Lucia's Blog: 2020-02-02
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, February 8, 2020

JESUS REIGNS TODAY AS KING, HIGH PRIEST AND LORD

"But of the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.  9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.'"
Hebrews 1:8-9



The Old Testament consistently anticipated and predicted the coming of the Messiah.  He would reign as King over His kingdom.  He came to earth to establish His kingdom and is now reigning as King since the church began on Pentecost.  The Messiah is King over all the earth and is subduing nations under their feet.  Christ, the King, claimed Himself to be King.

"Therefore Pilate said to Him, 'So You are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice"'  (John 18:37).  

But Jesus was not the King that the Jews were expecting.  Why?  Because they assumed He would be an earthly king.  Jesus declared,
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36).

In Luke 1:31-33, we read that the angel promised Mary that she would have a Son that would receive the throne of David and reign over the house of Jacob forever.  His kingdom would be everlasting, have no end.  In Matthew 2:2, the wise men declared that Jesus was born King of the Jews.  In John 1:49, Nathaniel (early in Jesus' ministry) declared, 

"You are the King of Israel.”  


Jesus did not deny it (cf. John 6:15).  In Matthew 27:11 and John 18:37 on trial before Pilate, Jesus admitted to being King (See Luke 22:70-71Mark 15:2Luke 23:3).

Furthermore, after Jesus' resurrection, He declared that all authority in heaven and on earth had been delivered into His hands so that now all nations must obey all His commands (Matt. 28:18-20). The word “king” means “sovereign or monarch; a man who holds the chief authority over a country and people... a person or thing pre-eminent in its class.” Jesus has all authority; therefore, He is King!  The Great Commission by which we are saved from sin is based upon Jesus' present authority.  To undermine His position is to belittle our salvation!!

When Peter was preaching to the Jews about Jesus, He cited David's prophecy but showed that it was not fulfilled by him personally (Acts 2:27-29; Psalm 16:8-11).
“30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay“  (Acts 2:30-31).  

The prophecy of Christ on David's throne was fulfilled in Jesus' resurrection, not in the future at the second coming as some claim.  Jesus is now exalted at God's right hand (position of authority)(Psalm 110:1-2).  Jesus is now Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).   The word “Lord” means ruler, one possessing authority.  “Christ” means the “anointed one.”  Hence, Peter claimed that Jesus had been anointed to be ruler over all.  According to Psalm 110Jesus must rule at God's right hand until all enemies are put under His feet.  That will be accomplished when the enemy (death) is defeated at the resurrection.  So Jesus must reign before His second coming. He will not begin His reign after the second coming!

Jesus is sitting at God's right hand; that is, above all, principalities, power, might, dominion, and every name that is named on this earth or that is to come.  All things are subject to Him, and He is the Head of all things to the church (Col. 1:13-18; 2:10; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Ephesians 1:20-21).  He sat at the right hand of God when He made purification of our sins, i.e., after He died on the cross (Hebrews 1:3-4).  Jesus now has a throne and a scepter in His kingdom.  He has been anointed above His creation (Hebrews 1:8-9).  

Moreover, the apostles acknowledged Jesus as King even after His death.
“17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen”  (1 Timothy 1:17).  

Paul also said,
He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen”  (1 Timothy 6:14-16).


Jesus, the Messiah, rules over the kings of the earth from a heavenly throne!


Christ's kingdom was also prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14).  In Psalm 47:5, in the Messianic context, we read that at the ascension of the Messiah, He would receive an everlasting kingdom and dominion.  In verse 9 of this psalm, we also see another Messianic context.  We see the peoples of the earth assembling themselves as the people of the God of Abraham.  Under the Messiah's reign, the peoples of the earth, i.e., the Gentiles could gather themselves as the people of the God of Abraham.  To be the people of the God of Abraham is to be Israel in a spiritual sense.  Paul made this point in Romans 9:6-8.
“6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be namedo.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”  

Paul affirmed that not all physical Israel was the true Israel.  To be God's people is not about being physically descendant but rather being a child according to the promise through obedience to God.

In Ephesians 2:11-20, we see that Christ fulfilled Psalm 47:9 by reconciling all peoples to Him, making them all the people of the God of Abraham.

In Hebrews 2:17, we read that Jesus became High Priest to make propitiation for our sins.  Through His priesthood, He can save us forever, and He is always making intercession for us (Heb. 7:24-25).  As High Priest, He entered the Holy Place to obtain eternal redemption by offering His own blood as our sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-12; 24-28).  And without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission, forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).  In the Old Testament, the sacrifices of animals could never forgive sins (Hebrews 10:3-4);  By Jesus offering Himself as High Priest, we can now have forgiveness of sins!! (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22).

There are many prophesies in the Old Testament regarding Jesus as High Priest:  (Psalm 110;1-4; Genesis 14:18; Zechariah 6:12-13; Isaiah 53:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Romans 15:12). Jesus was prophesied to rule on His throne and be Priest on His throne, King, and Priest at the same time.  Salvation is offered free to all through Him.  

