Day 1

Read Matthew 13:10-17

There are two types of sermons: ones that have had a lot of time and effort put into them, and those that were just thrown together.  Most of the time, I think it is pretty easy to see which is which.  Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart and they announced that they were giving away something for free and all that were interested were to meet in a section of the store.  Someone with me was interested in this idea of “free” and so we took the bait.  We then watched a 20 something year old present a product infomercial style that he was not the least bit interested in.  It seemed much longer than it was.

Jesus taught different than this.  He was short, to the point, and very, very deliberate in all that He said.  He told stories about a kingdom and a way of life that piqued everyone’s interest.  In fact, he talked about this kingdom more than 50 times in Matthew alone.  But many people took the teachings too serious, or not serious enough and therefore missed the point.  In the above section of Matthew, Jesus explains why He teaches like He does.  

How have you seen parables used in some of the more memorable teachings you have been in?

Do you find it helpful to have a story explain a teaching like Jesus did?

 What do you think Jesus means in verse 11?

Day 2

Read: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Jesus is an incredible teacher, He would take things that were common to His audience and create an awesome lesson that helped them understand what He was talking about. That is the case with our text today. When we “seek first the Kingdom,” that is living our life in a way that brings glory to God in all that we do. As we look at the sower there are four hearts that are shared with us.

The first heart is a heart that has no desire to know or learn anything about Christ. It is a heart that if it is in Church it is simply there to appease their own conscience or because someone else is making them. They hear about God through singing and through the preaching, but they simply blow it off. They are more concerned with themselves, their desires, their passions, than they are about growing and learning about God’s Kingdom or God’s love for their life. They are blind to what God is trying to show them and how God is trying to love on them. Maybe you know someone like that. If you do, pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit works deep to break up the hardness that is in their heart

The second heart is one that is driven by emotions. They make spur of the moment emotional decisions and that is the driving force behind them following God and seeking first His Kingdom. They base their relationship with Christ on how they are feeling at the moment. If things are going well and they feel happy, that must mean God is proud of them or with them. However, when spiritual struggles arise, they are quick to jump ship and look for the next emotional wave that will get them through whatever they are facing. They have no foundation and their desire to seek first the Kingdom is wiped away with an emotional struggle or spiritual battle they may be facing. Their relationship with Christ never seems to be enough and they are constantly searching (sometimes through Church hopping) for the emotional happiness they once felt. If you know someone like this, then pray that God moves them past the emotions to a stable relationship with Him. Knowing that our relationship isn’t built on emotions but on the commitment we make to Him and the commitment He has made to us.

The third heart is a heart unwilling to pay the price. They are willing to enjoy serving God as long as they feel like it doesn’t cost them anything. They like the idea of Christianity and being a part of His Kingdom as long as it is easy or doesn’t make them change who they are. A relationship that doesn’t cost you anything isn’t a relationship that’s an acquaintance. Maybe you know someone that professes to know Christ, yet lives a life that isn’t displaying a changed, committed life. If you know someone like that, ask God to show them how He truly wants their life to be, because there is nothing more freeing than complete surrender to a God that pours an unconditional love out on us. 

The fourth heart is a faithful heart. This is a heart that not only hears God's Word, but seeks to glorify God with their lives and desires to make disciples. It is a heart that is never satisfied with where they are, because they know God wants to do more in them and through them. Maybe you know someone with a faithful heart. What you can do is thank God for them, then pray that God protects them because the enemy will stop at nothing to distract them. There is no greater servant in the Kingdom than the one that wants to multiply disciples. 

Day 3

Read: Matthew 13:24-30

Have you watched the news lately? I don’t know if you have, but there is no denying how bad things are. If you watch the news or just look at Social Media, there seems to be a lot of evil in the world today. That’s what our text deals with today. As we look at the harvest in our text, it demonstrates to us the future aspect of God’s Kingdom. At the time of harvest people’s true character will be revealed and judged. However, as God’s Church we represent God’s Kingdom on earth. We are living in the midst of evil and the enemy will do all he can to influence those around us. What we are called to do is live among them demonstrating daily the power and love of an Almighty God. We are to live among them with the prayerful desire that we may impact them and influence them to accept Jesus Christ. We can’t escape the evil that is around us, that’s what this parable is dealing with. What we can do is live for Christ with the hopes of bringing others into the Kingdom so that they can experience the power of peace and forgiveness that we experience. Our goal isn’t to be influenced by the world, but influence the world through our lives as we display God to others. Pray today that as you walk in the middle of the thorns of life, that you can find someone who you can share God’s incredible grace with today. 

How have you noticed this idea of the thorns among vibrant plants in the church today?

What are we supposed to do about it according to this teaching of Jesus?

Day 4

Read Matthew 13:31-33

No matter how good of a speaker you are, one of the frustrating things you have to deal with is what people actually hear.  Of course you have experienced the phenomenon that what you mean to communicate and what people actually saying are two totally different things.  All of the sudden you end up getting quoted for saying something that you did not even come close to saying, or mean to say.  

As Jesus was going around teaching about the “Kingdom of God” or “the Kingdom of Heaven,” people were hearing different things.  For them, “kingdom” equalled something akin to an empire with an army and a great leader.  It was no small thing.  Kingdom was a big word.  They had seen many kingdoms in their near history, come and go. For a kingdom to come, it had to be a big force with a lot of moving parts and power.  For it to go, it had to be taken over by something much bigger and powerful than something that was there before.  And the current kingdom of Rome was a doozy!  So to imagine the kingdom that comes and sends Rome on it’s way out, you have to imagine a bit of what could have been going through everyone’s head as Jesus talked about this kingdom.  

But that was missing the point.  So Jesus throws these two parables at them to try and rope in their thinking.  He said the kingdom of God was like a Mustard seed, which was the smallest of seeds imaginable.  Sure, it turned into something big, but it came as a mustard seed and then took a lot of time.  The kingdom was also like leaven, or yeast.  If you make bread and add yeast to it, you can’t really tell what is flour and what is yeast.  It blends in pretty well.  But the change is obvious soon enough and the impact of that small amount of yeast completely changes the appearance of the greater part it has blended in to.  

How would you explain to someone the idea that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed?

What do you think the parable of the leaven means?

How can these two parables be used today to encourage the disciples of Jesus?

How can they be used to bring more people to follow Jesus?

Day 5

Read Matthew 13:44-46

Have you ever seen someone go through something and it completely change them?  I mean, they make a complete about face in their life and are totally different.  I have seen people go through this sort of change when a parent dies, or a baby is born.  We have all had those friends that were there and fun and then all of the sudden they met that girl or the guy and everyone else seemed to never matter.  In our circles we would talk about how they gave up everything for him or her and that one day that would bite them in the backside.  Sometimes that relationship would not work out and they would come back to the group and everyone would fight back the “I told you so!”’s.  But other times, it would work out and they would go off and form a family and that was it.  

To make a change that alters your life, there needs to be a value that makes it worth it and sacrifice that makes it possible.  Remember, many people have changed for many things.  In the end, those many things have panned out to not be that great or important and they are left bankrupt of everything they gambled it all on.  

Jesus is teaching that the Kingdom of God is worth that sort of a change.  It is worth giving up everything and everyone in order to acquire something in your life that will matter.  There is no question of whether it will matter, it is worth it all.  

What have you given up for the Kingdom of God?
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