Listen Serious Hearing Issues

Sermon Summary
This message is the second in the Listen series. It discusses some of the serious hearing issues that people have when it comes to listening to God’s voice. Jesus used a parable to compare God speaking His words to a farmer sowing seed. Some fell on the hard path, some fell on rocky shallow soil, some fell amongst the weeds, while others fell into good soil. Three spiritual hearing issues are discussed; hearing loss, hearing impairment, and hearing difficulty. God wants us to listen to His word, but we must be willing to take the steps needed to hear Him!

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. Have you ever been accused of being hard of hearing by a parent, a spouse, a co-worker or a friend? What are some of the reasons we don’t hear people when they talk to us?

2. We have the same problems when it comes to hearing God, but the stakes of missing what He is saying are much higher! In Jesus’ parable He talked about Satan quickly stealing the seed of God’s word from some people much like a bird steals seed that falls along the path. Why do you think so many today refuse to even give God’s word a chance? Maybe the blame is twofold? People who refuse to listen and Satan blinding them? Read the following two passages for help with the answer...

Jer 6:16  This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'
Jer 6:17  I appointed watchmen over you and said, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But you said, 'We will not listen.'

2 Cor 4:4  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

3. Hearing impairment has to do with weakened or damaged hearing. Spiritual hearing impairment has to do with shallow spiritual commitment, much like the seeds that fell on shallow soil.
a. What are some of the indicators of spiritual hearing impairment?
Mark 4:17  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.
b. What is the answer for this malady?
Heb 13:20  May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
Heb 13:21  equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

4. Things of the world can cause hearing difficulty when trying to listen to the voice of God. How have you dealt with all the things in life that compete with God’s voice and try to drown Him out?
1 Pet 4:1  Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
1 Pet 4:2  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.


FULL SERMON NOTES
Listen: Serious Hearing Issues
Mark 4:1-20
Hearing Loss
Hearing Impaired
Hearing Difficulty

A good father talks to his children. Whether they listen is another story, but a good father desires to speak into his children's lives. Our Heavenly Father is no different. He desires to speak into our lives today.  Here's some questions to ask:  

Am I listening?
Do I know how to listen?
Do I have the ability to listen?
Do I have the desire to listen?

God is like a farmer sowing seed, and the seed He is sowing is His word. Your ears are the soil for God's word. But there are many who have serious hearing issues that keep God's Word from taking root. Let's pray and ask God to teach us what those hearing issues are and how to overcome them!

Father God, I kneel before You this morning to ask You to use me as Your mouthpiece, a spokesman to share by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and with Your divine wisdom, how desperately we need to hear Your voice! We have serious hearing issues. You spoke of these in a parable. In the precious name of Jesus I ask you to help us overcome the issues so we can hear Your precious voice! Amen!

Today we examine a parable Jesus taught. It is found in three of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke all share this parable. It's obviously a very important story. We're going to read it from Mark's Gospel, chapter 4:1-20, but we'll refer to the other gospels as well. While you're finding Mark 4, let me explain what a parable is...

Parable - A truth bearing story!

Parable - to put alongside for the purpose of comparison so as to understand.

Parable - "A provocative illustration that argues or clarifies a point in the briefest imaginable way!"

Jesus had truth to tell, and a very important point to make so He chose to use a parable!
Mark 4:1-9

Mark 4:1  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.
Mark 4:2  He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:
Mark 4:3  "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.
Mark 4:4  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Mark 4:5  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
Mark 4:6  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Mark 4:7  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.
Mark 4:8  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
Mark 4:9  Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Now, why in the world would Jesus say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”? Wasn't it obvious that the people had ears to hear? I mean they had gathered around Jesus when He began to teach. So why the statement “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”? The reason is this: Some people have serious hearing issues! In fact Jesus said this in Matthew's version of this parable. Matthew 13:13...

Mat 13:13  This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

In other words, one can hear and not receive as one can see and not perceive! This was a bit unnerving to the disciples so they questioned Jesus about this and here's what He told them in our text Mark 4:10-12...

Mark 4:10  When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.
Mark 4:11  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
Mark 4:12  so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'"

Wow, that seems harsh! But let's take a closer look. The explanation of Jesus as to why He spoke in parables has often served as a troubling matter for many. Why is this? I believe it is because they have not fully understood, or sought to understand what Jesus was saying. Sometimes, when people hear something, they hear what they want to hear, not what the person actually said. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus quoted an additional portion of Isaiah's writings…Matthew 13:15. It is powerful...

Mat 13:15  For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

In other words, they made the choice not to see or hear! They closed their eyes and hardly hear with their ears. Why hardly hear? Oh they heard the words, but not the real meaning. They had serious hearing issues. But you might say, "But Jesus said the secrets were given to His followers and not the others. Why?" You must understand this major truth, I've said it before...

