This devotional guide is for Sunday, March 5. The sermon is based on Matthew 13:44-46 and is entitled “Setting Priorities.” In this text, Jesus tells two parables, in both of which an individual sells everything he has in order to possess something of great value. The parables raise a couple of questions: 1) Do I consider the Kingdom of God to be of ultimate worth? 2) If so, what am I willing to sacrifice in order to possess it?
This will be the subject of Sunday’s sermon and this devotional guide. I hope you will be troubled by the demands that Jesus lays on us in these parables.
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, February 27. Read Matthew 4:12-17. 1) What event set in motion a new stage of Jesus’ ministry. 2) What was the core of his message from then on?
Tuesday, February 28. Read Matthew 5:3-10. 1) What do you call this section of the Sermon on the Mount? 2) For what does Jesus say these qualities equip you in verses 3 and 10?
Wednesday, March 1. Read Matthew 6:25-33. 1) What would you say Jesus instructs us to avoid? 2) What should be the first priority of Jesus’ disciples?
Thursday, March 2. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. 1) What does Paul say happened to him in this text? 2) Why do you think he was willing to go through that? 3) What priority do you think Paul gave the Kingdom of God? 4) Though not in this text, what do you think caused Paul to be so convicted?
Friday, March 3. Read Ephesians 2:8-10. 1) What gift has God given to us? 2) What was God’s goal or desire for each of us? 3) How much/how often should this God-desire be part of our lives?
Saturday, March 4. Read Matthew 13:44-46. Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you. Mercifully accept my prayers, and because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you, give me the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments I may please you both in will and deed through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
“Comfort, Comfort Now My People”
by Johann Olearius, 1671
speak of peace: so says our God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning under sorrow’s load.
Cry out to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover
and her warfare now is over.
For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling all to true repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him
and the hills bow down to greet him.
Then make straight what long was crooked;
make the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that God’s word is never broken.
Devotional Article of the Week:
“The Quiet Kingdom”
by Rubel Shelly
… the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:4 NIV)
One of the more famous commercial tag lines of the late twentieth century was “The Quiet Company.” Remember whose it was? It came to the company’s National Advertising Director as he was returning home on a train. Richard Haggman coined the slogan for Northwestern Mutual Life.
Jesus could have used the same slogan, with only a slight alteration, to summarize a key fact about his own ministry. The four parables in Mark 4, for example, could be listed under the heading “The Quiet Kingdom.” Each of them calls attention to the steady and gentle — though ever-so-productive — power of the kingdom of heaven at work on Planet Earth.
Our world likes noise, splash, and the tooting of horns — especially our own. We are inclined to favor show over substance and numbers over authenticity. It seems that we cannot get over the ancient temptation to build monuments and make a name for ourselves.
The kingdom of God is more often “The Quiet Kingdom.” Its advances are typically without fanfare, as individuals hear, receive, and are redeemed by the almost imperceptible planting, nurturing, growth, and fruition of the gospel in one life after another.
God does more kingdom work through a mother loving and nurturing her children than he can possibly get done through an ego-driven preacher. A man who is faithful to his wife teaches his little girl more about her worth as a human being and does more to protect her against drugs and teen promiscuity than all the school or government programs ever designed to nurture self-esteem.
Somebody on a production line or in a top executive spot who maintains personal integrity day after day, a Sunday School teacher staying with that ministry through tight budgets and tighter room space, a teenager choosing not to follow his peers onto Internet porn sites, a frustrated church member who is fed up with the lack of faith the church’s “leaders” demonstrate but stays and continues to pray for them, an alcoholic or sex addict who takes responsibility and begins a lifelong process of recovery — these quiet victories in the power of God are low-profiled and inconspicuous advances of the kingdom.
We have no right to be intrusive and loud in the name of Jesus. Gentleness, after all, is a fruit of the Spirit of God in human lives.