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27 Luke 8.4-15

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The Eternal EKG

The Heart of the Matter

Luke 8:4-15

v    Heart disease is #1 cause of death in America

Ø     1 out of every 3 deaths in US

Ø     Every 34 seconds a person in the US dies from heart disease

§        Estimates for the year 2002 are that 70,100,000 Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease

·        That’s 1 in 5!!

v    The heart is the organ that by far we are most concerned

Ø     Through modern medicine, we are able to examine the heart in a number of ways

§        We can listen to the heart = stethoscope

§        We can look at the heart = echocardiogram

§        We can examine the workings of the heart = electrocardiogram

v    Show Overhead

v    EKG

Ø     An electrocardiogram is an electrical recording of the heart and it shows us a lot regarding the health of the heart

§        If it is healthy, it looks something like the top chart

Ø     But if you are sitting there after your EKG and the doctor comes in and tells you that they have found a problem

§        You would sit there and listen

·        You would be all ears, totally focused…

¨     You would sit up and listen

v    Today in our text, Jesus tells us a parable about the heart

Ø     In a way, he gives the world an EKG

§        But not an EKG that tells us whether we will live several more years or decades in this world…

·        It is an eternal EKG

¨     This EKG reveals where each person will live for eternity!

READ 8:4-15


v    In this parable, Jesus uses the analogy of a farmer planting his crop

Ø     Well known to all the people of that time

§        He likens the sower to Anyone who shares the Gospel

§        He likens the seed to the Word of God

Ø     But what Jesus is really getting at is to types of soils

§        He likens the soils to different types of hearts

·        What kind of “heart reception” the Gospel gets

v    The eternal EKG reveals that there are basically 4 types of hearts

The Hard Heart

v    The first type of heart Jesus describes as a hard heart

Ø     Like a hard earthen footpath

Ø     READ V. 12

§        To understand this we have to understand Farming 2,000 years ago

·        Broadcast seed

·        Fields were long and narrow with well worn footpaths between them that the public could use as well

¨     Thus became rock hard

Ø     At first glance this may seem like it is not their fault

§        Satan comes and takes it

·        But we have to remember that Jesus is describing the reception that the Gospel receives

¨     And this one receives a hard-hearted reception

Ø     The hard heart is symbolic of people that are resistant to the gospel

§        The shut mind…the mind which refuses to take it in

§        This could be for several reasons

·        They were “burned” earlier in life

¨     Denomination

¨     Pastor

¨     Overly legalistic parents

·        Their hearts have been hardened by the abuse of the Gospel

¨     For them the Gospel seed will never penetrate

§        There is another reason for hard heartedness

¨     The Tempered heart

Ø     Describe tempering

·        Hear Gospel many times

¨     Each time they hear and do not respond…

Ø     Their heart hardens that much more

§        That is why the Bible states…

·        Now is the appointed time

¨     Scripture talks about these people as being hardened

Ø     The more you hear, the more you deny

Ø     The more you see, the more you reject

§        The harder your heart becomes

·        Ex 8-11 ~ Pharaoh’s heart was tempered

Ø     Tempering is something that we have to be careful about as believers as well

§        Come to church and turn off

·        The Gospel does not penetrate your heart

¨     It bounces off

Ø     If you allow your heart to become tempered…

§        You can bet that Satan is always there to take those precious seeds away!

The EKG Jesus gives reveals another type of heart…

The Shallow Heart

v    Palestine is much like MDI

Ø     Solid rock covered with a thin veneer of soil

§        In places it was only a few inches of soil

·        And if a farmer scattered seed on that soil

¨     The warmth of the soil and the moisture would sprout a seed quickly

Ø     But the roots could only go down so far

§        When dry season came, that plant would wither because of the shallowness of the soil

Ø     This is the type of heart that Jesus describes in v. 13 (READ)

§        A Shallow heart

§        A shallow faith

·        A faith that springs up quickly and blooms

¨     But has no root system for sustaining power

v    This is the faith of Emotionalism

Ø     We have all seen this

§        A person hears the Gospel and responds with great emotion

·        They are at every church event

·        They are sharing their experience with others

·        They want to be on committees and boards

·        They are at every potluck

·        They are in the front row at church taking notes

·        They are asking questions in Sunday School

Ø     If we were honest, we would say that most new Christians are like this

v    RQ: So how do we know the soil is shallow?

v    How do we know that the emotion is genuine?

v    How do we know if this is a true convert or a seed in shallow soil?

