3/4 OF A YEAR ALREADY?

Every Thursday I post a small taste of the upcoming Sunday sermon.  This week marks  3/4 through the year, so I am spending the time reviewing what we’ve learned so far this year.  Its hard to cram 37 Sunday’s worth of material into a half hour, but here are the high points I”ll try to cover.

1.  Pastor Jamie’s (aka Pastor Greenbean on this sight) new year challenge.  I started the year off by challenging the people in our church to do five things:

  • Feed yourself–take responsibility for your spiritual growth.
  • share your faith–at least invite them to church!
  • Join a small group–it is impossible to grow without a group.
  • Serve somewhere–Jesus came to serve, and told us to do the same.
  • Give financially–where your treasure is, there you heart is too!

2.  PROJECT 68–In February I went through a three week series based on Micah 6:8.  I asked the hearers to engage in a project for each one of the major points.  Do something in the realm of justice, do something in the concept of love kindness (or love-love as we called it after looking at the Hebrew words), and a project to help you walk with the Lord.

3.  We’ve spent a lot of time this year in the book of Acts.  For a large part we examined the different churches in Acts (Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Rome) and we also did biographies from Acts of people like Stephen and Lydia.  This Sunday I want to remind everyone that all of those great people and great churches were following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we are to impact our world like they did theirs.

4.  Most of the Spring (Easter onward) we were in a series called “ALIVE” that carried the Easter message over into other areas that need to be resurrected like families that are dying, churches that are dying, finances in ruin, broken relationships, and dead dreams.  All of these things can come back to life in the hands of Christ!

5.  In our 1st Timothy series we learned about the important role that churches play in defending against heresy, proclaiming the gospel, and developing leadership.  Those are important functions for us still!

6.  Finally, we recently completed the series from Mark as it records Jesus later Galilean ministry (Mark 3-5).  A dominant theme in these sermons was the ongoing call of Christ to faith and the varying responses.  The epitome of this is found in the Parable of the Soils (Mark 4).

 
I am really looking forward to Sunday.  I have found that ‘review’ is a powerful learning tool and I regret that I did not use it more in my earlier pastoral ministry.

THE PARABLE OF THE SOILS–RESPONSIBILITY

Sermon teaser–A New Feature…if I can remember it.  I hope to publish every Thursday a snippet from the upcoming sermon on Sunday.  This shouldn’t be too difficult for me because even though I preach everything from memory without notes, I manuscript everything and I am usually three weeks ahead.  This particular section is from about 2/3 through and comes after the outstandingly awesome visual I have planned and before the key application.

SOILS AND RESPONSIBILITY  

Most people call this “The Parable of the Sower” because it starts with the sower going out to sow and most people, myself included, believe the sower is God or the person who is bringing the gospel of God.  But I don’t like that title so much.  I much prefer the title “The Parable of the Soils” for this section of Scripture because it gets to the point.  The point is not the sower, the point is the soils.

The soils, are us and our heart.  The truth of this account is that different people hear and respond to the gospel in different ways.  In fact, Jesus uses four responses—four types of soils which match rather nicely the four responses we saw in Mark 3 last week.  If you will remember we found in Mark 3 that the responses ranged from very positive, positive, negative, to very negative.  It’s a match here.  The very negative is the path (eaten), the negative is the rocky soil (shallow), the positive is the thorns (at least they grow), and the very positive is the bumper crop.

I admit my bias toward liberty, freewill, and responsibility.  The only way I understand this text is if I believe that I have a constant and never ending responsibility in the context of the free will God gives to me to safeguard the soil of my heart.  Any of these troubles with the soil Jesus talks about can creep up on me at any time.

  • I am always just a hairs breath away from letting the cares of the word choke off the spiritual oxygen.
  • I am just one or two bitter tantrums from become hard and rocky and severing the roots that provide nourishment and hydration.
  • I am never too far away from letting the world walk right over me and trample me into a hard and de-sensitized soul vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one.
 NOT EVERYONE WILL RESPOND WITH FAITH