Therefore as King and Lord, Christ rules now.  He is in charge of all the affairs of the earth; He is reigning over all the nations now.  He has all power and control over all the nations of the earth.  This is precisely what Daniel prophesied in Daniel 7:27.
“27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”

Paul made this profound statement in Romans 13:1.
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

And just as God made all the nations rise and fall in the Old Testament (Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece), so God made nations rise and fall in the New Testament (Rome and Jerusalem).  He still has all power to establish governments and destroy them.  This is our hope as His children.  We are part of His Son's kingdom.  Though we live in this our nation, we are still under the rule of His Son.  We are fellow heirs and partakers of His Son's kingdom even though we are living on earth.  We cannot see it yet, but we know by heart that it does exist!!!  Christ's power and dominion will never fail even if all the world powers were to come against it.  Therefore, as Psalm 47 declares, let us clap our hands in applause.  Let us also appreciate what God has done for us in giving us such a majestic kingdom through His Son.  Let us live as citizens in God's kingdom, offering due honor to our King!


CONCLUSION:

Jesus, our Lord, has the ultimate authority (Matt. 28:18).  He is Head over all things (Eph. 1:20-21; 1 Peter 3:22).  He is King of kings and Lord of lords of all the earth and heaven (Rev. 1:5).   And no matter who is president, king, or dictator, God rules over all!!!  No matter who rules and what rulers may do, for good or ill, we are in God's protecting hands!!  Don't ever forget that!!  

When both John and Jesus declared that "the kingdom of God is at hand,"  they were proclaiming that the reign of God had come in the Messiah Himself (Mark 1:15; Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7).  It is in Jesus our Lord that "our God reigns!"  
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying, Hallelujah: for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth."  Revelation 19:6
"7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"  Isaiah 52:7

Praise the LORD for His King has come to His kingdom in all righteousness and faithfulness!  All the creation is called to rejoice and worship the Lord of lords and King of kings.  Everyone is to exalt Jehovah God before His Son.

Remember also that our citizenship is in heaven and that we are pilgrims, living among the nations of men (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11).  This world is not our home.  We are just passing through.  We must not become too attached to the things of this world, which can render us fruitless (Luke 8:14).  Yes, we must guard our hearts against the love of this world, including politics!  (1 John 2:15-17).   As Christians, we are not seeking after an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one; one that has already been established and we must be willing to be in subjection to Christ.  Our love for Christ and His kingdom and the souls of men must move us to set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2) rather than being concerned about our earthly and temporal leaders.  

Let us seek first the rule of God in our lives (Matt. 6:33); proclaim His mercies (1 Peter 2:9-10). The kingdom of God and His righteousness must be our primary focus So why not refocus our efforts on the saving gospel of Christ to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20)?  Are you letting politics render you fruitless in your life and in the work of the Lord?  Are you fulfilling the Great Commission?  Or are you being distracted by earthly things?

Therefore, let us reaffirm our heavenly citizenship, let us refocus on our primary goal; let us resolve to give leaders their due; let us keep praying for godly rulers; let us keep living righteously and not defile ourselves, and finally let us all resume our role as peacemakers.  Remember that righteousness exalts a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).  Our Lord reigns as King and Lord!  Have you allowed Him to reign in your life and the lives of others?

May we allow our King and Lord to reign in our lives.  May God help us to focus more on our heavenly citizenship and less on this earth.

Luci

Thursday, February 6, 2020

THE LITTLE FOXES OF ENVY AND JEALOUSY

Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”
Song of Solomon 2:15



We turn green with envy sometimes, but mostly we get over it. It is such a small thing. Yet it was for envy that the Jews asked that Jesus be crucified. Is there really a cure for that?  Let’s consider the causes and cures for envy and jealousy.


I.   ENVY AND JEALOUSY:

Jealousy is the uneasiness felt due to suspicion, resentment, or fear of rivalry, particularly regarding love or affection. Envy is the feeling of resentment, discontent, or jealousy of another's position or success.  These little foxes of envy and jealousy are almost identical twins. They walk hand in hand, and it 's hard to tell them apart. These two words are often found together; they are synonyms.

The word “jealousy” is a word that is used many times in a good way (Romans 10:2; 2 Cor. 7:8,11; Phil. 3:6). It is used both in a good and bad sense, whereas envy is often associated with evil. Unfortunately, when this word “jealousy” is adulterated, it turns into something ugly.  Envy is discontent with the good fortune of others, while jealousy fears to lose what it has. Both words deal with feelings of discontent and resentment that emerged in the heart as a result of some favor, good fortune, blessing, honor, or affection someone else is receiving that makes one think it should be bestowed on him. I see so much of this behavior portrayed in the hearts of many, whether on Facebook or some other arena, at church and even in the home. This ought not to be among Christians! It is carnal with terrible consequences!

Envy is like gangrene that can destroy a man's heart, causing pain like a knife in the chest. It splits many churches, reduces our circle of friends, and destroys our souls. In Proverbs 14:30 we read, 
"A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot." 
Envy is a terrible disease of the heart and sows the seed of discord among brethren. It has two leading causes: 
  1. Lack of contentment.
  2. Lack of love.  
When we envy, it is because we are not content with what God provides and has done for us. We are dissatisfied all the time, rendering us weak so that we envy or covet what others have. Envy is a powerful temptation and very destructive, as well. Jealousy and envy among brethren lead us to refuse to submit to those in leadership, such as elders. Why?  Because if you have your way as the one in control, then you will have a hard time submitting to those who indeed have that responsibility. There are many negative facets to envy.
  • Envy is not just desiring what the other person has. 
  • It is not just being resentful toward those who have blessings that you don't.  
  • Envy does not want the other person to be blessed. 
  • Envy is the root of many other sins as well:  adultery, stealing, slander, hatred, and murder. 
  • Pride is the cause of this terrible disease of the heart. 

