Mark 4:1-20
Growing A Spiritual Garden

The most important thing a believer can do is to share his/her faith.  I believe
that Christ gave us this parable to teach us some important lessons.

    I. Lessons about human nature.
        A. Most will not receive the word.
        B. \\#Mark 4:4,15\\ Some never have time to understand the importance of
            the seed before it is taken.
            1. I see two reasons the seed is lost.
                a. Some peopleís hearts are too hard.
                    (1) We live in a world of hard-hearted hearts.
                    (2) There is an active movement in the world to day to under-
                         mind the Word of God.
                         (a) People attack the existence of God, the inspiration
                              of the Word of God, and even the thought that we
                              need a God.
                         (b) I call this "anti-faith."
                         (c) The movement is growing.
                    (3) In addition to this, some believe in false religions and
                         others are just wrapped up in sin.
                    (4) All of this hardness requires more time for the seed to
                         penetrate the heart.
                b. Satan steals the seed before it has run its course.
                    (1) While the world has set up all of these road blocks to
                         faith, Satan is brain-washing and robbing the hearts of
                         the truth itself.
                    (2) Of course, Satan is using all the false religions, the
                         pseudo-sciences, and sin of this world to steal the seed.
                    (3) But Satan is also directly involved in this world in ways
                         that I can only imagine.
            2. The only things that I know of that will break a hard-heart is
                love, consistency, and time.
                a. Donít get mad when sinners act like sinners.
                b. Donít give up when sinners act like sinners.
        C. \\#Mark 4:5-6, 16-17\\ Some hear and want it but have no character
            to obey the Word.
            1. Jesus described these as having no depth or root.
                a. Obviously, if there is not depth, the roots cannot grow.
                b. We know plants have roots, but what about humans.  What is
                    their root?
                    (1) The root is what runs deep and gives the plant stability.
                    (2) God has given mankind character to keep him stable.
            2. The picture here is of someone who receives the seed with great
                joy but does not have the character to stay with it.
                a. I have seen so many like this.
                b. They come to church for a few services, maybe a few months,
                    then something more exciting, more fun, more appealing comes
                    along, and off they go.
                c. Some are like boomerangs, every few years they come back again.
                    (1) Of course, we are always glad to see them back.
                    (2) The problem is that they have not done anything to fix
                         their problem so it wonít be long before they are gone
                         again.
            3. How does these fix their problem?
                a. They need to respond to what they have heard.
                    (1) Some need to get saved.
                    (2) Others need to start living the life that God has shown
                         them.
                b. They need to get some character.
                    (1) You are never to old to develop character.
                    (2) Character is doing right whether you want to or not.
                    (3) Just get started and keep at it.
        D. \\#Mark 4:7, 18-19\\ Some hear and want the Word but ultimately want
            the world more.
            1. This is similar to the point just mentioned.
            2. The difference is where the problem lies.
                a. In the last point, the problem was in the one hearing the word.
                    They were just too weak to stay with it.
                b. Here, the problem is in their surroundings.  The world is too
                    strong to resist.
            3. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the world itself is
                a powerful tempter.
                a. We do have a weak flesh and Satan is a strong enemy.
                b. However, if Satan were removed and our flesh made strong as
                    iron, we would still have to resist the pull of the world.
            4. There is only one cure for resisting the world.
                a. Stay out of its reach as much as possible.
                b. It may sound wrong, but the way to deal with the world is to
                    isolate and insolate yourself from its wickedness as much as
                    possible.
                    (1) This is actually recognized by some secular counselors.
                         (a) AA saying is once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
                         (b) You may have been sober 15 to 20 years, but if you
                              let down your guard, you wonít be for long.
                         (c) What are they saying?  Stay away from it.
                    (2) Most Christians, in time, will develop a resistance to
                         the world.
                    (3) However, it takes TIME out of the worldís reach.
                    (4) Even then, there will always be a places you do not need
                         to go, people you do not need to be with, and things you
                         do not need to do.
                    (5) A dropped guard will cause you to be pulled right back
                         into sinís domain.
        E. \\#Mark 4:20\\ A few hear, obey, and keep the Word and are saved.
            1. In the parable, our Lord gives us the ratio of 1 getting right for
                3 who do not.
            2. I would that 25% did respond well to the gospel.
                a. If for every four doors I knocked on,
                    if for every four souls I talked to,
                    if for every four tracts I passed outÖ
                b. I do believe I would leave the pulpit ministry and just pass
                    out tracts, knock on doors, and talk to lost people.
                c. The truth is that is a high ratio.
            3. But every once in awhile, you will find one that you are able to
                help.
                a. Maybe they will bring in a little fruit.
                b. Maybe they will bring in bring in a fair-sized harvest.
                c. Maybe they will bring in much fruit.
                d. But you got to be the instrument that brought them in.

