Two weeks ago when I was with you we talked about "Our Mission: Saving Souls" and the image of the church as a life saving station. We talked about knowing who we are: sinners saved by God’s grace. Knowing what we are called to do: share the message of God’s saving grace with others. Training for our call: sharing our story with each other (and I invited you to share your story with someone, a family member or friend who is already a Christian, for practice.) Taking action! Sharing with others who need to hear.
Someone came to me after the service, their heart heavy for an unsaved loved one, a family member. One whom they have invited to church many times but the individual has not responded.
Today I’d like to share this passage as a guide for prayer, for ourselves and for others, for those who are saved and those who are not yet saved.
Let us begin by making the scripture that Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6 our prayer:
Open our eyes that we might see;
Open our ears that we might hear;
Open our hearts that we might understand. Amen.
The seed sown along the path
19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
First, we are to pray for understanding. If you read something and don’t understand it, it doesn’t stay with you. Therefore our opening prayer, "open eyes, ears and heart."
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4.4
This is spiritual warfare: Satan wants to keep the Word from being heard. He doesn’t want you to hear it today. Because if you truly hear the Word you will be changed, you will be growing, you will be making an impact on your world, and of course Satan does not want that.
We can never approach the Word for mere information, but transformation. God wants to transform our hearts.
Satan doesn’t want unbelievers to hear the Word, because he doesn’t want to loose his people. If someone doesn’t belong to God, they belong to Satan. There is no middle ground, no teetering on the fence. One either serves God or Satan.
Pray for God to break the hold of Satan. Pray for God to open blinded eyes, and deaf ears. Pray for God to soften hearts.
“The credibility of the Gospel depends on caring, loving believers willing to serve.” http://www.newlifeministries-nlm.org/online/prayer.htm
Know that your lifestyle speaks. Know that the actions of the church speaks. (acts of kindness, service to others) People do not have to be a member of this body to be helped or served by this body.
“Random acts of kindness aren’t enough.” (Lee Strobel)
Steve Sjogren, founder of Cincinnati Vineyard, speaks of how acts of kindness are spiritual warfare. They are unexpected and they catch people off-guard, their defenses are down and they are pleasantly surprised that someone would do something for them out of the goodness of their heart.
… God’s kindness leads you toward repentance Romans 2.4
The seed on rocky ground
20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
There is no depth. The challenge is to go deeper in God’s Word. New Christians must become firmly established in God’s Word. All Christians must continue to grow, to go deeper in God’s Word and in our relationship with Christ.
The seed among the thorns
22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
Worries, deceit of wealth, desires; in Luke’s account: worries, riches, pleasures. The cares of the world deter fruitfulness.
The root of the original Greek is "to be divided". Do you have a divided heart? Does something that doesn’t count for the kingdom distract you? or pull your focus away from Christ?
Cares: divided, distracted
Lure: deceit, illusion, to cheat
Desire: arises out of the condition of the soul
What cares, lures, desires pull you away from Christ.
The seed on good soil
23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Our hearts are balanced. We are willing to be what God created us to be. We embrace the word with obedience. What does a balanced heart look like in my life?
The word is heard, the word is accepted and the product is fruit. How is fruit developing in my life?
… humbly accept the word planted in you 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. or in the KJV, 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only … James 1.21-22
1. Survey our own souls.
Repentance and Confession
2. Prayer for those who do not yet know Christ.