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What made the good Samaritan good?

Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

The first answer I give is that it was not his money. American nationalism and the worship of wealth has ingrained itself into our teaching so much that we sometimes say that the good Samaritan was no good without his money. We have highlighted a piece of this scripture that bears very little importance. We also run the risk of implying that you are not good, can’t help, can’t impact, can’t give, etc if you don’t have a lot of money, which is of course not true.

There is a very good chance that both the priest and the Levite were well off in terms of money. Neither one of them was called the good neighbor.

The good Samaritan was good because when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. He went to him, helped him, and showed the man mercy. The two denarii could have been very little to him, or it could have meant everything to him. He could have taken the man to his own home and been called good. He could have taken the man to a friend’s house with an extra room and still been called good. He could have stayed on the side of the road with him and been called good. His mercy, compassion, and kindness is what made him good.

Matthew 9: 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’

Matthew 12:7 ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.

When the five thousand needed fed Jesus said you feed them. The disciples said they didn’t have enough money. Jesus said give me what you do have. He then blessed it and fed the people. You can read it here.

Do what you can with what you have in your compassion for people, and Jesus will bless it.

You are enough. Just you kneeling down and having compassion is enough.

God is for you, and I am for you!

Matthew 13:1-43….A teaching for you

13:1-3

13 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And [a]large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables,

Lets define parable:

Parable/parabolay (3850 in the concordance)   A teaching aid cast alongside the truth being taught. This gives greater understanding by using a striking and or familiar analogy. So a parable is an analogy that is used to reveal the truth being taught.  Jesus used parables to illustrate the kingdom.

3-17

3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell [b]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, [c]let him hear.”10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 [d]Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 [e]In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

[f]You will keep on hearing, [g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’

 

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

So let me make an important note:

It’s very beneficial if we remember that Jesus was speaking to a multitude of Jews. They were seeing and hearing the person they had been waiting on with great expectation, but they didn’t perceive it or understand. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to break into the world, defeat all of Israel’s enemies, and set them up to rule. The king and the kingdom broke in, but it wasn’t how they expected. This is a central truth that runs through these parables in Matt. 13.

18-23

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

So Jesus gives us an explanation of His parable. This is important because we can see that it really is an analogy used to reveal the truth being taught. He lets us know that the parable isn’t about birds and vegetable seeds. This is important to understand because we have to apply it to all of the parables. For example we can’t say that the parable of the minas/talents/silver are about money. The money was the familiar concept used to reveal the truth being taught. (what I believe He was teaching will be another post for another time) It’s the same here, there is a truth being revealed that has nothing to do with birds, and veg seeds. The word of the kingdom is being sown into the earth; however, at the same time there is an enemy who steals it. Now remember the Jews were expecting the kingdom in power and domination. But the kingdom and in this passage specifically it’s word came in a way that it could be received by people, rejected by people, or stolen by the enemy, and where it was received it would bear much fruit. They were seeing and hearing but not perceiving and understanding. They weren’t watching for the king and the kingdom to arrive in this manner.

14-30 and 36-43

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven [m]may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed [n]tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the [o]wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? [p]How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An [q]enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the [t]tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the [u]end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the [v]end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom [w]all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, [x]let him hear. (this would normally present a break in the chapter because the multitudes were gone; however, I included it here because it is the explanation of the parable)

So again the Jews were expecting the kingdom to come in power and bring about separation of good and evil, and the destruction of the unrighteous. But Jesus is saying that the kingdom is now in the world; however, it is alongside the enemy and his unrighteous. So even though the sons of the kingdom have received it’s reign and blessing they are still in a wicked world where there is a present enemy. This does not mean that the enemy is not defeated. D-day is not the same thing as V-day. D-day ensured victory for the allies in June of 1944; however, the war was not over in its finality until Sept. of 1945. So Jesus has secured the victory, and the kingdom is here; however, there is still coming the consummation of the kingdom and the separation of the wheat and tares. This is not what the Jews were expecting.

