Jesus started many a parable with the words: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like ..." And let's face it. He should know. After all, He is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. Join Nicole and Sharon as they look at seven short little parables about Heaven. Be amazed with them at the marvels that await us there.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Sweet Selah moments podcast. We hope this little pause in your day refreshes and encourages you friend. Let’s take time to know God through his word and love him more and more. This Sweet Selah moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to episode 44, The King and His Kingdom. Before we start this episode, we want to remind you to consider becoming a podcast partner. Could you spare a dollar or two per month? Go to sweetselah.org/donations and sign up to be a Sweet Selah podcast partner. You’ll get all kinds of special benefits and notes from very grateful us. Go to sweetselah.org/donations. Sign up for your small amount per month and write ‘podcast partner’ in the comments. Thanks friend. And now Sharon, will, you introduce today’s topic?
Well, Nicole, I’m going to start with a question. What can you tell me about the country of Djibouti?
Of Djibouti? Do you know much about it?
Is that a real country?
It is indeed. I brought you a little map which unfortunately, our podcast people can’t see. But there it is. Djibouti. It’s part of Africa and it’s really, really close to Yemen across the Red Sea.
I’ve heard of that.
So, well, one day I was sitting in my living room, minding my own business and Ray came home from work and I shouted out, hi honey, welcome home. And he walked into the living room and he looked at me and he said, how would you feel if we moved to Djibouti? And then he turned around and left the living room and went into his office.
What a question to leave you with.
So Ray. So I put down my book and I’m, “Djibouti? Where’s Djibouti –what?”
That’s not near Maine.
We were looking for our next assignment. We had been at Fort Devens for an assignment and one of the possibilities was Djibouti.
So I learned all about it, as much as I could, because I had never heard of it either. It’s a little tiny country. It’s fairly poor, but it would have been kind of fun.
We didn’t go there, but it would have been kind of fun. We went back to Germany instead.
What an adventure.
So just the way it worked out. However, just reading about Djibouti and trying to understand something that I didn’t understand well didn’t give me the same kind of grasp on it as I would have received if somebody I knew had lived there.
If I could have called up Carl down the road and he said, I lived in Djibouti for 20 years. Let me tell you about it. Right? As sort of an eyewitness, someone who had been there, that had tasted the foods, that understood the culture, that could say avoid this fruit in the marketplace or whatever.
Yeah, the inside tips.
Right. All that stuff. So we’re looking today at the King and his kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. And we’ve got an eye witness to tell us about it. Jesus, Jesus says so many parables about the kingdom of heaven. Tons of them start with the words, “the kingdom of heaven is like”. And when you think about it, who is telling us about the kingdom of heaven? Oh, the King, the King is telling us about the kingdom of heaven.
He might know a thing or two.
He might just know a thing or two about it. And that’s what makes this so much fun. Jesus came from heaven. He returned to heaven. When he talks about this kingdom, we need to like perk up and take notice because he knows of which he speaks. So today we’re going to take seven short parables, divide them into five groups. Each group tells us something about this amazing kingdom that we have, we’re daughters of the King. So, it’s our kingdom too, which is so amazing.
Oh, so wonderful to think about.
So fun. It’s so fun. I kind of still like being a princess every once in a while. I just bought a prom dress the other day, because we still do the prom for the Portsmouth Christian Academy high school students. And I got this really swish-y one with a chiffon skirt.
Oh, those are the best.
And it was really fun to be a princess. So it’s kind of fun to think that I’m, you are the daughter of the King.
You are a princess.
Yes. So, all right. So where am I? Each group tells us something about this amazing kingdom. So here we go. Each one is told to us by the King, a very reliable source.
Nicole, why don’t you start us off with the first group?
All right. The value of the kingdom of heaven, group one. I’m going to read from Matthew 13:44-46, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it.” So clearly both men found something incredibly valuable if they were both willing to sell everything they owned to obtain these treasures. In the first parable, the man kind of stumbled upon the treasure, but in the second parable, this man was actually on the lookout for something of value. I think that’s really interesting Sharon, but in both parables, the men were wise enough to recognize the treasure before them and go all in to own what they had found or what found them. The kingdom of heaven is even more valuable than anything we can find on earth. But from these parables, we can see the importance of going all in when we discover Jesus and what he has to offer. We shouldn’t hold back. We should be willing to give it all up to invest in the kingdom of heaven, because isn’t that what Jesus did for us in the cross? He gave his all.
