The Legion is Defeated

Bible:

And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. Mark 5:6-13 ESV

Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:18-23 ESV

Reflection:

World War II was a long and terrible war, and after the Allied forces gained victory in Europe they still had to defeat the strength of Japan. Japan had very fierce military power, but after the United States dropped the world’s first atom bomb in the Arizona desert the Allies demanded that Japan surrender unconditionally and save themselves from the devastation of their military forces and of their homeland. Japan ignored this demand, and soon after that the United States dropped a devastating atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing about 80,000 people. A few days later Soviet forces attacked Japanese troops in Manchuria and overwhelmed them. Then the United States dropped a second atom bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The Japanese recognized that they had been overpowered, and they surrendered to the Allies.

When Jesus told the evil spirits to come out of the man they had enslaved, they knew they had to surrender. Even though there were many, many demons inside this man, enough to call a “legion,” they knew that Jesus had the power to do anything he wanted to do with them. They didn’t want to be sent away to another place, and instead they begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs that was feeding on the hillside. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs, and as soon as the evil spirits entered the pigs they immediately went into a frenzy and rushed together down into the sea, where they drowned. The evil spirits were completely defeated.

Jesus is completely in control of the worst demons and evil spirits of the whole universe, and even of Satan himself. The devil and all his evil forces thought they had won when they worked their evil plan to put Jesus on the cross, but they didn’t realize that Jesus would defeat them by dying and rising again from the dead. Everyone who believes in Jesus never has to be afraid of the devil and his demons, because Jesus has won the victory over them forever. Jesus keeps his people safe in his care and will bring us at last to his heavenly kingdom, where we will be his forever and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for defeating the devil and all the forces of evil for us. Please keep us safe in your care. Amen.

Source:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/japan-surrenders

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A Slave to Demons

Bible:

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. Mark 5:1-5 ESV

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

Reflection:

Beatrice was a woman from Sri Lanka, and she was very poor. She wanted to work and to give a better life to her little son, so she decided to go to another country to become a maid. But when she got to the house where she was supposed to work, she found that she had become a slave. She had to work for 20 hours a day, washing windows and walls and bathrooms, shampooing carpets, polishing floors and cleaning furniture. The apartment was locked so that she couldn’t leave, and the phone was locked so that she couldn’t use it. The woman who had made her a slave didn’t give her any food, so she had to pick through the kitchen garbage to find something to eat. The woman who held her beat her and kicked her and slapped her and pulled her hair. Beatrice was all alone with no friends and no one to help her, but she finally jumped off the balcony of her apartment on the fourth floor. She was hurt very badly, but she escaped from slavery that way.

The man in our Bible story was also a slave, but he was a slave to evil spirits who had taken control of him. These demons made him hurt himself by cutting himself with stones, and they kept him away from other people by driving him away from his family and community into the graveyard, where his horrible cries scared anyone who came near him. His family and community tried to keep him from running away and hurting himself, but he was so strong that he kept breaking the chains that tried to keep him safe. This man had many demons inside of him, and they were keeping him as a slave to them. But he was about to meet Jesus, and Jesus would become his escape from slavery.

We also have been slaves, slaves to sin and death and evil. We were under the power of death and the devil, and there was nothing we could do to free ourselves from this terrible slavery. But Jesus came into the world to set us free from everything that had us trapped. He died on the cross to defeat sin and death, and he rose again from the dead to show that he had completely conquered death and all the forces of evil. Because of Jesus we are free from everything that held us and made us miserable and afraid. The Lord is with us always, and we are his, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for defeating death and evil and for setting us free from the slavery of sin and death and the devil. Amen.

Source:

https://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/beatrice-fernando

Safe in the Boat

Bible:

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea,  “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 ESV

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders. Psalm 107:23-32 ESV

Reflection:

If you visit an older church, you might see a boat or a ship pictured in a stained glass window. The ship might be sailing among stormy waves, rocking and tipping in the wind. A picture of a boat or a ship, maybe in a storm, brings to mind this story about Jesus. The ship is meant to be a picture of the church of God’s people, and the stormy waters are the troubles the church faces in this world. When we see this picture, we can remember the way Jesus calmed the storm for his disciples and kept them safe, and that he will also keep his people safe with him through the storms and troubles of this world.

After Jesus was finished teaching the people through many stories, he got into a boat with his disciples. But as they were crossing to the other side of the sea, a storm broke out. The strong wind caused high waves to break over the sides of the boat so that it started to fill with water, and the disciples were terrified that the boat would turn over and that they would drown. But Jesus was so tired from all the teaching he had been doing that he had fallen asleep in the boat on a cushion, and the storm didn’t even wake him up! Finally his disciples cried to him for help, and he got up and told the storm to stop and to be quiet, and it obeyed him immediately. Jesus asked them why they had been so afraid, but they were too full of wonder to answer his question. “Who is this?” they asked each other. They had never seen anything like it before.

