Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Duplicitous Hearer

Scripture: Matthew 13:22

"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 

Insights:  This person lives for the cares of this world and are deceived by its riches.

They are living for the mundane which consists of their career, home, wardrobe, prestige and image.  Because of this duplicitous lifestyle these people hear the gospel, but they never have their soil cleaned out by Jesus’ forgiving grace.  The world is still there for them and they are blinded by the trappings of money.  It was for this reason in another location that Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money…you will either hate the one and love the other or despise the one and cling to the other.”  It was for this reason John wrote, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  You can't be that double-minded man.  The soil that is going to produce the fruit must be cleansed of that stuff and that is why I'm convinced that true salvation only occurs where there is true repentance.  We must be willing to deal with the sin in our lives and turn from it and follow Jesus daily.  This soil is good soil, but it is impure because of the thorny weeds.  A person who wants the Word of God and wants everything else is not truly born again.  They have never received the gift of salvation from Jesus.  The ground has only got so much to give, because there is only so much nourishment there.  If the soil is trying to support all of the weeds, then the seed isn't going to survive.  Often times people say this type of person has lost their salvation, but what Jesus is really saying here is they never had it to begin with.  What is the mark of salvation in this parable?  The answer is fruit.  In John fifteen we are told, if you don't bear fruit, He cuts you off and burns you. That's hell for people who are fruitless because not being on the vine means one is not saved.  It is the fruit bearing that marks the salvation. A true believer manifests fruit. And that takes us to the last soil which we will examine tomorrow.  Remember, this parable is to encourage us in this church age to recognize there will be people that are duplicitous in their hearing of the gospel. 

  1. Are you one who is truly in love with this world and pretending to be a follower of Jesus?
  2. Are you willing to ask God to purge your life of its love for this temporal world?
Prayer: Father, let my heart be wholly Yours.  I do not want anything to hinder my walk and relationship with You.  May my heart be pure and not duplicitous in nature.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Simplistic Hearer

Scripture: Matthew 13:20-21

"The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 

Insights:  This person is a simplistic hearer.  They make a quick emotional decision that has instant excitement, but no cost counting involved.  There is no real significance or depth to their decision.  It is marked with a lot of feel good and quick external growth, but nothing is taking place on the inside.  There is not true repentance, no true brokenness or contrition.  They seem to grow very quickly, but because there is no depth of true salvation, there is no fruit.  This type of person is the one who three months after making a profession of faith can no longer be found in the church.  Verse twenty-one tells us the reason this person falls away and reveals their true lost condition.  Afflictions and persecutions come on this person and they say, “This is not what I signed up for,” and they hit the road.  The pressures may actually come from within the church itself.  The individual may be pressed to join a Bible study or meet regularly with someone for prayer and all of a sudden the realization that there may be more to this “Jesus thing” comes over them and they bolt.  Persecutions can come on them from outside of the church as well.  People start to make fun of them for being a Christian or they are criticized and put down for their “new faith.”  When this kind of pressure builds they don’t want to be known as some kind of religious freak, so they again run and fall away revealing that they were truly not born again.  Remember, the reason Jesus told us these parables were to encourage us.  We must understand that when we spread the seed, there are going to be these types of people that “respond” to the gospel and we are not to get discouraged by their true lost condition.  We are to continue to minister to them and pray for God to take them to true salvation and depth with Him, but we are not to get discouraged.  As a pastor, I have baptized these people and even spent hours trying to disciple them, but there was no true conversion.  It is encouraging to know Jesus told me to expect this kind of response from time to time. 

  1. Are you one who has not counted the cost of what it means to be a follower of Jesus?
  2. Are you willing to ask God to dig deeper into your life in order for you to have roots of faith?
Prayer: Father, may my life show the true depth of growth from a new life in Jesus.  Remove the rocks that hinder my growth in You and may my life bring You glory.  Amen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hard-Hearted Hearer

Scripture: Matthew 13:18-19

"Hear then the parable of the sower. "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 

