Our listening ability determines our lives both now and eternally. Concentration and focus is vital to receive the word of God. Jesus said when we listen well, heed what we hear, pay attention to what’s being said, we will receive more, adding to what we have. When we don’t listen well, we lose what we have. How well we listen is in direct proportion to success or failure in life. This ability to listen is so important Jesus preached a sermon about it.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 8

By Delbert Young

Are You Listening to the Word of God? – (Luke 8:4-15)

Are You Listening to the Word of God?

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Are You Listening to the Word of God? – (Luke 8:4-15)

Scriptures: Luke 8:18; Luke 8:4-8; Matthew 13:34; Luke 8:9-10; Isaiah 6:8-13; Luke 8:11; Luke 8:12; Luke 8:13; Luke 8:14; Luke 8:15

Today we’ll look at a very familiar Bible sermon by Jesus called the “Seed and the Sower,” but before we read and study the sermon, I want to read Jesus’ theme, purpose, and point of the sermon.

(NIV) Luke 8:18 THEREFORE CONSIDER CAREFULLY HOW YOU LISTEN. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

(KJV) Luke 8:18 TAKE HEED THEREFORE HOW YE HEAR

(NLT) Luke 8:18 SO BE SURE TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU HEAR

The point Jesus is after is as simple as it sounds – listening. Our listening ability determines our lives both now and eternally. Concentration and focus is vital for both personal success and spiritual success. Jesus said when we listen well, heed what we hear, pay attention to what’s being said, we will receive more, adding to what we have. When we don’t listen well, we lose what we have. How well we listen is in direct proportion to success or failure in life. This ability to listen is so important Jesus preached a sermon about it.

The word translated listen or hear is akouo {ak-oo’-o} – to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf; to attend to, consider what is or has been said; to understand, perceive the sense of what is said; to comprehend, to understand. To listen or hear is more than detecting sounds. It’s detecting God. Akouo is found in the New Testament 437 times. That’s a bunch! Listening is a commanding theme throughout the Bible. God is constantly saying exactly what we say to our children, “Will you listen to me? Did you hear what I said?” Exactly as you know the quality of life your child will experience now and in the future depends upon their listening to you, Jesus said the quality of life we experience now and eternally is dependent upon how we listen. How well do you feel you listen? Are you a talker, or have you learned the skill of listening? How well do you hear God (Joh 10:27)?

I recall students in school who listened well. They made the best grades. Homework was easier when I listened. The employees, who hear instructions well, make the best employees and advance quickly. Life is way better when we listen.

So, what did Jesus preach about listening?

Luke 8:4-8 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming TO JESUS FROM TOWN AFTER TOWN, he told this PARABLE: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he CALLED OUT, “HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.”

Jesus told the story then “called out” – phoneo {fo-neh’-o} – of a cock, to crow, speak with a loud voice. That was the sermon – a “parable.” I suppose he walked off. He gave no explanation. No altar call. It was something like my telling a forty-five second story and saying, “I hope you got it. Thank you for coming. I’ll see you next week.” That’s it? People came from miles, walking from town after town. They spent days getting to Jesus. They camped out. No women’s rooms. No McDonalds and Jesus said, “Hope you heard it. Bye.” They must have said, “Do what? I walked days to get a botany lesson?” If I did this you’d ask, “Is Pastor Delbert getting dementia? He’s never done anything like that before.” Neither had Jesus taught this way up to this time. This was the first time anything like this happened, but it was not the last.

Matthew 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them

Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables after this. They must be able to detect God. If not, they only heard a story. How do you detect God in what you hear? Are you listening for him? Many are not, but God will speak to you in everything, even seed, dirt, rocks, and weeds. Are you listening? How well do you listen?

We talked last time about Jesus now transitioning his ministry. The transition was, as we will see shortly, “If you don’t acquire the ability to hear it, you will fall into judgment.” This was a major turning point in his ministry.

Most of us have heard this parable, but how many realized the parable is actually about listening? Parable is parabole {par-ab-ol-ay’} – a placing of one thing by the side of another; a narrative, fictitious but agreeable; a pithy and instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison. Jesus laid down this very simple story and expected the people to detect God – listen for God – in it.

This parable is one of the best known parables Jesus told. We usually emphasize the seed, the rocks, the thorns, and the good soil, but the parable is actually about the ability of the four soils to “hear” the seed. I realize that sounds strange, but that’s where God is detected.

