Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Mathew 1:17
Mathew 1: 18-25 Mathew 2: 1-23 Mathew 3: 1-17 Mathew 4: 1-11 Mathew 4: 12-25
Matthew 5:1-12 Part 1 Matthew 5:1-12 Part 2 Mathew 5:13-16 Mathew 5:17-26 Mathew 5:27-37 Mathew 5:38-48
Mathew 6:1-8, 16-18 Mathew 6: 7-15 Mathew 6:19-34 Mathew 6:25-34 Mathew 7:1-12 Mathew 7:15-23
Mathew 7: 24-29 Mathew 8: 1-17 Mathew 8: 18-34 Mathew 9: 1-13 Mathew 9:14-26 Mathew 9:27 - 10:31
Mathew 10:32-42 Mathew 11:1-31 Mathew 12:1-21 Mathew 12:22-50 Mathew 13:1-23 Mathew 13: 24-43
Mathew 13: 44-52 Mathew 13:54 -14:12 Mathew 14:13-21 Mathew 14:22-36 Mathew 15:1-20 Mathew 15:21-31
Mathew 15: 32-39 Mathew 16:13-23 Matthew 16:24-28 Matthew 17:1-13 Matthew 17:14-27 Matthew 18:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20 Matthew 18:21-35 Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:13-30 Matthew 20:1-16 Matthew 20:17-34
Matthew 21: 1-11 Matthew 21:12-17 Matthew 21:18-22 Matthew 21:23-46 Matthew 22:1-14 Matthew 22:15-46
Matthew 23:1-39 Matthew 24:1-31 Matthew 24:32-44 Matthew 25:1-46 Matthew 26:1-13 Matthew 26:14-54
Matthew 26: 54-75 Matthew 27:1-26 Matthew 27:27-66 Matthew 28:1-20    
           

 

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Matthew 13:1-23

 

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside.  And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.  And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:  and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:  But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.  Who has ears to hear, let him hear.  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables:  because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:  for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see:  and your ears, for they hear.  For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear and have not heard them.  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.  This is he which received seed by the way side.  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while:  for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.  But he that receiveth seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

 

The Beginning of the Kingdom Parables

 

“And in chapter 13, now he starts the kingdom parables, and he gives us seven of these kingdom parables.  And it’s very interesting if you look over in verse 35 in chapter 13, he says “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”  So he tells us, that as he begins now this parable of the sower, he begins to speak something to them that had been kept secret from the foundation of the world.  And of course, what he’s going to say is ‘Those who hear the Word of God, and let it come into their heart, are the ones who bring forth fruit, hundred, sixty, thirtyfold.  That’s what he’s just saying, those who hear, who do the will of my Father, they are the family of God, the kingdom of God.  [Going back to Matthew 12:46-50]  So he starts with these kingdom parables now.  And that’s about all we’re going to be able to do is start with them.  But let’s jump in.  “On the same day Jesus he went out of the house and he sat by the seaside, and great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship and sat, and the whole multitude stood on the shore.”  So the crowds are so tremendous that he gets into one of the boats, Peter’s boats, one of the boats, and he lets off a little bit from the shore.  Now, by the way, Bible scholars will go to great lengths to tell you, ‘Oh, the hills slope up there, and it’s a great amphitheater, and sound reflects off the water and all of this stuff.  No, no, he’s God, he doesn’t need the acoustic help of nature.  I’m sure that’s fine.  If you read the life of Whitfield, there were times when he preached when 60,000 people were listening to him, outside, no microphone.  Ben Franklin measured him down at Fourth and Market from almost a half mile away, he could hear Whitfield’s voice.  There were no hills, no sea reflecting the sound.  In fact, Whitfield, right before he died, he got up to preach, he was older, and they said he couldn’t be heard, he was weak, and he said, “Please, be patient while I ask for Divine assistance.”  And he stood in the pulpit and bowed his head for awhile and prayed.  And when he began to preach again, the whole multitude could hear him.  [By the way, Pastor Joe here is giving this sermon in Philadelphia, and knows Fourth and Market where my ancestor Ben Franklin was listening to Whitfield from, he knows the layout, exactly where it is, and how hard it would be for someone to hear someone half a mile away from Fourth and Market.  Franklin was scientifically interested, of course, in how this could be possible, as he was taking a measurement here.]  That’s the voice we’ve got going here, ok.  Everybody can hear.  It’s not like Jesus was going to come back to heaven and say, ‘Man, Father, I should have talked louder, because those guys way out on the outside’, no, they all heard.  OK?  He begins to speak.

