Monthly Archives: July, 2015

More Than a Story: Kingdom-Focused

[Matthew 13]

Contains EIGHT parables!! All of these parables speak about the kingdom of heaven.

  • Parable of the Sower
    • Readiness to hear and receive the Message of the kingdom of heaven.
  • Three parables about growth: Weeds, Mustard Seed, Yeast/Leaven
    • Parable of the Weeds – weeds among good seed, test between true disciples and others.
    • Parable of the Mustard Seed – seed into large tree
    • Parable of the Yeast – hidden in the flour till all leavened
    • Mustard Seed & Yeast speak about small beginnings. God’s work may appear unimpressive at first but appearances are deceptive. BE PATIENT. Little equals big when God is at work.
  • Three more parables: Hidden Treasure, Pearl of Great Value, Net
    • Parable of the Hidden Treasure shows wholehearted response to Kingdom of heaven—no sacrifice is too large and equals joy and fulfillment
    • The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value – when found sold all had and – similar to Hidden Treasure
    • The Parable of the Net – fish of every kind, sorted good in containers and threw out the bad
    • The Net is similar to the Weeds – sorting good & bad. The church will always be mixed until the final judgment.
  • Parable of the Householder / Master of the House – speaks of new treasures (the teaching of Jesus Christ) and old truths

Readiness

  • ready to hear and receive the Message (Parable of the Sower)
  • ready to give Jesus first place (Parable of the Hidden Treasure, Parable of the Pearl of Great Value)
  • ready for testing (Parable of the Weeds, Parable of the Net)

Faithfulness

  • faith to allow God to grow you into who He made you to be for greater things (Parable of the Mustard Seed, Parable of the Yeast)
  • faith to follow God’s leading and to adhere to God’s timing (Parable of the Mustard Seed, Parable of the Yeast)
  • faith to speak the Truth (Parable of the householder)

Bible Study Questions:

1) Looking at the Parable of the Weeds, why did the master want to wait for the harvest time to gather the weeds? What does this mean for us?

2) Let us consider leaven. In the Parable of the Leaven, the passage says that the woman puts a little leaven in the flour and then it all was leavened. She added some leaven and all was impacted. What does this mean for us?

3) The Parable of the Leaven speaks about inner growth, while the Parable of the Mustard Seed focuses on outside growth. Do you think one is more important than the other? Do you think they are related?

4) The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value both talk about selling all that was owned for the field containing the treasure and the pearl. What is the risk in selling all you have? What might slow you down or keep you from doing this? What does this mean for us?

5) The Parable of the Net speaks about gathering fish of every kind. It also speaks about the net being full. What is the takeaway when looking at the gathering of the diverse fish? What are your thoughts on the net being full?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

More Than a Story: Faithfulness

[The Loaned Money: Matthew 25:14-30]

  • Also known as the Parable of the Talents
  • A talent is a monetary unit worth about 20 years’ worth of wages.
  • Talent is useless if it is not used.
  • No one is without talent.
  • Talents given according to ability – 5, 2, 1

Responsibility – Faithful over little, set you over much – Action is required

Time – Talent – Treasure

 

  • We are to be RESPONSIBLE and CREATIVE
  • We are all different but His expectations are always appropriate.
  • Talents (Resources from God) + Action for God + Time (Gift from God)

                                                                                   = Profit for Kingdom

The third servant – the evil, lazy servant…

  • Hid the talent because he was concerned with safety more than service
  • To avoid not doing anything wrong, he ended up not doing anything right.

To be faithful, one must be:

  • Focused on Jesus – All about Jesus, growing His Kingdom (Colossians 3:17)
  • Founded in Jesus – Abide in Him (John 15)
  • Fearless for Jesus – Hope in Jesus = Boldness/Courage (2 Corinthians 3:12)

Bible Study Questions:

1) What was the Master’s commendations for the two successful servants?

2) What did the Master do for the successful servants?

3) The unfaithful servant was described as three words. How was he described?

4) What happened to the unfaithful servant when the Master returned?

5) How do we bury the talents God has given us?

6) How can we discover our talents? How can we use them for God’s glory?

7) How can we encourage others with their talents?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

More Than a Story: Readiness

[The Ten Bridesmaids: Matthew 25:1-13]

Also known as the Parable of the Ten Virgins

Not good and bad women– WISE and FOOLISH women.

Context: Disciples requested knowledge of a sign or signal of the coming of Jesus. (see Matthew 24:3)

  • These ten women are waiting to escort the bridegroom for the torch lighting procession at the end of the ceremony as the bride is brought home.
  • The torches/lamps would likely have been oil soaked rags on a stick. They would burn a few minutes and then be put back into the oil. If there was no more oil for lamp, they would have burnt out as soon as lit.

There was a delay – the church must be prepared to wait for PAROUSIA (pair-oo-see-ah) means “coming” or “presence” – used when discussing Second Coming of Christ in New Testament.

