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Five Minutes with God

Five Minutes with God is a distinct and exciting approach to daily Bible devotionals. Instead of a lofty goal of going through the entire Bible—or even the New Testament—in one year, Five Minutes with God focuses on shorter passages so that the reader can absorb more of the text and apply it to everyday life. This daily podcast will step you through the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ. Each day’s podcast also ends with a thought for further reflection and a call to prayer. By reading, reflecting, and praying, Five Minutes with God will help you come to know Him, love Him, and follow Him like never before.
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Now displaying: April, 2015
Apr 30, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

One of the things that often drew people to Jesus in large crowds was His ability to heal the sick and even raise the dead. His power over physical life was remarkable, and many came to Him seeking the restoration of health for themselves or their loved ones. But the physical lives of people were never Jesus' primary concern. Beyond the power to restore physical life and health, Jesus held the power of eternal life. For those who would hear His word and believe in Him, He had been granted by the Father the authority to give eternal life. But this text also reveals that Jesus has been given authority to execute judgment upon all who are in the grave, both the good (obedient) and the evil (disobedient). To the good, he would grant the resurrection of life, and to the evil, the resurrection of judgment. This text serves both to comfort the faithful and to warn the unfaithful. That day of resurrection and judgment is surely coming. Are we ready to stand before Christ the judge?

How and by what standard will we be judged by Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 29, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

John began his gospel with the declaration that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In this passage, Jesus confirms and expounds upon that statement of unity and oneness between the Father and the Son. Jesus came into the world to show us God. Every word, action, and attitude demonstrated by Jesus was a perfect reflection of the heart, mind, and will of God. The Father and the Son were (and are) one in mind and in motive. Nothing that Jesus did during His life and ministry was done independently of God. What does all of this mean for us? It means that, as we read and study about the life of Jesus, we are learning about God. He has shown Himself to us through His Son. As Paul would later write: "He was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). God has given us the wonderful blessing of seeing and knowing Him through the life of Jesus, so that we might draw nearer to Him in love and faith. What a great God we serve, and what a wonderful Savior!

What are some things we learn about God through the life of Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 28, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

It has been said that, "Jesus never left anyone where they were." The meaning of this short little statement is that, such was Jesus' compassion, wisdom, power, and influence, that anyone who encountered Him was changed by Him in some way. In this text, we meet a man who had suffered from an infirmity (probably some form of paralysis or lameness) for 38 years. Jesus' healing of this man certainly changed his physical life, but that is not the change I want to focus on. One of the unique things about this healing is that it was not prompted or made possible by the faith of the healed. This man did not even know Jesus' name and was looking for some magical cure from the pool for his healing. Nothing is said about faith, but Jesus healed him. But how did this interaction with Jesus change the faithless man? Notice Jesus' statement to him: "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." While Jesus often healed because of an existing faith, in this case, it seems that He healed in order to produce faith. He expected a change to take place in the spiritual life of this man to whom He granted physical healing. As always, Jesus was focused on the all-important spiritual life. What a great lesson for us!

How have you been changed by Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 27, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Jesus' time in Nazareth was difficult and disappointing. He came to them as the Master Teacher, but they only saw the one who had grown up in Nazareth—the son, the brother, the carpenter. They discounted His authority and wisdom and questioned His power. Such was their unbelief that, people had flocked to Jesus in other places to have their sick healed, in Nazareth, even His restorative powers were not accepted, and He had little opportunity to display His mighty works. What can we learn from this event in the life of Jesus? While there are several valuable lessons to be learned here, maybe the greatest is the one revealed in the last statement: "And He went about among the villages teaching." Jesus was refused by His own city, the people who had known Him the longest, but He kept teaching. He faced their ridicule, skepticism, and rejection, but He kept teaching. Many times in our lives, we will be rejected, turned down, maybe even scoffed at for our attempts to share Jesus with friends, family, coworkers, and others. Many will not accept us or our message, but we must remember that not even Jesus was successful all the time, so keep teaching!

How should we deal with people who reject or ridicule us for trying to share our faith?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 26, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

It is no wonder that people constantly came to Jesus, pleading with Him to heal them of their afflictions. The blind, the mute, the lame, the demon-possessed—they all needed healing that had never been available to them before and was not available through any other source. Jesus alone offered them hope. Why wouldn't they come to Him? Any of us would most likely have done the same, right? Well, have you considered that we all suffer from a terrible and fatal disease? It is an epidemic that afflicts all of mankind, and there is no treatment or cure other than that offered by Jesus. The disease is sin, and Jesus is our only hope. He still offers healing, the type of healing that we desperately need but cannot find anywhere else. The question is: do we desire the healing that He offers, and are we willing to come to Him to find it?

