An introduction to four Bible studies for new or re-committed Christians who want to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Your Lifelong Adventure: Study 4
In the previous study, Jesus talked about some hard realities for his followers. Use the Debrief questions for reflection. In the story below, see how Jesus describes a variety of spiritual conditions in people, including those who are good soil for fruitful spiritual growth.
DEBRIEF & INTERPRET
How do you feel about being a Jesus-follower right now? How has God been showing up for you?
Last week you were encouraged to give away something costly. What did you learn about yourself? About God?
HEAR THE WORD
Read Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23:
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives 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. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
- What do the four soils described by Jesus have in common? How are they different?
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ word (the seed) and fruitfulness?
- Each soil represents a response to Jesus and his teaching. What hinders fruitfulness in the first three soil types? Can you think of people who fit each category?
- What are some characteristics that result in someone being “good soil”?
- Which soil best describes you a few months ago? Today? What has changed?
- Jesus identifies the thorns as “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.” What are common "thorns" that threaten to choke out spiritual vitality for you and your friends?
Jesus, I want to be good soil and to bear fruit for your purposes in our world. I confess that I have let other things choke out your voice in my life. I am afraid of persecution; make me brave. I worry a lot; give me your peace. I like wealth; make me generous. I love my own pleasures and ambitions; help me take up my cross joyfully. Please help me turn to you more fully so that I can experience the fruitful life that you want me to live.
Good soil requires attention and care so seeds can put down deep roots and grow up in to healthy plants.
Do a soil check this week. What helps you to grow spiritually? What hinders your growth? What seems to be the strongest (and weakest) part of your growth in faith? Use the “Soil Analysis: Journaling Assignment” and write down your reflections and prayers. Share your reflections with one Christian and one non-Christian.
Mentor someone else. Being good soil involves sowing seeds of faith in others. We join with Jesus in sowing the great news about Jesus wherever we go so others might follow him too.
Now that you've completed this Bible study series, where do you go from here? Check out Next Steps to prepare you for continued growth in following Jesus for a lifetime.