K.Y.E.O.J. – IV. to be loved the same

Shalom, my friends! This is part 4 of “Keep Your Eyes On Jesus”, a series on the parables of Jesus in memory of Lent. We have less than three weeks to go until Good Friday! Today, we want to look at the parable of the lost son. Here we go:

To further illustrate the point, he told them this story: “A man had two sons. When the younger told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die!’ his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there wasted all his money on parties and prostitutes. About the time his money was gone a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the swine looked good to him. And no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired men have food enough and to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming, and was filled with loving pity and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

“His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and you, and am not worthy of being called your son—’

“But his father said to the slaves, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. And a jeweled ring for his finger; and shoes! And kill the calf we have in the fattening pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has returned to life. He was lost and is found.’ So the party began.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working; when he returned home, he heard dance music coming from the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on.

“‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the calf we were fattening and has prepared a great feast to celebrate his coming home again unharmed.’

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to; and in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after spending your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have on the place.’

“‘Look, dear son,’ his father said to him, ‘you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. But it is right to celebrate. For he is your brother; and he was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’”

Luke 15:11-32 TLB

What point was Jesus making? The reason why Jesus started telling the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and this parable in the first place, was to respond to the Jewish religious leaders grumbling about Him associating, even eating, with the unrighteous. They expected Jesus to treat them differently – they expected Him to want to spend more time with them rather than “those people”. Jesus is telling them that the Father loves His children the same, meeting their needs differently. For the problem of the elder son was not that He was afraid the father would not accept him (that was the concern of the younger son); why would he if he is doing everything right, living a faithful, obedient life? No, he was angry at his father for treating his younger sibling, who did not deserve anything he received, in such a kind, loving way! It was pride, a sense of entitlement coming from self-righteousness, that demanded the father to love him more than his “sinning” brother. Don’t we get this feeling, too, when we see God extending His love, grace and mercy to a brother or sister in Christ who does not even know how to appreciate it and keeps grieving the Father’s heart? Just imagine the time this older son had to spend watching his father look out the window day and night for this mischievous brother! All the while he was faithful and did everything right. It is no wonder he thinks it is unfair. But that is how the Father in heaven loves us all!

“Look, dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours.”

To all you older sons in the parable, this is the Father’s response to you! The Father and everything He has is your reward. The intimacy you have with Him is your reward! When you believe, you can enter the party thrown for your prodigal sibling with joy and laughter, arm in arm with the father. Yes, you can even wait together with him, looking out the window, and running out to meet your lost brother with open arms when he returns home. Don’t you want the truth to set you free like this? You will be able to love so much more!

Now, another point I want to make in this post is about the lost son. Pay attention to his hunger, that he got so hungry that he even wanted what was given to pigs but he wasn’t given anything. I was talking to a friend yesterday, how there are times when God leaves you hungry for a reason. You are so hungry on the inside, but there is nothing that can fill this void in your heart; no other person in this world. You keep striving for intimacy, maybe you are waiting for “the one”, your lover, but somehow even that kind of relationship does not satisfy. My friend, if this is you, maybe, just maybe this is your Father in heaven inviting you to come home to Him! Because He is waiting there for you – and He would run towards you even before you get there, seeing you from afar, recognizing you; giving you a robe and a ring to tell everybody that you are His child. Do you hear me? Do you hear the Father calling?

“His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and you, and am not worthy of being called your son—’
But his father said to the slaves, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. And a jeweled ring for his finger; and shoes! And kill the calf we have in the fattening pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has returned to life. He was lost and is found.’

Look at Him. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

God bless you!

K.Y.E.O.J. – III. the joy of relationship

Hello everyone, this is part 3 of “Keep Your Eyes On Jesus”! I have been keeping the following two parables in my heart for about a week now because I was waiting for Him to go deeper with me. They are surely worth wasting your life for! What do I mean by that? Let us read the parables first:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like
treasure hidden in a field,
which a man found and hid;
and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has
and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like
a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who,
when he had found one pearl of great price,
went and sold all that he had
and bought it.”
(Matthew 13:44-46)

Do you recognize the pattern of “find – sell all – buy” in both parables? This just tells me the parables belong together.

