Jesus goes to villages and towns ~ crowds gather. What would it be like for the villagers to have the Lord visit them? You never know what a day will bring forth... He tells a simple story, “A farmer went out to sow…” The sower tosses his seed; it lands on four kinds of soil. The story is funny ~ no farmer would spread seed with no thought. If I plant a new lawn, I am far too cheap to push the seed spreader across the gravel driveway. There is one good choice ~ good soil. I want to see the Word of God take deep root in you!
Selective hearing is hearing what you want to hear. We do it with people, even the people we love ~ Do you have selective hearing with God? Today’s scripture ~ Jesus tells the parable of the Farmer sowing seed (a story with a deeper truth). After the parable Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear let him hear….” It’s about getting rid of selective hearing…learning to listen to the Word of God in its fullness.
A Good way to read this parable? ~ I am the four soils. The hardened parts of my heart need to be dug up and turned over. The rocks need to be removed. The weeds in my life need to be pulled. This story is a challenge for you to grow in your faith. The challenge is for you to cut down on your selective hearing of God’s voice. Get rid of the selective hearing and listen to what God is saying. How do I hear God speak to me?
CULTIVATE AN OPEN MIND. Read Luke 8:11-12.
The soil is so hard, the seed has no chance of taking root and growing. The birds come and eat it. The seed represents the Word of God ~ the Bible, the Spirit, the wisdom of Christian friends, the Word of God comes in many forms, the still small voice. Are areas of your life closed to God’s counsel? What causes us to have a closed mind?
Pride causes a closed mind. When I think, "I can make this decision on my own.” A church can pre-determine plans and skip prayer. I confess that when I first heard Pastor Jack was resigning, one of my first thoughts after considering what it would mean was to find somebody else. But wiser people over the course of several weeks said, let’s wait and see where we go and what God wants… Pride says, “I have it all figured out, I can handle this situation, I can resolve that conflict. I don’t need God." When I’m prideful, God can’t say anything to me because I think I’ve got it figured out. So I don’t pray. When were not praying, that is pride.
Fear. Sometimes we’re just afraid of what God might say to us. What if I pray and God tells me to do something I don’t want to do?
Bitterness. Whenever we’ve been hurt and we hold on to those hurtful memories, it causes us to close our minds to God. We start saying things like "God, why did You allow this? Why is this happening to me? If you’re such a great loving and powerful God, why did this happen?"
Were going to have hurts in life. We will have pain. But don’t run from God ~ run to God. People get hurt. What you do with that hurt will determine whether you become a bitter person or a better person. Hurts may cause you to shut God out, or it is an opportunity for God to dig the hardened path deep and cultivate his presence. A hardened path has the potential to become good soil for the Word of God to flourish!
Maybe you’ve lost a love one prematurely, a divorce has ripped your life apart, illness, struggles with children, a hard marriage, abuse as a child, hurt by a church… Don’t run from God, closing your mind, but run to God…He is the one who can bring healing to your emotions and you’re past. When you run from God out of pain, you’re running from the only person who can heal it.
The first step in hearing God speak is to cultivate an open mind, making room for God. Don’t let pride, fear, or bitterness close your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ.
MAKE TIME TO LISTEN
Why is selective hearing so prevalent: we don’t take time… We half listen. READ Luke 8:13. Make time to hear God. I’ve got to slow down, be quiet, and plan God time in my schedule. We schedule everything else in life -- vacations, dentist appointments, dates, and homework, everything else. Do you schedule time for God?
Juice in jars outsells frozen concentrated juice because it takes too long to thaw. When we live in a hurried lifestyle, God gets shortchanged, shuffled to the back of the deck. We want to hear God speak, as long as it is convenient. The shallow soil represents a superficial mind. We listen superficially. It sprouts up and we’re excited, but the excitement doesn’t last. When the heat is on and when the problems come we wither and fall away.
Schedule time daily where you sit down with your Bible and read, think about your life, and expect to grow in your faith. Make it a way of life. Regularly attending church is important, small groups, personal devotions. Pray constantly through-out the day….Enthusiasm is not enough to make it in the Christian life. It takes commitment.
