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A Story for the Hard of Listening, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2021 7:05 am

A Story for the Hard of Listening, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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June 15, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Kingdom: A Study of Matthew 8–13

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Jesus used a metaphor, good soil, to describe a fertile heart.

The good soil is not always putting out fires. It not only hears, it listens. It not only sees, it perceives. It not only thinks, this would be helpful for someone. It says, this is needed in my own life.

I need this. This is a conviction that God is revealing to me and I dare not miss it. The good soil is a healthy heart. Funny thing about human nature, we can hang out with godly people who possess wisdom and charm, but unless we adopt the character they model, the impact is zero. The same is true of good Bible teaching. We can hear the truth all day long, but unless it becomes planted deeply within, nothing in our lives will change. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reminds us that Jesus magnified this truth in a captivating story He told.

Founded on Matthew chapter 13, Chuck titled today's message, A Story for the Heart of Listening. Well here's Jesus sitting in a boat and He's got the crowd, ever present crowd there, and He decides to teach them in a different way. He told them many stories in the form of parables. Jesus used these parables, these comparisons, first of all to reveal truth to those who desired to get it, and then to conceal truth from those who rejected it and denied it.

It sort of separated the listeners from those who had no interest. I'd like you to take out a pen or a pencil because I want you to mark four things that I want to point out. Very important for us to understand this parable. With your pen handy, I want you, verse four, to mark the footpath or beside the road. It reads, as He scattered a seed across the field, some fell on a footpath.

Mark that. That's the first kind of soil that He uses to illustrate His point. What is a footpath? Well, between rows there would often be provided a place for people to walk so they didn't crush the plants as they walked across the field. But imagine everybody walking a pathway, it gets as hard as a pavement. We just lie there and then blow away, which is His point.

We'll get to it in a moment on the footpath. Now you got your pen ready, look at verse five. Other seed fell on, your Bible may read rocky places or rocky soil. Mine reads on shallow soil. The reason is it's more shallow than rocky and it doesn't grow, it dies, says at the end of verse six.

Now get ready, here's the third. Other seed fell among thorns. And here are these fibrous roots that are really the thorn and thistles that as soon as the ground begins to be watered and the sun shines, the thorns grow up along with the grain and the thorns overgrow the grain and choke out the grain so that it cannot produce. Then the fourth is market fertile soil or your Bible may read good soil.

Nice, clean, soft, well cultivated or well plowed soil that the roots can go into and then the plant grows and is healthy and becomes productive. Verse 10. Naturally His disciples are hearing this and they don't know where He's going with it.

They just couldn't figure it out so they said, why do you use parables when you talk to the people? His answer is significant. Now you're permitted to understand the secrets of the kingdom of heaven and others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, that's the key word. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. They'll have an abundance of knowledge, but for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken from them. And that's why I use parables. Interesting, isn't it?

All four soils receive the seed. Just as we'll see in a moment, all who have the seed planted in their lives hear, but they don't all listen. And you know, I can't tell by looking. Some of you hide your boredom, others of you don't. That's okay, that's all right.

If I were bored I'd do the, it's probably the same thing. But Jesus is giving a parable that reveals a very important truth. Get it down. You ready?

You got your pen. The condition of one's heart determines its receptivity to truth. The condition of one's heart determines its receptivity to truth. Now understand, the heart is not the organ that pumps blood.

When you read in your Bible of the heart, it rarely refers to a literal heart in the chest. It's the inner person. It's where we form decisions, where we come to terms with life. It's where convictions make up their minds. It's where we form or break habits, where we make decisions or refuse to make them. The heart is the inner being, the part of us that will live forever. It's that mixture of soul and spirit deep within that represents who we are.

That's a very important point. Your heart represents who you are. Now, when you go a little further, this is one of those great parables. You know why? Because Jesus interprets this parable. Now later on, I need to warn you, the preacher will be interpreting the parables, and that's when we can get in a lot of trouble if we're not careful.

Because I don't speak ex cathedra, I can make mistakes and often have. But Jesus makes no mistakes. He is right on the money as he comes to this interpretation.

Now, you still got your pen handy. Four more things to mark. Here we go. Verse 18. Now listen. Here we are again. Listen. Listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting the seed.

Here we are. The seed that fell on the footpath represents, now you mark this, those who hear the message and don't understand it. You hear it, but you don't get it. And to make matters worse, truth be told, you don't care.

