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Best Of Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2023 12:30 am

Best Of Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews

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September 6, 2023 12:30 am

Today's episode is a "Best Of" for Finding Purpose.

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Hey, this is Mike Zwick from If Not For God Podcast, our show.

Stories of hopelessness turned into hope. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious.

This is part one of a special two-part episode. Dear Heavenly Father, we just come before you this morning. We thank you so much, Lord, just for you. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for loving us.

Thank you for your grace and your mercy. And Lord, thank you for giving us your word. We cherish, at least we should cherish, the Bible, the Holy Scriptures.

We don't worship the Bible, but we love it. We thank you. It's a treasure, dear God, that is like a bottomless pit that you can never get to the bottom of it. It just keeps going deeper and deeper and deeper. And the more we dig deeper and learn more as you teach us, the more you give us. And you promise that in your word that you will give us more. If we just believe the first that we've already learned, we must believe that first, and then you give us more. And I pray, dear Heavenly Father, this morning that you will reveal truth to us, new truth that will penetrate our minds and our hearts and will change us.

We're not here just to have our mind stimulated. We're here to have our heart changed. And you're in the heart business, the heart-changing business. And I pray that you'll change my heart this morning, that you'll help me to fall more in love with you, more in love with your word, more in love with the church. It's in your name that I pray.

Amen. I'd ask you to take your Bibles and turn to Mark 4. We're going to be looking at verses 1 through 20. And what I would like to do this morning is take an in-depth look at the heart. Thus, I've entitled this message, The Heart. What exactly does the Bible mean when it refers to a person's heart? And why is the condition of a person's heart so important to God? Proverbs 4.23 says, above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Did you know that your heart is the essence of who you are? I'm not talking about your physical heart that pumps blood throughout your body. I'm talking about your spiritual heart. By the way, this word heart must be a very important word to God, because it is used more than 700 times throughout Scripture. Why is it so important to Him?

I'll tell you why. Because the heart is the center of a person's inner life, and it serves to orient a person either towards God or away from Him. One of my favorite professors, when I was in seminary, back in the 18th century, I had a man by the name of Dr. John Hammett who quickly became one of my favorite professors.

And the first course that I had on him was systematic theology. And here's how he defines the heart. He says, the heart in Scripture is the seat of personality and the central focus of one's life, who one really is. At various times, the heart is spoken of as the center of thinking, feeling, and especially willing.

In Deuteronomy 6, verse 5, we are commanded to love God with our hearts, the heart being responsible to obey. It is with the heart that we choose to trust Christ. It is the heart that purposes to give. Josiah is praised because his heart was responsive to God's Word, but the heart of the wicked is perverse and proud. The heart includes your mind, your will, and your emotions.

It is that part of you in your inner being where all of your really important decisions about life are established. It is through our heart that God speaks to us by His Word and by His Spirit. I remember when I became a believer, I mean, I don't even remember how young I was, 10, 11, or 12. It was during that part of my life, maybe even a little bit before that, and I began to read at night in my bedroom a J.B. Phillips paraphrase of the New Testament, which I wish I still had the copy of that little Bible that I began to read. And I just could sense that Jesus was speaking to me in my bedroom right there when I was reading it.

And I just, I loved it. And that's how I really came to know the Lord. And he became my friend, and my Lord, and my Savior, and he became my friend, and my Lord, and my Savior. Two people are said to be in agreement when their hearts are right with each other. And that's really what God wants from everyone. He wants our hearts to be right with Him, which means our hearts must be in agreement with His heart. Proverbs 22, 17 says, incline your ear and hear the words of the wise and apply your heart to my knowledge. Isaiah 55, 3 says, incline your ear and come to me, hear that your soul may live. In Mark chapter 4, verse 3, which we'll read in a minute, when Jesus says, listen, He's referring to your heart. You see, we hear God's voice with the ears of our heart. So as we look at Mark 4, I want you to carefully examine your heart this morning.

What is the condition of your heart? Verse 1, again, Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around Him was so large that He got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.

Now, I want you to picture this. Jesus was sitting in a boat along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I had the privilege of going there last October, and it is a beautiful, beautiful sea. And I hope I get to go back.