We know that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior, and we know that he promised to be with us always and to hear our prayers and to help us. But sometimes we might feel as if he is asleep. He doesn’t seem to hear our prayers or to care about the things that are happening to us. But if you look closely at a ship in a church stained glass window, you will often notice something else. The mast of the ship is often in the shape of the cross. This reminds us that Jesus died on the cross to make us his people, and that he cares about us very much. If he went to the cross to die so that our sins could be forgiven, we know that even though we might have to go through some troubles sometimes, he will also help us and answer our prayers in the way that is best for us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us and for helping us in our troubles. Please help us to trust you always. Amen.

The Dragnet

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:47-50 ESV

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15 ESV

Reflection:

Sometimes when a terrible crime has been committed and the person who committed the crime hasn’t been caught, police might do something that is called a dragnet. What this means is that there might be roadblocks in the area where the crime happened and no one is allowed to drive past these roadblocks until the police check them and let them through. Or perhaps all the people in an area will be stopped in their cars or as they are walking and checked out by the police. Good police officers want to separate the good people from the bad people and catch criminals who need to be arrested, while letting innocent people go free.

Jesus talked about the kind of fishing net called a dragnet, and how fishermen threw this net into the water and dragged it along and caught every fish that swam through it. Then the fishermen sat on the shore and kept all the good fish but threw the bad fish back into the water. He said that this was like the end of the world, when God’s angels will bring all the people before his throne and separate the wicked people from the righteous people, and throw the wicked people into hell. While police officers and fishermen might sometimes make a mistake, we can be sure that God and his angels won’t make any mistakes.

It is very frightening to think about this. We know that we are sinful and do wrong things, and we wonder how we can ever be sure that we will be saved from hell and welcomed into heaven. If God judges us by the things we do in our life, we couldn’t ever be saved. But the good news is that God sent Jesus to live the perfect life that we could never live. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins and for the sins of the whole world. We who believe in Jesus have all our sins forgiven every day, and because of Jesus we can be sure that we are God’s people and will live forever in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for paying for our sins on the cross so that we can be forgiven and don’t ever have to be afraid of your judgment. Amen.

Something Worth Everything

Bible:

[Jesus said:]

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46 ESV

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 ESV

Reflection:

Dagwood Bumstead was the son of a very rich man, and he was in love with a beautiful young woman named Blondie. His parents didn’t approve of Blondie. She was poor and didn’t come from an important family, so they wouldn’t allow Dagwood to marry her. Dagwood loved Blondie so much that he refused to eat anything for 28 days. He became very sick and weak, but he said he wouldn’t eat anything until his parents gave him permission to marry the young woman he loved. Finally his parents gave in and gave their permission. But at the wedding his father reminded him, “Now, remember, you’re marrying against my wishes–your inheritance is cut off and don’t ever come crying to me to support you.” Dagwood said to Blondie, “I don’t mind giving up everything for you. You’re worth it. I’ll get a job.”

This is only a story, and it’s like a couple of stories Jesus told. He told about someone who found a treasure hidden in a field and sold everything he had to buy the field so that he could have the treasure. Then he told about another man who bought and sold pearls, and when he found one very beautiful and valuable pearl he sold everything he had to buy that one pearl. Jesus said that his kingdom is worth everything we have. Nothing we could ever have could be worth more than having the love of Jesus in our lives. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us love him so much that we would be willing to give up everything else for his sake.

We might sometimes wonder if we could ever have enough faith or love or courage to give up everything for Jesus if we needed to. But one thing we can be sure of is that Jesus’ love for us was so great that he gave up everything to win us for himself. Jesus left his heavenly throne and came into this earth as a human person. He suffered and died on the cross for our sakes so that we could become his people. We are sinners, but Jesus treats us like a precious treasure, and nothing will ever separate us from his love.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your great love for us. Please help us to love you more than anything else. Amen.

Source:

Young, Chic Blondie, Volume 1, Their Courtship and Wedding: complete daily comics 1933-1935 San Diego: Diamond Book Distributors, 2010. p. 275.

 

 

Quiet and Hidden

Bible:

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33 ESV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever watched a movie all the way to the end, through all the credits? If you do, you will see a lot of different job titles, like key grip and dolly grip and gaffer and best boy. The people who do these jobs are probably people you have never heard of, and you probably don’t know what these jobs are, either! A gaffer is the head of the electrical department for a film production, and a dolly grip moves camera cranes and the wheeled platforms, called dollies, that carry cameras and the people that are working the cameras. A key grip supervises all the other grips, who move and set up cameras and equipment. A best boy is the second in command to the gaffer or key grip. All of these jobs are very important, and a movie couldn’t get made without them. But they are quiet and hidden jobs. People who go to the movies don’t see the work that they do or realize how much effort they put into the process of making a film.

