“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-82

Just before Jesus explains the parable of the sower to His disciples, He reminds them of a very special privilege which is theirs. (It is ours, also, if we have a true saving relationship with Him). Jesus said to them, in Matthew 13:17, "For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." Can you begin to imagine what the ancient prophets would have thought of our complete revelation of God's plan from eternity past, through time, into eternity future? If they were living today, can you grasp their awe if they could look back on Jesus' infinite love expressed in His sacrificial death on a Roman cross? They lacked the understanding that we have in a completed Bible. Even the angels didn't have access to the Truth with which God has blessed us. "…. unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." (From I Peter 1:12). We are blessed indeed! How can we justify becoming so familiar with God's Word that we take it for granted? How can we allow ourselves to neglect such a priceless treasure? Selah! An old country western song asked, "Is there dust on the Bible, on God's Holy Word?" Is there on dust on our Bibles? Dust it off, open it and dig deeply into its Divine contents. The Holy Spirit awaits your commitment!       Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-81

The disciples approached Jesus with a question. "….Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" (From Matthew 13:10). "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" (Verses 11-15). The disciples were learning a significant Bible principle and so should we. Paul, in I Corinthians 2:14, tells the Christians at Corinth and us that "….the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned." If an unsaved person catches a glimpse of Spiritual enlightenment and opens himself to it, he will receive more until he rejects it. If he stays open to Truth, it will lead to his conversion. What Jesus told the disciples, in Matthew 13:16, also applies to those who are His own in any period of time. He said, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." How do we who are saved see and hear today? Psalm 119:130 answers that question for us. "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." Selah! Reading and studying the Word, with a willingness and determination to obey and apply, gives wonderful understanding to the child of God.             Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-80

Jesus gives the parable and then the explanation. I will probably follow that pattern. Space considerations may require extra days for the explanation. In this first parable, Jesus said, "….Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 13:3b-9). Some of the seeds fell along the way and fowls fed on them. Some fell in stony soil. They grew quickly but poor soil conditions and hot weather caused them to wither, because they had no root. Some fell among thorns and the thorns grew, like the weeds they were, and choked the seeds before life could take hold. However, some seeds fell on good ground and were, in varying degrees, very fruitful. This raises a very important point. We can minister in trying to win souls but, while we spread the seeds, most of them will not result in much of anything. Nevertheless, some seeds will produce some fruit, some will produce a fair amount of fruit and some will produce a lot of fruit. As we are used by Him, we will not win them all. Our goal is not to win the world but to tell them. God will give the increase from the good soil. Selah! Instead of being discouraged over a great lack of results, rejoice in those who are responsive and fruitful and be thankful if you are one of these.     Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-79

In Matthew, Chapter 13, Jesus uses a number of parables to communicate God's Truth. He does so from an unusual "pulpit." The scene is set for us in Verses 1-3a. Matthew writes, "The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side, and great multitudes were gathered together unto Him, so that He went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And He spake many things unto them in parables." A number of interesting observations are worth considering as we prepare to learn from the Master. First, there were multitudes there to hear Him. His mission, at this point, was probably to teach as many people as He could. Having seen or heard about His ministry, they made an effort to be where He was. It was so crowded that He had to go into a boat to teach. Evidently it was anchored near shore. It served as a 'pulpit" and being in that place, the acoustics would be favorable. Next, the crowds stood on the shore. Apparently, they stood for an extended time because He had much to teach them (and for us to learn). Lastly, He spoke to them in parables. These were "down to earth" experiences that the listeners could relate to and which illustrated Divine Truths. Jesus was a Master Teacher, indeed. In the next few days, we need to really think on the things He taught and respond to the lessons which he conveyed. Selah! Frequently, Jesus spoke of the need of having ears to hear. Hearing requires concentrated attention and thoughtful consideration. It must lead a disciple to apply what he learns. Jesus points out that some will not learn and others will learn and apply. Let's be among the latter!       Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-78

Good family relationships are some of the greatest blessings on earth. A devoted husband and wife, good parents, good children, closeness among kin are all worth their weight in gold (and then some). In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus highlights another relationship that trumps all others. We are told, "While He yet talked to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to speak with Him. Then one said unto Him, Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee. But He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? And He stretched forth his hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." He is in no way suggesting that we not be blessed by and contribute to these God-given human relationships. What He is saying is that there is a special relationship available that far surpasses the most wonderful ones on earth. In fact. this relationship is available to us even when we have no good earthly relationships. It is a relationship with Himself! It is conditioned on doing the will of Jesus' Father in Heaven. The following two verses sum that "will" up: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification….." (I Thessalonians 4:3). Selah! When an unsaved person receives Jesus, as Savior and Lord, he or she has done the first part of God's will. Out of that experience will come the aid of the Holy Spirit to carry out the second part of God's will. The second part embraces all other facets of His will.    Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-77

