Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of Heaven’

Denarii © Created by Ross Cochrane with Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:1-16 – WHEN GOD IS UNFAIR – Jesus and the Fair Workers Tribunal – Part 2

Matthew 20:1 says, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for His vineyard...”

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, we understand you are the Landowner of the Kingdom of Heaven Vineyards.

Jesus – Yes. The Landowner, creator and employer. 

Tribunal Chairperson – Your name for the record?

Jesus  Joshua Davidson, known as Jesus to most.

Tribunal Chairperson – And why do you call Your vineyard the Kingdom of heaven?

Jesus  It is called a Kingdom because it is the sphere where I exercise absolute authority as owner and employer. It is called Heaven because it is a place of fruitfulnesslife and perfection. Once workers come to My Vineyard they live on the property and under My authority. They find their ultimate calling and destiny. 

Tribunal Chairperson – We understand that this morning you hired some workers?

Jesus  Yes, I searched for them, found them and invited them to serve Me in My Vineyard. Without being hired, these day laborers would not have the resources they need to liveThey would be destitute and starve. I am their provider.

Tribunal Chairperson – We are here because a question has been asked by Peter, James and John, who are also Your employees, about fairness. You must realize that Employees have to be paid at least their minimum pay rates and entitlements. What exactly is the enterprise agreement or other registered agreement that Your workers are under?

Jesus – I have made a covenant agreement with all those who serve at the Vineyard. It is called Grace. I bypass normal agreements by giving a gift to every one of the same value. I simply say to My workers, “If you serve Me, you will not receive what is fair, but what I decide to give to you which will be right.”  

Tribunal Chairperson – I thought as much. Your employees have been underpaid, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. We, therefore, are calling upon You to pay your workers what is fair. We understand that sometimes underpayments happen accidentally because of computer or human errorthe wrong number of hours paidpenalty rates not appliedother entitlements not paid, such as leave or allowancesbut You have deliberately underpaid Your workers. At the end of the day, we are here to audit only one pay period over a 12 hour day. We understand you employed others workers at different times of the day.

Jesus  Yes, I am continually looking for those who want to serve Me in the Vineyard. Many people are just waiting for the opportunity and are grateful that I have found them.

Tribunal Chairperson – You chose those who were just standing around?

Jesus  Yes. But it‘s not that these workers want to do nothing. They aren’t lazy. They are waiting for the opportunity to work and searching for MeThose who serve Me have realized that their lives were going nowhere and now they have meaning. They serve Me because they are willing to find their destiny in life. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 says  you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. … says the Lord.

Tribunal Chairperson  That’s all well and good, but You kept on hiring people all through the day. We are here to ensure You pay Your workers what they deserve and apparently, this did not happen.

Jesus  My workers deserve nothing from my hand, yet I have given them all the same gift, which represents life and what they can never earn, work for or deserve. Am I to understand that You don’t wish Me to pay those who serve me at all? 

Tribunal Chairperson  Of course not. We are here to ensure that those You do hire are paid what they deserve.

Jesus – You do not realize what you are asking. To pay them what they deserve would only lead to their destruction?

Tribunal Chairperson  Are you saying that your employees don’t deserve to be paid at all?

Jesus  That’s correct. I don’t need to employ them. I have found them in the marketplace of the world and invited them to come to Me and serve Me. They came willingly, knowing that whatever I gave them would be more than they deserve. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I believe some workers came to work for you at 5 in the afternoon and yet you still hired them with just one hour left in the day?

Jesus  Yes. I am always looking for those who will come under my authority. If you had come I would have asked you also “Why haven’t you been working today? Now is the appointed time. There is no need to waste your life waiting for someone else. I am the only One who has come to give people purpose and lifeAnd it is never too late in this life to give your life to Me.

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, let me understand this. You called the last workers first in order to be paidThey had only worked for an hour. How much did you pay them?

Jesus  Yes. The last shall be first. I gave each one a denarius.

Tribunal Chairperson – I see. A full days wage. Very generous. And how much did you pay your employees who worked for the full day?

Jesus – I gave each of them a denarius also.

Tribunal Chairperson – And there’s the problem. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. Some people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid those who worked all day in the scorching heat. Surely You see that there is discrepancy. You have been unfair with Your wages, especially to those who worked for a whole day.

