Midweek Study Devotional

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

It is important to take note that the last three parables Jesus shared are different from the first four parables He shared. The first four parables were given to the multitude while the last three parables were only given to the disciples. This means the final three parables are meant to bless those who believe in Jesus because they reveal what He is doing through the church during the period between His first and second coming. The first four parables spoke of corruption in the kingdom of God, but the last three parables speak of how highly Jesus values the people of His kingdom.

The Parable of the Leaven

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33

Last week I stated that the parable of the mustard seed is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parable of Jesus. Well, I may have misspoke. I believe the parable of the leaven may be even more misunderstood. There seem to be two main opposing views of this parable. One view is that the leaven is a symbol of good, teaching that the gospel will permeate the entire earth until every human is saved. The other view is the opposite. It teaches that the leaven is a symbol of evil. Obviously, both interpretations cannot be correct. So, which one is correct?

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’” Matthew 13:31-32

Without a doubt this is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parable of Jesus. If you want to learn why, you will need to join us Wednesday night as we look deeper into this scripture. In the meantime, I would like to tantalize your taste buds by sharing one lesson of faith I believe is found in this parable.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

“But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of the harvest…’” Matthew 13:29-30a

When Jesus shared the parable of the wheat and the tares with his disciples, He told them there was both good seed (wheat) and bad seed (tares) planted in the kingdom of heaven. What are tares? Today we might call them “darnel”. Darnel grows side by side with wheat and the similarities between them is so great that in some regions darnel is referred to as “false wheat”. In fact, you cannot tell the difference between wheat and darnel until the ear of the wheat appears.

The Parable of the Sower

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower.” Matthew 13:18

The parable of the sower is a very profound parable that is certain to compel the listener to ask, “What kind of soil am I? How can I prepare my heart and mind to be the right kind of soil?” In this parable, Jesus shares about four different types of soil. The four soils represent four classes of hearers, each with a different response to the Word of God. The most important part of the parable is understanding that the soils represent the human heart.

The Parables of Jesus

“And He spoke many things to them in parables.” Matthew 13:3a

Have you ever wondered what the mission of the church is? There seems to be no end to the number of books written and conferences given on the subject of the mission of the church. Every sort of program and principle that you can imagine has been studied or scrutinized. Yet with all the study and concern about the mission of the church, it seems more than any other time in history we lack understanding of what the mission of the church truly is.

He is Faithful to Keep His Promises

“On the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.” Esther 9:1b

Well, we have come to the end of the book of Esther. Although this book has revealed many beautiful attributes of God’s character, one attribute stands out among the rest because of how often it is displayed in this story - God always works in a supernaturally natural way. We saw it first when God arranged for Queen Vashti to be replaced by Esther and then gave her special favor with the king. We continued to see it when God arranged for Moredicai to have access to both Esther and the affairs of the kingdom.

Sorrows Into Great Joy

“Now Mordecai went out from the prince of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor. And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.” Esther 8:15-17

In the beginning of this chapter Esther is sorrowful, but by the end of the chapter she and all the people are joyful. Seven times in the three verses above we read words that express jubilation. What caused this jubilation? The people saw that Mordecai was robed in royalty and that he had delivered a decree that promised to protect all the Jews in the land. This gave them great hope, which reminded me of Romans 15:13: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Righteous Will Prosper

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.” Esther 6:10a

In Proverbs 11:8 we read, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, and it comes to the wicked instead.” The day before they hanged Haman, Haman was forced to lead Mordecai through the streets dressed like royalty. The very next day Haman was led through the streets with his face covered in humility on his way to being hung on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai.

God-incidences

“That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.” Esther 6:1

It has been said with a sovereign God there are no coincidences, only God-incidences. There is no doubt it was a God-incidence that the king couldn’t sleep the night spoken of in Esther 6:1. God kept the king awake knowing Haman was busy building the gallows to hang Mordecai. The king could have arranged for something to help him fall asleep. He could have called a troubadour to sing him to sleep or called a concubine from his harem to help calm him, but instead he had someone read the records of the chronicles to him. This may sound like the perfect thing to put someone to sleep quickly, but before the king could fall asleep he heard something very interesting. Within the records of the chronicles was the record of Mordecai’s service to the king five years earlier. This information made the king think fondly of Mordecai and would end up saving Mordecai’s life.