It's part of your heart condition. And you know that. I just say it to make the point. Jesus dealt with those who didn't care. He spoke to Pharisees and it just hit them like a drop of water would hit glass and roll right off. You hear words, but you don't perceive the significance of them. They don't land deep within with a desire to make a difference having heard them, having listened to them.

So first is the footpath. This is the person whose mind is shut, whose eyes are blinded to truth. This is the individual who is not teachable, who refuses to accept, and there are none so blind as those who will not see.

May I just say a word to you who have loved ones in this category? Talking longer won't help. Speaking louder won't help. They're not interested. So use a little wisdom and understand who you're dealing with. Now, by the grace of God, some will find that there's a breakthrough as a result of your telling them just enough for them to turn over in their minds. But for the most part, their minds are closed.

They're shut. Now look at the rocky soil and we'll notice that it represents not the hard heart, that's the first one, but this represents the shallow heart. So let's look at what it says. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear and immediately receive it with joy, but, but, since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or they're persecuted for believing God's word. This would be those who fail to think things through. They're quick to grab onto a new craze.

They have a quick start. They have no follow through. They have a burst of emotion. It's all excited about this stuff of Jesus, but they lack a firm commitment and trouble comes and soon the fire goes out.

They're a dying ember. It's a shallow heart. We sometimes see it among celebrity testimonies. We hear about someone who came to know Jesus, but we find out a few weeks later it didn't really make a difference and we go back and wonder what happened. It was a shallow heart. Some of you have shallow hearts. You like the burst of enthusiasm.

You like the excitement of a moment and you're attracted to this, but it doesn't really take root. It doesn't really make a difference. Now there's a third. Here it gets really personal. The thorny, verse 22. Thorns represent those who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out. I call this the crowded heart. Crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth.

So no fruit is produced. If you read it in Mark 4, the same parable mentions the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things. It's the word that means desire. The desire for a lot of things. You're busy. You're too busy. Too many interests, too many involvements, too many activities, too much stuff. Your life is continually fast paced.

You're preoccupied. So eternal things are crowded out. It takes time to drink in the eternal. The late Howie Hendricks used to say to us when we were in his class, you cannot turn out a man of God without the luxury of leisure. He's right.

It's time. My study is not filled with loud music and activity and videos and television programs. My study is silent. And I'm there for hours. I have the privilege of that and I'll never forget it's a privilege. And children are gone, no longer there.

Grandchildren come and go, but the house is usually quiet. And it's the perfect setting for me to drink in and let it absorb and soak into my soul. It's amazing what can happen. But I can't keep saying yes to a lot of other things and have the time I need to do what I'm called to do. The crowded heart is preoccupied with getting rich. Money means too much to you or making an impression, building your own private empire.

Too many exciting things, no time for real priorities. That's the crowded heart. These are thorns that choke the word and it can't produce.

Good word, choke. It crowds out all that really matters. And then he says there's the good soil, which obviously is soft and the priorities are based on what's important not what's urgent.

You need to read the little book, The Tyranny of the Urgent, if you haven't already. The good soil is not always putting out fires. It not only hears, it listens. Not only sees, it perceives. It not only thinks this would be helpful for someone, it says this is needed in my own life. I need this. This is a conviction that God is revealing to me and I dare not miss it. The good soil is a healthy heart.

You get them down? The hard heart, the shallow heart, the crowded heart, and the healthy heart. You know what's wonderful about this? It all starts with who we are. You are what your heart is.

That's who you really are. I thought about this when a little nursery rhyme came to mind not long ago. Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I've been to London to look at the queen. Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there? I frightened a little mouse under her chair. What?

You've got to be kidding, Fluff. You got to London and you had a chance to see Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey. You had an opportunity to visit Hyde Park. You could go and see the changing of the guard.

You could even watch as Parliament sat or maybe even a championship soccer game. You had all of this opportunity and what did you do? You sneaked in the queen's chamber and you got down in a corner and you spotted a mouse under her chair. Come on.

What is wrong? It's a simple answer. Fluff is a cat.

She is a mouse hunting feline and no queen is going to be of interest to her if there's a mouse in the room. Because you see, don't miss it, what she is determines what she sees and what she sees determines what she does. That's us.

That's us. You say, Chuck, you're losing it. You have gone too far. Well, nursery rhymes are hard to follow, aren't they?

So let me put it on the bottom shelf. Who you are determines what you listen to and what you listen to determines how you respond. That's what this parable is all about. Which soil are you?