31-33

31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the [r]air come and nest in its branches.”33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three [s]pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”

Most kingdom cultures teach this in a familiar way, that the kingdom is progressively growing and covering the earth. (I’m not saying the kingdom is not increasing by the way) The problem with this common teaching is that it says we progressively get better as people, and gradually build the kingdom. If that was all the truth there was then it says that our faith has to be in people. People cannot build THE kingdom of God. We build FOR the kingdom of God. There is only one king who builds his kingdom, and our faith is to be in Him. (This does not change our actions, we are still partners with Christ, and so on. This just eliminates our ego, arrogance and pride. This also addresses those who are building their own empire while saying it is the kingdom.) Now remember this is a parable. It is not about a growing tree, or penetrating yeast, they are used to reveal a truth. Also remember Jesus has been addressing Jews who were expecting one thing and not seeing what was in front of them.So if we draw on the context that we have formed in the contrast Jesus has been making between the Jews expectation and the reality of what was happening then we see the truth that is being revealed. The breaking in of the kingdom of God was small, insignificant and even hidden in comparison to what the Jews were expecting. However, I want to say again that there is a final consummation where the kingdom will stand in power and glory with no rival. We have great hope and Joy in this fact!

Jesus was giving the multitude of Jews every chance to perceive and understand, but they weren’t.

This also highlights the importance for us to understand the old testament in order to gain understanding of the new testament.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Build yourself wisely

What did Jesus mean when He said 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock (Matthew Ch 7)? This was the closing of the teaching that He began in Matthew Ch 5.

What is the solid foundation that keeps the house (man) from falling? Is it a big bank account, or 401k? Is it family? Is it spending every spare minute at the church? What is it? I believe that the Bible answers itself, and that the Holy Spirit leads us in understanding. I am going to present a quick summary of these 3 chapters of teaching by Jesus in short statements. (These are not direct quotes from scripture, I am summarizing in my own words)

You are blessed if you are humble, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, if you are merciful and pure in heart, and if you are a peacemaker. You are blessed if people insult, and lie about you. Be blessed. You are the light of the world if you let these things shine before men.

Don’t be angry with your brother, and make friends with your opponent. Don’t operate in sin. Go the extra mile. Love your enemy.

Give to the poor, and fast without making it a spectacle. Spend time alone with God in prayer. Be forgiving.

Treasure in heaven is better than treasure on earth. Your heart is attracted to treasure, so be careful how you define it. You can not serve God and money.

Don’t worry about life, have faith that father God has you covered. Seek first His kingdom, and He will take care of the rest.

Don’t judge people. I would say discern and make decisions; however, Jesus clearly says not to judge.

Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Consistently and continuously.

Treat people like you want to be treated.

Be an outlier in the world. Don’t follow the crowds through the wide gate. The narrow way leads to life.

Learn to recognize good fruit. Just because it looks good does not mean that it is good. There are ravenous wolves in sheep clothing. Just because they look the part does not always mean they are walking in the kingdom.

Then we come back to the hinge statement. Therefore.

Therefore, everyone who hears these things and does them is like a house built on the rock, the solid foundation. If you hear these things, and do these things you will not fall. Even when the storms come.

What does this mean for our lives? I will say this, storms of all types without question will come. Failures, enemies, lies, insults, relational struggles, the allure of money, pride, ego, relational struggles, wolves that look like sheep, and so on. However, the storms will not cause you to fall if you have heard the words of Jesus and put them into practice.

Build yourself wisely.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

What you worship matters

It is safe to say that we should do our best in reflecting the image of Jesus to people, and to represent the Father’s heart. It is also safe to say that everyone will have a different belief in what that looks like, and what it means. For example, a short time ago there was a group of people who attacked a pastor in Houston Texas, while another group came to his defense. Directly after that an actor made some statements about the hurricanes, and those same people who defended the pastor attacked the actor, while another group of people defended the actor. Furthermore, they all thought they were right in what they were saying and doing.

