READ: Matthew 13:1-23
THINK: Consider some of the most effective speakers and teachers you've heard. What makes them good communicators? Most likely, they use concepts to which you can relate and give real-life examples of how the message connects to life. They probably use stories and word pictures to make their points. Jesus did this as well as anyone, using what the Bible calls parables (see 13:3 note). Jesus wants you to relate to His message and to comprehend the truth. Though some of His stories may seem like riddles, God will help you understand His Word if you truly desire to fulfill His purposes for your life.
RESPOND: What are parables and how did Jesus use them? (See 13:3 note.) Why do you think Jesus used parables, or illustrative stories, to describe God's kingdom and how it relates to life on earth? How and why do you think people's hearts become calloused and their eyes closed so that they cannot comprehend God's truth or the nature of His kingdom? What kinds of things keep people from retaining God's message and experiencing spiritual life and growth? How can you make sure that your life is like good soil that retains God's message and produces spiritual growth?
PRAY: Pray that the cares of life would not harden your heart or close your eyes to God's truth. Ask God to help you understand His Word so you can apply it to your life and be fruitful in your relationship with Jesus.
ACT: Think of any way in which worldly concerns and distractions have kept you from retaining and applying something God has told you or shown you in His Word. Turn that situation around by dealing with or removing the distraction. Then take action. Do what God has asked and apply what God has already shown you so you can grow in that area of your life.
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