Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Second Chance

Isaiah 43:18-20 - Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert...I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give 

Jesus calls Himself the Living Water and the Bread of Life...both of which satisfy hunger. The Samaritan woman had that water. Israel experienced both the Manna from heaven and water from rocks, both spiritually feeding them during 40 years of wandering in a wilderness. I wonder if there were other rocks in that wilderness? They were on their way to a new life in a land God promised them. They were being given another chance.

We've all had a second chance at something. Maybe we didn't get caught in a lie, cheating or some act that wasn't very nice. We might even have been saved from an accident or illness. Or maybe there was just an innocent mistake of some sort or misunderstanding. Whatever. We were/are given a second chance.

God gives us a second chance too. Sometimes and somehow people take advantage of that second chance. But it's there for all of us. We just need to want it. It's called a new birth.

I am grateful for my second chance. It's as clear today as it was when I had that chance, that rebirth, that born again experience. The day I received Christ as Lord and Savior. Oh, the memory of that moment gets put aside occasionally, but it often comes to mind  and it's like I still see where I was sitting, how I felt, a scripture read, even the pastor's voice. I remember how easy it was...after the years of rejecting, denying.

Often it comes in a moment of weakness. After all, it is in our weakness that Christ becomes strong. When we set aside all our own strengths, when we realize we have no more strength of our own and we need help. We give in, as it were, to that which will revitalize us. In this case, a Person. That's what Jesus does.

Many run to a friend, spouse, family member...even a stranger like a counselor. After listing all these possibilities I am reminded that Jesus IS all these...if we receive Him. He calls Himself our Friend, He is our Bridegroom, we are heirs, therefore family, and of course He is called Counselor. He is all we need.

Jesus came to this earth to become our redemption. He was born and lived among us so that people of His day would see and believe in Him, have that second chance...and carry that with them, share the experience and His words. They lived it then, we can live it now. His death was for our second chance. Although He died, He was raised up and lives forever and we can share eternity with Him, if we so desire. We are assured of that. When we do we are called His people, His chosen.

I think about Noah and his ark. When the floods came the doors to the ark were closed leaving many people behind. They had a second chance and didn't take it. Jesus is our Ark today. There will come a day when there will be no chance to enter in...into relationship with Him, that second chance.

I know some don't understand this new birth. I also know there are people who know me and know that I have not changed my stance since that day. There really IS something to this. It is not, for me, just a phase. It's real. And I'm always looking for someone to explain it to. Not everyone wants to hear; barriers go up; there is silence or glassy-eyed stares or tuning out.

While we are given many second chances in the world, there is only one way to receive this particular second chance at life...through Jesus Christ. He's always putting a challenge out there that we might recognize Him and seek Him. He's always revealing Himself in some way...we just don't always look at something as His challenge to us to seek and receive Him. We can hold back. I know I did for a very long time. Hopefully, soon, there will be one moment where at the second of recognition He will be received...and that rebirth will take place.

Angels rejoice when one more person is received. Imagine a heavenly body crying holy to the Lord who brought that new life. Imagine a body of angels rejoicing for you! If it has not happened to you, will you allow it to? Ask Jesus to be your Counselor, to give you a second chance, to bring the hope of eternal life to you.

John 3:5-7 - Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'"

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Acts 2:19-20 - I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

This just seemed an appropriate post after all the parables about the Kingdom of God and who will enter into it and what we must do to be sure we do!

There have been many articles, blog posts, warnings and/or words about the imminent return of Christ. Some do not believe He will return, some believe it will still be some time from now if ever, while others believe it could be very soon. Even pastors in various pulpits, even some unbelievers, think something is up and that we are in the last days.

I do not presume to know when He will return and would use caution to anyone saying they knew for sure when, but I certainly believe, and write here occasionally, how it is of utmost importance that we know our heart's spiritual condition now and do something about it now because...“of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet...the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” (Mark 13:32, 1Corinthians 15:52, Luke 17:35-36)

Our salvation is based on one thing alone, our true heart's repentance followed by confession of our sin directly to Jesus. Because He is omniscient He will know our heart's attitude, whether we mean it or not. When Jesus returns will we be taken or will we be left wherever we are? This is the way it will be when He returns, that I will promise. Our old, earthly bodies, if we have received Christ, will be changed...from corruptible to incorruptible. There will be no pain, no sickness, no sorrow, no tears after He returns for those who have received Him. The same is not true for unbelievers. Like the previous parables, there is a separation of good from bad.