I’m sure they were all right in part, and wrong in part. That’s the best we can do as people. We can’t know anymore than “in part”.

In an effort to say something you can apply to your life in such a way as to look inwardly to determine if you are reflecting Jesus or not, I will say, who and what you worship matters. I will approach the “what” today. What occupies your heart and mind for the most amount of time matters. For example, if you spend most of your time thinking about money or power, it will make a difference in what you reflect, how you treat other people, and what comes out of your mouth.

If you increasingly spend more and more time thinking about money, you will increasingly define people in those terms. People become creditors, debtors, partners, customers, tenants, and so on. Everything except a human being.

If you increasingly worship power, you will increasingly define people in those terms. People become collaborators, competitors, pawns, traitors, dividers, and so on. Everything except a human being. You will define people by how they respond to your own ideas, visions, and missions. If it is not a good response then you will define those people in a negative way. However, just because they have different ideas, visions, and missions than you does not mean that they should be defined in a negative way. I heard someone say in a teaching one time that until I know you will take a bullet for my vision, I don’t care about yours. That’s grieving to me. I WANT to know the vision God has placed in you, I may be able to help you walk it out, or connect you with someone who can! I shouldn’t be trying to figure out how to get people to serve me and my vision. I should be trying to help people serve God and His kingdom with their vision.

It doesn’t really matter what the “it” is, it can have this effect. If it is lust, then people become objects rather than people, and so on.

Of course these are just quick examples of how things can subtly grow in you, without you  even realizing it. My point is that if we are going to reflect Jesus, we can not look at people in these ways. People can not become just objects or a means to an end, and most people will eventually sniff it out if you do see them that way. How you treat people matters, and what you worship will affect this.

Many forms of devaluing people exist, and in my opinion none of them reflect Jesus. Jesus was moved with compassion for people. It was the religious people of His day who treated people inhumanely, and worshipped the wrong things that He stood against.

Be honest with yourself in what you worship. Do your best to value people, and reflect Jesus.

God is for you, and I am for you!

What did Jesus do on the cross?

I don’t really know if I would be correct, but I would reason that most people look at what Jesus did on the cross the same way. I would reason that most people would say something along the lines of- Jesus died on the cross for my sins so that I can spend eternity in heaven. (This is not wrong; however, I would argue that it is very partial, and possibly gets us out of alignment in the thought process)

I think most people look at the cross in such a way as to ask the question: How can I get to heaven despite my sin problem? The answer becomes like that above, Jesus died on the cross for me. Again not wrong, but limited, and almost selfish in nature.

The point of this post is to challenge you to think outside the box, or just to get you thinking in general.

What if you were to ask the question: How can God’s plan for the growth of His kingdom be continuing when there is so much death, destruction, and corruption among humanity? The answer then becomes-when Jesus died on the cross He defeated the evil that has enslaved humanity which has ensured that evil actions would continue.

There are many answers to the question that gives this post a title, and it is my hope that you will dig in a little further.

However, lets look at some implications from this brief example alone. If I am saved just to spend eternity in heaven, then I may as well take my ball and go home. However, if I am also saved to have a purpose in God’s plan of rescue, redemption, and renewal then I have reason to be here. Jesus walked about performing miracles, healings, casting out demons, and so on. That sounds like rescue and redemption to me, and those are the same things he sent the 12, and the 70 (or 72 whichever you like) out do. It is the same thing we are to do. Asking different questions about the same event forces you to have a larger perspective.

Dig in, and go deeper!

