From the Pulpit of Mary Magdelene MBC

“The Parable of the Sower” (Luke 8:4-8) by Pastor Theodis Kessee

Matthew tells us that Jesus taught many things to those who came to listen and learn.  Jesus’ teaching method was simple. He used parables, which are short stories and images taken from everyday life to convey hidden truths about the kingdom of God. Like a skillful artist, Jesus painted evocative pictures with short and simple words.

You know how a good image can speak more loudly and clearly than many words can?  Well, Jesus used everyday life to illustrate orders of reality, or hidden, yet visible truths to those who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.”

Matthew also tell us that Jesus’ parables of the kingdom of Heaven are like buried treasures waiting to be discovered (Matt 13:44).

Homiletics is a method commonly used to help a speaker get his ideas across to his audience more effectively.

Jesus used a method that did just the opposite. His purpose in speaking in parables was not to clarify, but to conceal the message or to separate spectators from believers standing before Him.

Jesus told his disciples, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”  (Luke 8:10).

Not everyone who came to hear Jesus speak was there with the intention to receive.  This is like the parable of the sunshine on the clay and wax.  Sunshine would cause the wax to get softer and the clay to get harder. In other words,  Jesus’ parables would separate those who came hungry with a thirst for God’s word from those who were only willing to accept the word at a surface level.

What might we discover of the kingdom of God from Jesus’ parable of the sower?

The same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea a great multitude gathered about him so, that he got into a boat and sat there.  The whole crowd stood on the shore and he told them many things in parables, saying:  A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, on the way side, and the birds came and devoured them.

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil and immediately sprang up, since they had no depth of soil.  When the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. And when Jesus had said these things, he cried, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

Any farmer can attest to the importance of having good soil to supplying nutrients for growth. How does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The scriptures frequently use the image of fruit bearing plants or trees to convey principles of spiritual life and death.

“Blessed is a man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8, Psalm 1:3).

Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly.  The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

There are different types of ‘hearers’.  There is the one along the path or ‘by the way side’ who is a prejudiced hearer with a closed mind. Such a person is unreachable, blind to what he/she doesn’t want to hear.

Then, there is the shallow hearer: He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when the emotion wears off, their mind wanders to something else.

The hearers on the rocky ground are those who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no roots so they believe for a while, but in the test of time, they fall away.

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures and they do not mature. This hearer is the person who has many interest or cares, but who likes the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. This type of person is forever too busy to pray, too pre-occupied to study or to meditate on God’s word.

But the seed on good soil are those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word of God and retains it and by persevering, ultimately produces crop. This is the hearer whose mind is open.  Such a person is at all times willing to listen and learn.

He or she is never too proud or too busy.  They listen in order to understand.  They have “ears to hear.” God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand His will and have the strength to live according to it.

Now ask yourself…Which type of “hearer” are you?


From the Pulpit of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church - “The Unseen Battle: Round 1”

Pastor George E. Hurtt

The first three verses of Job 1 show us that Job has spiritual success seen by his faith, social success seen by his family and secular success seen by his fortune.

The order is significant. Faith is before family and family is before fortune. Your spiritual success is more important than your social success. Social success is more important than secular success.
Are you a spiritual success?

In Job 1:6-7, the day in heaven starts with an assembly. In these verses, the devil is introduced. This day in heaven goes from an assembly to an appraisal by God of Job in Job 1:8.

It says, “And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

This is why Job became the focus of this book, by doing right.

In Job 1:9-11, the devil claimed Job was only good toward God because God had been good toward him. The question cuts to the heart of genuine faith. You and I must ask ourselves this question: Would I serve God even if there were no blessings?

Does God have to buy worship? Does God deserve to be worshipped just for who He is?

God places his money on Job. The trial shall now begin. Satan will be allowed by God to touch Job’s family and fortune. The question is what will happen to his faith.

The cause of Job’s suffering was a day on earth seen in Job 1:6-12. Behind the suffering was Satan, but behind Satan was God.

In Job 1:15-19, Job receives four back-to-back messages of progressively worse news. There is no other way I can say it. It was a hell of a day.

First, several of his servants were slain while his oxen and donkeys were stolen. Next, he lost even more of his servants and livestock in a fire.

Job had to be stunned, realizing that he could not afford another catastrophic event. This would destroy his financial well being. He would go from the richest to the poorest man in the east.

Next he loses his camels and remaining servants in a raid.

This is bad, but it is not the worst. He can labor and replenish his fortune, but then comes the worst news of all—that all ten of his children have been killed.

Just when you thought things could not get any worst for Job—You can almost hear him scream ‘not my baby girls, not junior.’ He and his wife must identify the bodies of ten children.

