Note: The devotion for Jan 15-18 is based on the Parable of the Sower; read it in its entirety today.
Mk. 4:2-8 (NIV): “He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:  ‘Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’”
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Mk. 4:14-5 (NIV): “The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”
Once, there was this elderly pastor (Hong) whose sermon I didn’t care to listen to. At the time, I was part of an in-house discipleship training at my church along with other young men. Our day began with a 5:30 AM prayer meeting, which we attended mostly out fear of our pastor who would discipline us if we didn’t attend; so whenever he was out-of-town, most of us slept in. But this greatly upset Pastor Hong who used every pulpit opportunity to call us out as hypocritical, lazy bums. Naturally, whenever he spoke, I gladly let the evil one snatch away his word.
When we don’t like or understand a sermon, it’s easy to blame the speaker for not delivering the message well. But oftentimes, the listener may have thought that he was listening, when in reality he really wasn’t. Once, Jesus was sharing a serious message about not disowning God before men, not blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, and being persecuted for one’s faith (Lk. 12:8-12). At that moment, “someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me’” (Lk. 12:13). Evidently, this person was so preoccupied with losing out on the family inheritance that he failed to pay any attention to Jesus’ words. This had nothing to do with whether the teaching was inadequate or the delivery was off, but everything to do the listener’s predisposition that kept the word from being planted in the heart.
Maybe there is a 3-step method to having the right attitude when listening to God’s word, but what happened to me in 1983 was definitely the work of the Holy Spirit. One day, while I was reading a book on servanthood, I became convicted that I was far from it. In the evening service in which Pastor Hong spoke, again calling us out as hypocritical bums, I, having come with a broken and contrite heart, responded to his message by coming to the altar to repent with tears.
So, the next time you’re about to hear God’s word proclaimed, pray for an unpreoccupied and contrite heart so that the powerful Word of God can penetrate into your soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12).
LORD, how precious and wonderful that You have given us a Book that we can readily access to obtain the knowledge of salvation as well as the instruction for guiding this life. Thank You also for the office of preaching through which we hear God’s word being proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 17
Lunch Break Study
A man blind from birth, after being healed by Jesus (without knowing that it was him), was brought to the Pharisees who wanted to investigate how or what happened.
Read Jn. 9:28-34 (NIV): “Then they hurled insults at him and said, ‘You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!  We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.’  The man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.  We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’  To this they replied, ‘You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!’ And they threw him out.”
Lk. 18:17: “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Question to Consider
- How did the Pharisees respond to the answer given to them by the formerly blind man?
- Why did the Pharisees reject the truthful words spoken by him? Does this happen today?
- Describe your typical attitude whenever you are listening to someone expounding the Bible. What kind of an attitude should we have?
- They categorically rejected it, meaning it didn’t matter what the formerly blind man said; the Pharisees came to the meeting with a mindset determined to not consider anything he had to say.
- For the Pharisees, well-educated people with great credentials, it was quite easy to dismiss those who were considerably inferior to them in every aspect: religious pedigree, social status, and theological knowledge. Yes, it happens today for the same reason.
- If what is taught or preached makes any kind of sense, just accept it like a child; don’t fight too hard to criticize the sermon; don’t let some negativity outweigh the positives. Don’t be a wise guy!
Did you read Psalm 81 yet? If not, read it now and meditate on it. If you have, read Psalm 42 and reflect on this psalm.