Mark 4:16-17 ” Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the Word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word they quickly fall away.”

In these verses from the Parable of the Sower we see the Word of God being sown over rocky ground.  The plants  spring up, but because they have no adequate root system, they die off  quickly.  In the Amplified Version of the Bible it gives us insight into this shallow faith. It states in Mark 4:17,  ” And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.”  So how can we pray for this person? They have to go deeper.  In I Timothy 3:9 it talks about keeping ahold of the deep truths of the faith…the divine secrets, revealed truths, and revelations from God.  To move from shallow faith to a vibrant and intimate relationship with the Lord,  a person has to go deeper with God…allowing Him to speak to them through the Scriptures, revealing important truths to them.   And with these new revelations, they are then able to send roots of trust down deep.

Mark 4:15 ” Some people are like seed along the path, where the Word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in them.”

This is from the Parable of the Sower, where the farmer sows the Word…the Logos…the Word of God,  onto a hard-packed path.  The seed just sits on top of the surface, unable to germinate and grow because of the hardpan – the unbroken subsoil beneath.  To have a hardened heart towards the Gospel is to have an indifference towards the things of God…or to have an unfeeling conscience.  So how can we pray for that person?  We can ask the Lord to plow up that hard soil of rebellion in their life… that the Word of God may germinate and flourish there.

John 5:39 ” You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”

Jesus Christ can be found on each page of the Bible.  So as we read, we need to be continually asking…”How does this Scripture point me to You Lord?”  By personalizing the Scriptures like this…reading the Bible will never become a dry and boring ordeal we just tolerate, but rather an ever new and exciting adventure of discovery.

Psalm 119:33-34 “Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep Your Law and obey it with all my heart.”

Never getting into the Bible and studying it is like starting a brand new job with only a large manual at your desk for reference .  Are you going to attempt to muddle through…struggling to grasp the new job before you, but never bothering to open the work manual?  To the Believer, the Bible is our policy and procedure manual…our job description, our rules and regulations file…our personal guide book…and most of all, a loving and encouragement- filled intimate  letter from the “Boss”.  This new job of being a Christian is hard enough…why not try opening the manual!  You’ll find that every time you do, there’ll be a new,  inspiring and  personal correspondence from your “Boss”.

Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ “

When we compare the actions of Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 we can see quite a contrast.  Where Zacchaeus spontaneously offered to donate his great wealth to the needy…the rich young ruler, when challenged by Jesus to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor, left unwilling.  True repentance changes us from the inside out.  It transforms our heart, causing us to alter our actions and way of thinking to that of Christ’s.

Psalm 88:18 ” You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.”

I’ve seen this first hand with my elderly parents the past year.  Almost weekly,  a close friend, neighbor or acquaintance dies…usually from old age, but that still  doesn’t lessen the blow of their passing.  Even though death and dying is a part of life, we still  mourn and experience sadness in our loss.  The Psalmist here is lamenting to God that his friends, parents, or maybe children are gone…leaving him in a very dark place in his life.  We all at sometime in our lives will feel just like this Psalmist…grappling with the loneliness and sorrow of losing  loved ones.  And that’s OK.  Giving ourselves permission to grieve is a healthy and  vital part of the grieving process.  It’s OK also to feel lonely.  That person we’ve known so well has left, and what remains is a void…a gapping  hole in our heart of palatable  sadness.  It’s at that time that cherished memories help to bridge the chasm of grief.  Sharing those memories with others is also a way of slowly moving out of that dark place into the light.  For God knows exactly how you feel…He understands your pain…you may feel lonely, but with Him,  you’ll never be alone.

Romans 10:4 ” Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

Jesus Christ came to earth and died on the Cross to fulfill the demands of the Law.  He freed us from the impossible observances of those Laws…giving us instead His perfect Law that offers freedom from sin and guilt.  For anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus…the old Law-keeping vanishes, as the new covenant is activated in their heart.