Insights:  This is the man the Old Testament would call stiff-necked.  This is the man who is unresponsive, inattentive, unconcerned, and negligent.  He doesn't want anything to do with the gospel.  It just hits him and bounces off.  The condition of his heart has been so pounded and pounded and pounded with the sins of his life that there's just no sensitivity at all to the things of God.  This is the heart that knows no repentance, knows no sorrow for sin, knows no guilt, knows no concern over things that really matter, and allows itself to be trampled by sin day after day.  This person is never broken up, never softened by conviction.  He is hard-hearted, callous, and indifferent.  Satan is seen as the birds, the evil one, who comes and snatches the seed away.  How does he do that?  There are a lot of ways.  One way he does that is by sending false teachers along to say all of that stuff was lies.  Another way he snatches the seed is by the fear of man.  People don't respond to it because they're afraid they might lose their reputation.  Or they might be kicked out of their little group.  Or somebody might think they're a religious fanatic.  Sometimes Satan uses pride.   Many prideful people are just know-it-alls, and they don’t want to admit that they need some help, that they need some information, that they don’t know everything.  Sometimes Satan snatches it away through doubt.  Sometimes he snatches it away through prejudice.  Sometimes through stubbornness.  Sometimes through the love of sin the person doesn't want to give up.  Sometimes through procrastination.  But one way or another or a combination of ways, when it hits that hard stuff, Satan snatches it away.  You need to examine your heart at this point: are you that dry, hard, road on the edge of the field?  You may be on the fringes of religion and activity but sins have just pounded and pounded and pounded down the dirt of your heart until it is utterly unproductive and unresponsive to God.  Life, however, does not have to end this way if you are this hard-hearted hearer.  You can at any moment cry out to the Lord and ask Him to till you heart and make it receptive to the gospel. 

  1. Are you stiff-necked and unresponsive to the things of God?
  2. Are you willing to ask God to till your hard heart?
Prayer: Father, You are the only One that can truly change the heart of man.  Break through the hard ground and prevent Satan from stealing the seed of the gospel I plant in the lives of hard-hearted hearers.  Amen.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Preliminary Explanations

Scripture: Matthew 13:18-19

"Hear then the parable of the sower. "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.

Insights:  The full explanation of the soils will be given next week, but today we will look at some preliminary explanations regarding the parable of the sower.  The sower is Jesus Christ.  In verse thirty-seven there is another parable similar in subject matter which states, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.”  The seed is the Word and we see that in verse nineteen in today’s verses.  The Word being sown is the gospel message that Jesus has come to bring His kingdom and He accomplished that by dying on a cross for your sins and mine.  He did not, however, remain in the grave, but three days later rose again forevermore as victor over sin and death.  Anyone who would receive Him as Savior and Lord will be saved.  Anyone who spreads that seed is also a co-sower with Jesus.  In a natural sense regarding seed sowing we are not capable of creating the seed.  God is the Creator of the seed and by our planting the seed a harvest is reaped and more seed is then planted.  If, however, we stopped planting seed, then eventually the seed we have would be used up completely and the seed would go extinct.  The same is true in the spiritual realm.  God created the gospel.  There is no other gospel we can spread.  If we do not spread the gospel, then there comes a point where there is no more seed to spread.  Beloved, let that not happen during our watch of the world.  Let us rise up and become more faithful seed sowers and leave the world fuller than when we arrived.  I think Jesus gave this parable to encourage the disciples.  Dirt is dirt is dirt.  The issue is not specifically the soil, but rather what has influenced the soil.  All four soils have the capacity to receive the seed if the ground had been tended to properly, but some soil had negative influences on them and therefore did not produce fruit.  So, Jesus is letting His disciples know that during this mysterious church age that all four responses to the gospel ought to be expected and to not get discouraged by it.  Rather press on in spite of it because you know that some seed will land on good soil. 

