- Sermon Notes
Hearts can be Changed
In Matthew 13 we come to a new section of this gospel where Jesus taught in parables to the multitudes. He got into a boat and sat down while the crowd listened from the beach. The water would have made a natural amplifier so that everyone could hear His words.
He begins with a parable about a farmer who sows his field with wheat or barley or something similar. Not only will we also learn from this parable, but we learn something about why Jesus used parables at all.
A parable is a story or analogy or illustration that teaches truth by comparing it to something familiar, something that the listeners can relate to. Everyone in that day would understand the meaning of a sower casting seed in the field because many of them worked in the fields. Today, Jesus might have used an illustration about driving in traffic or frustrations with your computer, or cell phone.
A parable teaches one main truth. That's important to understand because some people try to find every nuance of theology out of a parable and take it beyond what the Lord intended.
Jesus also taught that the purpose of a parable is to reveal the truth to those who have an ear to hear, but parables can also be used to conceal the truth from those who had evil in their hearts. There were those who were hoping to find a way to accuse Jesus and were hoping to find fault with Him.
So this first parable is about a farmer who went out to sow. Jesus explained that the seed which is sown is the Word of God that has been sown to everyone. He then explained that there are four different types of soils on which that seed fell.
The soils are different types of conditions of the heart. The Lord wants us to take a look at the condition of our heart as well and make changes in our lives so we can be fruitful in godly things.
I. Hard Ground Must be Broken
- In verse 19, Jesus explained that this is the heart of the one who hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, is the heart that is hard.
- In other words, this is the heart of the one who will not receive the Word of God at all.
A. Some hearts are hard
- Some seed falls on the path where everyone walks and has become hardened.
- They won’t take the Word of God into their hearts, they simply won't receive it. And because they won't receive it, they won't receive any blessings from it either.
Illus – How I decided to become a Calvary Chapel pastor…
- Using a seed is an excellent illustration of the Word of God. A seed is full of life and if it takes root and begins to grow, it will bring forth fruit 30, 60, or 100 fold.
Illus – Human DNA has over 3 billion base pairs containing 750 Mb of information. Did you know that wheat DNA has more than 15 billion base pairs? It's amazing what evolution has produced isn't it?
- The Word of God cannot take root unless in penetrates into the heart. But this soil is hard.
- What makes a heart hard? There are several possibilities:
Arrogance; this is the condition whereby someone is convinced that their perspective is better than anyone else's. In other words, they’re completely unteachable.
Illus – is this not the sum of those who, in their teens, can’t see how much they don’t know.
Proverbs 12:15, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
Proverbs 21:2, Every man's way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.
Bitterness; there are many people who have been so hurt that they simply cannot let go of it, not understanding that it prevents the Word of God from bringing fruit in their lives. But forgiveness brings such freedom so that we can receive the truth and the peace of God.
Illus – Corrie Ten Boom tells of when she learned the power of forgiveness so that she was no longer a prisoner.
- God does speak of the importance that we not have hearts that are hard…
Ezekiel 36:26, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
The seed is taken away
- Jesus explains that the seed is snatched away by Satan; the opportunity is lost.
- The scripture also tells us that Satan blinds the minds of the unbelieving.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
B. Hard hearts can be changed
- Hard hearts must be broken. This is the only condition that allows the seed to penetrate the heart and take root.
Illus - If a farmer wanted to sow in soil that had become hard, he would take his plow and break up that hard soil.
Illus – There is a song by Steve Camp that says it well. “O Lord take Your plow to my fallow ground. Let Your blade dig down in the soil of my soul. For I’ve become dry and dusty, Lord I know there must richer lines below.”
- The Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword. When it moves deep in the heart, in does surgery.
- There are things that come into our lives that cause us to see life from a completely different perspective.
Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
- Resistance to the Lord is seen in stubbornness.
Jeremiah 18:11-12, Thus says the Lord, “… Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.” But they will say, “It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.”The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. Remove Rocks and Thorns
- The next types of soil that Jesus describes are the one of rocky places and another is soil that is filled with thorns and thistles.
- Each of these is a condition of the heart that prevents the Word of God from transforming that person’s life.
A. In the rocks, they have no firm root
- These are people who hear the Word of God and receive it with joy. But the truth does not run deep into the heart.
- As soon as the heat of affliction or persecution arises, they “fall away.” In the Greek, that is a phrase which means they are offended.
- In other words, when affliction or persecution comes into their lives, they are offended because in the shallowness of their faith, they can't understand why God would allow anything of trials and troubles in their lives.
2 Chronicles 32:1, After these acts of faithfulness Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah…
- We looked at this verse at our Wednesday service and I brought up the fact that many people would be greatly troubled by this verse because in their mind, if Hezekiah was faithful, then he should not have had to go through troubles. They therefore accuse God in this.
- But Hezekiah was mature in faith and did not see it that way. Hear what he said to Israel…
2 Chronicles 32:7, “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the King of Assyria… for the one with us is greater than the one with him.”
B. Thorns and thistles can choke the Word
- This is a condition of the heart that many people today face every day. The Word of God is received, but the worries of the world and deceitfulness of riches can choke the Word.
- Martha was a woman we can all relate to…
Luke 10:40-42, But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
- It’s a story about worry rather than faith. Jesus talked about that in Luke 12…
Luke 12:25, 31, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life span? ... But seek His kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you.”
Illus – There was an old song, however, that missed it. “Don’t worry; be happy. Don’t worry; be happy.”
C. Beware the deceitfulness of riches
- When Jesus uses the words “the deceitfulness of riches,” it suggests that they will not deliver what they promise.
- Many people assume that riches will bring more security, more contentment, more joy and more satisfaction in life. But here’s the truth, if a person with this heart gets what he wants, he won’t want it anymore, he’ll want something else, something more, because he’s never satisfied because it’s his heart that’s empty and these things can never fill the heart!
Luke 12:15, 21 Being rich toward God
- These things choke the Word. These are thorns and thistles that keep the Word from maturing a person with this heart. It’s about what we value!
- That is a very good picture of what happens to prevent the Word from being fruitful in these.
III. The Heart is Ours to Choose
- The fourth type of soil is the heart that God desires all of us to have and gives us the parable so we can be changed and have this heart.
A. Hear God’s Word and receive it
- In the person with this heart, their roots run deep; that is the key.
- When there are deep roots, they can drink from the water of life.
Psalm 1:2-3, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
- They keep weeds and thorns from their soul.
B. God’s Word brings fruit
- Many people are confused as to what is the fruit God desires.
- Some think it to be bringing others to Christ; rather it is the fruit of godliness in the heart.
Galatians 5:22-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Matthew 13:1-23 NASB