September 3, 2017
The Word of God is illustrated by many things, including a light, a sword, or a hammer. In this message, though, Pastor Ed Young unpacks us one of the most powerful and potent of all illustrations. He shows us Jesus’ teaching about how the Word of God is seed. And while everyone who hears the Word may hear the same words being spoken, not everyone responds the same way. It all comes down to the kind of soil our heart is.
You know what’s interesting? Most people go through life, without ever knowing the answer to their problem and so often we don’t really know what the problem is, yet we search for meaning and purpose, we search for an agenda yet so often we’re clueless about that. Well, the issue of life is our hearts.
We’ve been talking about having an open heart. We’ve been talking about the heart and we’ve been discussing the fact that the heart is the essence of who we are. The heart, is our intellect, it’s our spirituality, it’s our uniqueness. Everybody has a heart. We have a heart physically, and there’s some definite parallels. Our heart pumps about a gallon and a half of blood throughout our bodies, every minute. If we’re spinning or if we’re running a marathon or, let’s say, we’re cross fitting, it can be over eight gallons per minute that’s being pumped throughout our bodies. Of course, if our hearts aren’t beating, we’re dead, so our hearts mean a lot to us physically. But, in a deeper sense, our heart of hearts is what I want to talk to you about today. You know, I don’t want to make, and I try not to make too many broad-brush statements. Too many general statements.
But in this session, this last session of Open Heart, I feel the freedom to make a statement because Jesus made this statement. And it’s a statement about the heart. Here goes. Everybody hearing my voice right now, whether you’re here or at one of our many different locations, everybody fits in one of four categories. Everybody. I’m just, again quoting Jesus. A, B, C, or D. A, B, C, or D. Everybody, after this message, will go, “Man, I’m A, no I’m C, I’m B, I’m D.” There’s no E, there’s no none of the above. Everybody fits in one of these four categories.
So, I want you to do something for me. I want you to close your eyes, just for a second and use your imagination. Close your eyes. Jesus has just gotten up, he’s walked down to the Sea of Galilee and he begins to do something the disciples have never seen him do before. He begins to teach in parables. Listen to his words as your eyes are closed.
Matthew 13:3-9. “ Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.””
You can look at me now. That’s the first-time Jesus ever used a parable, a story. What is a parable? A parable means alongside. Jesus told a story that everyone could connect with alongside a spiritual truth. There’s 27 parables in the Bible. Jesus taught using parables all the time. And the Bible talks about this. A parable is a mirror. In other words, when his audience, thousands who were crammed along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, when his audience heard this, it was a reflection, a mirror of who they were. Also, a parable, is a window where the listeners can see the grace and the movement of God.
Whenever you see a parable in Scripture, in the New Testament, when Jesus uses a parable, there’s only one meaning. There’s not two, there’s not three, there’s not four, unless Jesus specified. So, there’s one meaning. This parable is one of the most frightening parables in the Bible. You’re not going to see this parable, or the key verses in the parable, on coffee mugs, or on T-shirts. You’re not going to hear very many songs written about it because it’s up in our face, up in our grill. Jesus was showing his disciples the reaction to the Gospel. The death, burial and resurrection. Jesus was showing his listeners, and he’s showing us, that the majority of people, don’t respond favorably to the word.
As you read this text, it’s in Matthew, it’s in Mark, it’s in Luke, this story. As you read this, you think about soils. You think about your heart. You think about your responses and other people’s responses to the Bible. The sower, here, is Jesus. The sower would be the disciples, the apostles, the sower, would be you and me, if you’re a genuine follower of Christ. A sower is someone who scatters seed. So, the sower, in this context is Jesus and you and me. The seed would be the word of God. The Bible. That sacred scalpel, that blessed blade. The thrust of this parable, though, is about the heart. It’s about the soils of our soul. How is your heart? A, B, C, or D. I’m going to fly through these as Jesus did. Let’s talk about our heart. Let’s talk about the responses.
The first heart, that Jesus talked about, is a heart that I call the concrete heart. You know people like that. They’re hard hearted. You know what I’m saying to you? It’s like the seed is sown, it’s scattered, yet, bing, bing. It bounces off the concrete heart and Jesus said birds fly in and snatch it away. You can write here, if you’re taking notes, spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare. You know people and so do I. They are hard hearted. Now and then, God will give you an opportunity to sow seed, yet, bing, bing. It just bounces off of their heart. Why? We’ll go back to the sower.