He gave his all. He did, you’re right. And all in is right. They sold everything.
Yeah, there’s no…, and that’s what God wants from us. He wants every thing. Remember the guy that, you know, had done all the commandments right?
Oh yes, the young rich man.
Yes, yes, yes. Yes. And Jesus is like, you still lack something. What, what he says, let me make it right. (I’m a perfectionist.) Sell everything you own. Yeah. Hmmm.
And he went away sad. And he went away sad cause he was very rich.
Yeah. Right. Right. I think it’s fascinating too that whether you’re actively seeking, like the guy for the pearl.
Or whether you stumble upon it, you know, God kind of finds you in some way. It’s still worth everything. No matter how you come by it.
Yeah. That’s true.
Jesus is saying, look, I’ve been there. I have been there. Get rid of everything else, but don’t miss this. Don’t miss it. I think that’s the attitude we’ve got to have about heaven. We haven’t been there yet. So it’s harder for us to grasp that everything else is nothing compared to what we’re going to have there. And we don’t want to miss heaven.
It’s too good to pass up.
Yeah. Yeah. All right. So first thing we learn, heaven has great value, huge value. So I’ll go on with our second group. The permanence of the kingdom of heaven is group two and Matthew 13:31-33 is our parable. Here is another illustration Jesus used, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 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. Jesus also used this illustration. The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” Have you ever worked with yeast? Do you do that?
Yeah. Every Friday I do. I make homemade pizza dough. That’s pizza-movie night at our house. I tried to do frozen pizza a few times, but Clara, my four-year-old, was highly offended and declared it was disgusting and she wants only my pizza, only ever. So no more cheating shortcuts for me. It’s home-made pizza.
The four year old is the gourmet.
She has spoken.
She has spoken and quite clearly.
Very clearly. She was just appalled. So I make homemade dough every Friday now.
Wow, so it rises and the whole bit.
Yes, I have to wait two hours for it to rise before I spread it in the pans. And if I have time, I let it rise again in the pan. And then it’s really good.
Oh, I bet it’s delicious.
I don’t always get to that.
It’s so funny that the tiniest bit of yeast, squeensy, squeensy, they look like little seeds when we shake them out.
DIT, DIT, DIT, DIT, DIT goes all the way through that flour and egg or whatever it is you put in your pizza dough or what I put in my bread, and makes the whole thing get bigger. The whole thing.
Yeah. It’s fun to watch it rise.
Yes, isn’t it?
And come back and see it all plumed over the bowl.
Yeah, right, the whole thing. And that’s the permanence of the kingdom of heaven. It’s once, once we’re infiltrated it takes over. And so even though sometimes in times of persecution, we feel like we’re losing the battle culturally and Christians are being persecuted and it’s, you know, there’s less and less Christians. I remember in Europe when we were there so many German churches were just closed. We don’t need to worry about it because it’s permanent. That little mustard seed is a permanent tree that birds nest in. The kingdom of heaven isn’t going away. And even a tiny bit of us can permeate a society like yeast, or we can still grow a tree, even if there’s just a few of us.
That’s so encouraging.
And it’s just such a relief to me, you know? Even this little podcast that I don’t know, last we looked 3000 people had watched it. Maybe more have by now. But we can permeate with our sharing of the kingdom of heaven because God is going to make it permanent and little works by us have huge results. That’s what I’m seeing from these parables.
That’s super encouraging. I love that. For just those little acts. He’s got it.
Right. Your turn.
All right. The completeness of the kingdom of heaven, group three, Matthew 13:52, “Then he added, ‘Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth, as well as old.” This is such a neat parable. I think it ties in with the Old Testament and the law and it shows how God never meant for it to be completely dismissed. You know, there’s a beautiful balance between the law and grace, the law points to our flaws and how desperately we need Christ and that we cannot fulfill the law without him. And what a gift to have a pastor, teacher and the Holy Spirit when we sit and study the word of God, show us these ties and how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law. It’s really important not to leave those old gems hidden away, but to bring them out along with the New Testament and living under grace.
Yeah, you’re right. I think it’s both. And it’s a fascinating one. Until I started this study of the parables, I hadn’t kind of noticed that one.
