Tuesday, February 25
Scripture: Numbers 17-28, Psalm 29, Mark 4
Mark 4:16–17 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
In the parable of the soils, Jesus describes four responses to the gospel.
- The pathway represents a hard heart; the seed can’t penetrate but lies on the surface and the devil comes and takes it away. There is a spiritual battle going on when people hear the gospel. We need to pray!
- The rocky or shallow soil represents those who hear the gospel, receive it with joy, but don’t have deep roots, so they don’t last long, but fall away when it gets difficult.
- The weedy soil represents those who hear and respond, but let the worries of life, the lure of wealth and the desire for other things grow up and choke out the gospel, rendering it fruitless.
- The good soil represents those who hear, accept and produce a rich harvest.
I was struck today by the second response: joyful but shallow. I see so many people who make a positive initial response to Jesus, but who don’t last long. They don’t put down deep roots. Their faith is shallow and can’t withstand the hardships that are an inevitable part of life. My friend, Jerry Sittser, describes this as “thin” faith, rather than thick, sturdy, robust and strong.
How do we put down deep roots? How do we develop thick faith, a deep relationship with Jesus that withstands the storms? Each person’s journey is unique, but here are some practices common among those with deep roots.
- Learning God’s word. A disciple is a learner—a life-long learner—and our text is the Bible. Those who keep learning Scripture tend to have deep roots.
- Prayer. Those who pray often and develop an honest conversational relationship with God have deep roots.
- Fellowship. Not just surfacy fellowship, but those who develop authentic Christ-centered, faith-encouraging relationships have deep roots. They aren’t trying to go it alone.
- Obedience. Those who put what they learn into practice, who are determined to do what they know, have deep roots.
- A long obedience in the same direction. Those who do these basic things consistently over time sink their roots ever deeper.
I know there are other practices. But I don’t know anyone with deep roots and thick faith who isn’t doing these things. Start here. Go deep.
Prayer: Lord, help me today to encourage everyone I’m with to put down deep roots and to keep growing in Jesus.