Are You Tending the Garden For You or God

ADVENTURES IN THE PARABLES wicked tenantsJesus was preparing the world for the next life through parables. His stories came directly from God since He is the Word of God. He continually spoke of life in the Kingdom verses living in darkness.

And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Luke 20:9-17

Not What Some May Think

The person that is trying to accomplish replacement theology will tell you that the tenants were the whole people Israel, it is not. Yes it explains their disobedience but it is specifically directed to those in religious leadership positions in the Sanhedrin.

The landowner is God and the vineyard is Israel. As I mentioned, the tenants are the religious leaders who are responsible for speaking the truths of God’s Word of which they perverted and polluted with laws of man. This poisoned Israel and caused many to perish without the full truth or a proper repentance.
So the landowner sends servants. These servants are the prophets. These were the obedient ones who were chosen to turn Israel back to God but were killed for speaking out against the status quo set up by man. The people were still not returning properly to God and though they thought they were conducting proper worship, they were not.
God, not happy with His chosen people and those appointed from the tribe of Levi takes the most loving of actions. He sends Jesus, the Word made flesh and the established religious rulers have Him killed.

Now The Rest of the Story

The religious leaders have been condemned through their actions. Some of God’s Chosen People have accepted Christ as the Son of God and continued the original mission set forth by the Father. The Twelve Apostles were sent out to the world (the new other tenants) to bring the rest of the Israelites and the world back to God. Yes our mission was initially to assist in bringing the Israelites back to God then to hand the main priestly job back to them. Jesus said to make disciples of all men, not leave out His Chosen People.
Now what about those religious leaders?
They were jealous. They were envious of Jesus’ popularity and an encroachment on their authority. Their pride was hurt and they were embarrassed. It actually caused them to fall right into God’s plan. The priests feared an uprising that would displace them and ruin the good relationship with the Roman authorities who controlled the land. The big problem is that they were consumed by fear of losing the joy they had from the earthly riches and did not want to ruin their chances of greater wealth and prestige.

We Have Failed

There are two types of religious leaders in the world, those who stay in the truth of the Word and those have denied the teachings of Christ to make everyone feel good about their life. Many who started out in the Word became consumed by fame and fortune. The Word has been changed to fit society because the ways of man have returned to the likes of Sodom and Gomorrah. The message is now a feel good about your own life rather than obedience and respect for others.

Thankfully the truth is still out there and there are those who make an impact. True Believers have begun to resurface fighting for the right truth of the Word and we are slowly getting back to the right way of living. Satan’s power is weakening but he is still holding on.

So Who Are You?

The Father sent His Son to redress the vines so the branches can grow and produce new fruit. Those who became too engrossed by power perverted the Word, poisoning the branches which produced a fruit that would never ripen.

Are you like one of the wicked tenants who wish to gain things for your own personal desires while telling God that He is no longer fully relevant? Or are you a new tenant who works the land for the owner and produces fruit by doing your very best to follow His Word and Plan for us.

Beloved Brother and Sisters we must continue to fight for the truth of the Word and reopen hearts to let Jesus back in. We need to replace the false man-made teachings of this age with the truth. Are you ready to suffer for righteousness? Time is running out on all sides and we cannot let the devil win. Keep the truth of the Word on your heart and share it daily. Love others with the grace and mercy that the Father has for us.

Blessings,
Rob

Haughty or Humble Heart, the Choice is Yours

ADVENTURES IN THE PARABLESJesus has a way of really getting to the heart of things doesn’t He. In this week’s Adventure in the Parables we look at what Jesus tells us about the difference between the haughty and contrite heart.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

This Parable Lesson has a great deal of relevance today. We have individuals who brag about themselves caring little for those around them except when it suits their need for fulfilment. This is a false feeling because it is only temporary. In the Parable, Jesus teaches of one who claims He is right with God to God in prayer, while in a partially seclude area there is another who humbles himself to God in prayer. The first man is actually trying to convince himself that he is right with God through his actions and conducting himself according to the Law of Moses. The tax collector knows his heart is in the world but wants to change so he humbles himself asking for forgiveness and help to make himself right with God, not through actions but a change in heart.

It all boils down to a heart matter. Is your heart so full of yourself that you cannot see the onlookers who only see the braggart? Or is your heart hurting because you know that you are not right even when you try to do the right thing and you silently give yourself in humble adoration to God.

