian life
    – it’s the impression we get when listening to evangelists whose whole ministry and message consist of:
    “Get saved”
    “Get assurance that you’re saved”
    “Get someone else saved”
    – but Jesus’ message was, shine your light, do good, bear fruit
    Let your light shine in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Mt. 5:16)
    My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples (Jn. 15:8)
  4. v. 15, We have to prepare the soil of our hearts
    Honest: present to God whatever state or condition or mood your are in this moment
    – he would rather hear your anger than polite but insincere praise
    – God can work with the truth, whatever it is
    Good: occurs twice, but translates two different words (neither are strictly moral)
    – the good soil is kalos, beautiful, of value
    – the good heart is agathos, intrinsic good, healthy, whole
    Hold it fast: hang on to it, hold it in our heart
    Patience: we can’t rush the word in us any more than than we can grass seed

In verse 16, Jesus is the one who lights the lamp
– those who come in are the crowds who were “journeying to Him” (v. 4)
Verse 17, is a parallelism – that is, there are two lines and both say the same thing 

For nothing is hidden that will not become evident,
nor secret that will not be known and come to light

– every secret we need to know regarding the “mysteries of the kingdom” is manifest to those within whom the word is allowed to grow 

“So take care how you hear,” if you learn to hear the word as Jesus instructs, more of his revelation is given you 

Verses 19-21, Jesus redefines family 

Famly is defined, not by DNA, but on the basis of those who act like family
– those who are related to Jesus through his word
– so the growth and fruitfullness of the word defines the soil in which it falls and also the person who belongs to Jesus 

CONC: What we get out of the word depends on what we put into it 

“But I’m ADD!”
“I can’t concentrate for more than a few seconds”
“I am easily distracted”
“I’m a Martha, a doer, not someone who can sit quietly and listen”
– in these ways, we let our lack of skill define us
– we accept limitations as if they were solid and unchangeable 

There was a time when you weren’t able to walk. Then one day you took your first step, and then another. You fell many times, but as you kept trying, your nervous system learned balance and your muscles learned how to contract and relax. Eventually, you ran effortlessly and without even thinking about how you did it. None of that would have happened if you had continued to define yourself by your limits, “I can’t walk. I’m a crawler.” It was practice that enabled us to learn how to walk. It was not an easy skill to master, but we just kept trying until it was ours. 

Thinking thoughts about God is different from having God in our thoughts (as a presence)
– this is what improves with practice
– the frequent opening of our heart and mind to God results in a deeper understanding of his word and a growing awareness of his nearness 

By practice we learn to hear the word with the kind of attention that personalizes its truth to our situation and need
– there are at least three skills we need to practice: 

  • focused concentration (“taking every thought captive,” Paul said – 2 Cor. 10:5)
  • open awareness – so we can hear God through any means he uses to get his message to us (1 Ki. 19:11-13)
  • creative imagination – to help us slip past the control of our intellect or the limits of reason (Pr. 3:5)

We’ve got to get God’s word into us, and Jesus has shown us how 

Be patient with yourself and remember that our listening and attentive skills improve with practice
– we practice in solitude to prepare ourselves for social environments and whatever we experience and learn in social environments we take back with us into solitude

This is the rhythm of our hearing and doing and the one strengthens the other until we realize that we have effortlessly waking up to God’s presence and that it is happening everywhere and all the time

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