II.   BIBLE EXAMPLES OF JEALOUSY AND ENVY:

Cain and Abel: Genesis 4:3-5, 8
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” 

Envy and Jealousy go back to the beginning with Cain and Abel.  It led to sibling rivalry. God was not pleased with Cain's offering because he did not offer what God had commanded: an animal sacrifice.  But He did approve Abel's offering because “by faith he offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Hebrews 11:4).

You see, Cain's envy and jealousy led to wrath and murder. Cain was resentful that his brother had received more honor than he did.


Sarah and Hagar:  Envy and jealousy provided the motivation for wrongdoing: Genesis 16:5-6:
"And Sarai said unto Abram, ‘My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Jehovah judge between me and thee.’ But Abram said unto Sarai, ‘Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes.’ And Sarai dealt hardly with her, and she fled from her face.'"

Envy and jealousy led to wrongdoing. We see it portrayed in Esther 5:11,13-14Daniel 6:3-5, when men conspired against God’s servants.


Joseph's brothers:  Genesis chapters 37, 44, 45:

Joseph's brothers envied him and planned to kill him because they were jealous of him. Later, they chose not to kill but rather sell him into slavery because of their envy and jealousy. They had no other choice but to lie to their father about Joseph being killed by a wild beast. By the grace of God, they were all reunited, reconciled, and forgiven later on in Egypt.


Aaron and Miriam envied Moses for the position God had given him: Numbers 12:1-2, 9, 10, 15:
“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman.  And they said, Hath Jehovah indeed spoken only with Moses? hath he not spoken also with us? And Jehovah heard it... And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against them... and, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous... And Miriam was shut up without the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.”

You see, envy and jealousy led to murmuring and complaining.

Rebellious Korah and his followers envied the leadership position that God had given to Moses. Therefore, they spoke against Moses and falsely accused him: Numbers 16:3

“and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Jehovah is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of Jehovah?"  (See also Psalm 106:16-18).
Saul and David:  I Samuel 18:7-9
“And the women sang one to another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and this saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.”

We see it played out in Saul toward David. David's many accomplishments in battle, his victory over Goliath, and all of Israel's approval toward him awoke this sin of envy in the heart of Saul. Saul’s jealousy produced the seeds of many other evils. Remember, he tried to kill David many times. Envy was the cause of his anger, jealousy, paranoia, and murderous intent toward David.  Because of this envy and jealousy of heart, Saul ruined the rest of his life. His envy toward David was disturbing to him so much that he became obsessed with attempting to kill David. Saul hunted David like an animal to be killed. Envy and jealousy cause striking and powerful actions. It is the first step in the damaging sins of slander, gossip, fighting, and murder.


Because of envy and jealousy Haman wanted to kill Mordechai and all the Jews: Esther 3:8-13; 6:4:


The Jews were filled with envy against Jesus:  Matthew 27:17-18
"So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”'For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. '"

Because of this terrible sin, the Jews delivered Jesus into the hands of evil men. The Pharisees resented Jesus' popularity.
“So the Pharisees said to one another, 'You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him'"  (John 12:19).
“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were moved with indignation” (Matt. 21:15).

Evidently, envy and hatred led the Pharisees to rise up against Jesus, calling for His death. Pilot knew Jesus was innocent and that it was envy that led them to kill Him. All because Jesus was getting all the honor and respect of the people, and they were getting none. Their envy turned into hate, and hate led them to mock and crucify the Son of God.


Acts 13:45, 50: Following the same pattern of envy, a later group of Jews expelled Paul and Barnabas from Antioch of Pisidia.


Acts 17:5:  Envious Jews stirred up a Greek mob to persecute Paul and the brethren in Thessalonica after seeing Paul's success with the people.


The Corinthians were divided because of envy:  I Cor. 3:1-4.  

⦁ Some even preached Christ out of envy, to add affliction to Paul's chains:  Phil. 1:15-16.


III.  THE REMEDY FOR ENVY AND JEALOUSY:

We all, at times, are guilty of this terrible disease of the heart, but this ought not to be. We must examine our hearts and purge out both envy and jealousy. Those who call themselves children of God ought not to behave in this manner.  We must be more like John the Baptist, who refused to begrudge Christ, His success knowing that the success of Christ was his own success (John 3:30-35). Let's have that same spirit in us.  

"For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7).

Envy, as well as jealousy, are fruits of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21. It is demonic, James 3:14-15. My question is:   why do people envy?  We can suggest several more things:  

  1. Immaturity, Gen. 37:3-4.
  2. Ego, Daniel 6:4.
  3. Insecurity, I Samuel 18:7-9.
  4. Greed, Ecclesiastes 4:4.
  5. Frustration, Psalm 73:3.

 Envy and jealousy are seen all around us:
  • In the business and professional world. 
  • In the church. 
  • Among preachers, elders, deacons, song leaders, and teachers.
  • Among sisters in Christ (Preachers' wives, elders' wives, etc.). In other words, it is common among all Christians.

Many times envy causes us to feel unhappy because others do a better job, are smarter, prettier, or more popular. They get more attention or approval, and so on. Sadly, this terrible disease of the heart leads to resentment, pain, and discomfort. Tragically, envy will lead one to use the tongue sinfully to damage others, causing others to doubt, misjudge, and think poorly of us.

Envy and jealousy are a matter of the heart. Jesus said,
"It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man"  (Matthew 15:11). 
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23).

