Thursday, June 21, 2007



Today I want to sum up the 8 parables in Matthew 13. Remember, Jesus is answering a fundamental question going through the disciples' minds: "Jesus, what's going to happen to the Kingdom now that the Jewish leadership has rejected you as the King?"

Jesus answers with the 8 parables we've been discussing over the last several days. His answer is: FIRST-The Kingdom will consist of the sowing of the word-the good news of the Kingdom. This sowing will be indiscriminate to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. The Kingdom will be a continual invitation to everyone, no matter their background.

SECOND-The Kingdom will consist of two types of people-wheat and tares (false wheat or weeds). In other words, there will be a constant imitation of genuine wheat standing alongside which are the weeds and will be so much like the real thing it will be difficult to sort it all out. So, don't even try. Jesus will take care of the sorting later.

THIRD-The Kingdom will enjoy incredible growth. It will begin with very few-a very small seed like a mustard seed, then that seed will grow immensely into the size of a large bush. That bush will be strong enough for birds to nest there.

FOURTH-The Kingdom will experience an irreversible growth as when leaven or yeast is worked into a large amount of dough. There is no way to remove the leaven once it is present. In the same way, the Kingdom cannot be stopped; it's irreversible.

FIFTH-The Kingdom is a movement where many will enter into it by surprise. They were not looking for the Kingdom, but when they were exposed to it dropped everything in order to embrace it for themselves.

SIXTH-The Kingdom is a movement where there will also be many who will enter it by searching for it. Many spend their lives seeking out the ultimate answers to life. Then, when they discover what they have been searching for in the good news of the Kingdom, they also drop everything and hold on to this discovery for dear life.

SEVENTH-There will be an ultimate accountability at the end of the age and everyone in the great dragnet will be sorted out individually by Jesus, Himself.

EIGHTH-A person who receives and studies the Kingdom is like a person who now can relate to anyone, because he is able to think through all of God's truth. Once you receive this good news message with ears to hear and eyes to see, you will enjoy an ongoing journey of learning and sharing the universal principles of life.

You know what strikes me the most as I think through all 8 parables? There seem to be only two actions on our part. All of the rest is out of our hands altogether. The two actions are:

1. The primary action that we are to be caught up in is the sowing of the seed-the word-the good news of the Kingdom.

2. The secondary action is that we are to be students of the Kingdom as it universally applies to not only our lives, but for all who God brings to our homes.

In other words, what we are to be all about in our life's work is the sharing of the Kingdom and the studying of the Kingdom. For some reason, I missed it all these years. I have spent my time building churches, producing books, audio and video publications, developing my ability to communicate with the masses in the church and corporate arenas, and discussing the many issues of life-all without any thought of the message of the good news of the Kingdom. I've read about it, but I never understood how pervasive this good news of the Kingdom is. And, I also have missed that this Kingdom of God is already right here, right now. How is it going with you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007



Matthew 13:47-52

We come now to the last two of the eight parables in Matthew 13. The first of these is: THE PARABLE OF THE NET 47 "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Whatever else the net means it seems that again Jesus wants to make certain that we understand that there will be a sorting and He will be in charge of that procedure. We don't have to do any sorting whatsoever. In fact, we believe it's clear that you and we cannot do anything with respect to the ultimate results of who are the wicked and who are the righteous.

NOTE the term "wicked" that Jesus seems to use frequently. He isn't speaking of a vile, despicable person, but it seems that "wicked" is used of those who do not hear or welcome the words of Jesus and do not practice them.

The primary issue here for me is that the parable of the net teaches us that there will be an accounting at the end. Also, NOTE that everyone will be caught in the net for the final accounting.

Next, we come to a parable that has been so easily overlooked. I've never even noticed it until recently. It is: THE PARABLE OF THE SCRIBE 51 "Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied. 52 He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."

NOTE Jesus is referring to a person who is a teacher of the law-one who knows the law well. Then, this one who is conversant with the law is taught the message of the Kingdom of heaven. A person in this position is like the owner of a house who is able to share with his guests new things (things of the Kingdom) as well as the old things (the Law). In fact, what we're discovering is that walking with Jesus in the Kingdom lifestyle brings something new and fresh every day. Personally, my learning curve isn't a curve anymore; it's perpendicular! It's the most thrilling adventure ever! So, do everything you can do to come along on this journey with Jesus. You won't be disappointed at all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007



Matthew 13:44-46

This is one of the most fascinating observations about how people actually receive the message of the Kingdom. Jesus offers two ways:
FIRST—44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

SECOND—45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

THE FIRST IS BY SURPRISE—Here is a person, not particularly looking for it, yet finds a treasure hidden in a field. He is overjoyed with his discovery. He hides it again. Then sells all that he has to buy the land where it is!