Why do you think so many do not come to Jesus for spiritual healing?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 25, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Faith is one of the great cornerstones of our salvation; without it, we cannot be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). While the gospels give us a clear picture of the rejection and ridicule Jesus faced at the hands of His enemies, they also show us many great examples of faith. Miraculous healings were no more common in the days of Jesus than they are in our day. The woman at the center of this story had suffered from a condition for many years and had exhausted all medical options available to her. She was, for all practical purposes, incurable. But she had faith! So much faith, in fact, that she believed just touching the hem of Jesus' garment would provide the healing she so desperately needed. She wasn't looking for some great display of Jesus' power, no impressive speech, no awe-inspiring demonstration—just the simple touch of her hand to the cloth of His garment. She believed that would be enough, and she was right! She was healed through Jesus' power, but He reveals that it was, in fact, her faith that had made her well. What a great and powerful example of faith!

How can we demonstrate our faith in Jesus today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 24, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

We often think of the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day as being an unbelieving lot who, as a whole, rejected Jesus and ultimately were responsible for His death. But this Jewish ruler had great faith in Jesus—so much so that he was willing to leave the side of his dying daughter to find Jesus and plead for Him to come and heal her. But even his faith had its limit. While he wholeheartedly believed in Jesus' power to heal, he could not bring himself to believe that anyone, even Jesus, could raise his child from the dead. As Jesus was delayed by the crowds, and one came from Jairus' house to report that the girl had died, all hope seemed lost. Their feelings of hopelessness were summed up in the question asked of Jairus: "Why bother the Teacher any further?" But Jesus quickly reassures them. This was not to be a day of mourning, but of celebration. Jairus' daughter would live. Even the chains of death had no power over Jesus. His command for her to "arise" was promptly obeyed, and she lived, causing her parents to be "overcome with amazement" and rightly so, for our God is an amazing God!

What lesson(s) can we learn from this great miracle of Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 23, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

The one element of this story that stands out the most in my mind is the reaction and attitude of the demons toward Jesus. These demons, who called themselves "Legion" because they were many (we don't know how many, but Mark's account tells us that there were about 2,000 swine that the demons were allowed to enter into), recognized Jesus and acknowledged Him as "Son of the Most High God." Not only did they identify Him, but they acknowledged His power and submitted to His authority. Notice that they "begged" Him not to command them to go into the abyss (referring to the place of imprisonment for evil spirits) and asked permission to enter into the swine instead. In a world where those who flaunted the position of being God's chosen people would refuse and reject Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, these demonic spirits acknowledged and submitted to Him. There is certainly a lesson there for us and our world today. Jesus is the Christ. He has been given the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9) and He has all authority (Matthew 28:18). We must learn to submit to Him and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives.

Why do you think so many have such a difficult time acknowledging and submitting to Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 22, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

“Peace! Be still!” These are the words that Jesus used to rebuke the storm and calm the seas, but they could just as easily have been said to the disciples. As this storm raged, the winds violently tossed the boat about in the sea. The boat was “being swamped by the waves” (Matthew’s words) so that it was filling with water. But the sea was not the only thing that was unsettled that night. The disciples were frightened, panicked, and desperate. As the waves of the sea filled the boat, waves of fear filled their hearts. How could Jesus be sleeping while we are dying? Does He not care? Jesus’ words to them are very telling: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” The disciples still had much to learn. There were going to be many volatile and unsettling times in their lives of discipleship. They needed to learn the meaning of the words that Jesus spoke to the storm. They needed to learn to trust and to have an inner peace, knowing that they were safe in the hands of the Master. We need to learn that lesson as well. When we face the storms of life, we need to be stilled and calmed as we hear Jesus say to us, “Peace! Be still!”

