Agrarian stories about the kingdom of God

In Chapter 4, Jesus taught the crowd by using parables. I once heard that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. These stories are rich and give us much to think about. The first parable is about a farmer who went out to sow his seed (the word). The seeds are scattered and essentially fall in four different places (representing people’s hearts/response). I want to focus in on this story because it has had a profound influence on my life. You see I often find myself in the third scenario:

“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

Worries of this life…Deceitfulness of wealth…Desire for other things…
I hear the word, but there are so many things going on in my life. God, unfortunately, gets choked out. Thorns come in different forms and cause my life to be unfruitful.
Maybe you know what the third scenario is like too. Here is an activity that helps me and I encourage you to try…
Do not post the following questions ☺ but maybe grab a pen and paper, take some time to pray, and write these out.

What is frustrating me right now?

What am I worried or anxious about?

What am I scared or concerned about?

In what ways do I feel inadequate?

What chokes God out of my life?

What makes my life unfruitful?

What am I thankful for? How has God been good to me?
What am I looking forward to?

P.S. If you are really feeling brave, share your list with your spouse, or parents, or a close friend.

*It is interesting that the words Jesus addressed to the wind and the waves (vs. 39) are exactly the same as he addressed to the demon-possessed man in Mark 1:25.
My prayer today is that you may be able to tell certain voices, thoughts, or storms in your life to “Be quiet, be still!”


3 pieces

Mark is a staightforward Gospel. It simply tells the story of Jesus - in power and servanthood. There is much packed into each chapter. Today, three things jumped out at me.

1. Jesus saw the faith of four men who brought a friend to him to be healed. Mark is telling this story, giving a picture of Jesus carrying the authority of God. But he also is giving a picture of how important it is that we, in our faith, carry our family, our friends, our neighbors to Jesus. This is why INVEST & INVITE is such a vital action. We are to invest & invite so that our family, friends, neighbors can experience life change with Jesus. Who are you investing in? Who are you inviting for Easter? (Remember, this man's friends didn't have to heal the man - they didn't have to explain anything to him - they simply brought him to Jesus.)

2. Jesus called Matthew. Maybe this jumped out at me because my name is Matthew. Or maybe it is because I realized how Matthew was such a bad choice for the job. Or maybe it was both - how my name is Matthew and I am a bad choice for the job (trust me, I know me better than you know me.). Humanly, it didn't make sense for Jesus to call Matthew. But he did. And Jesus calls you and me, regardless of what it looks like from a human perspective. Then, Jesus went to a party at Matthew's house - full of tax collectors and sinners. Hmmm. Have you gone to a 'Matthew party' lately? Maybe we should throw a 'Matthew party' for our neighbors. No preaching, no DVD, no worship music...just people hanging out talking about life.

3. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. I love this thought. How often do we simply follow rules because we think this is what makes God happy? The command about the Sabbath was given because that is how we were created to live. Click here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjW63LuqYm8) and watch this preview. Rob has some great thoughts about life rhythm.

What jumped at you today?


Boldly Go

In one chapter we learn of the way prepped by John the Baptist, the baptism of Christ, his time and temptation in the desert, the calling of the first disciples, Jesus driving out demons and healing many AND Christ's need for solitude.  Wow!  That's a lot in one little chapter.  It certainly gives us a good overview of the preparation of  Jesus' early ministry and the beginning of His ministry.  

I think I would love to have met John the Baptist.  He sure seems like we was an "out there" kind of guy, or in today's language, John was definitely an "outside of the box" thinker and doer!  Can you imagine being given the call to prepare the way for the Son of God? Talk about responsibility and courage.  As I read this, I wondered what parallels I could draw from John's ministry.  

I certainly am not preparing the way for Christ's ministry, but aren't we all really preparing the way for Christ's return?  According to Matthew 28:19-20 we are to be discipling, preaching and baptizing....that's what John the Baptist was doing.  And he was obviously sold out, bought in, and 100% committed to the cause of Christ.  I believe it was that passion that led to the fervor with which he preached the coming of Christ and the need for repentance.  We, too, should be doing the same.  Yes, I do believe that with many people we have to "earn the right" to share the gospel--we have to build a relationship and earn credibility.  But how often do we wait too long?  Come up with one excuse after another of why it's not time?  We are each and everyone called to spread the Good News.  

There's a lot in this passage and I realized I have focused on one small part.  Feel free to share your thoughts on other aspects of today's reading.  Personally, God used verses 1-8 today to remind me of a commandment He gave me to not only live out my faith, but to share it openly and honestly as well.  I'm not going to start eating locusts or wearing camel's hair clothing, but I think I could take a few tips from John's boldness and commitment.  

May we be very aware today of the chances you give us to share your love and Truth.  As people pass by us,  may we not let the opportunities pass us by.  Give us courage to speak when You want us to speak.  Help us to remember that we are being watched by neighbors, co-workers, family and even strangers and daily we have a chance to live in obedience to you.