A fish out of water

I don’t have a plan. I am a terrible strategist because if I ever do bother to make a plan and the game changes I am undone because I don’t have the brain power or energy to prepare a contingency. (Contingency is not my favorite word, sellers of houses don’t like it much either).

Today’s story in Matt 13 fits my life right now.

“47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”’

Fish don’t live out a well planned and ordered life.

  1. Hatch
  2. Spawn or procreate
  3. Don’t get caught or eaten
  4. Get caught or eaten
  5. Die

Maybe that is a good plan.

If I was like a fish then I am somewhere in between step 3 and step 5.

Then what?

Die.

Then what? Sorted by the angels.

Am I a good fish or a bad fish? Red fish blue fish?

I am a bad fish. But I have a good savior who has forgiven all of my badness and tossed me in his basket.

I am not righteous. Jesus is righteous and he has enough righteousness to cover my sinfulness with his righteousness and make me worth keeping.

I sense the net closing in. It could be my childhood trauma that creates this awareness or it could be God letting me know that my shift is almost over.

Before I go I must ask, do you know that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life so that we can live with him forever? Today is a good day to receive him as your savior. I did. Join us.

Sold it all

The next two parables that Jesus gives us in Matthew 13 make me uncomfortable. They always have but especially right now.

44′ “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”‘

We are in the process of downsizing our life. I didn’t realize how much of my security is in my possessions. I am in a state of anxiety.

When I read these two very short parables my first focus is on the “sold all he had”, “sold everything”.

The point isn’t about the value of what they had. The point is the treasure that they had found far surpassed the sum of everything they owned.

Jesus is that. Jesus is that treasure. He is worth more than the sum of all I possess. Am I seeing him as a great treasure today? Is he worth more than the sum of all I possess? Am I living like it?

Am I all in?

Is everything I possess his to use? His to take?

Do I trust him with my life?

I have trusted Jesus with my eternity, do I trust him with my today? If I get a tomorrow do I trust him with that too?

Big questions for a Tuesday.

What to do with a rebellious son

What to do with a rebellious son?

What can a mom and dad do with a rebellious child? What do we do With a son who will not obey?

I was prompted to read Deuteronomy 21 this morning by my devotional reading list. It holds the Old Testament way to deal with a stubborn and rebellious son. I’ll give you the bad news first.

“If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 – NIV

That is what could have happened but Jesus tells us about a rebellious, entitled and selfish son, who basically says to his father “I wish you would drop dead…so I can have what is coming to me”. The crowd listening to Jesus’ story knew the Old Testament rules and regulations and knew how the father could have responded but Jesus’ story showed us the other side of a good Fathers heart, he showed us God’s mercy and his patience and kindness. This would be the good news.

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Luke 15:11-24 – NIV

The father, at either end of this story could have responded to the sons rebellious and selfish heart with judgement and condemnation. Not just words of condemnation but actual condemnation, he could have dragged him out and had him killed.

In Jesus’ story, God is the father. If I put myself in this story, I am the rebellious son. I am the one who wished my father dead so I could get on with life the way I want to live. A person living a Selfish life always ends up the same, bankrupt and alone.

Let’s go back to Deuteronomy. This set of verses seems to be a dead end. I guess it is literally a dead end. If a son is rebellious he must die. The end. But wait. The chapter doesn’t end there. In the next few verses we get to see the escape hatch, the freedom clause.

““If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and hung on a tree, the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession.”

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 – NLT

This does not sound like an escape clause. It’s just more death.

Jesus, who is Gods own son, was innocent of any crime or sin, hung to die on a cross. He became the curse for us.

Paul says this in his letter to the believers in Galatia:

“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Galatians 3:13 – NLT

Jesus took the curse that I deserve.

Jesus took the curse that you deserve.

We are loved and forgiven like the returning prodigal, not because of anything we did, but because of what Jesus did.

Paul said in his letter to the believers in Rome: “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:6-11 – NLT

Many of the people who read my posts are already believers, if you are one of them, I should say one of us, you already know this stuff. It isn’t new news, it is a comfort maybe to say that Jesus has saved you and you are good. Have you thought about the numbers? The number of people who do not believe in Jesus? If you are in a group of 3 people, statistically the other 2 people you are with do not believe in Jesus. What? That’s crazy right? How can they not believe in Jesus? Maybe no one has ever told them about him. Many people have heard some things about Jesus, mostly wrong or incomplete things, but they don’t know the whole story or the true story of who he is and what he came to do.

You, my reader, have an incredible opportunity to share your story about how Jesus rescued you. One out of every three people in the world believe in Jesus. Two out of every three people in the world do not believe. What shall we do today to tell others about this amazing God who loves us do much that he sent his only son to die for us?

This God is the loving father who runs to hug and kiss prodigals who return. Who can I tell today? Who can you tell today?

