Are We Listening to Him?

Mark 4:1-9 NIVSuelistening

“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.’”

Jesus is still speaking to us today. He is speaking through the Scriptures (The Holy Bible – Genesis to Revelation). He is speaking to us through his Holy Spirit, and through dreams and visions. He is speaking to us through his servants and witnesses who are sharing the truths of God’s word with us. And he speaks to us through his created works, too, the Scriptures teach.

The question is, “Are we listening?”

Mark 4:10-12 NIV

“When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

Who, then, were the parables for? They were for the Lord’s disciples. They were for them to search out the meaning before the Lord. They were to glean from them the deep things of God that God had for them to learn, but that the crowds were not ready to receive.

These parables were not naturally discernable. They were only discernable by the Spirit of God. So, the disciples had to depend on the Lord to teach them their meaning. Their own intelligence or higher learning would not aid them in this. They would only understand as they humbly sought the Lord for understanding.

So, what purpose did the parables serve? They were kind of like sermon illustrations, stories which pastors tell to help people connect to the teachings of Scripture, to make them practical and applicable to their lives. They are like word pictures to help us understand the meaning of Scriptures.

Well, dreams and visions can serve the same purpose today, and the Scriptures do teach that in these last days that God will pour out his Spirit on all and that his sons and daughters will prophesy, and some will dream dreams and others will have visions.

Those dreams and visions are just like parables. They illustrate for us Biblical teachings and how they are to be applied to our lives, to the church, and to the world today. In Bible times God spoke to the people about their current situations and their current world and he still speaks that way to us today if we will have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Mark 4:13-20 NIV

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.’”

So, this is the understanding of the parable that Jesus told about the farmer who went out to sow his seed. So, the seed is the word of the Lord, so the farmer is God, though he uses us humans to sow his seed. And the word went out, but it had four different receptions and responses to it.

The first people who heard the word did not receive it at all, because Satan stole the seed from their hearts. I don’t know if you have ever seen this happen before, but I have. You can watch as someone is moved emotionally to the truth of the gospel, and then their countenance will completely change and whatever feeling they had is then gone completely. It is heartbreaking to behold.

Then, there are those who are initially excited about the thought of Jesus dying for their sins so that they can be forgiven and have eternal life with God. But then reality sets in. Persecution comes, and then it isn’t fun anymore. They begin to question what they signed up for. And this is because what they thought they believed never took root in their lives, so they deserted the faith.

There are others, though, who hear the word, and I believe the indication here is that they receive it, at least on the surface, but it never bears fruit in their lives, because the things of this world choke it out. These people want to be saved and to have eternal life with God, but they never make the commitment to leaving the world behind them, so they are unfruitful.

Let me say here that the Scriptures are real clear that if we don’t die with Christ to sin, and if we don’t follow Jesus in obedience, and if Jesus is not Lord of our lives because sin is still our master, that we don’t have eternal life with God and we will die in our sins. So, the indication here is that none of the above are truly saved, and they don’t have eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]

Lastly, there are those who hear the word, who accept it, in truth, who apply it to their lives, who follow Jesus in obedience, who leave their lifestyles of sin behind them, and who now walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24).

They are not perfect people, and this doesn’t mean that they never sin, but sin is not their master, and they are, by the Spirit, putting sin to death, and they are living to please God, by the same Spirit. And they are being sanctified by the Spirit of God as they continue in Christ and in his word.

Therefore, they are bearing much fruit for God’s eternal kingdom, not because of what they do for God in their own flesh, but because of what they allow God to do in them and through them for his glory and praise. And this is where we should all be who profess faith in Jesus Christ.

Seek the Lord

An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

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