Tag Archives: Parables of Jesus

When Birds Come to Nest in Your Branches

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?  Some say that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are two different things, but, if you examine scriptures, Jesus spoke of them interchangeably…

30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-31  NLT

18 Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19  NLT

So, again, where or what is the Kingdom of God?  How do we find it? 

Egypt-Christians-AP

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-8  NLT

The first thing we need to understand about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, is that only those who are born again will be able to see and enter it.  He also tells us that the Kingdom belongs to those who are poor in spirit…

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].”

Matthew 5:3  AMP

Jesus makes it clear in this verse that the poor in spirit (those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant) have the kingdom of heaven…  He doesn’t say that the kingdom will be theirs, using the future tense.  He spoke in the present tense, meaning this is already so.

Therefore, since Jesus tells us that we must be poor in spirit to receive the kingdom of heaven, and that we must also be born again, in order to even see it or enter it, we must be poor in spirit in order to be born again.  For it is when I was poor in spirit, that I recognized my absolute need for a Savior.  Because I am poor in spirit, I know that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.  I needed and I still need Jesus, and in order to be a part of His kingdom, I needed to be reborn.  I was already born of water from my mother’s womb, so now, I needed to be born of the Spirit.

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].”

Matthew 5:4  AMP

It is because I was (and still am) poor in spirit, that I began to mourn (repent) of my sins, and I cried out to Jesus to forgive me and save me.  In that instance, He heard the cries of my heart, and I was born again.  He had not only forgiven my sins, He had also cleansed me from all unrighteousness.  I was no longer the same.  I had been transformed, not because of my goodness, but because of His mercy and goodness.  Immediately, I became a part of the Kingdom of God, because His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  For, His temple is not in a building made by human hands.  According to His word, His temple is now within my body…

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  NASB

The kingdom of heaven is here on earth, among His children, who have been born of His Spirit.  When two or more of us gather together in His name, He is here, in the midst of us.  If you have been born again, you are a part of His kingdom, and you can see it…

So, what is this kingdom like???

mustard-seed

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

Remember, in His other parables, Jesus said that the seed represents God’s word, and the crop that grows from it represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word, and produce a large harvest…

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Mustard Tree

Therefore, the tiny little mustard seed represents the word of God, planted into the hearts of man.  Then, that tiny little seed grew into an enormous tree, which represents the growth of the church.  Think about it, on the day of Pentecost, there were only about one hundred and twenty (see Acts 1:15) Christ followers, but after the Holy Spirit blew in, settling on them in the upper room, they rushed out into the streets, rejoicing.  Before the day was over, three thousand more believers had been added to their number (see Acts 2:41)!  Everyday after that, more and more believers joined them, as the church continued to grow enormously (see Acts 2:46-47).  Within a short time, the number of believers grew to five thousand (see Acts 4:4)As people were healed and witnessed many miracles, signs and wonders, crowds of men and women began to believe (see Acts 5:14)!  Indeed, as God’s message spread, the number of believers greatly increased.  Even some of the priests became believers (see Acts 6:7).

The church grew amazingly fast, and amazingly large.  Just look at how many people claim the Christian faith today.  In fact, as that mustard seed grew into a huge tree, birds came and made nests in it… Do you remember that the birds represented the evil one, snatching the word away  from the believers in the first parable we talked about in Sowing Seeds Begins with  Prayer?

Whenever scripture speaks to us in parables, they don’t change.  For instance, leaven (yeast) always represents sin.  The seeds in these stories, represents God’s word.  Likewise, the birds represent the evil one.  Whenever the word of God goes out, the enemy seeks to destroy it or snatch it away.  In this case, we see that the enemy has built nests within the church.  So, what does this mean?

In the parable we discussed yesterday, in The Wheat and the Weeds Know the Truth, we saw that the weeds, which were planted by the evil one, grew up right alongside of the wheat (true believers).  Likewise, today, we see the true believers (the church) represented by the mustard tree, and nesting within its branches, are the birds (those sent by the evil one, to snatch the word of God away from the believers).  Do you wonder if this is even possible?  Look at this warning from Jesus…

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

Matthew 24:24-25  NLT

There are deceivers in the church, right now.  They are in the pulpits, on committees, and in the pews.  Some may seem righteous, but their hearts are black.  Therefore, it is vital that you know the Truth, and the only way to know Truth is by having a close relationship with Jesus.  Talk to Him and study His word.

