If you’ve spent much time in rural areas, you know that farms are notorious for the presence of abandoned wells. If they haven’t been sealed, they pose a serious risk to adults and especially children. Unfortunately many wells remain hidden behind overgrown bushes and hedges.
If an adult or child falls into the abandoned well—and hopefully it’s dry at the bottom—serious problems result. The only way out of the hole is to rely on someone else to rescue you.
Like the man in the video above, all of us have fallen into a hole. Without the help of someone beside ourselves, we’re helplessly lost.
After watching the video, please join me in learning more about the person who rescues us.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Deuteronomy 10. After recounting Israel’s sin in chapter 9, Moses reminds Israel that God responded by giving them another set of the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone. Then he instructed Moses to construct an ark that would contain the tablets and operate as God’s “throne away from home.” In other words, he gave them another chance.
How should they respond?
And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13
Luke 8:4-15. Reading through the parable of the sower and the seed—our third time thus far in the Gospels—I was struck by the identity of the seed. It’s the word of God. “The word of God is living and active” we read in Hebrews 4:12. In Isaiah 40:8, God declares that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
By joining in our Daily Bible Conversation, you’re planting powerful seeds into your life that will last forever. But seeds still need to be watered. While bursting with life, seeds can still lie dormant in the soil for years. Once life sprouts out of the seed, they must be nurtured and fed.
Jesus explains how the seed grows in verse 15: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
A good and noble heart is the soil. We create conditions for the seed to grow by hearing the word, retaining it, and persevering. The Message offers an interesting paraphrase. The good-hearted people “seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.”
Here’s the Klassen paraphrase: The harvest comes to those who meditate on God’s word, and believe it throughout every season they encounter until the harvest comes.
You don’t need to be a hero to reap a harvest—you just need to believe God’s word and hang on.
Luke 8:16-21. Jesus’ words in verse 18 reinforces the point of our parable: “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”
Then, to complete his thought on the sower and seed, Jesus explains, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Psalm 69:19-36. I love the fact that in the midst of his pain, David still offers praise to God. “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving” (verse 30). He still find reasons to be grateful to God in suffering.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Following the theme of yesterday’s conversation, God reiterates to Israel in Deuteronomy 9 that their righteousness isn’t the reason behind their blessing. God tells Israel in verse 9, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.” God gave the Promised Land to Israel because of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and because of the wickedness of the people inhabiting it.
For the rest of the chapter, Moses then recounts Israel’s sin of worshiping the golden calf, a transgression as grave as the surrounding nations. They deserved to be destroyed as well, but God spared them. Then he reminds them of their rebellion and hard-heartedness in other places (see Numbers 11 and Exodus 16).
For millennia, philosophers have debated the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But after reading Deuteronomy 9, I’d have to ask, “Why do good things happen to anyone?” With so much darkness in the world and my personal battles against self-absorption and rebellion among a host of other transgressions, it’s a wonder that God spares any of us from destruction.
Every breath, every sunset, every laugh, every moment of rest, every encounter with the divine is a gift from God.
Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, which begins with the high point of Jesus’ ministry. He enters Jerusalem to cheering crowds who shout praises to him and to God. Five days later they shouted “Crucify him!”
Any time we strain to pat ourselves on the back for something good we’ve said or done, we must remember that the vestiges of sin and darkness still remain. Akin to Israel in the wilderness, we all deserve destruction and judgment.
Like falling into a hole, all of us need someone to pull us out.
But praise be to God, he sent Jesus to save us—not because of our good deeds but because of his great love.
Building on yesterday’s conversation, I add to the caterpillar’s question “Who are you?”
By yourself, your actions merit destruction and hell. But that is no longer your identity. You are loved by God and forgiven of your darkness and sin, not because of your good deeds but because of God’s great love.
This week two thousand years ago, Jesus climbed into the hole and carried you out. The rest of our lives are simply one big THANK YOU for rescuing us.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What does the hole look like for you? What methods have you tried to climb out of your hole?
- How did Jesus rescue you from your hole?
- How does this fact influence the way you live?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.