This is really bad. In the span of a few moments, Job’s social and secular success has all been lost.

Please notice the speed and ease that these things left Job. It can happen the same way in yours and my life.
But, all is not gone. There is one more aspect of Job’s life that can be savaged. This is his faith in God. He still has his spiritual success. Will he trust the sovereignty of God?

How would Job react to these series of horrific events? In Job 1:20, 21, we find that Job mourns, then worships.
Four actions displayed Job’s mourning.

He first arose. Then he tore his clothes. After this, Job shaved all his hair off his head. Finally, he laid prostrate on the ground.

The Bible informs us that Job mourning was not a sin or a sign of Job charging God with wrong. This teaches that Christians who suggest that mourning is anti-faith in God are wrong. It is normal and healthy to cry when the pain of life shows up in your life.

I Thessalonians 4:13 tells not to grieve as those who have no hope. It does not say don’t grieve. It just reminds us that our hope is not defined on earth.

Job knew this. Job 1:20 records a fifth action of Job—he worshipped.

These are his exact words as found in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Wow! I am speechless. Job proves God right. What do you think about Job’s reaction? Was he wrong to mourn? Was his worship fabricated?

Stop thinking and allow the Bible to speak. It says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
He still has his spiritual success. Thus, Job is still successful. He is even more of a success, in light of the fact that he has lost those other two areas of success and maintained his faith.

This is reinforced more when you think about what Job did not know.

He did not know about the day in heaven. Satan showed up before the presence of God on that day. He then accused Job of worshipping God for pay.

Is your name being mentioned in heaven? Could God wager money on your commitment?

In addition, Job did not know that his life would be read and talked about at Mt. Sinai in Los Angeles. People throughout human history have read about how Job handled the worst times in his life.

I want to tell you something: people are reading you. Your life is a book. Your spouse, children, co-workers, classmates are watching how you handle the tough days in your life. What will they read?


From the Pulpit: Steps Ordered by God Christian Church -- “Draw Out Now”

In John 2:1 - 11, Jesus is turning water into wine. There is so much that can be drawn out of this text including the fact that Jesus used something that was ordinary, customary and within reach to do the extraordinary. He used the servants that were available and he asked them to simply fill the purification water pots.  The Bible says that they filled them to the brim.

These were obedient servants.

What I want to highlight however is what happened next when Jesus instructed them to draw out now. The word "draw" in the Greek means to bale up or bilge up water. It can also be used to describe the tools or equipment used to pull up or draw water up. Either way, this word specifically is dealing with moving water.

In Ephesians 5:26, we see the account of water being used symbolically for the Word of God and its corresponding cleansing power.

In John 15:3 Jesus says, "Now are you clean by the Word I have spoken to you."

This is that living water that the woman at the well in John 4 encountered. She came with water pot in hand, ready to draw and left filled with the Words of Christ that will never fail to quench her thirst for righteousness.
We need to be like her and like Rebecca of old who, in Genesis 24:19-20, so understood the value of water that she was willing to go way beyond the call of duty to draw out now. The Bible says that she moved in haste. If she had hesitated, if she’d waited ten more minutes when the obedient servant showed up, she would have missed the prince of the hour.

Somebody needs to draw out now!

Whenever we open God's Word, whenever we come together as a family to hear from Him, we should have water pots in hand and expect the treasury of His cleansing Word to fill us up to the overflow so we can then draw out and pour on all those who are dry, weary, sin-stained, discouraged and sick.  We need to pour out on those who need a word of refreshing and regeneration.

I want to share something that happened recently. In addition to teaching the Word over the years, God has raised me up through the arts ministry which involves drama, comedy, dance, music, et cetera. It has a prophetic flow and focus.  For the past two years however, I have been away from the arts and focused on building the church.

He recently sent me back to the dance and my first assignment was at an ordination celebration. When preparing for this ministry, I was at the venue standing on the stage. I got the sense that at one point in the dance the Lord wanted me to jump off the stage as if I was jumping into a pool of water! This was new. What’s more, I later had a vision of myself standing there on that stage and the room was filled with water—beautiful, refreshing water that may have been what the pool of Bethesda looked like in John 5.

The day of the ministry came and if you know anything about the prophetic arts in ministry, you know how effective it is. So I was going to work it to the max. I was going to draw back, then fearfully move to the edge of the stage and then pull back again. I was going to do this maybe three or four times to really paint a clear picture for God's people.

But God had another plan!

The second time I drew back and then ran to the edge of the stage, the anointing hit my foot and I was up and over and leaping off the stage as if into water.

When that happened, the whole room went up in praise! God’s timing is perfect.

My question however was why would God want me to jump in the metaphorical water like that?

