Thursday, April 15, 2021

Jesus the jeweler

Matthew 13:45-46…

The merchant in the parable is Jesus. He left the glories of heaven (Philippians 2:5-11) to bring many others to glory (Hebrews 2:10 / 1 Peter 3:18).

The merchandise is the Church. The pearl in this parable is not a Savior whom the sinner has to “buy.” It is the sinners who are bought by the Savior (1 Peter 1:18-19). The Church is the pearl bought with a price (Acts 20:28), which includes all believers (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The means of payment is the life of Christ given up to save others (John 3:16 / 1 Timothy 1:15, 3:16 / 1 John 2:2, 4:9-10). Consider how an oyster makes a pearl. The formation of a pearl begins when a foreign substance slips into and irritates the oyster. The mantle covers the irritant with layers of a substance called nacre, the same substance that is used to create its own shell. This eventually forms a pearl. So a pearl is the product of suffering, where a foreign substance is covered with the essence of the oyster, also called mother-of-pearl. The church is the fruit of the suffering of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21 / 1 Peter 2:24).

The iniquity of man had caused the injury to Jesus, but now it has been covered by Him and shares His beautiful nature (Colossians 1:27 / 2 Peter 1:3-4). The Church is clothed with a beauty not its own but with the beauty of the One it had been against. Because of the power of Jesus the jeweler, the germ has now become the gem (Zechariah 9:16 / Malachi 3:17-18).

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Treasure hunt

Matthew 13:44…

Everybody is looking for what they value, their treasure, but whether or not you find it depends on what you are looking for and where you are looking for it. Of course, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A hidden treasure is something others miss. Sometimes we may come across something that doesn’t seem like treasure, but indeed it is.

Discovering something that you know will greatly benefit you is an experience that motivates us all. Imagine finding such a treasure, one that was worth dropping everything else. Jesus is saying exactly that. When we continually discover all that the gospel implies it is like finding a treasure that has no end, a fountain that ever springs, and a well that never runs dry (Colossians 2:3).

The question is have you discovered this treasure? I didn’t ask if someone had told you about it, I am asking if you truly have it. Perhaps you have seen it and experienced some of it, but haven’t yet dug deep enough to discover its depths. Keep digging, the treasure is just below the seemingly dry and dusty surface.

People say they treasure God but they want it their way, without much digging, or hiding, or buying by selling everything else. When someone is truly in love with something, they will go all out for it; nothing will stop them from getting what they so desperately desire. Jesus said that where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be. He is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is worth everything you have and so much more. We might not believe it yet, but the more God and the gospel become real to us, the more it becomes a joy to sell out for Jesus (Colossians 3:3).

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Angelic Agriculture

Matthew 13:36-43…

Here we have the big picture of the close of this age and the final results of the only two kingdoms there are. Make no mistake, Jesus is telling you that all people will be on one side or the other. There is no neutral ground; it is all a battle ground.

Jesus pictures this as an agricultural battle. We have one field, two farmers, with two types of seeds, and an end time and for all time harvest.

The field of farming is the world. The two farmers are Jesus and the Devil. The seeds of Jesus are the sons of the kingdom of God, those saved by Christ. The seeds of Satan are the sons of his kingdom, the rest of the world. The sowing continues until the time of final revelation.

At the end of this age, Jesus will fully reveal His victory, and His angels will act as the reapers of the harvest. The destiny of the seeds is different (Daniel 12:2). The evil seeds will be sent into eternal destruction along with their father (John 8:44 / Revelation 20:10-15). The good seeds will be sent into eternal glory in the kingdom of their Father (Daniel 12:3 / Revelation 21:1-5).

Jesus says this is no joke; it will go down just like He says (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Monday, April 12, 2021

Do you hear Him?

Matthew 13:34-35 / Mark 4:33-34…

Have you ever tried to explain something but no matter how hard you tried, the other person just didn’t get it? Have you ever been the “other person”, where someone else did everything they could to try and make you understand something, but it just didn’t make sense to you? You may have understood it intellectually, but not experientially. You just couldn’t apply it.

