The Seed and the Soil

Book Reflection // August 6, 2022

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 1 // Matthew 13:1-23

In this book by Boice, he classifies this parable as one dealing with the Kingdom of God. In particular he marks this particular parable as unique in this category since it is dealing more so with the origin of the Kingdom. Meaning that this specific parable is focused more on the beginnings of the spreading of the grace and gospel of Christ throughout the world. The uniqueness of this parable is that Jesus uses the picture of seeds being scattered and planted in different types of soil to represent the different stages of readiness to receive the gospel message of hope and salvation – hard heart, shallow heart, strangled heart, and an open heart.

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Holy Freedom

Journal Entry // August 4, 2022

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 3:17

Freedom… The Spirit brings freedom to the lives of those where he abides. What is this freedom that the Spirit brings? It is freedom from the slavery of sin. It is freedom from guilt and shame. Where the Spirit resides, there is now no condemnation for that person. The Spirit brings the glory of God to live in the hearts of men and women enabling them to say no to sin and yes to obedience. For this is truly the freedom of which is mentioned here. The freedom to obey the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Freedom to choose the good and reject the evil. Freedom to live a life of humility and obedience to the Lord. Freedom to love God and love people in righteousness and purity.

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David’s Soft Heart

Journal Entry // July 26, 2022

Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! (ESV)

1 Samuel 25:33

Here we see one of the more important aspects of David’s character on display. David was named as a man after God’s own heart and I often misunderstand what this really means. David’s heart was humble before the Lord. What I mean by that is that David didn’t always make the right decision or choose the path of righteousness, but the one thing he did very well was listen to the counsel of God. In this particular case, David was offended by the way Nabal had treated his representatives and himself by extension. David’s pride was wounded and he was embarrassed before his band of brothers. In his wounded pride, he had decided to strike out against Nabal and slaughter all the males in his company. David’s wounded pride was taking revenge to a stark level. David had let his outward appearance before the men lead him to make a decision that was steeped in bloodguilt.

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Sinning Sinners

Journal Notes // July 20, 2022

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)

1 Corinthians 6:11

And such were some of you… We all need this reminder at times in our lives. A reminder that the blessing of God upon our lives does not mean that we are superior to anyone else. We can all get so caught up in the chaos of this world and the absolute anarchy against God that we see in those who hate the name of Jesus. We see a world that is working every angle to rebel against the commandments of God. It’s easy to see this and get angry. We want to be angry at sinners for being just that, sinners. Our self-righteousness wells up inside of us and we look down at the lost and get angry at them. We want to argue about politics and sports and patriotism and any other thing we deem important. We have little patience for the lost and rebellious because we have forgotten all that our Savior has done for us. We have forgotten that we too were once just like them. That we too were once enemies of Christ doing everything we could to rebel and break free from the righteous law of God.

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Single-minded Devotion

Journal Entry // July 17, 2022

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. (ESV)

1 Samuel 12:24

This is the charge that Samuel gave to Saul and the people as he installed Saul as king of Israel. This is Samuel’s instruction for them to stay in the good and right way. And what is this instruction from Samuel? Single-minded devotion to the Lord and his commandments. There is no room in this life for the double-mindedness of a wayward heart. Our hearts should be singularly focused on the Lord in every aspect and circumstance of life. Our single-minded devotion is characterized by a healthy holy fear of the Lord leading us to serve him with all our heart. Our motivation, our affection, our underlying heart engagement with every action we perform should be firmly grounded in a love for Christ.

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Faithful Inside and Out

Journal Entry // July 12, 2022

And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. (ESV)

1 Samuel 2:35

The faithful priest is an obedient priest. A priest that doesn’t just follow and obey the letter of the law but is walking according to the heart and mind of God. Meaning that this faithful priest is living according to the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. This is typically the spot that trips up many a person including myself. There is a misunderstanding that God will be pleased with me as long as I am following the letter of the law but this is not a wholly adequate understanding of the importance of the law or its purpose. It’s not enough to just tick the boxes of obedience like a task list. The underlying importance of the being obedient to the spirit of the law is this… that we do according to what is in the heart and mind of God.

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Blind Truth

Journal Entry // July 4, 2022

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (ESV)

Judges 21:25

Judges is a tough read. It speaks about events and customs that so utterly foreign to these modern ears and New Testament understandings. The stories seem so brutal and lacking in compassion. I was a fair bit behind on my reading plan, so I spent my time this morning just catching up and finishing the book of Judges. It was interesting to read these stories in succession and see the way the people of God had devolved and seemingly cared for their own selves and those things they deemed important. Truly this last verse in the book of Judges is the perfect summary of that time. I read through this and I feel my heart aching for those being abused and I have my soul vexed by the disregard of all things holy. As I sit and ponder what I just read, I come to understand that this is my heart. This is the bent of my crooked heart. That I too could easily find myself like the people in this book when I take my eyes off Jesus and begin to do what is right in my own eyes.

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Wicked Incline

Journal Entry // May 4, 2021

Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds

Psalm 141:4 ESV

I am struggling with feeling trapped in this current situation of life. I know that this is where God has placed me and I know that this is surely for my best in the pursuit of delighting in Christ the Lord. I completely and most assuredly understand that this path God has set before me is for my good and his glory. But I want to turn from it and set my feet upon a path of my own choosing.

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Search and Know

Journal Entry // May 2, 2021

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! [24] And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

Is this passage what I truly want the Lord to do in my life? It sounds so amazing and wonderful to ask the Lord to lead me in the way everlasting, but the steps involved in this process seem overwhelmingly difficult. The Psalmist is asking the Lord to search him and to try/test him. All so the Lord can know his heart and thoughts. In order for sin to be removed and righteousness to be developed.

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Persuasive Reason

Journal Entry // June 2, 2022

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

Acts 19:8 ESV

Reasoning and persuading… I was thinking on this phrase in the context of the passage and how it is important for my witness to be both reasoned and persuasive. That my faith or anyone’s faith in Christ is not without reason. I think that we all at times may not know an answer to a skeptic’s question, so instead of admitting that we don’t know the answer and need to look into the question more closely, we instantly become defensive and counter that we have to take some things on faith. That we have to leap into the dark so to speak. This is not true though. What we need is a reasoned and persuasive understanding of the faith and patience to explain the truth that we believe to anyone who asks.

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