 

Just what is a parable?

 

Verse 3 says, “He spake many things unto them in parables.”  Ah, the disciples are going to say, ‘Why are you speaking in parables?’  A parable does two things.  A parable discloses and conceals.  He’s not just trying to conceal truth, because if he was just trying to conceal truth, he could have just kept his mouth shut, and not said anything, and would have concealed it all.  He’s going to say, ‘To those who have ears to hear, they’re going to hear, to those who don’t, they will not.’  So, “para-balo.”  “Para” means “to come alongside.  The “parakletos”, the Holy Spirit, the One who comes alongside to help us, “para”.  “Balo” is to cast.  So he’s, you either look at it, he’s casting the truth alongside an earthly situation they understood, or he’s casting an earthly situation alongside of the truth.  The idea is, he’s going to talk in terms of the Word being “the seed”, he himself being “the sower”, the human heart being “the soil”.  And what he’s going to say is, ‘Those who want to hear what I’m saying are going to be able to understand this, because of the colors I’m painting it in.’  ‘Those who are hostile will walk away saying ‘What the heck is he talking about?  He’s going off the deep end now.’’  And he says that’s exactly at this point what he’s decided to do.  He’s decided to give forth the Word of God that will be easily received to those who want to hear, and it will be veiled to those whose hearts are hard. 

 

The Parable of the Sower---hard heart, shallow heart, crowded heart

 

“He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a sower [literally “the sower”] went forth to sow.  And when he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up.  Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth, and when the sun was up, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them.  But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred, some sixty, and some thirtyfold.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.  And the disciples came and said unto him, Why are you talking in parables?  And Jesus will say to them [in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4:13,] “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  The sower soweth the word…”  And there’s something here we call expositional constancy, and that is now, as we get into these parables, the seed is always the Word.  He says if you don’t understand this parable, you won’t understand the rest of the parables.  The fowls of the air are always workers of iniquity, the soil is a picture of the human heart.  There’s going to be constants as we go through this [constants that will apply to the other kingdom parables as well].  The first thing that he talks about is the soil by the wayside, this is the soil that had traffic, they were paths through the field where people constantly walked, and because of that, this is a picture of a heart that is hardened, a hardened heart.  And how many hearts are hardened by the traffic of this world?  That’s where they find their existence, in the busiest place, where everybody whose in step with the paths through this world, that soil gets packed down, and their heart is hardened.  So the seed then falls on that soil, but it doesn’t go in.  The next picture he says is the soil that’s on stony ground.  When you go to Israel, those of you who have been to Israel with us, you’ve seen this, there’s so many stony places, and there will be these kind of holes in the rock in different places, and the soil will actually lay in there, where the soil is actually over a strata of rock, the rock is right underneath.  So he says these are people, their heart is soft, but shallow.  And the Word goes in, but not down.  First it goes on, but not in.  He says, then the other soil, it goes in, but not down.  Then finally there are those who are crowded with thorns, the seed goes in, and down, but not up.  That’s a crowded heart.  So we have a hard heart, a shallow heart, and a crowded heart.  Now we can see this in terms of unbelievers.  But we can also take note of this for ourselves, particularly when we talk about the crowded heart.  The fowls come, they devour the seed up, hard heart.  Some falls by stony places, springs up, doesn’t have any depth, it dies, scorched by the sun.  Some falls among thorns, they spring up, the thorns choke it, it goes down into the soil, but not up.