THE SECOND IS BY SEARCHING—Here is a merchant who has been searching for fine pearls. He finds a fine pearl of great value. Then goes, sells all that he has to buy this valuable pearl!

Do you know people who are like these two? The one who by surprise discovers the Kingdom treasures—the one who never would have imagined being ‘caught dead’ sitting among a group of Jesus followers. This person, along with many onlookers, are quite surprised that he found such a valuable thing.

OR the one who by searching out truth or the meaning of life or whatever, finds himself delighted to have found a satisfaction that no one can take away, so he sold everything he had in order to buy it.

NOTE both have the same response. They each sell all they have and buy their new-found treasure! Now this has nothing to do with purchasing or performing well enough to gain a place in the Kingdom. However, it has everything to do with the comparable value of being with the King in the Kingdom rather than rocking along, living a life that is routine and predictable with all of the traditional comforts of life—all without the King and outside the realm of His Kingdom.

So, how do you value your relationship with the King and His Kingdom? Is it the most valuable, priceless, place to be, ever? Or, is it a convenient place to visit from time to time? This is the difference between being a spectator and a participant!

Monday, June 18, 2007



Matthew 13:36-43

Matthew interrupts the series of the parables of the Kingdom by inserting what Jesus said concerning the wheat and the tares (false wheat): 36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." 37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

NOTE that it is Jesus-the Son of Man-Who is the Sower of the good seed and the devil is the sower of the seed that is called the tares-false wheat. Also note the devil isn't sowing a seed that is much different than the wheat. In other words, he is not sowing seeds that might grow into fruit trees. The devil is sowing seed that looks so similar to the wheat that it can be hard to tell the difference at a glance. The devil is the great counterfeiter of all that God is doing.

Jesus is the sower. So, how does He do this through us? FIRST-Jesus works in us through Incarnation. He lives His life in us. You want to be able to see Jesus at work in and through you. So you are to take on being like Jesus in everything you do!

SECOND-Jesus works through us through the process of Infiltration. Here you are able to see Jesus going along with you. In this way you are a part of God's movement-His Kingdom on earth.

THIRD-Jesus works in and through us through a universal Invitation. That universal invitation is attractive to others. The Kingdom movement is one of attraction, not promotion. The invitation is triggered by a question on the heart of each follower of Jesus: "What can I do to help?"

THINK ABOUT IT IN THESE FOUR WAYS: #1-Jesus is calling you today. a) You who are interested-Believe in Me-whosoever will. b) You who are believers-Follow Me. c) You who are followers-Make Disciples of Me. #2-Jesus believes those He calls are good enough-you can do it. #3-Jesus believes you can be like Him-to perpetuate His Kingdom. #4-Jesus empowers you by His presence as 2 or 3 gather together in His name.

"The Lord says, 'this is a special invitation to all of you who don't have all the answers. Who struggle with life. Who are tired. Who are burned out. Who are bruised. Who struggle with grief. Come to me I will teach you how to trust. I will teach you how to learn. Walk with me, work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to trust and live with joy and freedom.'"

SO, we take on the characteristics of Jesus, because we seek to embrace His teachings and principles as a lifestyle. That's incarnation at its best! We allow Jesus to work through us to infiltrate the society around us. And, we become channels for Jesus to invite the world to Him through us. The wheat-kind of people get this privilege. Those who are tare-like will never know the joy of working that closely with Jesus.

So, in the Kingdom there are two kinds of crops-genuine wheat and weeds that are a counterfeit wheat. Don't worry yourself about sorting them out. It's really none of your business. Jesus will do all of the sorting out at the end. Just focus on being that genuine wheat and be responsive to the One who planted you-Jesus.

Sunday, June 17, 2007



Matthew 13:33

So, now we are at the 4th of 8 parables. 1. Sower-the Kingdom will now be characterized by a massive sowing-an invitation for all to receive the message of the Gospel-essentially Jesus and the Kingdom.

