A Matter Of The Heart
Four Conditions Of The Heart
Day 1: In Matthew 13:3-9, we find Jesus teaching the crowds with parables. As Doug mentioned in his message, the word parable means “to place alongside.” A parable is a story or comparison used alongside a teaching to make it more understandable. This parable teaches about the kingdom of heaven and how the Word is sown and received based upon the condition or “soil” of the heart. Jesus closes the parable by saying, “He who has ears, let him hear.” The phrase “let him hear” carries the idea of paying attention to, understanding and obeying. We will consider the four soils described in this parable over the next few days. But today, simply ask yourself, “Do I have ears to hear when the Bible is preached, such that I’m obeying, or following, what God is saying to me?” Take some time to pray. As you do, consider your process for hearing and allowing life-giving truth to be worked into your life. What have you been working in your life lately? Ask God to help you be a doer of the word and not just a hearer. (James 1: 22-25)
Day 2: Read Matthew 13:18-19. Like a seed, the word of God has life – it’s living and powerful as Hebrews 4:12 teaches...the word is living and active. So it’s not hard to see why Jesus would compare the Word to a seed that fell on four types of soil. Today’s verses refer to the soil beside the road, where the seed fell and was trampled under foot (Luke 8:5). This resulted in the birds eating it up. This soil represents the hardened heart, unreceptive to God’s Word. So Satan snatches away what was sown. We must all consider what things in our lives might contribute to a hardened heart. What contends for your heart’s devotion and causes the most resistance to God?
Day 3: Read Matthew 13:20-21 We’ve all had experiences where something initially grabbed our attention but, in time, we realized we really had no interest in it. The excitement had waned because our devotion to it didn’t go deep. Well, Jesus says this happens to some who initially receive the Word with joy, but they later fall away when the Word brings internal discomfort or conflict. They go from responsive to unresponsive to the truth. This is the “shallow heart”. Does your life reflect an ongoing receptiveness to God’s word despite the costs of obeying Jesus? Or has your faith been shallow? Have you seen your faith become withered by the trials of life? Here is a foundational question Jesus is challenging us to consider. Do you believe trusting in yourself or God will produce a life of purpose and of peace?
Day 4: Read Matthew 13:22 The third soil Jesus presents in this parable represents the anxious heart. This heart is distracted by the cares and desires of this life and this prevents the word of God from bearing fruit in this individual. In Matthew 6:24, while teaching about wealth, Jesus says no one can serve two masters. And in 1 John 2:15 we’re commanded, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Just a few weeks ago, the sermon series “How to Be Rich,” reminded us of the importance of being content. In this parable, we again see the dangers of desiring wealth and worldly things – it chokes the word of God in a person’s life. Take a moment to make a list of concerns you have in life right now. Make a second list of biblical truths you’ve read, discussed in small group or have heard preached recently. Consider how you can actively focus on the truth of God’s Word rather than the concerns that have burdened you. Then a take step to begin memorizing 1-2 truths, so you can turn to them when worry begins to creep into your heart.
Day 5: Read Matthew 13:23 The last soil Jesus presents is the “good soil,” which represents a healthy heart. This heart’s good health is reflected by its fruitfulness. It’s important to see that of all the soils, this one is the only one that bears any fruit. A fruitful life from God’s perspective can only result from one type of heart – a heart that hears the word in a way that results in obedience. As you consider the descriptions of the four hearts, which one describes you this week? Here’s an assignment. Look up these verses regarding the various conditions of the heart and evaluate the condition of your own heart. Job 41:24, Ps 12:2, Ps 61:2, Ps 66:18, Ps 73:21, Ps 78:8, Ps 81:12, Ps 101:4, Ps 101:5, Ps 109:22, Matt 13:15. Now look up the characteristics of a healthy heart. Meditate on these and share your insights and questions in your small group, with your kids or with a friend this week. Deuteronomy 10:16, 1 Chronicles 12:33, Psalms 51:17, Psalms 112:7, Proverbs 15:13, Isaiah 66:1-2, Matt 5:8.