Tag Archives: parables

Song of Solomon 1-3; Psalm 94; Matthew 18

I’ve spent the last few weekends going through boxes in my basement. I have run across pictures I had forgotten, relived memories of special occasions, and gotten to see the faces of loved ones who have passed away—my mom, dad, brother, grandparents. In one corner of the basement are all the boxes I brought from my mother’s house after she died. They have been untouched for five years. One box, in particular, contained an old brown picture album with the black pages where the pictures were neatly held in place at the corners. As I went through the pictures, I wish so much my mother was there. She would have remembered who everyone was. She would have reminded me of the details of stories I thought I’d never forget—yet I have. I wanted to ask her so many questions. I wish I had written names on the back of pictures or written down the stories of our relatives and their lives. There was so much wisdom that was shared by generations but forgotten over time.

Reading through the parables in Matthew 18, I thought of Jesus and how important it was for him to share the words his father gave him for us. How blessed we are to have them written down so we won’t forget! I can imagine a sense of urgency each day that he was here knowing it was only a short amount of time before he would be gone from the disciples. As he taught them, they listened to the stories, and, unlike me with all the stories my mom shared, they remembered them. I’ve read these stories many times over the years but they have changed. They have become personal. It’s almost as if, in my mind’s eye, I can see Jesus looking past the people he’s with and looking directly at me as he speaks. I feel like he really wants me to get it!

In this chapter, there were some harsh words of warning against causing another to sin:

6“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

His teaching on the lost sheep reminded me of my own story and how I was once that lost sheep he came and rescued. 14“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” Thank you, Jesus, for coming after me!

He gives us a story on forgiveness and how important it is—especially considering how much we’ve been forgiven!  22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Psalm 94 reminds me that I am blessed to have the Lord’s teaching, even if it comes in the form of discipline. His words are meant to protect me.

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.

I am so thankful that God has not left me here without any kind of direction. I have his Word and his Spirit to guide me. I love to imagine myself sitting on the ground, legs crisscrossed, at the feet of Jesus listening intently as he teaches about the goodness of his Father. He tells me of his great love for me—ME—that lost sheep who had almost given up. Who is such a sinner. Yet he tells me I’m forgiven, and because of that, I’m to forgive others.

Heavenly Father, your love continually amazes me. The depth of love you have for us is shown through Jesus. I pray I will always sit at his feet and listen to his stories—stories of you. In His name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 9-11; Mark 4

I used to live in a house with an east/west exposure. In the summer, thunderstorms usually rolled in from the west and moved to the east.  After they passed, I would always go to our back door and wait expectantly for the sun to come back out because I knew I would be delighted by the sight of a rainbow as the dark clouds moved into the distance.  Sometimes the rainbows were faint, but other times they were bright and vibrant with color! One day I was driving home from work and I had to pull over because there was a double rainbow—one on top of the other.  Seriously, how can anyone look up in the sky and not become excited about seeing a beautiful rainbow?

After I became a believer, the sight of a rainbow took on a whole new meaning. I would look at it and think about God and how He made a covenant, a promise to all of humanity, to never again destroy the earth through flooding.  Genesis 9 says this:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (emphasis mine) NIV

Did you catch that? Every time you look up and see a rainbow, God is looking down and seeing it as well!  God is remembering us as we remember Him.  Though we know God never forgets, how encouraging it is to think that a rainbow makes Him think of us and all of His creation and He remembers His promise!

In Mark 4, Jesus says:

23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

He says this as He is sharing several parables about hearing God’s Word (the seed and the soil, the growing seed). He wants us to understand what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through God’s Word.  The bible is full of God’s promises to us (His seed)—He remembers every one of them even when we don’t.  What are we going to do when we hear them?  Are we going to let them be snatched by Satan (Mk 4:15) or let them take root deep in our souls (Mk 4:20,27)?  We need the deep roots–it is the only way we survive those floods that come into our life!  You see, God did not say He would never again send floods; He said He would never again destroy through floods.  I’ve had some floods in my life where I thought for sure I was going to drown.  It was only God’s promises that kept me going—His Word, His seed.   13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds...   His promises are for all of us.

