• Tony Birkhead

RED LETTERS Week-8

 

 

 

 

Consistency through the Obstacles Produces through the Finish!

 

INTRODUCTION

There were 3 Obstacles brought out today that keep us from Finishing well:

Hearing but not Listening

Lead by Emotions instead of Truth

Focusing on the Good and Missing the Best

Which one is your biggest struggle?

 

KEY SCRIPTURE

Luke 8:4-15

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,“‘though seeing, they may not see;though hearing, they may not understand.’11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Luke 8:4-8.

What is a parable? Why does Jesus use parables?

 

What did Jesus describe in this particular parable? Is this a parable about the sower, the seeds, or the soil? Why?

 

What were the predominant characteristics of each kind of soil?

 

From this point forward, Jesus used the parable approach to teaching much more. In an agricultural society, everyone would have understood what happened when a sower went out into a field to sow his seed. At least one path ran through most fields, and much of the terrain in Israel was rocky under a thin layer of topsoil. Dropping seeds along such paths was futile. Many fields had thorn bushes along the perimeters. Seeds falling there had no chance to grow and survive until harvest time. Others, however, did fall on fertile soil and produced a bumper crop (100 times what was sown).

 

Why do you think so many people heard the words of Jesus but then didn’t understand them?

 

What is the difference between hearing something and listening to something?

 

Do you see similar things happening in culture today? In what ways do you see people hearing the words of Jesus but not really listening to them?

 

Too many people suffer from selective hearing. They either hear only what they want to hear or they refuse to understand what they do hear. Far worse are those who hear and understand but do not act on what they hear. Anyone who has ears to hear should listen is a challenge to carefully consider the story and its hidden meaning and practical implications.

 

Read Luke 8:9-15.

Based on Jesus’ interpretation, what character traits would be representative of each kind of soil?

 

Which of the soils produce similar results? What do these results portray? Which soil is unique and how so?

 

In His parable, Jesus described four types of soil, with soil representing people who hear the gospel. The first three refer to people who are not saved but who have varying responses to the seed of the Word of God. Then Jesus contrasted those types of people with people whose hearts are good ground. The same good seed fell on all four types of soil, but only this last example refers to a person who has been born again.

 

What kind of “soil” best represents you now? Five years ago?

 

When we share our faith with others, we are the farmer spreading the seed. What help do you get from this parable about sharing your faith?

 

According to verse 15, what are the characteristics of a person who has been born again?

 

First, the person hears the Word of God with an honest and good heart. The second characteristic of people whose hearts are good soil is that they hold on to Christ’s teaching. Finally, Jesus said the seed in the good soil would bear fruit with endurance. True believers make a faith commitment that endures to the end. Their lives are spiritually productive and they consistently live in obedience to Jesus Christ and His Word.

 

MOVING FORWARD

  • What active ways can we till the soil of our hearts to make us ready to receive the word of God? Before worship? Before our group? Before our personal time with God?

  • Why is it not enough to just hear the word of God? What does putting it into practice reveal about our commitment to Him?

  • Is there something you have been hearing and not doing?

 

PRAY TOGETHER

As a closing prayer activity, spend time listening to the prayer requests of the people in your group. Encourage each group member to share. In addition to basic needs, ask your group members to voice specific prayer requests concerning areas of their lives where they are struggling to apply God’s Word.

 

COMMENTARY

Luke 8:4-15

8:1-3 As Jesus was traveling and preaching in Galilee, He was accompanied by the Twelve and several well-to-do women who, out of gratitude for being healed by Jesus, financially supported Him and the apostles. Mary Magdalene (i.e., of the town of Magdala), who became a well-known follower (Mt 27:61), is introduced here. Joanna, who is also mentioned in 24:10, was married to a man who held a responsible position under Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Nothing else is known about Susanna.

8:5-8 From this point forward, Jesus used the parable approach much more, the purpose of which is explained in verses 9-10. In an agricultural society, everyone would have understood what happened when a sower went out into a field to sow his seed. At least one path ran through most fields, and much of the terrain in Israel was rocky under a thin layer of topsoil. Dropping seeds along such paths was futile. Many fields had thorn bushes along the perimeters. Seeds falling there had no chance to grow and survive until harvest time. Others, however, did fall on fertile soil and produced a bumper crop (100 times what was sown).

