Mark 4:3-9, 13-20
“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.”
Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 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. 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. 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. 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.”
Happy New Year! As we head into a new year, it’s appropriate to examine the posture of our hearts toward the Lord. Thus, this new series will take a close up look at what the Bible has to say about the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Did you know that the word ‘heart’ is used 900 times in the Old Testament? 899 times it refers to the inner man, and only once does it refer to the actual physical organ in our body. The heart includes our mind, our will and our emotions. It is the place where all of our really important decisions about life are established. It is through our heart that God speaks to us by His Word and by His Spirit.
Take a moment to re-read our Scripture focus for today. Open your Bible to Mark 4 verses 3-9 and 13-20.
There are four types of hearts according to Jesus. Today, we’re unpacking the first two.
The first type of heart that Jesus describes is the unresponsive or closed heart. When the seed is scattered along the path, it falls on hard soil that has been trampled down. Lots of people that you and I encounter have hard hearts and closed minds when it comes to hearing the gospel. They have rejected the light of God’s revelation for so long that their hearts have become totally unresponsive. Thus, Satan just comes along and snatches the seed right out of their hearts. Our problem is not with our physical ears, but with the ears of our hearts. This is why Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The second type of heart is the superficial or shallow heart. The seed that fell on the rocky places actually refers to an underlying bed of solid rock just beneath the surface of very shallow soil. So when the seed begins to germinate, its roots cannot penetrate the rock. Therefore, even though the seedlings spring to life and look healthy at first, they quickly wither under the scorching sun.
This word, superficial, means ‘existing on the surface.’ Everything looks good on the surface. I’ve been observing men for over 35 years who attend Bible studies. Many give an outward appearance of real belief. But, when their friends begin to make fun of them for attending a Bible study, or for becoming too “religious,” they quickly fall away. A superficial believer never leaves his old way of life. Nothing really changes. He is the same man he was before. The man who makes a superficial commitment has never repented of his sin; and he doesn’t understand what it means to be a new creation.
That’s the invitation in 2023: to step into the invitation of becoming a new creation. What does God see when He looks into your heart? Next week we will look at the other two types of hearts. Stay tuned.