 

Physical hearing verses spiritual hearing

 

Verses 8-9, “But other [seed] fell on good ground, and it brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.  Who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  That’s what your ears are for, now he’s the creator of the ear, the creator of the eye.  He says if your ears, to me, to you, if you have ears to hear.  Now it’s not just physical ears.  In the letters to the seven churches, the Holy Spirit says “he who hath an ear to hear.”  Well churches don’t have ears, he’s talking to individuals.  ‘If you have ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.’  Jesus says it here.  “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  The disciples came, they never read the chapter.  They said unto him, ‘Why are you speaking to them in parables?’  They’re puzzled.  “And he answered and said unto them, ‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.’” (verse 11)  Please don’t ever take that for granted.  It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom’.  If we get so caught up in life, we can be as Christians, we can become like those who have a crowded heart [i.e. the seed that was sown among thorns], and we’re caught up with all this stuff in life, we’re caught up with the pace of life.  I can be caught up with the pace of ministry.  In the meantime, this ball of earth is spinning through space, and it’s spinning through time, and we’re coming to the place where Israel is being gathered together as a nation, where Europe, the Roman Empire is revitalizing, coming back to life again.  We’ve come to the place where we have weapons for the first time in human history where we can destroy everybody on the planet.  We’ve come to the place the Prophets spoke of, that’s where we are.  And we take it for granted that our life is going to go on as it has gone on. It is not.  9/11, the Twin Towers were just a foretaste of what is coming.  They were a shot across our bow and a warning to us, that we’re headed into days such as the world has never seen, nor ever will again.  And in the middle of all that, it’s given unto you and I to know the mysteries of the kingdom, that Jesus loves us. You kids are sayin’ ‘I don’t wanna go to church tonight, I don’t wanna listen…’  Let me tell you something, there are things that are going to happen in this world, that when they begin to happen you’re gonna look at your mom and dad and say ‘Can we go to church today?’…look, it’s given unto us to know the mysteries of the kingdom, let’s not ever take it for granted, let’s not ever take it for granted.  “But to them, it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have, but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”  (verses 12b-13)  Ok, that’s one of the mysteries of the kingdom I wish I understood right there.  [There are a few within the body of Christ that may hold that understanding, that of why not everybody appears to be called within the span of their normal lifetimes.  Other Christian denominations don’t seem to have this understanding.  One thing for sure, God knows the answer to this mystery, and God is not only just, but he is fair, and he is merciful, rest assured of that.]  Look, what he’s saying, ‘To him that has---what?---ears to hear, an attitude of heart.  This parable is a picture of the response of the human heart to revealed truth.  And if you have an ear to hear, if that’s the attitude of your heart, ‘Lord, I want to hear the truth’, ‘to him that has an ear to hear, shall more be given’, ‘to him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away.’  Somebody whose hard hearted, they don’t want to hear, ‘Don’t give me that stuff, you’re hangin’ out where?  You’re one of those Bible thumpers, don’t give me all that stuff…’  Even what they have is taken away, they just become more and more blind then.  Verses 13-15a, “Therefore speak I to them in parables:  because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias [Isaiah], which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive.  For this people’s heart---see that’s the problem---is waxed gross,”  Now it’s not gross in the sense of something that would be gross today.  It’s thick-headedness, dense.  You might say about somebody, ‘Man, he’s really thick.’  That’s the idea, their heart has grown thick, their ears are dull of hearing, their eyes have been closed…

 

What’s the state of your heart---hard, shallow, or crowded?

 