2. Wheat & Tares-the Kingdom will have many imitations that spring up all around the wheat. This is none of your business, just beware of it.

3. Mustard Seed-the Kingdom enjoys incredible growth. Don't be concerned or be discouraged with a small number at first. The Kingdom of God will grow immensely from very small to very great.

33 He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough."

So, the 4th parable is of the leaven. This parable illustrates that the Kingdom of God will be irreversible. Nothing and no one can stop it from spreading-not communism, fascism, racism, religiosity, cults, false religions, or churchianty. You see, when the Kingdom spreads it supersedes all sorts of movements and organizations. This is why to follow Jesus most effectively, we must be Kingdom people first and foremost. To be anything else is to be so much less! This is why your allegiance to a denomination or to a local church (a localized assembly in the name of Jesus) over the Kingdom is foolishness and will be proven to be so.

When you meet King Jesus personally, you must sign off as king of your personal Kingdom and submit to your new King-Jesus. We then move into 3 natural, action steps:

First-seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Jesus, Himself) before and above all others! You are now in partnership with Jesus.

Second-share in His kingdom with all of the other kids of the kingdom! You are now in fellowship with all other followers of Jesus.

Third-spread His kingdom everywhere by the sowing of seed-being salt & light where you are! You are now into discipleship of those Jesus brings your way.

I like to call these three steps the three "ships" in the night-partnership, fellowship and discipleship. Focus yourself on each one of these and you will be enjoying the blessings of the Kingdom.

You what's interesting? The movement of the Kingdom is going on, no matter what you think, say or do. Our primary responsibility is to see where Jesus is at work and go there. The movement of Jesus and the Kingdom is already in motion. The question is whether or not you will join it or start your own. Remember, it's irreversible! It cannot be stopped.

Thursday, June 14, 2007



Matthew 13:31-32

So far we know that the primary activity of the Kingdom is the sowing of the message of Jesus which is the gospel of the Kingdom. We also know that there will be genuine believers and imitation believers in the kingdom. AND NOW, the kingdom is described by another image-the mustard seed.

The 3rd of the 8 parables here in Matthew 13 is the parable of the mustard seed: 31 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches."

The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds of all-almost as small as a grain of pepper. When this seed grows, it grows into a large garden plant or a small tree. This is what is going to happen now in the kingdom. The kingdom of God is going to experience incredible growth!

This has nothing to do with the mega-churches of the USA. In fact, this is not speaking of the organized church at all. The organized church with its signed-in membership may grow locally, but has no chance of penetrating the culture or the marketplace. This is because the organized church tends to have a "holy" facility that must be used, filled and paid for. Therefore, it becomes a paramount thing to invite people to "come to church" and join it to make it a stronger entity in the community. Jesus' thinking always has to do with "going" not "coming" and the only "coming" is to "come" to Jesus, Himself.

The kingdom is a completely different thing. The kingdom of God or the kingdom of Jesus is where the King resides, where the King's presence is. The kingdom is invisible. You certainly don't expect a massive growth, but it occurs silently and covertly and it is the real thing. The kingdom can penetrate any culture and supersedes any organization, no matter how large or active it may be.

By the way, this is why throughout the book of the Acts of Jesus, there is a constant emphasis and demonstration of two themes-the person of Jesus and the kingdom of God. There is no talk of building the church. Well, there is, but it was Jesus Who said, "I will build My church!" What He wants from us is to BE THE CHURCH OF JESUS and to be the church of Jesus is to participate daily with the King, with the King's kids and to embrace the principles and teachings of the King and His Kingdom as a lifestyle.

So you can join a church built by man or join the Kingdom of God, which is the church (assembly or gathering) Jesus is building! You see, you basically can dilute yourself by taking a side-trip of distraction or remain focused on the good news of the Kingdom. Jesus chose the Kingdom over any other gathering or assembly. What will you do?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007



Matthew 13:24-30

Out of all of the eight parables in this section of Matthew, the concept of sowing is the key thought and theme of Jesus' answer to what the Kingdom's going to look like now. In fact, as you make your way through these eight parables you will discover that there is only one of the eight that indicates any great effort on our part. That one is the parable of the Sower.