  1. Are you spreading the seed faithfully and regularly?
  2. Does this parable encourage you to spread the seed no matter the outcome?
Prayer: Father, You have created me for this time period in history to take up the commission of spreading Your Word.  May I serve You faithfully and whole heartedly.  May my seed casting produce a harvest of a hundredfold.  Amen.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Good Soil

Scripture: Matthew 13:8

"And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 

Insights:  Today we read about the last kind of soil.  This soil is deep, soft, and clean soil.  In other words, it is soft, unlike the hard way side soil.  It is deep, unlike the stony limestone ground soil.  It is clean, unlike the weed infested soil.  This seed found in this soil bursts into life and it brings forth a tremendous harvest, a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.  Now I am not a farmer and I have no personal knowledge regarding harvest and returns.  Some commentaries of mine, however, inform me that the average harvest would be seven-and-a-half-fold and a good crop would be tenfold. The point I am making is this crop in this good soil is a tremendously flourishing crop.  As with the previous soils, next week we will look at the explanation of this parable and unpack the details regarding this soil.  Beloved, I can tell you; this soil is the kind of soil you ought to desire being.  May your life reflect the love of God to a lost and dying world which is in need of a Savior. 

  1. Does this soil describe you?
  2. If it does, what kind of fruitful harvest are you producing for the King?
Prayer: Father, as one of Your children I desire to live a life that produces a hundredfold harvest for Your kingdom.  Mold and shape my heart to think and act on the priorities the best exalt You.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Thorny Soil

Scripture: Matthew 13:7

"Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 

Insights:  This soil looks good—it’s deep, it's rich, it's turned over, it's tilled, it's cultivated.  It looks clean and ready and the seed falls down into that area and it begins to germinate.  But there are also fibrous roots of weeds and they tend to choke that life out of the seed.  The weeds are natural to that soil, they belong in that soil. They fit in that soil. They're at home in that soil.  The sowing of the grain is a foreign element into that soil. It's not natural and it has to be carefully cultivated and the weeds in their natural soil just totally dominate, strangle and choke out the life of the seed.  These weeds also grow up very quickly and send out their leaf’s and steal all the moisture and sunlight from the good seed.  There's not enough room for everyone to share the nutrients of that soil. And so, the good seed dies.  This picture is a very sad one, Beloved, and next week we will see what spiritual truth is unpacked from this portion of the parable. 

  1. Does this soil describe you?
  2. If it does, are you willing to ask Jesus to weed out your heart so you could be receptive to Him?
Prayer: Father, purge my heart of the love for this world.  I do not desire to be distracted and duplicitous in nature.  I desire to be productive and grow in Your grace.  Do what is necessary to make my thorny heart to be clean in Your hands.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Stony Soil

Scripture: Matthew 13:5-6

"Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 

Insights:  Luke adds in his parallel version of this parable, "They had no moisture," because there was no root to capture the moisture.  This verse is not talking about soil with rocks in it because any farmer who cultivated a field would make sure all the rocks were out.  Israel’s land has strains of limestone rock beds running through it.  These beds maybe inches beneath the soil and the farmer would not have been able to cultivate every section of a field due to that rock bed.  So as the seed fell on that soil it would begin to germinate and the roots would have gone down to the rock bed and stopped.  The only place for the seed to have grown would have been up.  Initially, it would have the appearance of a flourishing plant, but because it did not have any roots, it would have died as soon as the summer heat and lack of moisture came on it.  Remember, this week we are not explaining these parables, but just laying out the type of soils mentioned in the parable.  Next week we will learn what each of these soils actually mean.  I’ll give you a hint, however, you don’t want to be a stony ground soil.
  1. Does this soil describe you?
  2. If it does, are you willing to ask Jesus to dig deeper into your heart so you could be receptive to Him?
Prayer: Father, work on my heart.  I do not desire to be shallow and impenetrable.  I desire to be productive and grow in Your grace.  Do what is necessary to make my shallow heart to go deep in Your hands.  Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Way Side Soil

