Daily Devotion for November 25, 2013
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.
The Philippine Madrigal Singers give such a sweet rendition of the famous Prayer of St. Francis.
Prayer for Guidance
Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart. Help me do today the things that matter, not to waste the time I have.
The moments I have are precious, Lord, see that I count them dear. Teach me to number my days aright. Fill me this day with your kindness, that I may be glad and rejoice all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Physical Renewal
Lord, I come before you today in need of your healing hand. In you, all things are possible. Hold my heart within yours, and renew my mind, body, and soul.
I am lost, but I am singing. You gave me life, and you also give me the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you've laid out for me. Guide me towards better health, and give me the wisdom to identify those you've placed around me to help me get better. In your name I pray,
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 30:5-6 (ESV)
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV)
The Parable of the Sower Explained
“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, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Notes on the Scripture
Jesus does not explain his parable to the crowd to whom He has told it, but to his disciples in a private talk. But there is no attempt to hide the meaning from anyone interested in hearing it. As He has said in previous verses, those who are open to receiving his message, even if they do not fully understand the parable, will want to hear more; and the disciples, who have already become missionaries going out on their own, will be able to explain it.
The first category are what we today would call atheists, although Christ meant to include fairly devout Jews who were trapped in the pride of the Old Covenant: particularly the Pharisees, who were abundant in Galilee. If they even remember a verse from the Bible, it is often with the aim of completely misconstruing it (intentionally or out of ignorance and apathy) and using the misinterpretation to attack Christian teachings.
The second group, the seed sown on rocky ground, we would call agnostics. A number of people are able to hear some of God's Word, and even give it some parts of it credence, but it never takes root. They can understand it with their minds, but not their heart.
The most interesting group are those who receive the Word but live among thorns, which choke it out. In fact, John specifically identifies just such people in John 12:42 —
Such people are those for whose souls we can most often struggle successfully. They actually have faith in Christ and have often felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit; but their inner and outer demons pull them away. They might pray in private, but be embarrassed to make any sort of public witness or demonstration of faith. Possibly they cannot let loose of their ties to earthly power, some fleshly desire, or perhaps one of the many variations of pride that the world holds in such high regard; a political stance, or some sort of sexual politics, or wealth, or status in their community.
Often, they fear the concept of obedience to God's will, the servanthood of Christ, not able to recognize that they are slaves to sin and their freedom is an illusion. They cannot resolve what they see as a contradiction: that only by the humility of obedience and service can we ever find true freedom.
Most of us do little in the way of witnessing or proselytizing in the world; but we must remember, living among the thorns are people who might truly find Christ, if they can find friendly support for long enough to crest the top of the hill, long enough to flip the switch that turns on the light forever.