By Melvin Eugene Surface
Devotional Scripture: Mark 4:20
Central Thought: The condition of our hearts determines what God can do in our lives.
Those who do the will of His Father are members of Jesus' closest family. When His mother and brothers, concerned for His mental or physical needs, came to call Him away from His teaching, He took the occasion to drive home truth about His spiritual family. Looking around at His audience, He said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:34–35). Submitting to God's plan forges an intimate and eternal bond with Jesus. In fact, God's will begins with believing in His Son.
Jesus' Parable of the Sower demonstrates how the condition of our hearts determines what God can do in our lives. Parables are stories that teach lessons in symbols, pictures, and parallels. They can both reveal and conceal. Jesus said some would hear his stories, get the message, and take it to heart. Others would hear the words but miss the point.
Speaking of seed and soil, He showed the different ways people respond to the things of God. The seed that fell on the path was quickly devoured by the birds and had no life at all. The seed that fell on rocky ground exploded to life in the shallow soil but quickly withered in the sun. It had no roots. Other seed fell on deeper ground. It began to grow, but among the weeds. The thorns claimed the strength of the soil, and this good plant from good seed produced no fruit. Finally, the seed that fell on good ground grew up, bore grain, and produced an ever-increasing harvest.
Away from the crowd, Jesus explained that the seed in His story was the Word of God. Some never receive it at all. Others accept it with excitement and promise, only to give up when trouble comes. Still others receive the Word and seem to survive, but the cares of living, the chase for money, and the charm of possessions choke out their spiritual lives. They bear little real fruit for God. The good soil, like good hearts, takes hold of the Word, goes deep, and keeps clear of anything that might hinder the results God wants.
Jesus said, 'Pay attention to what you hear. The measure you use to receive is the measure God uses to channel His flow of blessings into your life” (Mark 4:24, paraphrased). A plumber might explain it this way: 'God can't pour you a ten-inch blessing if all you give Him is a one-inch pipe!” Those who value the things of God receive more and more. Those who don't, lose everything.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to treasure Your truth with an open and willing heart so that I will be a channel of Your blessings to others today.
Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 7:28–9:6; Mark 3:31–4:25; Psalm 37:12–29; Proverbs 10:5