The heart is the starting point of envy and jealousy. Sadly, envy and jealousy will determine which paths we will take on our life’s journey. The remedy for this disease is to always guard our hearts against such works of the flesh with all vigilance.  The remedy for envy and jealousy is found in Romans 12:15; Romans 13:13-14; I Corinthians 12:26-27; I Cor. 13:4-7 and I Peter 2:1-2.

So, if God has given my brother or sister a greater talent than He has given to you and me, should I not rejoice in their success? We are neither superior nor inferior to anyone else.  And although we have all been created in God's image, we are not the same. We all have different talents and skills. Why not be thankful for what our Father in heaven has given each one of us? Why not learn to be content? Why not fill ourselves with love, rejoicing for the success of others? Let these words sink deeply into your hearts!!


IV. THE CONSEQUENCES OF COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS:

Consider why comparing ourselves to others is such a dangerous game to play:

Comparing ourselves to others can lead to pride, boasting, and self-righteousness:  (Luke 18:9-14; Romans 12:3; Romans 14:13; I Cor. 4:7).

Comparing ourselves to others can deceive us:  We think that we are superior to others, causing us to stumble (sin), compete, be arrogant, and ultimately lose our soul.

Comparing ourselves to others is often the result of carnality and spiritual immaturity: (Romans 8:5; I Cor. 3:1-8; I Cor. 4:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:12; I Peter 4:2).

Comparing ourselves to others will take our primary focus off of God by putting it everywhere else except on the cross:  When we focus on ourselves, we are going to find trouble seeing all that God has done for us:  all of God's mercies and riches.  We will often be disappointed that things are not as they could be.  We will be tempted not to see things as they truly are and be unaware that others might be going through difficulties and challenges as well.

Comparing puts the primary focus on us:  This is wrong!  Because we can become consumed by thinking only about our "wants," indulging in "pity parties."  In our selfish pride, we may try to impress others into thinking that we are what we are not. When we do this, we can no longer live a life that brings glory to God because our focus is on our own glory.  This can make us miserable!  It can affect our walk with Christ and those around us.

Comparing ourselves to others sets us up for discontent and discouragement:  It leads us to jealousy and envy. Comparing ourselves to others doesn't lead us to contentment and thankfulness. We must be careful and guard our thoughts properly. "But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment"  (I Timothy 6:6). Let's be careful and not allow this to make us sin against our God by being ungrateful to Him. It is like shaking our fist at God and saying, "What you are providing for me is not enough!" It takes away our trust in our Lord's loving-kindness.

Comparing ourselves to others robs us of so much joy:  When we wrongly compare ourselves to others, we are robbing ourselves of the peace, joy, and blessings that God has to give us. We must look back and honestly consider and evaluate what the Lord has done and is doing in our livesDo we have a roof over our heads? Do we have food to eat? Do we have clothes to wear?  Let us be grateful because the Lord has met all of our needs. "Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning."  His loving and everlasting faithfulness endures forever. It is in this that we need to be focused because He is faithful!

Comparing ourselves to others keeps us away from our God-given purpose:  How are we going to reach and save others if we are totally absorbed with what we don't have in comparison to others? God expects us to love others and to do it heartily. He wants us to focus outwardly, not inwardly. If we are always comparing ourselves to others, we are not going to be able to love our neighbors and rescue them from the kingdom of darkness. Let's be wise and know that the days are short. Our goals must be eternal. We must think beyond this life, eternity, where the moth and rust do not destroy. 


CONCLUSION:

Comparing ourselves to others leads to the little twin foxes of jealousy and envy, having their roots in pride, vanity, and selfishness, Ecclesiastes 4:4; Galatians 5:26; I Timothy 6:4.  These little twin foxes are the products of carnal hearts. If we find ourselves walking this path of destruction, we must repent and let the Word of God work in us in the spirit of love. Envy and jealousy are nothing more than the devices of the devil, and it can rob us of bearing good fruit.  Jealousy makes us unwilling to share and often results in a total loss of that which is not shared.

We all have gifts that differ, and each of us must do our best with such. It is not fair to make life a constant competition with others. That takes the joy out of our relationships. We must not consider everyone as our adversary to be conquered and overcome but rather accept help to improve ourselves and multiply our God-given talents.

Comparing ourselves to others leads us to competition. I do not deny that competition is right when it is put in the right place. But it is so terrible to think of others as competitors against us. If we are bound to compare ourselves to others, why not compare ourselves to Jesus, our Lord, to the stature of His fullness? Why not focus on the Lord and His example when we are tempted to compare ourselves to others?  Ultimately, pleasing Jesus is all that really matters. The game of comparison is a very dangerous game that is not worth playing at all.  So, if you find yourself going down that path, it is time to turn yourself around!  Instead of comparing yourself to someone else (which leads to envy and jealousy), why not compare yourself to Christ Himself and His Truth.

May our God help us to compare ourselves ONLY to Him and not to others.  He is our ONLY standard of measure.  I leave you with the beautiful words of this poem:

The stick I made for measuring
I used it almost every day.
It helped me to compare myself
with others on my way.
I watched all those behind me,
or further down the road,
and I would readjust my pace
or lighten up my load.
The only real drawback
with how I ran my race
was watching everything around,
except my Savior's face.

