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
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
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: Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor. He will not countenance religion as a club. As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus. 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: Luke 8:5–15 + Isaiah 6:1–13
Michael Card does an excellent job of helping us to enter the world fo the text, so for today, I’m going to let his words carry us, and the rest of the week we’ll expand on the parable’s meaning by looking at passages that intersect and give additional light.
“If you listen closely, you will notice that the focus is really on the various conditions of the soils. It begins simply enough: “A sower went out . . .” The first piece of background that will help us in understanding the story is that in the ancient world, sowing always preceded plowing. That is, the farmer would scatter the seed and then work it into the ground with the plow. This is important lest we think the sower in our story is being careless with the seed…
Once again, the power of the parable tends to be the fact that Jesus would not explain it. But the Twelve are about to be sent out on mission (Lk 9:1). I believe Jesus wants to fully prepare them, especially with this parable that is a picture of what they are about to go out and do on their own. They will become the sowers. Jesus wants them to know that their seed will be received in many different ways. [Just as Jesus’ words would be received many different ways] Nevertheless, they can expect a remarkable harvest.
Jesus unpacks the parable by giving a human face to the four types of ground. The path represents those who hear, but the seed is stolen by the devil, represented earlier by the birds who consume the seed. The rocky ground represents those who initially hear the word of God with joy; when the blistering sun of testing comes, however, they leave. The thorny ground represents those in whom the seed apparently sprouts, but the thorns of life choke the young plant of their faith so that no fruit is produced. Finally, the best is saved for last. The good ground speaks of those who receive the word into hearts that are honest and good; they hold on and, because of their endurance, produce fruit…
Just then, we are told, Jesus’ mother Mary and his brothers appear, but the wall of people surrounding him keeps them from getting to Jesus. When Jesus is told they are standing outside, waiting to see him, he responds, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear and do the word of God.” [which he quotes from Isaiah 6:1-13]
Earlier, when he is summing up the parable, Jesus says, “take care how you listen” (Lk 8:18). It is as if their lives depend on it. Now, with his family waiting outside, Jesus emphasizes the point once more, with greater intensity. Those who do listen have become his true family. Hearers are his brothers. Doers have become like his mother. When you take into consideration the central place family occupied in the value system of Jesus’ listeners, it was a shocking thing to say, placing the family of faith above the earthly family.”
Questions to Ponder: Why do you suppose Jesus emphasizes how to receive his words so much? What role did hearing play in worshiping God in the Hebrew Scriptures (hint: Deut 6:4-7).
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.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6)