“LUKE 8:4-15 and JAMES 1:19-25"
We are in the final week of
this series, “How to hear God Speak”
Cultivate an open mind (hard
path represents a closed mind) and allocate time to listen (shallow soil
represents superficial mind; hear word of God and get excited but it doesn’t
last because the word of God doesn’t take root). Farmer-God; Seed- God’s
Word; and Soil- our Minds
The final step in learning
to hear God speak is …
I. I MUST ELIMINATE THE
A lot of times we miss
hearing God because our minds are crowded with other thoughts. Our minds are
filled with concerns of daily living, worries, plans, goals, ambitions, bills,
all these different kinds of things. When our mind is full and always thinking
and never give God a chance in silence to talk to us, He can't get through.
Many of you did what I did
this last Mother's Day. You pick up the phone and dial your mom to say
"Happy Mother's Day" and as you were doing it you get the same little
message, "Sorry, but all the circuits are busy." Everybody else in
America was calling their mother.
Many times God has wanted to
talk to you and He's got a busy signal. Many times God has wanted to talk to
you in your life but the line was off the hook and you don't want to do Call
Waiting with God. You've got to make time. When you're too busy -- and there
are many things that are good but they can distract you -- you're too busy to
listen to God.
v. 7 He says, "Other
seen fell among the thorns [weeds] which grew up with it and choked the
plants. v. 14 This seed that fell among the thorns stands or represents
those who hear the word but as they go on their way they're choked by life's
worries, riches, and pleasures."
The soil with weeds, this
third kind of soil that the farmer is throwing seed on, it represents a
preoccupied mind. We're distracted. The seed sprouts and grows but it's
choked by the weeds before it can bear fruit.
Why is it that so many people
live unproductive lives? I talk to people in their 30's, 40's, 50's and even
60's who say, "I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing with my
life." That tells me one thing: You're not spending much time with God.
God had no intention for you blowing and wasting your life. If you'd spend as
much time with God talking about your life as you do worrying about it, you'd
have a whole lot less to worry about.
God is not playing games with
you. He has a plan and purpose for every life. But you're not going to get it
watching soap operas or listening to the radio. You've got to get time with
God. We get distracted and we allow everything and anything to push God out of
our lives. I used to have a sign in my office that said, "Beware of the
barrenness of a busy life." Don't ever confuse activity with
productivity. There are a lot of you who are on the go all the time. But
you're going in circles is what you're doing. There's no focus to your life.
There's no rhyme or reason or general purpose. You haven't discovered why God
put you here. Why? Because you're not talking to Him and you're not letting
him talk to you. You've got to eliminate the distractions.
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. The Greek word is the word that means to be pulled in
different directions. Have you ever felt that? Pulled in different
directions. That's the Bible definition of worry. When you're worrying you
can't hear what God wants to say to you. You're preoccupied, distracted.
Second, riches can be a
weed in your life. We can be so busy
making money we don't have time for God. 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 get even and keep up
with the Jones' and 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 your life. In
the desire to make money you can forget God.
Third, another weed can be
pleasures. There's nothing wrong
with pleasures. Who do you think gave you the ability to enjoy pleasure? God did.
God thought up the fun in the world. God gave you the senses and the abilities
and the tactile senses you have in order to enjoy pleasure. God wants you to
enjoy pleasure. But He's saying you can be so busy having fun that you forget
God. When recreation replaces worship -- "It's summertime! I don't think
I'll go to church this week end.. . . I'll cut that Bible study.... We're on
vacation so I won't have a quiet time." Who are you having a vacation
from? God? You can be so busy having fun (and God wants you to have fun) but
when it becomes number one in your life, guess who's getting crowded out?
There are a lot of different
kinds of weeds. You can make your own list of the things that tend to crowd
out God. It could be a relationship, a responsibility, anything. A weed is
anything that distracts me from making time to be with God. To set down,
be quiet and pray and say, "God, is there anything You want to say to me
today?" Some days He will and some days He won't. But you've got to have
the line ready, so He can talk to you.
A very theological question:
How much effort does it take to grow weeds? No effort at all. My backyard
where I'm growing stuff, I'm starting a weed farm and seeing how many known
weeds I can grow. The difference between a plant and a weed -- a flower is
something you cultivate, you fertilize, you trim, you water it and it doesn't
grow. A weed you do nothing to and it explodes. That's the difference. You
don't have to water weeds. They grow! Weeds are 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 life
out of me.
I'm going to lose my joy, my
peace, my purpose, my sense of calmness, my ability to handle stress, etc. The
weeds will choke the life out of you. And they all come just by neglecting
spending time with God.
II. I MUST DO WHAT GOD
God talks to people who
decide in advance that they are going to do whatever He tells them to do when
He tells them. Most of us want God to talk to us and then we'll decide if
we're going to do it or not and God says, "No, no. We don't play that
game." God talks to people who are going to do what He tells them to do
once He tells them.
I know of a church who had a
choir special "Yes, Lord, Yes!" That was basically the whole song.
When they finished it, the choir director turned around and said, "OK,
God, You've already heard our attitude. Now tell us what to do."
That's what God wants you to
do. If you want God to speak to you, you need to say, "OK God, I'm going
to do what You tell me to do whether I understand it or not, whether it makes
sense or not, whether I'd think I'd like to do it or not, because I know it's
the right thing and I know You know what would make me happy more than I
do." It's a matter of trust.
The fourth soil represents
a willing heart. Willing to do whatever God tells you to do, before He even
tells you. v. 15 "The seed on the good soil stands for those with a
noble and good heart who hear the word of God and retain it and by persevering produce
a good crop." Circle "retain". They not only hear God's
word but they retain it. They write it down, they 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? Then do what James 1:22 tells us, "Don't merely listen to the
Word and so deceive yourself. You kid yourself if you think you're growing
just by going to church. Do what it says."
“Rethink Church”— Begin introducing “Helping Hands”
If I was able to hook up a
machine to your brain right now and show the contents on one of these visual
screens, some of you would be embarrassed. Some might have a blank screen.
What kind of spiritual brain scan would show up? Would you have a closed
mind? Would you have a superficial mind that gets excited about the service
and then walk out and forget it all? Would you have a distracted mind that
wants to do the right thing but you're just too busy right now? Or would you
have a willing mind?
People we need “Willing
Last week, I ended with this
question: What are you going to do as a result of today's message? The Bible
says "be doers of the word, not hearers only." Do something.
The moment you walk out the door, there's a little bird that's going to try to steal
the seed of what we talked about today -- the devil.
If you want to make this
count, otherwise this morning was a waste, I want to give you a homework
project. Do one thing as a result of today's message. It may be join a Bible
study, start memorizing a Bible verse a week, start having a quiet time every
day -- 5, 10, 15 minutes. Do something! Don't waste it.