Tonight's lesson in church was on the parable of the sower in Mark 4. It got me to thinking, wondering what condition the soil of my heart is in. I'd like to say it's the good soil that is fruitful and productive but we all want to be the best but am I being honest?
The soil on the path is compacted and hard. The seed falls there birds gobble them up. The hard heart refuses to hear God's word and Satan swoops in and steals up the seed so that it cannot take root.
The rocky soil is...well, rocky. And if you've ever tried to grow things in rocky soil you know that the plants don't thrive. They dry out quickly and wilt, need extra water to keep them going and they fall over easily in the wind. The rocky heart is quick to receive the Word but when persecution and difficulties arrise in their life, they fall away and forget that God is there for them, just like the diligent gardener who tends his plants even in stony soil.
Other seed falls among the thorns and weeds. We all know what those represent. It seems like everywhere we look these days we see lustful images, profanity, drugs and alcohol, sin made to look good and good made to look evil. Thorns. Even the most faithful must guard their hearts against this onslaught of the world or we too will be choked out and fall away from the God who loves us enough to give up his own son.
And then there is the good ground, the fertile soil. The soft heart that is ready and willing and able to accept God's word at face value and to embrace it with no looking back. The one who goes out and shares the Good News with others and is willing to suffer the ridicule and persecution of the world with no regrets. Those seeds spring up and flourish, sending out deep roots that keep the heart solid in the wind and the leaves healthy in the sun. They grow up to produce 30, 60, or 100 times the initial investment.
So what condition is the soil of my heart? I've withstood temptation, persecution, and ridicule, I tell the world about the love of Jesus, and deep in my heart I feel the roots of His Word, His Love, His forgiveness. I believe the soil of my heart is good soil, healthy soil, ready to be productive and fruitful.
And in honor of those who are persecuted, sometimes to the point of death, simply because they love Jesus, I'd like to start listing the name and a link for information about a brother or sister in Christ who is imprisoned somewhere in the world. So today's name is that of a man I have been praying for for months.
Youcef Nadarkhani is in prison in Iran because of his love for Jesus and he has been sentanced to death for his refusal to recant and return to the Islam religion. Insiders in Iran say his death is iminent. Can you imagine being killed just for loving Jesus?!
Go here: http://www.prisoneralert.com/pprofiles/vp_prisoner_214_profile.html?_nc=4f9ec9bce62a9439ac9c7514e7ed15e8 to read more about Youcef's story. Please pray for him, lift him up and pray that God will fill his heart with a peace that only God can provide.
Please don't forget our suffering brothers and sisters around the world. And don't take for granted the freedom we still have here in our country, the freedom to worship.