Summary: We need to ask ourselves if we have the kind of heart that in which God can produce fruit.
Are You Good Ground?
Text: Mark 4:13-20
1. Illustration: In the movies "Gettysburg," there is a scene the night before the main battle. The commanding General of the Union Army, George Meade, comes to the house where their headquarters have been established. He looks at one of his core commanders and asks the question, "Is this good ground? Is this the place to have an army?"
2. Perhaps it is a question that we must ask ourselves. Is this good ground? Is my heart the kind of ground that God can grow?
3. According to Jesus there are four kinds of ground:
a. There is the hard heart.
b. There is the shallow heart.
c. There is the crowded heart.
d. There is the fruitful heart.
4. Read Mark 4:1-20
Proposition: We need to ask ourselves if we have the kind of heart that in which God can produce fruit.
Transition: First we see...
I. The Hard Heart (13-15)
A. Those By the Wayside
1. In this parable, the seed is a reference to the Word of God, and the different types of ground refers to the receptivity of the hearts that either receive it or don’ receive it.
a. All four grounds, that is, all four types of persons, heard the Word; but each received it in a different manner.
b. How each received the Word depended upon the kind of ground they were.
2. First, Jesus says "And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts."
3. The seed by the wayside: the wayside ground is an unploughed heart that results in a hardened life.
4. The person by the wayside does hear the Word of God. He is present in church; but he is off to the side, out of the way, not involved.
a. He lets his mind wander and thinks little and involves himself even less.
b. He respects Christ and the preacher, and would not miss a service, but he is on the outer circle, paying little attention to the warnings and promises of the Word.
5. The word makes no impression on the "hard-path" people.
a. Perhaps the person feels no need in his or her heart, no desire for anything other than this life, no guilt of sin or need of forgiveness.
b. Satan has no trouble with these people.
B. Hardness of Heart
1. Illustration: Someone once said, "If you live in a graveyard too long you stop crying when someone dies."
2. Ignoring God’s attempts to work on our hearts can be a dangerous thing, because after a while your heart becomes hardened to God.
a. The seed of God’s word hits you, but it will not penetrate.
b. It just bounces off, and it is exposed for the Devil to pluck away.
3. Heb. 3:15 Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
4. The children of Israel heed the voice of the Lord, and it left their hearts hard a calloused.
a. They repeatedly would not listen to the word of the Lord.
b. Eventually, the put themselves in a position where God could no longer speak to them, and it led them to 70 years in exile.
5. When we turn away from the word we create a condition in our hearts where we are no longer receptive to His voice.
Transition: The next heart condition we see is...
II. The Shallow Heart (16-17)
A. The Ones On Stony Ground
1. Jesus says, "These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble."
2. This heart is like thin soil on a rock, very typical to Palestine. Since there is no depth, whatever is planted cannot last because it has no roots.—Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
3. The seed on the rock: the stony ground is a rootless heart that results in a surface, superficial life.
a. This person hears the Word, and becomes excited over it.
b. He receives the Word, professes belief in Christ, and makes a profession of faith before the world.
c. But he fails to count the cost, to consider the commitment, the self-denial, the sacrifice, the study, the learning, the hours and effort required.
4. These people receive the Good News of the gospel because of the promises offered.
a. They initially show some promise of growth.
b. These people understand some of the basics but do not allow God’s truth to work its way into their souls and make a difference in their lives--their roots don’t go very deep and they wilt.