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Summary: The abundant Christian life is a choice that starts with how we listen and respond to the Word of God.

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Intro: There once was a not so bright fellow who saw an advertisement for a cruise. The sign in the travel agency window read “Cruise -- $100 Cash.”

I’ve got a hundred dollars, he thought. And I’d like to go on a cruise. So he entered the door and announced his desires. The fellow at the desk asked for the money, and the not-too-bright guy started counting it out. When he got to one hundred, he was whacked over the head and knocked out cold. He woke up in a barrel floating down a river. Another sucker in another barrel floated past and asked him, “Say, do they serve lunch on this cruise?”

The not-too-bright fellow answered, “They didn’t last year.”

It’s one thing not to know. It’s another to know and not learn.

Transition: In the parable of the sower Jesus compared our ears to soil. He told about a farmer who scattered seed (symbolic of the Word) in four different types of ground (symbolic of our ears). Some of our ears are like a hard road—unreceptive to the seed. Others have ears like rocky soil—we hear the Word but don’t allow it to take root. Some hearts are like a weed patch – too overgrown, too thorny, with too much competition for the seed to have a chance. And then there are some who have ears that hear: well tilled, discriminate, and ready to hear God’s voice. In all four cases the seed is the same seed. The sower is the same sower. What’s different is not the message or the messenger – it’s the listener.

If the ratio in the parable is significant, three-fourths of the world isn’t listening to God’s voice. Whether the cause be hard hearts, shallow lives, or anxious minds, 75% of us are missing the message. That means that will three-fourths of us are traveling down a river in a barrel only 25% are on an Ocean Cruise liner with the Lord. If you had your choice between floating down a river in a barrel or going on an Ocean Cruise liner, which would you choose? The truth of the matter is, the abundant Christian life is a choice that starts with how we listen and respond to the Word of God.

Some of us can’t have a passion for God because we need a heart transplant. Listen to what the Bible says about our hearts and our passions apart from God.

(v.12) THE UNRESPONSIVE HEARER

The reason he doesn’t understand is not due to any deficiency in the message but to his own hardheartedness. He is unconcerned with the things of God, completely indifferent to anything spiritual. These are the atheists and agnostics who aren’t willing to give God or anything associated with Him a chance. If you’ve never given your life to Christ your heart is beyond cure… there’s nothing you can do… it’s impossible for you to have a passion for God because you need a new heart.

You can have an interest in God.

You can have a desire for spiritual things.

But you can’t have a true passion for God until God has given you a new heart.

(v.13) THE SUPERFICIAL HEARER

They believe for a while. A plant with no root will produce no fruit. The root of a plant is its support; it draws minerals and water from the surrounding soil through the root system. Someone can confess to be a Christian and merely be running off emotions. And when the emotions die down so does their passion for God, church attendance and attention to anything spiritual. This one offers no resistance at all, but rather manifests emotional excitement in his response to the message. But the change is on the surface, rather than in the depths of the heart. His feelings were changed but not his heart. There is no repentance, no remorse over sin, no recognition of lostness, and no brokenness. When someone talks about getting to the root of a problem then they are referring to the origin of the problem. The root or origin of our faith must be the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Illustration: This is like when a person gets a new car; you know how they drive slower and wave bigger. They’re so proud of their new car with its new smell and want to show it off to everyone. But the excitement begins to die down when they make that first payment. Then they get kind of tired of washing it all the time, and before you know it the new wears off. Eventually it becomes an old car and needs to be traded in also. These are the same people who think happiness is found in a better job, spouse, house, location and are always looking to something new to make them feel happy. Never realizing that a consistent relationship with God is the only thing that will ever give them the peace they truly need. These are the ones that are excited about church for a little while but when the new wears off the excitement does as well, and they stop coming to church and move on to something else in there search for happiness.

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