Jesus  No. I agreed with those I hired first, based on my covenant of grace to give them a denarius. This was not based on the number of hours they worked but upon what I desired to give them. They agreed to serve me for a denarius. Those who came later served me for what I considered to be right.

Tribunal Chairperson – It is our contention that You need to backpay your employees who worked for 12 hours by paying them 12 denarii each. And then penalty ratesovertimeallowances, and any other entitlements. That would be fair.

Jesus  You do not know what you are asking. The denarius symbolizes eternal life. I cannot give more than eternal life. To give them what is fair would lead to their destruction. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I contend that You are being unfair.

Jesus  Yes, I am. I am offering My grace to those who trust in Me and that is entirely unfair. It is undeserved. I am here to ask You to come and serve Me also and then you will see personally that my gift of eternal life is unfair.

Today your life will be required of you and you must decide to accept what is fair from My hand which will mean you will be eternally lost or accept my denarius, that which represents that which is totally unfair and undeserved and speaks of absolute grace and eternal life

The wages of sin is death but the free gift I offer to you is eternal life. I will not require any back payments since you have been judged already by your sin, and your words, deeds and thoughts.  

Tribunal Chairperson – Are you mad? We are here to judge you! Do you think you can sit here and judge us? 

Jesus  No, your hearts have done that already. The hour is near. I came to do the work of God among you and give instruction and guide You in life and faith. You are the last of those who I have been searching for all day. I am here to give your life meaning, purpose and destiny. Will you serve Me in My Vineyard rather than try to judge Me for the grace of unfairness. Believe Me, you do not want Me to be fair. Fairness will lead you to hell. Follow Me and have the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:13-20 – THE ROCK WITH A HEARTBEAT

ROCK WITH A HEARTBEAT - Image created by Ross Cochrane

ROCK WITH A HEARTBEAT – Image created by Ross Cochrane

My Dad’s nickname for me was Rock. I don’t know why. Rocky Balboa? Rocks in my head? Rock-n-Roll? Rock of Gibraltar? Alcatraz? Just a term of affection? Perhaps it was because I collected interesting looking rocks, old keys and other objects of interest and put them in my desk drawer? It weighed a ton. I didn’t like the name Rock much, but it was his name for me and I had to live with it. 

If Jesus had said to me, like once He said to Peter, “You are Peter (which means Rock) and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven” I would have been more interested and my curiosity for old keys might have taken on a new dimension (Matthew 16:18-19).

What did Jesus mean that His Church would be built on this rock, set up in a hostile environment to prevail against the gates of hell?

Jesus is normally spoken of as the cornerstone, the rock of ages, the stone that the builders rejected, but not in Matthew 16:18. Here, He is the BUILDER. Jesus, son of a carpenter, still wants to build something incredibly creative and innovative but now from people’s lives. Peter calls Him the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Life is found in His Name. Reliable, strong, dependable, solid, yet with the heartbeat of God. Living stones.

Peter is the GATEKEEPER and he is given the KEYS of the Kingdom of Heaven. He is able to lock or open the door in terms of heaven’s authority on earth. Keys are a symbol of that authority. Peter will go on to release heaven’s authority on earth through his teaching about who Christ is, especially on the day of Pentecost. He is also used to write some of the divinely inspired scriptures called the New Testament and exercise the authority of heaven through his gift of healing. Jesus says his name means stone (Petros) but the structure upon which Christ will build is a large solid shelf of rock (Petra). A stone is only a tiny reflection of such a rock.

Peter has just made the strong confession; “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16). Our words about who Christ is are the foundational superstructure of solid rock on which the organic architecture and landscape of the Church are built. For those who know Christ, such words are our motto; our rallying cry; our declaration of faith, our foundation rock shelf. Peter’s name reflects his confession of Christ. I’m warming up to Dad’s nickname.

Many today still make the same definitive, unequivocal declaration of who Christ is that Peter made so long ago. The Church refers to followers of Christ; explorers of the extraordinary; adventurers into mysteries. Literally it means “Called out ones” (Ekklesia). Called out for the greatest purpose on earth.

The declaration of Christ is that the gates of hell (Hades, death) that have held you back from giving your life to Christ will be battered down as you acknowledge Christ as the Son of the Living God and allow Him to breathe life into your soul. Like Peter, you become a living stone, a stepping stone of life, called out to be placed upon the foundation of the life-giving Christ and used to build the masterpiece of God, His prevailing Church. 