Again, we do not know when He will return and some say, Well, it's been a long time since He said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:12-13) while others will say He hasn't shown up yet; I'm not gonna worry about it. It's all talk.

But I just want to throw this out there. We are told there will be signs, like mentioned above. Just a thought...if you haven't heard, there will be four lunar eclipses coming up in the next two years. An article describes them as four consecutive total lunar eclipses, known as a tetrads. They are called blood moons because of the color we see at the time of the eclipse.

I also tend to view articles on such things with caution knowing we have been burned before by prognosticators telling us Christ will return on a certain date and, again, I will not say that. But I find these articles interesting. I will put them on a shelf in my mind. This particular article tells us the blood moons coincide with Jewish feast days. These eclipses are looked at on the Jewish calendar, God's calendar, not ours. (I think about the scripture that says His ways are not like ours...) And these eclipses do, according to findings, fall on those feasts. These are Feasts of the Lord and I'm not an expert on them, have always been important to God and His people, Israel, and Israel is an important factor in the last days.

Rather than try to sort out the article, please read it's the link. There are two videos as
well. I am not endorsing the any product they sell. All I'm saying is we cannot know when He will
return...but we are to watch for signs, which God has previously shown us will be.

These articles seem to think that there's a good chance (chance) the last days before the return of Christ will follow these signs. The article I've linked states NASA had a link on their site referencing these blood moons but took it down when some other article began describing the blood moons and the return of Christ. (On the same day as WND’s report, Feb. 12, NASA took down its site which for years provided detailed information and schedules about upcoming eclipses.)

Additional signs listed in the Bible are already here. They've been escalating since, I believe, the 50's or 60's. This world is in serious trouble and you can laugh or mock, but if you look closely, you can't say it hasn' least I hope you can see. If not, you may want to ask God to help you to see...if you want to. It's your choice. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, (2Timothy 3:1-4) 

I just say all this to point out, it isn't too late to be sure of your salvation. I would want to be sure today about my future tomorrow, or the next day, or even on my last day, if He does not return before my last day. I do not think of this as a doom and gloom message. For believers it is a hallelujah moment! To be of the generation to see His coming, despite the trials we will encounter before then, and we are already experiencing, is exciting. If you put all things in perspective you can see that while we are living each day as it comes along, all things fade in comparison to the idea that Jesus is returning for His pure and spotless bride. Will you join the ranks?

He is like the man below who has gone to a far country...and will return. Is He your Master? Are you asleep? Or are you watching for His return?

Mark 13:33-37 - Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Wedding

Matthew 22:2-10 - “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests."

God is this king and His Son is Jesus. The wedding, the gathering or feast, is the Kingdom of Heaven. The servants are those who proclaim His gospel, who invite others to come into relationship with Christ, who could be rejected, even murdered, for their testimony and invitation. As you see, the king was angry with the people who mistreated His servants!

There will be a wedding feast prepared for His beloved...those who call Him Lord and Savior. This will be the feast of all feasts and a culmination of the calling and inviting of people on earth. Many will have been invited, but few actually will be at that table. Many will disregard the whole idea. When that day comes, like in another scripture about the last days, people will be too busy to heed the call. They will be about their lives, eating and drinking and being too merry to heed the invitation, making excuses.

I am also reminded of how God's people, the Jews, rejected Jesus as their Messiah (The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.) He then included the Gentiles, any who would be willing to receive Christ His Son as their Lord and Savior (Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.) The good and the bad referred to: those of good character and morally sound, and criminals, murderers, etc...both of whom are sinful and in need of we all are.

There will be judgment for those who have chosen not to come. Jesus doesn't call those who think they are worthy. He came to save the sinner. He came to heal the sick (in spirit). He doesn't look for the smartest, bravest, richest, proudest, or ones who have made it to the top in their own strength. He calls those who have humbled themselves before God, who have realized they are a sinner in need of a Savior.