I think the parables have two sides. We could think of them from our perspective, that we give up everything for our King and have immeasurable joy by it. Only those who have payed a specific cost before to follow Christ understand the joy of surrendering again and more to Him. It doesn’t feel costly at all, more like a heavenly reward! How could anything we give up here on earth compare to the joy of knowing the Lord deeply and spending eternity with Him; building kingdom together with Him, and being used by Him? Those who know, know! If you don’t but want to, tell God about your desire and trust Him that He will take you there! Take concrete steps and re-surrender again and again if you need to. I will be praying for you.

Moreover, God knows what our hearts beat for individually because He created us. Everyone has different interests and occupations. We have different things that we desire to do which truly satisfy us, and the kingdom of heaven has a place for every member of the body of Christ! It holds all that give us a sense of total fulfillment, as diverse as we may be. I think of Bezalel, Aholiab and all the artists in Exodus 31:1-6 who were filled with God’s Spirit to build the tabernacle and the ark according to God’s descriptions. How fulfilling it must have been for them to get all creative and professional for Him! Don’t you want that, too?

The second perspective is even greater, more beautiful – let me share another perspective from Enduring Word:

“The treasure so wonderful that Jesus would give all to purchase is the individual believer. This powerfully shows how Jesus gave everything to redeem the whole world to preserve a treasure in it, and the treasure is His people. … / … It seems crazy for a merchant to sell all that he had for one pearl, but for this merchant it was well worth it. That shows how much he valued this pearl of great price, and how much Jesus values His people.”

Most commentators view the man and the merchant in the parables as Jesus, and the treasure and the pearl of great price as us, His people. I have to chuckle when I read this, because we are always loved by God first! Do you believe that you were worth suffering and dying for for the Son of God? Do you believe that you are that one pearl so costly, that God would give up everything to just keep you? To just have you? What difference does this make for you? I believe that the more you believe in this message, the more you will give Him your everything, too! Why? Because you know He loves you and you love Him, too! It is not so much about counting the costs, but it is about relationship. It is about what He has done first, which motivates me to do everything for His glory. It starts with the identity that I am His one treasure worth giving it all up for.

So I rejoice.

I worship.

I praise.

I give thanks.

I partner with Him to make our dream come true. Your dream, Jesus, of us loving Abba and one another. So I keep my eyes on you in order to remember Your dream.

Even today. I keep my eyes on You.


K.Y.E.O.J. – II. mustard seed

Welcome to part 2! Here is an introductory post to this series and here is part 1.

Today, we are going to look at another beautiful parable from Jesus. It is the parable of the mustard seed:

“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 NKJV)

Profound, isn’t it? Simple but powerful! The least of all seeds growing into a sheltering tree – the carpenter’s son from Nazareth, born in a manger, now sitting at the right hand of God! Oh, what a sight!

At the beginning of this year, the Holy Spirit led me to the life and teachings of Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853-1928). She was a single missionary and artist who served in Algeria for over 38 years (you can find out more about her at womenofchristianity.com). Little was known about her until a pastor’s wife decided to find out more about her life after having been comforted by her writings. I am certain that especially Lilias did not know her life would touch a young woman in South Korea about a hundred years after her death, but God knew! I am sharing because I really hear God speaking to me that it is all about surrender, and that He will do the multiplying. Follow me on this one. I want to share a part of her book called “Parables of the Cross“:

This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying–the delicate seed-globe must break up now–it gives and gives till it has nothing left.

What a revolution would come over the world–the world of starving bodies at home–the world of starving souls abroad, if something like this were the standard of giving; if God’s people ventured on “making themselves poor” as Jesus did, for the sake of the need around; if the “I”–“me”–“mine” were practically delivered up, no longer to be recognised when they clash with those needs.