And if you've never been to Israel, I hope you get the opportunity. Jesus got in this boat because the crowd that was gathering around Him was so large that it was literally almost pushing Him into the water. And so He got in a boat and pushed a little bit away from shore where He could speak to them. And I believe that as Jesus was sitting in that boat, He must have looked off to His right, and I believe He saw a farmer, a farmer in a nearby field casting seeds to plant a crop. And as He watched this farmer, He began to compare what the farmer was doing to the kingdom of God. That's what a parable is.

The word parable means to cast or lay alongside. In this chapter, Jesus tells a story about a farmer planting his crop. And as He tells the story, He is laying alongside the story of spiritual truth to help us understand what He's trying to teach. And see, at this point, the crowds were not able to understand His simple teaching about repentance and about the kingdom of God. And so Jesus began to use parables to stimulate their thinking, to tease them, if you will, to go deeper. And I believe that Jesus turned to parables because of His grace. God desires for everyone to hear and understand and believe. However, if people refuse to understand the parable, then tragically the parable serve to further harden them in their state of unbelief.

You see, the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. With this parable, Jesus attempted to help the people understand. And this is why this parable was the first one that Jesus told. And it's why it's the key to understanding the other parables. Because, see, this parable that I'm getting ready to share with you is about entrance into the kingdom of God. And you cannot understand the other parables unless you have first entered the kingdom of God.

That's why this one is so important. Look at verse 2. He taught them many things by parables. And in His teaching said, listen.

So I want you to listen this morning. A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path. And the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants so that they did not bear grain. Still, other seed fell on good soil.

It came up, grew, and produced a crop, some multiplying 30, some 60, some 100 times. Then Jesus said, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. And then in verse 10, we see that he got along with his disciples.

And it was more than just the 12. Some others were also following Jesus at this point. And when he was alone, the 12 and the others around him asked him about the parables.

You can hear them. Jesus, what do you mean by these parables? And he told them, the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside, everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seen but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding.

Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven. You know, as I read verse 12, I had friends of mine going through my mind that it breaks my heart. I've been telling them about the Bible, for some of them 30 years, and they are forever seeing but never perceiving. Verse 13, then Jesus said to them, don't you understand this parable?

Have them where you understand any parable. The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.

But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes, because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word. But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it and produce a crop, some 30, some 60, some 100 times what was sown. I believe what Jesus is teaching here is that there are basically four types of hearts. And this is so important for us to grasp because the condition of your heart has eternal consequences. Moreover, the condition of your heart will determine how you respond to God's voice. Here's the first type of heart.

I call it the unresponsive or maybe a better word is closed heart. Now I want you to look with me again at verses 3 and 4 and 14 and 15. Why do I repeat the word of God?

Because we need to hear it. Listen, a farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. And then in verse 14, Jesus explains what he just said to his disciples, not to the crowd. Then Jesus said to them, the farmer sows the word, men, women. Some people are like seed along the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes the word that was sown in them. Now, in this parable, Jesus uses the word here seven times, which, you know, seven is a very important number.

It means complete or full. And he uses this word with each type of soil, which means that everyone hears God's word in some form or fashion. It doesn't matter when you were born in history or where you were born. Everyone hears the voice of God. And some of you are probably wondering, well, how about the native in the jungle who has never had access to a Bible? Well, this is something you need to understand. So when you're out there in the world, you can explain it. God speaks to them through creation and through their conscience so that they all know that he exists, which is why I don't believe that there are really any atheists. God has put the idea of himself within us. Ecclesiastes says, God has set eternity in the hearts of men.

I think that's what he's talking about. We know that there's something after this life. We know there's a God in heaven. We know it. We're made in his image.

How can we not know it? This is called general or universal revelation. Dr. Hammond defines universal revelation as follows, and I'm quoting him. In the creation and in human nature, God reveals himself showing first that one glorious, powerful, eternal, good, and moral God exists.

We all know it. And then he says he shows that he is our creator and thus we're responsible for him. He alone has the right to demand an accounting of us of how we have used the life he gave us.

I believe that everybody knows that one day they're going to have to give an account. It's just kind of in our DNA. And third, Hammond says, God shows that we're sinners.