Step of Faith

“Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, facing the entrance of the house.” Esther 5:1

As I read this one little verse this morning, my heart was moved to pray for our country. Similar to Esther’s day, many unbelievable things are happening in our government today that often leave us wondering, “What in the world can we do?”

For Such a Time as This

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

If you were reading the book of Esther for the first time you might wonder, “Where is God?” Nowhere is God’s name mentioned and nowhere does it appear God is doing anything. The book begins with a narcissistic king in control which leads to an evil man named Haman gaining some control, but it never appears God is in control.

His Will, His Way, His Time

“So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed.” Esther 3:15b

Four years had passed since Esther became queen and Mordecai began to rule at the city gate. Everything seemed to be peaceful in Shushan. Then, in a moment, everything changed because of a man named Haman. Although everyone in the kingdom was willing to bow down to Haman, Mordecai was not. As a result, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews by casting lots (what the Persians would call “pur”) to determine the day the Jews would be exterminated.

Everything is in His Hands

“And Mordecai had brought Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:7

Nearly four years had passed since the king deposed Queen Vashti. During those four years the king was humiliated in battle. When he returned from battle beaten and lonely, he was in need of human touch and missed Queen Vashti. This concerned the king’s counselors because they were the ones who encouraged the king to depose her. So they suggested the king should have all the young virgins in the kingdom gathered up so he could choose one to be his wife. Esther would end up being in this group.

Acquainted With the King

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

God’s timing for us to start the book of Esther is amazing for two reasons. Firstly, one of the reasons this book is so fascinating is that the word “king” is used over one hundred times, but the name of God isn’t used once. Why? We can’t know for sure, but we can surmise that it was most likely because the children of Israel were more interested in their earthly king than they were in their Heavenly King. Does that sound familiar?

Debrief

“And Joshua said to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.’” Joshua 3:5

The main message Joshua wanted every person to know was that God keeps His promises and enables us to succeed if we simply trust and obey Him. Someone once said, "Our tomorrows can be exciting and wonderful if we are all God wants us to be." God still wants to reveal to His people that He is the God of wonders, all He asks is that we set ourselves apart and trust and obey Him. The same God who reigned in Joshua's day continues to reign today. The question today is, "Where are all the Joshua's?"

Serving the Lord

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

We have come to the end of Joshua’s conquest of faith. He is 110 years old and has faithfully served the Lord his entire adult life. He has seen the Lord do amazing things and has experienced His chastening. Now, as he stands before the entire nation, he declares, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

Joshua's Farewell Address

“Therefore take diligent heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God.” Joshua 23:11

Joshua lived a long and lively life. His life began in slavery and ended in a sanctuary in the Promised Land, and God used him greatly the whole time. He led the children of Israel into victory over their enemy, conquered the land and claimed the promises God had given them. In other words, Joshua fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith.

Loyal Soldiers

“You have not left your brethren these many days, up to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God.” Joshua 22:3

The soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh must have been so happy to head home once their “conquest of faith” was completed. For seven years they were away from their families and friends, but now were free to go home.

Cities of Refuge

Then the Lord also spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills any person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.’” Joshua 20:1-3

Now that all the tribes had received their territories, the Lord spoke to Joshua just as he spoke to Moses, instructing him to have six cities of refuge placed strategically in the land, three on each side of the Jordan River. The six cities of refuge were needed because they didn’t have police in those days to investigate crimes, so if you killed someone accidentally you could flee to one of these cities to be safe from the family of the victim taking revenge. In the ancient world, blood revenge was the norm. The moment a person was killed his nearest relative took responsibility for vengeance. This ancient rite of vendetta was handed down from generation to generation.