The seed is the word-the message of the kingdom-the Gospel or good news. Sowing in those days was done by scattering seed widely, not by carefully placing a seed into a pre-dug hole, hoping to water and watch the plant grow up. Sowing is the only action step Jesus sets up for the Kingdom. Sowing is THE KINGDOM ACTIVITY! In other words, we as disciples are to be sowing the seed of the Gospel indiscriminately in all that we do. The Gospel is the most important thing! And remember, THE GOSPEL IS JESUS and THE KINGDOM-the seed is this Kingdom message regarding the King and His rule. We are to share Jesus-the life of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the light of Jesus-simply Jesus to our world. The 4 soils describe the ways in which the seed is received as it is sown.

Now, Jesus' second parable makes an observation and gives a caution: 24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 28 " 'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

29 " 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

THE OBSERVATION? When you are doing the work of sowing, you will likely find tares that are sown along side the wheat. Tares are empty wheat pods-chaff without wheat kernels-false wheat that looks like wheat, but isn't. He applies this observation in that the genuine wheat are those who believe in the Gospel and the tares or weeds are those who look good, but are not genuine followers of Jesus. They are all together in the same field and it may be difficult to tell the difference.

THE CAUTION? The servants' want them to gather up the tares out of the wheat field-to separate the wheat from the weeds. But the owner quickly responds, "Allow both to grow together until the harvest." The reason being that if you attempt to pull out the weeds from the wheat, you are likely to uproot the genuine wheat along with the weeds. In other words, it is none of your business who is IN and who is OUT. Only Jesus knows for sure! And, if we try to separate the genuine followers of Jesus from those who seem to be but are not, then we will most likely damage the genuine wheat in the process.

By the way, this is a favorite pastime of church leadership and it must be stopped! Jesus wants us to sow the seed and He will take care of the results. It's that simple, yet I find it most difficult for a control-freak like me. I want to help Jesus out a bit. BUT I must discipline myself to stick to sowing the seed of the Kingdom in the lives of everyone I meet-from the bank-teller to the toll-booth clerk to your superior to the policeman to the store clerk to the cleaning lady and to your fiercest competitor. Sow the seed of the Kingdom everywhere you go. That's the one thing you are responsible to do in this life before Jesus returns. Just what are you busy doing, if it's not sowing the seed of the Kingdom? What could possibly be more important than this?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007



Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus illustrates receptivity (ears to hear) by the use of four soils-by the side of the road, the rocky places, among the thorns and the good soil. These represent what kind of receptivity you might expect as you participate in the sowing of the seed of the Gospel and, these soils also illustrate the various degrees of receptivity we each experience in our own lives.

Now note the interpretation of these soils: (1) The soil which is along the path. 18 "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When people hear the message about the kingdom and do not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their hearts. This is the seed sown along the path.

NOTE what the message that is being sown here is-the Kingdom. This blows my mind. I have heard this, read it, and taught this passage for many years, but I never saw that the message that is being planted is the message of the Kingdom. And, it is this message that those who are the soil along the path hear, but do not understand. Since there is no understanding of what they are hearing, the seed is snatched away.

(2) The soil which is in rocky places. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to people who hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

NOTE the Kingdom message is referred to in the next three soils as the word. This soil on the rocky ground is quite shallow, therefore the seed cannot take root and lasts for a short time. Jesus points out that the problem here is trouble and persecution. These overcome those who are the soil on the rocky ground. And, it's because of the word or the Kingdom message that they are finding trouble and being persecuted. This persecution is most likely verbal as Jesus has mentioned before.

(3) The soil which is among the thorns. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to people who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

NOTE the seed here falls among the thorns. This is where people hear the word or the Kingdom message and the word is choked. The choking or smothering of the word is due to the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. Worries of this life is when you allow the stresses that surround you and threaten your security to overwhelm you, instead of placing your trust in Him. The deceitfulness of wealth is thinking that there is some sort of security in money, places and things. This is perhaps the greatest "over-promise and under-deliver" proposition in this world, believing this stuff can make you happy or might be fulfilling. The end result is that this soil is unfruitful.

(4) The good soil. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to people who hear the word and understand it. They produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

NOTE that the entire goal has to do with fruitfulness. Only one out of four of the soils is productive or fruitful. And, the fruitfulness listed as the "good soil" here is monumental-phenomenal fruitfulness.

Fruitfulness depends upon four things: FIRST-Open up your heart, being interested in seeing and hearing all God has in store for you.

