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
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
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: Matthew 13:3–23 + Isaiah 55:8-13
Matthew’s telling of The Sower opens with Jesus sitting on the rocky shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. A crowd gathers and he begins to teach them using a series of parables. The parables he tells here fall into two categories: interactive stories that call us to identify with one of the characters and illustrative parables which simply tell us what God’s kingdom is like.
We receive a soil sample report from this farmer’s field after he has sown his seeds and turned the soil to enfold the seed beneath. That’s how agriculture worked back then. First you planted, then you cut open the earth to bury the seed and await it’s resurrection as life-sustaining grains. The true nature of the soil was only revealed after it was too late to get the seed back.
So it is, Jesus, says as word of His Kingdom goes out. Some will hear and accept, while others will hear and stubbornly refuse to understand, to hear, or see the present reality of God’s Kingdom.
Mike Card notes, “Even though they see (the miracles), they do not really see them. Even though they hear (the teaching), they do not understand. The purpose of all this is to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy. The people do not see or hear because of their own stubborn disbelief, their “callous” hearts (Mt 13:15). The Father’s intention is not that they remain blind and deaf. In fact, if they would turn, he longs to heal them.”
But this is Matthew’s point: They don’t want to be made well. Not really. We don’t get to see why they don’t want what God is offering. We never do. The desires of another human heart are forever hidden from us, known only to the Lord. He gets to decide what his words will accomplish and when.
Jesus seems to be building upon this ideaand more words from the prophet Isaiah:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it…” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Questions to Ponder: How does Isaiah 55:8-13 help you to understand the parable of The Sower? What are his words accomplishing in your life this week?
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.
By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8)