This parable/sermon is not about the skill of the “sower” to fling seed. Nor is it about the quality of the seed. It’s about the soil’s ability to HEAR! A farmer sowed his field with seed. The seed fell into four different types of soils, but only one of the soils heard and successfully produced anything – ANYTHING! When life isn’t productive, perhaps, we’ve missed listening/hearing – detecting God.

I’m not going to interpret what Jesus said as he did it himself. The disciples came to Jesus asking, “What are you talking about?”

Luke 8:9-10 His DISCIPLES asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of THE SECRETS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘THOUGH SEEING, THEY MAY NOT SEE; THOUGH HEARING, THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.’

What? They haven’t learned to listen. Jesus will explain the parable, but first it’s important they understand secrets of the kingdom of God. Jesus is about to show us secrets of the kingdom of God. What is it? It’s listening to detect God. If we refuse, judgment is coming. Destructive things happen.

We need to see Jesus speaking in parables was his speaking judgment upon Judaism and all who reject Jesus. Not listening and hearing the words of Jesus is judgment upon anyone, be it me, or you, or Israel, or America, anyone. It’s serious not to have ears to hear.

Jesus said, “Though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.” This is a quote from the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 6:8-13 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for US?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘BE EVER HEARING, BUT NEVER UNDERSTANDING; BE EVER SEEING, BUT NEVER PERCEIVING.’ MAKE the heart of this people calloused; MAKE their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, IT WILL AGAIN BE LAID WASTE. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

Isaiah preached, but his preaching only made the heart of people calloused, their ears dull, and closed their eyes. Truth only hardened the people of God toward God and, strange as it sounds to us, that’s exactly what God designed Isaiah’s preaching to do. Why? It was time for them to be judged. They had not listened to or heard God’s word.

A time will come after God’s attempting to reach a person or a nation over and over again when God allows judgment. He will not allow us to continue in iniquity no matter who we are.

In the years to come, Israel suffered war after war and siege after siege. Eventually, Jerusalem was crushed, their temple destroyed, thousands and thousands died, the remainder were exiled to Babylon. Seventy years later they came back.

Jesus quoted Isaiah around 30 A.D. He, like Isaiah, warned again and again. Jesus said his generation would not pass before horrific things happened. He wept over Jerusalem prior to his execution. Around A.D. 69, Rome sent its army desolating Israel and laying siege on Jerusalem. Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple was literally taken apart stone by stone (Mat 24:2). According to Josephus, nearly a hundred thousand people died. Those who remained were taken into slavery. Only a stump remained UNTIL 1948 when finally Israel became a nation once again. The Lord told Isaiah concerning the destruction of Israel, “it will again be laid waste.” This was the next – the again – time.

Isaiah preached about their inability to hear and listen. This is what Jesus here preached. It happened again, but in far greater severity (Mat 24:29). Jesus’ preaching made “the heart of this people calloused; their ears dull, and close their eyes.” Why? They rejected the Son of God, proved by their not listening and hearing his words. This is a secret of the kingdom. Learn to listen and detect God from all the other noises crowing at you.

This, to me, is one of the most frightening things I experience as a pastor/teacher. When I observe someone becoming calloused hearted, dull of hearing, and closed eyed to God’s word, I must wonder, “Is it time for them to go through some tough times?” Sadly, every time I recall observing this, the enemy’s army laid siege. They went into slavery to something. It’s a secret of the kingdom of God.

The disciples asked Jesus the meaning of the parable. He quoted from Isaiah concerning the secrets of the kingdom. Then said,

Luke 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: THE SEED IS THE WORD OF GOD.

The seed is what? “The word of God. We simply cannot miss that.

Luke 8:12 Those along the path are THE ONES WHO HEAR, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from THEIR HEARTS, so that THEY MAY NOT BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.

Jesus placed the spiritual truth along side the story revealing the parable. The word of God when laid along side the story is actually the seed. Some hearts, when laid along side the story are actually the path soil and “the ones who hear” this way, which is not hearing at all. It’s a heart unfenced and allowed to be trampled by any sin and devil coming along. The devil when laid along side the story is the birds taking the word of God immediately from the heart. The word bounces off the hard heart never having a chance to produce.

All four soils are hearts of people, so we are all, as it were, “dirt.” When you think about this, it’s a deep truth as God formed man from dirt (dust) and to dirt we will return after death (Gen 3:19).