There is great purpose for you beyond your personal salvation!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

A brief word on becoming a son

For a very big part of my life I did things in large part in order to gain approval, or avoid punishment. That was the highest percentage of what motivated me. A couple of simple examples: I didn’t want to get in trouble with my parents, or I wanted to get a high five from my boss. It’s a good thing to please your parents and your boss. The problem wasn’t with them, or even in my actions, the problem was in my motivations. This becomes an even bigger problem in our spiritual life, and that is what I will attempt to very briefly explain today.

If I am motivated to serve God because I am afraid of punishment, feel an obligation to serve, seek approval, or feel trapped then I have the mindset of a slave. I know this because all those things are symptoms of slavery. This is very important because if I am motivated by symptoms of slavery, and I have the mindset of a slave, then it means I see God as a slave master. This is a very unhealthy place to be, and a place that will only serve to hinder our spiritual journey.

So how to do we transition from a place of slavery to a place of sonship. The reality is that Jesus has already done it all. Jesus did not partially win a battle, He has the victory in its fullness. This means that if you are in Christ you are no longer guilty, and that is at least one of the key elements. You have to recognize that you are no longer guilty. There has to be a change in the servant’s heart. You have to go from guilt to gratitude. This means that you will no longer be motivated the same way.

It means I am motivated to serve God because of my gratitude for the gift of freedom and redemption. I don’t feel an obligation to serve, I have a desire to serve. I’m not just doing things for approval, I’m doing things out of love. I don’t do things because I am trapped, I do things because I am free to do so.

This change of heart and mindset may only be a part of this transition, but it is a large part. Where a slave has to, a son wants to, and that it is a substantial change within the heart and mind of a person. Where you were once a hindrance to your own spiritual journey, you are now a partner in furthering your journey.

God doesn’t see you as a slave, and I want to encourage you not to see God as a slave master. If you take a look at your life and realize that the things that motivate you are symptoms of slavery, and you want to change that, there is no better time than now. Ask your father God to help you change your mind and your heart in these things. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

God is for you, and I am for you!

Thank you! And the BIGGEST lesson I’ve learned so far.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog! I value and appreciate you!

We are well into the last quarter of this year, and I am praying about what the next year will look like for Kingdom First.

In its first year, Kingdom First is read in 16 countries (some more regularly than others) so far which is very humbling.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far:

I have always been pretty aware that people have different perspectives, and that every journal, book, article etc. is written from a certain perspective. I know that every picture is taken from a certain angle. I know I take pictures of my daughter and never see things in the background that other people do. I know some see the number 6, but people on the other side see number 9.

However, this blog has shown me the true weight of different perspectives. These different perspectives have caused me to rejoice as someone lets me know how it helped them; however, it has also caused me to be grieved as another becomes confused or hurt as they read it through their lens. I’m ok if we just disagree, I’m not ok if you feel hurt. Conversations will usually fix those things.

No matter who you are, I only want for you to step into all of the great things God has for you!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

“This is what my love is like….”

“This is what my love is like”…..this is what I heard the first time I ever knew without a doubt that God spoke to me. This is a piece of my testimony, but it is really about my father God, and my wife. I’ve never spoken this testimony without crying, and I’m sure I will cry while typing it. In my experience there are some God moments where the emotions never fade.

There was a time in my life when I was struggling with how to go about life in general, and to go along with that I had a lot of pent-up emotions. I was trying to figure how to move beyond the life I had experienced while at the same time trying to figure out how to fit into the life ahead of me.

I knew my wife was going to be different as soon as I met her, and from our first date there’s never been a day when we haven’t been together. However, the early days of our relationship coincided with my time of struggle. So along with my other struggles, I was trying to figure out how to have a healthy relationship. Neither one of us really had anywhere we could draw from on what that looked like.

She was at my house, and I can’t remember what our disagreement was about, but I do remember all of that pent-up emotion boiling. I got so mad that I went out to my garage and started slamming my barbell off of the ground in a rage. I can remember thinking that she would leave and never want to return. That thought sobered me up a little bit, and I put the barbell down. I turned around, and she was standing there. She saw it, she witnessed my worst moment. She stepped to me, wrapped me in a hug, and just said it’s ok, I love you. She had every right, and reason to have responses other than that. It was a moment later in our hug that I heard God say to me “this is what my love is like.” “I love you the same in your worst moments as I do in your best moments.” Nothing in my life has been the same since that moment.