"Not given"
does not mean
"Not offered!"

God has offered so much to so many, but so many opt out, and totally reject!
There's an Old Testament passage that clearly illustrates this concept...

Jer 6:16  This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'
Jer 6:17  I appointed watchmen over you and said, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But you said, 'We will not listen.'

So here's those pesky questions again...

Am I listening?
Do I know how to listen?
Do I have the ability to listen?
Do I have the desire to listen?

And maybe we should add another question to that list...

Do I have a serious hearing issue when it comes to hearing the voice of God?

I've been talking about these serious hearing issues, so now I'm gonna tell you what they are. Actually, Jesus is going to tell us what they are as He explains the parable in more detail to His disciples. Let's take a look…Mark 4:13-15

Mark 4:13  Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?
Mark 4:14  The farmer sows the word.
Mark 4:15  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.

So what's the serious hearing issue addressed here?

Hearing Loss

Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them!! Spiritually speaking, this is one of the most serious of all hearing conditions. It's one of the most difficult of all to overcome. Let me explain. Satan certainly doesn't want us listening to God so he will do what he can to steal away anything God tries to tell us. How? What's his technique? The Bible tells us and shows us that Satan uses wicked schemes, deception and outright lies. Listen to what Jesus had to say about Satan to some of the religious people who had been deceived by Satan...

John 8:44  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan will stop at nothing to steal away the words God is trying to speak to your heart! Satan will try to get you to go beyond asking questions about tough things in life and to immediately question the very heart and motivation of God. Or he will get you to question the very existence of God. And here is one of the most dangerous things about Spiritual hearing loss! When you allow Satan to convince you there's either no God or if God exist, then He's a childish, capricious and vindictive God, the very concept of morality is endangered. Why? Because if morality is dependent on the goodness of man, we're in big trouble!

Why? Because, if we are just products of happenstance evolution, we've done pretty good physically, but morally, we've only evolved more sophisticated ways to be immoral! And I'll just give you one example: The internet! There's some wonderfully good things you can do with it and there are some devastatingly destructive evil on it!

One of my all time favorite theologians, Dr. Elton Trueblood made this statement back in 1978...

"The greatest problems of our time are not technological, for these we handle fairly well. They are not even political or economic, because the difficulties in these areas, glaring as they may be, are largely derivative. The greatest problems are moral and spiritual,
and unless we can make some progress in these realms, we may not even survive."

As I've said many times before, it's not wrong to ask questions, but let me say this: when it comes to finding answers, be careful to not let the deception of Satan cause you to lose the ability to hear the truth of God or to see the love of God! When God begins speaking to a person's heart, Satan begins immediately trying to cause hearing loss.

Thoughts like; “there’s so many religions and they all claim to be true so they must all be false!” That’s a pretty big assumption and may be just a copout so you don’t have to deal with looking for the truth. Or questions like;  "if God is a loving God why would He allow war, injustice, sickness, death?" We’ve all asked questions like that! But if we stop with the questions and don’t seek God’s answers we may loose our ability to hear God's voice. So here's something to think about. God could have created us without the ability to choose. He could have just programed us to do good. But then we wouldn't be human. We would be a thing as apposed to a person. God knew we might make some pretty terrible choices if He made us real and gave us real choices, and we have, but not allowing us the chance to exist, to experience life and love, to know the joys of both human relationship and a relationship with God, to not give us that chance was just not an option God was willing to take! So He created us in His image! Do we not as human parents, procreators of human life, do we not make the same decision when we bring a child into this world? And what parent has not known the sadness of seeing a child make a bad decision. Some more than others.

My poor mom and dad back in the day!! So the bottom line, we would like to blame God for the woes of humankind, but we can't. He has called out to us, given us choices and when we've made bad ones, He offers us forgiveness, salvation, wisdom, guidance, and the list goes on and on.

Here's the question…do we have hears to hear or have we allowed Satan to steal away the words God has sown in our direction. You see, hearing loss can be compared to being hard of hearing, and hard of hearing  comes from a hard heart, and a hard heart, like hard ground, causes the seed to become easy prey for the enemy to steal!

Do you suffer from Spiritual Hearing Loss?
Ok, so maybe your problem is not hearing loss, but another serious hearing issue. Let's see what condition Jesus addressed next in His explanation of the parable? Mark 4:16-17...

Mark 4:16  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.
Mark 4:17  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.

What's the serious hearing issue addressed here?

Hearing Impaired

Impaired - weakened, damaged or functioning poorly!