And it also is encouraging for the teachers of the religious law, every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple assumes that teachers of religious law were going to become disciples. We kind of see them as the bad guys. Right. They’re the ones trying to trap Jesus and all that stuff. But Jesus has hope for them.
I never saw that. You’re right.
Isn’t that fun?
Yeah. And yet there’s an assurance there that what they learned and studied in Torah and what they learned and studied in the prophets isn’t wasted. Those old gems, like you said, are still so valuable, but now there’s a fulfillment part. There’s a completion of it. And so you see the old and the new together.
So that’s neat, it’s a neat little parable.
It’s a lovely little parable. And had I not been looking for kingdom of heaven parables I would have missed that little guy. It’s really cool. And of course, many teachers of the law did come to know the Lord, especially after his resurrection. It was interesting they said so many did. So I’m glad. I’m really glad because they really were, some of them were really seeking. Some weren’t. Some just wanted power and were using their position for power, but some were genuinely seeking.
And they found him.
Yay. All right, here we go. We’ve talked about the value of the kingdom of heaven and then its permanence and its completeness. Now we go to the fourth group, the purity of the kingdom of heaven. All right, this is kind of longish. I’m reading from Matthew 13:24-30. And then Nicole is going to read a section and then I’m going to read a section. So I’ll read my first section. “Here is another story Jesus told. The kingdom of heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the worker slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. 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? An enemy has done this, the farmer exclaimed. Should we pull out the weeds they asked? No, he replied, you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 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 then to put the wheat in the barn.” So Nicole, you read the next section.
Alright. Matthew 13:36-43, parable of the wheat and weeds explained. “Then leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field. Jesus replied, the Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world. And the good seed represents the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. And the harvesters are the angels. Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire so it will be at the end of the world, the Son of Man will send his angels and they will remove from his kingdom anything that causes sin and all who do evil and the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
And then we’re going to Matthew 13:47-50, the parable of the fishing net. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Oh, Nicole, I almost didn’t want to talk about these parables.
These are hard ones.
They’re hard ones. They are really hard. Weeping and gnashing of teeth someday. You know, it’s just such a hard thing to think about. And although I wish heaven was for everyone, because it really sounds nice it wouldn’t be a pure place if evil was allowed in. There’d be fear in heaven if evil was there, it wouldn’t be heaven. Right? How could it be heaven? Because there’d still be people wanting to do ugly, mean things to each other because they didn’t have Jesus in them.
And they didn’t like Jesus.
They wouldn’t want to be there maybe?
Heaven is a pure place and we have to be purified to go there. This is kind of a weird example, but it works for me. It may not work for you. Okay. Picture a bug zapper.
Okay. Little bugs. If they fly too close to the bug zapper. Psssst.
They can’t survive it. Right?
If somebody that has not been purified comes, tries to come into heaven, it’d be like pssst. They couldn’t survive there right, cause they’re not pure. You have to be pure and we can’t be pure, which is why we need a Savior.
And, and God did all the work for us. It’s not like heaven isn’t open to everybody, but we have to receive that cleansing to be purified so that we can enter it. And so it can be the glorious place it is. Otherwise it isn’t.
If evil people with unrepentant hearts were allowed in heaven there would not be peace there. There just wouldn’t. But God does give everyone a chance to come to him. Peter says in his letter, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, but God’s not going to force it. He’s not going to drag people by the collar and say, I’m going to make you be good.
It has to be a desire on our part. It just does. It has to be desire. So if people reject him, they say they don’t want him that means they don’t want heaven and they don’t get it. And this is seriously something about which we should pay attention. When Jesus says anyone with ears to hear should listen to this. He’s right. This is serious stuff.
Yeah. We don’t want to miss this.
No, we don’t. Heaven is really important and we don’t all get to go there. We don’t have to earn it, but we do have to come to the King and agree that he’s the King of his kingdom. We have to agree that, otherwise we suffer the consequences of our rejection of this amazing place.
Yeah. It’s interesting to me in the parables that we just read, the separation happens at the end. We have no idea who’s going to accept Christ and who isn’t, you know? So we shouldn’t pull away from the world. I think that’s what it talks about like the weeds and the wheat, or they’re growing together till the end.