Verses 15b-17, “and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see:  and your ears, for they hear.  For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear and have not heard them.”  Many righteous men, many prophets of old, have longed to hear the things that you and I hear, and didn’t hear them, and see the things that we see, and didn’t see them.  Peter tells us, that the Prophets prophecied of the coming of Christ, but they longed to look into the things they spoke, not understanding the grace that they were prophesying of, and how it was related to Christ and his coming.  They knew it had something to do with it, they couldn’t see the far and the near, they didn’t understand that holy men of old spoke these things that you and I take for granted, and spoke them and didn’t understand them.  And the question is, of course, for you and I as we head into this next week, what will we do with the Word?  Is our heart hard?  Shallow?  Crowded?  You know, if you grow up in a church, you guys that have grown up in this church, that from the time that you’re little, you hear the Word of God, you can take it for granted, you can take it for granted.  What are we going to do with it?  We can be Christians.  And sometimes our heart can reflect that soil that’s hard.  Sometimes it can reflect the soil that’s shallow.  I’m talking about being saved, being believers.  Often, our hearts can be crowded, it says with the cares and the riches of this life, with things that are not wrong, but are not expedient.  Because here’s the deal.  The human heart is not infinite.  It’s finite.  And you and I only have the capacity to be attracted to, desirous of, a certain number of things before our hearts are so crowded that it chokes out the Word of God.  God’s heart is infinite, ours are finite.  God can love everybody in this room, he knows everybody’s story sitting in this room, God looks at this room and sees a room full of individuals, he does not see a crowd.  He sees every single measurement of your life every day, every increment, every pain, every tear, every sorrow.  It says in the Bible that all of our tears are numbered, and he has the very hairs of our head, not just counted, but numbered.  He knows them all by number.  And his hearing can’t get crowded, that’s why there’s room for us, all the time.  But as he gives his Word to us, our hearts can be crowded, crowded with the cares of this life, with the deceitfulness of riches.  But how quickly they fall away.  It’s an American disease in some ways.  India, Cambodia, Iraq, Sudan, so many places around the world where there are Christians, who are killed for their faith, persecuted for their faith, or maybe even can believe, but just don’t have the food that they’re going to eat today.  Don’t know where their kids are going to get a meal.  They’re glad if they have one set of clothes.  And sometimes, you know, in those environments, we see great things happen by the Spirit of God, because their hearts are not crowded with things.  Now God lavishes his blessings upon us, he gives us, it says, good things to enjoy, that he daily loadeth us with benefits.  But his Word says that.  And if we’ll receive it, we’ll understand who it is whose blessing us.  I encourage you to read ahead.  You know, when God talks to you about your marriage from his Word, does the seed fall on a hard heart, a shallow heart, a crowded heart?  When God speaks to you from his Word about morality, and you’re watching pornography or doing something you shouldn’t do, does his Word fall on a hard heart, a shallow heart, a crowded heart?  When God speaks to you about forgiveness, and we can be bitter for a long time, we have that capacity, I know, I’m human, does his Word fall on a hard heart, a shallow heart, a crowded heart? 

 

The solution---is the seed itself, the Word of God

 

You see, the remarkable thing is, there’s life in the “seed” itself.  There’s power in the Word of God itself.  We sit here tonight and we open its pages, and we look at what it says, there’s power there to change life.  People think we have to do this, and we have to be friendly, and we have to create an environment that’s not offensive, and we have to have videos on the wall, and we have to have colored lights, and we have to have smoke machines, and we have to have this and that, and go to school and learn, and when I preach I have to ENUNCIATE, AND BE CLEAR WITH MY POINTS, and communicate this way, I have to be hip the way I talk about the Word of God.  No, no, no, no, it doesn’t matter whether you sow it this way, or sow it that way, the power’s not in the person with seed sowing certificates, the power’s in the seed, it’s in the Word of God, the Bible that we read.  Read your Bibles.  It’s God eternal Word, it will change your life, it will change your life if your heart is not hard, and is not shallow, and is not crowded.  We don’t need any gimmicks, we don’t need any tricks, we have the Holy Ghost, we have the Word of God, and it’s alive and powerful, and it will change our lives.  People come, ‘Oh, you went to Calvary, you talked to the pastors there?  They told you to read the Bible, didn’t they?  ‘Read your Bible.’  I knew they were going to tell you that.’  [chuckles]  Read Snapple caps, what do you want me to tell you, you know?  Read your Bible, it will change your life.   Read your Bible, it will change your life, because there’s a Divine connection to it.  [That is, if you have the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering your reading.]  God says this through David in the Psalms, “Teach me”, we can cry to him, there’s a vertical connection, ‘Oh Lord, the way of thy statutes, I shall keep them…Give me understanding, I shall keep thy law…Make me go in the path of thy commandments, where I delight…Incline my heart unto thy testimonies…Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.’  There’s a vertical connection to the Word, not just a horizontal one.  It says it’s like the rain and the snow that comes down from heaven and gives water to the ground, and seed to the sower, and it doesn’t return void, it accomplishes what God sends it forth to do.  Jeremiah says, ‘The person that’s got a vision, the person that’s got a dream, big deal, let them tell it.  But the person who has my Word, let him declare it faithfully, because what is the chaff to the wheat.  Is not my Word like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces?’  Read your Bibles.  Don’t say ‘I go to Calvary Chapel’.  I mean, I am glad you come to Calvary Chapel, it’s nice to see you all the time.  But you hold in your hand something that people have died for, for centuries, shed their blood for, been persecuted for.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation2-1-11.html and read through that whole section on Revelation chapters 2 through 3.  You’ll see what he’s talking about.]  The very Word that people are angry at today, the churches who want to turn away from it so they can be popular, and let in the crowds without offending them.  And they don’t believe in the virgin birth, they don’t believe in the inerrancy and the inspiration of Scripture.  They don’t believe that we’re all sinners and need to be saved by grace.  They don’t believe that Christ died for our sins and rose on the third day.  And they don’t believe that he’s coming again.  But my Bible says all of those things are true, and it’s changed my life.  And it will change yours.”  [applause]  [connective expository sermon given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]  [part 1 of 2]