Where are you? Hard heart? That's why your mind stays closed. That's why discussions about spiritual things don't really set you on fire. In fact, they make you want to run away from it. That's why you're blind to see the significance of what can absolutely prepare you for the one thing you're going to face, death and life beyond. That's why you live so fearful.

Because it doesn't take root. Shallow? Is that who you are, sort of hit and run? Crowded? Don't answer out loud, but are you too busy? Most I meet are too busy.

Since I have a friend and we flew on this plane as we were going to a particular spot to enjoy time away, the only man I knew who had two faxes and two phones going at the same time. Too busy. How about healthy heart? You know what? Truth be told, we've got a lot of healthy hearts in this church. And that's what excites me because I know that no matter how deep I may go, I'm not going too deep for many of you.

You love it. And I commend you because I will tell you if not now, there'll be a day in your life when you will really need it. When they take our Bibles away from us. And not only our freedom, but our families are threatened.

And we're not that far away. Please bow with me. Who you are determines what you listen to. And what you listen to determines how you respond. I hope you've listened. I hope you're getting it.

Because you're going to really need it. Maybe sooner than you realize. Help us, our Father, in the midst of this maddening world to grasp what comes from no other source. Teach us to take time. Teach us to listen. That we might be transformed and bad habits changed and addictions removed and souls rescued. In the name of Christ, I pray, everyone sit.

Amen. Four kinds of people are identified in this parable from Jesus. The hard heart, the shallow heart, the crowded heart, and the healthy heart. This is Insight for Living and Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, A Story for the Heart of Listening. To learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at We'll hear a closing comment from Chuck in just a moment, so please stay with us. First though, I'll offer some context for our current teaching series. For the entire year of 2021, Chuck is guiding us through a verse-by-verse study through the Gospel According to Matthew. It's the first time he's shared this series on Insight for Living. It's called The King of Kings.

Keep in mind, if you've missed any portion of this presentation, you can catch up with previous programs by going to slash listen. In addition, you may be surprised to learn that Chuck wrote a biography on the life of Jesus. And if you're looking to get better acquainted with the real Jesus, the one that writers like Matthew described, then we highly recommend adding this book to your personal collection. It's called Jesus, the Greatest Life of All.

To purchase a copy right now, go to slash offer. Chuck, the Gospel writer Matthew spent a lot of time describing a group of first-century religious leaders who, in many respects, were like spiritual villains, stealing joy from those who followed Jesus. The Pharisees were spiritual outlaws.

They were bandits like bank robbers. They had a way of ripping off the treasury of joy. These religious thugs made up all sorts of untenable rules and tight regulations that were impossible to follow.

And then they looked down their noses with pride and disgust when people failed to keep those rules and regulations. Legalism, their first love, is an exhausting lifestyle. Plus, it sucks the joy right out of anyone who aspires to a grace-filled life. Well, in Matthew chapter 11, Jesus specifically targeted an audience of battle-weary warriors who found the legalistic lifestyle impossible to sustain and exhausting when they tried. Jesus opened his arms and said to them, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and you will find rest for your souls. The rest that Jesus offered that day and still offers to you and me today is different than you might think. He's not talking about wiping sweat from your brow after your morning jog. He's not offering a vacation or a good night's sleep.

It's far more than that. Jesus pinpointed your soul. You see, his invitation penetrates your inner self, that mysterious, all-important place within us that represents the spiritual core of our being. This is the focal point of everything we do at Insight for Living Ministries. Our goal is to teach the Word of God so that the Spirit of God can accomplish what no one else can do. We want to see Jesus liberate all who listen to Insight for Living, liberate from the tyranny of religious legalism. And so today, I'm appealing to your shared vision to bring men and women around the world to this same place of freedom and grace in Jesus that you and I enjoy. You've heard us mention the importance of June 30th.

Well, it's far more than an accounting deadline. God could use your generous donation to deliver His message right into the heart and soul of individuals right now. And I can assure you, everything you give will allow us to share the good news of Jesus who said, come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and you will find rest for yourselves. And let me explain how you can respond to Chuck Swindoll. The quickest way to give is to go directly to Or call us if you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888. Our phone number once again, 1-800-772-8888. Or give online by going to Tomorrow Chuck Swindoll describes what he calls a world full of wheat and weeds. Join us Wednesday to hear Insight for Living. The preceding message, A Story for the Heart of Listening, was copyrighted in 2016 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-04 17:41:09 / 2023-11-04 17:49:17 / 8

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