This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins. Jeremiah 4:3-4
The Lord tells us to do two things in this passage. He tells us to 'plow up the hard ground of our hearts,' and to 'change our hearts before The Lord.' These two things are actually the same thing said in two different ways. 'Change your heart before The Lord,' actually means to cut off the outer layer of your heart that keeps you from being sensitive to God. To 'plow up the hard ground of your heart' means to destroy the hard outer layer of your heart so you can be sensitive to God.
Our hearts become cold and calloused because of sin. When our hearts become that way, we don't feel as we ought to. It's impossible for us to go 'All In' for God because we don't have the type of concern as we ought to. We don't love as we ought to. It's hard to pray as we ought to because we don't really feel the kind of care for the things of God that we should. We don't want to be this way, but it seems that we can't change the way we feel. That's when we need to plow up the hard ground of our heart.
In Luke chapter eight Jesus gives us a story about a farmer and four types of land that he casts seed on to. In the story we see that out of the four types of land, only one is able to produce. The other lands produce nothing but a dead crop.
The first type of land is so hard that the seed does nothing but lay on top of the land. The seed is exposed to the birds of the air that come down and take them away. This type of land represents that heart that is so trampled down by sin and delusion that the word of God cannot penetrate it. This person feels almost nothing regarding spiritual things. People are this way for a couple of reasons. One reason is because they have given themselves so completely over to sin. Although the word of God is presented to them, the don't take the time to consider it, to understand it. This could also be because of a large amount of abuse that has happened to them. They have hardened themselves to everything because of of the hurt that is inside of them to the point that they aren't vulnerable enough to receive from God. This type of ground must be thoroughly plowed up so you can be healed, or you will never be able to be 'All In' for God.
The second type of land is the land that is shallow. It is not hard like the first type of land, so it can receive the seed, but the soil isn't deep enough for the seed to take root. A plant pops up, but when the sun gets hot, it dies for lack of moisture. The rock under the soil doesn't allow for the plant to root down far enough to receive moisture during the time of the hot sun. This type of land represents the person who hears the word of God and even gets excited about it, but they don't give time enough to God to let Him root the word down deep into their hearts. These people, because they lack a true deep relationship with God, fall away during hard times and times of temptation. These type of people need to plow up the deep seated rocks in their hearts or they will perish with the pressure of the world.
The third type of land is the land that is a land good enough for growth, but the seed falls in with thorns. The thorns grow and choke the plant and it never grows to maturity. This type of land represents those who allow all of the cares of this world, and the desires for riches and pleasures into their heart. They think that they can still be 'All In' for Jesus with these things in their heart, but they are mistaken. All of it must be plowed up and removed in order to have a heart that is 'All In' for God.
The final type of land, of course, is the land that is thoroughly plowed up. Every hardened place is turned over, every stone is removed, and every foreign plant is weeded out. This is the heart that has been completely laid out before God with no reservation. It is a soft heart that is ready to be molded by the Master.
You'll never be able to serve God in the way that you ought to unless the hard ground of your heart is plowed up. You must be able to feel as God feels for this world. Do you look at the world and not care that they are headed towards hell? You need your heart plowed up. Do you find that you have little care to pray or read the bible? You need your heart plowed up. Do you find that you are more apt to be upset at a fellow christian than to feel love for them? You need your heart plowed up. It must be done or you will never accomplish the will of God for your life.
So, the question is, how to you plow up the hard ground of your heart?
When you plow up ground, you take your plow and go back and forth over the land until it is completely turned over. Every stone must be removed. Every tree stump must be removed. Every foreign object must be removed. It's not something that can be done in an instant. It is something that must be done carefully. Get out something to write on and take the time to think carefully about any and every sin that is in your life that you haven't fully repented of before God. When you think of it, write it down. Don't just think about sin in general, but think about particular instances in which you have committed each sin. Write down each instance. If it is a sin you have committed on a regular basis, then note that. After you have written it down, ask God for forgiveness for each one and then ask God to help you, by His strength, to be rid of it in your life forever.
What are the sins that are in your life still? If you are like me you will find that there are more than you thought. Don't just think about the sins of commission, but also the sins of omission. That is, not just the sins that you commit in practice, but also the sins that you commit by leaving your God given duties undone.
Think about sins like a lack of love for fellow christians. Have you had circumstances were you saw another believer going through a hard time and expressed little care for them? Maybe you express care for those that you like, but what about your enemies? Jesus said to love your enemies, as well. Have you done that? If not, write it down.
What about foolishness? Have you had times when you were so caught up in doing something foolish that you forgot God, or offended Him, because you thought it more important to joke around with you friends than to please God? If you have done so, write down each instance.
Lust. Do you find yourself lusting after someone? If both of you don't have a ring and a marriage certificate, then your passion is offensive to God. God requires that you save that passion for after your wedding day. Have you virtually committed adultery with another in your heart before you have even been married? Write down every instance.
Hedonism. Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure. Are you a pleasure seeker? Are you always looking to please the flesh rather than to practice self-disicpline? Jesus said that we must take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him. Have you done that, or do you seek to fulfill every desire of your body as often as you can? Write it down.
What about selfishness. How often have you completely ignored the needs and wants of others because you felt that your needs and wants are more important? Doesn't the bible say to look after not only our own needs, but the needs of others? How often have you been so selfish to not even put a small amount of money into the offering plate because you wanted it for yourself. Write it all down.
Insincerity. Do you come to church, to people, or to God with a mask on your face? Do you pretend to be someone you are not? You are not only being insincere, but you are lying. Your heart and your face are two different people. Write down every instance were you knowingly have portrayed yourself to be a different person than you really are.
Pride. How often have you practically denied God's existence because of pride? How often have you hidden the fact that you are a Christian because you have been ashamed of Jesus Christ? Write down each instance where you have exalted yourself rather than Jesus Christ. It is pride.
There are many other sins that I am not going to take the time to list here. Write down each one.
I'm not asking you to do these things so that you feel bad or so that you feel depressed and condemned. I was very resistant to doing this myself, but I found that when I did, I began to be humbled before The Lord. I found that I began to feel deeper for the things of God and to pray more effectively for other people. You will see that this is very important to do if you ever want to see God come and heal this land:
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
When you do this you will find that your hard heart is being plowed over. Your heart will begin to feel again and God will be able to use you to accomplish His purpose. Only when you do this will you feel as you ought to in order to be 'All In' for God.
Don't put off doing this. You will not be able to move forward with God until you get rid of all the stones and thorns in your life. If you don't do this you will end up like a branch that is cast off to be burned (Jn 15:6). There is no such thing as a christian who is not moving forward in the things that God has called him to do. If you find yourself not moving forward, then you are sliding backwards, and will soon slide into hell.
What I'm asking you to do is not easy. It takes deep self reflection. But if you do this you will not regret it. You will find that it is a great process of self cleansing. God will look down with great delight upon you, and you will be a great blessing to many people. You will no longer be stagnant in your christian walk. You will be a shining light to all the world here, and also in the world to come.