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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 13)

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears[a] listen!”

Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets[b] of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:

‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn — and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.[c] As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with[d] three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:[e] “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”[f]

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears[g] listen!

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.

He came to his hometown and began to teach the people[h] in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.




  1. Matthew 13:9 Other ancient authorities add to hear
  2. Matthew 13:11 Or mysteries
  3. Matthew 13:21 Gk stumbles
  4. Matthew 13:33 Gk hid in
  5. Matthew 13:35 Other ancient authorities read the prophet Isaiah
  6. Matthew 13:35 Other ancient authorities lack of the world
  7. Matthew 13:43 Other ancient authorities add to hear
  8. Matthew 13:54 Gk them
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Seduced by the Enemy, Part 1: Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy

Can one born in sin truly recognize sin?
If all of life is a thought, then what is death?
If faith is an alignment of mind, heart and will, then what is doubt?
If no weapon formed against a believer can harm them, then how can a believer be destroyed?
If nothing can separate a believer from the love of God, then what can possibly turn a believer away from God?
If Jesus Christ died for me, why is it so hard to live completely for Him?

These questions may sound philosophical, but they have very practical answers.


Part 1: Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy

1. to lead astray, as from duty, rectitude, or the like; corrupt
2. to lead or draw away, as from principles, faith, or allegiance

“Seduction” has a romantic connotation in world culture, however, synonyms for the word “seduce” include decoy, lure, deceive and tempt. None of those words have a romantic ring to them. The word “enemy” can also be misleading, in that it leads one to look outward for danger instead of inward. The spiritual attacks aimed at knocking believers from their walk with God targets the believer’s internal organisms of belief, faith, heart and thoughts. Even though the perpetrator of the attacks is the spirit we know as Satan or the devil or the god of this world, our most dangerous potential enemy is our self. The self that can be seduced into believing something other than the truth. The self that can be beguiled into a change of heart and led astray from their faith. The self that can be deceived into thinking they are less than they are. In a very real sense, a believer can seduce their own self away from God.

We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.   ~ 1 John 5:18-19, 21

If we believe God’s word, nothing Satan/the devil/the evil one attacks us with will harm us. We have only to stand and resist his attacks. Faith is our shield and the Word of God is our sword. The Word of God says that our faith will extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:11-17). Above we read in 1 John 5:18 that the evil one cannot touch us. So if the evil one, aka Satan aka the devil cannot breach our faith, how can he harm us?

He can only succeed against us when we are without our faith – when we have set aside our shield.

Does one not become one’s own worst enemy if one is assured of victory, yet chooses to forfeit said victory?

We are our biggest enemy because we have the ability to choose between life and death – every day, every step, every thought. Satan can’t do that for us, he can only camouflage death (choices leading to death) to make them look like life (or rather the type of life we seek in the world).  

It’s important for a believer to know who they are in Christ – saved, delivered, anointed, more than a conqueror, ambassador of Christ, minister of reconciliation, a priest, and a king seated in heavenly places. It is equally important to know who we are when we are not in Christ. When we operate in the flesh (seeking to satisfy our SELF) we are on a slippery slope leading to sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Believers who are susceptible to seduction by the enemy are those who think they can accept Christ, God’s saving grace, and still operate outside of Him, outside of God’s grace. Those who believe they can praise the Lord in the morning and still speak death to their life in the evening. Those who plant a fruitful tree yet starve it at the roots. Their left hand is not aware of the doings of the right. And their thoughts are not expressed by their actions.

I am such a susceptible believer.   

I am the most dangerous and destructive enemy I will ever encounter. I need to know that about myself.

You need to know that about yourself.

There is nothing that comes against you that can do more damage than what comes from within you. So the true battle is getting your SELF under control. Once you are in control of your SELF (or every time you regain control of your SELF), submit your SELF under the authority of Christ. It is through Christ that we have the power to continue to walk according to the Spirit of God and it is through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God that we are convicted and corrected of our errors during our walk.

I thank God for His firm hold on me and His persistent voice within me.    

The Holy Spirit communicates with our spirit, not with our flesh (our SELF, our sinful nature). So don’t be seduced by SELF (by your flesh, your sinful nature) into seeking temporary worldly pleasures over God’s eternal promises.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.    ~ Galatians 5:22-26

 Q:  How many times must I die to self in order to live in Christ?

A:  As many times as it takes to REMAIN in Christ.

