Scripture Study Course - Contents
Scripture Study Course Reflections by Don Schwager

Meditation 1a: Reaping Fruit from God’s Word

Isaiah 55:6-12 (NIV translation)

Seeking and knowing God 

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Some questions for reflection
  1. Why does God tell us that we must seek him now and not wait (verse 6)? Why would God tell us to forsake particular thoughts and ways that might be opposed to his thoughts and ways (verse 7)? Are there any particular thought patterns, negative attitudes, or way of relating towards others that the Lord might want me to change? What negative thoughts do I need to renounce?

  3. Why are God’s thoughts and ways so much higher than my own way of thinking and acting (verses 8-9)? Is there a particular thought (or way of thinking) that the Lord might want me to embrace today so I can be more conformed to his way of thinking and acting?

  5. How is God’s word like a seed that must be sown in the ground (verses 10-11)? And how does God plant his word in the earth – in the hearts and minds of people? How can we tell if his word is taking root, sprouting, making growth, and yielding mature fruit in me?

  7. What kind of reward does the Lord offer to those who allow his word to be planted in their heart and mind (verses 12)? What kind of fruit might I expect to grow in me as I seek to live out God’s word in my daily life? 
Read Jesus’ parable of the sower in the Gospel of Luke 8:8-15 (see below). How is this New Testament passage similar in thought to the Old Testament passage from Isaiah 55:6-12? Do you think Jesus might have had the passage from Isaiah in mind when he taught the parable of the sower?

Meditation 1b: The Parable of the Sower

Luke 8:8-15 (RSV translation)

Scattering seeds among thorns and rocky ground 

4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:
 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.
6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.
8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Questions for reflection
  1. What is the literal meaning of the story of the sower planting seeds in a field? What kind of seed did the farmer likely sow? Perhaps corn or wheat which were common sources of food? Did the farmer plow the field first to prepare the soil so he could bury the seeds? Did he successfully remove rocks, weeds, and bushes that might impede the growth of seeds? 

  3. Why did the sower scatter some seed on the path where people walked daily? Why did he scatter some seed on rocky ground? Didn’t he know the seed would have little chance of surviving on hard ground? And why did he scatter some seed near thorn bushes? Didn’t he know that the thorn bushes would likely grow quicker and overtake the thin and more vulnerable stalks of wheat or corn?

  5. Was Jesus, perhaps, punning with his audience when he compared “ears of corn” with human “ears that can hear?” What is the meaning ofthe comparison between the sowing and reaping of seed that produces wheat or corn with human ears that hear and respond to fruitful words? Perhaps Jesus is warning his listeners to examine how they are hearing his word – a word than can produce the fruits of God’s kingdom in their lives. 
Jesus normally does not explain the meaning of his parables to his audience. He wants his listeners to think for themselves and to discover the deeper spiritual meaning which can be found hidden underneath the literal meaning of the story. 

Jesus’ interpretation of the parable

Luke tells us that when the twelve disciples were along with Jesus, after the crowd had left, the disciples then asked Jesus to give them the correct understand of the parable. This is what we, too, must do each time we listen to one of Jesus’ parables. We must ask the Lord to show us the meaning of his stories and teaching and how we might apply the meaning to our own individual lives and the daily circumstances and opportunities we encounter. 

Luke 8:11-15
11“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 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.
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[Don Schwager is a member of The Servants of the Word and the author of the Daily Scripture Reading and Meditation website.]
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