 

Jesus gives the interpretation for the parable of the sower

 

Matthew 13:18-23, “‘Here ye therefore the parable of the sower.  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.  This is he which received seed by the way side.  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while:  for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  “It’s fun driving over, seeing the areas without power, the areas with power, the area with lakes where streets used to be.  We are looking at the parables of the kingdom, the kingdom parables.  We entered into it last week and heard Jesus talk about a sower, these parables.  He begins to speak in parables, because the religious leaders had hardened their hearts to the point where there was great hostility.  Yet there were those who would listen, even amongst them, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Saul of Tarsus was having seeds planted into his life also.  ‘And Jesus said, the purpose of these parables is so that those who have ears to hear, to them will more be given.  Those who don’t have ears to hear, even what they have will be taken away.’  Jesus said a parable reveals, and it excludes.  It draws in those who want the truth, and it makes it more plain [ie, the ‘plain truth’], but those whose hearts are hardened, it just makes it more obscure.  So he’s speaking now to them in parables.  Now, it’s hard to be dogmatic and nail down doctrines in parables, because a parable is Greek para balo, to cast a truth alongside of a natural phenomenon that we would understand.  Here, much of what he’s talking about is going on ‘in the field’ and in agriculture they’d understand.  So certainly some important things for us to learn.  He began by saying ‘A sower went out to sow seed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and they plucked it up, some fell in soil that had not much depth, because it was in stony places, it began to grow, but because it couldn’t put down any root it withered and died.  Some was sown on good ground, but as it sprung up the thorns grew up and they choked it, so it didn’t bear any fruit.  And others were sown on good ground, and it brought forth hundred, sixty, thirtyfold, it was productive.’  The disciples come to him and ask him about these things, and in verse 18 where we pick up this evening, he begins to address it. 

 

Biblical hearing is not physical hearing

 

He said “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.”  Now he uses this word ‘to hear’ nineteen times in this 13th chapter, ok.  I think it’s one of his emphasis, is to hear.  The Bible when it talks about hearing, never just talks about the physical auditory practice of hearing and discerning sound and voice.  It always is referring to the hearing of the heart, of something deeper, something in us.  Most of us this evening are coming back to these parables, being very familiar with them.  And yet the Holy Spirit would say to us, there are things for us to hear this evening, anew, as we look at these things.  So, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.”  In 1978, sitting in the North Park Theater, Mike McIntosh was pastoring there then [must be San Diego], I was with about 700 other people, listening to Mike McIntosh teach the parable of the sower, looking at the movie theater filled with young people, and this parable came alive to me, personally.  God really snuck up on me that night, and put it deep in my heart.  And I understood, just in some way, the power of the Word.  And I understood the power it contained in itself.  And I looked around and I saw the field around me, and I saw the fruit, and I knew then that’s what the Lord called me to do.  I’m not an evangelist, I’m not a prophet, I’m a sower, a pastor, a feeder, an equipper, and it became very alive to me.  And I sit here on Sunday sometimes and remember when there were twenty-five of us, and all we were doing was sowing the seed.  I listened to an old tape, when there were 500 people coming, and I realized, I’m listening to my old tape, it was ten years ago, and in ten years it went from 500 adults to 5,000 adults, now above that [about 30,000 now], but one journey through the Bible.  No show, obviously, [he laughs], in fact this keeps the Pharisees away, the great Pharisee screen, you know.  The fruit that the Word of God bears.  But what a privilege it is for us, in this world, in this political scenario that we live in, in this dark hopeless world, what a privilege to come every week, week after week, and study God’s precious eternal Word. 

