Matthew 13: 1-23
Mark 4: 1-20
Luke 8: 4-15
As we embark on the global time of prayer and fasting, our hearts need be ready to receive from God. For prayer and fasting to be effective you need to be prepared. Knowing where your heart is with God is a good place to start. God knows our hearts better than we do, and nothing can be hidden from Him. God does not focus on the outward appearance but what is within, and we should do the same. Be intentional with yourself and take a good, long self-assessment of the state of the SOIL of your heart. The first 2 types of the soil or attitudes of the heart will be presented here this week and the next 2, next week.
Jesus used parables to reveal the “mysteries or truths” of the kingdom of heaven. In this particular parable – called the Parable of the Sower, Jesus talks about a farmer scattering a handful of seeds. Some seeds took root and others did not. In the parable, some seeds fell beside the road where footpaths often bordered the fields. There were rocky places just below the surface of the soil in many areas. The plant could grow, but eventually withered under the sun because it did not get the moisture or nutrients it needed. Thorns often grow when no other plants will. In the rugged terrain of Israel, they can take over an area, so the crops are choked.
The seed is God’s Word; the various soils represent distinct kinds of hearts; and the varied results show the different responses to the Word of God. So whether or not the truth of God’s Word can produce growth and godliness in a person’s life will always depend on the condition of the heart listening and the readiness of the heart to receive.
ROADSIDE SOIL OR AN HARDENED HEART: Jesus said, “Some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them.” [Matthew 13:4]
In Israel, people made paths along the edge of a ploughed field and at times seeds may end up on the paths are beaten hard by foot traffic and the hot sun. It is not that the people did not understand the word of God that was preached or told, it is that the devil snatches and seizes the word of the kingdom before it has time to sprout. The gospel never penetrates these souls, so it disappears from the surface of their understanding.
Application: Is it possible that our life has become like a worn out, beaten path? We know where the problemed areas are and how to avoid the pitfalls. We have become so routine that we are self-dependent and self-focused. Like the path, our hearts are worn out from everyday routines, everyday struggles, stress, and the cares of life. We have gotten so routine that we are comfortable and rarely call upon God. When the seed of a Word from the Lord is tossed at us, we continue in our routine and the seeds are trampled on. Before the Word can make a difference in our lives and in our hearts, it is plucked up by the enemy and it is gone. The sad thing is, we are so self-reliant, we do not even notice. “It was just another conference,” life as usual on Monday.
ROCKY SOIL or SHALLOW/SUPERFICIAL HEART “Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away.” [Matthew 13:5-6]
In rocky or stony areas, the soil is very shallow and somewhat deceptive in that it looks fertile, but there is no depth to sustain the roots, so the seed cannot growth because it cannot reach water. It is important to recognize that persecution helps a believer grow; helps to strengthen your faith and gives you the ability to stand in the heat of trials. But if your faith is weak, if you lack understanding, and your foundation is unstable you will not be able to withstand the devil and his schemes.
Application: When the seed falls on the stony ground, it is not stolen or ignored, it is received. This is where you may have sat in a retreat, a church service or a conference and you were excited. “That was just what I needed.” You took notes, you underlined in your Bible and left ready to apply the recommendation/truths to your life. You are going to be different this time. The word is received, and it begins to sprout (even before you leave the retreat) but it does not last long. Because the soil was rocky, the Word does not have a chance to form deep roots. Without deep roots, it cannot survive. It is scorched by the sun or blown over by the first trial faced. On the surface your faith in Christ looks good, even impressive, but there is no substance underneath. No depth. So, you are uprooted by every wind or storm that passes by. You survive by fooling those around you, but you cannot fool God. If your heart is not attached to Jesus, you fail. You need to be grounded on a solid foundation.
TO DO: Spend time reading the scriptures above and begin to pray and examine yourself this week. Do you identify yourself in either of the 2 soils presented above? What is the current state or attitude of your heart? Is there anything that needs to be added or adjusted? If you feel comfortable, add a comment below. If not, know that we are praying for you.