Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Flags

Hell is my least favorite subject. Many have stumbled over Jesus teaching of eternal damnation. It is a difficult subject. But Jesus did not sidestep the issue as we are tempted to do. We avoid the subject for fear of being ridiculed or rejected by our peers. But Jesus spoke plainly in order to warn against the dangers of rejecting him.

He told the disciples, “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Mathew 13:40-42).

Rejecting the ways of God is dangerous business.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Modern Scribes

If you are like many of us we have two kinds of physical treasures in our home. There are the sentimental treasures, things that our parents or grandparents had which we have inherited. There might be a painting a relative did or a piece of jewelry that our great grandmother wore.

Then there are those treasures that we purchased ourselves. They may be a vase we bought on our honeymoon, or a new car that sits proudly in our drive way.

Jesus said every scribe is like an owner of a house that has new and old treasures.

As persons who study God’s word we study both the Old and the New Testament. Eeach part of God's Word sheds light on every other part. If we neglect any of God's Word, we miss much of what we are studying.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Worth Every Sacrifice

Jesus explains that the good seed is sown by the Son of Man (Jesus). The bad weeds were sown by Satan. In the last judgment the wheat and the weeds will be separated. The weeds will be burned with fire. The wheat will receive everlasting Joy and will shine like the sun (Mathew 13:37-43; 47-50).

Giving up all the treasures in this world is worth it when we recognize what we are gaining by following the Master (Mathew 13:44-45).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Secret Things

Jesus spoke in parables for several reasons. He told his disciples that he spoke in parables so that only those who choose to follow him would understand (Mathew 13:10-11). Scripture also tells us that Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy, “I will open my mouth in parables:” (Mathew 13:35; Psalm 78:2). Jesus also used parables to reveal secrets that had been hidden since before the foundation of the world was laid (Mathew 13:35; Psalm 78:2).

There are things God purposely has hidden until an exact moment in time. “I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mathew 13:35; Mark 4:11; ). The revelation of these secrets was determined before time began (1 Corinthians 2:7).

God does not reveal everything at once, but has set times for specific reasons. If this is true for his work in the world, then it must also be true in our individual lives.

When we can’t understand his hand, we can trust his heart.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Freshly Baked Bread

Baking Bread was once understood by every household. On certain days of the week the home would be filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Mouths watered at the thought of melted butter running down the side of glistening rolls or pockets of fresh jelly spread over a freshly cut slice of bread. Now we place loaves of bread in our shopping carts without giving much thought to the process of kneading dough, waiting for it to rise and heating the oven to 350.

When making white, wheat or rye bread, yeast and sugar are added to make the dough rise. The sugar activates the yeast and the yeast raises the dough. No one has ever heard of half a loaf rising and the other half coming out flat like a pancake. If part of the loaf rises, the entire loaf rises.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like the yeast in a loaf of bread. The entire loaf is affected. So the kingdom of God affects every part of our life (Mathew 13:33).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Heavenly Mustard

Jesus also said the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. It is one of the tiniest of seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes like a tree. It is so large that birds can make nests in its branches.

Often our faith seems smaller than everyone else’s. But God responds to all measures of faith in him. Not to worry, he will respond to yours too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Strange Crop

There were two farmers who were neighbors. One was a good man who worked his fields and was respected in the community. The second farmer was a mean spirited fellow and did not have much good to say about anyone. He resented the good reputation of his neighbor and as most disgruntled people have a habit of doing, he thought of the good farmer as a know it all. Stewing over the other man’s reputation for being wise, he decided he would teach the other farmer and the community how foolish they were in their confidence.

In the middle of the night, he went out into his neighbor’s fields and threw millions of tiny seeds of a weed that mimics the appearance of wheat in the early stages of growth. Each day he watched the farmer move the irrigation tubing, as he walked the fields in the early morning hours when the sun was white against the blue sky. He smiled to himself waiting for the day when it would become clear there was something dreadfully wrong with the crop.

