Pastor's illustrative presentation: Four chairs lined across the platform. For each segment of the sermon he sat in a different chair, each chair representing a heart condition.
The scripture lesson is found in Mark 4:3-9.
Jesus taught them saying, Hearken: Behold, the sower went forth to sow: and it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured it. And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang up, because it had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And others fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. And he said, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus began by saying, "Listen!" God expects this. He finished the story with the same admonition.
The disciples asked, "Why do you speak in parables?" Their understanding, our understanding relies on the condition of the heart. Hearing alone is not receiving. Reception of the Word relies on the condition of the heart.
Each one of you is likely seated in one of four chairs, each chair representing a condition of the heart.
1. In the first chair are those whose heart is like the stony ground on which the fallen seed is stolen away by Satan. The stony ground is a hardened heart characterized by critical attitudes. The enemy has stolen the joy from the heart. If this is your condition you need a miracle of God.
ONLY THE PREVENIENT GRACE OF GOD CAN BREAK THE STONY SOIL.
( Here Pastor offered a prayer for the hard of heart.)
2. This chair represents those whose heart received the Word with joy, but have no root. This is the Shallow Heart. When life gets messy, they wither. These are characterized by the wearing of masks, superficial, looking the part.
GOD DESIRES THAT WE BURN BRIGHT, NOT THAT WE BURN OUT.
(Prayer for those of the shallow heart.)
3. This condition is that of the Distracted Heart. So many other things go on in your life that you cannot maintain focus. "Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven." There is no room in the heart for distraction or busyness.
"If the devil can't make you bad, he will make you busy."
GOD REQUIRES NOTHING LESS THAN YOUR ALL.
(Prayer for the distracted heart.)
4. The heart condition of the occupant of this chair is one of striving to achieve, to hear, to accept, and to produce a crop. Hearing is not enough. We must accept, let the Word take root and produce.
Are you bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit, of righteousness?
Are you sharing your faith with someone?
IF YOU OBEY YOU WILL GROW.
We must want to be like those who occupy this heart position, like those who "get it." There is no age requirement, just a heart requirement.
JUST BE THE SOIL THAT ACCEPTS THE SEED. My prayer is that God will take my heart and form it into the soil that produces fruit.
Pastor Johnnie Blair