Demon spirits seek to enter lives (especially human lives) that are open to them and their influence. When a person is freed from demonic activity, he or she is now clean inside. The vile and filthy spirit has been removed. End of story? No! Evidently, a demon can't find rest, even in a solitary place. Matthew, in Chapter 12, Verses 43-45 recounts Jesus explaining this: " When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." This demon thinks back on the person that it inhabited. The demon decides to go back and try to take up residence again. When he discovers that it is all clean and empty, he involves seven evil spirits, more wicked than he is. Together, they move into this man. The last state of the man is worse than his former condition. The point is that when evil is expelled, the person must be saved and receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. His Presence and His control leaves no space for returning evil spirits to gain control. Jesus was telling His auditors that this wicked generation, of which they were a part, was now having an opportunity to reverse direction, accept His gracious offer of deliverance or end up worse off. Selah! There is a lesson here for our day as well. If divine grace has touched our lives and we don't open ourselves to a saving, sanctifying relationship with Him, we are in danger of being worse off than before our opportunity.          Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-76

Jesus is challenged by some men from the scribes and Pharisees. They wanted Him to give them a sign. "Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee. But He answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:38-40). A number of them had seen and/or heard of His miracles. However, then (as now), most people's position is this: I have to see to believe. Jesus was not putting on a show. He rightly directed them to Scripture. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, under inspiration, that faith comes by hearing. Hearing is by the Word of God, Paul added in his letter to them. Intense and consistent exposure to the Bible, with an open mind and heart, will produce the crop of faith. Repentance is the other side of the coin. Paul refers to that in Acts 20:21. He wrote, "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus then says something to these people that should have jolted them to pay attention and do the right things. This is what He told them: "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:41-42). Nineveh and the queen of the south will fare better in judgment then religious frauds. Nineveh trusted the message and repented. The queen of the south sought God's wisdom through Solomon. A greater than Jonah or the queen was challenging them this day. There is no indication that they had any intention of changing. Selah! Before we look down upon those people, do we go to the Bible regularly for faith? Do we seek God's wisdom? Are there things that require our repentance? Have we repented?        Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-75

In the wake of the Pharisees' blasphemous accusation that Jesus was in league with Beelzebub, the prince of the devils (demons), Jesus issues some strong warnings and spells out some sobering Truths. Matthew, in Chapter 12, Verses 31-37 quotes what Jesus said, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Sinning against Jesus can be forgiven but it is exceedingly dangerous to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. It will not be forgiven. A bad tree bears bad fruit; a good tree bears good fruit. We are the tree, with roots in evil or born again with roots in God's love. What comes out of our hearts is what they are filled with. It is either good or evil. (Once we come to Jesus for salvation, the evil is being purged out with the washing of the water of God's Word and Jesus' cleansing blood. Righteousness is filling the spaces where evil has been recently evicted). Jesus addresses the hypocritical religionists, calling them a generation of vipers and warns them that they (and we) will give account of every idle word on the day of judgment. Our words will justify us or condemn us. Our words, good or bad, are an index of our character. Let's let God's Word tame our tongue. Selah! If our roots go back to Adam's sinful nature, we need to be transplanted into Jesus (giving us that new nature that the new birth provides). It will blossom out in the fruits of righteousness. Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-74

If you can't destroy someone by physical means, perhaps you can by slander and lies. This was apparently the strategy the Pharisees resorted to in Matthew 12:22-30 where Matthew writes, "Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw and all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." After more healings, the Pharisees launch a verbal attack against Jesus. Jesus logically challenged these insulting and hypocritical religionists. Once again, it appears that they had no answer to His challenge. He then follows up with a very important point, as well as a warning. We are either for or against Jesus. There is no middle ground! Ignoring Him is to reject Him. The warning to these religious leaders is that they had better turn to Him, while it might be possible to do so or reap the consequences of rejection. Selah! A major component of discipleship is a wholehearted embracing of the will of God and an undying devotion to His Son.                   Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-73

After Jesus dared to heal a man on the Sabbath, we read of the Pharisees' reaction in Matthew 12:14-21, "Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all; and charged them that they should not make Him known: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 'Behold My servant, whom I have chosen; My beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory and in His name shall the Gentiles trust.'" Infuriated, these religionists discussed how they might kill Jesus. Jesus left that area, followed by multitudes. He healed all that needed healing. He instructed them not to make Him known. Isaiah's prophecy, speaking of Jesus' gentleness (at this time) and His ministry, must be fulfilled. God's blessing was upon Him and He was to minister to the Gentiles. God was welcoming Gentiles to trust in His Son for salvation, along with the Jews. Selah! The Pharisees' response to Jesus only prompted more ministry and the fulfillment of Scripture. With His life being sought, He went about His commision. Like Him, if we are in the will of God, we are immortal until our work is done!                     Ron