16 Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  NASB

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32 NLT

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Matthew 7:15-20  NLT

Beloved reader, if you walk in close obedience to Jesus, you will not be fooled by the birds in the tree.  Even if you are momentarily fooled, God will open your eyes to the truth, and when He does, you  must proclaim the truth of God’s word to others, so that they will not be fooled.  I’m not telling you to kill the birds, because the Lord will remove them, when the time is right.  I’m telling you to speak the truth in love and walk in truth. 

15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.

Ephesians 4:15  AMP

15 Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 AMP

If you will do this, beloved, you need have no fear of the birds (enemies of God’s word) in the church (followers of Christ).

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

The Wheat and the Weeds – Know the Truth

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Matthew 13:24-30  NLT

Let’s examine this parable and discover its meaning…

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.

Matthew 13:24  NLT

We learned yesterday, from Sowing Seeds Begins with Prayer, that the good seed that was planted, represents the word of God that was planted in the hearts of people…

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him,
    and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and His life brought light to everyone.

John 1:1-4  NLT

Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6  NLT

Jesus is the word of God.  He is the living, and the spoken word of God.  Every scripture that has ever been inspired or God breathed, points us to Jesus.  And Jesus made it clear that He is the only Way to God.  He made it clear that He is the Truth, and that He is Life.  Those who hear this and understand this, represent the good seed that the farmer spread onto the ground…

Let’s look at a portion of the prayer that Jesus prayed for those representing the good seed, on the night before He was crucified…

13 “Now I am coming to You. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with My joy. 14 I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth. 18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth…”

John 17:13-19  NLT

This is such an important passage for the good seed.  Do you see what Jesus said?  He gave us God’s word.  He gave us Himself.  When we become the good seed, by hearing and believing God’s word, He makes us holy. 

Jesus knew that He would be crucified the next day, and so He asked the Father to make us holy by His truth.  Do you remember who Jesus said the Truth is?  God’s word, Jesus, is Truth.  We become holy, good seed, by God’s Truth – Jesus…

weeds and wheat

25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

Matthew 13:25-26  NLT

Who is the enemy of God?  We all know that the devil is God’s enemy, but did you know that the devil isn’t God’s only enemy?

1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrongyou want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit He has placed within us should be faithful to Him.

James 4:1-5  NLT

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe Me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse Me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

John 8:42-47  NLT

The weeds that were planted among the wheat or the good seed, weren’t just the devil.  It included religious leaders, and people who call themselves men and women of God, though they really hate the truth.  Paul even warned Timothy about this…

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

2 Timothy 3:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus didn’t tell these parables just because He liked telling good stories.  He was telling them to prepare His people then and now, and to warn them.  Today, in the church, (I’m not talking about  the various buildings, where people attend services.  I’m talking about the people themselves, who claim to be Christ followers.) there are many false beliefs and practices, which have sprung up over the last two thousand years, since Christ’s death and resurrection.  Some false beliefs and ideas came from merging true Christianity with pagan practices.  Others came from people trying to make Christianity more appealing to the masses, by ignoring obedience, and making Christianity more worldly.  Still other false practices and beliefs came from the very pit of hell, in order to deceive the people of God. 

Because of this, we have men and women in the pulpit, preaching lies to their congregations.  Some deliberately deceive their followers, while others unwittingly do so, as they repeat the lies that they have been taught, ignorant of the truth themselves.  That is why it is vital for each person to pray to the Almighty in Jesus’ name, asking Him to reveal the Truth to them.  Also, when you read a book by a Christian author, or a post, such as this one, pray and seek the truth in the scriptures for yourself.  I’m human, and though I don’t want to mislead anyone, I do make mistakes.  See if what I’m telling you lines up with the word of God.  Likewise, whenever you read something by any Christian author, see if it lines up with God’s word.  Beloved reader, you don’t want to be mislead, because God isn’t going to separate the weeds (the deceivers) from the wheat (true Christ followers), until the last day…

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Matthew 13:27-30  NLT

The deceivers and the deceived continue grow along with the lovers and believers of the truth.  Therefore, pray, study and read God’s holy scriptures, for in them, you will find the truth…

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Why Parables???