Have you been having a hard time wanting to read, or a hard time understanding the Scriptures? Have they not been “speaking to you” very much lately, or ever? Well, Jesus, in this whole section of scripture, has been teaching us that we cannot “hear” Him unless we are willing to “have” Him, to follow Him, to worship Him, to listen and to live out what He is saying to us and teaching us. “…he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.”

“…to his own disciples he explained everything.” Have you ever been trying to learn something, and having a very hard time, but then one day you read, hear, or otherwise find something that makes it all come together? What would have happened if you hadn’t been there to see that thing on that day? You would have continued in frustration. God wants you to continue to follow Him, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense, because eventually, if you keep following Him, there will come a point when it all comes together.

Yes, there are things in Scripture that are easier to understand, and easier to digest than others, but what I am talking about is something else. I am speaking about being able to know these things, not just by a mental grasp, but by an experiential power. Jesus is teaching us in His Word that we must commit and continue to follow Him, and then we will experience the explanation for ourselves, we will know that we know that we know (John 8:30-32). If you turn back from His Word, you will turn back into someone who is having a hard time hearing. Instead of travelling with Jesus, you will travel a path that goes from apathy, to abandonment, and finally to an antagonism of God’s Word (Amos 8:11-14).

Sometimes we can be listening, but we just aren’t hearing what someone else is saying. Are you on the road of hearing?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Rolling in the dough

Matthew 13:33 / Luke 13:20-21…

Leaven, or yeast, affects the whole batch of dough; it has a penetrating and assimilating nature. Leaven mainly has the idea of something in the past being brought into something in the present. A little of the previous batch had been used as a starter to make the next batch, like when they make sourdough bread. The little piece of leaven turned the new batch into something completely different. Jesus was announcing that the kingdom of God would spread throughout the earth. We should desire that the kingdom of God would spread throughout our life.

The active power in our lives will affect the whole quantity and quality of our life, whether it be the right kind of leaven, the gospel, which is what is being spoken of here, or the wrong kind of leaven, like the corrupting influence of false doctrine and false teachers (Matthew 16:12 / 1 Corinthians 5:6 / Galatians 5:9). Jesus wanted His disciples to be implanted with the leaven of heaven and not with the leaven of legalism. The gospel should inform and inspire all that we do (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 10:31 / 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 9:12-13, 15 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 4:32, 5:25 / Titus 2:11-14).

You are being leavened by the true or the false. It can only be hid for so long before the truth rises up. The inward growth of the active agent will produce the outward manifestation of what is really going on inside you. The bread that is produced proves what ingredients you are using in the bakery of your life. What are you rolling in the dough of your daily living?

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Big things in small packages

Matthew 13:31-32 / Mark 4:30-32 / Luke 13:18-19…

Jesus tells us that although the kingdom of God seems like a tiny seed when it is first sown, it can grow to tremendous proportions. He is telling us that He can live big in our lives if we will keep planting Him into the soil of our situations. Think about this “tree” clearly; Jesus is saying that the kingdom of God, and the Word of God in you, will provide for us growth, shelter, blessedness, and ministry opportunity. It is a mighty seed indeed.

The kingdom of God provides for the eternal desires we all have. If you watch television, notice the movies that are released, read the paper, look at the banner ads on your computer, or the social networking sites, you will see that there is no end to the search for significance, the desire for sufficiency, and the need to feel secure.

To put it another way, every person who was and who will ever be born is really looking for only three things: safety, satisfaction, and rest. Think about it and you will agree that any desire can fall into one or more of these categories.

We seek out temporal means of obtaining the eternal desires of our soul, things that can only lead to more needs and less actual safety, satisfaction, and rest. Most would agree that the reason many of us medicate ourselves with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, or any number of addictions is because we are not having our needs met in one of these areas.

This is why it is so critical that Christians understand that it isn’t who we are, but whose we are. Jesus said that if we seek to find our life we would lose it, but that if we lost it for His sake we would find it (Matthew 16:25). Instead of needing a certain social or political status, religious, professional or community standing, we need to identify with who we are in Christ.

