Monday, October 15, 2012

Mark 4 ~Parables Ordinary Stories with Extraordinary Meanings

The Billy Graham library unveiled an 8 foot bronze sculpture of the Sower and the Soils in April 2011. Sculptor Tom White wanted to depict the sower from the parables but also the conditions of man’s heart.
There are four soils illustrated on the base and at the feet of the Sower. Only the seeds sown on fertile soil will yield a harvest. The seeds on the hard path are eaten by crows, while the stony ground with shallow soil produced growth, but died from no water.
Thorns and thistles choking out the seed, and the wheat (depicting the good harvest) Tom White “hopes that this sculpture will inspire men to become 'fertile soil' as they choose to receive the seed that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ... and that they go forth to spread that seed into the lives of others.”  (Mark 4:2-20).
What kind of soil are you? He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Tonight I am using Psalm 119:33-35 as my prayer.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
Mark 4 ~Parables Ordinary Stories with Extraordinary Meanings
·       A kingdom parable (4:1-9)
o   Why did Jesus teach in parables?
o   To reveal or to conceal?
·       A kingdom parable explained (4:10-20)
o   What kind of soil are you?
o    How to be a better listener.
·       Other parables 4:21-34

The parable of the sower generated a great many sermons by various ministers and notables writers through history.  In my search for inspiration, I was very excited to discover that Charlotte has a fresco of the Sower. The art of fresco is method of painting water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster. When it dries it become a permanent part of the wall.
You may have traveled to Ashe County to see the four frescoes by the artist Ben Long. Gerald Steinmeyer, who had worked with Ben Long, was commissioned to create this beautiful mural of the Sower in the chapel of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. logo “Sowing seeds for 20 Years.”

How are you growing?
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Jesus’ used a parable about seeds and soils to explain the kingdom of God. The parable of the sower is found in three of the gospels:  Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. The Gospel of John has no parables.
The parable of the Sower and The Soils—could be an evangelistic sermon about sharing the plan of salvation to the lost. A sermon to believers reminding them to be prepared for the kind of soils they will meet along the way. Can you imagine the frustration of losing ¼ of your harvest? Does this mean we only witness to those with willing hearts?
Why did Jesus teach in parables?
Warren Wiersbe said, “the parables are not bedtime stories to put you to sleep, but rather bugle calls to wake you up.” to realize the urgency for lost souls that is revealed as we study the parables. The parables speak of our responsibility to learn, live, and share God’s truth.”  Mark 4:9  Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Pay attention to the message God has for you.
We know that Jesus was gathering a crowd of followers, so many he had to teach from a boat. Surely in this crow he drew the attention of those plotting His death. Jesus began the parable with the word “LISTEN.” The form of the word “hear” is used 13 times in chapter 4.
Matthew 1310 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, (J)“To you it has been given to know (K)the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. The Plan of God for our salvation, previously a mystery, is now revealed. We must make it known and declare openly.
The central figure is the Sower. Crows can be seen eating the seed of the beaten down path.  Many more lessons are surely hidden in the mural. On the left is pictured a Roman centurion. A closer look reveals the seeds bouncing off the hard metal. Man kneeling on the path realizes young plants have died because no water. Luke 8:6 tells us some seed “grew up, then it withered away, because it had no moisture.  There was no thirst for Jesus’ message, for the Living WORD. Jesus taught using parables as a way to conceal the Truth and to reveal it. To a disinterested listener, the parable was just a nice story.
But to the sincere listener who wanted to learn more from the LORD, it was something to be pondered. This slide depicts more scenes from the fresco. The young girl is gathering wheat notice the smile on her face and the workers gathering the harvest. The lady in pink is content.
Warren Wiersbe says “the parable would begin as innocently as a picture but the more we study it becomes a “mirror” to see ourselves and our faults.”  Conviction of our sins would draw us to the Truth of God or as Lady in blue turned her back to the Word. Notice hem of her garment encircle the thistles, she showed interest but was draw away. She represents wealth and cares of the world. Man’s hand pulls on her robe drawing her away.
Are you listening to hear what plans God has for you?
 Mattew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because (N)seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, (O)nor do they understand.
Who can hear the parable of the lamp hidden under a bushel without remembering the melodious tones of the CBS duo, Sandy and Sallie? Let’s sing these verses together
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel - NO! I'm gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel - NO! I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel - NO! I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
We are the lamps. As the oil in the lamp needs to be replenished, we as Christians must be replenished by daily time with the Master. The light representing “the Kingdom of God” must not be hidden or just whispered in secret. It must it must be boldly and clearly proclaimed "so that those who are seeking will be drawn to the light."  In the coming election Christians need to shine the light of the Truth for all to see.
Won't let Satan blow it out. I'm gonna let it shine.
Won't let Satan blow it out. I'm gonna let it shine.
Won't let Satan blow it out. I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Jesus also warns “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Spurgeon A teacher of the gospel is like the sower. He does not make his seed; it is given him by his divine Master. No man could create the smallest grain that ever grew upon the earth, much less the celestial seed of eternal life. 
The parable of the mustard seed.  The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed. This was the traditional symbol of what was tiny. Verse 32 “yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  
Jesus is encouraging His disciples that great harvest of souls can come from small seeds of the gospel. Jesus began with 12 disciples. The risen LORD appeared to more than 500 believers. 1 Cor.15:6.  Acts 4:4 5000 men heard the WORD and believed.
Pastor Mark Hiehle points out that as Christians we have heard the parables so many times we assume there is nothing new to learn. We must be careful not to close our ears to what the Lord wants us to hear. That is why CBS is such a wonderful place to learn. How many references have we looked up from Genesis to Revelation while studying the Gospel of Mark?
Every time God’s Word comes to you, either at CBS, in your church, through reading daily devotions, on the radio or television, or by some other means, the state of your heart will dictate how you will respond.