As Jesus is talking to this crowd, and as you look at the tenor and the tone of the original language, he’s imploring the crowd to look. Cause he’s like, “Hey, check out, “check out that sower right there.” And they saw a man, a farmer. Very strategically sowing seed. Now, back in the Holy Land, during this day, the plots of land were not fenced off, they weren’t protected. There were paths that separated the land, the crops, and these paths were as hard as concrete. A wise farmer knew how to measure his steps and he knew how to scatter seed. And this farmer had on some kind of a murse, or some sort of a backpack or whatever, and he began to scatter the seed. You know as well as I do, if you’ve ever tried to scatter seed or carry fertilizer somewhere, or whatever. Invariably some will spill out. These birds are the enemies of farmers. That’s why you have scarecrows in fields and things like that. So these birds were waiting to snatch the seed and fly away.
ILLUS: Lisa and I love to go out to eat. We especially love Mexican food. There’s no Mexican food like Texas, right? I mean, I mean, I just love the food. I love Mexican food. There’s a restaurant where we frequent and you can eat outside, kind of a casual place. I like it. Lisa and I try to eat outside as much as possible. I don’t know, we just enjoy that. And there’s some birds that hang out there. They’re giant black birds. I don’t know what they are, but they are massive birds. You know, with goatees and everything. These things are so smart, so brilliant. It’s like they know when the check is delivered to the table, they can tell if the person’s paying cash or credit card. They know. Because their timing is just impeccable. So before the bus boy gets there, right after the patron’s leave, I’ve seen them just dive bomb tables. They love the tortilla chips. Anybody here like chips and hot sauce? Oh, man! I could live on that stuff. These birds are so smart. I’ve seen them take chips, dip it in guacamole, and eat it. I saw one the other day, seriously, there’s a little fountain in this area. Take a chip to the fountain, and he like dunked it 30 times. He like, baptized it. And I saw him do this Any chip that drops to the ground, to the concrete. Any table that leaves anything, especially the chips, those birds will tear it up.
That is the picture here, the sinister picture, of the bird, of someone coming in, and snatching it away. And here, it’s the enemy himself. A hard heart. Why does someone have a hard heart? For example, they could be hard against sin. Against Jesus, against Scripture. Why? You know those people, so do I. You know what I’m talking about. Why, why, why?
Well go back to the picture of the farmer. The farmer is walking down a sidewalk, but it’s made of dirt. It’s as hard as concrete. Unprotected, no barriers, and because the farmer walks on the path so much, and because travelers walk on the path so much, it becomes as hard as a rock. So often people with concrete hearts have no boundaries, no fences, and they let the wrong people and the wrong things walk in their heart of hearts. It could be media choices, websites, movies, that feed lust for a long, long time. It could be relationships that tear you down and pull you down. It could be unforgiveness.
People have a concrete heart for many reasons. And Jesus just simply said, “That’s the deal.” And he explained it too. In Matthew 13:19, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”
Wow. You might be here, and you have a concrete heart. You might be saying, “Is there hope for me?” Well, God knows. I will tell you this, though. You remember Pharaoh, back when the children of Israel, escaped Egyptian bondage. The Bible says that Pharaoh hardened his heart. He hardened his heart, he hardened his heart, he hardened his heart, and then, this is really scary, God hardened his heart.
Only God knows if you have another opportunity, those here with a concrete heart. Only God knows if you have another chance to give your life to Jesus. I believe you do because you’re here. But only God knows.
You know, there’s something, I was talking to a friend of mine that’s done a lot of farming. There’s something called a bottom plow. You hook this plow to a tractor and it whomp bomp bomp bomp. Goes really slow. And it can plow up the most difficult, the hardest dirt and soil imaginable. It takes a long time, it’s a process, but it can soften it. And I believe, even if you have a concrete heart, and you’re here. God can soften your life and it can be receptive to the seed. God is the sower. And those of us who are believers, our job is simply to scatter seed.
But there’s another heart I want you to notice. The cosmetic heart. The cosmetic heart. You know, this area, and also in Florida, we’re known as an area that loves cosmetics and cosmetic surgery. Isn’t it true? Cosmetics. Cosmetics cover the wrinkles, it covers like age spots, or blemishes, or whatever. Then, some people go under the knife, and have cosmetic surgery. You’ve seen them before. You’ve seen people. And maybe their face looks like they’re 40 but in reality, they’re 102. And good for them. They’ve had cosmetic surgery. But, underneath the cosmetic, you’ve got someone who’s really, really old.
This is an illustration of what Jesus was driving at. Some people emotionally go, “Oh, I want to become a Christian. “Oh, I want to receive the word of God. “Oh, I want the joy. “Oh, I want happiness.”
Matthew 13:5-6. “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.”
I’ve been to the Holy Land a lot. In fact, we’re putting together another trip to the Holy Land over the next year. So, mark your calendars. I would love for you to go with us. And I enjoy the Holy Land, and we’re doing another trip. So anyway, we’re in the Holy Land, and I remember looking at so much of the soil and thinking to myself how fertile it looks. But one of the guides told me beneath the surface is a massive amount of rock. So, it looks good on the outside. Man, what a facelift. But underneath, it’s not looking so pretty.