We shouldn’t pull away from the world so far. We should still love, share God and witness to everyone around us to the very end.
Absolutely. And maybe some weedy looking person is actually going to be wheat because God can do the impossible. He can change anybody at any time. And I’ve often clung to the thought that even in the last moments of life, God can come and give someone one last chance. My mother-in-law had the very beautiful experience of having Jesus come to her in her last minutes of life. And she saw him, she saw him and I was there witnessing her seeing. It was the coolest, coolest thing, Nicole.
It really was. I was sitting there holding her hand and her breathing was slowing and the nurse said, it’s not going to be long now.
And so I just, my hand was getting uncomfortable so I actually got in bed with her and laid down and held her hand and was just quietly praying. And this is truth, she just sat up and she said, I think I just saw him.
Oh my goodness.
And I said, who, who Mom, Jesus? And she looked at me and she smiled. And she said, merciful.
Merciful. It was, it was just such a gift to me. And so whatever she expected to get from Jesus, what she heard was, merciful.
Oh that is beautiful.
And then she got real serious. She said, where’s dad? That’s her husband, Poppy. And I said, it’s two in the morning he’s still in bed. Then she said, I need to see him. I need to see him. So I called Ray’s sister and she brought him in. He had to get dressed and come in, you know, and she held his hand and she said, I’ll always be your girl. And she told him, she loved him. And then they went home and no joke. She wiggled back on her pillow. And she looked at me and she said, goodbye, with this huge smile.
Oh my goodness. Oh, Sharon.
It was amazing. And she actually didn’t die then. She died two days later. Honesty in the telling of the story, but it was like, all fear had been taken from her. God had come to her and said, or she had felt his mercy in some way. I don’t know. She didn’t say a whole lot, you know?
Oh my goodness.
But I’ll never forget it.
And it’s given me great joy for my own eventual passing, knowing that Jesus can come at that last minute. He did that for Stephen too when Stephen was being stoned, which is a terrible way to die. He looked up and he’s like, Whoa, I see him. Oh, isn’t that neat? It’s just so cool.
Until our last breath.
Until our last breath. So when I get all worried about the weeds and the bad fish, I remember, like you said, they’re not sorted until the end. It’s not my business to sort them at all. That’s God’s business and God is merciful.
So I cling to that, but I also am sobered that there will come a day of sorting and that heaven is a place of purity and that, unless I come to Christ and am robed in robes of righteousness, which I can not produce on my own, I don’t get to go. And Jesus has done that for me and for you and listener, if he hasn’t done that for you yet, episode seven, just episode seven, just go listen to it. Okay Nicole, your turn again.
Alright. We’re going to talk about group five now, the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, Mark 4:26-29. “Jesus also said the kingdom of heaven is like a farmer who scattered seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake the seeds sprout and grow. And he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crop on its own first, a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle for the harvest time has come.” So watching little plants grow is a mystery for sure, isn’t it?
Yes, it is.
We can water and weed and fuss and sing and do all we want around these little plants. And we can’t actually make them grow. Last year with our own little garden, me and the girls would watch the ground daily looking for those little tiny green sprouts and saw nothing for so long. And then finally, one morning we woke up and there they were. Our job as gardeners is to tend to the garden, but it’s God that does the actual growing from the tiny little seeds to the big beautiful plant with its fruit. We can relate this to spiritual growth by referring to a verse in John 3:8 where it says the wind blows wherever it wants, just as you can hear the wind, but can’t tell where it comes from or where it’s going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit. I think sometimes, I know, I worry that it’s my job to make sure that the seeds that we plant into other people’s lives grow. And that’s not our part. We are to plant seeds in faith and know that it’s God that knows just when they’re about to sprout. And we can just sit back and watch this beautiful new life emerge.
You’re right. You’re right. We can get so trapped in thinking it’s it’s our fault if they don’t accept Christ and we haven’t said it right. And I think Satan often paralyzes us on purpose. You know, it’s like, I can’t say anything cause if I say the wrong thing, I could push them away. Right?
Instead of trusting that, even if I say the wrong thing, God is bigger than that.
And if my heart is right and I’m trying to say the right thing, you know?
He takes it and makes it something beautiful.
