Listening without hearing

How many animals did Moses bring on the ark?

It may be easier to pick it up while reading the question, but verbally ask someone the question and the average person will say “two of each kind.” That’s because we hear everything about the question except what’s right in the middle … the heart of the question! It’s a good illustration when it comes to how we can listen without hearing.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’” (Matthew 13:10-15 NKJV)

The people had heard it all before: There’s a God in Heaven. He’s the giver of blessings. Repent of your sins. The Lord will make things right in his kingdom. Judgment is coming!

They would listen but they couldn’t (due to their wouldn’t) hear what was being said. The point of Jesus’ lessons would go over their head because their ears had shut down the pathway to their heart.

To avoid making the same mistake, no less than three things must be done: We must be willing to examine God’s word with an open heart. We must be willing to allow God’s word to examine our heart. We must be willing to change when we hear what the word of God says.

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. … Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:1-2, 11-13 NKJV)

#hearing-the-gospel, #obedience-to-the-gospel, #parables

‘Privately explained’ Mark 4.34 VOTD

“He did not speak to them without a parable. But privately he explained everything to his own disciples.”

Mark 4.34

Jesus came as Teacher of God’s way and taught all people. He used wisdom in his teaching.

How should Christians use wisdom when they teach others?

#VOTD #parables #teaching

Being smart with our money

So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:8 – NKJV)

Smart money is money that has been used wisely. And while it may shock some, Jesus was big on the idea of God’s people being smart with their money.

True enough that Jesus’ financial advice included making the right investments in Heaven as opposed to solely here on Earth (Matthew 6:19-21), but Jesus also emphasized the importance of being wise with the money that we use during our stay on Earth. He even did so to the extent that he told a story that ended up praising a steward’s wise use of his master’s finances. Not once did Jesus praise the steward’s moral character…but he did praise the steward’s smart use of money to get ahead with others. And I can’t help but get the impression that Jesus would love for us to combine good moral character with the good use of our money (and by that I mean the money God has given to us as stewards while we live upon this Earth).

Jesus taught that we need to control our money as much as we need to avoid allowing our money to control us. To do that with have to be sensible with our cents.

We need to avoid foolish spending trends like the “tiny home” hot real estate move that often costs anywhere from 25% to 200% more per square foot to own. We don’t need to buy something only because it’s on sale…it doesn’t matter how much we “save” if we spent something on something when we needed nothing to begin with. We do not need to get attached to name-brands that enjoy living off of reputation and not quality. These examples are only a few of the impulsive spending habits that can afflict us. And impulsive spending leads to predictable financial problems.

Jesus had a lot to say about money; and Jesus had a lot to say because finances can not only ruin our eternal life, it can ruin our temporary one too!

Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:11-12)

#finances, #money, #parables, #wisdom

A Real Return On Investment

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.” (Matthew 13:44-45)

Why did the two people in the parables sell everything they had to get what they had found? Because what they had found was more valuable than all they had.

A good point to walk away with from this is that we can put our all into the kingdom of God and we’ll still get a greater return than what we could ever invest because the ROI of Wall Street has nothing on the ROI of the street of gold!

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

#christianity, #investment, #jesus, #kingdom-of-heaven, #parables

To Him Who Thinks He Sits Take Heed Lest He Fall!

But when you come, go and take the lowest seat, so that when the giver of the feast comes, he may say to you, Friend, come up higher; and then you will have honour in the eyes of all the others who are there.” (Luke 14:10 – BBE)

Taking a seat and being given a seat aren’t always the same thing. While they both can be a preference, only one can be done with presumptuousness while the other will only be done with prudence.

It was never Jesus’ goal with his lessons to get a person to think less of themselves per say – his goal was to get people to think rightly of themselves. A failure to think rightly was, and still is, a driving force behind many our decisions that are made wrongly.

While he is better known for saying, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 – NKJV), to this situation the apostle Paul may have said, “To him who thinks he sits take heed lest he falls.

Jesus had no problems with people who wanted to RSVP in the kingdom of God, for that he required; the problem was with people who wanted to proclaim themselves a VIP in the kingdom of God by seating themselves at the table!

Let us all learn the lesson that says pride may lift us up in the eyes of others, but it is the Lord who will sit us down at his table.

And in the same way, let the younger men be ruled by the older ones. Let all of you put away pride and make yourselves ready to be servants: for God is a hater of pride, but he gives grace to those who make themselves low. For this cause make yourselves low under the strong hand of God, so that when the time comes you may be lifted up;” (1 Peter 5:5-6 – BBE)

#humility, #jesus, #kingdom-of-god, #parables, #practial-lessons, #pride, #religion

The Sower

Who is the sower of the Lord’s parable (Matthew 13:3-8)? The explanation does not reveal his identity (vv. 19-23), yet we understand the “seed” to signify the message of the kingdom (v. 19), and later we discover that the sower appears to represent Jesus himself (v. 37). This offers additional clarity to the purpose of his preaching (4:17, 23; 9:35), and the four types of hearers he encountered (13:19-23).

Since the majority rejected, or eventually denied Jesus, we can expect a similar disposition from those who hear our message. Still, in the midst of a sea of rejection, there is the hidden treasure of good and honest hearts (Luke 8:15). These hearts are willing to hear, ready to learn, and capable of producing fruit. Therefore, as you bear witness about the light, remember that while many reject the testimony of Christ, some will believe, and by trusting, they will have life.

#evangelism, #parables, #preaching