Some hearts become shut up, hard trampled dirt. As the word of God is broadcast, it’s not heard. It just bounces off with the heart becoming vulnerable to the devil. The results are horrific – SO THAT THEY MAY NOT BELIEVE AND BE SAVED. Being “saved” to Jesus is more than praying a prayer for salvation. Salvation, to Jesus, deals with one’s hearing the word of God with the heart.

How do you roll out here? Does the word of God bounce off your heart? That’s frightening. I suspect we all know people, including our own loved ones, who will not listen and hear God’s word. According to what Jesus said, they are in serious danger.

What will God do with them? He will plow their heart and give them an opportunity. God’s plowing likely means some tough times, but being plowed is far better than not being saved. Allow God to work. I’ve had to be plowed and you have too. Jesus continued…

Luke 8:13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when THEY HEAR IT, BUT they have no root. THEY BELIEVE FOR A WHILE, BUT in the time of testing they fall away.

Oh my! This is tough to teach and totally contradicts what we want to believe. Jesus pictured for us a very shallow layer of soil covering rock. We would call these “shallow” Christians, or “superficial” Christians who cover up their hardness pretty well – for a time, but their results aren’t much different from the path soil. Initially, they look good. They actually got it. THEY BELIEVED FOR A WHILE! How many ways can we interpret that? They fall away.

Jesus said, “They hear it, but…” “They got it, but…” They looked good, “but they have no root.” Sadly, this is way too common. I’ve baptized people. They weep and cry and laugh with joy. I look for them the next week at worship, and they’re not here or anywhere. People raise their hands in commitment at the end of sermons. People come to the front for prayer. Several may gather around them praying, but we don’t see them back at worship for weeks if at all. Should they get baptized? Should they come for prayer? Yes! That’s not what I’m saying. I’m attempting to help us hear the secrets of the kingdom. There’s no root in some people. The time of testing caused them to fall away – aphistemi {af-is’-tay-mee} to fall away, become faithless.

How are you compared to this dirt? How deep are the roots of the word of God in your heart? You can know by how you respond in a time of testing. What will God do here? The rocks must go. The larger the rock, the more digging required. It could require a garden tool, a mattock, a back hoe, or dynamite. Still, someone experiencing a life blown apart is way better than falling away.

Luke 8:14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for THOSE WHO HEAR, but as they go on their way they are CHOKED by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

This heart – soil – hears and responds to the thorns far better than it responds to the word of God. Jesus placed life’s worries, riches, pleasures, etc., along side thorns in the story. It’s the thing or things that choke the word of God – actually choke God – out of us. Instead of maturing and producing, worries, riches, and pleasures kill.

I ask what thorns are choking God out of you. How will God help people choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures? The thorns have to go. It may take digging them out, or pulling them up by the roots. God could use Round Up. Anything is better than God being choked out of us.

Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, WHO HEAR THE WORD, RETAIN IT, and BY PERSEVERING PRODUCE A CROP.

When the word of God gets into a noble and good heart… noble – kalos {kal-os’} – beautiful, handsome; genuine, approved; precious – good things happen. Isn’t that a great word, but who can have a heart like this? A plowed heart can. I used to have a garden every year. The first year we moved into our home, I attempted to till a garden spot. I found, because our house is on a steep hillside, I only have a few inches of hard top soil to work with. Only a few inches beneath the surface the soil was full of rock. The tiller literally jumped all around throwing up rocks. My first year produced very little. I did have lots of huge weeds. The next year, I tried again with more success. After about four years, I had a pile of rocks, but I also had a noble and good garden. It was beautiful and handsome producing huge tomatoes, okra plants 6-7 feet tall full of okra, and beautiful cabbage.

We’ve got to continuously plow and plant into our hearts. How do we do that? We persevere. We pray. We praise. We continuously sow God’s word into our hearts. We get to church. We allow tough sermons to expose and dig up the rocks and yank up the thorns. We love our enemies. We pray for people who hate us. We give. You can have a beautiful, handsome, genuine, approved, and precious heart.

When you do, your life is 100 times better. The quality of your life now and eternally is totally dependent upon how well you listen to, hear the word of God. How well do you listen? Are you reading God’s word? Can you detect God speaking in everything – your garden, your occupation, driving, everything, and everywhere? Can you differentiate his crowing from all the other crowing you hear? What type soil are you?

Other Related Sermons:

Parables of the Kingdom Intro – sermon video audio notes

New Beginning – sermon notes

Prayer for the New Year – sermon notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young