Ø      The Scripture here says in one way…Testing

§        They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away

·        In Scripture we have many examples of testing…

¨     God tested Abraham with Isaac

¨     He tested Gideon’s faith by marching into battle with 300 men

¨     He allowed Job to be tested

¨     He allowed Peter to be tested

¨     He tested the Israelite nation in the wilderness

Ø      Moses in his final sermon called Deuteronomy reminds the people…

§        Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years; to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (8:2)

v    God tested his Jewish children…

Ø     And he does that with his children today

I love the History channel.  They have several shows I like two of which are “engineering disasters” and  “engineering Marvels.” They are fun to watch, but also informative. 

Program on bridges…

For example I learned that when designing a bridge, an engi­neer must take into account three loads, or stresses. These are: the dead load, the live load, and the wind load. 

The dead load is the weight of the bridge itself. The live load is the weight of the daily traffic that the bridge must carry. The wind load is the pressure of the storms that beat on the bridge. The designer plans for bracings that will enable the bridge to bear all these loads.

These same stresses, the dead load, the live load and the wide load, are the ones that test the genuineness of our faith today

Ø     We have the deal load of SELF

§        Sometimes the testing comes from the person

·        The shallow emotional faith temporarily takes their depression away

¨     But after some time it attacks again and the person slowly stops coming to church

Ø     We have the live load of DAILY LIVING

§        Sometimes the testing comes along in the normal course of life

·        The shallow emotional faith makes them forget their financial situation or their difficult marriage for a time

¨     They are too busy riding the wave of excitement

Ø     Getting involved in committees and KBC

§        But after some time the realities of life set back in and their faith withers

·        And they slowly stop coming to church

Ø     We have the wide load of EMERGENCIES

§        Sometimes the testing comes in the form of emergencies

·        The shallow emotional faith sustains them until the first big issue comes into their lives

¨     Their mother dies, their spouse wants a divorce,

Ø     These emergencies confront them and their faith withers

§        And they abruptly stop coming to church

v    You see…

Ø     With a shallow emotional faith these tests reveal that the root system is shallow

§        They spring up, but have no means of endurance

v    However, we have to be careful here…

Ø     Emotionalism is not bad, but has its proper place

§        Jonathan Edwards wrote in a whole treatise on it called Religious Affections

·        Faith has to be accompanied by emotion, but it has its proper place

¨     The caboose not the engine

Ø     Result of salvation

§        It does not sustain it!

The third EKG reading exposes another type of heart…

The Divided Heart

v    The third seed falls among the thorns, the weeds of life

v    READ v. 14

Ø     Here the heart was receptive and perhaps the soil was good

§        But the surroundings overpowered it

·        This has led to the downfall of many

¨     For the simple reason that they never fully devoted themselves to the Lord

Ø     God told Moses that he was a jealous God…

§        And he has not changed

·        He demands all of us, or we get none of him

¨     This is a hard teaching!!

§        He demands that he be #1 in our lives…

·        And by such a wide margin that #2 is not even close

¨      Jesus illustrated this in Luke 14:26

Ø     If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple

v    And Jesus describes 3 weeds that can divide our minds…

Ø     The Worries, the Wants and the World

v    Worries

Ø     We are all prone to worry

§        We worry about everything from…

·        Children & parents & finances to what the weather is going to be like for the church picnic!

·        Corrie Ten boom

·        Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows, it empties today of strength.