8:9-10 His disciples, probably indicating the Twelve, inquired of Jesus what He meant. The introductory then suggests the disciples were motivated by the parable to know more about its meaning. Jesus complimented the disciples because they asked about His teaching. Others did not want to understand, did not put their faith in Jesus, and did not understand. Thus they fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9, which Jesus quoted. After calling for the crowd to listen responsibly to His parable, Jesus explained that some harden themselves to the gospel but those who are willing to trust Him can understand its truth.

8:11-12 In explaining the parable to the Twelve, Jesus focused on the one consistent aspect, the seed. While different types of soil are described, the sower did not discriminate as to where he sowed. He distributed the seed—the word of God—all along the way. Jesus described four types of soil. The first three refer to people who are not saved but who have varying responses to the seed of the Word of God. The hard soil of the path represented people whose hearts were hardened. In the agriculture of Jesus’ day, fields were crisscrossed with paths where people normally walked from one place to another, wearing the soil into a compacted state, making it resistant to the seed strewn by the hand of a sower. This soil rejects the seed. It represents those who allow the Devil to take the Word from their hearts. Jesus was not saying that the Devil had the power to take the gospel out of the hearts of those who had been saved. Instead, the phrase comes from the Greek word that means “from” or “away from” as opposed to “from within.”

8:13 Referring to the seed falling on rocky soil, Jesus depicted people who liked what they heard but who did not receive His message or teaching into their hearts. Many people hear the good news of Jesus and welcome the idea of being saved but do not receive Jesus by faith into their lives. When a time of testing comes, the proof of their lack of receiving Christ is shown by their departure.

8:14 The thorny soil represents people who are not committed to Christ, even though they have heard the Word of God. Instead of making a faith commitment to Jesus, they merely add their thoughts of Christ to the periphery of their lives. Other matters, such as worries, riches and pleasures of life are more central to their concerns. Consequently, such people do not produce mature fruit that would denote seed that actually had taken root in their lives.

8:15 Lastly, Jesus contrasted the first three types of people with those whose hearts are good ground. The same good seed fell on all four types of soil, but only this last example refers to a person who has been born again. Only those who genuinely commit themselves to Jesus Christ will be saved, and they will live consistently in obedience to Him and His Word.

 

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

 

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

 

DAY 1

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Have you ever spent seasons where getting into the Bible felt more like drudgery than delight? Where you felt guilty, because you knew you should be studying God’s word every day, but you simply never felt like doing it? If so, you’re not alone. Hundreds of our readers recently participated in a survey for us (thank you!). And about 16 percent said that their biggest struggle in their devotional life was a lack of desire to “read the Bible and pray.” This certainly isn’t something to feel guilty about. Instead, it’s a reality a lot of us face. But what if it could be different?

Imagine this…

You wake up early in the morning and your primary desire isn’t to go back to sleep… It’s to read, meditate, and devour God’s word. It’s to pray to him and seek him. That’s the picture the psalmist paints in today’s verse. Though there are more, I will share one key I’ve found in unlocking this desire for myself. It is simply having a plan for prayer and Bible reading. I know beforehand what I’m going to read, and what I’m going to pray about.

If you’re reading this, you already have a desire to know God through his Word and prayer. So, what you need to do isn’t try harder… It’s simply to help that desire blossom and grow. It’s to get the roadblocks out of the way.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

 

DAY 2

And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city.

Joshua 6:16

We have all heard the story of Joshua fighting the Battle of Jericho. If you grew up in the church, you might have even learned a song about it. It is a popular story that many are familiar with, but there is much to learn about the way God worked in this narrative. Joshua was leading the Israelites into the promised land and it came time to take their first city. They arrived at Jericho only to face an extremely well fortified city. It didn’t look good for the Israelites. God then told Joshua to march around the city for six days and blow horns, and in doing so, they would win Jericho (Joshua 6:1-6).

