(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called “Blog”)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
Over the last two weeks the following big ideas have focused our thoughts.
Our hearts are a receptive environment that, if not guarded, can become a spiritual wasteland.
Our hearts are a receptive environment that can become spiritually vibrant.
The first Big Idea comes out of Luke 8:1-15 and the parable of the sower. Refer back to last week’s TB for a reminder. This past Sunday’s Big Idea came out of Luke 1:15 and Luke 6:46-49. We looked at two pictures that helped us see some aspects of a vibrant heart.
Picture#1 Luke 8:15
What kind of heart is this?
What are the actions of this person?
What is the result?
What are the clues in this picture that tell us there can be some push back, some resistance to the seed growing in the noble and good heart?
Retain - meaning to hold, hold fast, - taking appropriate action so not to lose something- in other words it can be snatched if not watched over. You can see examples of this in 1 Corinthians 11:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Heb10:23,
Persevere – translated “patient continuance, the characteristic of a person who is not swerved.” The obvious implication is that there will be some push back, some potential distractions (birds chirping).
On Sunday, I noted that to a first century audience, retaining the word and persevering in the word would have included community. Through the ages Jewish thinkers have considered it vital to study the Scriptures in the presence of other people - retaining and persevering together. A famous line of rabbinic advice from before Jesus time was this: “Acquire for yourself a rabbi, and get yourself a haver.” In ordinary usage, the word “haver” can simply mean a companion or a close friend. But here it actually means someone who is willing to partner with you in grappling with Scriptures and with the rabbinic texts. (Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus- page 67)
What group, or friendship helps you grapple with the seed?
What specifically is it about that group or friendship that helps you retain and persevere in the seed?
How could your small group/friendship improve in this area?
Notice that the result of retaining and persevering is a crop. In other words, transformation of the life in which the seed has been planted.
Discuss the following regarding transformation in your own life. Is there transformation-taking place as a result of the seed being planted and nurtured in your life?
“I use to answer this question by looking at the state of my devotional activities: Did I pray and read the Bible enough today? The problem is that by this measure the Pharisees always win. People can be very disciplined, but remain proud and spiteful. How do we measure spiritual growth so that the Pharisees don’t win?
I asked this wise man, ‘How do you assess the well-being of your soul?’
He immediately said, "I ask myself two questions:"
(taken from The Me I Want To Be, Ortberg page 21)
- Am I growing more easily discouraged these days?
- Am I growing more easily irritated these days?"
Picture #2 Luke 6:46-49 (seeing that I am coming to the end of this page I will keep it short)
Note the problem that leads to Jesus telling this story – v.46
Note the outstanding claim v.47- No Jewish teacher apart from Jesus claimed so much authority for his own words; such authority was reserved for the law itself.
Note that life has a way of revealing our foundations (read vs.48,49)
Seasons of crisis will reveal if we have put in the hard work of digging and building.
What I call- Cosmetic focus vs. Character focus
Here is what I want you to notice. Often we just see the contrast between the two diggers, but notice the contrast of direction within the positive image.
This person digs down, passes all the options for foundations, finds the rock and then what? - builds up. This persons digs down, strikes rock, and builds up!
This motion happens at salvation. A person digs down, seeks God, finds Christ and His truth and builds his or her life on the life-changing work of Christ. If you think about it this is a process that happens in our lives on a daily basis as the seed by the power of His Spirit forms our lives. We need to engage in this process - dig down, strike rock, and build up - on daily issues as they come to us.
Discuss examples in your own life, where you have engaged in this process? How was the truth you chose to build on different than the worlds or what you use to believe? The bird in Luke 8 has a different mantra for us to live by. It is- Dig to where it feels good, settle on what is comfortable and build up.
Who do you often pray for that this process of digging down, striking rock, and building up - would characterize their life?
Out of space - I am finished!
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