SECOND-Keep your focus on Jesus and the Kingdom no matter what kinds of trouble and persecution come your way.

THIRD-Refuse to be caught up in the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth. This is trusting in everyone and everything else other than the God of gods.

FOURTH-Let God bring about the fruitfulness. Stop trying to do it yourself.

I see each of these 4 soils as fluid. In other words, we have all been each one of these soils at one time or another. Can you remember the times you were one or more of these soils in your life? One more question: Where are you now?

Monday, June 11, 2007



Matthew 13:1-17

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear."

10 The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" 11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Those who have will be given more, and they will have an abundance. As for those who do not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

Here in Matthew 13 we have just passed the miracle section of chapters 8-12. The Jewish leadership has clearly rejected the Jesus movement of the day and the disciples had to be quite discouraged. Things weren't going their way to move into power with Jesus as the King and to expel the Roman oppressors. So, the logical question in the minds of the disciples is: "Jesus, what's the Kingdom going to look like now?"

Jesus answers this question with a series of 8 parables that describe the present nature of the Kingdom. He used parables to reveal Kingdom truth to those who were leaning in and to conceal the Kingdom truth from those who were dead-set against it.

Since the disciples had eyes to see and ears to hear, Jesus gave them the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven. The secrets of the Kingdom make up the message Jesus came to present to the world.

NOTE Jesus says that those who have the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom will be given more and will have an abundance. For those who do not have the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom, what they have will be taken away.

It all boils down to problems with the eyes and the ears. Check out what Jesus says next: 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Jesus says that many prophets and righteous people longed to see the Kingdom that He came to bring to the world. Now that the Kingdom is here, it's vital to HAVE EYES TO SEE AND EARS TO HEAR. Be sure to frequently check out your eyes and ears so that you can see and hear what God has brought to you. By the way, having eyes to see and ears to hear is just another way of saying IT'S A MATTER OF THE HEART. So, how well are YOUR eyes seeing and YOUR ears hearing? Check your heart!

Sunday, June 10, 2007



Matthew 11:11-19

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

16 "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 17 " 'We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

The world conditions were ready for something different to catch their attention and turn their hearts toward God. There was much religiosity and secularism thriving at that time, but "authenticity" was woefully lacking. John's attractiveness was that he was authentic-the real deal. He took on a pose in announcing the Kingdom that was almost the opposite of the religious setting of the day and people were hungry for it. He didn't wear the flowing robes of the priestly or religious class, didn't operate in or around the beautiful Temple, didn't have a religious air to him, and was not playing games any longer. This authentic message of turning back to God (repentance) and looking for the Messiah was most refreshing, even if they had to travel out into the country to hear it. It was a Kingdom message.

NOTE that John came with a serious tone like singing a dirge at a funeral to catch the attention of those who were playing games with their faith. Jesus, on the other hand, came with more of a tone of a wedding party where music was being played for dancing. Yet, Jesus says that this generation responded negatively to both! To John they claimed he had a demon and to Jesus they were critical of His partying, calling Him a drunkard, gluttonous and a friend of sinners. "Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds" means that the actions of those who respond will speak most clearly and loudly.

It seems we live in a very similar context today in our world-filled with religiosity, spiritualism and secularism. We are in need of a breath of authenticity like never before. In a day when the mega-church is easily made into a distant show to watch and enjoy without personal engagement and where the small church can easily be so boring with the predictable program and needs, where personal engagement leads to certain burnout. We desperately need authenticity! I believe that authenticity is to be found among those who are interested in walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting for Jesus to lead out. In other words, authenticity today must come from many Elijah-like followers of Jesus who are preparing the way for the Messiah to show up. John showed up with great authenticity and then Jesus continues to show up as promised-"where two or three gather in My name, there I will be in their midst."

Also, in addition to this authenticity introduced by John and Jesus, Jesus offers Himself as the answer to all of the inauthentic religious approaches on the planet.

28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Jesus now offers the most simple explanation of what it means to believe in Jesus' way versus the ways of the religious. Remember the call of Matthew that illustrated how it works? The whole world is out to try to make themselves right before God by jumping through all sorts of hoops. That's religion-trying to avoid going to hell-conduct life in such a way so as to be accepted by God. Jesus only requires a personal relationship with Him-"Come to Me." It's a relationship-been to hell and don't want to go back. Much of the hell we experience in life is trying to conduct our lives in such a way so as to be accepted before God.

