Goodness

Finally, you say, Christ Jesus arrives at ME, or you depending on your vantage. Here at the fourth type of soil, we find a heart ripe for growth. Matthew 13:8~Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (ESV) Wow-what a return on our investment as Christ Jesus explains the good soil represents the one who hears the word, understands its application, and so the seed takes root. Matthew 13:23~As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. (ESV) A cultivated heart allows God’s Word to make deep roots. Cultivating a seed begins by readying the field for planting. 

Famers plant in a process. They begin before the season by removing all the rocks or stones, they weed and divest themselves of thorns. As they take time to turn the soil and break up areas that might inhibit the best growing season ahead. This kind of heart bears spiritual fruit in our lives. Listen to the process shared by Jesus in John 12:24~Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (ESV) Later, Paul lays out the clustering of ripe fruit in Galatians 5:22-23~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. (ESV)

Love is listed first because it is the most important. It verifies our discipleship (John 13:35) and acts as a fertilizer, it gives nutrients to all the growing fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is a wonderful word picture of the Lord Jesus. Who is the full embodiment of these nine growing qualities in our lives? Fruitfulness is the test of true discipleship. Matthew 7:20~Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (ESV) Jesus goes on to say this kind of soil produces a harvest. When we think about our everyday walking around lives, do we consider a spiritual harvest? Ask any gardener, and they will tell you beautiful plants don’t just happen? No, they take work. Knowing where to cut is as important as when to cut. Matthew 13:8~Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  (ESV) If we want a harvest that is ever increasing, even 100 times our investment, then we are going to have to become shrewd gardeners. This parable reveals why there are so many opinions about Jesus. Opinions ranging from a liar to a lunatic, to The Lord. However the Bible is clear, Jesus is a Prophet, Priest, and King. 

Today, you have heard the Word of God and the real question facing you is, How will you respond? Our response will be determined by the type of soil in your heart. 2 Corinthians 13:5~Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (ESV) Advent is here and you have been given Hope today in Jesus Christ. How will you respond?



Paparazzi

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: _______________________________________________________________________________