+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading: Matthew 13:1-23 (NLT)
Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed
Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
Hear, Understand, and Produce a Harvest.
“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word
and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
– Matthew 13:23 –
The parable in today’s reading reminds us that God wants his people to hear his word, understand his Word, and bear a bountiful harvest that reflects the goodness of his Word.
But, Jesus reminds his disciples that it doesn’t always work that way. The problem is not with the seed sown (God’s Word). The problem is with the fertility of the soil. And the same problems face us today – the parable is not simply about farming; it’s a story about the condition of of our hearts.
+ hardened- no understanding, God’s Word snatched away by the evil one.
+ shallow – no deep roots, God’s Word withers when faced with problems.
+ thorny – crowded – God’s Word replaced by worldly worries and wealth.
+ fertile – hear, and understand, God’s Word produces rich, bountiful harvest.
Questions for consideration:
- Can you think of times when God has used his Word in you and through you to produce a harvest? Please explain.
- Can you think of times when you were less than fertile soil for God’s Word? Please explain.
- Can you identify people n your life who represent each of the soils listed in Jesus’ parable? How can you pray for them? Please explain.
- How would you describe the condition of your heart right now? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: For the Harvest –
Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths within us are broken up and the cloud of your Spirit rains upon us; Yield within us and through us the rich harvest for the Word you have scattered among us. Thank you for the increase and ingathering of its good fruit we see around us and around the world. Give us a just sense of these great mercies, and your saving grace, that we may walk before you in humility, holiness, and obedience all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor, world without end. Amen.
“How Can I Keep From Singing” -Chris Tomlin
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen