How’s the Soil?

Background Story: Jesus often taught in parables using real life examples to help people understand deeper truths.

Read Mark 4:1-20

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Big Idea: If we aren’t growing, we need to check out the soil.

It’s possible to go to church or youth group every week but never see growth in our relationship with God. When this happens, we need to check out the soil of our hearts. God’s word hasn’t changed but the condition of our hearts (the soil) can make the word unable to take root and produce growth in our lives.

-Soil on the Path: Take a walk on a path and you will see that the ground is hard. Hard ground is great for a walk but not so great for planting seeds. What kind of things can harden our hearts making God’s word unable to take root in us? Unresolved bitterness, continued sin, and pride will make your heart hard unable to absorb God’s truth. All three of these are self-focused looking at what I deserve now or deserved in the past. As we focus on ourselves and what we deserve, it makes it really easy for Satan to steal any word God is trying to speak to us. Truth verses to check out: Matthew 13:14-15, Romans 12:17-21, Ecclesiastes 7:9, James 4:7, Proverbs 28:13, Hebrews 12:1, 1 John 4:20, Proverbs 16:18, Psalm 10:4, 1 John 2:16

-Soil on Rocks: The soil on top of a rock is shallow and keeps the roots growing on the surface. We go to a Christian conference and have an amazing experience with God but that one-time experience will not sustain our Christian walk. We must deepen our walk (or soil) through discipleship or we will die off when the storms of life come. In Ephesians 4:1-16, it tells us to, “live a life worthy of the calling we have received” and to pursue humility, peace, faith, knowledge, and purpose in Christ. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves” (V14).

-Soil with Thorns: Thorns are “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things” that pull our heart away from true devotion to God. When our hearts are focused on other things, the word of God gets choked out. Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” We can’t serve God and (fill in the blank). If you want to see growth, you have to dig up and trash those thorns that have become idols in your life.

If you identify with any of these soils, it’s time to pray with a heart of surrender. Surrender the idols, the bitterness, the pride, and sin and ask God to soften your heart helping you to receive His lifechanging word again.

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