¨     Strength to see God’s blessings

Tree-skiing may sound like a death wish, but some skiers love the risk of skiing virgin powder lying in a stand of aspen or spruce. The key, of course, is not hitting the trees! As professional skier Tim Etchells states it:

Even more so than in deep snow or moguls, what you focus your eyes on becomes critical in the woods. Look at the spaces between the trees, the exits where you hope to be traveling. Don't stare at what you don't want to hit!

v    You see…

Ø     Worry focuses us on what we don’t want to hit

§        And because you are focusing on what you don’t want to hit…

·        It prevents you from seeing the blessing God is constantly providing

The second weed that can divide the mind is…

v    Wants ~ Riches

Ø      When I think of Hebrews 12:1

§        let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles

·        wants / riches is what comes to mind

¨     Riches so easily entangles us and divides us

Ø     It divided the Rich young ruler

Ø     It has divided minds for 1,000’s of years

v    Hymn ~ Be Thou my Vision

Ø     No one knows where it came from

Ø     No one knows when it was written

Ø     It came to us from Ireland

Ø     And was translated into English in 1905

Ø     The music in a mystery as well

Ø     We only know that it is a traditional Irish tune

§        But it is one of the classic hymns of our faith

·        And the whole thrust of the hymn is to be single minded as a Christian

·        Focused on one thing…Jesus Christ

Ø     Third verse…

§        Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise—Thou mine inheritance, now and always; Thou and Thou only, first in my heart—High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art

v    That is the singleness of mind that we are to have as a Christian

The third weed that so easily divides us is…

v    The World ~ Pleasures of life

Ø     We see this weed actually taking root in the life of Demas

§        Paul’s fellow worker through his first imprisonment

v    But…

Ø     2 Tim 4:10

§        Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica

·        In Demas what John wrote in his first epistle came true…

Ø     1 John 2:15

§        If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him

v    You see…

v    The divided heart is an easy EKG to read for God

Ø     There is a very simple litmus test…

§        Church

·        How devoted to church are you?

¨     I’m not talking about the institution

Ø     I’m talking about Sunday mornings

§        Sunday School and Worship…

·        Those 3 hours

Ø     If you cannot sacrifice these 3 hours out of 168

§        How devoted are you?

·        I know this is a hard teaching, but it is true!

¨     If your heart is so divided that worries, wants and the world come between you and…

Ø     Learning about your God is Sunday School and

Ø     Worshipping your God in Church

v    How devoted are you?

Ø     Next time you are going to miss Sunday morning

§        Ask yourself if your excuse would hold up if you were standing before the throne of God

v    And then there is the EKG that the doctor comes in and says…

Ø     You’re fine!

The Good Heart

v    One not tempered against the Gospel

v    One not Shallow with emotionalism, but tested

v    One not divided but wholly devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ

Ø     How do we know this?

Ø     How do we know if the seed fell on good soil?

Ø     How can we recognize the good heart?

§        In Mark’s account of this parable, he describes the good soil as

·        Producing a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times. (Mk 4:1-2)

¨     By their enduring fruit you will know them

Ø     So let’s be encouraged and do as John the Baptist told us…

§        “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”

v    Notes:

v    Idioms using the word Heart

Ø     to feel in (one's) heart of hearts

Ø     take it to heart

Ø     from the bottom of (one's) heart

Ø     heartfelt

Ø     with all (one's) heart

Ø     to get to the heart of (something)

Ø     to feel a hole in (one's) heart

Ø     to have a heart of gold

Ø     to have a heart of stone

Ø     heart to heart

Ø     Eat one’s heart out

Ø     Broken heart

Ø     Heavy heart

Ø     Know something by heart

Ø     Change of heart

Ø     A bleeding heart

Ø     Heart is in the right place

Ø     Didn’t have the heart to tell someone something

Ø     After one’s own heart

Ø     Heart goes out

Ø     Search one’s heart

Ø     Wear your heart on your sleeve

Ø     Heart skips a beat

Ø     Tim Stafford

§        I would rather be cheated 100 times than develop a heart of stone

Ø     Put down deep roots for the long haul

§        The Christian race is marathon, not a sprint

·        Perseverance illustration

Ø     My favorite movie of all time “It’s a Wonderful Life” ends with these words:

§        “Nobody is poor who has friends”

·        A nice sentiment, but not true

¨     The truth is nobody is poor who has


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