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Daily Worship


March 11 | Mark 4:1-20




Soils of the Heart

by Mary Alice McGinnis

My Dad loved God’s Word. In my teen years, I have vivid memories of Saturdays when my parents sat with all their study materials spread over every inch of the kitchen table. Each week for many years, together, they dug deep into the Scriptures, gleaning, questioning, and pondering, to prepare for their Sunday morning Bible study class.

On one occasion, my Dad encountered a young man who unashamedly challenged my Dad's beliefs by saying, “I don’t believe all that mumbo jumbo in the Bible. It is just a bunch antiquated, useless words that have no relevance. The Bible is just a book of fairy tales.”

My Dad’s eyes got big. He looked this young man straight in the eyes and asked,

“Have you ever read it?”

There was dead silence. My Dad resumed, “If you haven’t, then I challenge you - go read it for yourself. Then come back and talk to me.”

This story came to mind as I read the Parable of the Sower today. It might be more appropriately named, the Parable of the Soils.

Let’s take a deeper look at the four kinds of soil.

Hardened Soil of Pride—some of the seed fell along the path. This soil is hard packed. The seed, left on the surface, unprotected and unable to germinate.

In the story of my Dad's encounter with this young man, it appeared as though his heart had been hardened to God’s Word. He was impervious, unreceptive and maybe even a little hostile to hearing the Word.

Where have I been prone to dismiss or become callous to God’s working in my life? Where have the hardships of life produced a hardened heart? Where has pride cause me to be unreceptive to what God may try to teach me?

Where do I see Satan at work, trying to steal away the seeds which have been sown?

Rocky Soil of Security—some fell among the rocks. Maybe the young who talked with my Dad felt he had no need for God. Maybe he was putting his security in other things in his life: his own success, his intelligence and ability to figure things out, his family, his friends. I suspect that he had a Christian upbringing, but had become disillusioned with God when trouble came.

Where have I been prone to plant myself on rocks that seem solid, but do not allow the Word to grow deep into my heart? Where am I choosing the security of the shallow dreams of this world? Where has trouble or hardship threatened to dry up my faith?

Thorny Soil of Fear—some fell among the thorns. Fear is one of the enemies’ greatest weapons. He uses it to tempt us to distrust God. I suspect that there was something in this young man’s life that was causing him fear. Perhaps he felt God’s promises were only fairy tales because he thought these “antiquated” words had no real power over the things he genuinely worried about.

Where do I find myself giving into fear Where are the thorns of this life’s troubles chocking out where God is speaking to me? Where has the enemy sown seeds of doubt in my heart, tempting me to believe God cannot be trusted?

Notice that there was nothing wrong with the seed.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

God is the farmer. He scatters His seed far and wide. His Word is not empty, but alive, powerful, and active.

God and His Word can be trusted.

Good Soil - Doesn't it make you wonder what made the good soil good? The soil requires the proper care of the farmer. The Holy Spirit is always working to preparing our hearts to receive His Word. He does the work of cultivating the soil, making it fertile. He alone is the one that makes the soil capable of producing a bountiful crop – a hundred, sixty, and thirty times what was sown.

Sometimes God furrows the hardened ground and painfully digs deep below the surface to stirring up our hardened sinful pride. Sometimes He must root out the rocks that we cling to, the shallow things we place our security upon. Sometimes He uproots the thorns of our fears, worries and preoccupations to make room for His Word.

And God uses us, fallible human beings, to spread the seed of His Kingdom Word too.

Many years after my Dad’s conversation with this young man, they both happened to be attending a meeting at the same time in a different city. This man, now many years older, approached my Dad and said, "Maybe you don't remember me. But it want to thank you for what you said to me several years ago. It really stirred up my heart. I could not forget about it. So, I did what you said. I started reading the Bible for myself. God is so good, He has changed my life.”


Lord, I bring my hardened heart to You Lord. Stir up in me places where my pride is hardening my heart to hear Your word.

Lord, I bring my insecure heart to You. Help me to turn away from false security and place my hope only in You.

Lord, I bring my fears to You. Uproot my worries and firmly root Your promises deep within my heart.

Thank You for Your careful cultivation of my heart, for Your work of redeeming my waywardness. Thank You that through Your death and resurrection, You have forgiven me and are making my heart new.

Use the power of Your Word through me to stir the hearts of those around me today.

Linger here a few more minutes. Lift your praise to God now through this song:

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