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.
Gracious Father,we confess that we often cling to the idol of self-sufficiency. We conceal our weakness and faults, presenting only our best sides to one another. In doing so, we obscure the beauty of Your grace in our relationships and community. We hide behind our schedules and personalities as excuses to serve ourselves and neglect our neighbors. O Lord, cover our sin with the blood of Jesus. 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. Go ahead and read the following passage(s) and use theParables Reading Plan + Study Guideto journal what stands out and what you have questions about in the passages. Below is a helpful commentary that can help to fill in the gaps.
Read: Matthew 13:24-43 + 1 Corinthians 4:6 Jesus explains this parable to his disciples while they are in Peter’s house after they leave the crowds (13:36) and concludes with his signature prophetic catchline: “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Already we have seen that Jesus is building upon Isaiah’s prophecy that God’s words will fall on dull ears that are heavy, gluttonous even, from heeding other words. They are “un-hearing” because they’ve feasted on words that satiate their spiritual hunger for the moment. But those who feast on God’s words never find themselves craving again (Isaiah 55:1-2). In fact, they live on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; Deut. 8:3).
So, once again, this parable is about hearing or feeding on, if you will, what Jesus is really saying. It’s not as though he’s being obscure, though! He discloses the meaning of two parables in Matthew 13 (one to the crowd, and one to the disciples only).
We should observe that each parable builds upon the same basic premise: “There was a sower…” before emphasizing different aspects of the kingdom of heaven. We should also remember the context in which Jesus is teaching. He’s on a boat addressing the crowd outside Peter’s house. His words come in the form of rapid-fire parables. He no sooner finishes explaining one than another begins, increasing both “hearing” and “un-hearing” in those who are listening.
But what should they hear? Mike Card notes, “In this second kingdom parable, good seed is sown in a field. At night an enemy sows weeds among the wheat. The word for “weed” (zizanion) describes a weedy rye, which initially looks just like wheat, yet has poisonous seeds…It does not become apparent to the slaves (douloi) until the wheat matures. They double-check with the owner of the field, who assures them he planted good seed in the beginning. He concludes an enemy has tried to sabotage the crop…”
The interpretation is pretty straightforward: Jesus is the sower. The good seeds are the sons and daughters of the kingdom, and the weeds are those who belong to the evil one. The harvest is the end of the age, the Day of Judgment. The angels are the harvesters (Rev 14:15). “The rest of the story unfolds predictably. The weeds are pulled up and thrown into the fire. The righteous ones shine like the sun, for they are the produce of the good seed planted by the Son of Man.”
But what does this look like in the meantime? 1 Corinthians 4:5 gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to truly hear Jesus. The religious leaders of Jesus day were thin-skinned people who cared deeply about the opinion of others (see Mt. 21:26, 46). We are often the same, are we not? Paul tells the Corinthians that he doesn’t care what others think about him, or even what he thinks about himself, he forgets himself because all that matters of his Lord’s words.
The parables invite us to become “self-forgetful” people, to become the sort of people who lose their lives to find them, who listen to and live off every word that comes from Christ.
Wonder: What does it mean to “have ears that hear” Jesus’ words? How do the parables invite us to forget ourselves and live off Jesus’ words?
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.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)