Scripture: Matthew 13:3-4

And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.
Insights:  Jesus was a master story teller.  He took the natural world and wielded it as a weapon of great precision in instructing spiritual truth.  He took something they could understand, laid it alongside something they did not understand and the one explained the other. Jesus was on familiar territory as He spoke in this regard because there was much agricultural life in that part of the world.  Everybody understood the sowing of seed, and everybody understood what was involved in that process.  In fact, it is highly probable as Jesus stood on that sea shore that he looked on a nearby patch of ground and saw a man sowing seed and from that visual example this parable was told.  Now we need to understand in Palestine the fields are crisscrossed and are usually long, narrow strips and men would cultivate those fields.  The strips were separated from other strips and other fields by paths.  The paths were about three feet wide.  These paths were used by the farmer to get in between the fields to get to whatever field he wanted to reach.  They were also used by the travelers who were going from one part of the country to another. And no doubt this is what the Lord has in mind when He talks about the road or way side soil.  The dirt would have then been packed down, beaten hard, uncultivated, never turned over, never loosened, and by all of the continual pounding and pounding and because of the dryness of that part of the world, it would be compacted to the point where it was like a road, it was as hard as pavement.  And when the farmer came along and threw the seed and it went beyond the furrow and landed on that hard surface and it could not penetrate the ground.  It would lie there on the top and birds would hover, no doubt, until the farmer turned his back and as he started down the next furrow, they would land on the hard surface and they would eat the seed.  And what they did not eat, Luke says, was trampled by the feet of men who were passing through the fields.  That is the road or way side soil—the birds and the men removing the seed which cannot penetrate the soil. 

  1. Does this soil describe you?
  2. If it does, are you willing to ask Jesus to cultivate your heart so you could be receptive to Him?
Prayer: Father, work on my heart.  I do not desire to be hard and uncultivable.  I desire to be productive and grow in Your grace.  Do what is necessary to make my hard heart soft in Your hands.  Amen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Promise

Scripture: Matthew 13:35

This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD."

Insights:  These past two weeks we have learned that the King offered His Kingdom and the people rejected it.  Did this rejection mess God’s plan up?  Is He in heaven making alterations to His original idea?  Was Jesus’ judgment on the people for rejecting His offer a tacked on event that was not supposed to have happened?  I think today’s verse clearly tells us this change in direction on the part of our Lord and Savior Jesus was directly in line with God’s original intent.  Before the foundation of the world God knew His Son would be rejected.  He, therefore, had Asaph hundreds of years before this thirteenth chapter wrote those words found in today’s verse in a prophetic way pointing to the actions of His Son, Jesus.  In other words, God’s schedule is right on course and time.  He is not making last minute alterations as He goes along.  Rather this verse declares God is sovereign and everything happens as He desires.  In many ways, this verse is a promise to us from God.  If everything is proceeding as God designed it, then His Son’s substitutionary death for your sins and mine was perfectly conceived by Him as the way of salvation for His creation.  A promise of salvation is being offered to you.  Remember back to yesterday for a moment.  None of us are staying in a stagnant position when it comes to Lord Jesus.  We are either sinking deeper and deeper into darkness away from Him or we are being brought higher and higher into His glorious light.  If you will turn and repent of your sins and cry out for Jesus to save you, He will.  He will begin a journey in which He increases His illumination of spiritual truth until finally someday you shall know as you are known in the eternal presence of the living Lord.  I am so grateful God extends the promise to us.  I pray you will enter into that relationship with Jesus if you have not done so. 

  1. Have you received the promise of salvation offered to you by Jesus Christ?
  2. If you have not, what is holding you back from such a great gift and promise?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You have saved me.  I pray You will burden the hearts of those who are not Your children and draw on them to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Purpose

Scripture: Matthew 13:10-12

And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 

Insights:  Today’s verses tell us the purpose for which Jesus told these parables.  The purpose was to conceal the truth from those who were perishing and to reveal spiritual truth to those born again.  Remember with me the context of these verses.  Matthew has revealed Jesus to be King and the Jewish people have rejected Him and His kingdom.  As a result, Jesus has passed judgment on the people, but at the same time has left them an olive branch for reconciliation.  As soon as He has declared these actions in chapter twelve, He leaves the house and goes to the sea.  It is a visual peg on which to hang the change in Jesus’ ministry from here on out.  He is now speaking to the crowds in parables and only in parables, but to His disciples He explains the truth of these stories.  Now, you get to today’s verses and specifically verse twelve gives us great insight into this purpose of concealment and revelation.  Up to this point the Jews had received some spiritual truth about Jesus, but after the climactic moment when they accused Him of being from Satan, Jesus shifted His ministry focus.  At that point the truth they “had” was taken from them and given to those who would have “an abundance.”  These statements have nothing to do with intellect.  The disciples were not more intelligent than those Scribes and Pharisees that were hearing Jesus tell these parables.  The difference was the disciples had Jesus to explain the spiritual truths to them.  If you are born again, then you have the Author of the Bible living in you to interpret the Bible for you.  You don’t have to have a seminary degree to understand spiritual truths.  You need the Savior living inside of you to illuminate the Word of God.  Beloved, this purpose ought to give you great hope and joy if the Word of God is continually growing inside of you.  If it is not, you may need to ask the Lord Jesus if you are really His child. 