 

The first group---the seed that fell by the wayside---those that are hardened

 

“Here ye therefore the parable of the sower.  When any one”---nobody gets off the hook tonight---“heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.  This is he who received the seed by the way side” (verses 18-19).  Now again, the wayside was the pathway on the side of the field, it was a place that was hardened by men trodding on it, it would be the path through the field.  Because it was constantly walked on, it was packed down, and it was hard, and the seed could fall on it, but it wouldn’t penetrate it.  And then the birds would come.  Because in the field it would be plowed under, so they couldn’t get the seed, but they would take the seed off that pathway.  And Jesus said that’s the first kind of heart, the first kind of hearers, they are those that are hardened, and the Word comes, and falls upon their heart, but it doesn’t penetrate.  [Comment: I remember, even though I didn’t receive much Bible training when I was a young boy, my mother did bring me to an Episcopal church, and the pastor there did teach very simply from the Bible.  My heart was soft at that time, so I came to respect God’s Word at an early age, and believe what I was able to read.  Then just before I entered active duty in the Navy, God again sowed a vital part of his Word into my mind, through a booklet someone gave me titled The Proof of the Bible, which proved the veracity of God’s Word through fulfilled Bible prophecy.  This armed my mind against all the carnal arguments I would hear onboard my submarine, about God being a figment of men’s imagination.  So in reality, the seed was planted in me at an early age, and then reinforced at a critical period in my life, just a few years before he would call me in earnest.  Ground is often the softest with our youth, before the world has a chance to harden their precious little hearts.  Take heed to that, you Christian and Messianic Jewish parents.]  And Satan, he says, is not indifferent about the Word, he understands the power of it.  And when someone hears the Word, you have relatives and friends that you’ve shared the truth with, you’ve shared the Word.  If they’re hardened, they don’t want to hear about it, it’s gone immediately.  Because they walk away from the conversation, and they mock it, or they make fun of it, and the enemy makes sure, because he is not indifferent at all towards the Word of God.  The first thing he attacked in the Garden of Eden is ‘Hath God said?’, the first thing he attacked was the Word of God.  He added to it, he took away from it, he caused Eve to doubt it, he maligned it, and the Giver of it.  He is not indifferent at all.  So, there are those, and they’re going to be in our lives, that are hard.  Does that mean God doesn’t love them?  Not at all.  You know, I look at some people sometimes, and I’ll just say, depending, to my wife or one of my assistants, I’ll just say to them you know, ‘They’re not broken, they’re not broken, they’re hard.’  And God is gracious to drag his plow over our hearts, he’s done it to me many times, and to break up the fallow ground, so that the seed can penetrate.  But sometimes we see someone, they’re just hard, and we need to pray for a blessed brokenness.  You know, it’s not a joy to see anybody broken, in the sense that the world understands brokenness.  Again, in the world, when something is broken it’s cast aside.  In the kingdom, when something’s broken, it’s worth more.  That’s when God can begin to work.  So, the first group, those that are hardened.  Jesus says ‘Hear this and understand it, this is the way it’s going to be [when you preach the Word].

