“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
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– thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:14-20 NIV
The seed is the word of God and the ground is our heart. The Lord sows the seed of the Word into our heart through the written and the spoken word. The seed is the same seed that is sown into each person. The quality of the seed is never in doubt, but rather it is the condition of our heart that determines the quality of the harvest we reap from that seed. The seed is very, very good, but it must be planted in optimum conditions in order to produce an optimum harvest.
There are four categories of ground, mentioned in Mark 4, that the seed falls on to. They are ground with: no soil, stony soil, thorny soil and good soil. The first heart, which has no soil, is not open to receive the seed of the word of God at all. They hear it, but their hearts are closed and hard and the word doesn’t even get anywhere near their heart. They hear, but they don’t receive.It goes in one ear and out of the other. The devil has already convinced them that the word is unimportant and they don’t need to even pay attention to it. He snatches it away immediately.
The next heart that Jesus mentions has some soil, but it is still very stony – partly hard and partly soft. These people initially hear the word and accept, receive and welcome it – with joy! They like what they hear, but they don’t allow the word to change their heart. They don’t allow the word to take root and become established in their lives. They have merely a superficial grasp of God’s word, but they have not allowed it to impact them. They expect God to do everything for them, but they are not prepared to make a stand for Him. They walk with the Lord for a little while, but when trouble and persecution comes against them because of the fact that they had initially received the word in their lives, they immediately get offended with God and those who brought them the word. They say, “This is not supposed to happen to me. This stuff doesn’t work. I am going back to what I believed before and back to the way I used to live!” They are displeased, indignant and resentful and they stumble and fall away.
The third heart is thorny ground. It does have soil and has no rocks, but it is full of seeds already – unfortunately they are weed seeds. The seed of the word is received into their heart and they allow the word of God to take root in them and to grow up. Everything looks like it is growing just fine, but unless the weeds and their roots are ripped out of the ground, this heart will be in big trouble before long. This person allowed God’s word in to grow up in their heart, but they did not deal with their fleshly and worldly thoughts and desires. They left the roots of sin alone in their hearts and the weeds continued to grow up alongside God’s word. They did not allow God to weed their garden and clean them out so now the weeds choke the good word of God in their lives and it becomes unfruitful – it does not work for them. They allow the worry weed to choke the word that says that God is faithful. The cares and anxieties of the world are more real to them than the provision and protection that God offers.
They drop God’s word like a hot potato to go after the pleasure, delight, false glamour and deceitfulness of riches and the craving and passionate desire for other things. Except they don’t realize that they are pursuing a lie! They become distracted from the truth of God’s word by the pull of the world and all it offers – they allow the world’s voice to ring louder in their ears than God’s voice. They are tempted to go out and go after things the quick and easy way. They think that things will make them happy, but they will never be happy until they do things god’s way. They have not realized what a liar the devil is and that all he can give is pain and misery. They are looking at the beautiful icing on the cake and are tempted to take a bite, not realizing that there are worms chewing on the cake underneath the surface! If they would only lay down their lusts for other things and love God more and serve Him – then He would give them all those things besides – together with peace and joy and contentment!
The last heart that Jesus mentions has good, well adapted soil. They hear the word, receive it, accept and welcome it. They hear the word, giving it entrance into their lives. They receive it as the truth and believe every word of it. It doesn’t matter what the world says, or what they hear or see, they receive God’s word as the final authority. They accept the word and allow it to change them. They obey the word and allow it to burn out the junk that was there from the past. They welcome the word. The word moves in and is at home permanently in them. When the devil and his lies, pressure and persecution come knocking at the door, they tell him that he is not welcome. Not only do they believe God’s word is true, but they take him at His word. They act on His word and they are doers of His word. God’s word produces good fruit in their lives up to a hundred times as much!
God’s word is good and will produce good fruit in our lives if we will make the adjustments and make our hearts good soil to receive, accept and welcome the living, powerful, fruitful word of God into our lives!