  1. Are you one who the Lord God’s Spirit has revealed the truth of the parables, and therefore, you are growing in your relationship with Jesus?
  2. Are you one who does not have a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus, and therefore, are growing deeper and deeper into your darkness?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You have saved me.  Increase my joy in You and allow me to know You more fully than I ever have before.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Plan, Part 2

Scripture: Matthew 13:3a

And He spoke many things to them in parables 

Insights:  I want you to see the four reasons Jesus spoke in parables.  The first reason was parables make truth concrete.  In other words, most people think in pictures and they take abstract concepts and make pictures out of them.  So, when I hear a story and visualize it I am able to make it more real, especially when there is a spiritual truth being attached to it.  The second reason was parables make truth portable.  In other words, if you remember the story and you carry the story in your mind, you can always recover its spiritual meaning because all of the elements are there in the story.  So, when I hear a story I am able to remember it longer than just some facts.  The third reason was parables make truth interesting.  In other words, they reduce the truth from a rather dull sort of ethereal or theological concept down to life situations that carry interest and grab our attention.  So, when I hear a story it puts me in the action and holds my attention.  We have all seen and experienced this third reason lived out in school.  Hopefully, all of us have had a teacher (and hopefully more than one) who had the gift of teaching us in story form in such a way that the information they wanted us to learn stuck.  At the same time we have also had teachers that taught us by rote memorization and had us just learn the facts.  We learned those principles for the test and once we passed the exam, we dumped the information.  Thankfully, stories stay with us longer.  The final reason Jesus spoke in parables was parables make truth personally discoverable.  In other words, as the story goes, you begin to internalize that spiritual truth yourself. So, you are making the principle your own and not just someone else’s beliefs.  They begin to impact you directly and at the pace in which you are able to assimilate the material.  Tomorrow we are going to look at the purpose for which Jesus spoke in parables and Friday the promise that is implicitly offered to us all. 

  1. Are you taking the truths of Jesus’ teachings around with you?
  2. Do you find the teachings of Jesus to be interesting and personally applicable?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You have allowed the Holy Spirit to interpret the parables to my heart.  Let me have the boldness to take them with me wherever I go and live those principles out before the world.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Plan, Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 13:3a

And He spoke many things to them in parables 

Insights:  Yesterday we learned that the day in which these parables were spoken was the day in which the people’s rejection of Jesus had reached its climactic point and they declared He was from Satan.  I believe all of these parables which we find in this thirteenth chapter were spoken at one setting.  In other words, this chapter is not Matthew’s compilation of Jesus’ parables from many different teaching moments brought together for simplicity of the reader.  Thursday we will see the purpose behind the parables and understand why I believe all of them were spoken at this particular setting.  Based on today’s verse, we know that it was Jesus’ plan to speak in parables to the crowd.  So, what is a parable?  It comes from the Greek word parabole.  Para means alongside.  Bole is translated as meaning.  When we put them together we get a meaning that lies alongside something else as a comparison or illustration.  To say it another way, a parable is an earthly story that helps us understand spiritual truths.  In the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, the term paraboleis was used forty-five times, which indicates it was a common style of Jewish teaching.  Parables help us understand things, and parables make things clear, but understand, parables do those things only when they are explained to us.  In other words, if a parable is not explained then it is nothing more than an impossible riddle.  One would be completely incapable of understanding what the story teller meant by his words if he did not explain them to his audience.  It was for that reason later on in the chapter Jesus explained these truths to His disciples and they were then able to understand the impact of these lessons.  Beloved, we need to go the Father and ask Him to open our hearts and minds to understand these parables.  He is the only one that can bring to light the truths found in these parables to our lives.  Seek Him over these next several weeks and let’s grow in His grace as He explains to us these stories.  May He receive glory and praise as we take these truths and allow them to impact our lives in profound ways. 