Why is faith so important during difficult times in our lives?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 21, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

 

 

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

There are several clues in the telling of this event that indicate to us that Jesus’ disciples did not yet fully understand who He was or the extent of His power. In Mark’s account (which we will read tomorrow), they ask Jesus, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Then there is their pondering: “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Clearly, they were still struggling to understand this Man and His purpose. But despite that lack of clarity, when they were in trouble and feared for their lives, it was Jesus that they came to for help. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” They may not have understood exactly how, but they knew that He could save them. And He still can! Many people in the world fail to come to Jesus because they do not fully understand. Maybe they don’t understand how His dying can save them, or how their baptism can wash away sins. Maybe they don’t fully comprehend the concept of eternity or heaven and hell. There may always be things that are beyond our ability to clearly understand, but that does not detract from Jesus’ power to save. We must learn to trust what we do not see and depend on what we cannot fully grasp. That is faith!

What are some things that we can do to help strengthen our faith?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 20, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Over the past several days, we have read and thought about many parables of Jesus. During this period of Jesus' ministry, according to this text, He taught exclusively through these "earthly stories with heavenly meanings." As the Master Teacher, Jesus understood perfectly the hearts of His hearers and knew exactly what they needed to hear and how best to present it. He used these everyday scenes and images to convey spiritual lessons that were difficult to understand otherwise. He also used parables to hide these teachings from His hard-hearted enemies who were constantly looking for a reason to accuse Him of wrongdoing. Jesus' parables continue to be a valuable source of learning for us today. The vivid pictures that Jesus paints with His words still help us understand His teachings and timeless truths. What a blessing it is to be able to sit at the feet of the Master Teacher and to learn from Him.

Why do you think parables were (and still are) such an effective way of teaching?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 19, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

This kingdom parable is about the coming judgment. It paints a picture of the separation of the righteous from the wicked on that day and brings to mind a picture of God that many people struggle with. It is easy for us to read and think about the love and mercy of God, but the righteousness and justness of God, those characteristics that render God incapable of ignoring sin and that demand a just consequence of sin, are harder to bear. We often see these two sides of God as being polar opposites and opposed to one another. However, we must understand that the righteousness and mercy of God are inseparably linked together. The righteousness that demanded a price to be paid for sin is the same righteousness that would not allow us to die in sin without hope. And so, in His righteousness and mercy, God sent His Son to pay the price for sin on behalf of mankind, giving everyone the opportunity to avoid condemnation and to be numbered with the saved. When that great gathering day comes, and the angels are sent to divide the good from the wicked, God’s desire is that there be no wicked found. He has made that end possible through Christ but, ultimately, the choice is ours.

What is our responsibility in being prepared for that day?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 18, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

All that they had—that is the price that they were willing to pay. Their homes, land, animals, business, possessions—everything. Why? Why were they willing to forfeit everything they owned, everything they had worked so hard to acquire, everything that brought comfort and security to their lives? The answer is that both of these men had found the one item that was worth more to them than all that they owned. It was, to them, a priceless treasure that was worth any sacrifice and any price that had to be paid. These two parables relate to us the great and matchless value of the Lord’s kingdom. Do we really consider the kingdom of heaven to be a priceless treasure? Are we willing to forfeit all that we have to be part of it? The fact of the matter is that there is nothing that can compare to what God offers us in that kingdom, and nothing that we should not be willing to give in exchange for it.

What is it that makes the kingdom of heaven so priceless?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 17, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

 

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

This short little parable, like the last, is intended to foretell the growth and influence of the church in the world. Leaven, the object that is used here, is often used in the Bible to represent evil influences and the negative effect that those influences can have on God’s people. Here, however, Jesus uses leaven to represent the good influence of the church. Leaven is the substance used to cause bread to rise. It works on the inside, causing the dough to increase and expand, often to several times its original size. In the same way, Jesus says, as the Word of God is spread through the church, the hearts and lives of people are changed, and the church will grow and expand. The question for us is, are we continuing to be like leaven in the world? Are we striving to change those around us through the Word of God lived out in our lives and thus enlarging the kingdom of heaven? If not, why not?

