Friday, August 27, 2010

This Week's Project Ezra Reading - Mark 4

Greetings Project Ezra! This week we will be reading Mark Chapter 4, which includes the parable of the sower, along with several other shorter parables, and the story of Jesus asleep at sea while the storm raged around him. I will be focusing on those two passages in my own preaching, but reversing the order, bringing up the storm and Christ’s reaction to it first and then following with the details of the parable of the sower.

I think a very powerful message delivered in the story of the boat in the storm is that of God’s trustworthiness. The Disciples had been with Jesus, had seen his miraculous works, and likely were starting to grasp the fact that He was more than just a prophet of God. If they had considered the situation in light of those facts, they should not have experienced the fear that they did. Jesus had not only proven Himself to be powerful, but had shown Himself to be caring and trustworthy. But, like us, the Disciples let their doubts and fears get in the way. The bottom line is, the problem was not God’s ability or willingness to deal with the storm. The problem was the disciples’ doubt. In a similar way, people today know God exists, but either doubt his ability and willingness to deal with their issues, or more often are unwilling to accept his sovereignty and manner of dealing with their issues, preferring to go their own way instead.

In the parable of the sower, we see three examples of why people reject Christ. I believe these are very common responses to the gospel:

The seeds sown along the path - Satan uses people’s love of sin as a tool to keep them away from Christ.

The seeds sown in rocky soil - People appear to come to Christ, but with the wrong motives and shallow faith, and fall away when the trials and persecution the Bible promises come about. These are false converts.

The seeds sown among thorns - People may appear to or claim to be Christian or “spiritual”, but are distracted by money and pleasure so there is no fruit evident. These too are likely false converts.

I don’t think these ideas should be used merely to fit everyone who appears to be an unrepentant sinner neatly into their own category. I think many people could fit into two or even all three of these categories. But they provide an excellent opportunity to challenge people to examine themselves in the light of God’s word to see where they really stand, and why they are standing there.

So I would suggest framing your reading this way:

Read the passage.

Use the passage regarding the storm to expound on God’s faithfulness and power, and the fact that we should be dependant on him.

Challenge the hearers that in truth, they know that God exists, and if they are doubting His trustworthiness, there is likely a hidden motive.

The seed cast along the path – Are you letting sin keep you from God? You know that if you turn to God, you will need to change your attitude toward many earthly pleasures that you are enjoying now. But is there any sin you love so much you are willing to go to hell for it?

The seed on rocky soil – If you are a church-goer, why are you there? Are you there for the social aspects? Or for the boost to your self esteem? Are you looking just to solve personal problems, or maybe looking to grab your best life now? Make sure you are not there for some reason other than God. God doesn’t call people to the good life, he calls people to salvation by grace through faith, and to serve and glorify Him, and if you are there with the wrong motives, you’ll fall away when times get tough.

The seed among the thorns – Have you put up an idol to keep you from God? Success, money, power, or even religious service, can become idols. If they choke your desire for or distract you from God’s truth, you need to repent of your idolatry and put your trust wholly in Jesus Christ.

The word says if we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is our greatest need, and the greatest gift God can give to us. Look at yourself with a tender conscience and you will realize your on sinfulness. Then look to the cross, the greatest gift ever given, and repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

I pray that this will be helpful in your evangelistic efforts this weekend, and look forward to hearing your testimonies.

For the praise of His glory!


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