This organic, sculptural, architectural creation called His Church is Christ’s magnum opus, and somewhere among the millions of living stones that He has collected to form such a masterwork as this is me! How amazing is that! Perhaps my Dad was right, afterall. 

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 7:20-23 – HOW TO BECOME WELL-KNOWN

Deceptively Fruitful

It is winter in Australia and the only tree we have in our backyard has miraculously borne fruit. This is remarkable since it is not a fruit tree. At first glance you would never know. It has hundreds of ripe mandarins in it’s branches. On closer inspection, the branches of a flourishing fruit tree from my neighbours side of the fence has made my tree deceptively fruitful. My tree is actually quite bare, not even a leaf. I don’t want my life to look genuine, yet in reality find that I am as bare of good fruit as my tree in winter.

Matthew 7:20-23 (NLT) in the Bible says “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven … only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your Name and performed many miracles in Your Name.’ But I will reply, ‘I NEVER KNEW YOU. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’”

Who are these fruitless people who call Jesus Lord, yet perform miracles and prophesy in His Name? Somehow they do these things and still aren’t KNOWN by Christ? On one hand Jesus says you will know a person by the good fruit of their ACTIONS. On the other hand there are those who cast out demons in His Name and perform miracles in His Name who appear to bear good fruit but who are NOT recognised by Him as His followers! Are you well-known?

According to Barna research 64% believe they will go to heaven when they die. Jesus says that there will be FEW who find their way to heaven because few have KNOWN Him on earth or are known by Him (Matthew 7:13-14). Few have come under His authority. Too many have a superficial faith. Big words, no character. Duty but no depth. Flowery prayers and floury lives. Dancing like David outwardly but disabled like Mephibosheth inwardly (2 Samuel 4, 16). Ritual without righteousness. Religion but no relationship. Sanctimonious but not saved. Bowing but not obedient. Deceptively fruitful, but inwardly bare.

In the end, it’s not going to be what I have done for Christ that counts, but what HE has done for me. It is not MY words about Him, but HIS Word applied to my life that will enable me to obey His will. 1 John 4:19 says that I love because HE first loved me. So it is not MY profession of Him that matters but HIS profession of me. It is not how much I try to do things for Him to gain points, but what HE has freely done for me by sending His Son to die for my sins.

The invitation is to know Christ as Lord, not simply mouth that He is Lord. The word “LORD” (Kurios) in the Bible signifies sovereign power and absolute authority. The kingdom of heaven IS coming under HIS authority. 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NLT) says that the person who loves God is KNOWN and recognised by God. In John 14:15 (NIV) Jesus says “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” Loving God opens up a genuine pathway of communication and relationship with God. This relationship with God through faith in Christ informs my life and enables me to live and be fruitful in the way God intends. ARE YOU WELL-KNOWN BY GOD?

Pastor Ross

Surfing the NetMatthew 13:47-50 – SURFING THE NET, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND HELL – Part 18

My starsign is Pisces (the FISH). I don’t read the stars so relax, but it has always interested me that the sign of the fish was used by early Christians as a secret symbol. During times of persecution, if a Christian met a stranger in his travels, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they could speak freely about their faith.

I guess it’s because when Jesus spoke to some fishermen and called them to be His disciples He said “Follow Me and I will make you FISHERMEN OF MEN”. I know He should have been POLITICALLY CORRECT and said “fisherpeople of people”, nevertheless I have to admit, I was caught well and truly by the message of Christ. I came under the NET of His authority and I am part of the network of His kingdom, the Church, along with millions of others across the earth.

But the net that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13:47 is DIFFERENT. It speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of God’s authority exercised in the FUTURE. It is spoken of as a NET that sweeps us toward eternity and JUDGMENT. Hebrews 9:27 (NLT) says “And just as EACH PERSON is destined to die once and after that comes JUDGMENT”. 

A SWEEP NET is one huge net intentionally cast to collect everything in it’s way. Jesus says “the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught FISH OF EVERY KIND. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away.” This is surfing the net old style.

Even though this kind of fishing is now spoken of as the rape of the sea, Jesus speaks about a huge net that catches “EVERY KIND OF FISH.”

The Kingdom net He speaks of is cast over people of every race, colour and creed. It is cast over men and women, married and single, young and old, hearing and deaf, sighted and blind, speaking and mute (For those who want to be POLITICALLY CORRECT that’s matrimonially, chronologically, aurally, visually and vocally challenged).