I discussed this partially in a previous post ( Sharing Faith) but it was not seen by many due to the timing of release. Sometimes we are chosen to do the corporate prayer in an open setting. That is not the time to put yourself on show so others see your faith. It is a time to share with the congregation the heart, value, and mission of the church. If you pray in haughtiness, your prayer is overrun by those whose hearts are humbled. If your prayer is humble, then it creates an atmosphere that the Body of Christ should have.
Now this Parable has more connotations than just prayer, it is our daily walk. God wants us to be a people who walk with Him daily but at the same time not to brag or accept accolades for things that we do for the Kingdom. Since everything is posted on social media we have more people who brag on themselves and look for the amount “likes” or other reactions that we feed our emotional responses to.

When we write or see something on social media that conduces a heart reaction that convicts, causes sadness, or does not suit our materialist heart hearth, it is either ignored or gives a temporary notion of “I hope someone is doing something about this” reaction. I tell you this, God created us to do something about the pain in the world so react with some kind of positive action do not just be dormant. But make sure it is something that is right with the teachings of God, not the manipulated teachings of man.

Be cautious what you do or say that it is not taken in such a way that you are like the Pharisee. Be like the tax collector because that is who we are; humble and contrite, doing things for God’s Kingdom giving all Glory and honor to Him.
But please note this: It is ok to say thank you and accept things but give the portion that is God’s to Him because He is the one who gave you the means to accomplish great things.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, have a blessed day wherever this finds you. Do something for others today (and every day) and in humility, give it to God. God will bless you in more ways than we can honestly fathom.

In God’s Love through His Grace and Mercy, Have a great and blessed day.

Prodigal Son P3: The Loving Father

The Prodigal Son p3

The Father pleas with the Eldest Son and exclaims:
 ‘Son, you are always with me,’ said the father, ‘and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life — he was lost but has been found.’” Luke 15:31-32
The steadfast and loyal son had his faith shaken because there has never been a celebration like this for him. But the father, full of grace, mercy, love, and full compassion helps him understand why the celebration is taking place. Jesus is now showing the attributes of God to both the lost and the believer.

So the father in this story represents God. You see, this father waited patiently for his son to return. In the same manner the father reacted, God waits for the repentant sinner. He has compassion for the one who comes on his own accord. The father had apparently heard about the state of affairs the son found himself in and waited expectantly for the son to return. This is revealing that God knows our hearts and grants us the opportunity to return to Him. The great celebration shows how God is a forgiving, compassionate God who will shower His love on us and restores to our place in the Father’s arms.

What a joy it will be but let’s look at the parable again for a second. When the father saw the boy from a distance, he lunged towards him not in a scornful manner, but loving. The father did not even let his son finish the practiced confession but unconditionally lavished mercy and grace upon him returning him to status of fellowship within the family. The father running to his son, greeting him with a kiss and ordering the celebration to begin is a picture of how our Heavenly Father feels towards sinners who repent.

God greatly loves us, patiently waits for us to repent so he can show us His great mercy, because he does not want any to perish nor escape as though by the fire. It is our understanding of God’s compassion for us that enables us to show concern for the lost and celebrate when they are found so He prepared a mediator for us. Just as the father is the mediator between the sons Jesus is the mediator who ultimately took our place to change our fate of being lost in the darkness without God.

Jesus in this parable tells us that we are forgiven but must take the first step by realizing and confessing our sins to the Father. He also says that God is waiting patiently for us to do just that. He is merciful and wants us to come home. We as Christians seek out others to bring home but I tell you this, “No one comes to the father but through Jesus Christ”. We are His vessels and our work is His. Those who seek forgiveness come to Father on their own accord but sometimes a seed must be planted. We are the sower of that seed as we are commissioned by Jesus to spread His Word.

The picture of the father receiving the son back into relationship is a picture of how we should respond to repentant sinners as well:
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Luke 17:3;

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2;

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20.

What is the core message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son that we have spent the last three Saturdays trying to get to? It boils down to this: It is only by God’s grace that we are saved, not by works that we may boast of some goodness that we perceive to be our own.

 

Prodigal Son P2: The Steadfast Son

 

The Prodigal Son p2

Jesus was about to expose the hearts of the Sanhedrin and others who cared more about their own spiritual well-being rather than others. Let us continue from where we left off from part one: After the younger son went inside with his father, the older son was coming in from his duties in the field.

The Hard Hearted Cannot Forgive

25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came close to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ 27 The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come back, and your father has slaughtered the calf that was fattened up, because he has gotten him back safe and sound.’ 28 But the older son became angry and refused to go inside.

