Faithlife Sermons

Sermon Tone Analysis

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RECORD
Well with Easter weekend now behind us I think that it is safe to say that we are officially in a new season, spring season, motorcycle season (hopefully), the season of cleaning up after the long winter months of being shut in, the sun shines longer, the flowers come up out of their slumber and the birds return from their long journeys
So that must mean that it’s also time for some freshness in the realm of preaching
We spent a fair bit of time this year in the book of Proverbs and I hope that it was beneficial to you, not just in the area of knowing theology but in seeing how the wisdom and way of the Lord can be applied to our everyday lives
Studying theology for the sake of knowing theology is a noble pursuit but studying theology for the purpose transformation is faith
And so as I pondered where to take my preaching after Easter and in what direction I should go it dawned on me that If I wanted to preach messages are life altering the best place to go would be to look at what Jesus taught because His ministry was all about the transformation of lives
So to that end I want to spend this season looking at the parables that Jesus used to get His message through to the people and see what they might say to us today, and considering the spring season I think that there is no better place to begin than with the Parable of the Sower so if you would open up your Bible to Matthew’s gospel the 13th chapter
Multiple times in the scriptures that Word of God is described as being a seed, something that is planted into the heart, mind, and conscience of the person who hears it
But if I have proven anything over the past 9 years it is that not everything that is meant to grow, grows
Although describes God’s Word as “living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword...” there is still one mitigating factor as to whether or not it is going to produce results in the person who hears/reads it
That factor is the ability of that person to receive that Word and be willing to allow it to grow and mature in us and produce the intended results
In this parable Jesus shows us 3 different conditions that we need to be aware of and deal with if the Word is actually going to make a difference in our lives
The first condition that Jesus warns of is to beware of listening with a hard heart
Matthew 13:
To really understand this point you have to understand the nature of Jewish farming at the time
By the time that Jesus was speaking this parable the majority of Jews were poor and did not have land of their own to cultivate
But in a society where agriculture is the primary source of living you have to do something to feed your family
The solution?
Those that did own land usually had way more than they needed for their own purposes so they would take a section of land, usually on a hillside or something keeping the best land for themselves, and they would divide that field into many little plots that people could rent from him
These rentals were not large fields consisting of acres but small plots like a decent modern sized garden
Around these plots would be a series of paths for the renters of higher up gardens to make it past the power ones and get to be where they needed to be
Every day people would walk back and forth on these paths carrying their water jugs and their farming implements to go tend to their plot
Because of this, in no time at all these paths become very hard packed, unyielding to anything trying to get through, including any seed that happens to land there
Now usually we hear this parable and we instantly think about those people who are hard core atheists
Those who refuse to any kind of Biblical teaching at all but I caution you this morning to remember who it is that Jesus is telling this parable to
Jesus is speaking this to those who have actually gone out of their way to come and listen to Him teach
In modern vernacular Jesus is talking to the church people and He is telling us to make sure that when we come into contact with the Word to make sure OUR hearts aren’t hardened against it
“That’s ridiculous Pastor.
We’re the ones here, listening.”
True but have you ever heard something so many times that you inadvertently, and maybe even unknowingly, stop listening
Maybe not with your ears but with your heart
“Oh the Pastor is preaching on salvation again, or the Pastor’s preaching on anger again, or this topic or that topic.
I’ll listen but this message is for someone else.
It’s definitely not for me.”
Sometimes when you have gone over the same thing many, many times a little bit of an arrogance begins to build up and you think that you’ve already got this covered and that you don’t really need it again
In my opinion that’s even more dangerous than the staunch atheist because at where he is at is obvious but we don’t even see this hardness
In Paul warns those Christians that “Knowledge puffs up” in other words because we have been around a long time we actually believe that we have it together because we already have heard it all
He goes on to say in the next verse,
David wrote the 95th Psalm for those people who loved and served God, it is a Psalm declaring the greatness of God and How He deserves our worship, listen to what he says near the end,
Psalm 95:6-
Let’s worship God because we belong to Him, and when His Word speaks let us make sure that we do not harden our hearts so that we don’t hear what he is really trying to say to us
The second condition that Jesus warns us about is listening to the Word with a shallow heart
Matthew
Matthew 13:5-6
In His own interpretation of this parable Jesus said,
Matthew
They receive it, they hear and let it come in but not very deep, it’s just under the surface, deep enough that you see some results, you notice something growing but when testing comes, and testing always comes, they can’t handle it
Like we said about those who waved the palm branches and cried “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday, they are often in it for what they can get out of it
Jesus wants to heal my hurts, I accept that, Jesus wants to deal with my past, I accept that, Jesus wants to set me free, I accept that
Jesus wants to have all of me! Jesus wants to cut away the greed and pride and selfishness!
I didn’t sign up for this
They are sufferers in need of a solution rather than sinners in need of a saviour and so the word only gets so deep
Perhaps you have heard the newest song by Natalie Grant called More Than Anything
The chorus goes:
Help me want the Healer more than the healing
Help me want the Savior more than the saving
Help me want the Giver more than the giving
Help me want you Jesus more than anything
James 1:2-
How deep are you willing to allow the Word to penetrate?
A shallow faith will only produce temporary results and you’ll soon find yourself scorched and withered
The final condition that Jesus warns us as hearers to be aware of is listening with a divided heart
Matthew 13:
When our loyalties, our devotions are divided, the Word is not able to produce in us the results that it desires to
Everything looks good because on the surface we look like we are supposed to look
We play the part of Christian but there can never be any fruit because underneath our power to change, our power to produce fruit is being sapped away by the weeds, those divided loyalties that keep us from allowing the life giving source to get through
John records these words of Jesus in his gospel,
John 15:1-8
His words have to be in us, but more than just in us, they have be our life blood, they have to run through us and permeate every part of us and they can’t do that if there parts of us that are devoted to something else
The things that would divide our loyalties like wealth and fame and ease of living etc are what the world would have us believe are right but as Solomon tells us, they lead to death
Only the life giving source of God’s Word running completely through us can lead us in life to the fullest and life everlasting
When you step back from this parable and look at it as a big picture you notice how it is a progression, how at first the Word can’t permeate at all, then the Word can permeate but it only goes so far and then finally it goes in but it is not allowed to do its full work and produce the fruit that it is designed to produce in us
We also notice that these warnings are not spoken to those who are being exposed to the seed of the Word, in other words, us
Let us heed the warnings so that the living and active Word can be allowed to get deep within us and produce fruit, all the way up to a hundred times what was sown
Let’s pray
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