The Story & Way of Jesus: The Nature of Things (11.07.21)
Processing and responding to the Sunday sermon
After the group welcomes one another, have one person open in prayer and then take 2-3 minutes of silence. As you sit in silence, ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart in love toward God and your group mates.
The Nature of Things
On Sunday, Pastor Dave preached from Mark 4:1-20 which is commonly referred to as the “Parable of the Sower”
Dave’s sermon takes this section of scripture and unpacks it. We discover that it is about the nature of 4 things:
- Nature of parables
- Nature of the Kingdom
- Nature of our souls
- Nature of God
Parables are simple and ordinary, and easy to understand. They are accessible to all, and allow our defenses to come down. Inviting us to think deeply, thoughts that take root and explode. Seeming to be harmless, they have a hidden depth.
Parables don’t do the work for you. They draw us in, to ponder and to let our imagination do the work. They both reveal and conceal, depending on the character of the listener. Jesus even begins this parable with the word “listen”.
The Kingdom of God is like a seed. It contains the power of life, renewal, and can bring life forth after it has been buried in good soil. The seed stays the same. The Farmer stays the same. The only thing that varies is the soil (the soul).
The potential of all organic life, and fruit, but it’s ability to achieve depends on the quality of the soul. The soil is the soul, and it must be ready and willing to receive. Is your heart in a place to receive?
The Nature of our Soul
The Worn Down Hard Soul: This is where the path is dry and hardened because of a lot of traffic. A hardened soul. Vulnerable to Satan and where he snatches away grace.
The Shallow Soul. Depth is needed to cultivate the seed; the word may be received but the depth is not cultivated. This is where rocks of regret, bitterness, unforgiveness don’t allow roots of love to grow.
The Choked Out Soul : The weeds that choke out the life of the soul can be the competition of values- the worries if this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, desire for other things, chokes out the Kingdom.
The Receptive Soul: The Kingdom of God desires our willing cooperation. People who cultivate readiness. His definition of a “good” soil is as in ready, receptive to the things of God, rather than moral.
The farmer is always throwing seed. Extravagantly, lavishly and generously. He is a patient farmer, looking for receptive souls where the seeds can take root, grow and produce a 100x crop of love, joy peace and the other fruit of the Spirit
This week’s guide will provide space to dig in further, prayerfully process, and then discuss the sermon.
Reflection and Discussion
Read aloud Mark 4:1-20 and then prayerfully and silently reflect on the passage and these questions.
- In the light of this parable and the four soils (soul types), take a moment to ask the Lord to shine a spotlight on your soul and ask Him, “Lord show me what type of soil is here? How is my soul? Are there hard trafficked areas? Places that feel choked out? Shallow spots? Productive soil?
- As you notice what the Spirit shows you, offer what you see back to the Lord. He loves you even with hard, trafficked, shallow soil. You can ask Him for forgiveness, and receive the seed of grace in these very areas. Let the Farmer lovingly re-cultivate your heart.
- Do you also notice the areas where you have been a willing and active listener to what Jesus has been teaching and showing you? Allow the Lord to show you the good soil! Notice where you have had a cooperative and a receptive heart. Do you also see the areas in your life where He has been faithful to plant the seed that have sprouted into love joy, peace and other fruit? Rejoice in His faithful farming.
After silently reflecting, take these thoughts into a time of group discussion.
- What came up for you during the prayer reflection time? What would you like to share with the group?
- Dreaming out loud together, what would it look like to be a community that cultivates a deep rich soil together where the fruit of Joy and Love grow bountifully. Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
Pray for your group, our church, our city, and our world.