Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6 - Mark 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Mark 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Throughout this chapter (and in most of the gospels) Jesus speaks in parables. A parable is a short story that illustrates a spiritual lesson. 
  • We also see Jesus use the term Kingdom of God often. What he is referring to here is not a specific place or location, like a physical kingdom. The Kingdom of God is within. It is wherever God reigns. People choose whether they will allow God's light to enter their heart in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God.
  • Back in Bible times, there was no electricity (of course!). The only way to light your home was a lamp.  Jesus makes the point that no one would be crazy enough to put that lamp under the bed so that no one could see. You would use that light to illuminate your path. In the same way, the light of Christ can illuminate our path and reveal what's in our hearts.
  • Any farmer will tell you that the mustard seed is one of the oddest things you can plant.  It is incredibly tiny and a seemingly insignificant looking thing. However, it is probably one of the most powerful seeds you can plant.  Farmers can tell you stories where one little mustard seed blew into their field and took over their entire crop! This is why Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed: God's kingdom may look unassuming, but it is meant to grow swiftly, exponentially, and strongly.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The parable of the sower is a direct reference to what we do with God's Word and his invitation for relationship.  In the parable we see that people respond quite differently. Some hear about God but don't care. Others are initially excited about what God has done for them but drift away slowly. Some accept Christ but allow fear, worry, and the desires of this life to overshadow their love for God. And still others accept Christ, live in him, and continue to share him with others. There will always be obstacles that we can allow to divert us from God. How are you responding to him? Which person do you relate to in the parable? What is getting in the way of your relationship with him?
  • The Kingdom of God is meant to grow. God wants to use YOU to grow his Kingdom as you share his love to others. How are you doing with that?
  • At the end of the chapter we see Jesus calm a storm on the water that the disciples were very afraid of.  Jesus calmed the storm in an instant, reminding the disciples that they should not fear, but have faith.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What can you do this week to make yourself more receptive "soil" to God and his word?
  • Who can you show God to today? How will you do it?
  • What is a storm you've been facing and fearing? Take some time to pray about it, acknowledging Jesus' power over the storm.