Wednesday, August 31, 2022

           As you likely know, there are four gospels in the Bible.  Matthew is the first one.  He was also known as Levi and was one of the first twelve disciples called by Jesus.  Like the other disciples, he had a checkered past but the Lord called him and changed him dramatically by making him a fisher of men.  When the Lord called to him, he left everything behind and followed in an instant.  His particular gospel had Jewish readers as his primary audience as he wrote to persuade them to believe that Jesus perfectly fulfilled their messianic expectations and was the kingly Messiah the nation had long-anticipated.  In Matthew’s gospel, we find the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus took the Law to a higher level and raised the bar for holiness. 
            In Matthew 13, we read Jesus’ Parable of the Sower.  As a certain farmer scattered seeds, the seeds landed on different types of ground—a hard pathway, rocky terrain, thorny land and finally good soil.  The seeds took root in the good soil and flourished.  Jesus explained the good soil in this way, “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:23). 
             A few lessons stand out for us.  First, we need to recognize that seed is always being sown.  Some people will sow good seeds into our lives while others will sow seeds that are harmful or even destructive.  I recently noticed a “seed cleaning” operation this summer that endeavors to ensure that farmers are planting good, pure and productive seeds that have not been mixed with undesirable or even harmful seeds that could ruin crops or pasture land.  Be discerning about the influences that you allow into your life.  Not every teacher brings what is good, wholesome and true.  Not every teacher desires to draw you closer to the truth of the gospel.  Deception reigns in our world today.
            Second, be ready for the truth that God brings to you as you read His Word, pray, worship and trust Him.  God often opens our eyes to things that are wrong that we once held to be right.  Likewise, God often sows into our lives seeds and lessons that convict us and call us to give up things we once treasured or pursued.  One of the Spirit’s roles is to convict us of the important things that God would have us to know.  We are never to close our eyes or lives to the truth of Scripture.  The Spirit is sowing into us as we trust Him and lean into Him each day.
            Third, prepare the soil of your life for God’s truth and ways to be sown in you.  We prepare this soil by making a commitment to read the Bible and pray.  We must carefully prioritize worship and fellowship with other believers.  Surround yourself with trusted and faithful believers who can help open your eyes to where God is at work and what He is doing.  Choose a day every few months and enjoy a spiritual retreat.  Get alone for half of a day to read the Bible, pray, praise God and listen for His voice.  Practice some time of silence and solitude. Being alone with the Lord is a time-honored spiritual discipline that has encouraged and blessed believers for generations. 
            Matthew concluded his gospel with a promise that we can cling to every moment of every day—whether we are in sorrow or celebration.  Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).  Christ is with us!  Christ is for us!  Christ walks alongside us!  What a promise and what a way to end the first gospel!  Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember to share our worship time with others at     

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