Growing Deep

Introduction

Over the next three weeks we want to talk about:

  1. Growing Deep

  2. Standing Tall

  3. Spreading Wide

Many of us are plagued with frustration. Life rarely turns out the way we dreamed up as children. We feel that we should be so much further along. That life isn’t fair. The stresses and worries of this life have caused you to wilt and dry out.

Others here would agree that while life certainly isn’t turning out the way they may have envisioned, they recognize God’s faithfulness and provision. Along with the Apostle Paul, they would say, “I’ve learned to be content in all things.” These are the evergreens. Those who have learned to grow deep, stand tall, and spread wide.

Evergreens

The prophet Isaiah has been laying out God’s plan to restore humanity. He prophesies about the coming Messiah who was to be pierced for our rebellion and crushed for our sins, yet will be lifted high and greatly exalted. He then moves on to the future glory of Israel brought about by this Messiah. And then he extends an invitation, an invitation that extends all the way to you and I, to come to the Lord—to trust in His salvation.

Isaiah 55:1–3 NLT
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

Isaiah 55:6–7 NLT
Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

Isaiah then concludes the chapter with this proclamation:

Isaiah 55:12–13 NET
Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace; the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you, and all the trees in the field will clap their hands. Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes, firs will grow in place of nettles; they will be a monument to the Lord, a permanent reminder that will remain.

What a promise! God is promising to restore the dry areas of your life. Where life has brought you thorns, God is promising to grow up Evergreens in their place. How will this happen? Isaiah records:

Isaiah 55:10–11 NLT
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

It is the Word of God that produces fruit in our lives. That allows us to prosper and grow deep so that our lives are rooted in truth.

Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:3–9 NLT
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Anyone with hears to ears to hear should listen and understand. The Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, encouraged humanity to, “Come to me with your ears wide open.”

The disciples, hoping to gain a better understanding of the point Jesus is trying to make, pull him aside later that night to ask for some clarification.

Jesus’ reply communicates how important understanding this parable is:

Mark 4:13 NLT
Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?

Mark 4:14–20 NLT
The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Four Responses

  1. People who hear the message, but Satan comes at once and takes it away.

  2. There are those who hear the message, receive it with joy, but fail to grow deep roots.

  3. Others quickly respond to the Gospel but it is quickly crowded out by the worries of life.

  4. Finally, there are those who hear the message, receive, and produce a harvest.

Growing Deep

1. Forgiven

Isaiah 55:6–7 NLT
Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

In Acts, the Apostle Paul declares that God has placed us in a specific place, at a specific time, for a specific purpose. What for?

Acts 17:27 NLT
His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.

Those of you who are far from God have two options today:

  1. You can feel your way towards God and be assured that when you do, you will find him.

  2. Or, you can feel your way into the world. Go your own way. Yet, my guess is that you’ve tried this before and it has left you empty. The world promises evergreen, but its a cheap counterfeit.

Romans 10:9–10 NLT
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.
And to the church in Corinth, he wrote:

2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT
For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

Those who are in Christ, who have confessed and believed, are forgiven. Understanding this foundational truth shoots a root deep into the soil of our lives.

2. Free

John 8:31–36 NLT
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

It is interesting to me that Jesus places two seemingly contradictory statements back to back.

In the first breath, he states, “You are my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.”

In the next breath, he declares, “You will know the truth, and it will set you free.”

3. Forever

Isaiah 55:12–13 NET
Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace; the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you, and all the trees in the field will clap their hands. Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes, firs will grow in place of nettles; they will be a monument to the Lord, a permanent reminder that will remain.

Your life is to be a monument, a permanent reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

John 5:24 NLT
I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

The Good News of the Gospel and the truth about you is that you were made for eternity. Too often we become so fixated on our present circumstances that we forget that this world is not our home—we’re just passing through.

2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Conclusion

Are you in search of a life more abundant and free? Will you turn your eyes upon Jesus? Will you come with your ears wide open? Christ is offering you a life that is forgiven, free, and forever. A life that is evergreen. Yet, you’ve got to chose to grow deep and plant your life in the Word of God.