 

The seed on stony ground---the shallow believer

 

“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon [anon, immediately] with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while:”---interesting idea---“for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”  The second person [or group of people], is the person whose shallow.  And it’s interesting, because first it’s Satan, then it’s shallowness, then it’s the world, it’s the world, the flesh, and the Devil in the background of these two, these three pictures here.  This second person is a person who hears, and with joy, ‘Ah man, that was really cool, oh yeah, I was at church Christmas Eve, oh yeah, I went to the concert, I went to the men’s retreat, I went to the women’s retreat, oh it was really great!’, they’re all excited to talk about it, and they receive it with joy.  And sometimes we say ‘Oh man, uncle Harry finally got saved’, and we’re excited, or a friend, and then some time after that, all of a sudden we notice, they’re using the same language again, the joy in their face is gone, they’ve gone back to work, or they’re going back to school, and they try to talk about it [their newfound beliefs], or somebody got wind of it, and they’re taking heat for it, persecution, tribulation it says, they’re coming under pressure because of the Word of God, ‘Well that’s what they told me’, ‘Well, you believe that!?’…and finally it says “They’re offended.”  Interesting word in the Greek, it’s the word skandalon which is the part of the trap that the bait was attached to.  And Satan understands it so well.  What happens is, they get offended because people take them to task over it [over their new beliefs].  People ask them to stand up for what they say they’re believing.  People challenge them in their beliefs, there’s pressure and persecution because of the Word of God.  And right in that, the bait is attached to the part of the skandalon that springs the trap, and they’re offended, and they fall away.  And there are going to be those who do that.  And then what you hope is, they come back.  We see them sometimes on Sunday.  We go to give them a Bible, ‘I have one of those.  I’m getting saved again.  You know, I was saved’, and I’m glad, I’m glad they’re getting saved again, if they leave again, I hope they get saved a third time, because one of those times it’s really going to take anchor, you know.  Because they thought they were saved the first time, and they thought they were saved the second time, but one of these times it’s going to be real, it’s not going to be just mental ascent.  It’s really going to be in the heart. 

 

The seed among the thorns

 

The third kind of hearer, he says, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (verse 22).  “The care of this world”, or literally, “the care of this Age, Aion, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word,” and interestingly here, “he becometh unfruitful.”  So this almost indicates this is someone, this is good soil.  Now here’s the problem with soil, soil is preoccupied.  The picture here of soil is a picture of the heart.  Because Jesus said that, ‘everybody receives the seed into his heart.’  Hearts, human hearts are preoccupied.  Again in agriculture, it took sixty pounds of seed to sow an acre of ground.  You go home and look in your Colliers Encyclopedia, or Britannica under seed and read what is says.  In the average acre of farmland, there’s a ton and a half of weed-seeds.  That’s not fair.  Three thousand pounds of weed-seeds in an average acre of ground.  It’s preoccupied.  This was a bad year for gardens, my tomatoes did terrible, it rained all summer, it was miserable.  My peppers were ok, tomatoes plants always survive no matter what you do to them, eggplants, no matter what you do.  Ah, I have a love-hate relationship with my garden.  I love to get out there and plant, I like to get out there when the season’s early, and I’m kind of enthusiastic, and weed, because its dirt and I can count the weeds.  But if you fall behind a week, now I’m looking at the weeds thinking ‘Do I really want tomatoes that bad?  I could do this again next year, you know.’  And it becomes this battle, and it’s just unfair because you don’t plant any of the weeds.  I wish that I could, if I left the ground alone it would grow tomatoes, sow two or three thousand pounds of tomato seeds in my garden.  The heart is preoccupied.  This is someone who receives the Word, Jesus says, but it’s among thorns. 