Jesus gave us a picture of his kingdom that’s a little bit like that. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a leaven, such as yeast, that a woman puts into bread dough. The yeast works in the dough in a quiet and hidden way, and soon the bread starts to rise. What started out as a little bit of dough soon fills the bread pan to overflowing because the yeast worked all through the dough. God’s kingdom is like that. God’s word works quietly in the hearts and lives of people in ways that we can’t always see or understand, but the Holy Spirit brings changes to people everywhere he is at work. Someday we will see and understand all the ways God has been at work in our world, but for now his ways are often hidden from us.

God hid himself in the human person, Jesus, who died a shameful death on the cross for all people. When people see Jesus on the cross, they might not understand that God was at work in what Jesus was doing. But because of what Jesus did for us, our sins are forgiven, and we have been brought into the kingdom of heaven. God is at work in our hearts and lives, and even if we can’t always understand his purposes in the things that happen, we can be sure that our life is hidden with Jesus in heaven, and that someday when Jesus comes again everything will be made clear to us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to give us life, and for hiding our lives safely with Jesus in heaven. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/50626/11-strange-movie-job-titles%E2%80%94explained

The Mustard Seed

Bible:

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 ESV

Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 17:22-24 ESV

Reflection:

Do you like to eat mustard on a hot dog or on a sandwich? Did you know that mustard comes from a plant? Mustard is made with the seeds of the mustard plant, crushed or powdered and added to water. Some people who like to use herbs for medicine use mustard seeds for stomach problems or to help with coughs. Mustard seeds are also planted in a garden or a field to grow plants for more mustard. There are two types of mustard, white and black, and black mustard plants grow to be about four feet tall, as tall as a bush or a young tree, and much higher than many other plants in a garden. Small birds might even nest in the branches of a mustard plant.

Jesus used the picture of a little mustard seed and its plant to give a picture of his kingdom. Many years earlier the prophet Ezekiel had talked about a tree God was going to plant that would start out humble and lowly and become high and strong and bear fruit and give shelter for many birds to come and nest in its branches. Jesus used a similar picture of a tiny seed growing into a big bush that also gave shelter to many birds. He was talking about himself and his kingdom.

Jesus was humble and lowly, and he gave his life on the cross for the sins of all people. But the kingdom of followers that he started has grown bigger and bigger, and it includes people from all over the world. We are like the birds of all kinds who come and shelter in the branches of the tree planted by Jesus. We have found our hope and our peace with God through him, and we rest and rejoice in the life he has given us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing me and many people from around the world into your kingdom by dying for us. Amen.

Source:

https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/usdisp/brassica-nigr.html

Weeds and Wheat

Bible:

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 ESV

Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.” Psalm 94:1-7 ESV

Reflection:

At the time when King Arthur ruled England in the stories about him, there was peace and justice in his kingdom for many years. People lived securely, and the knights of the round table rode out to help the poor and the powerless and to fight for the rights of people who were oppressed. But this time of goodness and right didn’t last forever, and eventually evil came to King Arthur’s kingdom. A wicked knight named Mordred plotted against the king to get power for himself. Lancelot betrayed King Arthur by falling in love with the king’s wife, Guinevere. Lancelot’s behavior divided the knights of the round table, and they started fighting each other. Lancelot ended up killing his best friend Gawain’s two brothers, and that started a real war among the knights. The evil that entered Camelot spoiled all the good that had come from Arthur’s rule.

King Arthur is only a legend, but his story tells something that is true. Sin and evil often come to ruin and destroy things that are good and right, and it so often just doesn’t seem fair. Jesus told a story about a field of wheat and some weeds to help us understand this. Sometimes we wonder how God could have created a world so full of trouble and pain, and then we remember that the Lord created the world to be good and beautiful, but sin entered the world and spoiled God’s wonderful creation. This is like the enemy that planted weeds in the farmer’s field of good wheat. Then we wonder why God doesn’t just get rid of all the people and things that cause sorrow and pain, just as the farmer’s servants wanted to know if they should go and pull out all the weeds while the wheat was growing. But the farmer said that they might accidentally pull out some of the wheat along with the weeds, and that instead everything should be allowed to grow up together. Only when the harvest time came would the weeds be thrown into the fire.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why God allows so much evil and wrong in his world, and we often don’t have easy answer for that. But we know that God wants all people to be saved, and he patiently waits for people to come to him in repentance and faith. That’s why he doesn’t immediately destroy evil people when they work against his will. We also know that good things in this world, like schools and families and governments, are often corrupted with evil, but to completely take these things away would cause even more pain and hurt. So God allows evil to happen while his own people live in this world, but the time will come when God will come with judgment and bring all pain and evil to an end. No one could ever escape God’s judgment, because we all are sinful, but Jesus came to live in our broken world and take all of our sins on himself. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven, and because of that we can wait for God to bring all evil to an end in his own time.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to be patient and to trust you while we wait for your final judgment, and thank you for giving us forgiveness and life in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

