WEEK ONE, DAY FIVE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
THEME: READ THE BIBLE
DAY FIVE TITLE: CHANGE COMES
SCRIPTURE: MARK 4:1-20
SCRIPTURE SNIPPET: “When they were alone, the people around Jesus, along with the Twelve, asked him about the parables. He said to them, ‘The secret of God’s kingdom has been given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables.”
THOUGHTS: This is one of those “secret scriptures” that you may never understand if you don’t have a little of Jesus inside to interpret it for you. The parables give great insight into Kingdom Living, but not everyone will understand therefore will not benefit from it. Parables point us to deeper and deeper understandings of our faith and offer more and more ways for this Kingdom Living to become more and more natural.
Terry and I have been blessed with several opportunities of traveling to Israel. Each visit offers the Bible to us in 3-D vision and new sites are excavated each time we go giving us new understandings of things we’ve learned long ago or even new ways of understanding things for the very first time. Each time we have gone to Israel and wandered around the Galilean area, the parables just keep popping out of the scriptures and into action all around. For example, you cannot ride around the see of Galilee without noticing the rocky terrain surrounded with very dark and rich soil. You can almost be in today’s scripture and see Jesus scratching his head and thinking, how can I explain this… and then looking around and seeing all the various conditions of the soils, and boom a parable is born. Riding along and seeing mile after mile of beautiful terraced gardens and lush fields of every kind of fruit and vegetable is breath-taking and always gets my thoughts going.
These thoughts take on several levels. First, personally, what kind of soil do I have? Am I on a path that doesn’t even allow me to receive God’s word… does it bounce around aimlessly or do the birds just grab it up and take it away…. Or am I shallow soil and only eager for God’s word in moments of deepest need … then, once my life is good again I’ve forgotten everything, even though I made many promises of faithfulness and want changes in my life, I don’t push forward…I’m no longer in need, I am back in control of my life…or so it seems. God’s word in this case was helpful, but short-lived… Oh well!
Or is my soil bushy and thorny and so cluttered that the opportunity for God’s word to take root is squelched by all the other things that I have to enjoy or would rather pursue in my life? In this case it would take a good plowing to get my attention and allow fruitfulness. This would require too much commitment and is just too difficult. I am not able.
Or could I have the good soil that not only hears God’s word, but thinks over it and prays over it and seeks to understand it so that it brings joy and peace into my life but also has plenty of fruit that can spread around for God’s use for others. Do I become a doer of God’s word, not just a hearer and a cheerleader, but a real doer of God’s Word — stepping out on faith in prayer and believing that God goes ahead of me and behind me and will never leave nor forsake me, knowing that He knows me best and is always at work for my good? Could that be me?
I would imagine for the plant, pushing out of a seed and establishing good roots for good yield is a lot of work. The plant is at the mercy of its elements and could endure a bit of hardship along the path to achieve its purpose. But with constant pursuit and a drive to overcome hardship, the tiny seed sprouts and grows and produces fruit to a small or medium or large degree, all effective and all good. All results are a celebration of purpose and fulfillment. Thinking on that fourth scenario really makes me want to keep pushing down my roots and lifting up my branches to see the good that can come from listening to God’s voice within me, encouraging me to grow and reach and see the good that comes – be amazed by new understanding and allowing God’s word to direct my thinking and my doing. That sounds like Kingdom Living!
Everyone would love to have an easy life – good health – enough money to pay the bills and celebrate a little – lots of loved ones to enjoy the journey with – comfortable homes and clothing – shoes that fit and stylish hair – a fair amount of travel and experiences that seem to make life interesting…but all of these things must not clutter the soil from nurturing the seed and allowing the seed to take off. Any of these things — if they become the goal — corrupt the soil and halt the pure joy of producing God’s fruit. The water and sun for this soil is a prayerful life ordered around keeping Christ central in all our living. We will have life – abundant life – all those things we desire will come along in right proportions and in God’s time and will be even more joyful when put in place by our Father.
As Jesus explained the parable to his disciples, it was all in the context of develping God’s Kingdom ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’. While walking this earthly existence I am given a life to enjoy and loved ones to share it with and great joy all along the path. As God’s child in this Earthly walk, I have all of those same joys plus the blessed bonus of spreading ‘Kingdom Seeds” everywhere I go. We all – as we listen to and seek deeper and deeper understanding of God’s Word – work together in bringing Kingdom living into reality – growing forth God’s Kingdom to the quantity that God gives us, taking the good seed that was given to us and producing more for the others that come along our path. Let it be so!
DIP: Or could I have the good soil that not only hears God’s word, but thinks over it and prays over it and seeks to understand it so that it brings joy and peace into my life but also has plenty of fruit that can spread around for God’s use for others.