What are some things that we can do to help enlarge the kingdom of heaven?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 16, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Of all the herbs common to first-century Palestine, the mustard seed was the smallest. But along the banks of the Sea of Galilee, the plant that came from that tiny seed could grow to be ten to fifteen feet tall, with branches rigid enough for birds to nest in. Jesus uses this image, so well-known to His listeners, to describe the kingdom of heaven. That kingdom, He says, though it will begin very small, will grow to be very large and expansive. Just as Jesus prophesied, His church started very small with just a few individuals. But as the word of God was planted in the hearts of men, the church grew and expanded quickly so that, before the end of the first century, it had spread all over the world (Acts 17:6; Colossians 1:5-6). Through the centuries, the Lord’s church has continued to exist, often enduring persecution from without and apostasy from within, yet continually working to serve God faithfully and to plant the seed of the Word of God into the hearts of men. The church, the body and bride of Christ, purchased and paid for with His blood, was and continues to be the glorious kingdom of heaven and a wonderful blessing to all who enter it through Christ.

Why is it important to God that the church continue to grow?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 15, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

This kingdom parable is short and simple and has a very straightforward point. In gardening, your chore is to plant and harvest. Everything that happens between those two tasks is largely out of your control. Sure, you might pull some weeds, give some water, or apply some other type of maintenance from time to time. But the actual processes of growth and production of fruit are things that we cannot control or even fully understand. Jesus says that this is also true of the kingdom of God. Our duty is to plant the seed. How that seed (the word of God) germinates, sprouts, grows, and produces fruit in the life of a person is not within our ability to control or understand. Ours is simply to sow the seed and then do what we can to water and nurture it, understanding that it is God who will bring about the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Why do you think God gives us the responsibility of sowing the seed?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 14, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

There are several phrases within this passage that remind us of statements made by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In this passage, however, all of those statements are made in reference to Jesus’ teaching. Though Jesus was teaching many things by parables, He here indicates that the whole truth of God would soon come to light. That being the case, it was imperative that His followers listen and pay careful attention to the things Jesus taught. That truth has since been revealed to us in the written Word which God has delivered to us through His Spirit and has preserved for all generations by His power and providence. In our day and time, the teachings of Jesus are just as timely and relevant as they ever were, and they are just as vital to our spiritual lives as they were to those who stood in His physical presence. The admonition that Jesus gives to his hearers extends to us as well: “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Why is it so important that we heed the teachings of Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 13, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Good and bad existing together. It is difficult, frustrating, and often discouraging for those who are struggling to be faithful children of God. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a situation that would exist by God’s will, yet it does. While it is not God’s will that any be disobedient to Him and be lost eternally, He has chosen to allow His faithful children to coexist with those who choose to reject Him and live in disobedience. But this parable teaches us that that coexistence will not last forever. At “the end of the age,” Jesus says He will send out His angels to harvest the good seed and destroy the bad. The two will be eternally separated as wheat is separated from the poisonous tares. Knowing that the day of harvest is coming, there are two goals that should be of highest priority in our lives: 1) to be faithful to God so that we might be numbered among the righteous who “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” and 2) to do all that we can to help those around us to come to know, love, and obey God as we do. In view of judgment and eternity, nothing is more important than these.

What can we do to help prepare ourselves for the day of judgment?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 12, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

While this parable is really about the eventual separation of the good from the bad (we’ll think about that tomorrow), there is another truth that I want to think about now. In the story, the tares exist because they are sown by an enemy. The good seed represents godly and faithful lives produced by the seed of God’s word (as we saw in the Parable of the Sower). But there are also bad seeds—seeds of unbelief, worldliness, greed, hatred, and sinfulness that are sown among the good. These seeds produce ungodly and sinful lives. The enemy is Satan. He is constantly trying to contaminate people’s minds, hearts, and lives with his bad seed. His hope is that, as those bad seeds spring up in the lives of many, they will destroy the fruit of the good seed and cause all to be lost. What we must remember is that God’s enemy is our enemy as well. Satan’s desire is to take us away from God and destroy us. We must be diligent and purposeful in our efforts to fend off the attacks of Satan and nourish the good seed of God’s word so that we may continue to grow in faith and knowledge and bear the good fruit that God intends.

What are some things that we can do to protect ourselves against Satan’s bad seeds?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 11, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 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.

Whenever Jesus spoke, his audience was made up of many types of hearers, including those who were faithful followers and sincere listeners, and those who had already rejected Him but sought some basis for accusing Him of wrongdoing. Jesus’ use of parables was for the purpose of differentiating between these two groups. Those who were insincere and simply looking to trap Him by His words would only hear an earthly story and miss the spiritual meaning. However, those who sincerely desired to learn from Him and were listening with “spiritual” ears would gain knowledge about and insight into the kingdom of God. It occurs to me that the word of God is much the same for us today. Those who view it skeptically and look into it only to discredit it will surely miss out on the wonderful blessings gained through knowing God and His will for us. But conversely, the diligent and sincere student of God’s Word who seeks to be taught and strengthened by its precepts will be blessed beyond measure by the timeless truths of that holy book. May we all approach God’s word with willing and open hearts!