So, this is the person that receives the seed, boom. The seed germinates. The roots descend, boom. They hit rock, and then the plant begins to grow, and the farmer’s like, “This is going to be a world record crop.” No, it’s not. No roots. And then Jesus said, when the sun comes out, when someone’s persecuted, when you got some problems, the plant is scorched. “But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”
Matthew 13:20-21. “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” “Oh, I got you Ed, yeah, man, I’m a fan of fellowship.”
I’ve seen scores and scores of people who fit in this soil. A, concrete heart. B, cosmetic heart. I’ve seen a lot of cosmetic Christians. Everything is cool, when God’s doing what you want him to do. But then, maybe you’re ostracized by the in-crowd. Then, maybe you hit a difficulty. Then, maybe a sickness. Then, maybe a rogue wave strikes. And if you have a true experience, if you’re truly a believer, it makes you stronger. But, if you’re a cosmetic Christian. No, you just fade away. Emotional warfare.
This is the person who’s into emotions, man. Emotions are the shallowest part of our existence; did you know that? Let me say that again. Emotions are the shallowest part of who we are. So, we can’t make the deepest decision based on the shallowest part of who we are. And so often, we’re never going to feel it. We don’t feel our way into a commitment. We commit, and then the feelings follow. That’s so, so important to understand that.
I don’t always feel like reading the Bible, I don’t always feel like praying. Not always. I don’t always feel like running, feel like working out, feel like eating clean. I don’t always feel it. And do you realize, our culture, we’re so feelings based. What’s the mantra? Go with your heart. Follow your heart.
I love the devotional that we had today. Did you check out our devotional online? Have you done that today? If not, go home and do it. I did it earlier this morning. The devotional talked about being under new management. Have you ever driven by a restaurant, and you’ve seen this sign under new management? That always scares me. When I see that, I will never eat there again. In other words, we totally screwed everything up, now we’re trying harder. I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to go there. Under new management.
But that’s so true, when we become a genuine follower of Christ, we are under new management. We have this heart transplant. We trade our diseased and depraved heart in for Christ’s dynamic and righteous heart. We’re under new management. He shows us, and models for us, what to do, and how to be.
I have got to ask you. Are you a cosmetic Christian? Is everything just based on emotion or have you made that commitment?
There’s another. There’s another type of heart. It’s C, the crowded heart. And that’s where we get material warfare. So we got spiritual warfare, we’ve got emotional warfare. That’s where the enemy messes with your emotions and mine. How you don’t feel in love anymore. Why don’t you jump into her arms? You don’t feel like going to church. Why don’t you do this or that? I know you don’t feel like praying, you don’t feel like scattering seed. You see what I’m saying to you? Feelings are funky and they’re freaky.
Well then, there’s the crowded heart. That’s materialism. And that’s something that we all deal with, we all face. And I’m going to tell you. If you have a concrete heart, God can change your life. If you have a cosmetic heart, God can change your life. He can plow up the rocks and make the soil fertile for the seed. But I’m here to tell you, if you have a concrete heart Jesus said you’re not a believer. If you have a cosmetic heart, you’re not a believer yet. And some, have a crowded heart. Materialism has choked the life out of you. Materialism. And rich people are not the only materialistic people. Some of those materialistic people I know are from the middle class. And the rich have one advantage over the poor. At least they know that money doesn’t satisfy, they’ve figured that out. The poor, they haven’t figured it out yet.
And it’s great to have things. The Bible is not anti-ownership or anti wealth. However, it’s the whole possessions thing. Do you possess possessions or do possessions possess you? Yet, Jesus said, in the crowded heart, Matthew 13:7, this is someone else who’s not saved. “ Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.”
So see the farmer, he’s sowing, he’s scattering seed liberally. He’s thinking about putting it in the best soil, but some falls along concrete, some, you know, oh it looks pretty good, but it’s cosmetic. Now, some falls in weed beds.
I’ve never planted weeds, have you? “Hey, I want to plant a weed bed right over there.” No, we don’t do that, do we? But weeds grow naturally that grow naturally in my heart. My heart I’m naturally envious, I’m naturally materialistic, I’m naturally prideful. It’s just weeds, I’m just that way, and so are you. Yet, the seed has to be planted supernaturally.
So, the crowded heart, let’s talk about that for a second. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and chhkkk mwwww, choked the plants. Matthew 13:22, Jesus explains it. “ The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
How do you know if someone is saved? How do you know if someone’s a believer? Jesus said I will know my followers by the fruits they produce. So really, I’m the only person that I know who’s saved. I don’t even know if Lisa’s saved. Cause I’m not God. I believe she is, because of the fruit, but I’m not sure you’re saved. Cause I’m not you.
Yet most people, it says here, the majority of people who think they’re saved, aren’t. A, B, or C? The crowded heart.