The seed is our need.

Friday, April 09, 2021

What about the weeds?

Matthew 13:24-30…

The field is the world not the church (Matthew 13:38). The children of God are sown into the world as good seed. When we look at all the instances where it is mentioned, we discover that the kingdom of God refers to both the King’s dominion, which is all of creation (and where it is sometimes questioned, for now), and His special domain that His children are under, and will be “in” when in heaven, and where His reign is not questioned, the church.

When Christ comes again He will separate the wheat and the weeds, the sheep and the goats. God allowing both to grow together means that the weeds, the goats, are not finally judged yet. The wheat and the weeds live side by side in a composite human society, for now, and God’s people live as a subset of that, until Jesus comes again. Christians are in the world but not of it. They are not supposed to try and dominate society or isolate from society.

Wheat and weeds together doesn’t mean we must let them grow in the church but in the world. Having said this, in the church we might not know if a person is a weed at first. However, the nature of a weed is that it wants to overrun the good ground. A reliable measure is that when you give a person power you will see who they are come into focus. Many of our troubles come because we elevate a person who is a weed into a leadership position and they lose a sense of humility after a while. They feel like money or power entitles them to do what they want without reprise, extra room to be obnoxious. Eventually their real self comes to the fore (1 Timothy 5:24). Then we see the weed as it is.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

The process of patience

Mark 4:26-29…

Jesus explains the essence of kingdom growth, both with evangelism and discipleship, both our efforts to others and for our own selves.

The man does what he is supposed to; he scatters seed on the ground. The man sleeps, and he rests, and he doesn’t know exactly how it grows, the earth does the work itself. The secret of growth is in the seed, not in the soil, nor in the weather, nor in the cultivating. These all help, but the seed spontaneously works according to its own nature. If it is spread on good ground it does grow, and if you are saved you are good ground, but you have to keep sowing it and sharing it. It is a process, and it takes patience. A good farmer knows what he is looking for, and he waits till the crop is ready before he tries to harvest it.

Crops are planted every season, and we have to keep on planting the Word in our lives. Again, it is use it or lose it. Even then, we have to be patient because growth means time and commitment. It also means growing pains. If we do not continue to renew our minds (Romans 12:12 / Ephesians 4:23) we will always be moving before the time is right. Once we are practiced, we can mature in the process, and we can move with patient diligence (Hebrews 5:14 / James 5:7-8).

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Use it or lose it

Mark 4:21-25 / Luke 8:16-18…

When we were kids we may have been given good biblical instruction, but too often we were just oblivious to it. We have to listen up in order to light up. We have a never ending supply of spiritual strength, but our spiritual batteries are designed to keep us plugged into the source, and they run out without it.

Life and growth depends not just on what we hear but how we hear (Luke 8:18). The person to whom “more will be given”, is the one who “keeps on having”, where you stay in tune with the sound of the scriptures. Be careful what you hear, don’t let the bad stuff in, and be careful how you hear, keep pouring the good stuff into your life and out to others.

The more you use the more you will have, the more you spread the more seed you get, and the greater the possibility of a greater harvest. This is why Jesus said to take heed, because this is your call to increase for the glory of God. He had said that the size of the harvest will vary, and our increase in harvest is determined by our increase in use. Think about it. It makes perfect spiritual sense. This is the whole set up for the Christian life, and a big problem for many Christians. We haven’t grown up, things don’t resonate, there is no depth, and it doesn’t really matter to us yet.

The way to make it relevant, and effective, is to keep spreading it around to others as well as yourself. We keep learning and we keep using and we keep teaching. We are called to evangelize ourselves and evangelize others, we are called to be discipled ourselves and to disciple others. You say, “I’m too busy for all that, I have three children”. Well then you have three disciples, don’t you? Or do you? You can’t blame God because His Word is true. The problem for Christians is if and how the seed is used. The reason we have no harvest isn’t something blocking the soil, it is that we don’t use what we have on ourselves and for others.