God’s Word also comes to us many different seasons in our life. Our LORD knows what we need and when to reveal deeper aspects of the WORD to us. How many times have you read Isaiah 40:31 but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. 
The condition of our heart will determine what happens to that Word when we hear it. God wants to produce change and His desire is for your actions to be Christ like and your life to be fruitful. God needs hearts that are receptive for His use. Listen carefully to what God has for you.
How can we cultivate a rich heart of fertile soil, ready for God Word? Let’s look at some “P’s” of gardening PLOW, PREPARE, PLANT, PROTECT
Plow The first thing to do in getting our heart ready is to turn it over to Him. Break up the clots of stubbornness and pride. Get rid of the gravel of unforgiveness. Take out the weeds of bitterness and doubt. How? Repent of any known sin. It is no mistake that the word repent means, "to turn."
Prepare The second step is to fertilize the soil. Establish a quiet time in prayer thereby developing an intimate relationship so the LORD to speak to you Spend time in God’s Word so that the life-giving truth of scripture can soak deep into your heart.        
The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.
Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.
Dwight L Moody

Plant Your heart is like a garden. Be careful what you plant now;
it will determine what you will reap later.
* If you plant love, you will reap blessings
* If you plant joy, you will reap contentment
* If you plant peace, you will reap comfort
* If you plant patience, you will reap hope
* If you plant kindness, you will reap gratitude
* If you plant goodness, you will reap heavenly riches
* If you plant faithfulness, you will receive
* If you plant gentleness, you will reap honor
* If you plant self-control, you will reap happiness
Galatians 6:7 for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
When trying to grow seeds, remember they have to be watered daily.  A sprinkling God’s Word each morning will nourish your heart.
PROTECT our hearts-The fourth step is to continually weed the garden of your heart. Watch out for satan and his demons sowing tares in your garden. Guard your heart from the thorns of anxiety, worry, and the cares of the world. Whatever you put in your mind is what comes out.  Choose wisely when you watch TV or listen to the radio. Let us be ready soil that is good for God to use. And with good soil that is daily cultivated and ready to receive His Word, a harvest will be produced.
"Grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18) and may you reap rich results.
Will you choose to be an active listener to the Word of God?