I love the parables of Jesus.  They give me something to ponder and pray about.  My prayer is that my ears would not simply hear the words, but that I will listen to His words, heed them, and understand them.  Father, open my ears, that I may hear.  Open my eyes, that I may see, and open my heart and mind, so that I may understand Your words and live in obedience to them.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Jesus often spoke to people in parables, and His disciples asked Him why He did this…

10 His disciples came and asked Him, “Why do You use parables when You talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Matthew 13:10-17  NLT

These words sound harsh to many, but they give me hope.  Have you ever tried to share the truth of the gospel to someone, and no matter how clear it is to you, they just don’t get it?  Indeed, they don’t even want to hear about this Jesus, who has captured your heart.  Have you ever walked away from a situation like this, feeling like a failure?  I have…

Yet, perhaps the failure wasn’t mine.  Perhaps, in His great wisdom, this was part of the lesson that Jesus gave His disciples (that includes all of His followers), so that they would continue in the work that He gave them, even when they felt as though they had failed.  I have shared the gospel with friends, family, people I love, and with enemies, sometimes, with great success.  Other times, I’ve faced abysmal failure, which left me feeling ill-equipped and unworthy of sharing this Good News.

Yet, as I read these words of Jesus, my heart wonders, “Is it possible that they heard, but they didn’t listen?  Could they have seen, and yet not seen?”  Again, I am reminded of something else Jesus spoke to His disciples…

44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up.

John 6:44  NLT

When I think of the prophets of long ago, crying out for the people of God to repent, they weren’t welcomed with open arms and open hearts.  No, they were mocked, scorned and ridiculed, at best.  Many were even assaulted, and murdered for sharing God’s Good News.  Many were killed by the religious leaders of their day. 

So, why is it, that I expect things to be easier for me?  Why is it, that I expect the church to embrace me in love, when I don’t have any words that will tickle their ears?  Though I speak the truth in love, most still don’t want to hear it. 

15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

Matthew 13:15  NLT

Still, we must continue to speak the truth in love, and proclaim the good news whenever we are given the opportunity…

1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom: Preach (proclaim) the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

2 Timothy 4:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus commanded all of us to go and make disciples of all nations.  Every man, woman and child, who comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ has been given the honor and the privilege of sharing the Gospel with those we come into contact with.  Therefore, let us not be discouraged when it seems that no one is listening, or that no one really cares.  It is our joy and honor to speak the truth in love, and trust the Father to draw whomever He will to Jesus.  It is also our privilege to call upon the Lord to open the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of those with whom we share the Gospel, and let Him reap the results.

I ministered in prison for ten years, and during that time, I saw many of the same women leave and return to prison again and again.  Sometimes, I was certain they had finally seen the light, only to watch in sorrow, as they returned to prison again and again.  Yet, I don’t believe my time there was wasted, because I only know what the Lord led me to speak and do.  I don’t know who really listened and understood in their heart, but God does.  My time wasn’t wasted, because I obeyed Him, and I drew closer to Him, as He filled my heart with love for the women I ministered to.  We may never see all of the results of our labor, before our time in this life is finished, but let us be like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the prophets who have gone before us…

1All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT

Father, I pray that You would continue to give us, Your children, eyes to see and ears to hear You.  Give us hearts that are willing to obey You and walk humbly with You, O Lord.  Show us Your ways, and let us not look to the right or to the left, but help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You. 

Please help us not to be discouraged by what seems like failure to us.  Instead, give us a willing spirit to speak Your word in and out of season, no matter whether it is received by others or not.  And when our work here is finished, Father, let us be able to join Paul in saying…

Finished the Race - 1

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

2  Timothy 4:7-8  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers