A daily devotion for January 8th
30Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."
33With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand (Mark 4:33).
This verse presents one great rule of revelation: God only reveals
as much as they could understand. Jesus teaches people only as they can take it. This is the rule upon which God works with us. He does not show us everything at once. If He did, He would destroy us.
One man who attended a pastors' seminar held at Peninsula Bible Church was a great big man. He was drinking in all that was given to him, and at our closing meeting it was amusing to watch him. He was like a child around a Christmas tree, so turned on by all he had discovered that he was just glowing, going around hugging everyone he met. He told me,
Oh, this has been so great! I'd like to go home and take my Bible and get into it and find so much more of this. Then he stopped himself and said,
But I suppose if I did, it would kill me! I just couldn't handle it. And he was right; he could not have handled it. It would have been too much. And God knows that and does not show you any more than you are able to handle.
That is the glory and the wonder of the Scriptures. They are put together in such an amazing way that it takes both the Word and the Spirit to understand the Bible. You can read the Word, and if you are not ready for them and open to them, those words will not say a thing to you. But if you are open, you will learn something from them. The next time you can come back, read the same words, and learn something more. Each time you will learn something more. It never ceases to refresh your spirit and instruct your mind and to open and expand your capacity to receive from God. That is the way God teaches us truth--as we are able to bear it.
And this is true also of His revelation to us about ourselves. One of the things about Scripture is that it shows you who you are and who you have been all along. God is gracious to us that way. He does not just rip the veil off, and suddenly you see the whole ghastly thing. If He did, we would be wiped out. But He lifts it little by little. You shake and tremble and say,
Is that the way I've been? You are aghast at the way you have been treating people, and you think,
Thank God that's over! The next week He lifts it a little higher. You shake and tremble and go through it again and say,
At last we got to the bottom! Then God lifts it high enough for you to see more, and you are wiped out again. But you handle it, little by little. Because, along with the revelation of yourself, He also reveals Himself and His adequacy to handle your inadequacies.
Is it not wonderful that He understands us that way and deals with us like that? If He revealed the glories of heaven to us suddenly, everyone of us would be running out to jump into the ocean, to get there as fast as possible. But He lifts the veil only a little at a time, as we are able to bear it.
Open my eyes, Father, that I may see glimpses of truth you have for me. Help me to under stand what I read and to search out what I do not understand.
Life Application: Are we willing to accept God's timing as He brings us to mature understanding of His will and ways? Are we perhaps pushing for instant maturity or avoiding the process?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.