An Amazing Mission

Introduction
Listen! The Lord Jesus Christ is on an Amazing Mission to save all of humanity. And I’ve already told you how he’s going to do it!

We’ve been talking about the truth that Jesus is Amazing! He is an amazing teacher and friend – and he is on an amazing mission. In our text today the reputation of Jesus continues to expand. Crowds gather and press in to hear him, to experience healing. Last week he was trapped in a house by the crowds. Today he is at a sea shore about to be pressed into the water, so he got into a boat and sat in it on the lake and taught the people from there.

So many people hearing the words and teachings of Jesus – experiencing healing from disease and demons – the crowds cannot get enough of Jesus. He is truly Amazing! But being under the sound of his words and being in the presence of his work is not the same as receiving Him. How many people in today’s world know about Jesus but that knowledge has no affect at all on their hearts and lives? 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular” (Pew Forum) There are many blessings to growing up in the church – but there is a danger – letting it all become old news. When we no longer find Jesus Amazing, we need to wonder what happened to the Gospel that was planted in our hearts long ago? Listen!

What Jesus has to say from the boat relates to our reception of His word and His work. He begins his message with a parable. He begins that parable with one word. LISTEN!

The Lord Jesus Christ is on an Amazing Mission to save all of humanity and he reaches out to those who will LISTEN!

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SEED

Some Fell on the Path

Some fell on the Pathway

Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. …. “Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them.

Mark 4:1-4, 15

Is our heart hard like a beaten down footpath-the seed just lands on top of it?

Barclay: “There are some people into whose hearts Christian truth can find no entry. … they are indifferent. They think that it is irrelevant to life…”

The word “hear” occurs 19 times in this chapter. There is someone helping us not to hear: The evil one who does not want us to hear or follow God’s word. When we choose not to listen to God we are:
-Hardening our hearts.
-Aiding the enemy who hates us.
-Keeping God from cultivating the Kingdom heart within.

Do I have a hard heart?

Some Fell on Rocky Places

Some Fell on Rocky Ground

Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. …. “When they hear the word immediately they receive it with joy. But they have no root; they are short- lived. When distress or persecution comes becomes of the word, they immediately fall away.”

Mark 4:5-6, 16-17

How many receive the word Joyfully, but never advance? A shallow faith will lead us away fromGod when difficulties come – and they will.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Some fell among thorns

Some Fell Among Thorns

Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. …These are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

Mark 4:7, 18-19

Jesus said the thorns were the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things make the seed choked and unfruitful. Some all this a divided heart.

A young man proposed to a young woman. “I want you to know that I love you more than anything else int he world. I want you to marry me. I’m not rich. I don’t have yacht or a Rolls Royce like Johnny Brown, but I do love you with all my heart.” She thought for a minute and then replied “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown.” (Hughes)

Hughes: A heart that is overcome with a love for riches and the things of this world is not a believing heart…the love of the world has strangled all vestiges of Christianity” from our lives.

Some fell on Good Ground

Some Fell on Good Ground

Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times. …. These hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.

Mark 4:8, 20

When our heart is good ground the Kingdom can take hold. We benefit from the spiritual harvest provided. Talk to others about Christ (sow the seed). Share our blessings with others. Development of Christ-like character / good works. Praise and Thanksgiving.

We benefit from the Amazing mission of Jesus to save humanity when we LISTEN to him and receive the Word.

Conclusion

Listen! The Lord Jesus Christ is on an Amazing Mission to save all of humanity and he reaches out to those who will LISTEN! This parable reminds me ….

The crucial importance of keeping our hearts available to God

The power of the seed – the Word of God – in our hearts / lives

The benefit of being open to God’s teaching

The value of the act of hearing

The urgency of having a heart that is good soil – lest we lose out on all God has to offer.

The need to be sowing the seed ourselves

The most persistent sower is Jesus … His amazing mission to broadcast the gospel and receive all who hear … are we receiving His word today?

Do I have a hardened heart? A Shallow Heart? A Crowded Heart? An Open Heart?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

Am I a listener? Jesus begins and ends this parable with “listen”

LifeGroup Questions

  1. Do you have a green thumb? What have you been successful in growing?
  2. What do you think are some of the barriers that people have up that keep their hearts from receiving the seed of the Word? What can break through those barriers?
  3. The idea of the seed growing quickly but then withering because of no roots is found in other passages such as Ephesians 3:17 and Colossians 2:6-7. What are ways we can grow deeper roots in our spiritual life? (Some ideas might be in those passages!)
  4. The four soil (heart) types indicates that reception of the Gospel will not be as often as we would like. What thoughts does this spark about how we go about sharing the Gospel (methods)? How does this parable encourage us not to grow discouraged in sharing the Gospel?
  5. How can we improve on our own “hearing” of the Kingdom message in our lives? How do we keep our hearts open and tender to to the message of God?
  6. What are some sources of ‘noise’ that might keep us from listening to God as we should? What kinds of things crowd our hearts and squelch the sound of God’s Word in our lives?
  7. What else did you see in this parable that you wanted to talk about?

