What Soil Type is Your Heart?

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 1/26/2020

Few housekeeping items... Next week is something we like to call “Vision Sunday.” I think of Jesus’ warning in Mark 3:25 that, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” If that’s true of a household, how much more true is that of our Church? Once a year we set aside a Sunday aside to talk about Lakeside—who we are, where we’ve been, where we’re headed. It’s also a time when members of Lakeside affirm our slate of leaders for the upcoming year. These are exciting and challenging times. Our greatest years as a congregation still ahead!

Second, I’ve been visiting our small groups. We have such incredible leaders. I’ve been amazed by the countless ways we are building one another up in love. There is such a sincere love, a spiritual fervor, profound encouragement, and ministry occurring. The “Wreck It” books are designed to get to get you in the Bible, to know Jesus, and experience transformation. The sermon is just a springboard for what you’ll study. 

1.The Word is Eternal. I’ve got to get right to it. The Bible is divided into two major sections—the Old Testament (39 books) and New Testament (27 books). The New Testament reveals everything that’s been concealed in the Old Testament for centuries. Take for example the OT Book of Isaiah. Isaiah was written about 740 years (7.5 centuries) before Jesus came. It foretells everything about Jesus’ life from start to finish. So as were studying the gospel Mark, it’s like Mark is following a prophetic script. 

Take Isaiah 40 as an example. God announces to Isaiah that Israel’s labor pains will end, that her sin will finally be pardoned, that a voice will begin “crying out” in the wilderness announcing God’s redemption. Isaiah 40:3-4, “A voice crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain.” Mark tells us this “voice in the wilderness” is John the Baptist! John would prepare the way! 

But Isaiah tells us something even more profound will occur! Isaiah 40:5 says, “And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Whoa! The glory of the Lord is going to appear on earth! All humanity is going to see and hear the Lord directly! 

In Isaiah 40:6, the voice (John the Baptists) asks God, what should I cry out? And God says, Isaiah 40:7-8, “[Tell them…] All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” Holy Smokes! You better get ready folks! The breath/Spirit of the Lord is about to blow on you! Your sense of pride is going wither like the grass. Your sense of goodness is going to fade like a flower. The Lord’s words are going to be the only words that ultimately matter! 

2.The Word is Effective. There is no greater statement about the utter sufficiency, beauty, and power of God’s words than Isaiah 55:6-11: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call to him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, so he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will freely forgive. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 9 “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, 11 so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Are you listening church? God says His word is coming. His word “will accomplish” his pleasure. His word will cause whatever God wills to “prosper.” His word won’t return void/empty. It won’t prove ineffective. 

3. The Word is Central. Isaiah is the backdrop of the Gospel Mark. Like anyone, Mark was taken by the remarkable signs Jesus was performing. But what Mark wants to really impress upon is that for Jesus proclaiming God’s Word is central. Jesus’ words are like rain and snow. Mark keeps interjecting these tiny statements… 

· Mark 1:38, Everyone is looking for Jesus… But Jesus say to disciples, ‘Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.” 

· Mark 2:2, “So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and he was speaking the word of God to them.” 

· Mark 2:13, “The whole crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them.” 

· Mark 3:9… Jesus had a boat readied. People were reaching out to touch him, and were about to crush Jesus, so he put out from shore (to teach them). 

· Mark 3:14, “Jesus appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority” (bandwidth!) 

By the time we get to Mark 4, the gloves are off. The centrality of God’s word becomes Mark’s total concern. Mark records some of the most memorable words Jesus ever taught. Mark 4:1-9: “Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.” 9 Then he said, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.” 

4. The Word Can be Rejected. What a profoundly chosen parable! You have all these people bearing down on Jesus. But not everyone one was coming to Jesus with the same motive. I think a lot of religious people assume that God is always changing. He’s as different/changing today, as yesterday, and forever. But that is not what the Bible teaches. God is the same today, as yesterday, and forever! What’s changing (the difference) isn’t in the seed but its all in the soil… it’s something with us, our hearts! 

In Mark 4:10 the disciples plead with Jesus. Tell us the meaning of this parable! Mark 4:11 Jesus answers them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables so that they may indeed look, and yet not perceive; they may indeed listen, and yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back and be forgiven.” 

In other words, Jesus tells them… people on the outside are having the same seed sown into their hearts as you. But the difference is they are seeing/looking, but not perceiving. They are listening, but not understanding. You can always tell a person’s heart… if they were really seeing/hearing they would repent! They would turn back to God and be forgiven. The Rain/Snow from heaven would cause the seed in their heart to germinate! But there is a soil problem. Their hearts are hardened! 

