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Matters Of The Heart

Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
–Matthew 13:16

In the early hours of August 9, 1942, the USS Astoria was hit by a Japanese cruiser, sweeping nineteen-year-old Navy Signalman Third Class Elgin Staples overboard. Dazed and wounded, he only remained afloat thanks to a rubber lifebelt he had put on before the explosion. Hours later, Staples and the other survivors were rescued, and Staples examined the lifebelt that had saved his life. To his surprise, it had been manufactured by the Firestone company in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and it was stamped with a series of numbers.

When he arrived home, Staples told his mother about his recent ordeal, and she told him about her new wartime job at Firestone. In excitement, Staples showed his mother the lifebelt that had been manufactured at that very plant. Staples later wrote about what happened next: “She leaned forward and taking the rubber belt in her hands, she read the label. She had just heard the story and knew that in the darkness of that terrible night, it was this one piece of rubber that had saved my life. When she looked up at me, her mouth and her eyes were open wide with surprise. ‘Son, I’m an inspector at Firestone. This is my inspector number.’ . . . My mother had put her arms halfway around the world to save me.”

That is a pretty good story, wouldn’t you say? We preachers learn that people may forget the points of our sermons, but they always remember the stories. I think that explains why one of Jesus’s favorite ways to teach was through stories. Jesus would take whatever truth He was trying to communicate, and He would wrap it around a memorable story–or as we call it, a parable. The word “parable” comes from a Greek word that means “to lay alongside of.” That is what parables do: they take eternal truths and lay them alongside stories of everyday life. Over the next few months, we are going to look at some great issues about life and eternity that Jesus chose to communicate through everyday stories, starting in Matthew 13.

Jesus spoke in parables in order to obscure the truth from people who had rejected Him. That is strange to us. Why would Jesus purposefully obscure the truth? You see, when people reject the truth of God, God hides His truth from them. Jesus spoke in parables to obscure the truth from those who had rejected Him but to teach truth to those who had a desire to know Him. And in Matthew 13, Jesus’s message was this: right now, the kingdom of God is operating in the hearts of men and women who trust in Him.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Matters Of The Heart” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Elgin Staples, as quoted in Collin Makamson, “The Home Front Saves a Life,” The National WWII Museum, August 18, 2017,

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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