The hour of this new dying is clearly defined to the dandelion globe: it is marked by detachment. There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that bloweth where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given: a breath does the rest, turning the “readiness to will” into the “performance.” (2 Cor. 8. 11.) And to a soul that through “deaths oft” has been brought to this point, even acts that look as if they must involve an effort, become something natural, spontaneous, full of a “heavenly involuntariness,” so simply are they the outcome of the indwelling love of Christ.

Shall we not ask God to convict us, as to where lies the hindrance to this self-emptying? It is not alone mere selfishness, in its ordinary sense, that prevents it; long after this has been cleansed away by the Precious Blood there may remain, unrecognised, the self-life in more subtle forms. It may co-exist with much that looks like sacrifice; there may be much of usefulness and of outward self-denial, and yet below the surface may remain a clinging to our own judgment, a confidence in our own resources, an unconscious taking of our own way, even in God’s service. And these things hold down, hold in our souls, and frustrate the Spirit in His working. The latent self-life needs to be brought down into the place of death before His breath can carry us hither and thither as the wind wafts the seeds. Are we ready for this last surrender?

Do you ask “Does God really mean the emptying to reach so far as this?” Study the inner life of Jesus. “I speak not of Myself” He says. “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” His human self-life, sinless though it was, was laid down that He might live by the Father, and our self-life, defiled and worthless, shall we not lay it down that we may live by Him?

But how? Again not by struggling and wrestling, but by dying to it in Jesus. “I am crucified with Christ”–I myself in the very essence of my being, I let myself go to that death, and by the mysterious power with which God meets faith, I find that He has made it true: the bonds are loosed and He can have His way with me.

See in these wild iris-pods how the last tiny threads must be broken, and with that loosing, all that they have is free for God’s use in His world around. All reluctance, all calculating, all holding in is gone; the husks are opened wide, the seeds can shed themselves unhindered. Again and again has a breaking come:–the seed broke to let go the shoot–the leaf-bud broke to let go the leaf, and the flower-bud to let go the flower–but all to no practical avail, if there is a holding back now. “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” and sacrifice is the very life-breath of love. May God shew us every withholding thread of self that needs breaking still, and may His own touch shrivel it into death.

There are times when I am appalled by my own inability to love and I would self-destruct if I did not believe that Christ lives in me now, not I! What a relief that I can love now, that it is easy and not burdensome because the Holy Spirit is my Helper. It can be so arduous when I try to do it on my own. Look at how nature worships God by doing what Jesus commands us to do: die to abound. Only when the tiny mustard seed dies, can it turn into a giving tree for many. And when even the least of all seeds can turn into such a sheltering tree, how much more the others! The sovereignty of God is all over the parable! The vastness of His glory evident in the way He designed the kingdom of heaven. It is the art of dying to oneself, so that God can be glorified.

Keep your eyes on Jesus! Imitate His faith. You have no idea how God can use you, you just don’t. God’s thoughts are so much higher, transcending time and space. You may not see it now, but His kingdom is growing. You are growing!

K.Y.E.O.J. – 1. wheat & tares

Keep Your Eyes On Jesus. That is the essence of this new series where we are going to explore the parables of Christ on the kingdom of heaven together. Today, we are going to look at the parable of the tares from Matthew 13:24-30;36-43. I use the NKJV:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 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 harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Maybe you are like me and have heard of this parable before, even multiple times; and you already know that tares look exactly like wheats and cannot be distinguished until harvest. So what is the point in this? There are two things I want to highlight:

1) that God’s servants in the world (= us, followers of Christ), CAN UPROOT THE GOOD WHEAT IN OUR ZEAL TO PLUCK OUT THE TARES. We have to face the fact that God designed it this way, that no servant would become proud and think they are discerning everything perfectly and doing God good service. The real separation will be done by angels in the end of all things! I know it from people (including me) who are extremely zealous for righteousness; in trying to change the world, we can destroy the good works of the Holy Spirit! I remember last year when I was talking to a dear sister in Christ about a vision I had of her violently tearing out all the sprouts from the ground because she thought them evil. However, it was the ground of her own son’s heart! I saw Jesus right next to her, looking at her with grief, because she was not listening to Him and plugging out all the good sprouts prematurely. Now she had to go through the same trial all over again regarding her son.