How does he do that? Because we disobey the moral law within us, and we reject the knowledge of God given in the creation. Romans 1.20 says, for since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse. Now, you may be saying, well, Russ, that sounds good, but how about the native who has never heard about Jesus? Well, here's what I believe. If a native believes the light that general or universal revelation provides, God will give him more light, perhaps by way of a missionary that he sends into the jungle or by way of a dream or a vision. In verse 25 here in Mark 4, Jesus says, whoever has will be given more. Whoever does not have even what he has will be taken from him.

So here's the truth. Believe the light you've been given, and God will give you more light. That applies to every person in the world, even the most knowledgeable person, the most strong believer. If he continues to believe the light he's been given, God just keeps giving him more. You see, God cares more about the native in the jungle than we do. This is why he sends missionaries all over the world. In 1793, William Carey left England for India where he would spend the next 40 years sharing the gospel. In 1813, at the age of 25, Adonir and Judson arrived in Burma where he would spend the next 40 years sharing Christ. In 1841, David Livingston set up for Africa as a medical missionary and also to share about Jesus with those who had never heard of his name. In 1853, Hudson Taylor left for China where he established China Inland Mission. Taylor sowed the seeds of the gospel in China for 51 years before he died. And this is just one century.

And this is just four men. I don't have time to go in depth into the questions about people who've never heard about Jesus. However, what I would like to do this morning is to go in depth about the light that we've been given here in America, which is called specific or particular revelation. Hammett says specific revelation is the revelation of God or information God desired to communicate given to particular individuals at particular times. And the means of this specific revelation can be any of the following, dreams and visions, preaching, missionaries, miracles, and, of course, the Bible. I believe that everyone in America has had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the very least, we have more access to the gospel message than anyone else in the world. We have churches on every street corner.

We have multiple Christian bookstores in every city. We have Christian radio and television stations broadcasting the Word of God 24-7. And you can hear your own preacher today at 12.30 on 105.7 if you want to hear Grant. He spoke Tuesday night and it'll be on the radio in a little while.

I'll finish right before you on the radio, okay? That's a joke. We have the benefit of Billy Graham's evangelistic outreaches for nearly 70 years in this country. And we have more Bibles than any other people in the world. Here in America, we have been given more light, I believe, than any group of people who has ever lived in the history of the world. So, consider what Jesus says in Luke 12.48, from everyone who's been given much, much will be what? Demanded. And from the one who's been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. I would argue that right here in Raleigh, we have more Bible studies per capita than any other city in the world.

Now, I can't prove that, but if we're not first, I bet we're close second. Sadly, I believe that Jesus is addressing our generation here in America when he says, they will be ever seen but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding. Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven. Do you know how many people right now are sitting in churches where they're not hearing the truth? Or they're hearing scripture. They recite the Apostles' Creed, so they are hearing the truth. And they've been hearing it for years, but they don't get it because they're ever hearing it but never understanding.

You see, when the seed is scattered along the path, some of it falls on hard soil that's been trampled down. Lots of people that you and I encounter have closed their minds to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They've rejected the light of God's revelation for so long that their hearts have become totally unresponsive. The Satan just comes along and snatches the seed right out of their hearts. This is why Paul writes in Romans 1, 18 and 19, the wrath of God has been revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

Since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. No one from Raleigh will ever be able to stand before God and say, well, you know, Lord, you didn't give me an opportunity to hear the gospel. Right, Jeff? Right.

Got to get Jeff in here somewhere. You see, our problem here in America is not with our physical ears but with the ears of our hearts. And this is why Jesus said, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. Now, let's look at the second type of heart.

I call it the superficial or shallow heart. Look at verses 5 and 6 and 16 and 17. Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. And then Jesus explains, others like seeds sown on rocky places hear the word and at once receive it with joy but since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed that fell on the rocky places actually refers to an underlying bed of solid rock that's just beneath the surface. This soil is very shallow. Thus, when the seeds begin to germinate, my wife could explain this, she loves to work in the yard as I do. Thou shalt not lie.