Those worthy of being seated at the table will enjoy a marvelous marriage supper with the Lamb. A marriage made in heaven! A blessing to those who have accepted the invitation. Jesus will be seated among His true friends and followers. Don't let the invitation be ignored. Let's be sure we can join Him for this, the grandest of wedding feasts.

“Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation19:9)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Leaven, Hidden Treasure, a Pearl and a Dragnet

Matthew 13:33,44,47-50 - Another parable He spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
Boy, I really bounced around with these parables!! There are several smaller ones that I lumped together. Let me just remind you that the Kingdom of Heaven is not for everyone. This is why Jesus told these parables. I believe they were spoken in various ways that if one was not understood, another might. Just my thought.
So here we have a parable about leaven. Leaven, as you know, expands. When anyone truly receives Jesus and the Word of God it expands one's heart and within one's heart. Then when Christ enters into a person's life it expands the Kingdom of Heaven by and through our new lives and how we have changed, and grown in Christ...and how we share Him that others might enter into the Kingdom.
A hidden treasure or pearl of great value both can bring much joy for which one might be willing to give all to own. When we have a true encounter with Christ it is like finding a hidden treasure or a beautiful pearl, which we would be thrilled to own and willing to give up all we believe to be valuable in our earthly lives. A new life in Christ, knowing what He has done and how He has changed our lives, will do that.
A dragnet catches many fish. This net can catch all sorts of fish but not all are worthy of keeping. The good are kept but the bad are thrown away. That reminds me a bit of the parable of the soils. Some soil is good enough for the seed (Word of God) to grow, other soils are not acceptable enough and the Word dies. If His net has been cast over your life, make the choice to receive His Word and be part of those who will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
We who have received should be willing to share what we know. Part of the sharing is explaining the downside to not receiving. If you have seen any of these parable posts, you will understand. It may seem harsh, but Jesus Himself has told us His parables. The outcome is always the same, receive Christ, receive entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. And, obviously the reverse holds true. There will be a dividing of people at the end of the age. We all will have our place either in the Kingdom of Heaven or the Lake of Fire. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived into believing just by knowing who Jesus is you are safe. If you understand these parables, you have been given an opportunity to seek Him further.
Matthew 13:49-51 - So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Parable of the Landowner

Matthew 20:1-7 - For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’

Here we have a landowner. He needs help to work in his vineyard. He goes out to hire. His agreement, if you look closely, is a denarius a day. At the end of this day all the laborers gather for their earnings. Each is given a denarius and a commotion arises when those who worked all day got the same as those who worked an hour or two. Those were the conditions...a denarius a day.

The landowner can be viewed as God. The vineyard is the world. The workers, those who have given their lives to Christ. Whether we come into relationship with Him early in life or at the end, He treats us equally. Some may have worked a very long time for Him...and may be granted more eternal rewards...but all are part of His Kingdom.

When we receive Christ what difference should it make here on earth? It's all about our eternal life anyway since we will be there longer than here! God has enough to give to all people, according to their needs. He will heal all hearts, for sure, when they receive Christ. Healing bodies is part of His will also. But sometimes He heals to show His glory and boost faith in an individual...or for someone else to bring them into His kingdom. Or He won't heal to keep a person relying on His strength and not his own. His will. He is God.

It was His will also to choose to pay each person the same amount for inequal amounts of work. Some were called to work and they accepted. Others did not. But those who were chosen got paid. Same with Christ. Some will be called and receive Him, some never will. All who receive have their debt paid. Shouldn't that make us grateful enough to not grouse? There's a supernatural thing that takes place. God is here for all people and there's enough of Him to go around! And we are all equal in His sight when we have chosen to believe, receive, trust and have faith in Him. Hallelujah! If He has or is calling, decide to choose lest you become one of the "few" He alludes to.

Matthew 20:14-16 - Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Parable of the Soils

Good grief! I started these posts on the the parables of Kingdom of Heaven is Like and realized I was bouncing around because the idea came to me somewhere in the middle of reading them. I'm still not organized and it's too late!

There is another parable, of the soils, and since I've written about them before, I will just repost.


Scattered Seeds

Luke 8:5-8 - A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.