What we use to minister that comes from what we have heard is going to reflect how we are spiritually fed ourselves.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

The sound of the seed

Matthew 13:18-23 / Mark 4:13-20 / Luke 8:11-15…

Understanding this parable is the key to all parables. The Word of God is like a seed, and while there is a spiritual truth to each story, not all soil is good ground to plant in. This is a lesson for anyone who sows seed, it may land in the weeds, or it may seem like fertile ground but just underneath the soil is rocks, or the devil just steals it away.

The point is that we are not the issue in evangelism, it is not our power, eloquence, skill, or methods, people get saved because of the power of the gospel itself and the power of God.

Yes we should be informed, inspiring, and intentional (Colossians 4:5-6 / 1 Peter 3:15), but the seed is its own “miracle grow”. It isn’t that we must find some new way to plead, prod or persuade it is that we need to be faithful to plant. It is not about fixing the soil or removing some “block” that keeps the seed from sinking in, there are only two types of soil, that which can receive and that which cannot.

That being said, and considering our own lives, if we are good ground, having been born again by the Word of God (James 1:18 / 1 Peter 1:23) we can still hinder our own spiritual health. We can fall back into the old ways if we do not keep attached to the new way (John 15:4-6).

Who are we listening to? We see here that for most it is the false teaching of the world (Mark 4:18-19), the flesh (Mark 4:16-17), and the devil (Mark 4:15) that are doing the talking and being listened to. Those who listen to God hear His Word, accept it, and it bears fruit (Mark 4:20).

The present truth for you is whether or not you are paying attention to what is being planted.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Puzzled about parables

Matthew 13:10-17 / Mark 4:10-12 / Luke 8:9-10…

The disciples wanted to know why Jesus would teach in a way that communicated truth to those who were His disciples, while those who were not would not understand. He answers them with an astonishing truth; not everyone is supposed to understand. Only those whose hearts God has opened to the truth will receive it with repentance and faith (Acts 13:48, 16:14). Disciples are given the secrets of the kingdom, but those who are in willful blindness will reject God’s truth even when it stares at them in the face and shouts at them in their ears (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Jesus was not teaching so that men would ask the question, “What kind of ground am I?” Those who were hearing now were already good ground. As we study the parables we have to start by asking: “Lord, what are you teaching to those who are following you?” Jesus was teaching His disciples that success wasn’t about making everyone believe. He was also teaching them the key to the success of the seed in their own lives.

It is about being faithful. The Bible is God’s Word and His way of opening up our hearts. It shows us that God knows everything about us (Hebrews 4:12-13), more than we know about ourselves (Psalm 19:12-13). We are not the final arbiter of His truth, we have to yield our will to His Word if we are to understand it (John 7:17, 8:31-32 / Philippians 3:15-16). We cannot put it in our pocket; we must put it into practice.

The nature of God’s Word is that when we harden our hearts we become hard of hearing. We can only please God by having a faith that seeks God diligently (Hebrews 11:6), and faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). God wants us to be filled with the Word of Christ (Colossians 3:16), but you’ll never be full of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) unless you want to be full of His Word.

Maybe your life is a puzzle because you only want the pieces of God that seem to fit your own will.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Can you hear me now?

Matthew 13:1-9 / Mark 4:1-9 / Luke 8:4-8…

Jesus was unveiling the secret of the kingdom of God, using parables. The big picture here is that the kingdom has come like a tiny seed. The glory of the kingdom is somewhat veiled for now. In biblical times sowing preceded plowing, and seed was plowed into many places, and rocky places that were covered by a thin layer of soil would only become visible after plowing.

Still, Jesus was announcing that His kingdom was advancing. The largest possible natural harvest might be six fold; Jesus was referring to something beyond normal. Only those granted ears to hear will actually hear it in the way Jesus means. Not everyone will be able to receive it, but those who do will bear miraculous fruit.

The disciples were commissioned to spread this seed out and so are we. We are not responsible for the results we are responsible to spread the seed, which is representative of the kingdom’s manifestation in the person of Jesus (Luke 17:21).

