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
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8)
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.
Our Father in heaven, broken hearts and bodies are part of this life and we are vulnerable to it. You would have us trust you even in the midst of deep pain. We confess that try to heal ourselves by ourselves. Forgive us Lord. Jesus came to bring us into the liberation that only his Spirit brings. The liberation that enables us to entrust our entire being to you. We come to you by faith, asking for help, based on your compassionate heart. We offer ourselves to you. Remake us. Glorify your name. We ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who dwells with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. 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: Matthew 13
Today as we read Matthew’s gospel, I want us to get a good introduction on who Matthew was and how we should read his Gospel account. Here’s how Mike Card describes Matthew:
“Matthew’s voice is different. His does not appear to be the voice of a tax collector, a reformed traitor to his people. We might expect a preoccupation with tax collectors, but we have only one unique story involving tax collection (Mt 17:24-27), and it concerns a completely different sort of tax than Matthew collected…
We would also expect a focus on traitors to Judaism, as Matthew had betrayed his own people, but such is not the case. In fact, we find the opposite voice—a concern for the Old Testament and its fulfillment, for Judaism redeemed and reborn, and the triumph of the new reality over the old orthodoxy…
The facts we know about Matthew himself are few; most of them come from Matthew 9. His name was Levi. “Matthew” may very well be a nickname Jesus had given him. It means “gift of God.” There is a good chance that James (not the brother of John) was the brother of Matthew, since they are both described as “sons of Alpheus” (Mk 2:14; 3:18; Lk 6:15). This would mean that half of the twelve disciples were composed of three pairs of brothers. That Matthew was a tax collector speaks the most about him as a person. Without question, he would have been banned from the synagogue and looked upon as a traitor by his own people (Lk 18:9-14)…
His tax office, in Capernaum, would have been a choice location, because it was on a major road from Damascus and close to the Via Maris, one of the oldest trade routes in the ancient world. As a tax collector, he would have been an efficient record keeper, familiar with keeping track of family genealogies…
It does not compute that his Gospel, the most Jewish of the four Gospels, should have been written by the least Jewish of all Jesus’ disciples. Yet dependable tradition attributes the Gospel to Matthew or at least establishes a vital connection to him. When we look at the evidence that comes to us from the church fathers, a light begins to dawn. The earliest word concerning Matthew comes from Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (A.D. 130), who says that Matthew composed oracles (logia) of Jesus in the Hebrew tongue.
The Gospel of Matthew as a collection of sayings of Jesuscompiled by a tax collector, that makes sense. This becomes even clearer when we return to the text of Matthew’s Gospel and discover there are five large blocks of Jesus’ sayings, which occasionally seem to reflect an unconnected list of logia. This may very well be Matthew’s fingerprint on the Gospel.
I suggest that someone else, whom some scholars describe as a “Christian scribe,” who was a part of Matthew’s community, took those original logia and, using the Gospel of Mark as a template, wrote what we have come to know as the Gospel of Matthew. As we work our way through the Gospel again and again, we will see the mind and hear the voice of a scribe at work, sometimes seemingly unaware of connections being made to great teachers like Hillel, who had come before Jesus. As we become mindful of his original audience, sitting in the synagogue, listening to his various lessons from the life of Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew will come to life.”
PRAY Consider this brief biography as you read Matthew 13. Does anything new stand out?
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.
Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. (Psalm 88:1-2)