Wary Watching

February 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in parables, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Usually when we see the word “watching” in the Bible it refers to something more than just idly looking at something. It typically has the connotation that we think of in connection with a night “watchman,” someone who is actively trying to stay alert, awake, and on guard, keeping a lookout for some sign that could mean either trouble or glad tidings.

Because the Bible sometimes uses the metaphor of farming in connection with Biblical evangelism, we have already noted that good farmers are concerned with planting, watering, and weeding. It would be nearly unthinkable to imagine a farmer, whose livelihood depended on a successful harvest, planting with care, watering diligently, pulling up weeds with zealous regularity, but failing to keep an eye on his crop, being oblivious to harmful insects, marauders, bad weather on the horizon, or sundry other forms of trouble that might befall his fields of produce. Therefore, we might apply the same principle to evangelism.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:35-40 (emphasis added)

No one likes to get caught loafing. Because the Lord has given us a serious responsibility, and because we know the time to accomplish it is limited, and because we know that the day of accounting could come unexpectedly, we need to be serving Him faithfully, diligently, actively, obediently, and warily.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18 (emphasis added)

We do well to pray, but our custom of praying with our eyes closed must not be a hindrance to our engagement in the reality of spiritual warfare.

praying-with-eyes-closed

Faithful farmers hope that God sends rain, protection, and favorable conditions, but they also know that He expects them to be on guard, prepared to spring into action at the first signs of infestation, unexpected trouble, or the ripeness that means it’s time to harvest.

Winsome Weeding

January 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Posted in parables | 2 Comments
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The agricultural principles of sowing, watering, and reaping are commonly used to illustrate evangelism in the Bible. (See Psalm 126:6, Luke 8:4-15, I Corinthians 3:6-9.)

One aspect that tends to be overlooked, though, is the principle of “weeding.” Sometimes the seed of the Gospel can be planted, but thorny weeds tend to choke out growth before strong and true roots can be established.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Matthew 13:7

Jesus warned us not to treat professing brothers and sisters in the faith as though they need to be pulled up and thrown out like weeds masquerading as fruitful plants, even if we suspect they may be false professors, although certainly God knows those who are truly His and will sort them out at the proper time.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13:24-30

When it comes to pulling things up by the roots, we need to be mainly focused on our own hearts, because the weed of bitterness can easily spring up before we realize it, and it will serve not only as a an obstacle across our own path, but it will cause others to stumble and fall, as well.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:14-15

So, while we need to exercise great care with those who have heard, and may be considering, the Good News about Jesus and His salvation, there might indeed be a need, along with the need for planting, watering, and harvesting, to do a little weed-pulling in our evangelistic efforts. A diligent farmer checks his field regularly for unwanted weeds which steal nutrients, sunlight, and room to grow from the crop he has planted and watered. In our soulwinning ministry, we need preaching planters, wise waterers, and holy harvesters, but we also need winsome weeders. Be a good friend to those who have heard the Gospel but have not yet believed. Invite them to investigate the Truth of the Bible more closely, answer their questions, and do what the Lord allows you to do to eliminate worldly, sinful, and Satanic distractions while the Holy Spirit does His work.

The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest

June 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 1 Comment
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Lord, please help me to be humble. Help me to recognize my lack of knowledge concerning Your Word. Please grant me wisdom and a clear mind ready to be renewed in Your Word. Help us to see Your glory in the Bible’s portrait of Your Son. In His name I pray. Amen.

Jesus is not an accessory or an adornment. If you have Him, you have everything that matters. If you do not have Him, you have nothing.

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I John 5:12

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:25-28

The Kingdom of King Jesus is not like the kingdoms of this world. There are no worldly leaders in His Kingdom – just servants – servant movers – because the servant’s job in Christ’s Kingdom is to get people moving. Serving in this Kingdom is a commitment which produces character which produces conduct.

In Matthew Chapter 21 another phase of the King’s plan goes into motion. He starts a triumphal parade that would ultimately lead to His Crucifixion. This parade, this “triumph,” would have seemed like a joke to the Romans. An observing Roman centurion would have seen garments on the ground, a donkey, palm branches, and thought, “What victory could they possibly be celebrating? Give me a break! The Roman standard still stands! Pathetic!”

This was the first time Jesus had allowed a public demonstration like this in His honor.

And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Matthew 21:9

Hosanna meant “save now.” The people were rejoicing because they believed the promised Son of David had finally come to bring a military victory, and to throw off the yoke of Roman bondage. This parade would have been a big disappointment to even Jesus’s Jewish followers if they had understood what Jesus’s entry into the city really meant. But it pleased the Father, and it fulfilled prophecy, so it was done according to Christ’s will.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 9:9

The King declared peace, but Jerusalem declared war.

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

Deuteronomy 21:10-12

But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

Luke 19:14

Not only did the Jewish rulers reject their King, but the citizens did, too.

Jesus came into the city and judged the Temple. The Temple was thought to be glorious, but there was no real glory in the Temple until the King entered it.

First He judged the Temple, then He judged the nation.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:19

This tree had leaves – a superficial show of health – but it had no fruit. It was a picture of the nation of Israel.

