Devotional Thoughts for Today
Mk 4:20 (NIV): “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
In the NBA, no one could stop Shaquille O’Neil in his heyday; once this powerful player had the ball in the paint area, any strategy used against him mattered very little him—he almost always made a basket.
While the quality of the soil certainly affects whether the seed reaches its fullest potential, it can grow, however anemic, under almost any soil. In another parable, Jesus spoke of how “night and day, whether the [sower] sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mk. 4:27). Still in another parable, the Lord explained that as long as a kernel “falls to the ground . . . it produces many seeds” (Jn. 12:24). Apostle Paul, in speaking of those who preached God’s word (i.e., sowed the seed) with a wrong motive, said, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached” (Phil. 1:18). What do these verses indicate? Regardless of the listener’s receptivity or the preacher’s motive, because “the word of God is living and active[,] sharper than any double-edged sword , it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12 NIV).
One main issue with Shaq’s teams was always getting the ball to him when he was in the paint area near the basket. But it was up to the point guard who, after bringing the ball up the court, could either pass it to Shaq or shoot it himself. However, Shaq was much more likely to make a basket from his sweet-spot than a guard who shot from afar. The question to us is how to make that pass from the outside (i.e., attitudes not conducive for effective listening) to the sweet-spot, which is inside (i.e., the right attitude), so that we can consistently score a basket (i.e., bearing much fruits in terms of character, right conduct, winning souls, etc. ).
First, no matter who may be the speaker, obligate yourself to receive a blessing even if the only coherent thing done was reading the Scripture, since that is God’s word. Paul says to the Thessalonians, “We also thank God . . . because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 5:13). What’s the outcome of this? The apostle concludes that verse with this: “…which is at work (i.e., produces a crop) in you who believe.” Second, imitate the Bereans “who received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Luke, instead of saying, “How dare you examine Paul’s words!” but rather described them as “noble character.” Lastly, “do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 2:22). Start practicing this today.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 21