The net is cast over those who are attractive and those who are just plain ugly (aesthetically challenged), thin and fat (gravitationally challenged), those who are well adjusted and those who are total psychopathic misfits (socially misaligned), those with hair and those who are bald (follicularly challenged), religious and atheist (spiritually impoverished).

It is cast over the good and the bad, walking and crippled, musical and tone deaf, educated or not, Australian or not, and no matter what language, religion, customs, tastes, sexuality, eye colour or blood type they may have. Somewhere in all of that I am included, especially in the follicularly challenged category. In other words JESUS DIED FOR US ALL.

But coming under the all encompassing authority of God’s sweep net is only HALF THE STORY. His Kingdom authority is very inclusive, but not politically correct because NOT ALL will be saved. This is not EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. Yes, ALL are caught in the net of Christ’s authority as a JUDGE. Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) prophesies that “… that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, …” but that doesn’t mean that everyone who bows will somehow automatically be swept into heaven.

You may not even be aware but you are being pulled inexorably into the shore of eternity, and there is no avoiding the inevitability of being caught in this net and it’s relentless movement towards a VERDICT.

Jesus doesn’t seem to realise that it is POLITICALLY INCORRECT, discriminatory and disrespectful to speak of some people being REJECTED because they are “WICKED” (or should I say people with a “spiritually alternative lifestyle”).

Jesus just says “The angels will come and separate the WICKED people from the RIGHTEOUS, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50 NLT).

It is so horrific that Jesus doesn’t want to water it down to sounding like it is simply an alternative eternity for the religiously challenged, some kind of spiritual waiting room for heaven.

Hell is terrifying and permanent! Jesus speaks of Hell as a FURNACE. It was originally prepared for the devil and his angels, a place of inconceivable MISERY AND TORMENT. Jesus loves you enough to warn you about it because many people are headed towards a Christless eternity. He’s the only one who has come to save you.

The invitation He gives is encapsulated in the Greek word for “fish”“Ichthus”. It is an ancient Word of Life, an acrostic used to spell out the meaning of the good news in one of it’s simplest forms. It stands for “Iēsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sōtēr” and translates into English as “JESUS CHRIST GOD’S SON SAVIOUR”

God bless you as you give your life to Christ perhaps for the first time today, come under His authority, accept His death on the Cross for your sins, and get to know Christ personally, the fisherman of men, (sorry, fisherperson of people).

Pastor Ross

PS If this post has helped you apply the lifechanging truths of the Bible, you are invited to subscribe by clicking the follow button, to make comments and to share these thoughts with your friends. It would be a privilege to share these conversations with people like you and others all around the world.

Matthew 13:45-46 – YOU ARE SO WORTH IT ALL! – Part 17

Pearl of Great Price

You are So Worth It All – Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:45-46 NLT)

Simple parable. Or is it? I find myself wanting to ask Jesus some questions like “Who or What is the PEARL OF GREAT VALUE?” Are WE the pearl of great price and is it Christ who gives up everything to purchase us?

In his world renowned book Juan Carlos Ortiz takes a different approach. He says “CHRIST is the Pearl of Great Value and WE are the merchant seeking for happiness , for security, for fame, for eternity. And when we find Jesus it costs us everything. He has happiness, joy, peace, healing, security, eternity, everything.

So we say, “I want this pearl. How much is it?”

He goes on to say that the seller says that it will cost me everything. Not only does all my money become the property of Christ, but my house, my cars, my family, and even myself. The seller and the pearl seem to be Christ in this story. Perhaps he means that the seller is God the Father. He wants EVERYTHING! All I have and am comes under the ownership of Christ. And then Christ gives it back to me on the understanding that He is the owner and that it must be available for His use as needed. That’s the Kingdom of God – the authority of Christ to rule over my life.

I love the idea of the story – of everything coming under the authority and ownership of Christ, including ourselves. Afterall in Matthew 10:39 (NLT) Jesus says “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.” 

What bothers me about Ortiz’s story is that the parable says that the merchant BUYS the Pearl of Great Price by selling everything He has. Last time I looked the Bible makes it clear that Salvation in Christ is NOT FOR SALE. I can’t buy what Christ has to offer from God. It is a GIFT (Romans 6:23) that comes to us as we respond to Christ in faith. It is given because of God’s GRACE. We can’t work for it, earn it or buy it, and we don’t deserve it in any way (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So perhaps I AM THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE!