Jesus invites all who are sick and tired and weighed down by all of the do's and don'ts of trying to be acceptable to God, to simply come to Him. Just come to Jesus and He will give you rest. He gives you rest in two ways-salvation rest (you are accepted by God just the way you are) and rest for your soul (stop the treadmill of stress). This is the most amazing thing ever! Jesus is the only one who can make you acceptable, simply by coming to Him. He'll do the rest!

You see, when you are called to be a disciple, you are called to rest. I am just now understanding this. Although I have known the grace of God, I have been frantically "doing" everything I could do to prove that I am acceptable. I have acted more like a human "doing" rather than a human "being." Jesus wants me to simply come to Him, take on His yoke and learn from Him, so that I will find REST for my soul. This blows my mind! How about you?

Thursday, June 07, 2007



Matthew 10

We are dipping into every mention of the Kingdom in the book of Matthew. After examining the Kingdom Manifesto Jesus presented in chapters 5, 6, and 7, we have viewed chapters 8 and 9. Now, we come to one of the most fascinating scenes in the life of Jesus and His disciples.

Here in chapter 10 Jesus is sending the twelve out on a special field trip. NOTE what happens here: Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.'

Jesus gives His disciples the authority and power to deliver people from the bondage of evil spirits and heal every disease and sickness.

Now, what's interesting to me is that this is early in the training of the disciples. They weren't even believers yet! They are on a learning track, but they are not there yet. However, in a real sense, this is what the Kingdom is all about. The Kingdom isn't about how well or spiritually healthy or powerful the subjects are; it's all about the King. As they moved out in the name of Jesus, it was that name and the message of the Kingdom that produced the positive results and impact.

Now NOTE the message that was to be proclaimed by these fledglings: "THE KINDOM OF HEAVEN HAS COME NEAR." Ever since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, there has been a constant theme throughout the ages-regaining the Garden of Eden experience. Ever since the first couple lost the Kingdom, the abiding presence of God and the personal relationship with their Creator-God, mankind has been seeking to be restored to that Garden.

NOW, Jesus shows up with the answer to all that was lost. His humanity gives us the opportunity to re-establish a personal relationship with the Creator-God. He introduced the abiding presence of the Creator-God for all to enjoy again on a permanent basis through the Spirit. And, as the King, Jesus re-introduces the long awaited Kingdom. For the disciples to be announcing everywhere that the Kingdom of heaven has come near is the most revolutionary and welcomed message anyone could utter.

Jesus goes on to specify what this Kingdom message includes: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Luke records an interchange between the disciples of John and Jesus that is very instructive about the Kingdom: When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' " At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

John was looking for certain Messianic acts that specifically were to be performed by the Messiah. These acts were all indicative of the King and His Kingdom.

· The sick are healed. · The dead are raised. · The blind receive sight. · The lame walk. · The lepers cleansed. · The deaf hear. · The demonized are freed. · The poor are given the good news.

In other words, the good news of the Kingdom-the key message Jesus wanted proclaimed-is all about restoration of those who are in some way "marginalized" in our society.

What's interesting to me is that Jesus wasn't about sharing a list of things to do or to believe. Jesus was into practicing these good news themes of the Kingdom.

NOW bringing this down to today, how might this apply to you and me? To me there seem to be three primary lessons from this passage in Matthew 10:

FIRST-The message we are to be sharing with the world is the good news of the Kingdom.

SECOND-The Kingdom message is to be aimed at the marginalized-those who need Jesus and His healing touch the most.

THIRD-As we focus ourselves on this message of the good news of the Kingdom to the marginalized, we can be highly confident that Jesus is with us and gives us the power and authority to do what He wants.

You see, Jesus sent out the 12 as Kingdom of God revolutionaries and nothing changes today. You and I are to be Kingdom revolutionaries to the marginalized in our world today. You see, THE REVOLUTION IS STILL ON and Jesus is the great revolutionary leading the way.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007



Matthew 9

In the ninth chapter of Matthew we come to a series of incidences that illustrate King Jesus preaching and practicing the good news of the Kingdom.

FIRST-Jesus had the authority to forgive sins-1-8. SECOND-Jesus had the authority to welcome sinners into the Kingdom without requiring them to go through an obstacle course for approval-9-13.

