“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
· this is a parable told by Jesus – a parable is story to illustrate a truth…a story with a moral…
After he told the story later his disciples privately asked…well, what does it mean? What are you trying to tell us? What’s the moral to the story?
Mark 4:13 page _______________
So Jesus told them…
Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Mark 4:13-20
Nearly everything in the story means something and Jesus interprets it for them:
· the seed – God’s word which isn’t just the Bible…it is God’s truth or God’s desires for human beings
· the soils – different kinds of people…or the hearts of different kinds of people
· when God’s word or truth is planted in different kind of people the result varies
o some people have hard hearts…unwilling to hear truth from God’s perspective
§ it goes nowhere…never penetrates...never changes them
o some people receive the truth and at first it looks like it took but because their hearts…are too full of lots of other things that are important the impact of God’s word is limited.
o some people receive the truth and it grows…and for a while things look good…but it eventually gets choked out by worry and anxiety about other things…God’s influence dies off
o still others receive the truth…it goes deep…and the result is huge
§ they live hugely fruitful, productive and lives that totally please God!
By now I am hoping that you are wondering…hmmmm…which soil am I? That’s good because that’s the point! I’m sure Jesus disciples were wondering the same thing!
· And of course, the best case scenario is that you represent the 4th soil…the fruitful soil…the productive soil…here’s the operative question:
o So, let’s do a quick analysis…Does your life bear fruit?
o But…What is a fruitful life? There are 3 ways to assess fruitfulness from God’s point of view…
Fruitfulness in God’s eyes is not defined by your career success…the extent of your income…the stuff you accumulate…the size of your house…the size of your retirement…or even kudos and awards. Nope. Those things are nice but they are not fruit in God’s eyes.
Here are the 3 kinds of fruit that come from a 4th soil kind of life:
The fruit of a 4th soil kind of life:
· The people you influence. - Especially the people you influence toward Jesus (kids, family, friends, acquaintances)
· The impact you make. – the stuff that gets done to repair the 6 broken places of the world
o things you get accomplished for the Kingdom
o the ways you change the world
o the footprint you leave that makes the world a better place
o the pain you ease, the way you help end someone’s isolation, the hatred you confront, the injustice you help solve, the way you care for the planet…and as I’ve already stated…the people you lead to Jesus.
· The attitudes you display.
Now…that you understand real fruitfulness which soil are you?
Now, assuming that you would prefer to have your life resemble the 4th soil! So…how do we make that happen?
Here’s the secret of the story….It’s up to the farmer.
· The farmer doesn’t just scatter seed
· The farmer is the caretaker of the soil…the steward of the ground
o steward = one who manages something, one who takes responsibility for something
o The farmer tills up the ground, removes the rock and pulls the weeds.
· Who is the farmer? Jesus isn’t clear but let me suggest…
o It could be God
o It could be other people
o but…I want to suggest that the farmer or steward of the soil is mostly YOU!
You are the steward of your heart and soul. You have the power and responsibility to prepare your heart to receive the truth of God so that it bears fruit!
If you want to be fruitful you must farm the soil of your own life.
If you want to be fruitful you must steward your own soul.
Listen…Ahead of you lies a life of unparalleled fruitfulness and spiritual productivity…a 4th soil kind of life… but… if that’s what you want it will require intentional stewardship of your life.
We just finished a long 7 week series in which we emphasized the need for you to manage your own soul. For the next 3 weeks I want to zero in on one area of your life in particular attention to:
· Your finances…the way you handle money…
If you want to be fruitful you must become good stewards of your finances.
· You must learn how to manage your money God’s way
· You must receive divine truth about your financial dealings and put it to action
· You must determine to leverage God’s word about money for our ultimate good
· You must become a careful and responsible financial self-manager so that you can maximize your fruitfulness.
So…Let’s go back to our parable. When it comes to God and money there are 4 kinds of people.
This week we’ll look at the person with the rock hard heart. The next 2 weeks – rocky soil and the weedy soil.
When it comes to the way you see and manage your money, especially from God’s perspective some of you have hard hearts - you are like the hard packed soil.
· When it comes to financial matters you do not let the word of God penetrate at all.
· You are immune to God’s influence on your spending.
· You will not even consider, or have not considered, that God has something to say about your money.
o Ironically: The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses onfaith, yet more than 2,000 verses on money.
o 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions-more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.
Likely you didn’t know that…or shrug your shoulders at it or are resistant to the notion of it. Simply put – when it comes to God and money…you are an atheist.
· I know you would protest that…“no, no…I believe in God!”...but, c’mon, when it comes to the area of finance you have shut him out. Right? That makes you an atheist.
Your bottom line is…this is my hard earned money and God has nothing to do with it.
· Which is fine, I guess, but you will never be fruitful. If you want a 4th soil kind of life you can’t live with a 1st soil mentality!
So…what to do? My guess is that many of you never thought about it this way. Never saw yourself as atheist when it comes to your money and God and maybe you’d like to change that?
Here are 4 decisions you must make to open your life to God’s word on finances:
1. I believe God owns it all.
The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1
o God owns it all!
o God owns it all...every dime, every piece of clothing, every car, your 401k, your vacation, that dinner you ate last night, your tickets to the playoffs, EVERYTHING...including all of your next pay check. God owns it all.
o This is ground zero! This is the first step in becoming a good steward.
2. God and his kingdom are more important than my financial state.
Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. Philip. 3:8-9
o Money must be knocked down near the bottom of your desires list.
3. I want to learn how to be more content.
Much of the next two weeks will focus on this. This is another game changer.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philip. 4:12-13
§ dependence can never be in money…it can only be in God
4. I want to give God joy!
In another story about finances Jesus – a master asking 3 servants to steward his silver…two of them did well with it and it made the master very happy…
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
· when we practice good stewardship it makes God very happy and causes him to want to celebrate with us.
So…what will it be? Is it fruitfulness you want?
· What do you want the productivity of your life to be?
If you want a 4th spoil kind of life repeat after me: (all campuses)
I believe God owns it all.
God and his kingdom are more important than my financial state.
I want to learn how to be more content.
I want to give God joy!
Now you’re starting to sound like a good steward!