It’s All About the Soil

In Mark 4:3-8 (NLT) Jesus tells of a farmer who went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on the path which the birds came and ate. 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. In verses 14-20 Jesus explains the meaning of the story to his disciples.

Most of you have heard this story… this parable, before. And you have probably read or heard the explanation of the parable. It is usually intended to show the different types of people who hear the Word of God in respect to salvation. However, there is a very clear message in here for believers as well; particularly believers who are struggling in some area of life.

Jesus begins his explanation, “The farmer sows the word. 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” (Mark 4:14,15).

Have you ever been robbed? Have you ever read a Scripture that seemed to jump out at you or heard a sermon that ministered to you. You were inspired, encouraged, hopeful and then you began thinking of all the things you’ve done wrong. You remember your failures, your blatant sin, your open rebellion against what you knew was right and your hope began to fade. You felt unworthy of any of the blessings God has promised even though you have confessed it to God and repented and you know His Word promises that if you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Revelation 12:10 calls satan the accuser of the brethren. His sole purpose is to destroy you which is why he continually hurls accusations and lies to distract you and keep you from understanding just who you really are. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says you are the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus]. Romans 8:17 says you are a child of God and therefore an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. The point is not the benefits of being an heir. The point is the extent of the love of God for you that He would make you His son or daughter. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Satan can accuse you all he wants, but his hot air has no bearing at all on how God sees you.

So back to Jesus’ explanation of the parable. “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 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” (Mark 4:16,17).

It’s easy to fold when we focus on our circumstances. It’s even easier when that’s all we know. In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist writes, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” How much of the Word have you planted on the inside? It’s one thing to go to church and hear a message that moves you, but receiving it and holding on to it are two different things. If the Word is not planted firmly on the inside you will never have the strength to withstand when temptations or trials come at you from the outside. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The road of life is difficult enough without trying to navigate it in the dark.

Jesus next tells of the seed sown among thorns, “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 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” (Mark 4:18,19).

So let’s say you have been in the Word. You are learning and growing, but there are things in your life that you just aren’t ready to give up. In Titus 2:11-12 Paul writes, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” There comes a time when you are confronted with the reality of your choices. Will you accept the Word which says your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19,20) or will you disregard what God is saying and pursue the things that seem pleasing to you? Remember, your choices have consequences and it is often those choices that choke the Word and make it unfruitful in your life.

Finally Jesus explains the fourth type of seed, “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:11).

Notice in all four instances, the focus is not on the seed, the focus is on the soil. And here’s where I get excited. Read with me Jesus’ parable in Mark 4:26-29.

“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Remember, the seed is the Word. When planted in the heart it will sprout and grow. All by itself it will produce fruit. Or put another way, by renewing your mind on the Word of God, you are transformed (Romans 12:2). Are you struggling with some issue in your life? Perhaps you recognize yourself in the parable of the sower. Are your roots shallow? Do you find yourself caught up in the circumstances of life? Are you finding it hard to surrender certain habits or pleasures? Has the devil lied to you and kept you from believing that you can change? Mark 4:26-29 says that the Word WILL sprout and grow. You WILL see change if you will just commit yourself to the Word. There are no formulas to follow. The Word will produce fruit and just like the man scattering the seed you may not even know how.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

You will never change on the outside until you first begin to change on the inside. Let the seed of the Word do what it was intended to do… conform you to the image of the one who loves you and gave His life for you. Remember, it’s all about the soil.

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