Mark 4:10-20 The Parable of the Soils


Mark 4:1-9 presents this parable of soils, and the crowds walking away without any spiritual application. It is in the following verses that the few disciples begin to ask the meaning of the parables. Christ’s response in Mark 4:14-20 gives us a glimpse into the soil of our souls. 

The four soils each represent your heart's willingness to receive the Word of God.

The first soil of Mark 4:14-15 represents a Deceived Heart. This soil is too close to the road, a hard heart that finds no room for God’s Word. The deceived heart lets Satan come and steal away the Word without anything sinking in. How often we forget a spiritual lesson before we have opportunity to share or write it down where we will remember it. 

The second soil (Mark 4:16-17) responds quickly to the seed, but when the sun’s heat comes it withers for lack of soil. This emotional response is the Lovey-Dovey Heart. This heart is not willing to pay the price of being a Christian. There were thousands upon thousands who tracked Jesus down to watch him perform miracles, but only a dozen or so men who were willing to follow. What crowd do you find yourself in?

The third soil (Mark 4:18-19) sinks the seed in deep, but allows the weeds to grow and choke it out of producing any fruit. This Distracted Heart fails to produce fruit because of the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. Our world knows busy-ness, and we can see ourselves so busy that we forget to pick up our Bible, or even reflect on spiritual truths every week, but at what cost are we willing to keep living in this way? 

The only fruitful soil (Mark 4:20) is the Discerning Heart that represents those who honestly come to Christ and believe the gospel. This heart sees fruit and reminds us of the continuous fruitfulness in every disciple’s life. Where is your fruit? Check your heart. 

The point of this passage isn’t about how much “fruit” you produce, but it’s about our response. There are lots of ways we might respond, but ultimately we either reject the Gospel, or we believe and repent.

What will your response be? What is your receptivity to the Word of God?



Questions to Consider: 

Do you find yourself with a hard heart?

 Break up the soil and let God’s Word sink in. Take a truth from God’s Word and meditate. Start with a Fighter Verse

Do you find yourself with a hollow heart? 

Give God’s Word more room to grow. Let your excitement for God’s truth resinate through your life. 

Do you find yourself with a half heart? 

Consider what Christ called us to in the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). Every believer is called to make disciples. Consider the cost of continually finding something that is more important than church, fellowship with other believers, or time in the Word. Take a look at your recent purchases. What does that tell about your true desires? Cling to God's truth. 

Do you find yourself with a whole heart?

Are you thrilled to study God’s Word and see it become alive in your life and the lives of those around you? Trust in God to produce a great work in your life ‘both to will and to do of his good pleasure” Phil. 2:13. Share this parable with a friend. Christ's words to us have great significance. 

Phil. 3:4-7 Our Only Boast is Christ

Do You Know Christ?

What is your testimony of how you came to know Christ? Who was influential in telling you about Christ’s love? 

Here in Philippians 3 we have one of the greatest salvation testimonies recorded in Scripture. Paul was raised in a very religious home and was taught God’s Word from a young age. In his adult years he had found himself trusting on his birth, race and religion for the righteousness that would ‘please God’. Christ made himself known to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-10) and that event would forever change his life. 

Paul declares in Phil 3:4-6 all the personal achievements and privileges that he relied on to gain salvation were worthless, and in v. 7 emphatically declares “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” What do you view as ‘gain’ in your life? What are you relying on to ‘please God’? Paul’s life goal was to know Christ and make him known. Do you know Christ? Are you making Christ known to those you talked with today? 

Throughout our study in the book of Philippians we have been exploring what it means to joyfully live like Christ. As Paul desires that he would “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings” he does so even to the point of “being made conformable unto his death”. Because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross, we know that our only boast is in Christ. We know as 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Consider how you can make much of Christ in your life. Not relying on your own power, but daily receiving grace from God to accomplish his work.


Questions to Consider:

Do you know Christ?

What are you relying on to get you to heaven?

Believer, are you making Christ known to those you talked with today? 

Phil 2:19-30 “Model for Ministry”

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Model for Ministry

This passage sheds light on the close companions that Paul had. Without a doubt the closest companions to Paul. Paul’s desire was that the church would live worthy of the gospel - to serve others better than themselves. The example Christ gave was to be their life goal. How were they to live this out? Paul reminded them, that they knew two men who fit just this description. 

As a conclusion to Chapter 2, the examples of Timothy and Epaphroditus serve as perfect illustrations of what it means to live like Christ, to perfectly show what he pleaded in vv. 3-4, showed to be true in Christ in vv. 5-11, gave motivation for in vv. 12-18, and now gives these practical applications for how we go about ministry. 