Luci

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

SHOWY AND FRILLY CHRISTIANITY

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.  For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'"  
Matthew 16:24-26


It seems to me there is a plague among us.  This plague is long-lasting as well as very contagious.  Everyone wants to have it all so it seems normal.  The recovery is slow and very few ever recover.  What is this plague?   It is extravagant, cute, popular, and frilly Christianity!

We must never forget that Jesus lived a very plain, simple and humble life without frills and luxury by the standards of men.  His goal and purpose was not to gain earthly possessions, but rather spiritual things.  He taught us to pursue righteousness, not material gain, or riches.  He lived every day with the purpose of carrying out God's plan.  He was not popular.  In fact, He challenged the traditions of men that were contrary to God's will. Unfortunately, He lived in a culture where men loved the traditions of men more than they loved and obeyed God.  Our culture is very similar today.  
"And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil"  (John 3:19).
"And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God"  (Matthew 19:23-24).

The Lord Jesus is our best example of humility.   He was a humble carpenter who worked hard with His hands, yet He possessed the greatest riches the world has ever known.  He was the Son of God, the Savior of this world, the greatest King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
"But from now on the Son of Man will ve seated at the right hand of the power of God" (Luke 23:69). 

When He died, He took no earthly possessions with Him.

Often we go to church, we worship, we partake of the Lord's Supper, we sing songs of praise, we pray... We wear our best attire, our nicest, and most fashionable...  We sit in comfortable pews or chairs.  We have the nicest buildings to worship in; the nicest and latest technology available in our churches; outstanding preachers and streaming videos... We feel good about ourselves as Christians.  Perhaps after church, we go eat out at the best restaurants.  Sadly, there are those members who are humble, who cannot afford nice attire, dine at nice restaurants or don't have the nicest and latest cars and fancy homes or perhaps some kind of educational achievement...  These may be the cast-offs of society.  

My question is:  Do we make the slightest effort to get to know them better? Or do we scoff at them for being insignificant?  Do we only reach out to those who have the best, who are the best, the ones we feel the safest around us, and ultimately the ones we think are not "overly religious."  Whom do we fear, man or God?   Do we only go to church to hang out with the "crowd," those whom we think are the coolest?  Those who possess it all?

I think we deceive ourselves if we think we have done our duty before God just by going to church and worshiping Him. Have we truly done our duty? Are we truly worshiping God in our hearts and mind? Do we have "idols" that are above Him in our life? Do we do His will here on earth? Do we only go to worship Him the first day of the week just because it is comfortable and easy? Do we forget that God must be worshiped every day of our life to have fellowship with Him? What good does it do to have a home full of wall decals or plaques that say God is love, God is peace, God is whatever if our faith is empty and vain?

We are so mistaken if we think that Christianity is to be served to us on a silver platter. It is not supposed to be frilly, silly, and cute. Let's not get too comfortable! Let’s step outside the box. The foolish says in his heart, "I don't need to change my life on account of Christianity." "I don't want to appear too religious to others." "Oh sure, I obeyed the gospel when I was baptized, and that's it, God's Grace will take care of my salvation." "I don’t want to look different"  "I'll make mainstream choices" "Everyone is doing it!"

I see a big problem among Christians.  They want to be popular and have the approval of man more than that of God. We are getting it wrong if we think this way!   We are not going to win our crown when we try to please others by conforming to this world’s fascinations. We must think beyond popularity contests!  This is not Christianity!  We must see ourselves as nothing but unprofitable servants.

Often in history and in many places in the world, it has been a crime to be a Christian. Consider that Paul was probably beheaded. Peter, according to tradition, was crucified.  James was put to death by the sword. Tradition also holds that James, the brother of Jesus, was beaten to death by a crowd of enemies.   All of these had to suffer severe persecution and, ultimately, death. They never thought for a minute that following Jesus was going to give them luxury or a comfortable lifestyle. They were not popular or admired. They ONLY followed Jesus. They followed God.  They did what was asked of them: they proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They furthered God's kingdom, the church.

They have laid up and gathered riches that are beyond what any of us can fathom. Their real treasures have not rotted or rusted! They have received the crown of righteousness and are now with our Lord Jesus. They are indeed living now in the most luxurious palaces this world can never even imagine: the Kingdom of heaven where Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God with all the celestial hosts.  This is where our treasures must be, in heaven!  Their eyes were fixed on heaven and not on earth.  They set their minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.  They knew they were aliens and strangers here on earth who needed to behave in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. They knew their citizenship was in heaven.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Where our treasure is... there will our heart be also.  When we become aware of where our treasure must be, we know the truth of where our heart is.  So my question is:  Is your heart set on frilly luxury, and vain, empty Christianity?  Is it set on a “perfect” and comfortable life?  Are these your treasures: popularity, a comfortable and fancy home, a nice bank account, a nice retirement plan, nice places to go on vacation, or a “World Cruise”?

With all this empty and vain way of thinking about Christianity, let us never forget that our heart, mind, and soul must be with God and GOD ALONE.   We must purpose in our hearts to have a pure heart free of all these layers of empty and vain thinking about Christianity, God's kingdom.   This will be the only way we can truly see God.  Our Lord Jesus saw God this way.  He knew very few earthly comforts because He was not concerned about earthly treasures.  Yet He knew the comfort of God, His Father.  He obviously knew where His treasure was and whom He was following.  Are we ready to start laying treasures up in heaven and not on earth?   What do you think?

May our Lord help us to be content with the simplicity of our life and His service.

