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Beware of the Birds: How Satan Sabotages Sermons

Each Sunday morning, they perch amongst us. Hear intently and you may hear their wings flapping overhead. Singing voices have quieted, the preacher mounts his summit, the e-book is laid open. Because the individuals fidget within the pew, readying to listen to God converse by a person, the crows and ravens stir in anticipation. Caws and muffled croaks murmur within the rafters. Some sound eerily like a chuckle.

Jesus heard them as he obtained as much as preach.

Hear! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell alongside the trail, and the birds got here and devoured it. (Mark 4:3–4)

Because the preacher begins to scatter the nice seed of God’s phrase concerning the congregation, it meets the trail — the arduous and trampled, unploughed and unhumbled coronary heart. Disinterest, distraction, carelessness, laziness, ignorance all maintain the seed out. The reality of Christ, of sin, of salvation goes into this particular person’s ear, rests atop the center — by no means to enter it. Listening to, they don’t hear. Seeing, they don’t see. They by no means hear the phrase sufficient to show or be forgiven.

But, the seed doesn’t stay atop the hardened path — Jesus watches it get eaten by birds.

They watch from above. Heads jerk up-down-left-right-tilt. Eyes scour beneath, in search of seed uncovered, defenseless. There. A kernel rests for just a few moments, uncovered. Swoop — a darkish flash falls as lightning from heaven — the seed disappears. The phrase concerning the dying God, the phrase of life, the phrase of warning, gone. Devoured. Maybe a feather is left as a replacement.

Fowl Play

The image Jesus offers inside the parable of the sower unsettles. What may the birds consult with? We listen in on what he mentioned to his disciples:

The sower sows the phrase. And these are those alongside the trail, the place the phrase is sown: once they hear, Devil instantly comes and takes away the phrase that’s sown in them. (Mark 4:14–15)

Who devours the rejected seed from sermon-hearers then and now? Devil. He and his legions perch overhead. He pecks on the soil of our hearts. His crooked beak steals away the miracle seed. His twitchy eyes shift back and forth in search of gospel reality to devour.

It is a horrible revelation: Demon birds hover overhead — eager, surveying — trying down upon your congregation for ignored gospel phrases, hungry. We are able to think about our discomfort if bodily birds lofted above us in the course of the sermon. How agitated we might really feel if each time Jesus was talked about they swooped down and got here pecking at our ears. However Jesus reveals one thing extra alarming, extra disturbing to his disciples: these ravens feed with malice upon phrases that will save sinner’s souls.

Most Common Church Attender

Many people don’t consider Devil a lot; but he thinks a lot of us. You may think him among the many murderous, adulterous, and false religionists on a Sunday morning — not the church. But behold certainly one of his nice objects of villainy each Sunday: to rob hearts of truth-filled, Christ-exalting sermons.

“You and I would miss a Sunday sermon — Devil doesn’t. You and I would neglect feasting upon the phrase — he received’t.”

You and I would miss a Sunday sermon — he doesn’t. You and I would neglect feasting upon the phrase — he received’t. The satan is essentially the most common and most attentive church attender.

He doesn’t feast for nourishment; he feasts so that you received’t, that sinners won’t discover or proceed with Christ. Luke’s account has it, “the satan comes and takes away the phrase from their hearts, in order that they might not consider and be saved” (Luke 8:12). Paul calls it, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to maintain them from seeing the sunshine of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who’s the picture of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus would have us hear and thru listening to with religion see his glory. “Hear! Behold!” he started his sermon. “Dismiss! Ignore!” is what the birds shriek.

However how do they do it?

How They Devour

How do demons steal the phrase from hearts? How do these birds devour the phrase? And whereas they achieve this decisively and at last with the unregenerate and dismissive sermon-hearer, my assumption and unhappy expertise is that he has stolen ignored, half-heard sermons from God’s kids’s mouths as nicely — although he can’t lastly starve them into hell.

C.S. Lewis offers us a solution at first of The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape, a senior demon, counsels his nephew, Wormwood, to cease using argument to safe his affected person’s unbelief. Relatively, merely give him jargon, he counsels. For instance, he tells a narrative of certainly one of his people who wandered off into harmful ideas (Christian ideas) whereas on the British museum.