Early one morning the good farmer’s field worker came to him at breakfast. “Sir, I was sure we purchased the grain from our usual supplier, but something has happened. The fields are full of weeds.”

“I have known for months,” said the farmer, smiling up at him.

“But shouldn’t we pull them out before they choke out the wheat?” The employee rubbed his temples. “How has this happened?

“An enemy has done this but do not worry,” said the farmer. “. Allow the plants to grow together. If we attempt to remove the weeds now we may accidently destroy much of the wheat. It is better to let them grow together until the harvest. Then it will be plain which is which. The weeds will be burned then.”

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like this field. At the judgment it will become clear who is wheat and who are weeds. Should we be surprised when we notice hypocrites in church? (Mathew 13:24-30).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fresh Fruit

Jesus said the seed that falls on fertile soil will bear fruit, some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Mathew 13:23). That is good news for us. As we receive the Word of God into our spirits God will produce fruit in us.

We will be full of love, joy, peace. We will have the ability to show kindness, goodness and faithfulness. We will be gentle and have self control. The abundance of fruit we produce may be directly related to what we need in any given situation.

The psalmist says he who delights in the law of the Lord day and night will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season. His leaf will not wither and whatever he does will prosper (Psalm 1:3).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rich Soil

The parable of the sewer and the various types of ground teaches that there will be persecution, tribulation, temptation and attacks from the Satan (Mathew 13:18-22). The one place where the seed thrives despite these difficulties and temptations is the good soil.

This ground represents the person who hears the truth, understands it and bears fruit. In other words, lives what he learns from God. He trusts God during persecution and tribulation. He rejects temptations choosing rather to suffer with God’s people (Hebrews 11:24-26). He does not pursue riches (Pr 11:28; 23:4). He commits himself to God and resists the evil one (1 Peter 5:6-9).

We all know from experience that life has difficulties, but if we have walked any length of time with God we also know that he gives us joy in our journey. As Paul wrote, “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Take courage. God is with you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thorns and Thistles

Thorns and weeds choke healthy plants so that they die early. The seeds may be from perfectly healthy plants. Their genetics are stellar. If planted in the right soil, watered and nourished, they would become strong green plants yielding a crop for those who cultivate it. But the weeds kill the plant while it is still young.

The same is true about the Word of God. We can hear the truth, may even consider the truth and say we believe it. But if the worries of the world are allowed to control our thoughts and if the desire for wealth and success manipulate our lives, then the Word which we have been taught will be choked out of our lives and our spirits will die.

It is natural to be tempted by this world, to feel overwhelmed by experiences in life. But when this happens, we must run to our Father and purposely decide to put our trust in him.

Only then will our spirits remain alive.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Missing Roots

Some plants can be set in a glass of water and roots will form. The plant can then be placed in soil and grow into a mature tree, bush or flower. But if you break off a branch of a bush, place it directly into the ground it will wither in a matter of days, all of its leaves turn a crispy brown.

Jesus said that is how some people are who get excited about the word of God, yet do not have any roots in themselves (Mathew 13:20-21). As long as things are going well, the individual is happy and rejoicing, saying all the right words and singing all the right songs. But when persecution comes or things get difficult, the joy comes to a sudden end. The individual moves on to the next exciting fad and disappears.

Jesus’ point is that we must allow the Word of God to take root in our lives. This happens when we put into practice what we have learned, when we continue to trust God when things get rough.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Understanding What We Hear

It is extremely important that we understand what we are hearing when someone tells us God’s word. Jesus said if we do not understand the word given to us, the enemy of our soul will snatch it away from us (Mathew 13:18). We cannot afford to accept what we are taught without investigating its full meaning. If we rely solely on others we will not be subjecting ourselves to God, but to people’s opinions based on their experiences.

When someone gives you direction and you feel strongly what they are telling you is wrong, don’t ignore those red flags. Take the time to research scripture on the subject. Read other people’s insights. Jesus promised he would give us wisdom and teach us the truth and guide us individually.

Be cautious about following someone else’s advice over what you believe to the correct decision.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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