Luci

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

COURAGEOUS VOYAGE: DYING TO SELF

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9


God commands and expects us to be strong and courageous.  We have no other option because it is a command!  There is no room for cowardice.   The apostle Paul prayed for courage.  Nevertheless, it is something that we must do with God's help. 

Courage doesn't necessarily involve fighting a battle, climbing the highest mountain peak, or defying the strongest storm, but rather walking the path that God wants us to walk without straying.

Jesus is our perfect example of walking the path of courage.  He modeled it.  He walked the path opposed to the culture of that time when He healed the cast-offs of society.  He touched the lepers, Matthew 8:1-4.  He exposed the Pharisees' adultery, hypocrisy, and their neglect of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  He cried out against their habit of lying and retaliation against their neighbors.  He said,
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven"  (Matthew 5:20).  

Jesus spoke against their greed for earthly treasures.  This must have taken a lot of courage!  He told them that what they valued was of no value at all.
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.  Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven... "  (Luke 6:22-23). 


  • Jesus is our best example of dying to self.  

It takes a great deal of courage to die to self every day.  There was no selfishness in Him. Otherwise, we wouldn't have a Savior.  Jesus simply lived a life of sacrifice, dying to Himself for us.   He died to what might have been His own ambitions and earthly desires.  Although He was God and was richer than any of us, He did not use that for His own benefit.  Let us never forget that our Lord Jesus became poor for us! 
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men"  (Phil. 2:5-7).   
"For you know the Grace of poverty our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich"  (II Cor. 8:9). 

He always thought about His flock.  He lived for everyone else, but Himself.  He died to Himself! It must have taken lots of courage to die a cruel death on a cross and not run away.  
"And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed"  (I Peter 2:24).
"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24).  

Our selfishness must be crucified with Him when we are baptized into His death.  Let's take a moment and meditate on this.  It is through Jesus' blood that we can crucify all of our selfish desires, ambitions, lusts, greed, and so on. Yet, we seem to keep living for self!  This, of course, does not produce in us the good fruit of peace, but rather strife and hypocrisy. 
"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy"  (James 3:16-17).

  • Dying to ourselves demands a lot of courage:  
It is in dying to ourselves that we can bear the pure, sincere, and merciful fruits.  Life-giving fruits! My question is then, how can we live only to ourselves pleasing the desires of our flesh, knowing that this produces only strife and hypocrisy? How much better it is to live for God and the ambitions that He has set for us, which reap a bountiful harvest of peace!  The choice is ours.

Lest we forget, Jesus has already walked the path of courage for us when He died that cruel death on the cross.  It is through His death that we can have peace and life-giving things, rather than strife, hypocrisy, and evil things.  Remember that we must live in that same courage and sacrifice all the days of our lives.  Let us not take for granted Jesus' blood that was shed that we may live in the fullness of life every day!  

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit"  (John 12:24). 
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me"  (Gal. 2:20).

Therefore, let us arm ourselves with the mind and purpose of Christ.
"Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lust of men, but for the will of God... but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  For the Gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead,... they may live in Spirit according to the will of God"  (I Peter 4:1-6).

To show His love, our Lord Jesus was crucified and died for me. To show my love and gratitude for Him, I must die to self, be crucified with Him, and live for Him daily.

May our Lord give us the courage to die to ourselves so that we may live a rich and abundant life to His glory. 

The following poem expresses well the courageous voyage of dying to self, being crucified with Christ in our daily walk.



"Crucified With Christ"

As I look back
On what I thought was living
I'm amazed at the price
I choose to pay
And to think I ignored
What really mattered
'Cause I thought the sacrifice
Would be too high.

But when I finally reached
The point of giving in
I found the cross
Was calling even then
And even though
It took dying to survive
I've never felt so much alive.

For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live
Not I but Christ
That lives within me
His Cross will never ask for more
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live.

As I hear the Savior
Call for daily dying
I will bow beneath The weight of Calvary
Let my hands surrender
To His piercing purpose
That holds me to the cross
Yet sets me free.

I will glory in
The power of the cross
The things I thought were gain
I count as loss
And with His suffering
I identify
And by His resurrection power
I am alive.

And I will offer all I have
So that His cross is not in vain
For I found to live is Christ
And to die is truly gain.

For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live
Not I but Christ
That lives within me
His Cross will never ask for more
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live.


Luci



Sunday, February 2, 2020

"HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR"

"As he said these things, he called out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'"  
Luke 8:8


We have five senses by which we perceive our world. Most of us treasure our sight above the other five, but our sense of hearing is a close second. We cannot always believe what our eyes see, but even less can we believe everything that our ears hear. Jesus calls on us to discern. He that has ears to hear should listen carefully because the world is full of deceitful words and false teaching. Jesus has come from heaven as the merciful and just Son of God with the message of Truth that can set us free from sin and darkness, but most men will miss it. They have ears, but they hear not. Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower precisely to warn us about careless, faithless listening.

In the Parable of the SowerJesus is stressing the need for receiving with meekness the implanted Word.  He is calling all hearers to have the right kind of heart for receiving and accepting the Truths of God.  Jesus wants His listeners to listen with open hearts. The intended purpose of this parable is to show the reasons why many reject or accept His teachings. It is through this parable that Jesus draws attention to His ministry.  In this parable, the soil represents the various conditions of man's heart.  The question for every Christian is:  How can we apply this parable to our own lives?  Since all Christians are drawn by the implanted Word of God, they must consequently be quick to hear that same Word, slow to speak against it, and slow to become angry at its sacred Message (James 1:21) to be saved.