  1. Have you had the Spirit of God explain to you the secret of the kingdom parables?
  2. Are you able to carry the truth of those parables around with you?
Prayer: Father, I understand that it was Your plan to use parables to explain this mysterious church age.  I pray You open my heart and mind to the truths of these stories to help me grow in my relationship with You.  Amen.


Monday, July 8, 2013

The Place

Scripture: Matthew 13:1-2

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 

Insights:  The day in which Jesus left the house and went down to the sea was the same day in which He had healed some people, specifically a demon possessed man, and was charged by the religious leaders as having come from Satan.  It had already been an eventful day for Jesus and now it was going to be even fuller when He delivered those kingdom parables.  Now I know verses one and two are here as a geographical footnote.  These verses do not contain any spiritual truth, per se.  If, however, we do a little sanctified imagining we can see some reasons for these verses being present.  I think these two verses are here in a parable sense themselves.  Tomorrow we will define what a parable means and is, but for today I think verse one and two stand as a geographical parable for Jesus.  Remember, earlier that day the Jewish people reached the climax of their rejection when they said Jesus was from Satan’s kingdom.  Jesus then judged them in that twelfth chapter and now He transitions from the Jewish people to the Gentile people.  The house was often associated with Israel in the Old Testament and the sea was often associated with the Gentiles in the Old Testament.  In the previous chapters Jesus spent a lot of time in homes and the synagogues.  After this chapter we find Jesus spending less and less time in people’s homes and the synagogues and more and more time in the open areas amidst creation.  I believe these two verses are present to be a lynch pen for us to hold this distinct change in direction for Jesus.  He still had eternity set in His heart and He had not been thwarted, but now there was a distinct expansion of His message to incorporate even the Gentile pagans of the world.  Beloved, there are times in our lives we need to step back and evaluate the direction we are heading.  We need to determine if our present course is effective for God and His kingdom.  If for some reason there needs to be a course change, then we must willingly follow Jesus’ example and turn toward the Father. 

  1. Has there ever been a specific moment in your life in which you knew the direction for the rest of your life was going to be different?
  2. Are you in need of making an intentional shift in the direction your life is heading?
Prayer: Father, I make plans, but in the end my plans need to be subject to You and Your ways.  If there is a directional shift I am in need of making, please stir my heart and guide me down the paths of righteousness.  Amen.


Friday, July 5, 2013

The Purpose of the Kingdom Parables

Scripture: Matthew 13:11

Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” 

Insights:  Everything we have looked at this week has been introductory for this series on the Kingdom Parables.  This mysterious interim period Jesus is talking about in this verse is also known sometimes as the church age.  The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:4-6 helps us understand this age a little better when he wrote, “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”  So, it is to those of us who are in this mediated Kingdom we learned about yesterday who have the capacity to understand the mysteries of these eight parables Jesus told us in this thirteenth chapter of Matthew.  What is the purpose of the Kingdom Parables?  The purpose of the kingdom parables is to teach us as Christ-followers how to live for Him in this fallen world and to help us make certain we are truly a part of His mediated Kingdom.  Beloved, I hope you are excited to grow in the grace and admonish of our Lord as we explore these parables.  They will impact our lives if we will but humble ourselves before the Lord God.  Let the Holy Spirit bring to light the truths of these parables.   As today’s verse tells us we, in Christ, have been granted the privilege of understanding these parables, but to those perishing, the privilege has not been extended.  Take seriously your response to Jesus’ words. 

  1. Do you know how to live life during this mysterious interim period before Jesus returns?
  2. Does the Holy Spirit in you bring the Word of God to life in you?
Prayer: Father, thank You for speaking through Your Son these Kingdom Parables.  Open my ears and heart to the truths You desire to teach me over these next several weeks.  Amen.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