20 Days of Prayer in 2020 #14

A Prayer for the Children in our Church

“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.”

Matthew 19:14

Heavenly Father, we pray for the precious children of our church. We love them. We know you love them with a Father’s love that goes beyond our human limitations. We pray that they experience joy in learning about you when they gather with your Family. In the memories that are created in the classrooms and worship times, we pray that their young faith is sparked into a lifelong commitment to you.

Father, give them the kind of spiritual strength that as they grow into young men and women will infuse the church with new energy. God, give them a vision for the future to make your church an even greater presence in this dark world. 

We know they have much to face in the years ahead, Lord, and we ask you to walk with them and fill them with your love and Spirit so they learn to lean on you in all of the situations they will face. Through their disappointments and dreams, we pray for them to become influential Christians and leaders. 

God, thank you for the children you have brought together in our church. Bless each parent, grandparent, and person of influence in their lives so the children will know they are loved. We are so grateful for the smiles they bring to our faces as we watch them grow. Thank you for every child … may we welcome all children … and hinder none. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Prayer by John Dobbs

John Dobbs is the minister for the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, LA. He can be found oversharing on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (@bigpoppa1130).

20 Days of Prayer #13

A Prayer for Our Elders and Ministers

And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.

1 Peter 5:1-3 NLT

Father, you fill us with such joy. We lift your name above all names as we seek your blessings and guidance. We also thank you for your abundant giftsthe gifts we use in our weak vessels to honor and serve you and your people. Even though we often feel inadequate to the task, we know and are confident of your Spirit strengthening us. We pray for the courage to act gracefully.

We pray for wisdom to speak truthfully. We pray for compassion to serve gently. We pray for your love to fill our hearts so that we can fulfill our call impartially. We pray for perseverance so that we will not lose heart. 

We pray, Father, that we will always keep our eyes fixed on Jesusto shepherd, to proclaim, to teach, and to love as he did. Thank you for being ever-present for us and hearing our prayers in the name of Jesus, Amen. 

Danny Dodd is preaching minister for the Levy Church of Christ, North Little Rock, Arkansas. You can read his thoughts in occasional posts on his BLOG and on FACEBOOK. If you’re in the area you can stop by his booth filled with antiques, uniques, and fun stuff at Back Yard Bargains located within the Second Hand Rose antique mall and flea market in Gravel Ridge.

20 Days of Prayer #12

A Prayer For Deeper Discipleship

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23 NIV 

Jesus, we desire to follow you as students of the life you lived and shared. As we reflect on the past year that just ended, we see areas of our lives that didn’t measure up to the life of discipleship to which you have called us. Sometimes, we are fickle in our commitment, allowing the priorities of the world to take first place in our hearts. At times, we are more concerned about pleasing others than pleasing you. 

Help us to avail ourselves of your teachings, your words, your attitudes, and your speech. Grant us a sensitivity to the sin that keeps us from growing closer to you. Even more, give us a willingness to let that sin go and to pursue being available to be used to accomplish your will. We desire to be faithful. We desire to reach out to the lost world around us. We desire to imitate the love, compassion, commitment, and strength you demonstrated in your life.

Help us, Lord, to never be satisfied with who we are. Give us an insatiable desire to walk in your steps.

Prayer by John Dobbs

John Dobbs is the minister for the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, LA. He can be found oversharing on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (@bigpoppa1130).

20 Days of Prayer #11

A Prayer For Greater Love For Others

Above all, keep your love for one another fervent because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 NET 

Dear God, we confess that it isn’t always easy to love. None of us are capable of loving as richly and completely as You. We do, though, hear your call to love others the way you love us.

Give us the insight to reach beyond our own comforts and reservations, so we can express your love for the hurting hearts we encounter each day. Fill us with the depth of compassion and mercy that reflects your heart for humanity. 

Forgive us when we fail to love, whether it be because of fear or pride. Help us to never look down on anyone in such a manner that it inhibits our willingness to care.

Remind us, Lord, that in truth, WE are “others” to someone else. We received the wealth and depth of your love when we didn’t deserve it. Empower our hearts to grow closer to your heart for all human beings. Increase our awareness of the person next to us throughout the day.

Give us wisdom and desire to find some way to let them know they are loved. Because we are loved, we love. Thank you for loving us. 

Prayer by John Dobbs

John Dobbs is the minister for the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, LA. He can be found oversharing on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (@bigpoppa1130).