He does, yeah. I can remember when I was in a MOPS (moms of preschoolers) group years and years ago now, there was a friend that I had met through somebody else who I invited to come, who was not a believer at all. And so I would witness to her and I’d share about Jesus with her. And we had a lot of really fun discussions about the Lord, but no fruit that I could see at all, no fruit that I could see. And one day she was taking a shower and something random that I had said that wasn’t even one of my great speeches, I can’t even remember what it was. It was something like, I don’t like that God tells me to do this, but I have to do it. It was that kind of thought. And she was thinking about me saying that for some reason and she said, you know, Sharon, I always thought people chose religion because it made them comfortable, because it made them feel safe. And yet you were telling me that you hated what God was telling you to do and she accepted Christ in the shower.
So it was none of my profound things. It was me saying, I hate that I have to do this. God’s making me do it. Isn’t that funny?
That is funny. I can think of so many times I’ve been like, God, I don’t want to do this. You have to help me through this. I don’t want to do this.
Yes, yes. And saying that out loud to her, instead of, you know, trying to look like I’ve never had any problems actually, I mean, in retrospect was the best thing I could have done.
That’s just being real. I mean, that’s really how we’re supposed to live, is real. We’re supposed to live real. We don’t live fake lives. We don’t live like panicked lives that, Oh, I’ve got to be perfect all the time because I’m going to you know, misrepresent Christ and people will…
See me fail…
Right, yeah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We are sinners. We are weak. We are fragile. We shout at our kids. We pout, right? We do all the things, but we have a Savior and we have somewhere to go with it. So we don’t live in shame and blame and guilt because of that.
And to show somebody we’ve allowed into our world, all of us, the Holy Spirit can move. And that verse about the wind, 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. Who knew?
That she’d be thinking about it in the shower and the Holy Spirit would ‘puff’- – blow on in.
That’s pretty random. That’s so neat.
So, yeah. And then of course, Ray. Ray, accepted Christ, not through all the arguing I did with him either.
I do love that story.
Oh my goodness. He accepted Christ because he was reading about the disciples who were martyred in a history book.
And the Holy spirit blew in.
Here came that wind.
Right. So I think, I think we need to be conscious of sharing the gospel, but not scared of it.
We just need to live our lives connected with the Lord and being real.
Be ready to give that answer.
Give that answer when we’re asked. Right.
It’s so fun.
So, all right. Well then, here we go. Well, Jesus, the King of heaven clearly wanted his followers to understand these things. The value of the kingdom of heaven, its permanence, the purity, its completeness and the richness of it that is still part mystery. There’s a mystery to it here on earth. We don’t exactly know how he brings people in, but we can trust that he will. It’s phenomenal. It’s not automatic. We need to ask for entrance from the King of Kings and we need to be purified before entering. But when we come to him and ask, when we submit to his cleansing of us, through his blood shed and his taking of our punishment on ourselves, then we get to enter into a place so glorious it is worth losing every other thing to gain it. Nicole, I think of the martyrs right now, all over the world who are living this out. Men, women, children who are imprisoned and tortured and shoved out of their homes because they claim the name of Christ. They literally have lost everything for his sake. Right now in our present age, there are people that have lost everything for his sake and it is infinitely worth it for them to have done so. May we be as brave someday if we have to be, Nicole?
Let’s pray. Father, I think of our suffering brothers and sisters right now, languishing in a prison or in a refugee camp, beaten, abused with nothing except you. The God who is with them even then. Lord, would just strengthen them today, wherever they are? Would you remind them of the great value of the kingdom of heaven that they’re going to enter someday with such a “well done” attached to it. Oh, Lord give them strength and courage. Thank you, Lord Jesus for coming to earth and making us more aware that heaven is real and that it’s worth losing everything for it to be there with you, our King, we worship you today. We love you. We honor you, in your name. Amen.
Thank you so much for joining us. We hope you’re leaving this podcast inspired to be a part of the harvest and eager to enter the kingdom of heaven. Write us anytime @sweetselah.org/podcast. Join our special email list by becoming a podcast partner, donating monthly, to keep these podcasts coming. Next week, join us for episode 45. We are going to be talking about food, well, sort of. We will be looking at a parable about a feast. We are calling episode 45, The Banquet. Come back next week to learn more with us.
Speaker 1 (29:32):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this Sweet Selah Moments podcast, including show notes, can be found at sweetselah.org and at wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.
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