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February 29, 2020

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
New American Standard Bible for 2020

Text: Deuteronomy 5-7
Audio: Deuteronomy 5-7

Psalm 80 (ESV)

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
    Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
    and come to save us!

Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
    and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
    it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
    and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
    so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
    and all that move in the field feed on it.

14 Turn again, O God of hosts!
    Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15     the stock that your right hand planted,
    and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
    may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
    the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
    give us life, and we will call upon your name!

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
    Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Next: Psalm 81

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  1. You brought a vine out of Egypt;
        you drove out the nations and planted it.
    You cleared the ground for it;
        it took deep root and filled the land (Psalm 80:8-9)

    Deeply Rooted, Fruitful and Filling the Land

    As I read today's psalm, I was reminded of the Parable of the Sower because of Psalm 80:8-9. 

    Do you see the connection? 

    The psalmist reminds us that God delivered Israel out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1:1-13:16), planted them in cleared ground which allowed them to take deep root and multiply (filling the land).

    In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15, Jesus speaks of seed falling along the path, some in rocky ground, some in thorny soil, and others in good soil (which produces fruit and multiplies). 

    When we think of the different soils in "The Sower," we know they represent different kinds of hearers of the word of the kingdom/the Word of God (Matthew 13:18; Luke 8:11). 

    The rocky ground hearer hears the word and "immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away" (Matthew 13:20-21). 

    The thorny ground hearers are those who hear the word but "the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22). 

    We may be inclined to think these soils (hearers) need to get their spiritual acts together and be more receptive to the precious seed being planted. 

    But if we look closely at this parable, Jesus says, "To you [His disciples – soil that is being tilled, cleared and is prepared for the Word of God] it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others [soils/hearers who have not been tilled, cleared and not prepared for the Word of God] they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'"

    Just as the people of God enslaved in Egypt couldn't free themselves, soil can't clear itself and make itself good. Just as God is the only One who could deliver His people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promise Land, only the Sower can till/clear soil and plant the seeds of deliverance from sin and freedom in Christ.

    If there are rocks or thorns in the soil, the seed will not take deep root, will not be fruitful and will not multiply. If the soil remains in that state, those hearers will not inherit the kingdom of God and be saved.

    Jesus did not explain the parable to the crowd but only to His disciples (who had been blessed with eyes to see and ears to hear). Jesus did not till/clear the soil along the path, the rocky ground or thorny soil because the secrets of the kingdom of God has not been given to them because salvation was not granted to them.

    This is not just a random parable that is up for interpretation. The meaning of this parable is clear because Jesus explained it, expounded on it and said if we understand this parable, we will understand all parables (Mark 4:13). 

    This point is emphasized in Philippians 1:6 which says, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." 

    The work of the Sower (Jesus) begins the moment His hands break up the rocks of our hard hearts towards Him. It begins the moment he rips up the thorns that will choke the Word He is going to plant in us. It begins when He gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. 

    When He sows His seed in us, we are prepared for it – not because we are "good soil" but because He made our hard, rocky or thorny soil good. We are only fruitful and multiply because of the good work The Sower started in us before He planted the seed. The work He started in us continues throughout our lives – ensuring our salvation is brought to completion and we are found to be in Christ when He returns or stand before God on judgment day when we die.

    I want to be clear – this work is not work WE do but the work of God IN us. From start to finish, our salvation is 100% a work of God. Without His initiative, we would be left dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Even our ability to endure in our faith to the end is a work of God. It is not our will power but by the power of God in us that brings the work God started to completion.

    In closing, anyone who clears soil and plants seed is a sower. But unlike THE Sower, we don't know who is given eyes to see and ears to hear. Our responsibility is to till soil and plant seed. The increase is up to the Lord. 

    1 Corinthians 3:6-9 says, "I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building."

    When I meet people who are not interested in Jesus or the Bible, or those who make professions of faith but don't endure to the end, and who allow distractions and desires to pull them away from what looked like genuine faith, the Parable of the Sower brings me comfort knowing their salvation is not contingent on my efforts. 

    My responsibility is to ensure the seed I'm planting is the Word of God and not contaminated seed which has been mixed with other seed. The charge of the Great Commission is to teach people what Christ taught, not a combination of the Bible and other things (as if God's Word needs supplemental seed added to it). My responsibility is to till soil in people's lives and plant the seed of God's Word.

    I'm grateful for our Daily Reading/Sharing. I needed to be reminded of the Parable of the Sower this morning. Who would have thought the "seeds" of the parable would be found in the middle of the psalms?

    ~ Puritan Prayers ~

    "Jesus Supplies" by Robert Hawker

    "Lamb of God! Though you are now in your exalted state, not all the hallelujahs of heaven can keep you one moment from knowing and supplying all the wants of your church in grace here below!

    If you ask me, do you have any meat? Lord, I would answer, 'You are the bread of life, and the bread of God, the living bread, which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world!'

    Precious Jesus! Be my bread, my life, my hope, my fullness, my joy, and my portion forever. Amen."

    (Excerpt taken from Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans) 

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