Saturday, October 08, 2016

Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:44, NKJV

Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Jesus continues His exhortation in Matthew 13 with two very similar parables which express the value of the kingdom of heaven.

Money! We all understand the value of money, do we not? Our world is consumed with the gathering of riches. Could there be, however, something of more value than money? That was exactly the point that Jesus was making in this parable.

Again, Jesus is telling a story that would be familiar to the common people. Don't we all like to hear stories of buried treasure? The very nature of buried treasure is that it is a surprise. This is not something for which we worked for years and years, but rather it is something we found quite unexpectedly. 

If a person finds buried treasure in a field, what does he do? First, he does not tell anyone. Second, he takes all of the money that he has and goes and buys that field, for now, he is the owner of that treasure. Now that is a great story with a perfect ending!

Jesus is telling the common people that that is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Rather than spend all of our lives seeking things of this earth, we need to spend all of our life seeking the things of eternity. The kingdom of heaven, according to Jesus, is greater than all of the riches found on this earth.

Do we, as believers, believe that? Are we spending our lives in service of the King of Kings, no matter what our particular occupation may be, or are we spending our lives trying to amass a great fortune? Unfortunately, even as believers, it is easy for us to get caught up in the wine of this world. We are often much more concerned about how others view us, keeping up with our neighbors, and planning for a great and plentiful retirement. We are less concerned about growing in our knowledge of the Lord, reading our Bibles, fellowshipping with God in prayer, and telling others about Christ.

Is the kingdom of God like a buried treasure to us? If not, let us find ourselves on our knees seeking the Lord Jesus Christ. These fleeting years will soon be past, and then all of us will stand before God Himself. What will He say to us? Will He say, "Welcome my good and faithful servant," or will He say, "Depart from Me for I never knew you."

It is a sobering thought!

Go, now, and by the grace of God, find that buried treasure!

God Bless You,

Friday, October 07, 2016

Parable of the Leaven

33 Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Matthew 13:33, NKJV

20 And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Luke 13:20-21, NKJV

Parable of the Leaven

The Parable of the Leaven is much like the Parable of the Mustard Seed. I think it is actually easier for us to understand today, however, than it was in the time of Christ.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven like? It is like leaven which is hidden in three measures of wheat.

Those of us who have baked bread understand this completely.  How much yeast goes in a batch of bread? Not very much--maybe just a tablespoon or two. Yet what happens if we forget the yeast? The bread will certainly not turn out very well, will it? 

Once the yeast is in the bread, can we see it? No! However, we can certainly see and smell its effects, can we not? 

During the time of Jesus, there were many religious people. As a matter of fact, the religious leaders made great pomp out of displaying their "righteousness" before the common people. However, the common people could not see into their hearts. They were not able to see if their hearts were ruled by sin or ruled by God, Himself.

Jesus did not have that problem. As the Son of God, He could see into their hearts. While not every single one of the religious leaders was corrupt, most of them were. As a matter of fact, there were so few true followers of God that the kingdom of heaven was like that leaven lost in the measures of wheat.  

Sadly, the same thing is happening in our day. Many of the largest churches of the land are filled with deceit and corruption. We have many religious people in America, but how many true saints of God do we have? 

God knows our heart of hearts. As believers, let us seek to spend our lives living and serving the Lord. Let us pray that we will not be consumed by the things of this world and the deceitfulness of sin, but rather, let us seek the glory of God, alone.

How can we ever be expected to tell the true believers from the false believers? How can we tell if a church is truly serving the Lord? Though we do not have the ability to see into the hearts of others, the Bible does tell us that, "By their fruits, you shall know them."

In other words, true believers seek to live their lives to the glory of God. In their heart of hearts, they seek to grow and to become more and more like Christ. There are many who claim to love the Lord and make a great show of serving Him on Sunday or in church. However, during the rest of the week, they are hard to tell apart from those who live for their own glory.

Let us not be deceived by the wine of this world. Let us not seek our own glory, power, or recognition. It is God we serve. May our lives bear His image in everything we think, say, and do.

God Bless You,

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Ten Years

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1, KJV

Ten Years

Today is just an informal chat. I am actually mostly retired. I am a piano teacher (that's my official day job), but I am slowly "teaching out" my high school students. This year I am down to five students.

I just wanted to let you know, although you probably have already noticed, that I don't always get new devotions up every day. 

I would love to hear from you and am always willing to hear what you would like to have me write in the future. 

My plan now is to continue on with the Parables of Jesus, and then continue with my devotions from the Book of Genesis.