5. The Word can be Received. In Mark 4:13-20 Jesus elaborates, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables? 14 The sower sows the word” [This is Mark’s Jesus! The crowds bearing down on Jesus with their demands… Jesus sowing]. “15 Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. 16 And others are like seed sown on rocky ground. When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root; they are short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are like seed sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.” 

Yesterday I was at the coffee shop and I noticed two high school girls having a very animated conversation. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. But later on, I got up and walked by their table, and noticed they had their Bibles open. They were talking excitedly about Jesus, High School girls! Look at this photo. I told one of the girls, “That has to be one of the most read and highlighted and colorful Bibles I’ve ever seen!” She’d filled virtually every page of her Bible with post-it-notes, highlights. That was really good soil right there! [I gave up highlighting my Bible years ago—My heart is so stimulated by Scripture, if I wrote down everything the Lord was showing me, it would obscure the truly important words on page, plus as I grew I’d be highlighting different things!] 

6. The Word Must Be Shared! Think about the last spiritual conversation you had with someone… 

(1) Ever notice how quickly Satan snatches away God’s word and the conversation turns toward politics, the latest gossip, our sports team, the weather, trivial things, impure things worldly things, doubt, fear? 

(2) Ever notice how quickly our worries choke out God’s word? Worries about our loved ones, our life, our health takes over. Worries about money, wealth, the economy, our finances, taxes, bills. Ever notice how quickly conversation drifts toward envy—the Jones family—did you see that guys house, that guy’s cars, that guy’s toys, that guy’s wife, his family, his friends, his connections, his Facebook, his lifestyle… 

(3) Ever notice how spiritual conversation drifts toward superficial/shallow things? It’s amazing listening to people talk about their church. People are enamored by all the lighting, and sound, and glitz. They are enamored by personalities and church programming and building programs. When was the last time you heard people excited to see people repenting confessing sin, turning to God for forgiveness? 

In Mark 4:21-23 Jesus says to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be brought to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen.” Why are we burying conversation about Christ? Why isn’t Jesus at the forefront of our minds and conversation? If what’s been concealed has now been revealed (and it has), why aren’t we proclaiming it? If someone has ears to hear… and we all have two… get to it! 

6. The Word is Indispensible! Food for thought. What if the most spiritually defining aspect of our walk with God has to do with what we do (in our hearts) with God’s word? 

Mark 4:24-25 Jesus says to his disciples, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and more will be added to you. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” 

Think of how a chef measures out ingredients—some ingredients are used sparingly, some abundantly. The average believer now squeezing about one Sunday a month into their schedule to go to church. If you’re diet only consists of… if you’re only going to measure out an itty bitty pinch of God’s word maybe once/month… what do you think will come of your spiritual life? It will wither and fade away! Little word, little transformation, little fruit. Much word, much transformation, much fruit. We ought to be scooping up God’s word by the eyeful, earful, and mouthful. We ought to be gorging.

Scripture Verses

Mark 4:1-34, Isaiah 55:6-11, Isaiah 40

Worship Playlist

Your Love Awakens Me by Phil Wickham

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

Bigger than I Thought by Passion

What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

Study Questions

  1. Read Mark 4:10-12. In preaching and worship we obsessively focus on matters of presentation or style. From God's perspective, what is the actual spiritual reality behind a person's embrace or rejection of the gospel?  
  2. Read Mark 1:3-5, 15. The crowds were clearly amazed and wowed by Jesus. Why do we put so much attention on the emotional impact of ministry seems to have? What really matters to God?
  3. Read Mark 4:13-20 and Colossians 1:3-6. What is the connection between true gospel understanding and gospel fruitfulness? What does Paul pray for God's people in Colossians 1:9-13?  
  4. What dynamics stunt the growth and fruitfulness of God's people? What dynamics in this parable are most disruptive in your current season of life? Which soil type most reflects the condition of your heart at this time?
  5. Read Mark 4:21-25. How do we come about true spiritual understanding? Why do we put so little attention on matters of the heart like repentance, baptism, faith, and obedience? What step of faith do you need to take next?  
  6. Read Mark 4:26-29. What is the nature of personal spiritual growth? What are some of the small ways you are growing in faith? What are some ways you see other people in your group growing?   
  7. Read Mark 4:30-32. What is the nature of growth in God's Kingdom? What are some of the significant ways God's Kingdom is growing though Lakeside's ministry? How do you see God's Kingdom growing in Springfield?  

Apply It!

Resources

At the Lakeside Bookshelf:

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of The Son of God by Timothy Keller