[As this lessons begins, remind participants that everyone will be in a different place spiritually; therefore, as discussion is shared, encourage them to offer each other mercy and grace; especially during vulnerable moments or times of weakness. Our goal is never to fix anyone, but instead to listen and offer support when needed. Personal discussion, unless otherwise noted, should always remain confidential.]
Scripture: Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Lesson: Read (Mark 4:1-8; 14-20 MSG) He went back to teaching by the sea. A crowd built up to such a great size that he had to get into an offshore boat, using the boat as a pulpit as the people pushed to the water’s edge. He taught by using stories, many stories. “A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams. The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them. And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”
(26-32) Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time. How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”
*Ask this question: What can we make of all this? Discuss the illustrations Jesus used to describe this concept. Revisit the different types of soil Jesus explained.
*Ask this question: How can we fill our hearts with good soil, producing a plentiful harvest beyond our wildest dreams?
*By speaking life. Speaking God’s Word into a difficult situation, or into any situation, is like preparing the soil of our hearts with fertilizer. If we cultivate the soil of our hearts, or the soil of any situation we face with God’s promises, a bountiful harvest will follow.
Take Away: The yield of my harvest is determined by the words I choose to speak.
Goal: Identify a current situation you are facing and practice speaking life towards it. It is easy to let our emotions talk, but what does God say about it? Example: If you are struggling financially, maybe say something like this, “I don’t have to worry, because it is written that my God will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19).” “I don’t have to worry about what I will eat, drink, or wear, for my heavenly father knows all of my needs (Matthew 6:31-32).” Remember, that in the book of Romans, Paul reminds us to speak those things which are not as though they are. This increases our faith, and pleases God.
Activity: Watch things grow! You will need, a plastic bottle, a pan to sit the bottle in, dish washing liquid, water, food coloring, baking soda, and vinegar. Squirt 3 drops of dish soap into the bottle. Next, add 3 drops of red food coloring. Then add 4 table spoons of baking soda. Have a half cup of water and a half cup of vinegar sitting beside the bottle. Pick up the cup of water and say, “When we do not speak life, but instead choose to speak negativity into our situation, we do not yield a plentiful harvest.” Demonstrate this by pouring the water into the mixture. Wait for a second and confirm that nothing happens. Finally, hold up the cup of vinegar and say, “But if we speak life into our situation, and say the things God promises us, this is what happens.” Demonstrate a plentiful harvest by pouring the vinegar into the bottle. The vinegar should react to the baking soda by making everything over flow from the bottle. This is why the bottle is sitting inside a pan, because the pan catches the mess.
*For the second activity, you will need Styrofoam cups, potting soil, seeds, and water. Have each participant fill up their cup with potting soil. Then let them choose from a variety of seed packets. Have them choose a couple seeds to plant. Prepare small spray bottles with water and write the word, “Life” on them. Hand the participants a bottle, explaining that the water inside represents the Word or speaking life. Whenever the seed is sprayed with the water, it will grow, ultimately producing a harvest.