When Jesus said, "He who has ears, let him hear,"  Jesus was challenging His disciples to see the parable as more than a story about farming.  He wanted them to look beneath the surface.  The seed in this parable is the incorruptible Word of God (Mark 4:14; Luke 8:11; 1 Peter 1:23).  All Christians in His Kingdom are commanded to be sowers of seed (Matt. 28:19-20).  Without sharing the Word of God, it is impossible to make true and faithful disciples, that is, new and faithful Christians. It is not smooth speech or carnal tactics that save the souls of men.  It is the Gospel!  The Gospel is God's power to save man (Rom. 1:16,17). The power is in the seed, not the sower!  

For us to receive and accept God's Word, we must be willing to remove all that might hinder us, especially the sin that is in our life:  all filthiness and wickedness.  To be saved by the implanted Word of God, we must first receive the Word with meekness.  The Word of God is the seed that is sown (Luke 8:11).  The Word of God is the seed that must be planted into spiritual soil, that is, the heart of man.  The success of the implanted seed will depend primarily on the type of soil in which is planted.


I.   THE PARABLE'S EXPLANATION:

  • The Sower and The Seed:
"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience"  (8:11-15).

The parable of the soils is a parable about how the implanted Word of God is received. The parable is about how one listens to God’s Message.  According to this parable, there are four ways by which God's Word or Message can be heard and received.  As we read this parable, we notice that there is nothing wrong with the sower or the seed, but there is plenty wrong with our hearing.  The parable stresses the need for a receptive heart to hear and accept the Word of God.

In Luke 8:4-8, Jesus starts out by telling a parable about farming. It is the same parable.  Although it may be called the Parable of the Sower, it is not so much about the sower as it is about the soils.   It is vital that we not miss the real point of what Jesus was saying.  At first, Jesus told this parable without explanation.  We can see this clearly in both Luke and Matthew's accounts.  Mark's account makes it clear that Jesus spoke this parable to the crowd without explaining the meaning to them (Mark 4:10).  That is why Jesus' disciples came and asked Him the meaning of the parable (Luke 8:9).  So, why did Jesus tell His parables without any explanation?  Why would Jesus do something like this?  Would it not be right to tell a parable and then explain its meaning immediately?  Privately, Jesus gave the reasons for why He did what He did about His parables.
"To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand'" (Luke 8:10).


  • The Soil:
In Jesus' day, isolated farmhouses were not very common.  A farmer had to live in town and walk several miles out to his field. The seed sown by the farmer fell on four different types of soil.  The primary focus in this parable is not the seed or the sower but rather the soil.  It is a parable about how hearers respond to the Word of God.  Jesus identified them as four kinds of hearers.

The first soil in this parable is described as the soil of the path (wayside soil).  These hearers hear the Word of God without results.   Think of how many hear the Message time after time but without changes because they are distracted, bored, and sleepy. Thus, they are not listening and do not care.  They hear the Word of God, but the Gospel does not penetrate the heart since it refuses to receive and accept God's Message.  Those with such ears are not the ones that Jesus is looking for as His followers.  

This type of soil did not allow the seed to germinate and was quickly eaten by the birds as food (or crushed underfoot Luke 8:5).  Some hearts are so hard that they will not listen to the Gospel or accept it.  They are happy being slaves to sin.  They arrogantly believe they already know all the answers and are afraid, perhaps, to find out that they are wrong. They don’t want to hear that they are in sin and that they must change or “repent” to be saved.  They hear the Message, the Gospel, but it cannot sink in.  Thus, they belittle the Word making it hard to understand and appreciate it.  Therefore, the devil comes and takes away the Word since they did not receive it with joy.  

    • The second soil is described as a rocky.   
These hear the Word of God, receive it with joy, but because they have no root, fall away in times of testing. And though they hear the Word of God, their heart is shallow and superficial. They become Christians, which is exciting, but they have no root. Thus, they fall away at the time of testing and temptation. Shallow Christians can never grow deep in the Word of God, for they are always shallow in their faith and their understanding of the Word of God. This person seems to be a good follower of Christ until that great moment of testing occurs.  This great moment of testing can be months or even days.  I have seen many who obeyed the Gospel and were never seen again.  They only last a few months and then give up, thus going back to the world and their sinful habits (the old man of sin). They never develop a deep root in Christ and His Word.  They refuse to grow deeper in Christ through reading the Word of God, praying, worshiping, and having fellowship with others.  Their faith was never strong enough to bear life's difficulties.  These are not the hearers who will follow Jesus.  

In Matthew 13:5, Jesus spoke of rocky soil in which the seed did well at first producing a thriving plant, but when the blazing sun came out, it was scorched (Matt. 13:6).  Because of its lack of suitable roots, it was not able to draw enough moisture from the soil and soon withered and died.  

    • The third soil is full of thorns.  
The seeds fell among thorns.   Although this seed sprouted and grew, it could not receive enough nourishment, because the thorns growing up around it chocked it.  These thorns took away everything vital to its growth (i.e., nutrients and sunlight). It died before it was able to yield a crop.   These are the ones who hear the Word, but their faith is choked by the cares, riches, distractions, and pleasures of this life.  Their fruit does not mature. They hear the Word of God but never do or obey what they hear. Their faith is choked by the cares of the world, such as their devotion to their family, or to their work, or too many other things of this sort that rob our time from the Lord.  These hearers always have other things to do that do not pertain to God and His kingdom of righteousness (worship God, serve God, read and study God’s Word, give to the Lord, and the like).  These are the ones who often miss worship because there is always something else they “have” to do. These are not the faithful followers that Jesus is seeking.  

