Do you understand all these things?

Posted by James Hahn on

Jesus: "Do you understand all these things?"

Apostles: "Yes."

Me: "  But, well, could you go back to that part about fiery furnace.  You've mentioned that twice now.  Did anyone else catch that?  Am I the only one?  I distinctly heard something about angels throwing 'them into the fiery furnace'.  Anyone?"

I've seen plenty of signs at sporting events with the inscription John 3:16 but never Matthew 13:41, 49.  None of my kids have t-shirts with those verses.  The students at the home-school co-op aren't sporting colorful silicone bracelets with Fiery Furnace scripture verses.  Not that it isn't out there but I've yet to see someone with a Matthew 13:41 tattoo on their arm.

Our natural tendency is to pass-over those more blunt parts of scripture.  In fact, many of you will have the desire to stop reading this since I'm not addressing a feel-good, make-me-a-better-person scripture verse....or am I?

For years I struggled with the passage in Exodus where God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh's heart.  Why would God do this?  Is this just part of His drama for salvation history?  Did He simply want to make a show of things and so He purposely hardened this man's heart?

Imagine if you will an ice cube and a small block of modeling clay sitting in the summer sun side by side on your front sidewalk this morning.  Over time the ice will melt completely while the clay will harden and become rigid.  The atmosphere is the same for both.  The very same sun shines upon both.  The difference is their make up, their composition.

This very same thing can happen to you and me depending on our "composition" or how open to grace we are at the time.  The verse, "The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth," can have dramatically different effects on people depending on their state in life or state of grace.  For some, this verse is a terrifying proposition.  For others it's a prompting to amend their life.  While still others may be inspired to pray for the "wicked" who risk being thrown into the fire.  The same scripture passage may be dismissed by some who could never imagine a "good God" allowing this to happen.  Finally,  many may read those same words and dismiss it all as fairy tales.  What is your reaction to this passage?  Why?

Like all of the previous parables in this 13th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is getting to the heart of the matter, your heart.  Is your heart looking for the treasure of the Kingdom?  Is your heart open to moving from weed to wheat?  Are you working your heart into fertile soil for the Lord?  Are you open to the tiny mustard seed or leaven entering into your heart?  Does the mention of the "fiery furnace" cause your heart to be moved to fear, repentance, intercession, or perhaps anger, despair?

Like the sun upon the ice cube and clay, God's love "shines" the same on all of us.  When you read these types passages is your heart softening, melting under the influence of His love.  Or, is this same radiant love causing your heart to harden?  I've given examples of this in my own life here.

If certain passages don't move your heart closer to the Lord, ask yourself, "why not"?  What is it that you are uncomfortable with?  Go there!  Talk to the Lord about it.  He wants you to seek, ask, knock!  This is why He asks his disciples and us, "Do you understand all these things?"  Answer honestly and be open to the Holy Spirit leading you to the truth.  This is prayer in it's purest form, speaking with God about everything!!

"Love to pray.  Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God's gift of Himself." - Mother Teresa

How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen!
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

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  • Always enjoy your post!! Lots to learn by listening. God’s blessings my friend.

    Yolanda Martinez on

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