Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants; and, that we may receive what we ask, teach us by your Holy Spirit to ask only those things that are pleasing to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
CHALLENGE: This summer, I am being discipled by Jesus. Actually one of Jesus’ disciples, a long time friend, meets with me online, twice a month, for prayer and mutual nurture in God’s Word. She is showing me how to deeply ponder five questions that Jesus asked his followers as I read God’s Word: Who do you say that I am? Do you understand what I have done for you? Are you listening to me? Do you truly love me? Do you believe me? This week, consider one of these questions such as: Do you understand what I have done for you? as you read and reflect on the following readings. This will activate an amazing, prayerful conversation with Jesus! Blessings, Sue Bentley
OLD TESTAMENT: Isaiah 55 The Lord Invites Thirsty People to Come to Him
55 “Come, all you who are thirsty. Come and drink the water I offer to you. You who do not have any money, come. Buy and eat the grain I give you. Come and buy wine and milk. You will not have to pay anything for it. 2 Why spend money on what is not food? Why work for what does not satisfy you? Listen carefully to me. Then you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the richest food there is. 3 Listen and come to me. Pay attention to me. Then you will live. I will make a covenant with you that will last forever. I will give you my faithful love. I promised it to David.
4 I made him a witness to the nations. He became a ruler and commander over them. 5 You too will send for nations you do not know. Even though you do not know them,
they will come running to you. That is what I will do. I am the Lord your God. I am the Holy One of Israel. I have honored you.”
6 Turn to the Lord before it’s too late.
Call out to him while he’s still ready to help you. 7 Let those who are evil stop doing evil things.
And let them quit thinking evil thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord. The Lord will show them his tender love. Let them turn to our God. He is always ready to forgive.
8 “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. And your ways are not like my ways,” announces the Lord. 9 “The heavens are higher than the earth. And my ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.
10 The rain and the snow come down from the sky. They do not return to it without watering the earth. They make plants come up and grow. The plants produce seeds for farmers. They also produce food for people to eat. 11 The words I speak are like that.
They will not return to me without producing results. They will accomplish what I want them to.
They will do exactly what I sent them to do.
12 “My people, you will go out of Babylon with joy. You will be led out of it in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song as you go. And all the trees in the fields will clap their hands. 13 Juniper trees will grow where there used to be bushes that had thorns on them. And myrtle trees will grow where there used to be thorns. That will bring me great fame. It will be a lasting reminder of what I can do. It will stand forever.”
1 You, O God, are to be praised in Zion, *
and unto you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.
2 You who hear our prayer, *
unto you shall all flesh come.
3 My misdeeds prevail against me; *
O be merciful and blot out our sins.
4 Blessed is the man whom you choose and receive unto yourself; *
he shall dwell in your courts, and shall be satisfied with the pleasures of your house, even of your holy temple.
5 You shall show us wonderful things in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, *
for you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the isles that are far away.
6 You in your strength set firm the mountains, *
and are girded about with power.
7 You still the raging of the seas, *
the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth shall be in fear of your wonders; *
you make the morning and evening to shout with joy.
9 You visit the earth and bless it; *
you make it very plenteous.
10 The river of God is full of water; *
you prepare the grain, for so you provide for the earth.
11 You water its furrows; you send rain into the little valleys; *
you make it soft with the drops of rain and bless the increase of it.
12 You crown the year with your goodness, *
and your paths overflow with plenty.
13 The fields of the wilderness are rich in pasture, *
and the little hills rejoice on every side.
14 The folds shall be full of sheep; *
the valleys also shall stand so thick with grain that they shall laugh and sing.
NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 8:7-17 (NiRV)
7 The mind ruled by the power of sin is at war with God. It does not obey God’s law. It can’t. 8 Those who are under the power of sin can’t please God.
9 But you are not ruled by the power of sin. Instead, the Holy Spirit rules over you. This is true if the Spirit of God lives in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. 10 If Christ lives in you, you will live. Though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life. The Spirit does this because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of the God who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. So the God who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your bodies. He will do this because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Brothers and sisters, we have a duty. Our duty is not to live under the power of sin. 13 If you live under the power of sin, you will die. But by the Spirit’s power you can put to death the sins you commit. Then you will live.
14 Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves. Otherwise you would live in fear again. Instead, the Holy Spirit you received made you God’s adopted child. By the Spirit’s power we call God Abba. Abba means Father. 16 The Spirit himself joins with our spirits. Together they tell us that we are God’s children. 17 As his children, we will receive all that he has for us. We will share what Christ receives. But we must share in his sufferings if we want to share in his glory.
GOSPEL: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (NIRV): The Story of the Farmer
13 That same day Jesus left the house and sat by the Sea of Galilee. 2 Large crowds gathered around him. So he got into a boat and sat down. All the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things using stories. He said, “A farmer went out to plant his seed. 4 He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. Birds came and ate it up. 5 Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn’t much soil. The plants came up quickly, because the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it burned the plants. They dried up because they had no roots. 7 Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It produced a crop 100, 60 or 30 times more than what was planted. 9 Whoever has ears should listen.”
18 “Listen! Here is the meaning of the story of the farmer. 19 People hear the message about the kingdom but do not understand it. Then the evil one comes. He steals what was planted in their hearts. Those people are like the seed planted on a path. 20 The seed that fell on rocky places is like other people. They hear the message and at once receive it with joy. 21 But they have no roots. So they last only a short time. They quickly fall away from the faith when trouble or suffering comes because of the message. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns is like others who hear the message. But then the worries of this life and the false promises of wealth crowd it out. They keep the message from producing fruit. 23 But the seed that fell on good soil is like those who hear the message and understand it. They produce a crop 100, 60 or 30 times more than the farmer planted.”
ISAIAH 55:1 Eat and drink without money: Jesus wants a heart of faith before money as a willing response of gratitude for God’s gifts and blessing.
55:8-9 Neither are your ways My ways: Human reason alone will never bring us to God. We come to God by faith received as a gift from Him. Even the faith the size of a mustard seed will grow in us as we willingly receive this faith.
55:10-11 My word is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, which is God's will. There are times the sharing of the Gospel seems to bear no fruit, but God is at work whether or not we see visible results.
ROMANS 8:6-17 (Read v. 6)
8:6 The mind ruled by the Spirit brings life and peace.
8:10 The Holy Spirit gives new life, both now in this world (God’s Kingdom on earth) and in the promised final resurrection to everlasting life in His heavenly Kingdom.
8:13 The gift of new life requires our receiving this new life through faith and our cooperating in obedience to God’s will. We are His children. He leads us by the power of the Spirit. In this new life, the body becomes the follower, not the leader.
8:14-17 Christians are adopted as children of God (v. 16) and become part of the same Kingdom Christ received when He ascended in the flesh into heaven. What Jesus as the Son of God inherited by His own divine nature, we receive as a gift of God’s grace. Our adoption (v. 15) is a fact of our baptism. Yet it rests on us to receive the love of this adoption by continuing in faith and turning constantly toward God. The experience of this adoption allows us to address God with the intimate term Abba, which means “Papa” .
8:15 The spirit of bondage refers to a return to the law. Israel feared God as a slave would fear a strong master. Under the new covenant, we are no longer slaves but by adoption are part of God's family, the Church
MATTHEW 13:3-9 Here, Jesus reveals Himself as the promised Messiah, the farmer who planted the seeds in the earth, whom the prophet Isaiah described in Is 55:10–13 over 550 years before Jesus cam to earth in the flesh as a baby. God’s mission for the North County Outreach Initiative is to have us provide the nurturing “soil” for those who receive His gifts of new life and faith in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.