Everytime I hear a message on this parable I hear how a pearl is born in great suffering and pain, when a foreign speck of sand enters the environment of the shell and causes the pearl to be formed as the oyster builds up layers of nacre to protect itself. This is used as a picture of SIN coming into the environment of our world and like an annoying, irritating foreign substance causes harm.

God deals with our sin. He becomes a man and also enters our environment and although He lives a perfect life, He experiences the SUFFERING AND PAIN that our sin has caused and He is crucified. Christ dies on the Cross for us. Like that layer of nacre that forms around the speck of sand that threatens to cause harm to the oyster, He took man’s sin and bore it in His own body (1 Peter 2:24).

Our sin was an intrusion upon Him -foreign matter. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He turns cursing into blessing. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says “He personally CARRIED OUR SINS in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” Galatians 3:13 (NLT) says that when Christ “was hung on the cross, He TOOK UPON HIMSELF the curse for our wrongdoing.”

Christ adorns us with the beautiful layer of His righteousness forming a pearl of great value. Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) says “He has DRESSED me with the clothing of salvation and DRAPED me in a robe of righteousness.” Ephesians 4:24 (NLT) says “PUT ON your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Colossians 2:10 (NLT) says “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

I like the analogy but I’m not so sure it was intended when Jesus told this parable. It gets a little muddled if I take the analogy too far, but I think it illustrates what Christ came to do in us and that HIS LIFE BECOMES MINE.

I don’t even like pearls but nevertheless, like the pearl of great value, Christ came to purchase me and “There is salvation in no one else!” (Acts 4:12 NLT).

God bless you as you realise how valuable you are to God and in turn how valuable Christ is for your life today. Lord, YOU ARE SO WORTH IT!

Pastor Ross

PS If this post has helped you apply the lifechanging truths of the Bible, you are invited to subscribe by clicking the follow button, to make comments and to share these thoughts with your friends. It would be a privilege to share these conversations with people like you and others all around the world.

Matthew 13:33 – THE INCREDIBLE HULK AND YEAST – Part 14

Yeast and the Hulk

I’m thinking THE INCREDIBLE HULK! When Bruce Banner gets mad, he is transformed into a huge, out of control creature (I can’t help it. I have a grandson who loves cartoon characters and he always wants me to play the bad guy or the monstrous guy. I don’t know exactly why. I guess it’s the muscle power or maybe just the mass. To my grandson I’m incredible in all kinds of ways). I have always wondered how the hulk gets all his muscles. They just balloon from nothing. Just add a bad attitude, and you have instant bulk. TRANSFORMED!  

She leaves a lump of dough on the table as she goes about her household chores. The yeast begins to convert the sugars into carbon dioxide. The dough begins to expand and form tiny bubbles or gas pockets. Hulk type muscular formations begin to balloon from the dough. Just add yeast and it is TRANSFORMED!

When the dough has risen she breaks it into pieces and forms each loaf, leaving them to rise again. The yeast will die when she bakes the bread but the air pockets will remain. All she needs now is Vegemite and the transformation could be complete.  

Jesus also used this illustration (minus the incredible Hulk and the vegemite). He said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough”” (Matthew 13:33 NLT). 

Many seem to have a problem with this parable? The trouble is that whenever yeast is used figuratively in the Bible it is usually speaking about “the bad guys” and the influence of sin, hyprocrisy, or their false teaching, (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:9, Matthew 16:6-12, Mark 8:15-21). Yeast has been regarded this way ever since Israel was asked to sweep every bit of it out of their houses before the Exodus (Exodus 12:39).

Does the woman represent false teachers, the yeast represent their false teaching and the dough represent the Church? The IMPLAUSIBLE HULK. Just add false teaching and the Church is TRANSFORMED!

Jesus warns in Matthew 16:6 (NLT) “Watch out! … Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” Galatians 5:9 (NLT) says “… This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!” Clearly yeast is used in a very NEGATIVE way to describe the teaching and hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

Sin has certainly infiltrated our world, transforming the original dough. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23 NLT),” but Jesus says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast…” The only way that sin and the Kingdom of Heaven are alike is in their ability to INFILTRATE AND INFLUENCE the world.