Matthew 22 starts off with the parable of the king’s son’s wedding banquet.

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Matthew 22:1-10

This was a prophetic parable. It refers to a time after the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The same leaders that allowed John the Baptist to be killed asked for Jesus to be killed, and killed Stephen themselves. The King whose invitation had been rejected sent armies to destroy those who rejected His Kingship, and to destroy their city. Then he invited others (Gentiles) to come to His feast.

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts 7:51

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:11-14

The father/king gave the guests wedding garments – one for each individual – because eternal salvation is personal for each believer. In the Kingdom of Christ there are no “poor” and “rich,” because our standing is not in what we bring, but in Him Whom we have trusted.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the Cross I cling

Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages”

One of the ones invited to the feast didn’t want to wear the garment given by the king. We see this illustrated today in those who are welcome at church, but don’t want to be saved. We sometimes have trouble distinguishing between true converts and false professors, and only the King can recognize the ones who aren’t wearing a garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness. The king in the parable used His servants to “bind” the one without a garment – to discipline and remove him. The servants aren’t the ones who made the decision to throw him into torment. It was the king’s decree. The servants merely “bound” what had already been bound by the King’s sovereign will.

Hearts of Stone

November 9, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 2 Comments
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In Chapter 13 of Matthew, we see the King teaching His closest followers. The teaching vehicle He chose was that of the parable. These parables were earthly illustrations containing spiritual lessons. They revealed truth to those who had a heart for Christ, and hid truth from those who insisted on hardening their hearts toward Him.

Verses 5 and 6 describe what happens when a person who is planting seeds scatters some of the seeds on stony ground where the soil is too shallow to bear roots:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:5-6

In this parable the soil represents the human heart, and the seed represents the Word of God. When some people hear the Word of God, they have an emotional response to it, and appear briefly to be growing in new life. However, the truth, for these stony-hearted hearers, is that they did not really receive the Word into their hearts, and therefore It was not rooted.

Light in the Bible usually represents truth, but in this parable the sunlight represents the heat of persecution. When someone has a false profession, persecution will cause their shallow emotions to wither, dry, and die. But in the case of the Christian who truly has believed, like the plant with deep roots, the sunlight of persecution will cause growth instead of death.

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that
heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in
himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Matthew 13:20-21

The Intercession of the King

September 25, 2015 at 10:12 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 2 Comments
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Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matthew 13:45

This parable is known as the “Pearl of Great Price,” not to be confused with a collection of writings by the heretic Joseph Smith, known by the same name and promulgated by he Mormon cult.

The pearl is a gem of unity. Unlike a diamond or emerald, it loses value if cut or carved. Pearls are the product of suffering. They are formed gradually – alone, in the dark, hidden from the world. Then, one day, they are revealed – in glory. It is important to remember that men, apart from the power of God, don’t seek the Savior, and that we can’t purchase salvation. Jesus sought us, and, in a sense, He “sold everything He had” – He gave His all – He died – to purchase His Church.

Matthew Chapter 14 mentions Herod the Tetrarch, also known as Herod Antipas, the son of “Herod the Great” (who had the male children of Bethlehem killed). Herod the Tetrarch had John the Baptist killed under the manipulation of his wife Herodias. When he heard of Jesus, he feared that He might be John the Baptist resurrected, and he was determined to kill Him once and for all.

Notice Christ’s response when He was warned that Herod had put a hit out on Him.

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Luke 13:31-32

Jesus used the term “fox” as a feminine reference – a way of letting Herod know that Jesus knew that his wife was calling the shots.

There were multitudes following Jesus. During this time He fed 5000 men, plus women and children, by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish. The disciples were learning, and they were right where the Lord wanted them to be, right in the center of His will. So it seems like there should have been “smooth sailing.”

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

Matthew 14:22-24

Didn’t Jesus know there would be a storm? Why was He praying? Was He praying that there would not be a storm? Why would He do that when He could just command the waves and wind to be peaceful? No, Jesus was praying for the Disciples to prove their faith in the storm.

He is doing the same thing today. He knows we are in the storm. He sees us. He cares. The storm is for our good. He is praying and interceding for us with the Father.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Romans 8:34

What Exactly Did Jesus Say about Being Judgmental?

March 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 2 Comments
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Matthew Chapter 7 deals with judgment, beginning with the practice of judging others.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 7:1-2

Judging others to a standard you can’t bear yourself is the essence of hypocrisy – and hypocrisy was one of the marks of the Pharisees.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus began with a humorous illustration, but the humor turned serious when He called them hypocrites. As followers of Jesus, our main focus should be on judging ourselves so that we can help others. The Pharisees judged others to make themselves look good.