   II. A lesson about the adversary
        A. Satan will fight hard to spoil our work of winning others.
            1. Satan will attack the sower to stop the work.
            2. Satan will attack the Seed to stop the work.
            3. Satan will attack the seeded field to stop the work.
        B. I have already mentioned that Satan plays mind games.
            1. Satan deals in lies and deception.
                a. He uses false religions to confuse you.
                b. He uses pseudo-science to side track you.  (evolution)
                c. He uses mind games, brain washing, and out-in-out lies to
                    derail you.
            2. He uses sin of the world.
                a. He will lure you with pleasurable sin.
                    (1) Satan does not mind giving you a few minutes of pleasure
                         to stop you from coming to Christ or serving Him.
                    (2) However, Satan always charges a high price for that
                         pleasure and he will never tell you the price up front.
                    (3) It is always a hidden price that comes on the tail end,
                         after you have gotten yourself mired down so badly that
                         you will feel like you canít get out.
                b. He will make you the victim of someone elseís pleasurable sin.
                    (1) If giving you the pleasure does not stop you, you may
                         make you someone elseís victim.
                    (2) Why?  To make you bitter at God.
            3. He uses personal weakness.
                a. He will excite your lusts.
                b. He will embolden your anger.
                c. He will stir your jealousy.
                d. He prey on your need to be loved, your need for companionship,
                    and your need for attention; but in the end, he will not give
                    you any of those things.
                e. He will give you bitterness, bad health, and low self-esteem.
                f. He will use you then exploit you through the very guilt that
                    he has caused you to feel.
            4. If all else fail, Satan will attack you himself.
                a. These attacks may be physical, mental, emotional, or all three.
                b. You may suddenly start experiencing symptoms which seem to have
                    no cause,
                    diseases that do not exist,
                    and ailments which have no cure.
                c. Your doctors will tell you its in your mind,
                    you will swear itís in your body,
                    but the truth is itís in your spirit.
        C. Let me repeat, Satan will not just attack the one who is lost.  He will
            also attack the one who is witnessing to the lost.
            1. Lost people need saved people to spread the Word.
            2. Satan does not care where the chain gets broken.
            3. Whether it is broken on the lost side or the saved side is not
                important to himóas long as the process is broken.
        D. Get this most important lesson.
            1. Whenever you let Satan defeat you with one of his ploys, you are
                signing yourself up to have the ploy used on you again and again.
            2. Satan uses what works.  Once it works, he is going to use it on
                you until you prove to him that it doesnít work anymore.
            3. That is one reason some people seem to repeat the same pathetic
                cycles of lifeÖ
                a. Satan keeps bringing the same kind of sorry man along.
                b. Satan keeps afflicting you with the same kind of illness.
                c. Satan keeps arranging the situations in life to bring out
                    your short temper or your bitter spirit.
                d. Satan keeps giving your children a runny nose, making you come
                    up a few dollars short, or whatever has worked in the past.
        E. If you want to defeat Satan, there is only one way.
            1. You are going to have to do right no matter how badly you want to
                quit and you are going to have to do it over and over again until
                Satan is convinced that ploy does not work on you anymore.
            2. At the same time, you are going to have to be wise and discerning
                enough to withstand whatever the new attack will be that he will
                turn to.
                a. Understand that Satan is not going to leave you alone.
                b. He has a bag full of evil tricks.
                c. When one doesnít work, he goes to the next.
            3. Ultimately, you are going to have to get close enough to God that
                He will shield you from Satanís attacks while you grow spiritually
                so that you can withstand them.
                a. God will fill you with His word.
                b. God will give you the Holy Spirit.
                c. God will place you into His victorious plan.

  III. A lesson about reproduction.
        A. We must sow the seed of Godís Word if we are to reproduce.
            1. Nothing that I know of re-produces without a seed.
                a. Crops, trees, animals, even human life needs a seed.
                b. I suspect that the reason God gave all live the urges that they
                    have is because as rebellious as we are, if we were not pre-
                    programmed to do so, we would refuse to reproduce.
            2. The most important seed a Christian can share is the seed of Godís
                Word.
                a. Godís Word will not get spread if we do not spread it.
                    (1) This is not the work of the Holy Spirit, or the angels,
                         and it will not "just happen."
                    (2) Human beings with legs and voices are going to have to
                         go out into the world and tell others about Jesus.
                b. As the new year draws closers, I am looking at my life and
                    the things that I need to change.
                    (1) I want to do more to get the Word of God out in 2011.
                    (2) I want to do more public evangelism and I want to do it
                         in places that others are not going.
        B. Knowing all that we know about human nature and Satanís opposition,
            we must still spread the seed.
            1. I have placed this point last on purpose.
                a. I did not want to make the point that we must go only to point
                    out the problems with going and have somebody say, "Well, if
                    its that hard, I just wonít try."
                b. The point is, even with it being that hard, you and I must
                    still go.
                c. There simply is no other way for souls to be saved.
            2. You and I are not responsible for what the people do, what Satan
                does, or even for what God does.
            3. We have but one task.
                a. Get the seed out.
                b. If we go, we are successful.
                c. If we do not, we have failed.
                d. It is as simple as that.

Let me close with an observation.  Why do you suppose Jesus chose the story of
planting to illustrate the importance of soul winning?  Could it be that it is
because everybody likes to eat and nobody gets to eat unless somebody goes and
plants a seed?  I know most of the people today believe that food comes from a
grocery store but it doesnít.  It comes from a field.  And nobody gets fed if
somebody doesnít plant the seed.  In olden days, everyone knew that and even the
laziest man planted a garden.  Why?  Not because he enjoyed it or because it was
fun, but because he wanted to eat.

I think it is likely that we will never see souls getting saved in this church
like we should until we all start wanting to eat of that spiritual loaf.  What
about you?  Can you get hungry for souls tonight?  Can you become thirsty for
the presence of God?

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