To say that yeast is ONLY spoken of as defiling would be a FALSE ASSUMPTION. Look closer. In each passage it is the PERVADING nature of the yeast and it’s INFLUENCE that is being emphasised. Perhaps this is the only place in the Bible where yeast is likened to something good.

A similar analogy is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NASB95) it says “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a THIEF in the night.” but this is not saying that Jesus is a thief. In every other place in the Bible stealing is spoken of as a sin, but here it is simply speaking about the ability of the thief to come UNEXPECTEDLY. A thief comes unexpectedly. Yeast has INFLUENCE.

Inherent in a small amount of yeast is the ability to completely transform a batch of dough. Not some flat pita bread existence.

Maybe you think you don’t have much to offer God. A small boy with some fish and bread probably thought the same way, but he offered God what he had and God made a miracle out of it. The disciples said in effect “We don’t have enough.” He said “Here, take what I’ve got!” and under the authority and rulership of Jesus it fed 5000, with some left over (Matthew 14:13-21).

When the Kingdom of God infuses my thoughts, my words, my actions, and resources then God can do something INCREDIBLE through me. He wants me to live a life enlarged by the muscles of His Kingdom purposes. Dream big! Live big for Him! “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NASB). I am “filled with all the fullness of God…according to the power that works within me” (Ephesians 3:19-20). Incredible impact and influence!

The Kingdom of Heaven transforms my life when I respond to the authority of Christ. I am changed incredibly when I accept what He has done for me on the Cross, where He paid the penalty for my sin.

The world will never be the same (Acts 1:8) as the gospel continues to TRANSFORM lives. Inherent in this parable, like yeast permeating dough, is the ever insistent invitation of Jesus to you today to be transformed, not by the kingdom of darkness, but by the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:31-32 – SMALL SEED, INCREDIBLE POTENTIAL – Part 13

Mustard Seed Potential

When I read the Parable of the Mustard seed I am left with some serious questions. Jesus just tells the story in two sentences and leaves it at that. No explanation. He just says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32 NLT).

And I am left asking how can something so VAST like the Kingdom of Heaven be compared to something so SMALL. How could something of such immense significance be infused into the DNA of such a small seed, how could such power and authority be found in something so small, something so minute. We are talking about the SOVEREIGN RULERSHIP of God here. So what is it with the mustard seed analogy?

I’ve thought about this a lot of late, read some other scriptures and tried to figure it out. Somehow I think that this is what Jesus intended all along. He deliberately leaves us to find out what it means knowing that only those who will seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) will find the answers from His Word of Truth. So here’s an UNEDITED edition of the parable and what I think Jesus is getting at…

“Once the King of a vast empire decided to become a farmer and plant a crop that would one day reap a huge harvest. He spent time preparing the soil and when the time was ripe He went out into His field and deliberately planted ONE SMALL SEED in the fertile earth.

It was no ordinary seed. It was a seed of destiny, a seed of promise, a seed of kingdom significance, the seed of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Inherent in this one seed was the very nature and character of the King Himself and His authority to rule and reign in the lives of those who follow Him. It was destined to change the world. That’s why the soil in which He chose to plant His seed was the soil of a person’s heart and life.

At first the seed was planted into the heart and life of a young virgin girl who bore this tiny seed in her womb. And in the most HUMBLE of places she gave birth to HEAVENS KINGDOM ON EARTH. Not in the splendour of a palace. He was born in a manger, a TINY BABY. The seed became a human being. It all seemed so INCONSEQUENTIAL and unimportant, just another baby, but don’t miss this. We are talking about the KING OF KINGS and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

An ancient book recorded His birth. Among other things it says “…Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the HUMBLE POSITION of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:7-8 NLT). Just a small seed yet heavens kingdom “…appeared in human form, He HUMBLED HIMSELF in obedience to God.”

The downside to living as a human of course is that He was destined die as a human. How could the Majesty of all heaven live His life as a human being? How could He die and be buried like a seed in the ground, yet in our story that is exactly what happened. He “died a criminal’s death on a cross.” I know I said it’s the unedited version but I can’t get into too many details here. You’ll have to read the book.

I can tell you this, however. “It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:32 NLT).

Yes, the seed began to grow into a mighty tree and all of a sudden the Cross became His throne where heavens authority and character was expressed. It would have incredible impact upon the world.

