March 29

 "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.”  Mark 4:1-9

Growing up in Northern Indiana I am very familiar with seed and planting and soil. In that part of the country we were blessed with some of the most fertile soil in the world. But, as good as the soil is it still must be plowed and harrowed and fertilized in order to be prepared for the seed that will be planted.

In the parable Jesus told in Mark 4 the seed represents the Word of God which is always fertile seed, but the emphasis is placed on the condition of the soil. The soil represents the human heart and He mentions four soil conditions, or conditions of the heart.

The first condition is represented by the path. Because of the constant foot traffic over this soil it has become hardened and unreceptive to the seed. Before the seed has a chance to put down roots it is either crushed under foot or snatched by the birds. This is the hearer who may hear the Word but doesn't listen to it.

I call him the ego-centered hearer. He doesn't think he really needs to hear the Word and so when he does, he only listens to what he wants to hear. Therefore, his heart becomes hardened.

The second sort of hearer mentioned in the Parable of the Sower is represented by the rocky soil. This is the hearer who listens to the Word and receives it gladly. His faith is stirred and is initiated within his spirit.

Often this is the person who experiences trouble and rocky times in his life and turns to faith looking for help. And he finds it because any time you sincerely call on the name of the Lord you will find Him.

But while he heard the master’s voice and listened, he didn't have time to learn from the Word and put down deep roots. Since his faith is shallow from lack of knowledge, he doesn't withstand the heat of life's trials and faith dies.
 
Regarding the second hearer, he is what I call the emergency hearer. This hearer finds himself in a bad situation and his life has become rocky, so he turns to God for help. Sure enough, he finds help from a faithful God. But he doesn't diligently continue to listen and learn from the Word so his shallow spiritual roots are not deep enough to sustain him.
 
Jesus talked about a third condition illustrated by thorny ground. When the seed lands among the weeds and thorns it springs up quickly but is choked out by the weeds before it can produce a harvest.
 
Such a heart is one who hears the Word and listens but doesn't learn the truth of it. Therefore, it cannot survive the attacks of the weeds. I call this the emotional hearer. He hears the Word at an emotional point in his life, listens and believes but depends on emotions when emotions change so does, he.
 
Let me ask you, "Which sort of soil is in your heart?" 
 
One of these conditions is true of your heart.
 
Are you an ego-centric hearer, an emergency hearer or an emotional hearer?

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