This sounds crazy, but it wasn’t, because God’s plan was to get the glory in the end. After the final shout and the taking of Jericho, there was only one person that could receive the glory, that was God. He does this in our lives as well. We might think we are up against an obstacle that cannot be moved, but we have a God who takes care of his people for his glory.

David Platt in his book Radical says about this scripture: “This is how God works. He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness.”

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

 

DAY 3

….on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

2 Corinthians 11:26-27

When you are working to build or maintain a ministry, whether it be international, local, or contained in the confines of your home, it is almost inevitable that a myriad of doubts and negative thoughts may overwhelm you. As you face obstacles, bumps in the road, and even roadblocks, you may find yourself wondering if this vision or dream of yours is really from God. You may even find yourself questioning God, wondering if He knows what He’s doing or if He made the right decision in choosing you to do what it is He called you to do.

After all, if you were meant to do this, wouldn’t it be easier? Wouldn’t more people support your efforts? As we look at the above scripture, we must remember that what Paul is speaking of occurred not only when he was working in his calling, but also when he was working within the will of God. He was doing what God charged him with doing, what He called him to do, and still he was met with opposition after opposition and trouble upon trouble.

What this scripture shows us is that doing the will of God does not exempt us from trials or obstacles. God does not promise us that the road to fulfilling our calling will be easy. What He does promise us is that He will be with us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) He also promises us that our reward will be worth the trouble we face. (Galatians 6:9)

If you find yourself feeling discouraged and wanting to give up on your ministry or life’s calling, remember Paul’s sufferings and his impact on our faith despite it all. His words are still inspiring us today! See the fruits of your labor instead of concentrating on the thorns. If your ministry brings one single soul to Christ, isn’t that worth the trouble?

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

 

DAY 4

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:5-9

Whenever our goals align with the Lord’s, we can count on His help in achieving them. This truth is vividly confirmed in the story of Joshua. Since God the Father gave him the huge responsibility of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, He also provided everything Joshua would need for success. He will do the same for us every time we believe Him and step up to fulfill the goals He has set for us.

His Promises: God assured Joshua that He would give him the land and no one would be able to stand against him. In the same way, the Lord will enable you to achieve whatever He’s called you to do, and neither man nor the devil will be able to thwart His purposes. You just need to stand firm in faith.

His Power: Be strong and courageous, because you will encounter obstacles that challenge your obedience. Such boldness isn’t something we muster within ourselves. It’s developed through reliance upon the Lord. Courage comes when our faith is stronger than our fear.

His Word: Joshua’s success depended upon his obedience to God’s Word. The same is true for us. If God’s truth isn’t shaping our thoughts, words, and actions, we will naturally go our own way and miss the path He has planned for us.

Everything you need to succeed in life is provided for you by God. But these provisions are available only when you choose to follow His plans. If you ignore the Lord and set your own goals without His direction, you may get what you want, but it won’t be true success.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

 

DAY 5

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.

Hebrews 10:36

Years ago I went on a bike ride with my wife and a group of friends. We rode about 20 miles away, and I was so full of energy that I passed everyone. Then we reached our destination, and I was exhausted. It was so bad that someone had to push me back with their bike.

Sometimes in the Christian life, we start off with a burst of energy, but then we start slowing down. Some even abandon the race altogether.

Hebrews 12 tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (verse 1 NKJV). Endurance is translated from the Greek word hypomonē, which means “perseverance,” “endurance,” “steadfastness,” or “staying power.” It’s a steady determination to keep going. Sometimes in the race of life we’re a little tired—or maybe really tired. And the hypomonē, the endurance, presses us on.

We need endurance. But where do we get it? James 1 gives us the answer: “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (verses 3–4 NLT).

The testing of your faith produces this strength. It’s like going to the gym. You tear your muscle down in order to build it up. Someone might add more weight to your bench press or whatever you’re lifting, and you may have to lower your reps a little. But then you find you can do it.

In the same way, God puts weights in our lives. We don’t want those weights, those problems. But God is toughening us up. He’s getting us ready for something that is yet to come. Trials are like God’s gym. He’s using them to make us stronger.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

 

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Luke 8:15

 

 

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