through His Word
by Joanna Eccles
Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life
A Blog Series on the Gospel of Mark
The harvest is worth the effort to cultivate good soil. Too often, I sabotage myself by falling into common traps that prevent God’s seed from taking root and thriving. The parable of the sower in Mark 4 highlights some common impediments to growth, but ends with the harvest. How do we avoid the pitfalls of having bad soil? Developing fertile ground requires digging into God’s Word so His truths feed our hearts.
The Same Seed for Everyone
Mark 4:14 “The sower sows the word.” (NKJV)*
Jesus scatters the seed onto all types of soil. He does not discriminate with whom He shares the gospel message. God’s Word doesn’t change. The difference in growth depends on the soil.
Be in the Field
Mark 14:15 “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.”
These seeds fell onto hard-packed earth that composed the walkway. It’s like the seed is falling onto concrete; nothing is growing through that. Some people are beaten down by life, with no soil to grow seed. We have to place ourselves in the field where we can be encouraged and open to God’s work.
Soften Your Ground
Mark 4:16-17 “These likewise are the ones sown on stony 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.”
The stony ground initially received the good news with joy, but wilted under affliction. To reap a plentiful harvest, we must have soft, deep dirt for the seed to take root. Our soil is enriched when we soak up God’s Word. His wisdom softens the soil of our hearts.
The gardening concept of aeration requires punching small holes into the earth so air, water, and nutrients seep deep below the surface. Too much hard dirt can be crammed into one area, thereby preventing seeds from taking root. God breaks up the soil of our hearts so the word can get inside.
Weed Your Garden
Matthew 4:18-19 “Now these are the ones sown among 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.”
Too often my soil is full of weeds that choke out the seed. I get busy as work, church, and relationships all pull for my attention. I must weed out distractions. John 15:2 says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Last year I had to release many dreams. They seemed to vanish into flames, and what remained was scorched earth. I later discovered God was replanting that land with new dreams that He wanted to grow. My old dreams weren’t bad, but they were sucking the nutrients required to feed God’s desires.
Gardening also requires patiently enduring trials. Hebrews 5:8 says, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Often I want to escape difficult situations instead of staying and learning what God wants to show me. I don’t like to hurt. But God uses suffering to remove diversions, so we have space to receive truth.
Reap the Harvest
Mark 4:20 “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
If we want to reap, we must not only hear the word, but accept it and obey it. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We rely on Christ because we have no hope of bearing any fruit alone.
Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
When we feed ourselves on the Holy Spirit, He helps us bear spiritual fruit. We will reap if we don’t give up. Sometimes life looks bleak, but we endure because God is not done yet. Don’t let Satan quench your joy in obedience. When we water and fertilize our hearts with righteousness, our soil richens and our harvest abounds.
*All Scripture verses are NKJV.
© Copyright 2018 by Joanna Eccles
Joanna Eccles recently founded Words from the Honeycomb to provide resources that encourage people to grow in Christ. She desires to shape culture through her writing by addressing truths in relatable ways. Joanna has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C.S. Lewis Fellows Program. She loves coffee and traveling, and lives in northern Virginia. In addition to her website, you can also follow her on Twitter.
This post is a part of our series called “Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life,” and it’s our first guest post in the series. If you missed the previous posts by Katy, click the links below to check them out:
- “Jesus Can Make Your Giants Fall” – 10 reasons why Jesus can handle any obstacle we face
- “Silencing the Questions of Fear” – how faith in Jesus calms our fears, plus six faith-building verses to hold onto
- “The Day Hopelessness Had No Chance” – how Jesus can help us no matter how bad our circumstances get
- “The Day Helplessness Lost Its Power” – how faith in Jesus overcomes helplessness and leads to renewal
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