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Daily Devotion for July 12, 2012
The Sower by Vincent Van Gogh, c. 1888, based on the Parable of the Sower.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Triumphant prayer is almost impossible where there is neglect of the study of the Word of God.
~ Reuben Archer Torrey
Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23 (ESV)
Taking the Bible to Heart
"A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields."
Notes on the Scripture
We have had several readings in the past week about the importance of reading the Bible. Yesterday's devotional, taken from the Old Testament, instructed us about how important it is to think about it every day, repeatedly: "Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, . . . talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 11:18-20)
Here, Jesus vividly describes four different ways that God's Word affects people, in a section known as the "Parable of the Sower".
First, of course, are people who simply reject it. It covers a wide range, from angry, sarcastic atheists to secular humanists, "nice" or "good" people who, out of an obligation to tolerate a diversity of viewpoints, might smile and listen. Such people might even agree with what they believe to be some of the principles of Christ's teaching. But they don't really get the fundamental concept: The Bible is God's Word, not one of many works that may be helpful in learning proper conduct.
The second way of hearing is to hear and seem to believe it, but to turn away as soon as any difficulty appears. This person will change his mind, depending on circumstances. The Word has no root in him.
The third describes people who are honest believers, but are torn away by the power of earthly temptation. Many of us find ourselves close to abandoning our faith when temptation arises, for the allure of worldly pleasures is powerful and constant. We might sometimes even delude ourselves into believing that our greed or pride is consistent with the Bible, if we skip over or discount the parts we don't like.
Of course, we all sin. If we commit adultery, or covet, or do things we know deep down we shouldn't do in order to make money or gain power, it does not mean we are lost. But we must be honest with ourselves; we must recognize our sin and ask forgiveness, because forgiveness in the face of true repentance is freely given in the name of Christ.