Bible Study Theme: Broken
Fallow is not a word that most people have ever used in a conversation (unless you’re a farmer). So if you don’t know, “fallow ground” is land that has sat unused and become hard and full of weeds. It must be broken up and prepared before it can be useful and planted with seeds.
The Bible frequently uses farming images to talk about spiritual truths. For example, Hosea 10:12 talks about sowing righteousness and reaping steadfast love as a prerequisite for the rain of God’s righteousness. But also included are these words: “Break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD.” In other words, our hearts can also become hard or full of weeds or rocks that must be broken up before it is ready for a work of God.
Jesus used this metaphor in the Parable of the Sower, a story about how our hearts receive Truth. To explain why people respond differently to God’s Word, He compared it to seed that falls on four different types of soil – a hard path, shallow soil, ground filled with thorns, and good soil – each representing the condition of a person’s heart. His point was that the result of hearing God’s Word always depends on the state of the hearer’s heart.
Many people hear Scripture with physical ears, but don’t listen with their hearts, which is why Jesus ended His parable with, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Only one kind of soil received God’s Word, applied it, and produced a harvest because they listened with spiritual ears.
In light of Jesus’ teaching, we have prayerfully picked BROKEN to be the theme for Pine Cove’s Family Camps this summer. If our hearts are like soil that the seed of God’s Word falls on, they must be humble and ready to receive the Truth. For the Seed to take root and flourish, we must break up any fallow ground – both individually and as a family – submitting our wills to God. As Samuel Chadwick observed, “It is a wonder what God can do with a broken heart, if He gets all the pieces.”
We can begin by praying like David in Psalm 51:17, asking for a broken and contrite heart. We can ask the Holy Spirit to break our pride so we can surrender to His Word and grow to be more like Jesus. Every time we read or listen to the Bible we can prepare ourselves to hear, then receive the words of God with a heart ready to obey, and then apply what we hear into our lives.
But we must never forget Who makes the seed of the Word grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 tells us that ultimately it all depends on God to transform us. Does this mean we do nothing? Certainly not! Think of how a farmer has to work hard at preparing soil, planting seed, and pulling weeds, all the while completely trusting God for the rain, sunshine and growth. Like a farmer, we are both dependent and responsible at the same time (see Col 1:29).
So what kind of soil are you? When the seed of God’s Word falls on your heart does it take root or just sit there? Are you digging deep spiritually so you can be “rooted and built up” in Christ? (Col 2:7) What fruit in your life right now gives evidence of good soil? (Jn 15:8)
Remember that Jesus’ parable is all about your heart, and your heart follows whatever you treasure (Mt 6:21). What do you treasure the most? What possession or activity could you not live without? What idols or distractions need to be pulled up by the root? Is your heart soft and broken before the Lord?
In closing, here’s a portion of a prayer from the Puritan devotional The Valley of Vision that may help guide us to a “broken and contrite heart”:
My lips are ready to confess,
but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend.
I bring my soul to thee;
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.
Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
Grant that through the tears of repentance
I may see more clearly the brightness
and glories of the saving cross.