Well, typical for an ordination service, that room was filled with the ministerial movers and shakers in this city! They had the water of the Word on the inside of them and they were the reason the room was filled with prophetic water.  God however revealed that there was some activation (or troubling) required.

Preachers, we can be carrying this wonderful water of the Word, but if it's not drawn out, it's going to stagnate and instead of being healing waters. It is going to be water that is sickening.

Some of you are waiting for a chance at the pulpit in your current churches, but I challenge you to read Ezekiel 47 and see how the water flowed out from under the temple door and began to bring healing wherever it went. This “water” was like a river whose current produces electric power; it had value like currency and it was a current that had "now-ness" so it was relevant.

I say to you be drawn out now but show up with some power, some worth and relevance! Remember to remain submitted as well.

There is a treasury that is available and in store for us as the Body of Christ. It is on account of Jesus from which we must be able to draw. And we are to draw out when, family?  Now!

This great treasure is God's sure word that cleanses the evil heart of unbelief. It is the sword of the Spirit that we draw out now to offensively go after the enemy and cut his head off!

Let me bottom-line this, we are in a moment where God must draw the sin-stained to the cleansing pool that washes away sickness, but we must make sure that we're first obedient servants who stand as purified water pots filled to the overflow so those who have tremendous needs can draw out now.


From the Pulpit: Church of Christian Fellowship -- “What Is It Going To Take” Acts 24

Sometimes we know the steps that we must take and for some reason we fail to take them. Our loved ones cry out in exasperation, “What is it going to take”?

I wonder if that is what the Apostle Paul uttered to himself after dealing with Felix.  He was determined to make a difference, it was clear to Paul that it was about that time, but unfortunately, there was a unwillingness on Felix and Drusilla’s part.  Can’t you hear the apostle in exasperation saying, “What is it going to take?”

Paul was arrested for the cause of Christ and after being beaten and brought before religious and other officials, he found himself in front of a man by the name of Felix. His accusers accuse him of being a troublemaker, being the leader of a new religious sect and desecrating the temple.

Paul makes his defense and surprisingly, Felix the governor adjourned the proceedings.  In verses 22 and 23, it looks like he cuts Paul some slack.  He is not free to leave but his is afforded some freedom and is permitted to have his friends take care of his needs.

Several days later, Felix summoned Paul to a meeting (v. 24). He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.  Paul talked about righteousness, self control and the judgment to come and the text says that what happened?

Felix became afraid and said, “That is enough for now.  You may leave.  When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

No mention of receiving the word of God. No mention of believing on Christ.  No mention of baptism. No mention of the Holy Spirit infilling or empowering.  Nothing.  The opportunity appears to be right but Felix does not move in God’s direction. Drusilla does not move in God’s direction.

What can we learn from this account?

Let me say a word about commitment.

If you are need to move in God’s direction and you are stuck, or someone you love needs to move in God’s direction but they are stuck, know that interest in is not the same as commitment to.

Felix was interested.  He sent for him and listened to him several times but he never made a commitment. It is like getting married.  You can talk about it, make plans for it, read books about it, share fantasies about what it will be like but until you do it you are interested but not committed.

Let me say a word about conviction.

Sometimes brothers and sisters, God allows circumstances in your life to bring you to a place of conviction.  Something happens and you all of sudden have firm beliefs about something. I believe that is what was happening to Felix.

The apostle Paul started talking about righteousness, self control and the judgment to come and the Holy Spirit started working on Felix. Jesus taught in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit, the counselor, will convict the world of guilt in regards to sin and righteousness and judgment.

Felix said, “That’s is enough for now.  When it is convenient, I will send for you”.

When that strong feeling hits, when the Holy Spirit is convicting you, it is time to make a move.

Let me say a word about continuance.

Verse 22 says that Felix was well acquainted with the Way.  The Way became a title for followers of Jesus-—the name of their belief before the term Christian was used.  Felix had knowledge before Paul talked to him about the Lord.  He had knowledge but he never moved in God’s direction.  So he continued to live his life beneath God best.

When we continue to avoid doing what God calls us to do and being what God wants us to be we can reach a point where our behavior just becomes ridiculous.  Look at Felix.  He is so far out of the will of God that he is avoiding salvation and looking to receive a bribe from a righteous man of God.  Crazy huh?

It is easy to see the craziness in someone else but it is hard to see to craziness in one’s own life.  Continuing life apart from the will of God is a mistake. It is possible to continue with sin so much that sin doesn’t have the sting that it once had.

Let me offer the final focus word in this message: Crave.

If we are going to get to where God wants us to be and something is in the way that is causing us to say, “What is it going to take?” or causing the people we love to say ‘’What is it going to take?” I recommend that we discipline ourselves to be men and women who crave God.