    • Jesus concludes with the fourth soil, the good soil.  
These hearers hear the Word or Message and hold fast to it with an honest and sincere heart, thus bearing abundant fruit with patience. They hear God's Message and hold on to it firmly because it sinks into their hearts, transforming and changing them. These changes do not happen overnight because they patiently endure, bearing good fruit.  You see, fruit-bearing takes work and time before significant results can be seen.  These seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matt. 13:8).   The good soil was soft enough to allow the seed to penetrate it.  This is a productive hearer and fruit bearer.  He hears the Word and understands it because he meditates on what he is hearing.  He accepts the Word of God without prejudice.  He lives by God's Truths with perseverance.  He does not quit when the going gets tough.  The roots extended deep into the soil, and the plant grew robust and fruitful.  Other vegetation did not rule over and rob it of nutrients.  All soil that is 1. arable, 2. free of rocks, and 3. free of weeds will yield an abundant harvest.  Of course, the productivity may vary due to the different conditions of the soil and environment. Jesus indicated this when He said, "and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."  The purpose of Jesus' parables was to find this kind of good ears and good hearts. Jesus is seeking good, sincere, and honest hearts to be His disciples.


CONCLUSION:

Jesus' primary focus in this parable is the soils.  The soils represent the hearts of men.  If I were to subtitle this parable, it would sound like "The Hearts' Reception of the Word of God."  All Christians must examine their hearts as to the soil of their mind. Jesus uses this parable to stress His teaching. If we keep this parable in its context, we will see its relevance to how we hear. Notice Jesus' conclusion to this parable is, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  A lamp is a useful tool.  The Word of God is a lamp to our feet that guides us to do what is right before Him.  It can change our hearts.  Calvinists believe that man is born sinful with the guilt of Adam's sin (total hereditary depravity) and depraved nature.  They claim that man is incapable of understanding the good teachings of a Holy God.  In their eyes, men with their inborn evil nature cannot do good or obey the teachings of the Gospel.  Yet, Jesus, in this Parable of the Sower, spoke of an honest and good heart.  The reason that such a heart is different from the others in this parable is not the result of some direct operation of the Holy Spirit (as Calvinists teach), but because of the attitude of the good heart that receives and accepts the Truth.   Jesus challenged His audience to listen carefully that they might understand.  Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

In this parable, there are four types of hearts:  the wayside heart, the stony or rocky heart, the thorny heart, and the good heart (Matt. 13:19-23).  The wayside heart (Matt. 13:19) does not allow the Word of God to penetrate and change their life because it is the hardened heart (possibly because of pride, worldliness, and apathy).  The rocky or stony heart (Matt. 13:20) responds positively to the Gospel and receives the Word eagerly, but his enthusiasm is shallow and temporary.   Such a one did not "count the cost" and acknowledge that there is a daily "cross" to bear when one follows Christ faithfully.  He does not allow the Word to take root in his heart, and thus, he is not regenerated, transformed by the Word, and committed to it.   He accepts the Word superficially, so it does not last long enough to bear abundant fruit for the Lord.  Then, there is the heart that is ruled by the thorns (Matt. 13:22).  This type of Christian starts well but later allows this earthly life to become his master (cf. Matt. 6:24).  And though he should bear fruit, he can't because he has placed his priorities somewhere else. His problem was being too preoccupied with matters of this life ("cares" or "riches," e.g., Luke 12:16-21; 18:18ff; II Tim. 4:10; Rev. 3:15-17).  Now the good heart (Matt. 13:23; e.g., Acts 2:37ff; 10:33ff; 17:11,12) had a sincere reception toward the Truth that bore abundant fruit (Luke 8:15).  A good heart sincerely seeks the Truth at all times.  He has a strong desire (thirst and hunger) and motivation always to do what is right, regardless of the circumstances. All hearers of the Gospel fall into one of these four general categories. Which soil are you?

Jesus is looking for sincere listeners who love the Truth sincerely and have open ears to receive and accept the Truth.   He does not want to gather larger crowds of people.  The purpose of His parables was not for people to come to Him and ask the meaning.  His parables were not some sort of miraculous, Spirit-infused knowledge.  The secrets of God's kingdom were given to the disciples because they genuinely were seeking and wanting the answers and explanation of such parables.  Jesus' disciples made an effort to learn the meaning of His teachings instead of passing it off with an “I can't get it.” The parables were intended to remove those who refuse to know the mind of God How different it is today with the common practices of so many churches!  Modern churches stress the need to use carnal tactics to attract a crowd.  They ignore the power of the Gospel to reach the heart.  You see, Jesus never tried to gather crowds because He wanted to find out who was genuinely seeking Him.   Jesus wants people to know God, obey Him, and be part of the family of God from a sincere heart.  Jesus wants seekers to see, hear, and love God's Word so that they can understand and learn.  Is that you?

May we examine our hearts to see which soil we are.  May we listen to the Word of God and allow it to penetrate and change our hearts into righteousness.  May we earnestly hear and heed the Word of God, refusing to be entangled by life’s distractions, but instead, put Jesus our Lord above everything else.

Luci