On Sunday, Pastor Tim began a 5-week series on five of Jesus’ most well-known parables. Sunday’s parable in particular was based upon “the four soils” as recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 13:1-9, Mark 4:1-9 and Luke 8:4-8. This parable stumped the disciples. So Jesus explained the meaning to his disciples (Luke 8:11-15). The point of this story was to show different responses that people have to hearing God’s Word.
The 1st response is rejection (The hard soil of the path) – some seed landed on the path and was eaten by birds (Jesus identifies Satan as the “bird” that stole the seed).
Why some choose a hard heart?
- Past bad experiences at church.
- Issues with their perception of God as being unjust, unloving, uncaring, etc.
- Desires to not give up certain life-style choices.
- Plain disinterest, etc,
Satan leverages that hardness and keeps the message of grace from penetrating.
The 2nd response is reception followed by rejection (the rocky soil). This one is the response of a believer or someone who made some level of a decision to follow Christ but discontinues the pursuit of Christ. Many are in this category; they have walked away from God because of disappointment, bad things that happened to them or others, and they are bitter and turn away from God and the church.
And then there is a 3rd response is reception followed by distraction (the thorny soil). This is the response of a believer who doesn’t grow to their potential; he/she remains in a state of immaturity in their faith. In the Christian’s life, those “competing plants” are things like: worries, riches and pleasures that sap vital nutrients and crowd out the plants and choke them out.
And the final response is reception followed by progression/growth (the good soil). This is the response of a believer who develops a mature faith because of their use of and response to the teachings in the Bible. This person is different from the rest because they responded differently than the rest to the trials, temptations, worries and pleasures. They are better prepared…they immerse their hearts and minds in the Bible and leverage it to their advantage when the trials, temptations, worries and pleasures present themselves.
Challenge for the New Year: “I will read my Bible regularly with an open and receptive heart and mind.”
And besides the Bible reading, we were encouraged to choose one or more of the “group plans” being offered during the Winter Quarter for personal spiritual growth. (We grow best when we are not in a vacuum.)
- We have 5 Grow Groups for you to choose from
- We have 6 Winter Classes to choose from
- We have 2 Mid-Week Seminars to choose from – One coming up in January, taught by our Student Ministry Pastor, Tommy Morelock, on How to Study the Bible.
- We have 2 Support Groups for those who have gone through a particularly deep personal loss.
Psalm 1:1-3: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
- What was your experience like at River Oaks on Sunday? OR, would you like to share with the staff any highlights from this past year at River Oaks (some of your favorite moments)?
- As you consider Pastor Tim’s message from Sunday, which of the four soils would you define to be true for your own life? What might be the next steps for growth for you? If we (the staff) can assist you in taking these next steps, please let us know.
- We have MANY new opportunities for spiritual growth and support for this new year, if you weren’t here on Sunday to see the entire listing, feel free to give a call or send and email, and we’ll be certain you get a copy for review.
Happy New Year to you all! May we all grow closer to God throughout this next year!
Scott Tilley, Adult Ministries Pastor / email@example.com / 574.875.1152 x103