Have you ever been to a game in a large stadium or gone to a fair? There are always so many choices. This is an example of how a crowded heart can work against us. (Matthew 13:7, 22) Listen as Jesus frames a crowded heart. Matthew 13:7~Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. (ESV) Over the years I’ve met a number of Christians with a prickly demeanor, who were less than enthusiastic about our Lord. They got irritated often saying things like, that’s not how we do it, or we have our own way. They make statements like well if King James was good enough for Paul then it’s good enough for me. 

Hmm, I have to tell you, with more than a millennia and 3,000 miles standing between Paul and King James, a perfectly formed thorn is often flawed. Matthew 13:22~As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares (μέριμνα merimna) of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (ESV) This soil type represents a heart where God’s Word has rivals. Seeds take root in good soil, but the thorns poke and desires choke out its life. 

The thorns, or weeds, represent two things that choke God’s Word out of our lives. #1—Cares. The cares of the world (μέριμνα merimna) are the worries or distractions that can trip us up in our faith development. Satan uses worry to choke out God’s Word in our lives. It crowds out biblical thoughts and distracts us from applying the Word to our lives. Cares, or worries, are problems and pressures we try to handle on our own and leave God out of the solution. Why? The reason is our ego. Which has been defined as E G O => Edging God Out. God’s promises tell us: in Isaiah 40:31 wait for His strength. Worry not about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) Instead, we are to cast (ἐπιρίπτω epiriptō) to throw, lay, give all our worries, and our concerns to God. To walk in the strength He gives for each day. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise tomorrow’s strength today.

#2—Deceitful. Now the deceitfulness of riches takes hold in our lives when demonstrating a belief that money is able to bring lasting joy. As a result, many become so busy making a living, they don’t take time to make a life. That’s why Christ Jesus asks a rhetorical question in Mark 8:36~ For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (ESV) When we survey our flower beds and notice thorns or weeds, what we are witnessing are signs of neglect. When we neglect prayer, Bible study, and community, weeds begin to choke God’s Word out of your life. What kinds of weeds are choking God’s Word from your life? For you, it could be busyness, money, or worry, perhaps it is a relationship, or even our career? Dissecting our Heart means that we take time to see what may be crowding out Christ, then making sure that we take it out by the root. Today, take time to do a little weeding in your spiritual life. Noting what typically interrupts your quiet time. Is there something that impedes, arrests or crates altercations before you sit to empty yourself of life and then be filled with God? Sometimes we have to get negative to have a positive change.

Prologue, And God…Deafening Silence—Genesis 8.1-22 Handout

Have you ever stood in place of deafening silence? Y / N What do we do when God Seems Silent? The Flood has destroyed everything and our world was awash in water. Genesis 7:24~The waters flooded earth for a hundred and fifty days. (ESV) What would you do if God was silent for 150 days? I would ______________________ Share a lingering problem you have prayed about, but God seemingly sat silent ___________________ ____________ Deafening Silence: KNOCK, Achtung, _______, Praise.

1) Knock-Knock-Knocking On Heavens Doors (8:1-5) Be Persistent! Persistent means to continue, obstinately on a course of action. Jesus reminds us to __________ knock at the door. Luke 11:8~I tell you, even though he will not get up and give the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. (NIV) Do you need the Lord, then why not Knock-Knock-Knock! Genesis  8:1~But God ___________(זָכַר zakar) Noah…(ESV) Does this mean God temporarily forgot Noah? No, (זָכַר zakar) means to recall or call to mind. Psalm 139:2~You know when I sit when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (NIV) Knock, be persistent, and continue to _________ obey what was last revealed as God’s will for you—however long ago that may be. After ____ months, the ark rests on the mountains of Ararat. 2 Corinthians 5:7~For we live by _____, not by sight. (NIV)

2) ________Baby (8:6-13) There is a difference between Remember and _________. Noah _________ patiently. In Genesis 8:7 Noah sends our a Raven, is a scavenger bird and will eat carcasses so, it doesn’t return. Genesis 8:8~Then he sent out a _______ to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. Waiting a week Noah sends out a dove, which returns with an________ branch. To this day a dove carrying an olive branch is a sign of ________. That is why we must pay attention to the signs God is sending us. Genesis 8:13~…Noah then removed the ____________ from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. (ESV) 

3) They that Wait (8:14-19) Waiting on God takes an act of _________ on our part. Genesis 8:14~By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. (ESV) That means it has been one year and _____ days since Noah entered the ark. We think from the scripture the last time God spoke to Noah was when He told him to go into the ark in Genesis 7:1. God has been _________ for over a year, and yet Noah has stayed the coarse. God sometimes seems silent in the midst of life’s storms. We pray, ________ as though our words do not go past the ceiling. Isaiah 40:31~but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; (ESV)

4) Praise Ye the Lord (8:20-22) Genesis 8:20~Noah built an _________ to the Lord and…sacrificed burnt offerings. (ESV) Noah’s sacrifice expresses his __________ and praise for what God has done for him. Genesis 8:21~ The Lord smelled the  pleasing  aroma  and  said  in  his heart:  Never again…(ESV)

Take-A-Step: _______________________________________________________________________________

Careless living

Have you ever had a careless heart? (13:5-6, 20-21) Careless by definition means not giving sufficient attention or thought. Listen as Jesus describes the second kind of heart. Matthew 13:5~Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up since they had no depth of soil, (ESV) With no way to put down roots they sprout upwards. Matthew 13:6~but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. (ESV) Ever been forgetful? Jesus explains that this heart hears God’s Word, immediately with joy. Oh, I love God’s word, it’s so good, but have no room for real growth. 

Matthew 13:20~As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, (ESV) Matthew 13:20-21~yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (ESV) Yep, tribulation, trials, persecution. I must tell you life, she be tough some times. You’ve no doubt heard the famous expression attributed to Coach Francis Leahy who said in the 1950s: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Meaning when the situation becomes difficult, the strong and dutiful will work harder to meet the challenge.

The rocky, stony, ground of shallow soil, resists the future development of the plant. Then as the day’s heat builds, removing moisture and finally forces withering heights never achieved. Carless soil shares a heart of impulsive or emotional living for Jesus Christ. While the Word never gets rooted in their lives. As a result, a commitment to Christ is only temporary. It is a perfect illustration of a faith that fizzles before the finish. Flawed this careless heart makes superficial decisions that do not last. Being a  disciple of Jesus Christ is about abiding in the Lord. (John 15:5) 

Don’t be a heart that carelessly follows Christ Jesus only when the circumstances are favorable. As believers and faith practitioners, we must learn how to walk circumspectly. How is that for a good King James word. It means that we are wary and paying attention, that we are not willing to take risks. Before you push back faith is about walking in the unknown and trusting God. The risk here is about not taking risks that will damage our walk of faith or relationship with the Lord. We must always remember that our relationship with the Lord is to be the most important thing in our lives.