I will repeat myself again and again because I am amazed at how God works! I read this parable Tuesday morning before going to Bible study. I had not read my lesson for this week (shame on me) so I didn't know what the subject matter would be about. Wouldn't you know, it was centered on the above parable.

I had already contemplated writing a blog about this. The seed represents God's Word. The farmer can represent God Himself, or those who delight in sharing His Word with others, like the disciples I discussed yesterday. The deterrents are the devil.

This particular farmer must have had some interesting land considering all the different terrain described above! So, he scattered seed and some fell along a path. It surely did not have much time to get itself situated in the ground with all the hungry birds hovering and waiting for that farmer to move on so they could dive in on this delectable treat. The meaning here is the seed (Word of God) was sown into the life of a person or persons. It didn't have a chance at all to take root because the birds came along too quickly and took whatever chance of belief and salvation out from them immediately.

I can tell you that back in the late 60's a roommate of mine asked me to go to church with her one night. When I arrived I realized it was a type of "religious" outreach. At the end we were urged if we had not received Jesus to come forward. I was very uncomfortable with the whole thing and only went forward because of my roommate. From the moment we left that building, some "birds" came right by and snatched that seed from me. And I have to admit, I didn't mind one bit. What happened that night was banished from my mind...until years later!

The seed that fell on appears the seed was trying to grow; I've seen plants growing in rock crevices somehow, but whether they survive or not, I don't know. These seeds, though, in time withered because there was nothing to keep them moist. This is like the Word being sown into another person's life and is received for a time but something gets in the way, perhaps lack of interest or intimidation by someone they know. They go to church once or twice and never return for more nourishment, for more of that living water that never causes you to thirst again. Maybe they figure they've heard all they need to and are satisfied with the status quo. We need to keep that Word in our hearts where it can be nourished.

Seed among the thorns. Ouch. If there's a thorny bush, obviously the soil is fertile enough for it to grow. But this seed is struggling in its foothold over this tough competitor. This Word is sown,
accepted, even nurtured and watered. But eventually the fight for survival takes place and the thorny bush wins. We accept Christ and things go well for awhile. Then we might begin to miss some of the things we used to do, miss some of our old haunts with our old friends, begin to think more about those "finer" things we held so dear in life. In a moment of weakness we allow those things back into our lives and the Word and all it represents is choked out of us. We revert back to the old person we were.

Then there's the seed that falls in the good soil. Well, you know what a farmer's field looks like that has been well taken care of. It springs to life, shoots begin to come up, it grows larger producing whatever tasty morsel it's supposed to. It begins to bear fruit. Fruit that is savory and good for us, that feeds and sustains us. This is what God's Word will do if we allow our hearts and minds to be that good soil, to take hold of that Word, let it take root, nourish it by attending to it daily. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8) comes to mind! That fruit will continue to bear more and more fruit. It can go through harvest and produce more seed for the next year.

Where is the Word of God in your life? Which type of soil does your heart represent? Let it take root and see what the results will be.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure. Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me. (Psalm 119:105, 103, 50, 162, 133)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Matthew 18:21-23 - Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants."

As I was rereading this parable this morning, wouldn't you know it spoke to a situation I was in at the moment. Ugh!

Here we have a parable about a king with presumably many servants. One servant in particular owed the king a lot of money and could not repay his debt. The king was going to sell this servant and his family to regain that debt. But the servant pleaded with him not to, saying he would repay all he owed. The king had compassion on him and released him from all debt.

The parable continues: That same servant then went about looking for a fellow servant who owed him money and demanded he pay him. That man also was in the same situation where he could not repay. Instead of offering the same forgiveness as the king had given him, the first servant threw his fellow servant into prison. The other fellow servants saw this and being grieved told their master, the king.

The king called for the first man and issued this statement: You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? Being angry the king sent him to be tortured till the debt to him was paid. In fact, Jesus made this comment regarding not forgiving: So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

Like I said, this spoke to a situation I was in that moment. It's one of those cases where your patience with someone else's behavior is like nails on a blackboard and you just want it to go away but it doesn't. I knew my patience had been tried...and I failed miserably. This person was just being who she is.