We are to spread His Word, and to the extent we are faithful to that we will be rewarded. Yet this is not only about the harvest of evangelism but also the harvest in our own lives. It is about knowing God and understanding the kingdom of Christ, and it is supposed to work itself out in every area of our life. Jesus said there would be 30, 60, 100 fold. There is a way the kingdom works, and Jesus is just about to give us a real clue on how we can experience an increase in our effectiveness for the glory of God in our lives.

The question is have you really heard what He has already said?

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Family matters

Matthew 12:46-50 / Mark 3:31-35 / Luke 8:19-21…

Jesus was going about His spiritual business full tilt, and His family thought He was out of sorts (Mark 3:21). They couldn’t reach Him for the crowd, but called to Him, hoping to get Him out of the place He was in and back home, it seems.

Jesus indicated that His disciples are His family, and so it is with us. It wasn’t that Jesus was being disrespectful or snide, but that He was pointing us to the truth about who can claim Him (Matthew 7:21-23).

Not all people are the children of God. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father, the devil (John 8:44). You are not a child of God just by being born in America, or having godly parents, or going to church, or taking Communion, or being this or that religion. No, you must be adopted into the family of God (Galatians 4:4-7).

Jesus wasn’t against family, He was affirming the fact that while we are all born into the kingdom of men, we must be born again into the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:26). We belong to one kingdom or the other, and we are all called children of darkness before we are called to be children of light (Ephesians 2:2-3, 5:6-8 / Colossians 3:6 / 1 Thessalonians 5:5 / 1 John 3:10).

Will Jesus claim you when the most important family reunion in history happens (Matthew 25:31-46 / Revelation 19:6-9)?

Friday, April 02, 2021

Blessed to bless

Luke 8:1-3…

Women didn’t get much respect in the days of Jesus, but Jesus was changing that tune with His truth. He had just shown us how a lowly woman knew how to worship better than a ministry man. Humility trumps hypocrisy every time.

Now we see that the ladies lead the way in applying the truth once again. Jesus is being followed around by a bunch of grateful women who had become the prime benefactors of His ministry. Those that have been touched by grace become gracious. Those who have been given the greatest gift become great givers.

Think about it. He allowed them to minister unto Him. He could have made money from nothing; He created the universe that way. He knew where all the loose change was lying around (Matthew 17:27). He could have fed everyone by turning scraps into supper as He did with the crowds at times (Matthew 14:19-21, 15:32-38). But He wanted them to be further blessed by becoming a blessing.

Do you look to bless God? Then bless His people (Galatians 6:10 / 1 Timothy 6:17-19), His work (2 Corinthians 8:3-4, 9:10) and bless those in need (Ephesians 4:28 / 1 John 3:17).

How many say they love God, but turn away and don’t follow Him?

How many follow, but only so as to get something, never looking to give something?

Invite the blessing of God by investing your blessings on others.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

How hypocrisy happens

Luke 7:36-50…

The scope of your forgiveness determines the size of your love. What exactly are you looking at when you are in the presence of God? The man was thinking about what a great sinner this woman was. The woman was thinking about what a great savior Jesus was. We shouldn’t look down on others, but up to Him. No matter how much higher or lower you might be compared to someone else, compared to Jesus we are all at the bottom floor.

She had the attitudes of worship; humility, reverence, and service. She took the actions of worship; adoration and sacrifice. We can be like her or we can be like the man, where we stop worshipping God and we start exalting self. Any looking down on anyone else immediately places us in the position of being self-righteous.

We cannot measure how far we are removed from someone else’s sin, because the minute we do that, we remove our eyes from Jesus and lose all sense of the true measure. Are you measuring the meager distance between you and some other person? Do you not see the great chasm between you and Christ? Do you forget how far down He had to reach to get you? Perhaps you fail to see Him in His exaltation because of your hypocritical eye.

When you see the depths of your depravity compared to the heights of His holiness, it is then you can see the measure of His love. This will only increase as we enter eternity. We will have been perfected, but we will continue to revel in the revelation of His perfections. If we believe it, there will be a difference in how we live now (1 John 3:2-3), but also how we look at others.