READ: Mark 4:1-20
THINK: God never intended for it to be hard to receive His message. When people hear an inspiring challenge from God's Word it's not extremely difficult to sense the Holy Spirit's leading and make an initial response to Christ. But when it comes to following through on that commitment and actually growing in a relationship with Him, God's Word never promises that it will be easy. In fact, the Bible warns of many obstacles and forms of opposition that will try to deter and destroy your devotion to Jesus. But it also promises that if you rely on God and remain deeply devoted to Christ, you will grow spiritually and be fruitful in serving God.
RESPOND: What are parables and how did Jesus use them? (See 4:2 note.) What does the "Parable of the Sower" teach about how people can respond to God's Word and what that has to do with spiritual growth? (See 4:3 note.) What are some of the things that can affect how people receive, respond to, and retain God's Word? What are some of the enemies of God's Word? What "thorns" can come up in a person's life, choking out his or her commitment to God? In general, what are the two types of people described in this parable? What kinds of things lead to or influence half-hearted commitments to Christ? (See 4:15-17 note.) Why would a person make a "halfway" commitment to Christ? How can you prevent this in your life?
PRAY: Ask God to help you sincerely respond to and effectively retain His Word by putting it into practice. Pray that you will have the wisdom, strength of character and devotion that will prevent worldly attractions and concerns from choking out your devotion to Him.
ACT: Examine your life and present circumstances. Consider your current priorities and time commitments. Examine your recent attitudes and behaviors. If anything is detracting from your devotion to God and stunting your spiritual growth, deal with it immediately. Pull the spiritual weeds from your life so you can be fruitful for Christ.
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