  • They couldn’t share their oil with the others. We cannot share our salvation with others.
  • There is a time of no return—when it is too late to change. The opportunity is lost.
  • Outcome is heaven or hell – Matthew 25:11-12, Matthew 7:21-23

The lack of oil is similar to running out of gas.

  • Miss warning signs
  • False confidence
  • Incorrect calculations – think they can get it later

The five foolish women did not run out of oil—they never had the oil.

ARE YOU READY??

Bible Study Questions

1) There are five wise women and five foolish women. Who are the five wise? Who are the five foolish?

2) This parable distinguishes between two groups. What were the similarities between the wise women and foolish women?

3) Read Matthew 7:23. Reread verse 12 from today’s parable. What can you notice from both of these verses? What does this mean?

4) Many scholars believe the oil represents the Holy Spirit. The lamp has been called the Lamp of Profession. How does one receive the Holy Spirit?

5) How could these foolish women believe they would escort the bridegroom without the oil?

6) We cannot share our salvation with others, but what can we do before the Parousia (Second Coming of Christ)?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

The Bees Strike Again

I was just the victim of an underground bee attack again. Two years in a row! Thankfully I did not find myself being rushed to the hospital with hives. Like last year, I sustained numerous stings which resulted in intense swelling. A friend asked me why I won’t leave the bees alone, as if I was purposely trying to bother them. Underground bees are just that – underground. You don’t know where they are at until you have already agitated them by disrupting their nest area.

Once you realize that you have discovered an underground nest, it is too late. They all come out in formation and start attacking all extremities. But as I said, you don’t know it until you find yourself in a mix of bees. It is the same way with sin sometimes. It’s not like you walk forward and follow a particular direction where there is this sign marked “Beware Sin Ahead,” and you cross on through. Many times you do not even realize that you are venturing in the “sin zone.” At times you slowly creep in despite the Spirit’s convictions, and you do not truly understand the impact the sin will have on your life until you are in the mix. Sometimes the devil says, “Just this once won’t hurt.” What a lie!

Today may the Holy Spirit reveal and convict you of any ongoing sin in your life. May you have ears to hear and a heart that follows. May the Spirit strengthen you to face any temptations that come your way. May you show grace and truth in love to those who are caught in the mix of sin, and pray that they may repent and turn to Christ.

Read Psalm 51.

More Than a Story: Repentance

[Luke 15 – The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, The Lost Son]

We are all at one time LOST and need to REPENT

We aren’t meant to do life alone

We realize that with our Pig Pod Moment and change of mind (see v. 16)

No matter the sin / sinner, all those who repent are forgiven / accepted / loved.

Once we are FOUND, what can we do as a child of God / disciple of Jesus:

  • Go After – “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? (v. 4 NASB)
    • To Go – poreuomai (por-yoo’-om-ahee) – travel, journey, go, moving something from one destination to another
  • Seek Diligently – “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?” ( v. 8 ESV)
    • Diligently – epimelós (ep-ee-mel-oce’) – carefully
  • Embrace – “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (v. 20 NLT)
    • Embraced – epipiptó (ep-ee-pip’-to) – to embrace with affection, fall upon, gripped
  • Rejoice – vs. 5 “rejoicing” v. 6,9 “rejoice with me”, “celebrate” v. 23-24
    • Rejoice – sugchairó (soong-khah’-ee-ro) – rejoicing in God’s grace, rejoice together
    • Celebrate – euphrainó (yoo-frah’-ee-no) – merry outlook, joyous, feeling sense of victory

Bible Study Questions:

1) These three parables are told together and there is a shared theme – repentance. Jesus was with a particular group of people when he told these parables. Who was He speaking to and what started the “storytelling” moment?

2) What is the takeaway from Jesus’ transition from the grumbling “religious people” to the three parables? Why is it important to spend time with those in need of repentance?

3) The 99 sheep were left so that the owner could hunt down the one lost sheep. At first, this might sound foolish. Consider what would happen if these 99 sheep in the open country would wander off. The open country would have been a pasture – abandoned wilderness used for free range shepherding. Why did the owner leave them in the open country? What does this say about the one lost sheep?

 4) When looking at the Lost Coin, it differs from the other items. It didn’t move far, whereas the sheep and the son could wander away. What type of person does this remind you of? How did the woman find this lost coin? What is the lamp that we use?

5) How do we know if someone is having a Pig Pod Moment of desperation? (see v. 16) What can we do to help the lost from where God has placed us?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

Home in Your Heart

When you are at home somewhere, you are comfortable. You are safe. Home is considered a special place, your special place. It’s where you reside. It’s where you rest. It’s where you remain for a great deal of time.

Paul said for the word of Christ, the words spoken by Jesus, to have its home be in your heart and mind. This means the words of Christ would remain inside you, would be written on your heart, would dwell within you. This means these words would take up residence within you, and they would teach you and remind you and comfort you. They would linger about and be a part of you. As they are a part of you, these words that are inside would overflow and multiply in your life.