I first began this blog in 2006, so I have been writing these devotions for 10 years! I have truly loved doing this--I am hoping you are half as blessed as I am. We live in a time when it is harder and harder to maintain a closeness with the Lord without being swept away by the culture in which we live.

My prayer for you is that you find the Lord to be everything you need and that you will diligently seek to remain close to Him.

I included Psalm 91:1 at the beginning of this post. I chose that verse as my life verse in 1969 when I was in Bible college. That verse has been so relevant and precious to me all of these years.

Go with the Lord. By His grace, seek to remain faithful to Him all of the days of your life.

God Bless You,

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31-32, NKJV

See also: Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:18-19

Parable of the Mustard Seed

In the passages above Jesus told another parable—this one is about a mustard seed. The mustard seed, which is one of the tiniest of all seeds, when planted, grew greater than all of the herbs and became a tree. It was so big that the birds of the air were able to come and nest in its branches.

What was Jesus trying to illustrate in this parable? Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Here we see Jesus speaking to His disciples. His words were new and hard to accept. Why? Jesus was speaking against the established Jewish church of the day.

What could they, just a handful of disciples do in comparison to the Jewish church of the day? Yet, God’s kingdom always grew from small beginnings.

Satan has so poisoned the hearts and minds of people that most turn away from the true teachings of the Word of God. Yet, from Abraham and Sarah, who only had one child, Isaac, God’s church grew. The Jewish people, however, rejected God. In the day of the disciples, the Jewish religious leaders also rejected Christ.

How could Jesus actually expect such a few men to go against the established teaching of the day? Jesus was showing them, that though they had a very small beginning, God would grow His church beginning with His small band of disciples.

The book of Acts verifies that, though the church was small, yet it grew surprisingly fast. In Acts 2, we have the account of Peter preaching to the people.

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." . . . Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:38 & 41, NKJV)

What about God’s church in this, the 21st Century? By the grace of God, His Word has reached almost every country of the world. Indeed that little mustard seed, beginning with the disciples, has grown into a great church, worldwide.

Let us, by God’s grace, remain faithful to Him, reading and studying His Word and speaking to all of those we know about God’s saving grace. Even today, that little mustard seed is still growing.

What an amazing God we serve. In spite of great persecution in many parts of the world, His church is still growing. God guides, protects, and keeps His children. And, when their work for Him is done, He will bring them home to live with Him forever.

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,

Friday, September 30, 2016

Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
Matthew 13:24-30, NKJV

Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

As we look at the Scripture shown from Matthew 13, we have to marvel at the profound and yet simple teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every farmer and gardener understand the difficulty of dealing with weeds, but how would we feel is an enemy purposely sowed weeds into our fields?

In the parable shown above, Christ is comparing the kingdom of heaven like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept his enemy sowed tares, or weeds, among his wheat.

To what is the Lord Jesus referring? Jesus is speaking of life in the world in which we live. It has pleased God to allow His children (the kingdom of heaven) to live in a world filled with those who are unbelievers and who hate God.

The servants of the owner asked why the owner did not allow them to go out into the field and pull out the tares that were sown among the wheat. What answer did the owner give?

“No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

What a wonderful reminder to us to deal gently with the servants of God. Many believers are like those stalks of wheat that have been compromised by the tares. Indeed, all Christians are like those stalks of wheat. We do not have the power in and of ourselves to successfully live this Christian life. We succeed only by the power of God.

Yet, God is patient and long-suffering with us, for He realized how greatly we are affected by the world in which we live. However, it will not always be this way!

A time is coming when Christ will say, “No more!” Time will cease and the day of salvation will be gone. At that time, (the time of the harvest), God, who knows the hearts of every single man, woman, and child, will instruct His angels to gather the tares—those who never became believers—and put them in bundles to be burned. Then, the true believers will be gathered together and taken to heaven to live with the Lord forever.

The question we must each ask ourselves is, “Am I wheat or am I a tare?” This has nothing to do with our outward actions and everything to do with our hearts. In our heart of hearts, do we love the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore seek to live for Him and honor Him? How important it is, while the day of salvation is still at hand, to fall before the Lord Jesus Christ and cry out to Him for salvation.

Only in Christ can we be saved. It matters not if we are great in the eyes of those in this world. It only matters where we stand before God, Himself, who knows the innermost secrets of our hearts.

As you think of this parable of the wheat and the tares, go to Christ now! He is the way, the truth, and the life!