ILLUS: We had growing up a massive flower bed in our yard. And this thing, you know, we planted flowers, and we thought it was going to look so great. But nut grass took it over. Have you ever heard of nut grass? It’s a demonic weed, man. This stuff is nasty. Well, nut grass took over this flower bed, and we tried to kill the nut grass with different chemicals, and then we put tarp over nut grass. Nothing would take the nut grass out. So, we would have these giant weed pulling parties. Dad would start the weed pulling parties and he would leave to go to work and he would leave my brother and I and a few gullible friends pulling weeds. So we would pull weed after weed after weed after weed and I’ll just be frank with you. Many times I did not get the nut grass by the roots. I would just pull the top off. And here’s what I discovered? When you pull the top off, the weed gets stronger and meaner. Nut grass is wicked. So, weeds just happen in our lives.
Well Jesus is driving at the person who says, “Oh yeah, I’m going to receive the word, yeah.” But their heart is so crowded because we only have a certain capacity, right? Chokes out the life. They never really were believers. They never really were saved. They never really made a faith decision.
I told you, this is a scary, this is a scary verse. I mean, and, the other verses are also frightening, are they not? So, in the first one, the seed couldn’t get in. In the second one, the seed couldn’t get down. In the third one, the seed couldn’t get out. So, Jesus was like, showing his disciples, “You guys are going to get rejected, man.” The majority will not respond.
And I’ve often wondered. If Jesus is the son of God, which I know he is, if he died on the cross for our sins and rose again, which I know he did. Why doesn’t everyone who hears the Gospel, why don’t they give their lives to Christ? It’s a heart issue. I mean, if the Bible is the word of God, written by all these authors, inspired by the holy spirit, infallible, our authority. Seems like everyone would read it and when they read it, their lives would be changed. But it doesn’t work that way. A heart issue.
Everyone has a heart issue and the issue is your heart. A, B, or C? A, B, or C? If you’re a concrete person, God can soften the soil. If you’re a cosmetic person, God can take care of those rocks and give you fertile soil. If you have a crowded heart, God can pull those weeds. With your faith and repentance and obedience, God can do it.
But then there’s the cultivated heart. That’s the heart that God can give us. He really can. And he says, in Matthew 13:8, “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. ”
Matthew 13:23, “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
And he talks about just a bumper crop. Amazing. It’s amazing what God can do in our lives, if we say, “God, I’m ready to receive the seed of your word.” I’m ready to receive in my heart a new heart. But I’ll say it again, most people who think they are Christians, aren’t. Jesus said, many will say to me, on that last day, “Lord I did this, Lord I did that,” He’ll say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” He said, “My sheep hear my voice “and I will know my followers by the fruits they produce.”
I’m talking about Galatians 5:22-23. Fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace. I’m talking about the fruit of the spirit. Your heart will beat fast for the bride, the local church. You’ll want to, not always, but most of the time, you’ll have a desire for the word, a desire for prayer, a desire to share, a desire to bring your resources to finance the only thing Jesus ever built. You’ll have a desire for service. Those are just basic signs of fruit.
And I’m here to tell you, if you don’t have those, biblically speaking, theologically speaking, I would put a big honking question mark after salvation. Because if you know Christ, there’s going to be change. But again, I’m not God. I can’t judge you. I’m just giving you the words of Jesus.
ILLUS: I know it’s hard to believe, but, I’m a grandfather. I became a grandfather several days ago. I love it. You might be thinking, “There’s no way. “Ed, as young and dynamic as you are, “you’re only what, 32?” Well, yes. I’m a grandfather. And I’ve been, you know, talking to some people about being a grandfather. And you know, my daughter, when she had our granddaughter, she had something called a doula. Have you heard of a doula before? Lift your hand if you’ve heard of a doula, a doula, a doula. Doulas are basically people that help you with childbirth and they help, you know, this whole thing, with childbirth and the baby’s born and all that. And these people are experts.
Today, I kind of consider myself a spiritual doula, you know? I want to help you get reborn. And I can tell you how to get reborn. It’s simply by giving your heart to Christ. Because he gave his heart on the cross for your sins and mine and we have an opportunity to make that heart transplant.
But as I was reading about children, and this freaked me out. An infant, if you take an infant, and you have a mom and dad in the room, close to the infant, this is scientific. The infant’s heart will synchronize with the parents. How crazy is that? God wants your heart, to synchronize with his. God wants to give you a new heart. You’ve got a concrete heart, A? You’ve got a cosmetic heart, B? You’ve got a crowded heart, C? Go to D. Have that soil receptive to God’s word. To his heart. And you, my friend, will produce supernatural, one of a kind, fruit. Bow your heads with me, here and at all of our campuses.
[Ed leads in closing prayer and invitation to come forward]