Bible Study & Devotional (January 19, 2021)
🔴 Can You Hear Me Now?
As the day continues from chapter 12, Matthew 13 opens with Jesus teaching a crowd. As they increase, I imagine people murmuring and shuffling about, trying to get a better view and listen intently. Our Lord recognizes the dilemma and takes to the water to improve the sound quality. (Matthew 13:2)
Let’s pause for a moment and think about the incredible experience it would be to have the words of Jesus Christ literally wash over us. Imagine the gentle waves of water lapping at the beach edge as His Words proved to be the life-giving water to our souls. Can you see the beauty of the horizon where the sky and water meet?
What’s In Matthew 13?
This chapter has eight parables, which includes our focal point. We read the parable of the sower in the Gospel According to Luke & Mark. (The differing vantage points helps us understand the richness of Christ Jesus’ teaching.) Our concentration is the parable of the sower. In it, Jesus explains the four different responses to the message of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 13:18-23)
The Footpath– Represents people who don’t understand the message about the Kingdom.
Envision a person who has high moral standards but does not solidify their identity in Christ. They don’t find love, peace or firmly root themselves in their divine purpose. Scavengers pick at their insecurities, causing doubt, greed, or more detrimental, wastefulness.
Rocky Soil: Unlike the first group, these people receive the Gospel with joy, but self desires lure them back to society.
Self-preservation takes precedence over persecution. The need for worldly acceptance becomes the more comfortable parallel instead of a challenging intersection. A shallow spiritual conviction creates excuses to move on to the next vision, and the pattern repeats.
Thorns and Thistles: The message is crowded out by worry and the lure of wealth.
The Good News of Christ can take root, but the moment it tries to expand, the razor-sharp environment cuts the Gospel into pieces. The power of evil chokes out the God-given purpose of the individual.
It’s easy to see the potential, and questions arise about why more growth hasn’t occurred. These people hurt those who come into their orbit because unresolved issues plague them.
Good Soil: The Gospel is profoundly rooted and abundant fruit: ideas, creativity, interconnectedness, maturity, and massive growth ensue.
When that person sees the evidence of weeds (self-interest, narcissism, stubbornness, greed), they remove it at its source. They understand the goal. To cultivate a nutrient-rich environment by enlarging the area for the fruit to thrive. God’s Word expands into little known territories and produces new growth.
We, as disciples of Jesus, can test the fruit of our lives by asking:
- Have we cultivated a community of empowered people to pursue their purpose within the Kingdom?
- Do we employ individuals to build their ministries as a way of increasing Christ’s ambassadors?
- Are we dependent on a few ‘superstars’ who stifle growth?
- Is the fear of a transparent organization preventing plans of action?
What did Jesus Do?
Jesus saw a crowd, and instinctively got into a boat to deliver His profound Words of wisdom. He used what was readily available with extraordinary results. We need not complicate the Gospel. Adding layers of pridefulness waters down the authentic life-saving Word.
No fruit will grow, and the few ripe for harvest will plant seeds in better soil. Pay attention to the good works you are doing within your industry. Has God called you to move from the sandy beach to His living water?
This devotional was submitted by Torrie Slaughter, the founder of Our Given Purpose® in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
🔴 The Bible In A Year Daily Reading Plan
Genesis 39:1- 41:16, Matthew 12:46- 13:23, Psalms 17:1-15, Proverbs 3:33-35