Luke 8

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“A farmer went out to sow his seed.  Some of it fell on the road; …Other seed fell in the gravel; …Other seed fell in the weeds; …Other seed fell in rich earth …” (v 5-8 MSG)

This farmer wasn’t purposefully tossing seed into these areas.  He was using a technique of getting as much seed out as possible as he walked along in his field and threw it about from his pouch.  The growth of the seed was up to how the soil took it and God’s provision of water and sunlight.

You hand me the seed, Lord; it’s Your Word.  And then, You point me to the field, each day as I touch this world.  You call me to sow, sow, sow, and You let me know that You’ll handle the growth.  You choose to use Your people to get Your Word out to as many hearts as possible.  It’s up to each heart whether or not it will receive the Word that’s sown.

“…seeds on the ROAD are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved.

“…seeds in the GRAVEL are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep.  It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone.

“…seeds that fell in the WEEDS–well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.

“…seeds in the GOOD EARTH — those are the good hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what sticking with it until there’s a harvest.” (v 11-15 MSG)

Father, as You continue to sow Your Word into my own heart through various “sowers,” (including my own reading), may my heart be soil that accepts, absorbs, and lets root that seed You toss my way.

Let me not grow stubborn and refuse or let go of Your message like the “road-heart” soil.  Let me not be initially enthusiastic about You but later become disinterested like the “gravel-heart” soil.  Let me not be overcome with “worrying about tomorrow, making money and having fun,” like the “weed-heart” soil.

Rather, make me all together like the “good-earth-heart” soil, hearing Your Word, retaining it, and by persevering, seeing You produce a good crop in and through me.  Keep my heart fertile and ready to receive whatever You have for me in Your Word.

“…As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” (v 42-44 NIV)

You had returned to an area where people were quite aware of You.  They’d been expecting You.  They gave You a hearty welcome.  So MANY people creating such a crowd had gathered that day!  They were so numerous that they “almost crushed” You, Luke wrote.  Most likely, the majority of people in this throng were simply curious, wanting to see Your next feat, maybe wondering what kind of teaching You’d do next …except for two people.  Both of these were described as seeking You out and when they found You, Luke said they “fell at Jesus’ feet” (v 41, 47).  They were more than curious; they were convinced that You held the power of life and wholeness.

Even in the midst of that pressing crowd, You could tell exactly who touched You; yet You wanted this woman to come forward.  Through drawing her out and talking with her, You gave her so many unspoken, unheralded blessings.  You affirmed her as a person, restoring her dignity.  Since “according to Jewish law, a man who touched a menstruating woman became ceremonially unclean (Lev 15:19-28).  This was true whether her bleeding was normal or, as in this woman’s case, a result of illness.  To protect themselves from such defilement, Jewish men carefully avoided touching, speaking to, or even looking at women” (NIV Life Application Study Bible, p. 1815).  But YOU proclaimed her clean before hundreds of people.  You healed her.

When You requested that the person who touched You make him or herself known, You used that opportunity to teach a little morsel.  You helped this woman to see that Your cloak held no magical powers.  You helped her see that it was her faith in You that tapped into Your healing power.

May my faith be that which is continually reaching out for You, Lord.  May my mind remain focused on You and my heart daily hunger for Your touch.  Thank You for how You value me and how You keep on working to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

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Mark 4:1-20

Show me Jesus, Father, and show others the Jesus in me.

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My sister has worked for two different printing companies, handling several different magazines.  One of the periodicals for which she used to manage the press plate set up was called “Progressive Farmer.”  Suppose this passage in Mark’s fourth chapter had its own version of a magazine.  Let’s call it “Faithful Farmer,” and this issue would include the first of three devo-prayer “articles” in a series called the Kingdom Seeds:

FAITHFUL FARMER – Issue 1 Vol. 1, Article 1

Soil Condition Brings a Heart Ripened

When You were telling this parable of the sower to Your audience back then, Lord, they had no clue what a John Deere was, let alone any kind of implement that’s pulled behind such a machine.  Maybe they could picture a John Oxen 😉 or something, but a lot of the farm planting would’ve been done with a simple sack of grain hung on a shoulder and flung by hand to the soil all around.  Since the farmer had no control over where it landed, he’d sow generously all around, hoping for seed to fall where it could grow best.

You described four kinds of soil.  I’ve often heard this considered to be describing four different kinds of people.  But, what if it’s also portraying four different kinds of areas in my heart?  Perhaps in one area I have good soil, but in another area it’s pretty thorny.  Then, some of Your Word that You’ve sown in my heart by various means would grow and flourish, while other bits would be growing but getting choked out.  Some parts of my heart may receive the seed of Your Word quickly, but the rocky soil doesn’t let it take root and it falls away.  Or, parts of my heart may be like a path, with the seed just sitting there doing nothing, nothing being done with, and along comes the enemy to snatch it away.

But I want all the soil of my heart to be good soil.  To use the words of the psalmists as my own prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Ps 139:23-24 NLT).  “Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10 NLT)  “… give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.  I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart…” (Ps 86:11-12 NIV).

You alone, my Creator and Sustainer, can change the condition of my heart.  Check all the areas of soil and make them good … like You said You’d do in Your people long ago when they sought You:  “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts instead, so they will obey My laws and regulations.  Then they will truly be My people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20 NLT).  “And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.  And I will put My Spirit in you so you will obey My laws and do whatever I command” (Ezek 36:26-27 NLT).

Do that in me, Lord.  Make it ALL good as You keep shaping me to be just like Jesus!  Amen.

(Later in this series of Kingdom Seeds in “Faithful Farmer,” find thoughts on “Seed Cultivation Brings a Harvest Realized” and “Small Commencement Brings Huge Results.”)