The first characteristic in how we ought to model our ministry is by having a Servant’s Heart. Christ first called us to “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”   John 13:34-35. What does your “care for others” look like? Did you reach out to anyone this week? Spend some time with them? Just encourage them? Within the church, we have an added opportunity to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10.

Along with a Servant’s Heart, our model for ministry must consider our Spiritual Health. The church had proved Timothy’s servant’s heart and teaching. When was your last spiritual check-up? Paul reminds us to “Let a man examine himself” 1 Cor 11:28. This teamwork that Paul experienced came from a similar focus on spiritual matters. When we seek the things of God, it becomes clear how much God is truly working in our loves and those around us. A further aspect of this ministry model is Steadfast Help. Paul said of Timothy that, “as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” One of my greatest joys in my years of ministry has been to step into ‘Timothy’s shoes’ and serve with my dad at Camp Chetek. Serving alongside my dad in the work of the gospel is something I will cherish. God used those years to spread the gospel, and to really shape my heart for God’s people. Paul would continue to encourage Timothy in the faith through his early and ongoing ministry, and near the end of Paul’s life, he declared of Timothy, “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and my sufferings.” 2 Tim 3:10. 

Verses 25-30 give us the example of Epaphroditus, a man from the church of Philippi, sent on a short-term missions trip to deliver gifts to Paul and assist in his ministry. During his trip he had become ill, not wanting the church in Philippi to find out and think he was returning early. Paul says that Epaphroditus served with a Soldiers Honor. He showed his love and concern for church, the work of Christ, and embraced his role as a messenger with humility. 

Are these characteristics part of your model for ministry? The church needs more people like these two men, will you step up to the task?


Questions to Consider:

  • How is your spiritual health?
  • When is the last time you made a plan to serve someone? 
  • How do you think about the people you see every day? Are they merely another distraction in your day, or a soul thirsty for connection. Share Christ!

- Pastor Micah Tanis

Phil 2:12-18 "The Gospel at Work in Your World"

Is the Gospel at Work in Your World? 

Here in Philippians 2:12-18, Paul challenges the church to consider the great gift of salvation and to show how the gospel impacts every day of life. The admonition to “work out your salvation” is possible because God has already ‘worked in you’ (v. 13). This Work of Salvation means that God has shown his everlasting love to you! Like the phrase… “We do not believe in a salvation BY works, but we believe in a salvation THAT works.” Any ‘work’ that we accomplish is all because Christ has worked in our heart “to love and good works” (Heb 10:24-25). Has Christ worked in your heart? The Wonder of Salvation is that God changes our hearts, and we can serve and worship him in return. We are entrusted with the Word of Salvation to ‘shine as lights in the world’. That means in Morris, in our surrounding communities and everywhere we go. We have joy of “holding forth the word of life” to those who are searching. And when we finish our days on this earth, we can be confident that we “have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Like 2 Peter 1:10-11 says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Is the Gospel at work in your world?


Questions to Consider

Has God worked in your heart? Come to him for salvation!

When was the last time you shared with someone how God is working in your life?

What are you doing to be a ‘light’ in your world?


- Pastor Micah Tanis

Phil 2:5-11 "Living Like Christ"


"Live like Christ"

So often when we here the phrase "Live like Christ" it may be easy for us to pass it off as a Christian colloquialism. What does it truly mean to "Live like Christ"? Philippians 2:5-11 serves as the most profound example of living in humility for the sake of others - the essence of living like Christ. The short phrase, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" brings to memory the life that Christ lived so we could know God, so we could taste of his eternal salvation. That FOCUS out to guide our lives as we live in this world and seek to impact our community with the gospel. The humility that Christ expressed in vv. 6-8 stand as a testament to his desire to do God's will and an acknowledgement that he was serving us when he 'became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' Verse 7 states that Christ was found in 'fashion as a man' meaning he took on the form of a man. Beyond that he looked to serve and that was evident to everyone he came in contact with. His FASHION was to serve. What is your fashion, what can you be characterized by? Finally, vv. 9-11 offer the greatest exaltation ever recorded. God gave Christ a "name that is above every name". Christ's FAME was nothing he longed for (for he was already God - Col 1:17-20), but how God showed his favor on his son. With the World Cup on the biggest stage, players and teams are being exalted and earning their fame. The exaltation of Christ is for eternity. 


Questions to consider as you "Live like Christ":

How is Jesus currently being exalted in my personal life? 

What am I doing to ensure that my family is exalting the Lord Jesus? 

How is our church seeking to exalt Jesus and point others to Him? 


- Pastor Micah Tanis