In the natural realm, I have some fairly serious eye problems, and am a frequent visitor at the eye doctor’s office. One thing I’ve learned from being poked and probed and examined is that great tenderness is needed in the field of eye care. Spiritually speaking, though, the same principle applies just as much. If you ever find yourself in a position to help a brother recognize and remove a spiritual fault from his life (and that’s a big “if” – something to be considered carefully and thoroughly and prayerfully before proceeding), then you will need to proceed the way you would if you were removing a sliver from his eye: with great tenderness and care.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Matthew 7:6

We must exercise discernment in church discipline because God has trusted us to handle the “holy things” of the Lord. In the Old Testament, the worship in the Tabernacle and the Temple had to be very orderly and precise, in order to prevent that which was considered holy and clean from becoming defiled and made unclean by that which was profane. New Testament worship is different, but the principle still applies. Just as the cups and dishes in the Temple were treated with reverence, so must our words and attitudes be handled somewhat delicately and with attentive gentleness.

Matthew Chapter 7 eventually shifts from judgment of ourselves to our judgment of others to God’s judgment of us.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 7:24-27

In this parable both houses looked sturdy. Both builders had good intentions. So what was the difference? Why was one house sturdy and one not sturdy? The difference was the foundations. Christ Jesus the Solid Rock is our foundation. That’s why we see this teaching right after the Lord’s statement about false professions. A false profession will hold up fine and look strong until the storm of judgment comes.

Your life may look sturdy. You may have your hope in a supportive family, a good job, loyal friends, good works, financial security, and your own logical belief system. But when the storm hits, only hope founded on Christ the Solid Rock will stand.

 

The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner

November 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Exodus, parables | 9 Comments
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In the Book of Exodus there are many ways to view the role of Pharaoh, but it seems that the Holy Spirit intends for the reader to see him as a vassal or a husbandmen given stewardship over a “vineyard” known as Egypt. Jesus taught a parable about how the Jewish religious leaders had rebelled against God and His messengers, and it is interesting to note some of the parallels to the Exodus account.

Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.

Luke 20:9

God had placed the Jewish people in Egypt to survive a famine. They prospered there at first, but eventually were placed into bondage and servitude by the Egyptians.

And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.

Luke 20:10

This reminds us of God’s servants, Moses and Aaron, going to Pharaoh with God’s demand to let the people go, then being sent away “empty” again and again.

And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

Luke 20:11-16

Egypt belonged to the one true God, but Pharaoh neither acknowledged that fact, nor did a good job managing God’s property. It was time for him to give an account, and to learn a lesson about making God’s people serve a man who saw himself as a god.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

Wake Up to the Word

November 24, 2009 at 10:19 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 10 Comments
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Have you ever noticed the disparity among church-goers as they listen to the Word of God being preached aloud? Many times you will see one listening with rapt attention, while another, right next to him, is day-dreaming, or, in some cases, sleeping soundly! In some ways, this mirrors the different spiritual responses to the parables of Christ.

Jesus explained it this way:

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:11-16

Christ’s parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the condition of the listeners. Let us make sure today that, if the Word of God is becoming hard to understand, or if it seems boring, we allow the Holy Spirit to arrest the process of spiritual blindness, deafness, and hard-heartedness. Just as the truth of the Gospel aroused your interest in becoming born-again, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing you (Colossians 3:16), as you grow in spiritual maturity, and grow closer to God.

The King Who Will Return

November 6, 2009 at 9:23 am | Posted in parables | 9 Comments
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As Jesus and His followers approached Jerusalem at the time of Passover, rumors began to spread of a rebellion against Rome. People were worked up and excited over the idea that Jesus would establish the throne of David, and rule His people. However, instead of inciting violence, Jesus told a parable.

And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Luke 19:11

This parable serves as a warning to the people of God even today. It is a warning to stay busy until the Ruler of the Kingdom returns.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:13

What will believers on the Lord Jesus Christ do with the treasure of the Gospel message as we await the return of our King? Will we fail to guard it, and allow it to be taken from us and corrupted? Or will we, in seeking to protect it, hoard it up, and fail to put it to maximum use?

When the ruler in the parable returned to obtain an accounting of the treasure he had given the servants, he found that he could trust and reward those who had worked diligently with what they had been given.

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Luke 19:17

Today is the day for believers to get busy, and stay busy, using the great gift of the Gospel message to do the work of our Ruler, anticipating His soon return!

Why Parables?

October 26, 2009 at 11:30 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 10 Comments
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By reading the true historical and inspired accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), you will notice how frequently the Lord taught in parables.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Matthew 13:10

The word “parable” comes from two ancient words: para, meaning “alongside;” and bole, meaning “to throw.” Literally, a “parable” is two different topics thrown alongside each other so they can be compared or contrasted for the purpose of greater enlightenment. In the 21st Century we are guilty of laziness, and our more common forms of the parable are the simile and the metaphor. We may say, “Kay was as mad as a hornet,” or, “Bob is just a couch potato.” These forms of speech sketch a picture, but they pale in comparison to the richness of Bible parables, which not only sketch the outside of a lesson, but vividly paint it in living words.

Christ’s parables are, in a sense, like the keys to a mansion. Mansions look interesting from the outside, but the keys allow us to go inside, spend time, explore, and closely investigate. Jesus invited those whose spiritual sight and hearing were growing dim and dull to become interested and excited, and to examine the things they knew about the world while those things are “thrown alongside” the principles of the Kingdom of God.

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