The Parable of the Sower July 30, 2014

In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus presented four types of listeners to the Word of God. This past Sunday we saw that some had hardened hearts, others had superficial hearts, and still others had crowded hearts. But those who are like “good soil” are those with receptive hearts. This is indicative of those who go on to produce fruit; some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

What’s interesting is what Jesus doesn’t say: He never presents a category where good soil produces fruit zerofold.

Thus, our main lesson from the parable: those who belong to the kingdom of heaven will be known by their fruit.

This leads us all the way back to an examining of ourselves, and a challenge: we must be not just listeners of God’s Word, we must be doers!

Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). So if we’re going to be genuine listeners, we must be fruit-producers. How can we do this? By simply listening, applying, and obeying the Word of God.

And as we each listen, apply, and obey, we become a people who produce a whole lot of fruit—perhaps even a hundredfold.

Did you know a successful yield in Jesus’s day was a tenfold harvest? Certainly hundredfold harvests weren’t necessarily impossible—Isaac had a hundredfold harvest in Genesis 26. However, this was an extremely rare exception.

Historically, if someone yielded a tenfold harvest, it was considered to be a very good year. Nonetheless, Jesus said some will produce fruit up to a hundredfold, highlighting the fact that genuine listeners will produce so much more than what would be expected—so much more than what could even be imagined!

What would Lake Murray Community Church look like if we each continue to listen, apply, and obey? I can tell you this: our storehouse would overflow with fruit, all for the glory of God. So let this parable be not only a challenge, but an encouragement—Jesus can certainly use our local church to impact the community around us in ways we can’t even begin to envision.

It starts by each of us softening our hearts to His Word, so that our hearts would always remain receptive, just like good soil.

-Pastor Marttell Sánchez

Heaven Resources July 14, 2014

This Sunday I will be finishing up our short series on Heaven.  In the short time we have been able to dwell on this wonderful topic together I know we have hardly begun to scratch the surface.  In light of this fact, you may want to continue your own study and reading about our future as Christians.  Here are two resources I found particularly helpful in the preparation of my sermons on Heaven.  Maybe you will be encouraged by them as well.

SettingSightsOnHeaven

I had not heard of Paul D. Wolfe before I read this book, but I was very impressed!  A wonderful book on being heavenly minded.

forever-by-tripp-image

It is probably worth reading anything written by Paul Tripp, and this book is no exception!  Tripp always has wonderful insights about human nature and motivation, and he applies this skill to how an eternal perspective (or lack thereof) impacts us as Christians.  The book covers some of the same ground as Wolfe’s book, but their styles and perspectives are varied enough that you could read both books and not feel like they were redundant.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

Too Heavenly Minded? June 24, 2014

Most of us have probably heard this phrase (or something very similar): “Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.”  This seems to be a phrase used to describe people who are so focused on heaven that they neglect their responsibilities in this world.  Hopefully it goes without saying that it is decidedly unbiblical to neglect our responsibilities here on earth.  However, what troubles me more about this whole issue is that the above phrase seems to imply that we as Christians should be careful not be too mindful of heaven.  As I look at my own life, and the lives of fellow Christians I really do not think that we need to be encouraged to be less heavenly minded in our Christian lives.  I think we are far more prone to neglect thinking about eternity and living in light of it.  Paul Tripp, in his book Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It, says that we often function as “eternity amnesiacs” (p. 12).  While we know heaven exists and are vaguely comforted by this fact, we really don’t dwell on it like we should.

I have been working on preparing a short sermon series on Heaven, and this has forced me to ask, “Does the Bible encourage us to be less heavenly minded so that we might not become less good here on earth?”  It probably comes as no surprise that we find precisely the opposite message in the Bible.  The Bible seems to continuously exhort Christians to be more heavenly minded, not less.  Look at passages like 2 Cor. 4.17-18, Col. 3.1-4, and 1 Pet. 1.13.  All of these passages tell us to think on things above, and to be ever-mindful of heavenly realities.  In fact, these passages seem to indicate that the more heavenly minded we become, the more equipped we are to live righteously here on the earth.  The passages listed above show that we can face the realities of suffering and trials, and live more righteous and godly lives the more aware we are of heavenly realities and of our eternal destinies as Christians.  It seems that, in the Bible’s view of things, if we are no earthly good, the problem is probably that we are not heavenly minded enough!

Of course we still have to ask ourselves what it means to be heavenly minded, and what that looks like.  We will see some of this in the upcoming sermon series.  But I don’t believe that we as Christians need to be challenged to be less mindful of heaven, and of God’s Kingdom; we need to be more mindful of these things.  And as we are more mindful of these realities, we will love our neighbors better, obey God more consistently, and face trials and tribulations with faith and perseverance.  In short, we will be of immense earthly good.

 

Pastor Nathan Hogan

You Can’t Outlive the Sufficiency of the Bible June 17, 2014

I was reading one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons today, and came across this wonderful quote about the sufficiency of God’s Word.  Spurgeon stated, “Believer! there is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon forever…if thou shouldst live till Christ should come upon the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if thou shouldst go down as deep as Jonah…there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee without a supplementary sentence.”

Even with the somewhat dated way of speaking, I think the power of the quote is easy to see.  We love things that are new and exciting, and I think we sometimes worry that God’s Word can’t possibly be sufficient for salvation and godliness for our whole lives.  We go looking for newer and flashier ways of growing in the Lord, because on some level we struggle to believe that God’s Word as it is read, studied, and preached can possibly be sufficient for our growth in the Lord.  However, the more we study God’s Word, the more we see that we will never outlive the sufficiency of the Scriptures.  As Spurgeon so eloquently put it, even if we live until the return of Christ, there would not be the need for a single additional word in the Bible for our lives as Christians.  We should be eternally grateful for the sufficiency of God’s Word, for in it are the words of eternal life, and godliness.  We can rest easy that God’s Word will never outlive its usefulness and sufficiency in our lives.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

Waiting on the Lord May 19, 2014

In Psalm 130, the Psalmist is crying out to the Lord. This is a person who is crying “out of the depths.” In other words, they are going through struggles and dark moments in their life. And they are crying out to the Lord. They are confident that God will hear, God will forgive their sins, and God will restore their life.

Notice what happens next—they wait on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord is probably one of the most difficult things we do. Waiting implies that we have no control. We have no say in how or when God will respond. We simply wait.

But waiting doesn’t mean we do nothing. It means that by faith, we continue to faithfully live out our lives where God has us at the moment and then wait on him to make any changes he sees fit to make. Waiting is where we demonstrate our true belief in the sovereignty of God. Waiting is where faith and hope are refined.

May we continue to live faithfully where God has us, and cry out to him when the circumstances seem depressing and down (see also, Philippians 4:11-12).  We wait with our hope fully placed on him.