Day 4

Welcoming the Word

from the 1 & 2 Thessalonians reading plan


1 Thessalonians 2:13-16, Matthew 13:1-9, Acts 13:44-52

BY Bailey T. Hurley

Our heart’s readiness to welcome God’s word can be examined much like a farmer examines the ground for planting. There is healthy, usable soil (a ready heart), and there is hard, difficult soil (a heart not yet prepared) that takes a lot of effort and back-breaking work to make usable again. In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord warns Israel about allowing the soil of their hearts to become hard and thorny. He tells them to “break up the unplowed ground” and “not sow among the thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3).

God’s people were planting seeds without having prepared the soil of their souls, and so the seeds of faith had no ground to mature. How do we avoid planting seeds of faith on rocky, shallow ground? How do we practice breaking up the hard places of our hearts to welcome God’s word into our hearts?

I’ve never personally planted anything—caked my hands with dirt, gently cradled roots, or sought the best soil for a plant to grow well. I can barely keep indoor plants already potted in good soil alive. So, I can only imagine the difficult work of removing large rocks, gathering thorns and weeds to be thrown out and turning the ground into something usable. 

Thankfully, when it comes to matters of our hearts, Jesus came to break up the unplowed ground through His life, death, and resurrection. When Jesus was on earth, He brought the good news to the Jewish people—His people—though they had not done a good job of keeping their hearts prepared to receive Him. Welcoming the word of God is more than receiving a Bible passage or following God’s law; it is receiving the person of Jesus (John 1:1). Some people were threatened by His popularity and power, so they constantly looked for ways to silence Him; the soil of their hearts rejected Jesus.

Yet, there was another group of people who received the word of God and welcomed it (1Thessalonians 2:13). These people had hearts with good soil, and when they heard about Jesus, the seeds of faith took root. And to all who received in Him, “he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12). 

As children of God, we must tend to the soil of our hearts more than once. When growing food or flowers, it’s necessary to prepare the ground seasonally. We can’t simply plant a seed and walk away, hoping to grow good food the next year without any effort. We must regularly practice the spiritual discipline of welcoming Jesus into our hearts. We need to tend to the soil of our hearts, so that it does not become overrun by weeds and thorns. We need to water our faith often with the word of God, replanting some unmet desires through prayer. 

Take time to examine your soil. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you break up your unplowed ground. “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong” (Ephesians 3:17, NLT).

Post Comments (57)

57 thoughts on "Welcoming the Word"

  1. Tre'Shonda Sheffey says:

    Amen such a great reminder

  2. Juliana Brydon says:

    I can relate 100% with my kids, but don’t loose faith, I was once them too. I kind of walk away from church, in my late teens, and when I was 23 I came back to church and He welcomed me with open arms. I’m 50 now and never walked away again. I just keep praying for them, I know the seeds are planted.

  3. Paula Strong says:

    I’m behind as usual but this scripture reading really applies. Two of my kids are following God and two are not. It goes along with the parable. I am learning though that I cannot force my boys to “hear”. If their is no readiness they will not understand. This is not about me it is between them and God. I’ve planted the seeds so many times but I feel like they just threw them back at me. I’ve got to let go and let God.

  4. Juliet Armitage says:

    The devotional really resounded with me.

  5. Laurie Crary says:

    Yes, Amanda, yes. You are absolutely right.

  6. Judy Gilmer says:

    Today is my first day to study some of the scriptures with this group.0 I found out real quick that I need to turn my soil daily so I can fully prepare my heart more for what Jesus has in store for me and to get a clear understanding of what he want me to do.
    It told me in my heart that I probably need to fertilize my soil and it should help me to keep my heart stronger and help to prepare me more for Jesus.
    I have enjoyed my study this morning beyond measure-
    Thank you so much

  7. Anne Stock says:

    Bailey’s devo here does a nice job reminding us to tend to the soil of our hearts. It strikes me that tending this soil involves all the spiritual practices that we know are good for us: prayer, worship, spending time in the word, fellowship with believers, service, etc. May God help us all to maintain fertile soil in our hearts.

  8. Gretchen S says:

    The parable of the sower has become my favorite parable. I am amazed by the plethora of angles of application. I love how you pointed out that we must tend to our hearts more than once. Just like a garden, we must constantly be preparing our hearts for Jesus.

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