September 1, 2019


Day 1:  Did you attend the Aug. 25 service to hear the message from Mark 3:7-19 about being called out of the crowd? (If not, you can watch a replay at Refresh yourself with that passage and read Mark 4:1-20 as well. Make note of his audience and see in Mark 4:1 specifically. Why does this parable follow chapter 3? What correlation can be made between these two messages/passages?


Day 2:Today is a longer devotional. Break up into two days if you don’t have the time.Let’s look at the three different soils.Read Mark 4:3-8 and 14-20.In your journal or on a piece of paper, make two columns. In one column, give a few phrases about each soil. In the second column, write down the meaning Jesus gives for each of these soils. Look at the three different poor soils. (Complete this exercise before reading on. Ask God to reveal the point of this message as you parse out each soil.) Now let’s review. When speaking about the soil that falls on the path in verse 15, Jesus says that Satan takes it away or that we intentionally or passively reject the words or message of God. The second soil is rocky soil. Ones who hear the word, accept it, but there is no follow through. It’s like someone telling you, “I’ll get back to you. I’ll text you tonight,” but there is no text. No response. Then the third soil has the best chance of success. It does grow from seed to plant, but it is rendered ineffective and doesn’t produce a harvest. Other beliefs, attitudes, pleasures, activities, hobbies, stresses stunt the Word (learning from and following Jesus) from growing as it’s intended. As you consider your life of faith, how can you relate to the different soils? Do any of these soils describe how you currently view your personal devotions, Sunday worship or small group involvement? 


Day 3:It’s easy to hide in a crowd. Here are a few words from last week’s devotional, “Crowds hide us from personal responsibility and accountability. Crowds distract us and lead us and give us a false sense of reassurance.” But God, well, we can’t hide from Him. God sees through us. On Sunday, Cory referenced, Not a Fan, by Kyle Idleman. In his book, the author uses the term “fan” to describe those in the crowd and offers an analogy of dating. Idleman explains how a man shares his love and devotion to his girlfriend. Then he adds just one condition. “I just want to be able to see other people.” Wait, what? That isn’t commitment. Jesus wants a wholehearted commitment. As you think back to Mark 4, and the good soil (person who receives the word) displays commitment. This is present in “good soil that produces a crop.” What else is going to be evident in the heart of a person that is going to “produce 30,60, 100 times what is sown”? 


Day 4: What kind of list did you come up with regarding one who hears the words of Jesus, takes them in, and allows the message of Jesus to produce an exponential harvest? I came up with a soft heart, humility, openness, confession, and an understanding and closeness with Jesus. Would you add to that list? Today, let’s reflect on how to cultivate that soil. Community is an important word in our church. We define it as to know and to be known deeply. If we want to know and follow Jesus (and be good soil), we can look to those around us. Here are some questions to reflect on. Who can speak freely into your life and tell you, with love, that you have gone astray? Who knows you well enough to ask you, “What’s wrong?” Who in your life asks you if you have followed through on what you said you were going to do last week? Then, flip these questions around. Are you that person to someone in your life? If so, intentionally engage in community this week for your and their benefit. If your “soil” isn’t as you wished, find a small group. ( Community like this won’t magically happen in a small group. It requires time and trust. But one thing is for sure. Community doesn’t happen unless you go out and pursue it. 

Day 5:Another way to view Parable of the Sower is to consider the different soils can all exist in my life concurrently. Consider the different areas of your life. Your schooling, career, marriage, parenting, your physical health or how you spend your money or your free time? Now read Mark 4:13-20. Ask God if there is an area of your life that He wants to speak into. What do you need to add or remove in your life to allow Christ to grow you more into His likeness? One cannot disconnect the spiritual life from every other area of life. “To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred.”Charles Spurgeon