(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Matthew Ch. 13 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-43) The scriptures of this chapter are mainly composed of the parables of heaven. Why did Jesus speak to them in parables? Jesus answered them:
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (v.11)
“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (v.13)
“All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (v.34)
The kingdom of heaven is like a seed. Jesus said: “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (v.9)
Whether a person can bear good fruits is contingent upon how that person hears the Word of God and if that person accepts the Word! Unlike most people, Jesus’ disciples humbly approached Jesus when they did not understand what they had heard. They went into the house from the outdoors and asked Jesus about the meaning of the parables until they fully understood of his words (Mt. 13:10, 36, 51). At times when we do not fully understand the truth, we shall learn from Jesus’ disciples and humbly turn to the Bible, allowing ourselves be united by faith with those we hear.
In this passage, Jesus explained to his disciples the parables of sowing seeds (Mt. 13:1-23) and the parables of weeds in the field (vv.24-30, 36-43). Let us follow the Scripture and review the meaning of each parable one by one.
- falling along the path: ____________
- falling on rocky ground: ____________
- falling on among thorn: ____________
- falling on good soil: ____________
- field: ____________
- good seeds: ____________
- weeds: ____________
- the enemy who sows weeds: ____________
- harvest time: ____________
- reapers: ____________
（vv. 44-52）Though reading other hidden parables spoken by Jesus, we can summarize several features about the heavenly kingdom, including the expansion of the heavenly kingdom, the worth of the heavenly kingdom,
and the purity of the heavenly kingdom.
The expansion of the heavenly kingdom: God’s nation will never be hindered and will grow in quality and quantity by His power, authority, and his steadfast will. If we were ever frustrated by the conflict between the Church and the world, let us trust in God’s plan (for his nation), which hasn’t changed since the ancient beginning and it will last forever.
The worth of the heavenly kingdom: The worth of the heavenly kingdom is greater than anything. People who see the value of the “heavenly goods” will be willing to sell everything for it. When we share with others the richness of our lives that God possesses, we will find that other things, as the Apostle Paul said, are considered as rubbish! (Php. 3:8)
The purity of the heavenly kingdom: The gospel of Jesus and the power of God can weed out everything that causes sin and all who do evil, delivering the righteous people from the evil and signifying the purity of heavenly kingdom. The decision for our ultimate destiny can only be made in our limited and short life and our options are either to have a place in God’s Kingdom or to cry in the darkness! Do you have assurance for where you will be going to be at? As written in the Bible: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 Jn 5:12-13)
(vv. 53-58）When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on to Nazareth, the hometown where he grew up and began preaching in their synagogue. The Scripture pointed out the reason why Jesus had not spent much time preaching there. The people took offense at Jesus due to their preconception about Jesus. That was unfortunate and unwise for them as they lost the opportunity to receive the blessings from knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the end, Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Do you have any bias/stereotype about Jesus? Get rid of these biases! Only in this way you may allow yourself to get to know Him better!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)