April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:3-9 NASB
At different times in our life, the “seeds” of truth, love, and grace that God sends our way are met with different heart conditions. There have been times when rebellion hardened the soil of my heart. At other times, my heart has been wide open and soft towards the Lord; but birds and other pests stole away the seeds of truth.
You can hire a soil inspector to come out and access the condition of a piece of land. If you could send in a sample of the spiritual soil of your heart, what would the results show? Are there soft places ready for new growth? Are there areas that need heavy tilling to remove rocks and hard spots? Perhaps the soil of your soul needs that Sabbath year off to rest and replenish.
Consider the following verses and how they might highlight different heart-soil issues:
Read the following verses and journal your heart response towards God’s Word:
Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors. Hosea 10:12-13 NASB
‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants; And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water. ’ “This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s ’; And that one will call on the name of Jacob; And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the Lord,’ And will name Israel’s name with honor. Isaiah 44:3-5 NASB
And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:10-11 NASB
Some of the above verses reveal that our lives affect the way the Gardener waters, tends and cares for us. Others indicate that God will pour over us with cleansing, fresh water and make us flourish in Him; and that care poured over us originates with His heart, rather than ours.
While entire Bible studies have been written on the Lord’s plans and how He brings them about, as we consider the soil of our hearts, it is wise for us to take that personal inventory to see how we are responding the Lord’s Word and work in our lives. I believe Scripture shows that there are some plans the Lord brings to pass because He is sovereign; while there’s other desires He might have for His children but because He includes our involvement in His work and doesn’t force us to respond one way or another to Him, we can limit or increase how much of His design we experience.
Marriage is a perfect example of this concept. The Lord designed marriage to be a monogamous, life-long, mutually loving and respecting, joyful adventure for His children.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce in the case, this was His answer:
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.” Matthew 19:8 NASB
If our hearts are hard, we are not able to be aligned with the Lord’s design and purposes. Another example of limiting the way we experience God is bitterness:
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. Hebrews 12:15 NASB
It is a very difficult place to recognize the hardness in our heart and feel unable to change it. Thankfully, the Lord promises to send showers of refreshing when we turn to Him.
Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19 NASB
Join me in the following weeks as we dig through the Scriptures that point us to the Words of Life for our hearts and emotions. You can also purchase the study here.