Heavenly Father, no matter what is going on in my life, let me hold fast to your promises. I want to see a rainbow and know that you are thinking of me, I want to hear your Word and know you are speaking to me.  I want Your words to be roots that go deep–so deep that I will become unmovable in my trust in who You are and what You say—no matter what comes.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 42-43; Matthew 13:33-58

…He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you…” Genesis 43:23

When I go into the villages to share the gospel, I often tell a story of hidden treasure:

Every day a farmer goes to the landowner’s fields with his ox and plow to work the land. Every day he guides his ox up one row and down another. It is a boring job that he can do almost without paying attention.

He plows each row, daydreaming about the things he’d love to be doing if he had the chance. Up and down. Up and down.

THUMP!

Shocked out of his fantasies, he wondered what the plow had hit. He left the ox and plow where they stood and walked a few steps back to the spot.

He knelt down in the dirt, and with his hand slowly began moving away the soil. Piece by piece…lump by lump…until his fingers touched a hard object at the bottom of the hole he had dug. He pulled an iron pot out of the earth. It was small, black and dirty. He lifted the lid and looked into the vessel.

He was amazed at what he saw.

He looked around to see if anyone was watching. When he saw that he was alone, he reached into the pot and pulled out gold and silver. He pulled out diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires and pearls and other gems he didn’t even have names for. There was more treasure in the small pot then he could ever imagine.

He quickly put the treasure back into the pot, closing the lid tightly. He put the pot back into the earth. Then he covered the pot with the soil and put a stone above the place to mark it. He walked to the ox and plow and started to work again.

The whole rest of the day he couldn’t stop thinking about what he had found. The treasure amounted to a fortune that he could never earn. He couldn’t just take it; that would be stealing. By evening, he knew what he had to do.

The next day he sold his family cow, and the goats, and the chickens. His sons were irritated when they saw their inheritance was gone. Then he sold all of the things inside his hut – the sleeping mats, the blankets and pillows, even the cooking pots. His daughters were annoyed that they no longer had a dowry. And last, he sold his hut. His wife was outraged that their family was now homeless. Everyone in the village thought he’d gone crazy. But he didn’t care. He knew something that they didn’t.

He took the small amount of money he’d been able to collect to the man who hired him to plow the land each day.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it is everything I have to give. Will you sell this land to me?” He asked.

The piece of land the farmer asked to buy was small compared to some of the landowner’s other plots. Though there was a trickling stream running through the corner of the land, the earth there wasn’t strong or healthy and it had never given a profitable harvest. The landowner thought the farmer was a little peculiar but agreed to the price and sold him the land.

The farmer immediately walked to the field he now owned. He went to the spot he’d marked with the stone and swiftly uncovered the treasure that now belonged to him. He was full of joy at the great gift that he had found. And he couldn’t wait to share the good news with his family.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

The greatest treasure I have ever found is the gift of Christ’s sacrifice for me on the cross, His death and resurrection…salvation. It is what allows me to truly experience joy, and I have given everything I have to have access to that treasure.

And at the same time, I believe that Jesus looked at me as the treasure, covered in muck and miry clay, hidden in sin. He wanted me to be His for eternity, so He gave up everything, sold it all joyfully, so that He could buy the field I was buried in and claim me as His own.

Yesappa, Thank You…

Blessings – Julie (written in Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 41; Matthew 13:1-32

Faith (that’s her name) loves Jesus and trusts him as wholeheartedly as I have ever seen a living human do. At age 82, she travels to Bangladesh to help run the mission orphanage, clinic and women’s work center. In a conversation with her, she told me of a story representative of the difficulties that they face. She had flown in from the States and was taking the 6-8 hour drive to the mission. Dead tired, she fell asleep on the bus. In a panic, her companions woke her when their bus came to a halt. A rioting crowd had seized the bus ahead of them and set it on fire. Faith’s response was that she had nothing else to offer them as Jesus was in control of the situation and begged to go back to sleep. Long and short of it was that they got to the mission safely. Deep down, I want my friend’s incredible trust and love for Jesus. I want faith like hers.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31-32

It’s no accident that the parable of the mustard seed is preceded by parables about the Sower and the Weeds. My friend and I have been given the mustard seed of faith. She’s tended her garden well over the years. Her faith has grown  into  an incredible tree that offers shelter to widows and orphans.  Jesus is alive and well in her corner of Bangladesh. Her life and the words of Jesus challenge me to look at the “soil” of my life.

