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The Final Catch

In the mid 1950’s a TV series named “Dragnet” aired for several years. It was about a group of detectives in the city of Los Angeles who used a serious of measures to sweep through the streets and bring people in to be either found guilty or acquitted before the law. In this final parable to His disciples about a dragnet Jesus illustrates that in the present form of the kingdom of heaven men both believers and unbelievers are for a time allowed to co-exist. But the time is coming when God will make the separation between the two and…

The Surpassing Value of Christ

Having already compared the Kingdom of God to a man who sowed good seed (13:24-30), to the mustard seed (13:31-32) and the leaven (13:33), Jesus now likens the kingdom of God to the treasure (13:44) and to a merchant who seeks fine pearls (13:45-46). It was a common practice in the 1st century to bury one’s valuables in the ground since only the rich had access to some banks. Because the old times were very unsettling – constant invasion and wars, death and exile – the earth was full of these unclaimed treasures. It is with this background in mind…
In chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus begins to speak in parables. On the one hand, this was an act of judgement to further blind the Jews who have not believed, rejected, and even blasphemed against the Messiah. On the other hand, these parables served as a visual tool to let those who have ears, hear and see the plan of the Kingdom of Heaven that was at hand. Nearly every Jew of that time was expecting the Messiah to come. This expectation was at least partially based on the Old Testament promises that were pointing to the…

Wheat or Weed?

Jesus was a master storyteller. Matthew 13 presents us with 7 parables, which are earthly stories with heavenly meaning. Jesus began speaking in parables after the leaders of Israel rejected Him by attributing His works to Satan (Matthew 12:24). Speaking in parables was a sign of judgment. Although the illustrations were simple, the meaning was concealed from the unregenerate minds and hearts. In these parables, Jesus pronounced judgment on that generation because people devoid of the truth are doomed to parish. On the other hand, speaking in parables was a sign of compassion. Jesus said that the “slave who knew…

Ruth: A Redemption Story

Believers and unbelievers alike recognize Ruth as a beautiful story. The German poet Goethe described Ruth as “the loveliest, complete work on a small scale.” At first blush, Ruth is a simple story of love and charity. Two widows, an old Jewess and a young foreigner, return to Israel after 10 years abroad (1:4), alone, broke, and seemingly without hope (1:20). They only have each other. However, Ruth the Moabitess, the younger of the two, is a believer. She comes to Israel from her native Moab, full of faith in YHWH God (2:12). As the story unfolds, Ruth, whom no…

Why Parables?

The parables of the Kingdom, Matthew Chapter 13, are the third great discourse in Matthew’s Gospel.  Matthew’s Gospel consists of 6 major discourses: The Sermon on the Mount (5:3-7:27); Genuine Discipleship (10:5-42); the Parables of the Kingdom (13:3-52); the Childlikeness of the Believer (18:3-35); the Condemnation of the Scribes & Pharisees (23:2-39) and the Olivet [end times] discourse (24:2-25:46). Parables are vehicles of comparison.  Parables are common in the Old and New Testaments [Hebrew: משל; Greek παραβολή).  They were fixtures among those who studied and professed wisdom.  Many Bibles translate the Hebrew word for parable as ‘proverb’: one could legitimately…

By Way of Jerusalem

Sometimes ministry is like Murphy’s Law.  Murphy’s Law says: “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”  Murphy’s Law is a clean, secular joke.  There is no such law – but sometimes it seems like there is.  In Romans 15:25-33, Paul wanted to do two things: he wanted to go to Jerusalem and personally present to the Jewish Christians a large financial gift from the Greek (Gentile) Christians as a symbol of brotherly love and compassion (15:25-29); then, he wanted to go Rome and get some rest and get acquainted with the Roman Christians (15:30-33).  Both of these events happened, but…

Be a Man!

What is the problem?  The family is in trouble, even Christian families.  33% of ‘born-again Christians’ [those professing Christ as Savior] accept same-sex unions; 39% accept cohabitation before marriage; 27% (24% for non-Christians) are likely to divorce (World 06 Dec 2003, 33).  77% of Christian men 31-49 viewed pornography in the last 3 months; 64% in the last month; 18% admit they are addicted.  For married Christian men, 55% look at pornography monthly; 35% have committed adultery (Provenmen 14 Oct 2014). Who is to blame?  Not God.  That is the oldest excuse in the book: ‘It is the woman whom…

Ministry Priority

Paul greatly esteemed the Roman Christians.  In Chapter 1, Paul called their faith, ‘world famous’:  it was “being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (1:8).  Paul recognized the importance of their ministry in the world’s capital.  He prayed for them “unceasingly” (1:9), prayed to see them (1:10), desired to strengthen them with his unique apostolic gifts (1:11), longed to strengthen and encourage them, and they him (1:12), had often attempted to see them (1:13), had an obligation to see them (1:14) and was eager to preach the Gospel in Rome (1:15).  Paul ‘hungered’ to minister in Rome.   Paul had some…

Behold! Our God!

Isaiah 40 is well-known.  It is the text of the hymn, ‘Behold our God’ by Sovereign Grace.  ‘Who has held the oceans in His hands” and “Who has given counsel to the LORD” are almost word for word from the chapter (40:12-13). The New Testament quotes Isaiah 40.  “A voice of one crying in the wilderness” is John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).  Peter and James quote “the grass withers and the flower fades” (Isaiah 40:8; James 1:11; 1 Peter 1:24).  Paul twice quotes Isaiah 40:13: “Who has known the mind of the…

Ministry According to Paul

Ministry, whatever form or shape it may take, can be overwhelming, frustrating and at times confusing. Paul's ministry was not an exception. However, nothing could take him out of his course. He was like a massive ship going through the ocean of obstacles. It seems that no matter what the obstacle in the ministry, Paul was never derailed from his task. In his 2nd letter to Corinthians Paul's objective was to defend his ministry. He does this for the sake of the believers. Although Corinthians took liberty to question Paul's motives (1 Cor. 4:5), trying to dismiss his apostolic authority…

Paul’s Personal Touch

Paul had a great affection and esteem for the Christians in Rome. In Chapter 1, Paul commended the Christians in Rome for their exemplary faith, a faith "being proclaimed throughout the whole world" (1:8). Paul prayed for them "unceasingly" (1:9). He anticipated a time when he would encourage and strengthen them, and they him (1:12). Recognizing the importance of their ministry in the world's capital, Paul longed to see them (1:11), prayed to see them (1:10), had often tried to see them (1:13), desired to strengthen them with his unique apostolic gifts (1:11), had an obligation to see them (1:14),…