I've got a picture of me one day. I was in the back on a lounge chair with a glass of lemonade. My wife was over there with her hands in the dirt pulling up weeds.

And I thought, I think this is what it means when it says, wife, submit to your husband. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. That was a joke. Okay.

I'm not mutt. But that is a true picture by the way of life in our backyard. And where was I? Getting in trouble? Yeah. I've got to go home this afternoon.

Therefore, even though the seedlings spring to life and they look healthy at first, they quickly wither under the scorching sun. This word superficial, it's a very interesting word. It means existing on the surface.

Everything looks good on the surface. I've been observing men up again. I became a BSF group leader when I was about 32. So I've been, and even before that, well, even during that, I was leading a small group Bible study in my office at week for securities for about 10 years. And so I've been observing men, particularly men, because God's really called me to minister to men. Men typically need more help than women when it comes to spiritual things. But I've been observing men for over 35 years who go to church. And may even attend a Bible study. And many give an outward appearance of belief.

But here's what I notice. When I'm with them, they never talk about Jesus or even much about the Bible. All they really want to talk about are sports, the latest trip they took, work, and the last thing they bought. But the most telling aspect of their lives is that nothing seems to have changed. They never want to go deep and discuss temptations they're dealing with or something they've learned in their study of Scripture.

Everything just exists on the surface. The person who makes a superficial commitment, here's the real problem, has never truly repented of his or her sin. Thus, they don't understand what it means to be a new creation. They never leave their old way of life. They're the same person that they are.

They're the same person that they've always been. David Platt in his book, Follow Me, which I highly recommend everyone read, writes, repentance is a rich biblical term that signifies a basic transformation in someone's mind, heart, and life. When people repent, they turn from walking in one direction to running in the opposite direction. From that point forward, they think differently, believe differently, feel differently, love differently, and live differently.

Real conversion results in a break from your old way of life as you follow Jesus and live a totally new way. Platt goes on to say, our reason for living changes, does it not? Possessions and positions are no longer our priorities. Comfort and security are no longer our concerns, at least it shouldn't be. Safety is no longer our goal because self is no longer our God. We now want God's glory more than we want our own lives. The more we glorify him, the more we enjoy him, and the more we realize that this is what it means biblically to be a Christian. You see, there's nothing superficial about the Christian life. This is why I would much rather hang out with my Christian brothers than my friends who don't know the Lord because I get so tired of talking about nothing when I'm with them. And it's actually draining.

It drains you. Whereas when I'm with my Christian brothers, you come away enriched and encouraged. Here's a warning. Every day the seed of God's revelation falls upon hearts that are unresponsive and closed. Hearts that are shallow and superficial. And third, every day the seed of God's revelation falls upon worldly and distracted hearts.

That's the third type of heart. Look at verses seven and then 18 and 19. Other seed fell among thorns which grew up and choked the plants so they did not bear grain. Verse 18, still others like seed sown among thorns hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Once again, welcome to America. In America, we have become so rich. We are rich in religion. We are rich in education.

And we are rich in just plain old money. And I believe these are the primary weapons in Satan's arsenal that he uses to keep a man or woman blind to the truth of the gospel. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4, verse 4, the God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they could not see the light of the gospel, of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. They can't see it. You see, religion blinds us into thinking that we're basically good.

I remember asking a friend of mine years ago, we got into a discussion. I was actually trying to lead him to Christ. And, you know, sometimes you got to be subtle in the way you do it. You can't just, hey, you need Jesus.

That just doesn't usually work, okay, for the record. So I asked him a question. I said, how do you think a person gets to go to heaven?

And he told me, I'll never forget it. He said, I think God takes our good deeds and weighs them against our bad deeds. And if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, then what?

You get to go to heaven. I asked him one time, he told me he thought mankind was basically good. But, you see, religion makes us think we're good. Education blinds us into thinking we don't need to be taught by God because we already know it all. And money blinds us into thinking we are self-sufficient. We can take care of ourselves. We don't need anything. And I would say that self-sufficiency is the number one thing that keeps people away from God.

They don't think they need Him. This concludes part one. Part two will air next week. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local Triangle men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-06 03:37:07 / 2023-09-06 03:47:45 / 11

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