God's Mediatorial Kingdom

Scripture: Matthew 6:10

Pray then like this… Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 

Insights:  Alva McClain was the first to use the term “mediatorial” kingdom.  What McClain meant by that term was Jesus’ kingdom is mediated out.  Before you call me a heretic let me explian.  This prayer in today’s verse is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Yesterday we described God’s universal kingdom and His sovereign rule over everything and everyone forever.  Is God’s will done perfectly in heaven?  The answer is a profound, yes!  Yet in this verse Jesus asks us to pray for God’s will to be done the same way in heaven.  So, is God’s will perfectly obeyed here on earth?  The answer is a deplorable, no!  For example, do you always obey God perfectly or do you sin?  You and I obviously sin.  So, because of this sinful response we have toward God’s kingdom, Jesus mediates out His authority to authorized earthly agents, individuals, or structures so that we would know His will.  All of redemptive history is comprised in this mediatorial kingdom.  God gave His authority first to Adam and Eve, then the patriarchs, followed by Moses, the judges, the kings, the prophets, the apostles and finally the church.  This mediatorial kingdom will merge with God’s universal kingdom at the end of the age when Jesus will make a new heaven and a new earth and His will will be done perfectly on the new earth as it has always been done in heaven.  Now, here is where it gets complicated.  In God’s universal kingdom, there is always a mixture between the true and the false.  In Romans nine Paul states, “All Israel is not Israel (6),” and in chapter two, “A Jew is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but is one inwardly (28).”  Now let’s go back to Matthew for a moment.  In chapter eight Jesus says, “but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (12).”  Sons of Jesus’ mediatorial kingdom are born again and do not go to hell.  Yet in this verse, Jesus said the sons of God will be cast into out darkness and a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, which is a description of hell.  How can they be sons of the kingdom if they go to hell?  The answer is because in God’s universal kingdom, He is still sovereign over those condemned to hell.  So, God’s mediatoral kingdom has a condition which is found in Mark chapter one verse fifteen, repent and believe.  Those who do this are true and not false.  For us to understand the Kingdom Parables, we need to understand these two aspects of God’s kingdom. 

  1. Are you a part of the mediatorial kingdom of God?
  2. Are you prepared for the ultimate fulfillment of Jesus’ kingdom?
Prayer: Father, I know is some ways these concepts of Your kingdom that we have discussed these past two days is difficult to understand.  Yet, I also know that in Your Son I have the mind of Christ.  Help me to understand these truths.  Amen.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

God's Universal Kingdom

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 

Insights:  In order for us to understand what Jesus says in the Kingdom Parables about this mysterious interim period we need to understand a little about God and the two aspects of His kingdom.  First, God is Triune in nature, meaning He is One God consisting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but They all are of the very same essence because They are just One God.  Second, because of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the kingdom here on earth is marked by a King in absentia.  He is still King and His will is still done, but He is not physically present in our earthly way of thinking about it.  Third, there are two aspects of God’s kingdom that need to be understood.  The first aspect is what the rest of today’s Thoughts by Scott is going to cover.  Tomorrow, we will discuss the second aspect of God’s kingdom.  So, the first facet of God’s kingdom is known as God’s universal kingdom.  This attribute of God’s kingdom is the easy one to understand.  It is in fact what today’s verse describes.  God rules everything and everyone forever.  In other words, God is sovereign, creator, sustainer, and the beginning and the end of all things.  Let me attempt to illustrate one dynamic of God’s universal kingdom.  Psalm 139:8 states, “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there (KJV).”  One of God’s characteristics is He is omnipresent which means He is everywhere all of the time.  All places exist because God first made them.  Hell was made by God, and therefore, God’s presence is in hell.  This truth is what the psalmist is attempting to communicate.  There is no place to hide from God, not even hell.  You might be saying to yourself, “But I thought hell was the place where sinners went and were forever separated from God.”  And the reason you think that is because you have heard a preacher say those words.  When we say such a thing, what we are poorly attempting to say is hell is the place where God withholds His mercy, grace and love from those that chose to go there, but He is still sovereignly ruling over hell because it is part of His creation and kingdom. 

