Hearts that can Hear

When we consider hearts, not a game played with cards but the living response we have to live, and we have all been a little guilty of having a calloused heart. (Matthew 13:3-4, 19) Callouses are the body’s natural way of protecting itself. They form in response to repeated pressure in a particular area. Christ Jesus applies pressure in Matthew 13:3~He told them many things in parables, saying: A sower went out to sow. (ESV) In Jesus’ day, a sower would walk through his field with a sack of seed under one arm. Taking handfuls of seed and fling it to the wind. As this sower sows, seeds fall. Matthew 13:4~And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. (ESV) Christ Jesus explains the seed sown on the path represents a heart who hears. Matthew 13:19~When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  (ESV)

The path in biblical times went directly through the fields. Where soil gets compacted by feet, hooves, and wheels. This calloused landscape was almost as hard as concrete making it nearly impossible for seed to penetrate. Therefore, the seed would just lie on top, and the birds would come along and eat the plated buffet. Jesus says it’s like looking at a calloused heart, hard and rejecting. This is the person who repeatedly tunes God out, though the pressure is applied. Such a person can sit through hundreds of great sermons while brandishing their theme song from a wrong heart. They sing: I shall not be, I shall not be moved. Listen to God’s Word about such a person Hebrews 4:7~again he appoints a certain day, Today, saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (ESV)

Every time God speaks to us through a song, a Bible study, a sermon, or whatever medium He chooses, and we refuse to respond, our heart gets a little more calloused and a little harder. His pressure isn’t meant to dull our hearing but rather spur a response. Without a response from the hearer, the heart will eventually arrive at a place where the heart can no longer hear Him anymore because it has become so hard. Don’t let that happen to you. Pastor, how can I prevent going spiritually deaf? By responding to our heart’s slightest tug. When we get our hearts right with God and do His will, we learn to cultivate a life of responding to God. Is God still speaking to you through the Holy Spirit, through His Word? Just respond.

Today, how will you respond to the prodding of the Holy Spirit? If you are not sure of how or if He is prodding you, I want you to ask the Lord to help remove any callouses you may have in your life. And remember when a callous comes off the area is very tender and sensitive.



Dissecting the Heart

Merry Christmas and welcome to Advent 2019. Our word for this week is Hope. Sharing Hope, our Lord offers us an inspiring image of how hope is revealed throughout the Bible in our hearts. The Bible is filled with the imagery of various and sundry hearts. Some meditate on Psalm 19:14~May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock, and my Redeemer. (NIV), other hearts like Mary’s hide treasure, Luke 2:19~But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (NIV), some hearts Heal like Psalm 30~For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning …Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help. (NIV), Some are made new like in Jeremiah 31:27-34~I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (NIV) 

Paul even writes of the heart of compassion in Colossians 3:12-17~Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, (NIV) What kind of heart do you have? Arriving at the outdoor auditorium the crowd looks wonderful, we always look better when we are in community. Hearts are filled with longing, anticipation, awaiting the Messiah’s message, that they may go home and say, we had church. 

Today, our Captain addresses us from the bridge where in Matthew 13 He has surveyed the scene and is coming about to take us on a voyage along the shore of faith. Taking a seat at the helm, His anchor is weighed as His vessel is launched from the Galilean shore, where Christ Jesus records His first parable, beachside. Matthew 13:2-3~And great crowds gathered about him so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, (ESV) Now a parable is an illustrated spiritual lesson on morality. And the beachcombers that day learned about seeds sown into a life of faith. Christ Jesus says there’s a man who is sowing seed in four different areas of the garden where the soil can be vastly different. Some soil is along our way, some are craggy without depth, some is thorny and chokes, but still, other soil is marvelous, even to 100 fold. 

After He tells the story, Jesus’ disciples ask why? Matthew 13:10~Then the disciples came and said to him, Why do you speak to them in parables (παραβολή parabolē)? (ESV) Matthew 13:11~And he answered them, To you, it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been given. (ESV) Stemming from the rising tide of Jewish leaders in opposition, Jesus Christ is forced to teach about the kingdom of heaven using parables. The word parable (παραβολή parabolē) means to place beside. Christ Jesus is placing something unfamiliar, besides something familiar to illustrate His teaching on spiritual truths. Thus, His parables use familiar scenes and objects affording extrapolation of God’s wisdom and knowledge made plain and applicable to daily living.

Join us this week for an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. It has been labeled The Parable of the Sower. When in reality, it is really about four types of soil found in our lives. Therefore, it should be called The Parable of the Soils. In verses 18-23, Christ Jesus explains the sower is our faithful husbandman, the original vintner, God. (John 15) Now the seed He is sowing represents His Word into our lives. While the soils really represent four different types of hearts; one of which is just like yours and mine. This week, let’s take some time to reflect on the heart you have and what the Lord may want to cultivate in yours.



Obedience

Today I want to share how the life of faith has a price of admission. (Matthew 12:46-50) If you did not know there is a price to be admitted into Jesus’ family? When Jesus Christ covers our sins we are not saved to sit, rather we are required to do God’s will. While Christ Jesus is still speaking, his mother and brothers arrive and ask to speak to Him. (Matthew 12:46) By this time, His father Joseph has probably already passed away, but Jesus has at least four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters. The Bible makes this clear: when Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth, where He is rejected because the people know His family. They say Christ Jesus is the son of a carpenter, son of Mary. (Mark 6:3)

As his mother and half-brothers come to speak to Him, Jesus takes the opportunity of their visit to teach about discipleship. Therefore, He asks in Matthew 12:48-49~But he replied to the man who told him, Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers! (ESV) That is a tough statement and so to explain this He continues by saying in Matthew 12:50~For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. (ESV) Jesus is not disrespecting physical family relations. On the contrary, in chapter 15, He condemns the religious leaders for not obeying the fifth commandment about honoring your father and mother (Exodus 20:12). Also, Jesus’ last request from the cross was for John to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27). What Jesus is teaching us is that being a member of His physical family, will not get a person into heaven. Only those who are in Christ, doing the will of the Father. Spiritual family is far more important.

The best description of a disciple is summed up in the word Obedience. Calling Jesus Lord and not doing what He says is being a hypocrite. Listen to the rhetorical question Christ asks in Luke 6:46~Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (NIV) Adhering to morality alone is like calling Jesus Lord and not doing what He asks of us. See, Jesus must be Lord over all, or He is not Lord at all. That means we respond to Him. Perhaps there is a place or area in your life that you feel the Lord is asking you to respond to. Today, just respond.