I spent some time in prayer over how I was to ask for forgiveness. I didn't dwell on it because I knew God would show me at the right moment. He didn't fail! We had a few moments alone and I just asked for her forgiveness for being so crabby. She asked why I thought I was; she hadn't noticed! Of course I couldn't say why. So a hug later all was well. Yes, we are to ask for forgiveness even when it isn't our fault. Forgiveness begins somewhere and, after all, she "knew not what she did." The air of heaviness was lifted. And I believe since I had done my part, He is the One who lifted the heaviness, a sign of His forgiveness toward me for my sinful attitude.

Look at Jesus as this king. He has compassion on all who come directly to Him and ask for forgiveness of their sins. When anyone shows this type of humility, He will release them from their debt. The price has been paid, the sins forgiven and forgotten (by God). We have been set free: Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36) 

But there still is the other side to this. If we continue to harbor bitterness or unforgiveness, refusing to let it go, God will not forgive us. Like the wheat and the tares, a time will come for the plucking of the bad from the good...and the tossing of the bad into the Lake of Fire. Don't be deceived into thinking God will have mercy on everyone in the end.

When I got to church, I wept during worship, like it was for the peace I felt at having been lightened of an ugly feeling. I felt so grateful. The message then was on the times Jesus wept...for His friends (believers, like me), His people (the Church) and the world (the lost). All I wanted to do was thank Him. And as the pastor asked, Aren't tears sometimes communication when words just aren't enough? I know what he meant.

Luke 6:37 - Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30 - “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"

This is a long parable but the explanation is really quite simple. It also is very similar to to the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-27 so I need not comment on this one. Both represent messages about what we are to do in this world before the Lord, our Master, returns. And He is returning. And we do not know when. Like the master in this parable, he was gone a long time but he returned.

When we come into relationship with Christ we are to become a new person. It's like the parable of the soils. It's all about how we receive Jesus, the Word. Do we take Him into our heart and let Him continue to do a work or do we let the cares of this world or troubles overpower His power?

And then as new believers we are entrusted with certain things. We have a "job" for the Lord now. My take on this is is up to us now to be about the work of the Kingdom, to be Jesus' hands and feet, to promote the same Gospel message that we received to a lost world. For some, like pastors, evangelists, it's a greater work than the average, everyday person without the "call" in their lives to be greater than just who they are in their surroundings. But all believers are called to share.

Jesus' words should be like a treasure to us. Words that, while not always easy, are life to us. When we have something great we want to share, shouldn't we want to do that? What do we do with what the Lord has given us? Do we share it or do we hide it? Some will expand the kingdom through their sharing, like the first and second servants, growing abundantly more for their master. These are true believers.

The third servant represents non-believers, in God's sense of the word. They have heard the word, and like the worst of all soils, it did not take. It has not changed the person. Something(s) have not taken root in their heart.

Our heavenly rewards are based on these three examples. We will hear well done if we have received, shared and lived out our new life. Or we can be like the third servant, receiving nothing in return in
the end, being put in a place where our eternal life is in jeopardy.

We can all learn by these examples. It's not too late to take hold of the Word, Jesus. Live like your life, and it does, depends on it. What have you done for God today?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Parable of the Mustard Seed

Kingdom of Heaven is

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

We just talked about this at women's Bible study! It's about our faith. You know, it can be as small as a mustard seed. And as Sandra pointed out, it's not so much about how big our faith is, but how strong it is and are being able to see how big our God is in any situation.

Our faith in God and His Word and believing all the Word proclaims takes faith. We cannot see God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit but they are here. It takes faith to believe that.

A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds but it can grow to be like a tree. I know we have wild mustard in the woods (not necessarily this same species) around us and it must be kept in check or it will take over. It's roots are strong and deep and when it's in the garden it takes work to dig it out. If we have faith like this bitty mustard seed it will grow roots into our spirits (strength).  If we have this faith it is not something that can easily be plucked out...but we need to be continually in the Word to receive the sustenance to keep this faith alive.

The kingdom of heaven will be filled with believers who have held to that faith. It is a good place to be, in this faith, nesting in the peace, hope and joy that God supplies through faith in Him, despite troubles in life we will encounter.

Luke 17:5-6 - And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Parable of the Weeds

The Kingdom of Heaven, Part 1

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

As I was reading one of Jesus parables on the kingdom of heaven, it dawned on me there are many times when He preached on this subject. I looked for all the times where Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." I'd like to address each one.