God Bless You,

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Parable of the Sower

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Matthew 13:3-9, NKJV

(See also: Mark 4:3-9 & 13-20 and Luke 8:5-8 & 11-15)

Parable of the Sower

As was discussed in our last devotion, Jesus often spoke to the crowd in parables—stories with a purpose or lesson. In most examples, as is also true in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus not only spoke the parable, but He also gave its explanation. That explanation, however, was usually just given to His disciples.

The parables that Jesus spoke used common occurrences of life, which were familiar to His listeners. In this parable He is speaking of a sower who sows seed. Some of the seed fell by the wayside and the birds came and devoured it. Some seed fell on stony places. Because there was not much earth, the seeds sprang up quickly but were then scorched by the sun causing them to wither and die. Some of the seed fell among thorns so that the thorns sprang up and choked them. Some, however, fell on good ground and yielded a crop—some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Was Jesus really speaking about seeds and crops, or did the seeds and crops represent something else. We are not left to wonder, for Jesus explained the parable in all three Gospels. Here is His explanation from Mark 4:13-20 (NKJV)

13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
How can we apply this parable to our life in this, the 21st Century. Actually, we see this parable illustrated to us everywhere the Word of God is preached. The Word of God is promiscuously applied throughout most countries of our world. Does that mean that everyone is a Christian? No!

Even in large Gospel preaching churches, the congregation is usually a mixture of believers and non-believers.

Like the Parable of the Sower, when the Word of God is taught or preached, people react in many different ways. Some hear the Word, but Satan comes immediately and steals it out of their hearts. There are others who are like the seeds sown on stony ground. They receive the Word with gladness, but they have no root. So, when trials and tribulations come they stumble and say, “This is not for me!” Those who are like the thorny soil hear the Word, but the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this world, and their desires for the things of this world choke the Word from their heart.

Is that the end of the parable? No! There are those who are like the seeds sown on good ground. They hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit. Not all bear fruit at the same rate. Some will bear much fruit (a hundredfold), some a little less (sixtyfold) and some just a little (thirtyfold).

Were these people smarter than the others? Were they more righteous or perfect in and of themselves? No! What made the difference between the reactions of these people? The difference was Christ! When Christ opens the hearts and minds of people, they become like the seed sown on good soil.

Pray today that Christ would open your heart and mind so that you would not only hear the Word of God but that you would receive it gladly. Pray that the cares of this world would not snatch it out of your hearts and minds. Pray, too, that God would richly bless you so that you might bear fruit and share the Gospel to your family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. 

God Bless You,

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Purpose of Parables

And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

10 “Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
Isaiah 6:9-10, NKJV

Purpose of Parables

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke the Lord Jesus Christ quoted from Isaiah 6:9 and 10. As we continue with the Words of Christ series, we will be doing a section on the Parables of Jesus. Jesus spoke a series of parables or stories that each had a specific meaning. However, that meaning was not clearly understood by all.

When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower to his disciples, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" (Matthew 13:10)

Jesus answered in this way.

11 ... "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." 
Matthew 13:11-13, NKJV

The words of Jesus were difficult for the disciples to understand. Indeed, these words are not easy for us to understand in this, the 21st Century, as well. 

We grapple with the whole concept of God choosing His children before the foundation of the world. We argue, how can this be when the Bible says that the day of salvation is for all men? Do not all men have the opportunity to choose Christ?

Scholars have argued this through the ages and will continue to do so until the Lord Jesus returns. While these concepts may be hard for us to understand, in heaven we will no longer see through a glass darkly, but will see the Lord Jesus face to face, and we will perfectly understand these teachings.

Jesus was telling the disciples that these parables were only meant for some to understand. Those appointed to understand would clearly comprehend the meaning, but those who were not to understand would not comprehend the meanings of these parables.

Even in our day, we realize that it is the Holy Spirit living within our hearts Who teaches the truths of the Bible to us. Those who are not believers read the Bible but do not understand what it says. Indeed, the Word of God is foolishness to them.

We, as believers in Christ, need to pray for our unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors, that God would open their eyes to see the truths of Gods Word and open their ears to hear and understand.  

As we work through the parables of Jesus, let us pray that we will have eyes to see and ears to hear. The Lord Jesus, through these parables, gives us a greater understanding of what it really means to be a child of God.

What an amazing God we serve. He has saved us, He keeps us, and He teaches the truths of His Word. By His grace, we live with great peace, joy, and contentment regardless of the turmoils of this world which daily surround us.

God Bless You,