When everybody else left, she stayed. When she had reasons to leave, she stayed. When no one was there, she was. When I was at my worst she loved me. She was the physical reality of God’s spiritual reality in my life. When it comes to living a kingdom first life, God, and my wife are the biggest part of why I am where I am today.

I loved God, and I had always been in some level of relationship with Him, but I didn’t want anything to do with going to church, I had enough bad experiences with that. It was my wife who convinced me to go to a church that she knew about that would be different. There is no chance that I would have ever taught a lesson, preached a message, or even be sharing on this blog if it wasn’t for that moment. If it wasn’t for God, and my wife.

People will tell you that God loves you no matter what, and that’s a good thing. I had been told that many times, and I even believed it. However, when God Himself says that to you in your worst moment, you know without a doubt that it is true.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, there are very few things that I can tell anybody with 100% certainty; however, one of those that I can is that God loves you. At your worst or at your best, it doesn’t matter. That’s what His love is like. His love is perfect even when you are not. His love is complete, even when you are broken.

God loves you, and so do I!

 

Outliers…Are you an outlier?

I am an outlier. I always have been. What is an outlier? An outlier is a person who is  detached from the main body or system. An outlier is a person who is different from all other members of a particular group. An outlier is someone who doesn’t reside in the inner circle, and doesn’t concern themselves with fitting in. An outlier is someone who doesn’t follow the crowd. An outlier is someone who decides not to always conform to cultural norms.

As an outlier there have been times when I have stepped into the inner circle; however, I have always chosen to step back out, and remain an outlier. The reason is simply that given enough time, I have never liked what I see and hear in the inner circle. It’s not a judgement against those who were in that circle, it has simply always been my conviction. After all, I’m an outlier, I tend to be different.

The problem is that being an outlier is usually clothed in negativity by the main body, system, group, and culture. They will disassociate with, and discredit the outliers. So the outlier can end up walking around with a stigma attached to them.

If you are an outlier like me, I write this to encourage you. I remind you that Jesus made His company out of the outliers. His company had to be made up of people who were willing to go against the grain. He was going to be way to disruptive to the culture and system for it to be any other way. I encourage you that you are in good company. Just to mention a few; Elijah, John the Baptist, apostle Paul, and of course our Lord Jesus were all outliers.

Outliers have no need to conform to the norm. You can be creative, think outside the box, and stick to your mission. Go ahead and take the road less traveled, after all it is the narrow gate that leads to life. Most will look for the safe, secure, predictable, comfortable, accepted, well beaten path. Follow Jesus instead. Most will operate in self accommodation and embrace the prior conclusions of the mainstream. Most of the Jewish people sided with the mainstream, very few chose to follow Jesus.

Outliers are willing to prepare for years under a cultural stigma in order to be ready when their moment comes. John the Baptist spent years preparing for an amazingly significant 6 months. And of course there is Jesus whose ministry changed everything. Outliers are willing to risk all for their convictions. They do not live a life built upon convenience but rather craft a life built around their convictions. Death, or missing out on culturally defined success is not a fear for the outlier, the outlier fears missing their purpose.

The outlier loves the accolades of God more than the accolades of men.

Love people, value people, learn from people, accept people, etc, but it is ok if you don’t operate in groupthink or conformity. In fact, I would say that there is no better time than now to be different. Be so committed to living life kingdom first that you are willing to walk away from everything else. The kingdom for the outlier is like the hidden treasure, or the costly pearl. The outlier is willing to give up accommodations, the praises of men, and anything else for the kingdom.

You’re an outlier. It’s ok, so am I.

God is for you, and I am for you!