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And He said to them, 'Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. 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. 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. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.'
(Mark 4:13-20, NKJV)
Ever felt like dirt? You are! Sort of. You’ve heard of the parable of the sower, right? It’s a classic parable in which Jesus described our hearts through the analogy of four different soil types. Each one of the dirt types has unique characteristics. Let’s study all the dirt and then we can decide what type of soil we want to be!

Wayside Dirt: This describes dirt with many footprints. The heart of this person may be someone who’s felt walked on and become hardened. At some point, the Word of God was planted on their heart, but they were not receptive to it. The devil comes to steal the word from their hearts immediately. This person never produces any type of fruit in or through their lives. Do you know this type? The result of the wayside dirt is a person who is either hurt or burnt on religion. It could be someone who is completely clueless to the things of God or one who thinks they are smarter than God Himself. They may be anti-Christ, anti-Bible or anti-church. The shell around their heart is hard. Maybe you work with someone like this? Maybe it’s your brother-in-law? Your aunt? Neighbor? Maybe you brought them to church and they sat with their arms folded with a scowl on their face. They heard the Word, but as soon as church was over they gave you an earful, “I don’t like that preacher. He’s too simple or cocky or naïve. (Pick one.) That church is too big, too small, too poor, too rich. (Pick one.) I don’t believe you can take the Bible literally, it’s been passed down for years, what about other religions, blah, blah, blah (Pick one.) And on and on the dirt goes.

How do we help a person with a heart like the wayside dirt? Pray that their heart is broken up like fallow ground so the seed of the Word can take root. Commentator Wiersbe said, “Hard hearts must be ‘plowed up’ before they can receive the seed, and this can be a painful experience (Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12).” Talk straight. They don’t need the candy-coated gospel. They need to hear the truth and be reminded of this Scripture “Don’t harden your heart.” Pray that the light of the glorious gospel shines in their hearts and that Satan is ineffective in his attempts to blind their minds.

Stony Dirt: This describes the heart of the person who receives and accepts the Word with joy. They get pumped up and fired up about God right away. They are fun to watch because they are smiling from ear to ear and can’t stop talking about the Lord. They may be overcome with emotional excitement and goose bumps from here to the moon, but unfortunately, their roots have not gone very deep and they remain shallow. A few months or a few years into their Christian journey something happens. They face their first “official” full-blown adversity. They experience some persecution because of their faith in the Word. Suddenly, they don’t "feel" God’s presence. The goose bumps have been replaced with discouragement. The pastor, or church or Christian mentor who was just a phone call away, isn’t able to give them as much nurture and attention as at first. They lose their job. A prayer isn’t answered the way they requested. Their child is rebelling. Some sort of tribulation or persecution has hit their heart and they cannot withstand the pressure. The little bit of root they had gets burned up quickly; there is nothing left and no fruit is produced.

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon said this about the stony dirt, “Then there are many more, whose religion must be sustained by enthusiastic surroundings. They seem to have been baptized in boiling water; and unless the temperature around them is kept up to that point, they wither away…the religion that is born of mere excitement will die when the excitement is over.”

How do we help someone with a stony or shallow heart? Pray for this person to be rooted and grounded in Christ right away. Prepare them for adversity and tribulations and don’t protect them from the storms that must come. Waves and wind have a way of sending our roots down deep. Our local greenhouse plant grower tells us that they can “force grow” a tomato plant by overindulging the plant with water, sun and nutrients. The plant will grow like crazy, but if it does not face a little adversity in the early season of it’s development, it will not develop a strong root system. Worse, when it is transplanted outside the greenhouse, it is not able to endure the harsh conditions and although it will look like a tomato plant, it will never produce one tomato!

I hope you do not identify with the Wayside or Stony Dirt. I hope your heart is moved with a little compassion to pray for those who are hardhearted or shallow and I hope you take this message as a divine encouragement to keep your heart soft and tender before the Lord. Part 2  will look at the other two types of dirt Jesus mentioned. Today, let’s pray…

Say It:
Father, I don’t want to be the person with a heart full of ‘wayside dirt’ or ‘stony dirt.’ Today, I pray for those I know who are in these conditions. (Go ahead and pray for them!) In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Beth Jones Ministries
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Author Biography

Beth Jones
Web site: Valley Family Church
As a young couple, fresh out of Bible School with Two daughters and a third child on the way, Jeff and Beth Jones felt God's call to pioneer Valley Family Church in 1991 with a vision to make an eternal difference in Southwest Michigan. As a husband and wife team, they have always led together as visionary pastors and have shared the pulpit as Bible teachers. They are passionate about building the local church in greater Kalamazoo and the global church around the world.

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