These people have ears, but there's a problem. Their ears are impaired. Their hearing is shallow, weakened, no root, no depth. These are the people who only hear what they want to hear. The good stuff, the easy stuff, the stuff that doesn't mess with their life! The stuff that won't interfere with what they're already doing and pursuing! Start talking about serving, making sacrifices and they'll immediately start thinking about how inconvenient that's going to be. How difficult to fit into their already busy schedule, or how following Jesus might make them an outsider at the office, the club, or at the next gathering of their crew! Uh-oh!

These are the people who follow as long as there are benefits and perks. They follow as long as it's the "in thing," they follow because the crowd follows. But their true hearts are revealed when the crowd walks away, a little persecution comes, or something with more perks comes up. How convenient do you think the Cross was? Jesus laid His life down for you. Maybe we need to resurrect the words of an old hymn. It goes like this...

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
 
I surrender all,
I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory to His name!

The cure for hearing impairment is to stop being so shallow. The cure is to make the decision to listen to God's truth and let it bring about the changes you know you need, but have been unwilling or unable to make. God will give you the strength to make those changes and when you do, you'll wonder why you didn't surrender years ago!

Paul put it beautifully in his letter to the Colossian Church… 3:16-17

Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Col 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

So let's stop seeing how little we can get by when it comes to serving, giving, loving, caring, and being more like Jesus! Real Biblical Christianity is amazing because we don't have to die physically for God in order to be saved. What makes Christianity so different is that our God died for us and the sacrifice He requires of us is that we live for Him! In other words, it’s not what we do for God, but what He did for us that saves us, but because He saved us we live for Him!
So what are we complaining about when we have the privilege to live for our Lord seven days a week?
Ok, one last hearing issue is addressed by Jesus. Let's see what that might be in Mark 4:18-19...

Mark 4:18  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;
Mark 4:19  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.

Hearing Difficulty

There's three categories here:
Worries of this life
Deceitfulness of wealth
Desires for other things

Sometimes it's really difficult to hear God's voice over the worries of this life! Our lives can get so cluttered, bothered, and troubled! Financial troubles, health issues, relationship issues, job issues, family issues, and there are many others. But here's the tragedy of letting the worries of this life make it difficult to hear God. He has the answers to those very problems but you can’t hear them. God's Word, His wisdom, and His divine guidance are lost when you don’t listen. I've had numerous times in my ministry when folks have come to me for advice even though they are not a follower of Christ.
I don't judge them or tell them I can't help them, but I will tell them my advice will be based on truth I've discovered in God's Word! I've come to rely on God's Word for every single situation in my life, and following God's Word in life has never, ever let me down, not even once!

Let me just give you this wisdom from God's Word in 1 Peter 5:6

1 Pet 5:6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Pet 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The second thing that leads to hearing difficulty is the deceitfulness of wealth! We can get so busy chasing the almighty dollar, which is not really almighty, but it sure can control a person's life if they let it. So many people think if they had more money all their problems would be over. So sad when they get the money and it doesn't work!

I'm not gonna ask you how many of you played the lottery this week, but people were lined up for city blocks for a 1 in 292.2 million chance. Boy our government is smart. They figured their getting about all the tax dollars from us they can without causing another Boston Tea Party so they came up with a way to get us to volunteer to give them money! And boy is it working!! But what doesn't work is the happiness they promise the extremely few who win anything! If you take the time to study the lives of those who win, most don't end up very happy at all. Why? Money can't buy happiness. It can buy a lot of things, but things won't bring lasting happiness. Here's a truth for you…What brings the greatest happiness and peace in this life is free!!

1 Cor 2:12  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
1 Cor 2:13  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
1 Cor 2:14  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

And then there's desire for other things that chokes out the voice of God and causes hearing difficulty! Some have an insatiable desire for fame and no matter how famous they are they want more. They get jealous if someone else is getting an award. They want the camera focused on them. And closely kin to fame is popularity. So many live for that. Others want recognition in their chosen field of work. Nothing wrong with that, but when that controls your every decision in life, or you become a workaholic and neglect everything else, that's a real problem!

And then there's the desire for pleasure. God invented pleasure, but self-control is to be it's constant companion, and self needs the constant leadership of The Holy Spirit!

Why?

When pleasure is allowed to become your god it will not only drown out the voice of God it will destroy your life, your relationships, your marriage, your purpose in life, your motivation in life…the list is long!

Whether the desire is sexual, chemical, pride based, power based, or you name it, when the desire for pleasure takes over, you become an addict. You become it's slave and it becomes your taskmaster. It happens whether you want to admit it or not! So is there an answer to this terrible dilemma?
If you have ears to hear, listen to this...

John 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
John 8:35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

I love those verses!!! Now, if you just heard those words and accept them you may just overcome the hearing issues we've talked about this morning and experience the alternative for God's Word when it is sown…Mark 4:20

Mark 4:20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”

Let's pray!!!