This first one's explanation is easy. Jesus explains it Himself a few verses later:

He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:37-43)

If you believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible, these words must be true. They are not easy words. Jesus came to save us from eternal death. He became a Man to bring the good news of Himself that those who would follow Him would continue to sow into this world.

We all have an enemy who comes along wanting to plant seeds of doubt among the good seed. The worldly pleasures, self, and things that don't have time for God get mixed in. This is happening today.  We see how offended many are by the name of Jesus or any reference to God. That is another of the enemy's seeds being planted, producing weeds. Who wants to be part of that group, people might ask.

Those who do not follow Christ know who they are. Do we say we know Christ but live as we have always lived? Do we believe this part of the Bible but not that? Are we in the Word or is that just an old book too difficult to understand? Do we rely on our clergymen to teach us or do we learn from Christ? Or do we not want that sort of understanding? Are we afraid of what others will think if we devote such time to Him?

Remember, it's not about our earthly good works on their own. It's about the good works that are born out of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Only at the very end of time, which could be any time, when Christ returns to gather His people, will we all know which category we were in. We will be gathered together and taken to our eternal fate in the lake of fire or taken with Christ to the kingdom of heaven.

He who has ears, let him hear.

Revelation 20:15 - This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Planting, Hearing, Faith and More

Romans 10:17 - So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We discussed faith last night at women's Bible study. It was presented in such an extraordinary way. I've been thinking... We are to always have our minds on the things that are true, honest, pure, lovely, of good report and of virtue (Philippians 4:8). How do we get faith? What is it? How much do we have? We covered these questions. But that's not what this post is about!!

We can all say we have faith. What is the source of that faith? If we cannot say it comes from God, we do not have proper faith. But even some will say they have faith in God, but... How do we receive that faith? Faith comes by many buts. But it all ends with but God...

Let me tell you, as an unbeliever I tried many, well, several, well, maybe a few...or a couple...times, to pick up an old Bible my gramma gave me. I'd start reading in Genesis. I'd get to the begots and that was it. Over, done with. I didn't get it. The Word was not alive. So my faith was zilch. I was an unbeliever and would remain an unbeliever for many more years!

So, how do you receive faith in the first place? And this has nothing to do with our discussion last night because our discussion related to believers. In fact, the point made was we are all given a measure of faith. But even if our faith is as small as that proverbial mustard seed, as Sandra pointed out, it shows how big our God can be. We can grow in our faith, however. How? Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). But...that's for believers...

Still, that faith needs to be activated. It happens when we become believers. This might cause some to wince! Who is a believer and who is an unbeliever? How does one explain the difference between the two? We can say we know who Jesus is but I know it's not just knowing who He is, it's KNOWING Him intimately, which is where others get hung up. And this is what I write a lot about.

What is the element that is missing between a believer and unbeliever, the one thing that causes one to understand and the other to scratch their head or throw up their hands and say, I've had as much as I can take with all this talk!?

I can write blog after blog on knowing Christ to receive eternal life but there's still one thing that needs to be present for ANYONE to receive it. I think it's a very simple concept that I have complicated in my own mind, yet I have known all along. One plants, one waters, but God...(1Corinthians 3:6) It always comes down to but God... I can do nothing on my own. I can talk or write till I'm blue in the face, but God...

So what IS the difference between a believer and an unbeliever? One might believe in God and creation. There are a lot of people who say they are believers because they believe in or read the Bible. Some say because they go to church, any church. Some say they believe Jesus did all He said He did, that He was born of a virgin, lived, died and arose again. Some go to church at Christmas and Easter and call themselves believers. But there is still something that sets a true believer apart from an unbeliever.

And who really has faith? I think we all can say we have faith. But in what is that faith? Faith in government? Faith in their pastor? Faith in their spouse, Wall Street, themselves, their knowledge? Here's the answer again as to where we must gather our comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. It all comes down to God.

Again, but how does this happen?? Laurie, will you just answer the question!? A person can't just pick up the Bible and start reading to understand. We might get some of it, but there's a depth that we will not have without... There's still another element. One that makes an unbeliever into a believer.