Let us take the Asbury “revival” (or however you want to call it because I seriously do not care about wording), as an example. Beware of people who say they understand everything perfectly and discern everything right about it and be even more careful if they are eloquent with words! God loves to fool the wise and to reveal the power of His Spirit through faith, and not through eloquent words (remember Paul). Note, I am not talking about who and what is right and wrong here. I am not saying we should not test every spirit and discern. I have personally cried for forgiveness on behalf of a certain group of people visiting Asbury. No, I am talking about the basic fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus says the angels will do the perfect separating at the end of all things at the harvest. So who are you to exalt yourself to the status of higher beings? This sort of hubris definitely gives room for deception, my friend! Rest in Jesus instead! His love is not burdensome, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When you have the perfect word of knowledge or wisdom or prophecy but do not have love, you are like a resounding gong. Have some fear of the Lord.

2) I do not just want to warn. If you felt convicted by what I said above, I just want to tell you that I really sympathize with you because I am a very zealous person myself. Remember Jude, when God says we should even hate the stench of sin. It also says about Lot, Abraham’s nephew, that living in Sodom hurt his soul because he was continuously exposed to so much unrighteousness (just remember what his daughters did to him – yuck!). Jesus also says we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, for we will be satisfied! Yes, I want to comfort you. As I was reading through multiple bible commentaries about Matthew 13, I stumbled across a commentary from John Calvin and it really stood out to me because I felt the Comforter speak through him regarding this matter. Here is an excerpt (you can find the full commentary at the end of this post when you click on the link):

“He speaks of a separation, in order to prevent the minds of the godly from giving way to uneasiness or despondency (a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage), when they perceive a confused mixture of the good along with the bad. … very many, under the pretense of zeal, are excessively displeased, when everything is not conducted to their wish, and, because absolute purity is nowhere to be found, withdraw from the Church in a disorderly manner, or subvert and destroy it by unreasonable severity. In my opinion, the design of the parable is simply this: So long as the pilgrimage of the Church in this world continues, bad men and hypocrites will mingle in it with those who are good and upright, that the children of God may be armed with patience and, in the midst of offenses which are fitted to disturb them, may preserve unbroken steadfastness of faith.”*1

Isn’t this beautiful? The heart of Jesus behind telling us this parable? “Take heart for I have overcome the world.” “Do not be afraid”. Remember all those words from Him? “Take heart, my child, for I have overcome the world. I am a God of justice. Perfect separation will come. I know your pain, I thank you for grieving with me and for sowing with tears. But I need you to stay strong, to keep your eyes on me because I love my sheep and I do not address everything at once. I am gentle and lowly. You are not a threat to me, so please do not treat other brothers and sisters as a threat. Correct them with gentleness and always honor the other above yourself. Learn from me, for my burden is light and my yoke easy. I love you, I am preparing my Bride, the church. I am the Son of God, I have conquered.”

My friend, do you get what I am trying to say? Lean your head on His chest and let His warmth fill your heart in the middle of this chaos in the world! He understands, He comforts. He gives you wisdom to win over lives. He quiets you down, for He loves you with a quiet, loyal love. Be one with Him by remaining in His love and you will be able to sleep better; rest better. The fruits of the Spirit are evident: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26) Remember the warning I keep giving you since the beginning of this year to weigh down the body of Christ with heavy burdens from the enemy, to go back to works instead of walking by the might of the Spirit. God’s love is not burdensome! Keep your eyes on Jesus. He wants you walking on water.


John Calvin’s commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke – Volume 2, pp.98-99