Scripture reading for January 21st: Mark 4
Key Scriptures: Mark 4:3-8 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on the rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty-fold, and sixty-fold and a hundred-fold.” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.””
An old joke when I was growing up in Iowa, the land of corn, cautioned everyone to be careful what they said when in the cornfield. There are lots of ears! Jesus called on His disciples and those listening to His teaching in parables to listen. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus knew that although most people were born with ears, not everyone desires to hear what is being said. The parable of the seed and sower illustrates that it is really the soil of the heart that determines our ability to hear. Some is rocky, with the seed of God’s Word finding no place to even sprout. Others are shallow soil over rocks, causing a quick sprouting but no follow-through in growth. Others have thorny or weed-infested ground and the weeds choke out the Word with no fruit. But some have good soil and the Word of God finds a place to germinate, grow, and produce abundant fruit! “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me ears to hear Your Word and listen to Your teaching with understanding. Break up any hardness or shallowness and remove all thorns that my heart might bring forth a crop to Your glory! May I sow Your Word as precious Seed finding good soil!
Psalm 126:6 “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Scripture reading for November 24th: Zechariah 2-5; Psalm 93; 1 John 3
Key Scriptures: 1st John 3:7-10 “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s Seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this is it evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
John was concerned about deception in the church. False teachers came and spread the lie that it did not matter how you lived, receiving Christ in your spirit was all that was needed. John set the record straight by repeating the same thing several times and ways. If you practice sin, you are of the devil. If you practice righteousness and love your brothers and sisters, you are born of God and His “Seed” abides in you. We are not saved by works, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s “Seed”, His Word and Spirit, come to live in us and transform us into Christ’s image. Our fruit shows which one we belong to: either the devil or God.
Psalm 93:5: “Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits Your house, O Lord, forevermore.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I don’t ever want to be deceived. Thank You for the Holy Spirit and Your “Seed”, the Word given as grace gifts to form Christ’s holy character in me.
Zechariah 4:6 “Then he said to me, “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.””
Scripture reading for September 14th: Isaiah 53-55, Psalm 128, 1st Corinthians 15
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 15:50-53 “I tell you this, brothers; flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
Paul explained the mystery of the resurrection, using a seed as an illustration. The seed going into the ground may not have any resemblance to the plant that will grow from it. So the fleshly body that is put in the grave will be raised a spiritual body full of life eternal. Jesus Christ is the fore-runner. His body was buried but raised on the third day a glorious immortal body. As believers in Jesus, we may not understand it, but we wait expectantly for the last trumpet! The best is yet to come!
Psalm 128:5 “The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for explaining the mystery of the resurrection body and showing Yours to the disciples. Empower me to share this mystery to bless Your people with heavenly vision and eternal life.
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”
Scripture reading for January 17th: Matthew 13, Psalm 13, Prov. 13
Key Scriptures: Matthew 13:20-23 “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the Word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Jesus used a parable, a story about something common, to teach His disciples about the kingdom of heaven. The parable required thinking and discernment to find the truth being taught. God’s Word was likened to seed sowed on various types of soil in the hearts of hearers. Some was rocky and shallow and quickly dried up, aborting the growth needed for fruit. Some was weedy and the Word was choked out before it produced. Other soil was fertile and the Seed multiplied in harvest.
Faith’s Confession: Father, thank You for considering my heart good soil. I receive Your Word and desire to produce fruit–even a hundred-fold!
Proverbs 13:13 “Whoever despises the Word brings destruction on himself; but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.”
Scripture reading for October 10th: 1st Thessalonians 2:9-3:13
” We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” God’s word has power to work inside of those who will receive it. The Thessalonians had chosen to believe the word of God and embrace it as coming from God, not just men.
This is an argument in our culture today: “How can I know for sure that the Bible is God’s word, and not just men’s.” Jesus taught us that God’s word is Spirit and life. It is like seed or sperm, having the power to produce God’s life within us. (John 6:63) (1st Peter 1:23) All Scripture is inspired by God and the writers of Scripture were moved on by God and given what to write. (2nd Peter 1:20-21)
The Thessalonians had suffered persecution from their own countrymen for turning away from the idols of that culture. Paul suffered too, as he preached the Gospel in that region. Paul taught the Thessalonians that Satan was behind this. God’s wrath had already fallen on some who were hindering them. (1st Thessalonians 1:14-18)
Paul sent Timothy to the church to encourage and strengthen them in their faith. He was concerned that the trials might shake the church and cause them to fall away. He knew the ways of the tempter and carried this church on his heart. Timothy brought back a good report of their faith and love. “Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution, we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?
What a joy it was for Paul to know that his congregation was strong! He erupted in prayer again: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.” (1st Thessalonians 3:12-13)