- Sermon Notes
Prepare the Soil of the Heart
February 18-19, 2023
In Matthew 13 we find the well-known parable of the Sower, telling the story of a farmer who went out to sow. His seed fell on different types of soil, all having different results.
Jesus explained that the seed which is sown is the Word of God that has been sown to everyone. The soils are different types of conditions of the heart.
The Lord wants us to look at the condition of our hearts as well and make changes in our lives so we can be fruitful in godly things.
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.
For those following after Christ, this is the aim: to have fertile ground that can grow the fruit of godliness which is the fruit of the Spirit, and this impacts our effectiveness and ability to live a beautiful, effective life.
We must however concede that in life hard things happen, and even good fertile soil can become nutrient deprived. God’s heart for us is that our hearts will stay fertile so His nature and character can increase in our hearts continually bringing forth fruit 30, 60, and 100-fold.
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.
- The Word of God cannot take root unless it penetrates into the heart. But this soil is hard.
- This is a tragedy, as those with the hardest hearts have the most hurt and need the word the most.
- 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.
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.
- Their hearts are like a pathway that has been hardened by years of trampling and abuse. But forgiveness brings such freedom so that we can receive the truth and the peace of God.
- God does speak of the importance that we should not have hearts that are hard.
B. 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, “… 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.”
- When you are saved it baffles you why people do not receive the gift of life in Jesus. It seems like such an obvious choice.
- Yet, the enemy blinds the hearts of the lost, thinking of God as unfair, angry, a spoil sport, a control freak, insecure, or whatever other lies he can use to keep them blind.
- We need to keep praying that the eyes of their hearts will be opened to see.
C. Hard hearts can be changed
- Thank God that this condition is not hopeless. 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.
- The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. When it moves deep in the heart, it does surgery.
- Sometimes the result of sowing in sin opens the eye to the truth.
- 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.”
- This is the change of heart seen in the prodigal son, understanding that after all His Father and His Father’s heart towards Him are good.The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. Remove Rocks and Thorns
- The next types of soil that Jesus describes are 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 Greek, that is a phrase that 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…
- 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 the deceitfulness of riches can choke the Word.
- Worrying takes the focus off God and puts the focus on your self-reliance. In other words, I cannot trust God. I need to do it myself. Worrying is a sign of unbelief.
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.”
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!
- 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!
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. This type of heart needs to be guarded to keep it fruitful as it is the enemy’s objective to harden these hearts and sow thistles to pollute it.
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.
Illus – Healthy grass suffocates weeds.
B. God’s Word brings fruit
- Many people are confused as to what the fruit is that 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.”
- We should remember also that we can sow bad seeds into the soil of the heart as well. Whatever you sow, you will reap.
Galatians 6:8, For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
- Spending time in the word is the antidote to this.
Ephesians 5:25-26, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
- This is a deep insight. When we sow the word, and spend time in the word, our souls are washed and cleansed from impurities creating clean fertile soil.
C. Fertilize the soil
- Jesus finishes this parable by speaking of the soil that produces fruit 30, 60, and 100-fold.
- It is important to see that although all do not bear the same amount of fruit, it is all commendable.
- I suggest, though, that the more fertile the soil is, the more fruit it will produce. This is something that comes with spiritual maturity in one’s journey with the Lord.
Luke 13:6-9, And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer…
Illus. – every farmer knows that they need to look after the ground if they want to yield good crops. Very importantly, it needs to rest. They work in fertilizer, compost, and plow it before planting.
- These are principles that we find in the word of God as well so that our hearts will be healthy and fertile ground.
- Firstly, the heart needs to be grounded in the rest of God. It speaks of not being anxious, but it is more than this. We rest in the finished work of Christ.
Hebrews 4: 9-11, So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
- Believers can easily fall into the trap of focusing on their works again to try and keep their hearts fertile. This is a crucial fundamental understanding: we as believers are now living in the continual Sabbath rest in Christ Jesus. Our hearts can live in a continual state of rest in Him and His grace.
- To fertilize the soil, we need compost. Compost speaks of dead things. The fallen leaves of the wintertime when it seems like everything is going wrong.
- Hard times bring forth depth of character which fertilizes the soil of the heart to bring forth more fruit.
- This calls for a continual dying to self.
John 12:24-25, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
- It gives real hope to understand that this type of death doesn’t end in death, but brings forth life.
Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
- Even the hard times that we do not understand bring forth fruit. Even that which the enemy meant for evil, God turns for Good.
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
- The longer you journey with the Lord, through troubles and victories, the more your journey becomes a testimony of God’s goodness.
- The fruit increases from 30, to 60, to 100-fold as the first harvest is planted back into the soil, standing in faith, holding on with perseverance as it again produces fruit. This time even more. Every time the process is repeated, the fruit in your life increases.
Illus – It is like taking home your first child from hospital…
- These seeds do need one thing more: water. That is what the Spirit does in our lives. Jesus promised that streams of living water will flow from our inner being. We receive life through our relationship with Jesus through His Holy Spirit that waters the word in our lives.
- We must remember that God is in this story of your life. He is all and supplies all we need so that our hearts can be fertile ground for His purposes in our lives to come to fruition.
- As we rest in Him, surrender to Him, and continue to stand in faith, our fruit will increase, 30, 60 and 100-fold.
Matthew 13:1-23 NASB
1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And [a]large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell [b]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, [c]let him hear.”
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 [d]Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 [e]In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘[f]You will keep on hearing, [g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”