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Star Trek’s Final Frontier

A Pop Culture vs. The Bible post by LaShawnda Jones

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  ~ Psalm 111:10


During a rest period over the holidays, I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Filmed in 1978, it looked and sounded like many of the variations of Star Trek episodes I’ve watched over the years. I’m almost certain I’ve seen this movie at least once before over the years, however it felt I like a first viewing. Halfway through the movie, one of the bridge officers is abducted by a beam of light that penetrated the hull of the starship. The officer’s name is Ilia (the Slavic form of the Hebrew Eliyahu/Elijah meaning, “my God is Lord”).

Some time later Ilia reappears on the ship as an exact replica of herself. Her features and physical body are the same and she can access memories from her former body, however as a recreated being her function and purpose had changed.

Captain Kirk, curious about this anomaly on his ship, confronts Ilia with his officers and questions her. Their conversation goes something like this:

Kirk: Who is…’V’ger’…?
Ilia: V’ger is that which programmed me.
Kirk: Is V’ger the name of the Captain of the alien vessel?
McCoy: Jim, this is mechanism. (He’s doing a bio scan of Ilia as he speaks.)
Spock: A probe, Captain (confirming McCoy’s finding). No doubt a sensor-transceiver combination, recording everything we say and do.
Kirk: Where is Lieutenant Ilia?
Ilia: That unit no longer functions. I have been given its form to more readily communicate with the carbon-based units infesting Enterprise.
Security Guard: “Carbon-based units”…?
McCoy: Humans, Ensign Prarez – us.
Kirk: Why does V’ger travel to the third planet of the solar system directly ahead?
Ilia: To find the Creator.
Kirk: Find the Creator? Whose…!? What does V’ger want of the ‘Creator’… ?
Ilia: To join with him.
Spock: How?
Ilia: V’ger and the Creator will become One.
Spock: …and Who is the Creator?
Ilia: The Creator is that which created V’ger.
Kirk: Who is V’ger?
Ilia: V’ger is that which seeks the Creator. I am ready to commence my observations.
Spock: Doctor, a thorough examination of this probe might provide some insight into those who manufactured it, and how to deal with them.

I got a kick watching this on a stormy winter Sunday afternoon. It was like an added bonus of a Sunday school lesson!

I had always thought the appeal of Star Trek was the adventure and exploration of the universe as we can only imagine it to be. Paying attention to the words in this movie revealed to me what I have discovered over and over with Star Trek franchise throughout the decades and more recently on my own personal journey with God – the true voyages are internal.  The space adventurers were willing to search far and wide for anything to explain everything they were in that moment of time. Only to come to the realization that the deep space is within our humanoid forms. Exploring who we are is a continuous adventure throughout life. 

An all-consuming search for our Creator leads to an inescapable confrontation with our true selves. Likewise, an all-consuming exploration of ourselves leads us to a face-to-face with our Creator. 

Purpose of a creation            

Decker: Does V’ger object to the presence of the two carbon units?
Ilia: The carbon units are of no consequence; V’ger will determine their purpose.
McCoy: Their purpose is to survive.
Decker: You said V’ger’s purpose was to find and join with the Creator.
Ilia: That is how V’ger will survive.

V’ger was a created entity that was programmed to learn all it could in the universe and return to it’s creator. When the starship Enterprise encountered V’ger, V’ger was in search of it’s Creator. It abducted Lt. Ilia off the Enterprise because it needed a way to interact and communicate with species on the Enterprise – the carbon units aka humans. In short, V’ger was on it’s own vogage of self-exploration.

Spock took it upon himself to go off on his own to explore V’ger and came back somewhat comatose – there were indications of some neurological trauma. Spock attempted to mind-meld with V’ger and the experience literally blew his mind. Imagine! Joining with something that has accumulated incalucable knowledge. In the below exchange, Spock attempts to explain the experience.  

Spock: I should have known…
Kirk: Were you right? About V’ger?
Spock: A life-form of it’s own. A conscious, living entity…. I saw V’ger’s planet: a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. V’ger has knowledge that spans this universe. And yet… with all it’s pure logic, V’ger is barren. Cold. No mystery… no beauty… I should have known…
Kirk: Known what, Spock? What? What should you have known?
Spock: Jim… (Spock grabs Kirk’s hand) This simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension. No meaning… No hope… And, Jim, no answers…! It’s asking questions…
Kirk: What questions?
Spock: “Is this all I am? Is there nothing more?” 