  1. Do you recognize the Triune God has being King over everything?
  2. How does God’s sovereignty make you feel about your life and the lives of those around you?
Prayer: Lord God, I am grateful You control and reign over all.  Work in my life to transform my will into one of obedience and love in order that You might be brought glory from my life.  Amen.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Purpose of Jesus' Coming

Scripture: Matthew 12:28

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 

Insights:  Yesterday we did an overview of Matthew chapters one through twelve.  Even today’s verse comes from chapter twelve.  I believe this verse describes Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth.  His purpose was to bring His kingdom to earth.  In fact this twenty-eighth verse stated pretty clearly that His ability to cast out demons was a sign to His kingdom having come on the people.  Remember from yesterday, however, it is in this twelfth chapter that the people reach the climax of their rejection when they attribute His healing power to that of Satan.  Matthew presented Jesus as King and Jesus came to bring His kingdom to earth.  The Jews rejected Jesus and this also meant they rejected His kingdom.  What then happened to the kingdom and what is going to happen now as a result of this rejection?  Those questions are exactly what the thirteenth chapter answers through the kingdom parables.  Theologians call this time period in which we are living “the parenthesis,” others call it “the interim,” still others call it “the church age.”  The point it is a mysterious time and we will see in Scripture later this week that Jesus even called this time period a mystery.  The reason it is a mystery is because it was hidden from the prophets of the Old Testament.  They were not given the privilege of seeing this time period unfold.  So, it is here in the thirteenth chapter that we see Jesus using the tool of parables to help us understand what this time period looks like.  If we know this truth, then we will be able to know how we are to respond and react to the things happening in this world.  Now there is a rather confusing aspect to the parables regarding God’s kingdom and over the next two days we are going to attempt to clarify some if this information.  In other words, if we do not get a firm grasp of these two concepts it will be difficult for us to understand what the parables are attempting to teach us.  Hang in there, Beloved, through this weighty material. 

  1. Have you, like the Jews of Jesus’ day rejected Him and His kingdom?
  2. Or, have you come to the saving knowledge and personal intimacy with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, all of creation has responded to Your love just as You knew it would.  You were not surprised when the Jewish leaders accused You of casting out demons under the power and leadership of Satan.  You have not been taken aback as the world has increased its hostilities toward You.  You know that You will return and the appointed time to display Your Kingly glory and bring Your children to Your home.  May this generation Lord, not reject Your kingdom as the first century Jews did.  Amen.


Monday, July 1, 2013

The Purpose of Matthew's Gospel

Scripture: Matthew 11:28

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Insights:  We have started a new sermon series on the Kingdom Parables found in Matthew’s gospel.  This week’s Thoughts by Scott are the introductory points to help us better understand the parables when we get to them.  Today we are going to do a very quick overview of the book of Matthew leading up to the thirteenth chapter. The purpose of Matthew’s gospel is to present Jesus Christ as the King, the Son of God, the Messiah, the rightful heir to David's throne.  In chapter 1, Jesus was the One who should reign because He was in the Messianic line.  In chapter 2, Jesus’ right to reign was affirmed by the wise men from the east.  In chapter 3, Jesus was heralded by John the Baptist who was the foreordained forerunner to the King.  In chapter 4, Jesus proved His Kingship over Satan in His conflict with him in the wilderness.  In chapters 5-7, Jesus spoke as a King with authority when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  In chapters 8-10, Jesus displayed His credentials as King through His miracles, which were prophesied about years earlier.  A very strange situation began to happen in these three chapters.  The greater the evidence that Jesus was the King, the greater the peoples rejection of Him becomes apparent. In chapter 11, Jesus denounced the sinful nation of Israel for rejecting Him. But just like Jesus, after He declared their judgment, he offered them an invitation when he concluded the chapter with, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (vs 28).”  In chapter 12, Jesus pronounced judgment as the rejection of Him reached its climax.  Israel’s final rejection was summed up in the fact that they accuse Jesus of being Satanic.  But even chapter 12 closed with another invitation. Verse 50 stated, “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”  So as we approach Chapter 13, the die has been cast.  Christ has been proven to be the King and the people have rejected Him as the King. He, therefore, pronounced judgment on them, but at the same time offered them an invitation of salvation to whoever would believe.  One more observation about the setting of this scene: The shadow of the cross was now looming in the background.  Already in chapter 12 verse 14, the Jews had sought to destroy Him. They had reached the point of wanting only to kill Him.

  1. Have you come to know King Jesus personally?
  2. Are you enjoying His rest He provides to those who come to Him?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to earth and giving Your life in order for me to know You.  You are King and I am grateful I get to serve You by Your grace.  Amen.