How do you get deep roots? Allocate time to listen. Every day get alone with God and ask him to walk with you all day long. "OK God, what’s next? What’s the next step in my career? What’s the next step in my marriage? What’s the next step in my family? What is the next step for our church? What is the next step for ….? Through-out the day be thankful to God.
How to rid yourself of selective hearing with God? Cultivate an open mind, allocate time to listen, and….
Read Luke 8:14. Many times we miss hearing God because our minds are filled with weeds: concerns of daily living, worries, plans, goals, bills... When were too busy – even doing good things -- were too busy to listen to God. One of the great studies of the gospels is to find the times Jesus himself went off by himself.
The soil with weeds that the farmer is throwing seed on represents a preoccupied mind. We’re distracted. The seed sprouts and grows but it’s choked by the weeds before it can bear fruit.
Jesus says that distractions are kind of like weeds. He gives us three examples. First, worries can distract you from hearing God speak. You can’t pray and worry at the same time. Worries are the problems and the pressures of daily life.
Riches can be a weed in my life. We can be so busy making a living, we don’t really live. We don’t really enjoy life. We just get up in the morning and go to work. We work hard to pay the bills and catch up and then the vehicle breaks down again. We want the better and improved home. We flop into bed at night, get up the next morning and do the same thing. God gets crowded out. God gets the leftovers in our lives. In the desire to make money we can forget God.
Another weed: pleasures. There’s nothing wrong with pleasures. Who do you think gave you the ability to enjoy pleasure? God did. God wants you to enjoy life. But He’s saying you can be so busy having fun you forget God. Recreation at its root means RE-CREATION. To be made new. To be refreshed. But then to enter back into the patterns of life, pleasure is not to be the main drive, but an opportunity to be re-created. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed a cruise to Alaska a year ago….
A weed is anything that distracts me from making time to be with God. What are you sowings, weeds or good plants? I noticed something. Neglect will grow weeds. The difference between a plant and a weed -- a plant is something you cultivate... A weed you do nothing to and it explodes... When we have weeds in our lives that is a sign of neglect. When I start neglecting time with God on a daily basis, when I start neglecting a small group, when I start neglecting getting together with other Christians in worship, going to a Bible study -- any of those things -- the weeds are going to grow up in my life and the Bible said they’re going to choke the spiritual joy right out of me. The weeds come by neglecting time with God.
Overcome selective hearing by cultivating an open mind to God, taking time to listen, and eliminating the weeds. The good soil is the goal. The good news is that all of the first three soils can be turned into good soil! To truly listen means that the Word of God makes a difference ~ BE OBEDIENT TO THE WORD OF GOD!
God reveals Himself to people who decide ahead of time they are going to do whatever He tells them to do. Most of us want God to talk to us and then we’ll decide if we’re going to do it or not. The fourth soil represents a willing mind. READ Luke 8:15. Willing to do whatever God tells you to do, before He even tells you. Underline the word "retain". Good soil people not only hear God’s word retain it. They write it down, listen to it, they think about it and go over it. The result is a productive life.
Would you like to make your life count? Would like to have a productive, fulfilling, satisfying life? James 1:22 tells us, "Don’t merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourself.” You kidding yourself if you think you’re growing just by going to a church service. Do what God says.
Where is your mind right now? Do you have areas of your life that are closed, God is off limits? How about patterns that are superficial ~ you get excited about the things of God that you hear, but then nothing changes? Are you easily distracted, have good intentions, but somehow you never get around to changing? An open mind to the things of God, taking time to listen, eliminating distractions lead to a life of obedience to God, a changed life that honors God.
I want to give you a homework project today. Do one thing in response to today’s message. It may be join a Bible study, start memorizing a Bible verse a week, start having a quiet time every day, like the 30 day challenge, get some counseling, follow through with changing the pattern that you have wanted to change for months. Don’t put it off any longer. We are so good at selective hearing. He who has ears let him hear.