ALL RELIGIONS seek to bring man into a right standing with God! You must perform some religious acts-follow religious tenets. Over the centuries they used child sacrifice-human sacrifices-animal sacrifices-to pay.

This is the lesson of the call of Matthew! Jesus is saying to all of the non-religious, "YOU ARE WELCOME. NOW COME ALONG AND FOLLOW ME!"

THIRD-Jesus had the authority to offer Himself as the new wine for new wineskins-14-17. Jesus makes it clear that those who follow Him are very different from all of the other "religious" people. Those who follow Jesus will be drinking a new wine-Jesus. And what is the new wineskin Jesus is referring to? The new wineskins are those of us who believe in Jesus. Jesus is the new wine and we are the wineskins. Think of it! We contain the new wine-JESUS-and this new wine is the only real significance we have!

FOURTH-Jesus had the authority over death (Jairus' daughter) and touched an unclean woman to heal her from a 12 year-long disease-18-26.

FIFTH-Jesus had the authority over the blind, the mute and the demonized-27-35.

Each incident of healing in these verses offers an additional picture of faith-simple, yet real faith-personal trust in Jesus and what He can do.

The first incident here is the healing of two blind men. It's interesting to note that these blind men came to Jesus with an obvious request-to be able to see again! Jesus directly asks them if they really believe He is able to make them see. As soon as He got their answer, He immediately touched their eyes saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith."

I wonder how much of our blindness has to do with our lack of belief-faith and trust. I must admit that I have not been one who ruthlessly trusts in Jesus. My spiritual stance has been to trust Jesus and do all I can do to make things happen. We are learning-slowly-to trust Jesus with everything. I want to be able to see again. How about you?

The second incident here is the healing of a mute man who could not speak because of demonic oppression. He was brought to Jesus and Jesus immediately went to work and healed the man so that he could talk again.

There are two definite responses regarding this particular miracle. 1. "Never seen anything like this before." They were amazed! 2. "His power is from the ruler of the demons." They were annoyed!

This is one of the 3 miracles the Jewish people had always believed the Messiah would be able to perform when He showed up. The 3 miracles were: · The healing of a leper. · The healing of a man born blind. · The healing of a man who was not able to hear and speak.

To be amazed by this miracle was to be receptive to the possibility that Jesus might indeed be the Messiah. To be annoyed by this miracle was to be threatened by the possibility that this radical Jesus might indeed be the Messiah.

What if Jesus were to do something outside your box of expectations? How might you respond? Would you be threatened or would you simply trust Him. Personally, I suggest you learn to trust Him.

After these Kingdom miracles, Matthew summarizes what Jesus is doing: 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

The "good news" of the Kingdom was good news because of the King-Jesus.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Matthew 8:5-13

We are presently dipping into the book of Matthew to examine the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom. We just finished Matthew 5, 6 and 7 where Jesus sets forth almost a Kingdom Manifesto. After this dynamite message, Matthew sets forth a section on the miracles of Jesus (Matthew 8-12). And, in each chapter-8, 9, 10, 11 and 12-Jesus makes some reference to the Kingdom.

Here in chapter 8 of Matthew Jesus encounters a Roman centurion who is asking for Jesus to heal one of his servants. Let's look at it:

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly."

7 Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?"

8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

This is a simple reference to the Kingdom, but it speaks volumes. A Roman centurion, a non-Jew, or in application to today you might say this man is a non-Christian. He does not come from any "acceptable" religious background (an outsider), yet he expresses a most remarkable faith-a faith so outstanding that it far exceeds any faith of an insider.

I want to offer four observations from this encounter about the Kingdom: FIRST-Jesus makes it clear that the Kingdom is for many "outsiders" coming from the east and the west. This is the message of the entire Scripture. The Lord chose the Jewish people to be a blessing to the nations of the world. The Kingdom was never to be owned by the Jews and kept for themselves.

SECOND-Jesus makes it clear that what is required of an "outsider" is a simple active faith in Jesus-what He says and does and can do. He believed in Jesus enough to act as if it was true.

THIRD-Jesus doesn't require this "outsider" to become an "insider". He doesn't stop the centurion after he displays his active faith and insist that he go quickly and take a course in "insider" doctrinal studies. He doesn't urge the centurion to join a local synagogue. He let him go with his active faith as if it was enough.