How can you let the words of Christ have a home in you? You have to read what He said. Many times what He said is written in red in the Bible. Read God’s Word. Read what He said. There are even books about what Jesus said. Steven Scott wrote a book called “The Greatest Words Every Spoken.” This book breaks down everything Jesus said by topic. Continue to read what He said and you will find these words soon at home in your heart. This allows for the Holy Spirit to remind you of His words. Watch what happens as you write these words on your heart.

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.” – Colossians 3:16 [AMP]

Let Peace Rule

The word rule means absolute power or control over something. In this world, we can allow many things to rule over us. No matter what is said, something rules you. I know some people ruled by anger while others are ruled by pleasure. Some are ruled by anxiety and worry. Others are ruled by doubt or emotions. The list goes on and on. Whatever rules you controls your actions and your attitude.

I have seen many people being depressed, get fired from jobs, or have a huge fight with their spouse because they were ruled by something like fear or anger. Paul speaks of being content in all circumstances. That is not possible when we allow the world to have power over us. The Bible tells us to let the peace from Christ rule. Wow! The peace of Christ. How differently is life when the peace of Christ rules!?!

When the peace of Christ rules, it doesn’t matter our circumstances, we are content. When the peace of Christ rules, doubt is replaced with confidence. When the peace of Christ rules, security and trust reign over past fears and struggles. When the peace of Christ rules, you surely can have the peace beyond understanding. It’s a real thing. It’s a possible thing. It can be yours. The key word in this passage is “let.” Let the peace from Christ rule. How? Surrender. Be intentional. Allow it. Speak it. Breathe it. Own it.

“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].” – Colossians 3:15 [AMP]

Renewed and Remolded

Clothes can make a person they say. I think that can be somewhat true. I know when I put on my sweatpants, I feel comfy and ready to relax and enjoy a quiet night with my Bible and whatever book I’m currently reading. When I put on dressier clothing, I am ready to get to work. When I put on my sneakers, I become the dog walker extraordinaire.

Colossians 3 says we are clothed with a new spiritual self. Paul wrote that during our walk with Christ we are renewed and remolded. Renewed and remolded. Being renewed is being refreshed to start again. Being remolded means we change or are refashioned. Our appearance is different. It’s more of an outward thing. Renewed is an inner thing.

As we grow in Christ, we are renewed (inner) and remolded (outer). It’s an awesome thing. People will take notice. They will catch a glimpse of this change. They will experience the light, the light of Christ shining through you. You may even take notice in time that God has be doing a great work in and through you. He has a great plan for you my friend. Keep pressing forward.

“And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.” – Colossians 3:10 [AMP]

Set Your Mind

Your focus changes everything. If you focus on your problems, you will become overwhelmed by your problems. You will worry. You will become stressed. Your attitude will darken. When you focus on Christ, you realize for Whom you live and you are reminded of His Word. Focusing on Jesus helps you to live by Christ, to trust in His promises, and to embrace the eternal.

In Colossians 3, we read about seeking God, about focusing on Christ. Paul wrote for us to set our minds on things that are above—the higher things. Verse 1 says aim at and seek. This says so much. When you aim at something, you have to focus intensely on the target. When you focus on the target, you have to be facing the target. It is all about the target and reaching the target—making contact with the target. When you seek something, you go forward, toward the object. You attempt to find the object. With Christ, this is so very easy. The Bible says, seek and you shall find. The Bible says when you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him.

Today consider how you are aiming at Christ, how you are seeking Jesus. Are you focused intensely on Jesus? Are you facing the direction of Jesus? Do you make contact with Jesus? Are you moving in His direction? Are you seeking wholeheartedly?

“If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead’, aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds, and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not the things that are on the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2 [AMP]

The Do Nots

Rules and regulations are important and certainly needed. If we would not have rules, there would be no boundaries in the world. People could drive on any side of the road. There would be no need to stand in a line. These are only a few examples but it is easy to see things would be very different. Structure would disappear.

Even so, there are two things that are important to remember. We must remember that none of us keep all of the “rules.” We do not follow God’s Law. Read the Law of Moses. Read the Ten Commandments. It won’t take long to see that we fall short. In Romans 3, Paul is quick to profess that we all fall short. Accept it. Second, grace is above the Law. The love of Christ, the grace of God—with this we have salvation because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

In Colossians 2, we read of people who were trying to keep the Law. Though Christ fulfilled the Law, though we no longer live by the Law, people were still trying to submit to the Law. Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch. Do not. Do not. Living with these regulations enslaved the followers. No longer were these people living by grace; instead, these people were slaves of the Law. They were asked if they still belonged to the world. Why? Because those in the world follow the laws of the world, while those who belonged to Jesus lived by grace. By following the Law, they were basically saying that the blood of Christ wasn’t enough. You decide. Where do you belong? For me, I belong to Jesus.

“Why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations? – as] Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them].” – Colossians 2:20b-21 [AMP]