(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. 20 (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. 1-16) In the parable of the vineyard’s laborers, there were laborers who went in to the vineyard early in the morning and others who entered in the early evening. Those who entered early into the vineyard have borne the burden of the work and contributed more effort. When they have heard there were others who went in the latest, having worked only an hour, yet received the same wages, they grumbled at the master of the house: “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day” (v.12). If a similar case of “same wage for different labor” happens in the present world, this landowner may be charged with litigation and be accused of unequal treatment to his workers. Most people are used to a merit-based system, always anticipating for more rewards based on their own labor. If we see others receive benefits that they don’t deserve, we normally would feel bad and even feel envious, especially when it comes to our own interests or when we want to compare ourselves to others. At first glance, the reaction of the workers here is not surprising!
Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at this passage. The response from the master of the house was: “I am doing you no wrong… did you not agree with me…I choose to give…I choose with what belongs to me…do you begrudge my generosity” Can you tell the difference between the perspective of the master of the house and the laborer’s point of view? They are completely different. Jesus used the parable of the heavenly kingdom to explain that the king of the heavenly kingdom sets the amount of the wage and the amount is fixed. Compared with those who arrived late, those who arrived earlier had long been assured that they would get paid for their labor and would not have to be worried about not getting a job. The master did no wrong to those laborers who went in to the vineyard early for those people have made agreements with the master. As for other laborers who entered the vineyard later, the master determined how he wanted to pay them and he was capable of paying them on his own will. Others should not feel grudged about this. You know, God’s grace has been given to each one of us so that we do not need to earn it. Be assured that we will not lack anything according to God’s promises to us. Let’s do the best to what the Lord has entrusted us with and let’s not compare ourselves to others. This way we can enjoy the time to work diligently in the vineyard for God. That is the best blessing from God to us!
(vv. 17-28) This is the third time in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus has prophesied his own death (the first two were at Mt.16:21 and Mt. 17:22-23). As soon as Jesus said he was going to be crucified and resurrected on the third day, he saw the disciples arguing about who was the greatest among them! It started when James and John’s mother came to Jesus to worship him. As believers who follow Jesus our Lord, we may feel we are constantly be pulled by two forces: The Kingdom of God vs. the world. We have heard from the world that power and status are everything, which matches with what Jesus has said before: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.” Yet, in the Kingdom of God, we are to serve God with a servant’s mentality and Jesus himself is our role model. “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20:28)
Echoing what Jesus said before, He will be crucified, and on the third day He will be resurrected! Jesus who served and gave his life for us is the Son of the true God. He is the Lord we will follow and learn from!
(vv. 29-34) There is a great contrast between this passage and the previous paragraph. Previously Jesus’ disciples heard that they master will be crucified and suffered and they argued about who was the greatest among them. Here in this passage, there were two blind men who cried out again and again in the public saying: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David! Jesus is the true Messiah, and He obeyed God’s will to come to the world and gave his life as a ransom for many. Whoever believes in him will receive a whole new life through him. Let us reflect on ourselves. Do we want to receive a life of true freedom, to be fully forgiven by Jesus and be released from our sins? Or do we just want Jesus to put us in a high position and to receive prosperity in this life? Which one is more or less important? Jesus Christ and his cross? Or fame, money, power, status… and anything else?
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?”)