Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Most Holy and Merciful God,we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us to change what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
NT Context: In deliberate parallel to the opening words of Genesis, John presents God as speaking salvation into existence. This time God’s word takes on human form and enters history in the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks the word and it happens: forgiveness and judgment, healing and illumination, mercy and grace, joy and love, freedom and resurrection. Everything broken and fallen, sinful and diseased, called into salvation by God’s spoken word. Jesus, in this account, not only speaks the word of God; he is the Word of God.Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: The Exodus is a powerful and dramatic and true story of God working salvation. The story has generated an extraordinary progeny through the centuries as it has reproduced itself in song and poem, drama and novel, politics and social justice, repentance and conversion, worship and holy living. It continues to capture the imagination of men and women, especially men and women in trouble. It is significant that God does not present us with salvation in the form of an abstract truth, or a precise definition or a catchy slogan, but as story. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) for Sunday’s sermon. Use it to reflect upon the ways Christ has been working in your life this week. Makes a great midday reflection, or group discussion guide. Follow along with our Parables Reading Plan + Study Guideas we all read the Parables every day this Fall.
Read: Mark 4:3–20 + Ezekiel 36:9, 24-27
Mark 4 is a passage filled with parables. You have Jesus telling parables, explaining them, explaining that some people who hear them won’t get them, while others will. If you’re reading it carefully, it probably leaves you with a lot of questions. And this is good. Parables are meant to provoke contemplation within their hearers. We are meant to contemplate whether or not God’s spiritual-life-producing words have taken root in our lives, whether we really are members of this covenant kingdom, or not.
All of this is to say that if you’re confused, troubled, or alternatively comforted, then you are reading the parables correctly. If you’re cold and indifferent, well then, perhaps there is more going on under the surface of your life that the Lord wants to excavate than previously thought (and that too is a good thing!).
Our focus today is on Mark 4:26-29, or what some have called the parable of the growing seed. When we read the three “seed parables” in Mark 4, one theme that we uncover is that they are all answering the question: “If God’s kingdom is present now, then why is the world the way that it is? Why do people accept or not accept the message of God’s kingdom?”
Our farmer in 4:26-29 should be understood to be like any farmer of his day: constantly at work tending to the cultivation of his crop. His “sleeping and rising” and “not knowing how” the seed sprouts are not due to inactivity, but rather refer to the undeniable metaphor Jesus is getting at with how spiritual life “sprouts and grows” in a person.
Think of it this way:Each year a miracle happens. When everything in Creation seems brown, dead, and irredeemable, there comes a morning where suddenly the color green bursts through the soil. What seemed dead bursts forth with life, with resurrection! This is the miracle of what happens in the Kingdom of God. Dead things (you and me) come to life, and are never the same again.
Contemplate: I love Andrew Peterson’s songs “The Sower” and “Rejoice” for this reason: they speak to the seed metaphor contained within these passages.Take a listen if you have a moment.
Evening Prayer of Examen
Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. (Psalm 119:54-55)