Posts Tagged ‘Foolishness’

Matthew 13:10-17 – HOW TO GUAGE YOUR SPIRITUAL APATHY – Part 3

Hard Hearted Towards God

We visited the Opera House in Sydney not long ago. Thousands of people on foot! I am reminded that there is a spiritual INDIFFERENCE that walks the concrete footpaths of my city and what Christ has to say is often swept away or trampled by UNRESPONSIVE and negligent attitudes. The sounds of the city snatches away our attention and the persistent voice of Christ’s love fights to be heard above the collective sighs of our APATHY. Just like the parable of the Sower and the Soils.

It seems to me that the parables of Matthew 13 are directed to my city – especially to those not intentional in listening to Jesus, in order to give them perspective on what they are doing and opportunity for them to repent and believe and become fully alive to the things of God. They are a mirror and guage for me to see how I respond to spiritual truth.

Jesus speaks of HARD soil, defensive, closed and bitter towards God. He speaks of others with SHALLOW hearts, and superficial faith, and of those so PREOCCUPIED and busy that they miss their opportunity to discover what life is about. Then there are those who have RECEPTIVE hearts to the message He gives. They are like fertile soil, producing a crop worth harvesting. Yet even some of them produce in a LIMITED way, giving only 30% and 60% returns.

His disciples are intrigued by the story, but they see a whole lot of people in the crowd like those I saw in the streets of Sydney who don’t understand what He is trying to say, so they ask Him why He uses parables.

What Jesus says is astounding!

In Matthew 13:11 He says “You are PERMITTED to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are NOT. He is about to invest something by way of the resources of heaven into people’s lives, but some are NOT PERMITTED to understand? What does He mean that some are NOT PERMITTED?

It seems clear that in this passage they are NOT PERMITTED TO UNDERSTAND and it is FOOLISHNESS to them because they REFUSE TO LISTEN, not because God has put earplugs in their ears. A negative response to Jesus and His message means they are refused the SECRETS of the Kingdom of Heaven. God won’t FORCE me to listen, and equally when I refuse to listen, then He won’t PERMIT me to understand. I’m either receptive or left ignorant. If I slam the door so deliberately on God, then He also deliberately allows me the CONSEQUENCES of that choice.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is FOOLISH to those who are HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” Are they headed for destruction WITHOUT A CHOICE of faith? I don’t think we can read that from the context of this passage. The choice is evidently there but they have refused to LISTEN. As a result even what they understand becomes foolishness to them and they are HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION because of their deliberate rejection of Christ and His message.

When the message of Jesus is treated as being ridiculous, unreasonable, unbelievable, over simple, uninspiring and those who share His message are treated with the same contempt, then it is obvious that the seed falls on hard, shallow and thorny ground.

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 13:12 (NLT) “To those who LISTEN to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are NOT LISTENING, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” 

God bless your eyes and ears today. The invitation He gives to us is to SEE and HEAR with the eyes and ears of faith. May Jesus be able to say of you today “… blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” (Matthew 13:16 NLT)

Pastor Ross 

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Part 8 – Matthew 11:25-30 – WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE OF GENIUS

Without the Encumbrance of Genius

Perhaps it is the reason that I embraced Christianity so easily – THE CHRISTIAN FAITH DOESN’T DEMAND INTELLIGENCE. I’m not criticising intelligence.  I have an above average intelligence level. Well, actually, although it was above average according to the IQ test I completed at School, it was more tilted towards the average side than the above part. I have imagined having an intelligence level that would ASTOUND people, but unless that miracle happens I will remain who I am, without the ENCUMBRANCE OF GENIUS and I will always have to examine things carefully before I can understand them.

Jesus prayed an unusual prayer in Matthew 11:25-27. After the cities of Korazin and Bethsaida had ignored Him and rejected Him, He prayed

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the CHILDLIKE. Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way!”

Jesus says that only the childlike can understand spiritual things. He doesn’t say childish, just childlike. I must admit I can have a little trouble with distinguishing between the two at times, but I do recognise God as my Father and I know that I am in His family.

Some time ago I received a number of pocket sized Gideons Bibles with white covers to give out to the staff and residents of Shalom. Shalom is an Aged Care Facility and I work there as a Chaplain. These small New Testament Bibles are given out in Schools in Australia every few years by the Gideons. Someone gave some to us.

As I offered the aged residents of Shalom these Bibles it occurred to me that I needed to ask them whether they could read the SMALL PRINT. Few of them could. People in their 80’s and 90’s don’t often have very good eyesight for reading normal print books, let alone the pocket sized version I was handing out. It was an EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. They were literally BLIND TO GOD’S TRUTH. The only Bible many of them have now is me. Anyone want to donate some large print pocket Bibles that I can give away?

Jesus talks of a different kind of BLINDNESS. Blind due to my INDIFFERENCE to His miracles and message. Blind to His will and purposes in my life. Blind to a relationship with God because of my self sufficient attitudes.

2 Corinthians 3:14 (NLT) says “the people’s minds were HARDENED,” It is like a veil over their thinking “so they CANNOT UNDERSTAND the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.” Ephesians 4:18 describes it as having their “UNDERSTANDING DARKENED, being alienated from the life of God”

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) says that it is Satan who “has BLINDED THE MINDS of those who don’t believe. They are UNABLE TO SEE the glorious light of the Good News. They DON’T UNDERSTAND this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT) puts it this way “But people who aren’t spiritual CAN’T RECEIVE THESE TRUTHS from God’s Spirit. It all sounds FOOLISH to them and they CAN’T UNDERSTAND it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

Jesus makes it clear that the only way to understand God is through Him. He says “No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27 NLT)

Now that’s AUTHORITY! Jesus stands as the ONLY MEDIATOR between me and God. (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus does the choosing and He has chosen to reveal the Father only to those who believe and come under His authority.

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE can come to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME. Acts 4:12 (NLT) says “There is salvation in NO ONE ELSE! God has given NO OTHER NAME under heaven by which we must be saved.The only access I have to truth is to COME TO HIM and the key is faith not intelligence. It is CHILDLIKE FAITH, not genius. It is not being self sufficient but humble enough to be DEPENDENT upon Him. Nothing wrong with intelligence. I need a brain to think through these things but knowing God is not dependent upon intelligence. It demands coming under the authority of Jesus Christ.

I love the way 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 (NLT) puts it “This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans… Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes … when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. … and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

God bless you Church as you exercise the foolishness today of believing in Christ and coming under His authority for your life, WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE OF YOUR GENIUS. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Pastor Ross