The brother who went off and tried life has come home which makes the father very happy. I am guessing it had been quite a while so the elder more obedient son was fully set in his ways and had taken on some of the younger son’s tasks. I would probably be happy to see him return so he can resume his duties but that is not the point here. The elder son is disappointed because there was never a celebration in his honor. But why would there be. He has done exactly as he should have, or so he thinks. His refusal to accept and be happy that the younger is similar to the distaste certain faithful people have when a person who was a known sinner returns in repentance. It is hard to accept someone back when your heart is hard and does not truly remember or understand God’s Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness.

“So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 ‘Look,’ the son answered, ‘I have worked for you all these years, and I have never disobeyed your orders. But you have never even given me a young goat, so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 Yet this son of yours comes, who squandered your property with prostitutes, and for him you slaughter the fattened calf!’ 31 ‘Son, you are always with me,’ said the father, ‘and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life — he was lost but has been found.’”

So, is the “obedient son” really obedient? He is the faithful son or so we are led to believe at first. This man stayed by his father’s side all those years working for the father in preparation for the day when he would receive the blessings that are rightly his. The eldest son represents the self-righteous who hear but do not really understand.

Anyone who claims to be in this light while hating his brother is still in the dark. The person who keeps loving his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him that could make him trip. But the person who hates his brother is in the dark — yes, he is walking in the dark, and he doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:9-11

Forgiven?

The Pharisees of the day paid lip service to God and the people but secretly sinned and thought that their outward appearance and works guaranteed a spot at the heavenly banquet. These are the ones who let man’s law and traditions interfere with the truth even though they thought they were doing what God asked of them. Forward to modern times, he represents zealous believer who cannot accept the penitent sinner as brother in Christ. But God has compassion on them as the father showed compassion on his elder son. If we believe and are unable to love our neighbor as ourselves then we are being like the brother who did not accept the younger. In fact he saw the younger brother as a threat and would not forgive. He chose suffering and isolation over restoration and reconciliation.

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours. Matthew 6:14-15

He allowed anger to take root in his heart to the point that he was unable to forgive or show compassion towards his brother, and for that matter the perceived sin of his father against him.

But for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:5-7

Let’s recap for a moment what we learned here:
1. In order to be accepted into the house, we must accept the poor sinner who desires His mercy.
2. Do not be hard hearted towards a new believer but welcoming. Do not shut a door
3. God’s Love is the same for all believers so when a new believer comes to the fold, rejoice do not be jealous of his/her acceptance no matter the past if the person is known to you.
4. Suffering and isolation keeps you away from the joys of heaven. Being in a relationship with other believers, sharing stories of God’s Grace, Love, and Mercy with believers and the lost, and welcoming those who come home is what God desires of us.

 

Parables: Not Just Children’s Stories

ParablesDo you remember hearing and reading fairy/morality tales and other bedtime stories when we were young? These were stories on how to live a right and good life while on earth that told us how to be good and the possible consequence if we do not listen. God has a way of teaching about Himself, what it will be like to live with Him in the Kingdom, and how we can start living that way while here on earth. They are the Parables but why did God have Jesus share in this way?

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Matthew 13:10-13

During His time on earth, Jesus spoke to the people in ways they could understand. He spoke to the multitude by giving great sermons that convicted and healed. He had many dinner conversations that were lessons on faith. He had chance meetings, synagogue preaching, private conversations, and many others; but the one way he spoke to every soul was through the Parables. In this age we would call them illustrations and the point would still get across. Now every Parable that Jesus spoke was directly linked to the God.

14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
Matthew 13:14-15

Parables and illustrations help the hearers and listeners to visualize what is being said because they take situations from the timeframe they originate in. Simple words for a simple time. Jesus gave the people a visual representation so that they could see and relate the stories to the Word which they had lost and get a picture of God’s desire for the personal relationship with His Creation. You see, it is all part of God’s timing and He picked the right moment where He knew that many of His Chosen People would return to Him. However, the people needed that physical representation and the Isaiah prophecy fulfillment of the Messiah (we always need something physical for some reason) in order to believe in the spiritual when it is revealed.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matthew 13:16-17

Jesus knew how to get to the heart of the matter and speak to the very soul while giving a visual and sometimes physical representation on how people should live with each other and then compared it to life in the Kingdom. When God spoke the Word into mortal existence, He brought the Kingdom with Him. Many people who sought (and seek) Him found (find) Him and those who were and are blinded by their righteousness are still seeking Him. The Parables are a great reminder that we will never be fully right while on earth unless we serve and are faithful to God through Jesus. Saying this reminds me of the old hymn, “Trust and Obey” that goes:

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way
What He says we will do
Where He sends we will go
Never fear, only trust and obey
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

AMEN