Jim Maxim

And he [Jesus] said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

—Mark 4:9

Just one day, twelve short hours, changed the lives of Jesus’s disci- ples forever. That one day, they experienced a surging crowd, a mes-

merizing farmer’s tale, a terrifying storm, a prisoner suffering from mental illness and demons, and a herd of screaming pigs.

In the next few prayer days, we’ll look at how Jesus trains the dis- ciples (and us) to have a deeper faith. Let’s begin by the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus sits in a fisherman’s boat in front of a large crowd, relating the story of a farmer sowing seeds.

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and

choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.… He who has ears to hear, let him hear.            (Mark 4:3–9)

This story has a sower, some seeds, and four different kinds of soil. But the story isn’t about the sower and it isn’t about the seeds; it’s about the soil and why only one type of soil produces a harvest.

First of all, the seed, which represents God’s Word, isn’t to blame for harvest failure because it can’t control where it’s sown. The sower— the evangelist, the Christian sharing his faith—isn’t to blame either; his job is just to sow the seed of God’s Word. So, what’s to blame for the seeds that never produce a harvest? It’s the soil—my soil, your soil—the soil of our hearts. This is how Jesus explains the four differ- ent soils to His disciples and to us.

  • Soil 1. Some seed fell along the path. “These are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immedi- ately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them” (Mark 4:15). There was no soil here, just a few grains of dirt lying on the pathway.
  • Soil 2. Other seed fell on rocky ground and had no root, so it withered away. “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, imme- diately they fall away” (Mark 4:16–17). This soil is thin without enough nutrients to grow any roots.
  • Soil 3. Other seed fell among thorns and never produced any harvest. “And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word,

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and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19). There is soil here, but it’s so full of thorns—personal sin, greed, and worldly ambitions— that the seeds can’t grow.

  • Soil 4. Other seeds fell on rich soil and produced a great, ever-in- creasing harvest. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20). Thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold! This is rich, cultivated soil that bears a great harvest for God’s kingdom.

Here is the point of Jesus’s lesson for the disciples then and for us now. The soil represents the hearts of people and the seed is God’s Word. If our hearts are not ready for God, the seed of His Word will perish. If our hearts are cultivated and prepared, we will have the fourth kind of soil, the seed will grow, and we will be fruitful for God’s kingdom. It’s our choice. So, let’s ask ourselves, what kind of soil do I have in my heart to receive the seed of God’s Word? Am I preparing that soil so I will grow? Do I spend time enriching that soil with God Almighty’s presence in prayer and with His Word? Nothing takes the place of spending time in prayer in the presence of God.

Our growth is dependent on the soil of our hearts. Where you choose to plant your beliefs about God Almighty is the determin- ing factor of where your life will go. The soil of your thought life, the garden of your hopes and dreams, your spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of His thoughts toward you—all of these will pro- duce greater fruit for God’s kingdom in your life and bring Him glory. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). I want to be the type of soil that yields one hundredfold! I know you do, too. You’re following these devotions because you want to grow deeper and richer in the Lord.

Jesus taught His disciples about kingdom fruit and power, some- times through a parable, other times with real-world experiences. This extraordinary day in Jesus’s life that we read in the gospel of Mark is no different. He was preparing His disciples to experience the importance of having rich, deep soil…but they didn’t get it yet. They didn’t realize that this entire day was an object lesson for a deeper walk with the Master. Jesus was setting the stage for the extraordinary things that would be accomplished that day and for the rest of their lives.

Let’s pray together now that the soil of your heart will be rich for God’s Word and produce an abundant harvest in your life.

Excerpted from “21 Days of Deeper Prayer: Discover an Extraordinary Life in God” by Jim Maxim with Daniel Henderson, © 2020 by Jim Maxim. Published by Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA. Used with permission. All rights reserved. www.whitakerhouse.com.

Free audio prayers found here: www.acts413.net/deeperprayer