Many people leave church week after week the same way they arrived, with no more understanding or victory over the areas in their life than before they got there. The struggles of life just seem to get harder and harder with not an end in sight. I suppose that's why countless of people leave the faith and stop attending church. Being able to understand and absorb the teaching of God's Word will undoubtably help us in our Christian walk and give us the needed weapons to overcome.
Jesus gave us insight to understanding. Let's look at Mark. 4:14,15 "The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts." Here we see that preachers, teachers or ministers of God's Word are the ones who sow the Word! The ground to which the seed is sown is representative of a man's heart. Jesus refers to the people that 'hear' these messages are unable to retain it, because they are the 'ones by the wayside'. In Bible days, the wayside was the edge or side of a road. This ground was generally hard.
These type of people have a stubborn heart. This is one that won't yield to God or His Word, finding it unimportant pushing it to the side. They hear the sermon, go home, and continue to complain, talking about and sharing their problems with everyone. And because of their difficult life, there is much un-forgiveness. They're angry or hurt most of the time, thinking the problem is with God and others. That is why when the Word is sown in their heart, it's quickly stolen by the devil.
The second set of hearers are described in verses 16 & 17, "These likewise are the ones sown on stoney ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness: and they have no root in themselves and so endure only for a time. Afterward when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble." When I was a child, I lived on the farm. In certain places the ground appeared to have dirt, but just a layer below the dirt, was a sheet of ‘shale’. Shale is a thin layer of sedimentary rock that comes from the combining of mud or clay. When the seed is planted in this kind of ground, it gets hot from the sun and the earth becomes a hot bed. So the seed germinates fast scorching it and making it wither and die because there's no depth of roots.
Jesus said this type of hearer is one that receives the Word with joy, and it appears to grow fast. Yet when distress or offensive things happen, they can only stay strong for a very short time. Then they give up and wither because it got too 'hot' and the experience they had in the Word wasn’t genuine. It was primarily for show, since they considered the standard too hard to live by, thus resulting in their falling away.
The third manner of hearer is found in verses 18 and 19, "Now these are the ones sown among the thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." When the Word of God is sown into these hearers heart, it is planted and along side thorns begin to grow and suffocate the seed. Thorns in this life can be worry, a great desire for more money, and the need for power and possessions. This hearer is distressed and irritated and always in want. The fear begins to choke what Word was heard making it unproductive. Wrong things in the heart left unattended can become deeply rooted.
If we want to begin to understand and grow in the Word of God, we must prepare our ground, keeping our heart soft and teachable. Just like getting the soil ready for planting we must till the ground, and remove the rocks, weeds or thorns. Hos. 10:12 "...... Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you." Tilling is forgiving and repenting, requiring self examination, getting rid of works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), and walking in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-25) It's trusting in the Lord with all our heart, (Pro. 3:5) removing fear, worry, and doubt. It's essential to watch over and guard our heart. Proverbs 4:23 NIV "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." We can know what's in our heart by what's we're speaking. Luke 6:45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
Take this moment right now, to check your heart! Let's pray: Father, I place my heart before you. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness and create a clean heart within me. Right now I decide to repent for holding on to grudges, fears, resentments and all grieving that will hinder my growth in You. I let them go and place them over into Your care! I choose to trust You with ALL my heart. I will guard and watch over what goes into it daily. I decide to hide Your Word in my heart so I will not sin against You. Thank You Lord. Amen.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."