God Gives the Growth

Bible:

And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”Mark 4:10, 13-20, 26-29 ESV

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. I Corinthians 3:7-9 ESV

Reflection:

Seeds are small, sometimes very tiny, dry things that look dead, but there is the potential for the life of a new plant or tree in a seed. Many seeds come with an outer layer called a seed coat, which protects and gives food to the life inside the seed. A seed stays dormant, or sleeping, until it gets the right conditions–water, light, and a warm enough temperature. When this happens, a seed begins to grow. Roots push down into the soil to bring water and nutrients to the seed, and a shoot sprouts upward toward the sun. What happens to a seed seems almost magical, but it is all the plan of God. He is the one who creates seeds and gives them the ability to grow.

Jesus explained his story about the farmer who planted seeds and left them to grow. A farmer can’t make seeds grow. Only God can do that. All the farmer can do is plant his seeds in the field. Jesus said that the seeds in his story are a picture of God’s word. God’s word isn’t just another book, but instead God’s word brings new life. God the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to give the gift of faith to people. We can spread God’s word, but it’s God that makes it grow in people’s hearts. Jesus said that people are like different kinds of soil. Some soil is good and some isn’t good. People with hearts that are hard and won’t hear God’s word are like the hard path. There is no chance for the word to take root before Satan takes the seed away the same way that birds eat seeds that fall on the ground. People who have stony hearts believe God’s word until trouble comes, but then they give up easily because his word never takes root deep in their hearts. People whose hearts are full of thorny weeds are so worried about things in this life that they don’t let God’s word grow strong.

This story of Jesus seems a little bit scary. How can we be good soil so that God’s word will take root and grow and not get taken away or shrivel in the hot sun or get choked with weeds? We want to keep hearing and learning and studying God’s word so that the Holy Spirit can help us grow. But just as it is God who makes the seed grow, he also is the one who makes our hearts good soil for him. We don’t have to put our trust in our efforts to grow and have good hearts. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, and he forgives us for the times we are stony or weedy or hard. He sends us his Holy Spirit through his Word so that our hearts are softened and we grow strong and healthy in him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your word of life to us. Please help us to grow and be strong for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://citadel.sjfc.edu/students/scm03254/e-port/vsg/The%20plant%20life%20cycle.htm

The Sower and the Seed

Bible:

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:1-9 ESV

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

Reflection:

Often when people have expensive wine of the best quality, they save it for very special times and very special people. But when King Henry VIII of England got married, he did something very extravagant. He made some fountains in public squares flow with the best wines instead of the water that usually runs in fountains, and on his wedding day these fountains were open to all people to drink from. Wine flowing from public fountains happened at other times of celebration as well, such as the coronation of his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. Fountains of wine were ways to invite all the people to share in the celebration of the king or the queen, and to show royal favor and generosity to all people of the kingdom. Some people might have abused this gift, but it was freely given to everyone.

Jesus told a story that was a little bit like this. He told about a farmer that went out and scattered his seed over all kinds of ground. Usually farmers prepare the ground by plowing it and maybe adding some kind of fertilizer, and they are very careful of their seeds. A farmer doesn’t want to waste seeds by planting them in bad ground. But the farmer in Jesus story let the seeds fall onto all kinds of soil. Some the seeds fell where people had walked and made the ground so hard that the seed just sat until birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground or weedy ground where it wouldn’t grow well. It seems like the farmer in Jesus’ story was very careless with his seed.

This is a picture of the love of God for all people. God loves everyone very much, and he has shown the most extravagant, lavish love for us by sending his own Son, Jesus, to give his life so that all our sins could be forgiven. God wants people everywhere to hear the good news about his love. Many times people hear the good news and they don’t believe it, or they only believe for awhile and then they give up their faith. But the Lord wants all people to hear the good news, and he sends us to share it even with people who don’t believe it or come to know the love of God. This can be discouraging sometimes, and that’s one reason Jesus told this story. We know the lavish, extravagant love of God in Jesus, and he sends us his Holy Spirit so that we can share it with all kinds of people.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love for all people. Help us to share it with others, even those who don’t believe your good news. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1269793/Tudor-wine-fountain-like-used-Henry-VIII-flow-Hampton-Court-Palace-visitors.html