It has to be the power of the Holy Spirit upon someone at just the right time that causes them to finally know. The Holy Spirit can start working way before the final "strike" in a person's life! I can look back and see instances where I was heading into muddy waters and was saved. But it was one incident I've mentioned before that was the start of a turning point.

It was no more than four words spoken to me that changed me. My heart and spirit were pushing the idea of God and church away. I can still picture that day in a kitchen helping with dishes how in my mind I had my arms stretched out pushing words being spoken to me as far away as I could get them. I was so trying to reject and seemed so in control, and stubborn. Then in an instant, without my even knowing it, and yet I  knew something had changed in me, these words were said: God speaks to me.

Those outstretched arms became like wet noodles and in my mind went limp. And the words that came out of nowhere from my own mouth were: I want that! What?? I didn't even have time to think about what I said. I just blurted them out. From stay away to wanting in a split second. And the next day at church, the Holy Spirit was there again, consummating, as it were, my relationship with Christ.

How did that happen?

It was God's perfect timing. He sent His Spirit to wreak amazing havoc with my resisting heart and spirit. Only God could do that. It had nothing to do with the person who spoke those four words, apart from the Holy Spirit at work in her at that same moment. And I melted at the sound of those four words.

But God... I say this over and's all about Him. We are so incapable on our own. But linked with the Holy Spirit, wow. A believer knows, or should, that it still has little to do with us and all to do with the Spirit of God. We are just the vessel.

So, I write my blogs not knowing, nor do I need to know, who might be affected by them. In a way it matters to me but.... It's about Jesus and what He does in a person's life. I once was an unbeliever and by the power of God I became a believer. I went from knowing Who Jesus is to being in relationship with Him. Four words began the journey.

My prayer is that even four of my words might be the seeds planted in someone's heart. Perhaps those "four" words will be watered by four more words by someone else. And at just the right time, four more words later, there will be a but God moment when His Spirit will cause the faith to occur that helps someone begin their walk with the Lord. Faith is an comes after the Spirit has been imparted.

At the time that Spirit begins the work, we are received a measure of faith. After that our faith grows depending on how much time we give to the matter. Faith comes by hearing... The Spirit brings life. Jesus brings life. The Word will come alive. When all things come together in an aha moment. After one has planted, several watered...but God.

Faith comes upon our receiving of Christ as our Lord and Savior. You will know when that faith becomes real. But it only comes when God gives us that gift. We cannot get it on our own. One plants, one waters, but God... There is a time and a place.

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2:8-9)

Monday, February 3, 2014

How Long Will You Falter?

was in the midst of writing something but as I was composing, my thoughts led me to this passage of scripture. I will explain at the end!

Introduction: Elijah tested Israel. They lived as the world lived, believing in their own god(s) instead of trusting the God. Gee, this seemed to happen a lot. Times have not what will it take? Read below about the test. (Baal was a worldly god, adaptable to any circumstance. The word means "lord.")

1Kings 18:20-39 - So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. 

Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” 

So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.” 

Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it. ” So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. 

And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. 

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. 

And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “ Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” 

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” 

What I wanted to write was what will it take for people to know this great God of ours. How will they understand that He created us for a purpose, one of seek, believe, trust and obey Him...because, to quote a phrase, (the) Father knows best? What will it take for people to realize what He has done for them? What will it take for people like those above to confess “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”  Baals today are as adaptable as then...anything we put before God. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24)

There may be many who feel like Elijah, "I am alone in a world of unbelievers." I know that's not true, but there is a minority (believers) and a majority (unbelievers). Narrow road, wide road. What will it take to grow the number of believers? 

God has probably done numerous things in each of our lives that have been His attempt to get us to notice Him. The heavens declare the glory of God. But some don't see it. And it's not just about believing He created these things that we might know there is a God. It's about relationship. That's what He wants for us. Relationship with Him. We have relationships with people in our earthly lives. The greatest relationship, which brings those earthly relationships greater meaning, comes from knowing Him and the power of His glory in our lives. But we need to seek it. 

Jesus came to bring us life. Those who put their total faith and trust in Jesus will have that life. Heaven is assured to those who believe. Jesus said:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me...that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 14:6, 5:23). I will pose the same question as Elijah, How long will you falter? Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God.

John 5:24 - “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."