Spock should have known about V’ger’s search and experience because his Vulcan half (an unemotional but very intelligent and logical race of people) was in constant conflict with his human half (a highly emotional and often irrational race of people). It’s rare for Spock to show any emotion (I can’t recall any other scene actually), however, this was a very emotional scene for him (he was on the brink of tears!) – analyzing a machine with characteristics similar to himself, a living being with unfathomable knowledge and merciless logic. We all seek knowledge. We all seek some sort of understanding. V’ger was a created machine that had traveled the known universe and amassed all the knowledge therein. When Spock tried to mind-meld with this machine he overloaded his capacity. More importantly, he was made aware of the true knowledge: everything that V’ger had learned on it’s travels through the universe amounted to nothing real. V’ger had infinite knowledge, but no emotional intelligence – no ability to connect with another being. He couldn’t compute touch, love, compassion, joy or sadness.   

The end of logical knowledge…

Spock: Captain… V’ger must evolve. It’s knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. What it requires of it’s God, Doctor, is the answer to it’s question: “Is there nothing more?”
McCoy: What more is there than the universe, Spock?
Decker: Other dimensions. Higher levels of being.
Spock: The existence of which cannot be proven logically, therefore V’ger is incapable of believing in them.
Kirk: What V’ger needs in order to evolve is a human quality. Our capacity to leap beyond logic.
Decker: And joining with it’s creator might accomplish that.
McCoy: You mean this machine wants to physically join with a human? Is that possible?
Decker: Let’s find out.
Kirk: Decker! Don’t!
Decker: Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this. 
[Decker is encircled in light and Ilia walks and joins him in a pillar of light. Their joining causes and eruption of light beams that spreads steadily outward, across the universe.] 
Kirk: Spock, did we just see the beginning of a new life-form?
Spock: Yes, Captain. We witnessed a birth. Possibly, a next step in our evolution
Kirk: I think we gave it the ability to create it’s own sense of purpose… out of our own human weaknesses and the drive that compels us to overcome.

All of the Star Trek franchise is an illustration of the struggle and melding of logic and emotion, passion and reason, belief and unbelief. faith and doubt. The series and movies discuss fictitious planets, beings and relationships, but the substance is certainly based on something real. 

True seekers – true voyagers – will always discover the True Source. They will come into contact with God and be awed even by their simple comprehension of all that He is.

Psalm 111

1 Praise the LORD, I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

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A Personal Relationship with God is Paramount

I feel compelled to express the importance of a believer and follower to have an individual and personal relationship with God. A relationship that is not based on community (other people), location (a church building), or circumstance (what’s going on in your life). Every believer and follower of Jesus Christ should invest in and cultivate their own relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. It is paramount that you do so.

Once you connect with your source, you must feed your relationship constantly in order to build up from your foundation – brick by brick, level by level, unit by unit. How do you achieve the relationship and the numerous additions required throughout life?

By reading the Word of God, for yourself and accepting His Holy Spirit into you – for yourself. No one can do those two things for you. Therefore, another person’s relationship with God will not benefit you at the time of judgment.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’  ~ Matthew 7:21-23

I have come to an uncomfortable realization that community – though it is an instruction and goal for God’s people to assemble themselves – community does very little good for the spiritually hungry. If you are seeking God’s word, His will, His guidance, an understanding of who He is and who you are – go straight to His Word. If you’re depending on other people to tell you about God, you’ve already missed Him. The Bible is Holy Spirit inspired. His Word is alive – it speaks. Whatever you need will greet you there. Whatever you seek will enlighten you there.

Committing myself to my relationship and journey with God has made me somewhat antisocial and, at times, something of a social pariah. I’m fine with that. I have no interest in conforming to the world, nor am I interested in conforming to “Christians” who are attempting to straddle the world and the Kingdom of God. The double-minded and uninformed can do nothing positive for my walk with God. I’ve been told recently that my speech is strong and that my delivery is scary and somewhat combative. Upon reflection, I receive that.

The enemy is seductive, coercive, and prone to disguise himself as a friend. With the same process we use to build, the enemy uses to destroy – thought by thought, action by action, relationship by relationship. He gets in by making you “feel good,” then he wreaks havoc by killing, stealing and destroying everything in your life – bit by bit. If that’s the approach one is used to, then yes, my direct speech and unapologetic recitation of God’s word is going to sound harsh.

The truth is difficult to digest, but death is easy to swallow.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” ~ Matthew 10:34-36

Imagery of a sword is rather harsh – extreme perhaps – but Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword is the Word of God and is held by His Spirit. That brings comfort to me.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

Knowing and adhering to God’s word strengthens one’s personal relationship with him. By extension, our knowledge and obedience also improves our human relationships – the relationships that honor God, that is. The relationships that bring God no honor and glory are the one’s that are destroyed by the sword of truth. The darkness of the ungodly relationships can’t continue in the growing brilliance of the light within you – God’s Word.