To crave means to yearn, to want deeply.

As long as there is a take him or leave him attitude, we won’t move properly in God’s direction. As long as Jesus is just one among many, we won’t move properly in God’s direction.  As long as we think “We can do God on our terms,” we won’t move properly in God’s direction.

Oh my brothers and sisters, when the words “What is it going to take?” are burdening our souls, we have to crave the Lord.  Crave Him more than we crave the things that we think will bring us fulfillment. Crave Him more than that which is used by the adversary as temptation.

There is a blessing that goes along with the craving and it is found in Matthew 5:6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.”


From the Pulpit: Calvary Chapel of Inglewood


“By Faith” Hebrews 11

Even in church, even in the body of believers, people many times want something they can feel, they can see. They want an experience. It doesn’t matter how unbiblical an experience it is. They’ll go to church and say, “I don’t feel” as if that’s what we’re looking for: a feeling.

You can go somewhere and feel something and have none of it be of the Lord. Feelings and faith, they’re not always friends. They’re not always working together. Anyone ever felt good about something that that was bad? Felt bad about something that was good? Feelings ain’t the way to go. Our feelings are an extension of our flesh. We can’t be led by them. We’ve got to be lead by the spirit and by the Word of God. In my own life, I know there are times when I’ve felt, “I feel good about this,” but it’s not right. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do but I feel good about it because maybe it benefits me in some way or it makes me feel a certain way.

We want to be cautious because that’s not how we walk with the Lord. We enter into a relationship with the Lord by faith. We walk with the Lord by faith. Anything that God’s going to do with you, in you, and through you will be by faith.

As we go through Hebrews 11, there are all these examples of things that people accomplished by faith. God’s saying, I’m going to select out of scripture people who were heroes of the faith. By faith they did this, they did that. You’re going to be surprised.

I look at the faith teachers today and what they’re encouraging you to do by faith and I don’t see any of it in Hebrews 11. No one acquired great wealth by faith in Hebrews 11. Nobody amassed a gang of stuff in the earth realm for themselves by faith. That’s not what it was for.

By faith, they subdued kingdoms, overcame enemies, they served God, they were willing to die, they were sawn in two. God says, this is faith, this is what it isn’t, this is how it works, this is what those that had it did.

This is what we want to become. If I want to be a man of faith, I’m looking at Hebrews 11 saying, “God, make me like these men and women in Hebrews 11 whose successes in life and accomplishments by faith You are celebrating.”

In Hebrews 11:1, we get our biblical description and definition of faith and it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.”

First of all it says faith is the substance of things hoped for. The idea is this: As a believer if we walk with the Lord, there are thing believers are hoping for and by faith I’ll have it as though it is substance though I don’t have it yet.

Everybody who has given their life to Christ has a hope in heaven. I’ve got a little description of heaven, a few little nugglets. Streets of gold, no sorrow, no suffering. We know a little bit, but I haven’t seen heaven. I haven’t touched heaven. But by faith it’s substantive to me.

I know that when I die that’s where I’m going. If someone I love dies in the Lord, I know that’s where they’re going. It’s the substance of things hoped for. When we say that, I don’t have it in my hand, but I believe it like I know that I have it. That’s what faith is.

Now where do you put that faith in? This is where a lot of the false teachings come into play. False teachers, some of the word-faith teachers, they’ll tell you that you can decide you want something and then you put your faith in what you want so that you get it. I’m telling you that’s not how biblical faith works.

In the first place, as a Christian, the thing that you’re hoping for is the thing that God has promised to give you. There are things that God has said, “I’m going to do this for you.

“For those that have confessed me as Lord, those that have surrendered their lives to me, they know that they have heaven. Those that speak to me, I listen when they pray. Those that cry out to me, they know that I’m here.”

I read the scripture and know from that what God said He’s going to do. So by faith I’m believing, I’m trusting in the Lord for this things.

Substance of things hoped for. You take someone that lacks faith, and even though God’s word says what it says, they lack peace because, “I don’t really believe it. I don’t have the substance of things hoped for.

“Some bad things happened to me today and because I lack faith, I don’t  believe that all things are working together for the good. I don’t see how any good can come from this.”

But God’s word says, “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” If you’re a person of faith, you will lean on that scripture and say, “My hope says this is horrible today, but somehow this is going to work together for the good. That is my hope. I’m looking for that. I’m waiting on the Lord to reveal the good that will come from this devastating, difficult set of circumstances.”

That’s the life of faith.  This is what God said, this is what just happened, and I’m believing what God says in relation to what just happened. That’s how faith is supposed to function in the hearts and minds and lives of the believers.

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