Earlier than I knew the place I used to be I noticed my twenty years’ work starting to totter. If I had misplaced my head and begun to aim a protection by argument I ought to have been undone. However I used to be not such a idiot. I struck immediately on the a part of the person which I had finest below my management and recommended that it was nearly time he had some lunch. (3)

Sunday afternoon lunch. What number of worthwhile sermon phrases has the contemplation of the after-service meal stolen from believer and unbeliever alike? Easy recommendations from the enemy — about lunch, that annoying mannerism of the preacher, the volcanic heat within the sanctuary, Mr. Jones’s evident bald spot staring from the pew forward, Mrs. Jones’s unavoidable fragrance — something and every thing however the phrase.

Pecking on the Thoughts

However can Devil actually distract us by inserting ideas into our minds? He can and does.

Devil distracts, suggests, and lies with a view to steal the phrase from us. Devil incited David to sin and take a census of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:2). The satan stuffed Ananias’s coronary heart to misinform the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Devil “put it into the center of Judas” to betray Christ (John 13:2). Paul warns us to not be deceived and have our ideas led astray from a pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). Devil lies to us, and when he does, he speaks out of his character as the daddy of lies (John 8:44). He captures individuals to do his will by untruths. His stratagems in opposition to us haven’t modified because the backyard. Our enemy brings ideas to our thoughts that aren’t wholly ours.

Commenting on this textual content, John Piper highlights threes methods Devil steals the seed: by inattention, ill-will, and ignorance. Commenting on inattention, he writes,

Devil works additional time to maintain individuals from giving severe consideration to the phrase of God. He might maintain you up late Saturday night time so as to’t keep awake in the course of the sermon or Sunday College. He might put a dozen completely different distractions round you within the service to take your thoughts away from the message. He might ship ideas into your thoughts about tomorrow’s assembly along with your supervisor. If he can solely distract you in order that the sounds popping out of the preacher’s mouth go in a single ear and out the opposite, he may have efficiently taken away the phrase of God and made it ineffectual for you. Inattention is his recreation.

“After we lengthy for a distraction, Devil will present it.”

Now see Devil hovering above you, suggesting trifles, mocking, and bringing limitless distractions to your thoughts to maintain the reality from germinating. When the nice phrase meets arduous soil — or good however unprepared soil — he strikes to steal. After we lengthy for a distraction, Devil will present it. What number of well-timed daydreams concerning the soccer recreation or this week’s plans have stolen severe contemplations about Christ from our personal hearts Sunday after Sunday?

To These Who Hear Sermons

Expensive Christian reader, the pew is a battleground. Each week, both we are going to feast on the phrase or Devil will. He sees the importance of the phrase preached weekly to us — will we?

He visits your church. “That malicious spirit is unwearied in his efforts to do us hurt,” J.C. Ryle assures.

He’s ever waiting for our halting, and in search of event to destroy our souls. However nowhere maybe is the satan so lively as in a congregation of Gospel-hearers. Nowhere does he labor so arduous to cease the progress of that which is nice, and to stop women and men being saved. From him come wandering ideas and roving imaginations — listless minds and boring reminiscences — sleepy eyes and fidgety nerves — weary ears and distracted consideration. In all these items Devil has an ideal hand. Folks marvel the place they arrive from, and marvel how it’s that they discover sermons so boring, and bear in mind them so badly! They neglect the parable of the sower. They neglect the satan. (Expository Ideas on Luke, 158)

Is it not the case that typically we don’t even make it to the car parking zone earlier than it’s as if we by no means even heard a sermon? Allow us to bear in mind Devil on Sunday mornings. Not out of paralysis — “for he who’s in you is bigger than he who’s on the planet” (1 John 4:4) — however out of preparation — “placed on the entire armor of God, that you simply might be able to stand in opposition to the schemes of the satan” (Ephesians 6:11).

And unconcerned sermon hearer, might I plead with you in closing? A person might refuse to go away his jail cell for the promise of freedom that Christ gives, however he would possibly rethink if he knew a tiger is in his cage. You aren’t alone in your unbelief; Devil is with you. He abets your pretense of atheism and lays siege in your consideration and blinds you from the glory of Christ. Earlier than you get to that car parking zone bereft of what you simply heard, Devil has visited you and ate what you wouldn’t.

Allow us to all, then, heed Jesus’s warning to be extra cautious how we hear (Luke 8:18).


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