FOURTH-It's clear to me from this encounter that Jesus demonstrates the bottom-line of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not about a set of beliefs, not a commitment to an order, nor to an institution, nor a movement, nor a code of conduct-you are attached primarily to a Person, and secondarily to these other things. The person? His name is Jesus.

Monday, June 04, 2007



Matthew 7:13-29

For the past few weeks we have been dipping into Matthew to pick up on Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom. Today we are coming to the end of the most fertile words of Jesus on the Kingdom. He ends this section speaking about 2 ways or gates (narrow and wide), 2 guides or prophets (true and false) and two foundations (on the sand and on the rock).

First, the two gates: 13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

NOTE the results of each. The narrow gate leads to life and the wide gate leads to destruction. In a very real sense, we are left with two choices. Do we enter by the narrow gate that is difficult where few will find it? Or, do we enter by the wide gate that is easy and many will find it?

NOTE also Jesus begins with the command urging us to enter in through the narrow gate. Remember, the entire Sermon on the Mount is answering the question, "How does your teaching differ from what we've been taught, Jesus?" His answer here is that to follow Him and His teaching will be difficult, but will lead to life. To choose not to follow Him and His teaching will be the easiest thing to do, because the masses are going in that direction. Don't follow the crowd; follow Jesus.

Jesus next speaks of two guides or prophets: 15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Unfortunately, false prophets don't wear an FP on their sleeves or foreheads. Jesus warns that there will be false prophets who seem harmless, but are out to destroy. He says that you can decipher them by their fruits. But even this may be difficult to judge (conclusively judge) whether or not a prophet is false or genuine, because many false prophets show a certain kind of fruitfulness in what they do. That's what makes them so attractive and authentic.

But NOTE what the test here really is. The term fruit is the operative word here. In order to check out a prophet's fruit (not their show or outward demonstration), you need to observe the person and ministry over a prolonged period of time. It takes time to produce fruit. There is no instant fruit. So watch for the fruit over a long period of time and you'll know.

Now NOTE what these false prophets actually do. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Jesus says that there will be people who come before Him in the last days, calling Him Lord, but will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Just using the right language will not get a person into the kingdom of heaven. HOWEVER, the one who does the will of the Father will enter-the person who not only talks a good game, but walks it and proves it out by his actions.

These people, Jesus says, will do 3 things that will make it all the more difficult to discern whether or not a person is a false prophet. · They speak in the name of Jesus. · They cast out demons in the name of Jesus. · They perform many miracles in the name of Jesus.

WOW! These are some powerful things that the false prophets do. So how can you tell the difference between the false and the genuine? The only answer Jesus gives here is that you will know them by their fruits, so watch what they do.

2 GATES (narrow and wide) and 2 GUIDES (true and false). Now, Jesus finishes up these pairings with 2 FOUNDATIONS. 24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

The 2 Foundations are representative of people as they build their lives. Compare the two foundations. Each person hears the words of Jesus and each person faces the same rain, floods, and blowing winds slamming against them.

NOTE also the differences between the two. Each person responds differently to the words he has heard-one by acting upon the words of Jesus & the other by not acting upon them. Then, each person experiences a different result-one does not fall down and the other falls flat!

I am now convinced that most of us, most of the time, have lived our lives founded upon the sand. It's what I call the "sandcastle lifestyle". What Jesus is saying is so simple and so profound. Jesus wants only two things from us.

FIRST-He wants each of us to listen to His words. Instead of talking all of the time when you pray, try sitting still and waiting for Jesus to speak to you. You'll know what He wants from you. You'll know what His will is for you. I regret to say that I have spent most of my life talking and not listening. Therefore, I have missed out on what Jesus is attempting to say to me. It's as simple and as tragic as that.

SECOND-He wants each of us to act upon what He says to do. Listen to Jesus and do what He says to do-no more and no less.

NOW, NOTE THE RESULTS: If you hear His words and are careful to do them, no matter what comes in against you, your house will not collapse! If you hear His words and don't do them, the very same rain, floods, and winds will come upon you, then your house will fall flat-dramatically!

The response to Jesus' words is truly amazing: 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Jesus didn't quote other authorities to make His point. He spoke from His own authority. Jesus spoke so powerfully that it amazed all those who heard Him. This Jesus is for real! Jesus is so attractive! Jesus is the most irresistible One Who ever lived!