I saw a tree…

I was doing my civic duty of social distancing by doing drive through at Rite Aid. I looked over at this tree and I saw this hook shaped branch. I thought wow! That branch completely changed direction and I felt like God said, “what is that a picture of Peter?” At first I didn’t recognize it but then I thought about repentance. Repentance is just that, a change in direction. Spiritually I was going my own way but it was in a direction that took me away from God. When I repented initially and every time since then, I get repointed to God.

This branch was growing straight down and now it has turned and is growing straight up. Repentance. A change of direction.

Luke 15 has one of the greatest stories of repentance and reconciliation.

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:11-24 – NIV

Today would be a good day to repent and come to our father who loves us so much that he gave us Jesus to pay for our mistakes.

Mustard seed

Facebook asks “what’s on your mind?”

I didn’t sleep well and my mind feels like a two year old on a sugar rush. I can almost hear the rapid random foot steps racing from thought to thought.

What’s on my mind?

Yes.
Oh and that too.

Paint.
Coffee.
Windshield wipers.
Concrete.
Push button.
Friends.
Funerals.
Lord of the rings monster.
Coffee.
Jesus.
Mustard seed.
Mustard seed?
Tiny little mustard seed.

In Matthew 13 Jesus talks about the tiny mustard seed. He said the kingdom of God is like it.

“31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”’

I know about A man who lived 2000 years ago. I know what he said and what he did. He was from a different ethnic group than me, he spoke a different language. Thousands of kings and kingdoms has risen and fallen. 2 millennia have passed since he died. More importantly, 2 millennia have passed since he rose from the dead.

This man had 11 guys that were his disciples. Because of their faithfulness the tiny group of men have impacted the planet.

I found this on the internet:

“As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth,” the Pew report says. “Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population.”Apr 2, 2015

Jesus said in Matthew 28, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’

In Luke 24 Jesus says this, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Did I mention my mind behaving…squirrel….

I hope I am understanding the parable of the mustard seed. If I am the church has done well but is not finished. 2.2 billion believe. Good. We need to continue to care for and encourage each other.

4.7 billion do not believe. How many of those have heard the message that Jesus died to forgive our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life? Some will reject the truth. But some will believe and receive.

Today is a Good day to start sharing the good news.

Pants.

Keys.

Coffee.

Squirrel.

Weeds

Weeds. I hate them.

Sometimes weeds are just the right plant in the wrong place. Like violets growing in my grass or grass growing in my flower beds. So let’s not think about those when we say weeds. Let’s think about thistles.

Thistles spread in 2 ways. By seed but also through the root system. If you pull a thistle you are actually propagating new thistles. Every place on the main root system under ground where a plant broken off more grow back. It’s like Mickey in the sorcerers apprentice where every piece of the broom becomes another broom. Nightmarish!

I hate weeds. They are ever present. Weeds are a picture of sin. Weeds are also a picture of people with malicious and evil intent. Why does God allow weeds? Why does he allow people with evil intent to continue to live among us?

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a story about weeds.

“24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”’

I love stories about heart changes, about redemption and things cast aside as useless being brought back in and used. This isn’t one of those stories.

There is a day coming for those “weeds” of this world where they will be gathered and burned.

It breaks my heart to know that not all people will be put in Gods barn. Everyone can be, but not everyone will choose to be in the barn. It is a choice we make.

Jesus explains the parable later in the chapter.

“36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

John says this in his book about good news:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Who will we choose today?

We get to choose. I Choose the barn. I Choose Jesus. I Choose life.

And you? What is your choice today?

Eternity yawns-

This is a repost but I think it may be worth a second look. It isn’t Wednesday on the 22nd this year but the message is still true.

It’s Wednesday March 22. Its hump day, the middle of the week. I am anticipating that I have 2 more days until a weekend break, then work a week, then a short vacation, then work/break/ work/ etc for 14 years and then retire then grow old and then die.

That’s what I’m assuming will happen. But what if this is the day that a truck crosses the center line and I don’t make it? What if my extended plans for life don’t work out? What is the most important thing I can do today if it’s my last day here?

What if there is an eternity just the other side of our last exhale? Our breath leaves our lungs and our soul slips out of our body and then what? Heaven? Hell? In light of the fragility of life should I be prepared for eternity?

When Jesus was crucified he was hung on a cross between 2 other criminals, two thieves. All 3 of these men knew eternity was very close. They were swinging on a thread over the chasm of death.
Let us listen in on their conversation.

“32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’

What are the words that I can write on this post to encourage people to believe in Jesus and receive him as savior? What can I say?

What do you believe about Jesus?
Did he rise from the dead? Did he pay for our sins with his death? Have you accepted that gift?

Eternity is coming, some call it death and expect it to be an end but the Bible tells us that the end of this life is just a doorway into eternity. Eternity has two options, with God or without him. I highly recommend the with God option.

Eternity yawns beneath us all.

Accept Jesus’ gift today. Today is all we know that we get. Today.