 

The cares of this age

 

“And the care of this age.”  Now look, he doesn’t say this is wrong, the cares of this age.  There are certain cares of this age.  [i.e. you need a job to eat, and support a family.  All the members of any Christian church need to have jobs to support their families.  I remember I had to switch careers, because I was a transmission re-builder, and I developed dermatitis, a severe skin allergy to the mineral spirits we cleaned the parts in.  So I had to go to electronics school, and then take several years of college night classes after that, all so I could viably support a growing family in this ‘modern age’ we find ourselves in.  The time I spent re-schooling took extra time out of an already busy life I had, making spiritual priorities all the more difficult.  But this schooling and effort into career was necessary in order to live.]  In the next age, when we have our new bodies, and we’re standing around God’s throne, we’re not going to care about much that we have to care about now.  I’m wondering as I hear this rain whether my kitchen roof is leaking again.  I don’t want to worry about that, but I have to.  Maybe if I wasn’t married, I wouldn’t worry about it, just keep a bucket there for the rest of my life, I don’t know [loud laughter].  My power goes out every time the wind blows, have to go to the backyard, start up the generator, then you’ve got to go get gas.  There’s cares of this life, they’re not wrong, we just, there’s stuff that we have to take care of, you know, to be a responsible father, or a responsible husband, or a responsible pastor, a responsible human being, there’s stuff that we have to be good stewards over and take care of, that’s part of our testimony.  So there are cares of this age.

 

The deceitfulness of riches

 

And then there is the deceitfulness of riches, he says.  That word “deceitfulness” has the idea of giving false security, of presenting something that’s not true.  Riches are not wrong.  But there’s a deceitfulness to them.  There are a lot of Christian millionaires, and I’m glad there are.  Because a lot of them understand the importance of the gift that God has given them to accumulate finances.  A lot of those Christian millionaires understand that money is a great tool to use against the Devil.  A lot of those Christian millionaires understand that money is a wonderful servant, but a cruel master.  But there are a lot of people, Christians, they receive the Word of God, but then it’s the deceitfulness of riches that sometimes choke them, they become unfruitful.  You know, people are in church every week, serving, part of the Body of Christ, part of the Body life, their prayer-life is alive, they’re sensing the Holy Spirit, they’re reading the Word of God, they’re part of the Koinonia of the Body---but then, something shifts in work, something happens, ‘I wish we had this, if we only had one of these, then we’d be happy’, or we need some money here to do…’  And there starts to be a shift.  It’s the cares of this life, it’s not wrong, responsibility, but Jesus says that those things can get to the point where they choke the Word of God.  It’s the word that’s used when Jesus said he was “thronged, caught in the throng”, there were so many people pushing on him he could hardly move.  That’s our word here, “choked.”  And what it says here, “the cares of this present age, and the deceitfulness of riches,” the false security they seemingly hold out to us, which is not real, sometimes we can get caught up in that as believers.  And it “throngs” this [he must be holding up his Bible] when it’s sown into our hearts, so that it becomes unfruitful.  And look, I think God is gracious then, if we take inventory, and say ‘Lord, my heart has cooled, things that were important to me are not so important to me now, Lord, I’m so caught up.  I knew you had called me to the mission field, or I knew you had called me to be faithful to this.  Lord I could do with less, I don’t need three of these, or I don’t need five of those.  I know that when the Trumpet blows and we stand before you, that I will be glad that I strengthened things that are going to remain, but Lord there may be some things I regret, that I gave myself to, that are just going to be wood, hay and stubble, they’re not going to amount to anything.  And Jesus is saying, ‘Hear then, with the heart, this parable of the sower.’ There are those, and probably most of us fall into this category, who received the seed, but it’s among thorns, there are things that come to put pressure on us, the care of this age, marimna, care.  It’s a Greek word that means “to be pulled in opposite directions”, that’s marimna, the cares of this age.  You ever say to yourself ‘I feel like I’m being pulled a thousand different directions’?  That’s what he’s talking about.  We can see in that word, life is just pulling on us.   [Ever seen one of those joke candle-holders, that holds a candle sideways, so you can burn it at both ends?]  The cares of this age, the deceitfulness of riches.  There’s no condemnation of riches here.  It’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil, not money.  Trusting in it in the wrong way, the deceitfulness of it, these things, he says, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.

 

He that received the seed on good ground

 

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  “Heareth” is “continues to hear”, you see the “eth” there if you have the King James, it helps us with the tense, and “understandeth”, “he continues to understand”, his heart is lent to it, which also “beareth”, continues to bear fruit, and continues to bring forth, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirty.’ [connective expository sermon on Matthew 13:18-23, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

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