What are some of the blessings of studying God’s word?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 10, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

We often call this parable, “The Parable of the Seeds," or “The Parable of the Soils," but Jesus calls it “The Parable of the Sower." Without the sower, there is no seed sown, and thus no opportunity for it to take root and grow. The sower's task was not to dig a hole and carefully plant a seed just right; it was to walk along through the field and scatter the seeds in abundance wherever they might fall. The more seeds he scattered, the more likelihood of a harvest. The "seed" is the word of God, and we are called to be the sowers. Our purpose and God-given task is to sow the seed of God's word into the hearts of men. It is not our place to judge the fertility of the soil and discriminately plant seeds only in the best of soils, but rather simply to sow. Some soils (hearts) will receive the seed and allow it to take root and grow; others will reject or resist the seed, and it will ultimately fail. Still, God wants us to sow. Sow in hard ground, sow in rocky ground, sow in ground overgrown with weeds, and sow in good ground. If we will sow, then God will bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6)!

What are some ways we can be sowers of the word of God?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 9, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

As Jesus looked over this great crowd that had gathered to hear Him teach, He saw their hearts and knew them. They had come to Him from different backgrounds and for different reasons. Jesus told this parable to describe them and the conditions of their hearts. Some had hearts that were hard and impenetrable by the seed of God's word. Others had hearts that were shallow and did not allow the word to take root. Still others had hearts that were filled with cares and desires that choked out the truth of God's word. Then there were the fertile hearts—those that were soft and accepting of God's word; those that offered an environment that nurtured its truths and encouraged growth. It was this heart that Jesus desired His hearers to have, and it is this same heart that God still desires for us today. What kind of heart do you have? May God help us to have a heart that is open and accepting to the truth of God's word.

What are some of the things that cause hearts to be infertile today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 8, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

When we think of the followers of Jesus during His earthly ministry, our minds most likely go immediately to the twelve apostles. They are the most present and visible companions of Jesus as we read through the gospels. But it is important to remember that they were not the only faithful followers of the Lord. There were others, many others, who believed in Him and followed Him from place to place because of their devotion to Him. Some of the most faithful and devoted among these followers seem to be the group of women mentioned in this text. They show up from time to time in the gospel accounts, but most notably in the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. When most of the apostles had abandoned Jesus, these women were at the foot of the cross, grieving for their friend and Lord. Some of them were there when Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb, and they returned on the resurrection morning to properly prepare His body for burial. They were among the first to witness the resurrection. These women were faithful, devoted, courageous followers of Christ who serve as wonderful examples for us.

What can we learn from the example of these women?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 7, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

On the surface, it may seem that Jesus was being disrespectful toward His mother and brothers in disregarding their request. Why would He not speak to them? Why make the statements He made concerning them? To understand what Jesus does and says here, we must understand that Jesus was always focused on His mission and was always looking for opportunities to teach. This request from his family provided just such an opportunity. Jesus’ purpose here was not to disrespect His physical family, but to make the point that there is an even more important spiritual family made up of those who are obedient to God. Jesus wanted His followers, then and now, to understand the importance of being His disciples and of the relationship with God that comes through that discipleship. There is no greater family that we can be a part of than the family of God!

Why is being part of God’s spiritual family so important?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 6, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Jesus uses this interesting little parable to describe the condition of the Jewish leaders of His day, but it also contains a powerful lesson and warning for us. The unclean spirit represents anything sinful or ungodly that might find its way into our lives. When that unclean spirit goes out (is cast out), meaning we repent of the sinful activity and rid our lives of it, there remains a clean but empty space in our lives. If that space remains vacant, that sin (and others) will find their way back into our lives, causing us to be in a worse condition than before. The danger is not in ridding our lives of sin, for this is what God desires and commands of us. The danger is in failing to replace the sin with good, godly things, filling the void and leaving no room for sin to re-enter. As we strive to live faithful lives, let us be determined not only to defeat sin in our lives, but also to be filled to overflowing with godliness.

What are some godly things we should put into practice?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

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