The only way I can describe what happened was that on that Cross reserved for criminals, the Divine SOVEREIGNTY of heaven chose to pay the penalty for our sin! Divine JUSTICE was satisfied! Divine RIGHTEOUSNESS became available! Divine LOVE was released forever! Divine LIFE was offered! OMNISCIENCE was articulated! OMNIPOTENCE accomplished what was impossible! OMNIPRESENCE assured us that He would never leave or forsake us! His Divine IMMUTABILITY confirmed afresh that He is the same yesterday, today and forever! His Divine VERACITY drew us into the presence of all Truth!

But our story doesn’t end at the Cross. It BEGINS.

Here’s the real miracle of the story. Unless a seed is “planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24 NLT).

He rose again! He defeated the power of sin and death! The seed grew to fulfil His destiny and so it is no wonder then that “…God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 NLT).

This is a true story. You say, how do I know all this is true about the Seed? I know because as it became a tree and grew I became engrafted (Romans 11:17) as one of it’s branches, along with millions of others, His Church. When I yielded to the great authority of Christ, the life of the Seed became my life. “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).”

One day every knee will bow, but today the invitation is in the form of a small Seed of DESTINY, PROMISE AND LIFE and it is given freely to you. It is a seed with all the authority of heaven infused into it’s DNA, the very life of God Himself. Inherent in such a small seed is all of heavens authority and resources made available for the circumstances of life, such incredible potential for those who seek and accept the gift of the mustard Seed.

Pastor Ross.

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Matthew 13:24 – I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE! – Part 8

Dethroned!

He has ruled Egypt for 29 years and has no intention of resigning. Mubarak and his family are incredibly rich. Apparently they have $70 billion due to corruption, kickbacks and some legitimate business activities. His kingdom is vast. Money, prestige, power, an army.

Huge numbers of demonstrators gather in Cairo and throughout the country demanding his resignation. 18 long days of protests, millions of people, chaos in Cairo, bloodshed in the streets.

Mubarak has survived six assassination attempts, but his dictatorship has brought the wrath of Egypts masses against him. They are shouting “We don’t want to live like this, anymore!” For many days Mubarak refuses to step down. Finally on the 11th February, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigns. Afterall, what use is a kingdom without the authority to rule over your people?

In Matthew 13:24 Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. What has heaven got to do with this discussion? A true kingdom is where the king has the authority to rule over his people. The kingdom of heaven stands in stark contrast to the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves on earth.

That term, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, comes up a lot in the Bible, especially in the gospels. What is the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God? And what on earth does it have to do with Mubarak?

My freedom depends on which kingdom I seek and no, by seeking the kingdom of heaven I am not speaking about suicide, euthanasia or death. Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven has nothing to do with dying (except perhaps dying to selfish ambition) and much to do with experiencing life to the full, HERE AND NOW. In John 10:10 Jesus says (NIV) “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      

Sure, heaven, the Kingdom of God, is a LITERAL place, but Jesus said something interesting. He said “The Kingdom of Heaven has come” (Matthew 4:17). In fact we pray that way whenever we pray the Lord’s prayer. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that the will and authority of the Kingdom of Heaven will be translated into the everyday things of earth, here and now.

What makes it heaven is the fact that God is RULING AND REIGNING. His kingdom is His SPHERE OF AUTHORITY, so in reality, if I come under His authority, I can receive heaven or ETERNAL LIFE here and NOW as well as in eternity. The kingdom has come! It begins now!

But it doesn’t just happen! It demands protest. It demands me declaring “I don’t want to live the way I am living anymore!” It demands a resignation of the present ruler over my life. Hang on a minute – that would be me!

When God’s Kingdom, His rule and reign, is a reality in my life, then things change on the INSIDE. The UNSEEN aspects of my life are now directed by the Lord. My life becomes His throne. He calls the shots so that the kingdom functions as it should. I am no longer bound up with my outward circumstances but with serving Him.

What good to gain the whole world and build my own kingdom on the outward trappings of this world, like Mubarak, only to lose my own soul (Luke 9:25).

Matthew 6:33 says I am to “…Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and His righteousness, and He will give you everything you need.” Romans 14:17 tells me that “…the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The invitation is to be dethroned from the throne of my own making and from building my own kingdom. It is saying honestly to God, “I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE!” and accepting Christ as my Saviour and King. God bless you as you come under His authority as the Ruler of your life today.

Pastor Ross