What weeds and rocks need to go? What’s in the garden that resists growth? Maybe it’s a quick fix: too much tv, too much time on the internet (pull the plug). Maybe it’s more deeply rooted weeds: self pity, envy or judgement. Maybe it’s something more along the lines of what Joseph had to let go of: bitterness and pain. I am sure is looks differently for each one of us. Whatever it is, I want those obstacles to growth exposed and out so that there is more room for wonder of God’s grace at work. May it be so.

klueh

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Job 30, 31 Matthew 13:31-58

The kingdom of heaven is like…Matthew 13:31, 33,44,45,47

  • A mustard seed
  • Yeast
  • A treasure hidden in a field
  • A merchant hunting for fine pearls
  • A fisherman’s net

It’s hard focusing on heaven when your life looks like Job’s.  People wonder how God can allow good people to suffer. One of my friends sees God as more of a villain than a hero.

“If that’s how God treats people, then I don’t want anything to do with him,” she said. I didn’t know how to respond.

I’m thankful God’s existence doesn’t depend on our opinions.  Job had every reason to wish God away, yet he never lost faith in his Creator.

I have another friend who focuses on heaven during her “storm walking”. The difference between the two experiences? One friend is looking at the wind and waves; the other is looking at the One who created the wind and waves.

I don’t know what heaven will be like. I just want everyone I love to be there. I guess I need to get busy. Get my hands messy. Mix it up. Find some treasure. Go where the fish are. Share the pearls. Plant some seeds. Watch the kingdom grow.

Lord God thank you for making room in the kingdom of heaven for “blameless” sufferers like Job and sin cleansed believers like me. I pray for everyone to come to know You and your only Son Jesus who sacrificed his life to cover the sins of the world. Amen

yicareggie

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Joshua 12,13; Psalm 145; Jeremiah 6; Matthew 20

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’    Matthew 20:9;12

I tend to place myself within parables as I read them (always identifying with the most godly of the story’s characters, of course!).  After I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I instead imagined a scene from my future:

I walk into Heaven after serving God for most of my long life and find myself face to face with a couple of Nazis.

Huh?  This is Heaven right?  What’s going on here?

I suddenly recall reading the testimony of the U.S. Army chaplain assigned to minister to the surviving leaders of the Third Reich during their year-long trial at Nuremburg.  He claimed several were saved, including the chief of the German armed forces and the head of their massive slave labor force.  As I stand in Heaven staring them straight in the eye, I see that he was right.  I’m not sure how I feel about sharing the same eternal fate as men who were personally responsible for the deaths of tens of millions and caused great misery for hundreds of millions more.  They dedicated themselves to God only in the eleventh hour as they approached their executions.  Something doesn’t seem right.  Something doesn’t seem fair.

I look around the golden city and marvel at this, my eternal reward, and then start to wonder anew if I’m really being given nothing more than the reward these reformed killers have received.  Suddenly my eyes fall upon Jesus.  He’s looking at me with an expression that suggests He’s waiting for something to click within my mind.  Finally it does.  I realize that this eternal reward I feel slighted in having to share with the Nazis is a reward that Jesus alone actually earned.  Fairness to Jesus would require that I  take up residence in hell.  I’m only here because of God’s grace.  How then can I be wishing, even for a moment, that He apply a little justice to someone else?

I see Jesus is still waiting, and my thoughts break through yet another wall.  I might be sharing the same eternal fate as men who rebelled against God to a degree that few others in history ever have, but it’s SO wrong to think that God has blessed us equally.  We might be neighbors in Heaven, but I was given something they never were.  They served God only toward the end of lives filled with evil.  On the other hand, God prevented me from committing such levels of evil, and blessed me by drawing me to Him early in life.  These men lived most of their lives in service to themselves.  I was invited to live most of my life in service to the Great and Holy King.  What an unparalleled privilege!

Dear Lord, thank you for mercy rather than justice.  Destroy my lingering love of fairness.  Replace it with an ever greater love of goodness and grace.  Amen.

Michael   (mmattix)

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