Being Active in God’s Kingdom

Posted by on Jul 19, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Being Active in God’s Kingdom

Dear Lord and Creator….as we consider the words you have for us this day, open our minds and hearts to your need for our work in your Kingdom. Speak to each one of us today and every day. Amen We are going to be considering another of Jesus’ parables in our gospel lesson today from Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. The subject of this parable is the Wheat and the Weeds. Yes…this is another of the parables that Jesus spoke to the people. In verses 34 and 35, Matthew explains that Jesus spoke to the people in parables because the truth in the parables were hidden from the people, but not the disciples. The subject of the parables that was hidden was God’s mission on earth. Parables fulfilled what had been recorded in Psalm 78:2. As in the parable of the seeds we considered last week, this parable is about wheat and weeds. Again, the subject of wheat is a familiar one to the hearers of this parable. Wheat is a stable crop, one that is planted and can be eaten when harvested. It is a crop that not only can feed a family but can be given to other people and offered in the temple. In this parable, Jesus is talking about the wheat and the weeds that can arise in a wheat field. He not only tells the parable, but later explains the parable to only the disciples for their understanding and to prepare them for their mission. Jesus begins by saying that the farmer planted the good seed in the field, but an enemy came in at night and sowed weeds in the field. So that when the wheat began to ripen and grow, so did the weeds. The workers in the field asked the owner whether they should take out the weeds. The owner replied “No, if you did that, you would disrupt the wheat. Rather, let them grow together until harvest, and at that time, the separation would occur as the weeds would be taken first and burned.” That kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Wait to eliminate the “issues” until it is time for harvest. At the time that Jesus is telling this parable, the landscape of the area was mainly related to family. The wheat would feed the family as well as groups of people. Family was ready-made and, as we spoke of last week, inherited. Enemies would attempt to disrupt and dishonor the family. Jesus goes on to explain the details of the parable. This information is given only to his disciples as they are the ones who will be speaking to the people they minister to. In other words, it is not public information. The ground on which the wheat is planted represents our hearts. The seed is Jesus and the word of God. This seed gives life to the ground. The field, itself, is the whole world, not the church. The seed for the weeds comes from the sons of Satan and is planted to look like wheat. In reality, the seeds of the tares (weeds) can look a lot like the wheat. These seeds can be deceptive and the roots can be intertwined…so that attempting to pull the weeds could disrupt the growth of the wheat. The only way that a difference could be determined was at harvest time. Jesus tells the disciples that at harvest time, the weeds will be gathered up by the angels and burned. Then…the harvest will continue. Jesus, himself, states that the harvest of the weeds by the angels will be at the end times...

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What are we Planting?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on What are we Planting?

Our gospel lesson for this 6th Sunday after Pentecost is from Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23. This section in Matthew is “The Parable of the Sower”. I know we have all read it many times, but I have found that it has real meaning for us today. Dear Lord…Open our minds and hearts to hear your words so that we can understand what you are saying to us. We want to understand our words to minister to your people and bring your words of love and saving grace to all for expanding your kingdom here on earth. We are your followers, dear Lord. We will be discussing the parables that Matthew has written down in his gospel. In fact, he has put down seven parables in Chapter 13. What is interesting about this parable is that Jesus explains His use of parables and he explains the parable. Jesus was sitting by the sea and talking with the many people who had followed Him along with the disciples. He started to tell the crowd about the sower of seeds first. We wonder why he used the concept of seeds. Well, many of the crowd either had planted a field or planted a garden for their food. They, like we, understand the need for seeds to be planted properly for growth and production of the product they represent. Jesus goes on to tell about 4 types of plantings. One type was that some seeds fell on the ground. You say, “Well, that happens even in the way we plant.” What Jesus was talking about was that some seeds probably fell out of the pouch the farmer carried with him in the field. The seeds were randomly distributed due to this happening. Yes…some of the birds and animals would pick them up for their food…and the seed would not produce the product it had been planted for. Yes…the birds and animals were fed. The second type of planting Jesus described was that the seed was planted on the roadside…or on rocky ground. We know that the seeds falling on rocks would not get roots deep enough in that situation to be able to really produce well. With no foundation…they grew quickly and couldn’t get roots deep enough to withstand the warmth of the sun, rain, wind, etc. The third planting Jesus talks about is the seeds that were sown in ground that was thick with thorns. Thorns often grow where other plants cannot and take over the area, choking out the seeds that cannot get rooted and grounded. The fourth planting is the type of planting we all like to see, that of seeds falling on good ground. All in a nice row, with thorns and weeds being eliminated from the area. These seeds, with the rain and sun, thrived and produced an abundant crop. Now…we can understand most of what Jesus is describing here…as we have experienced it. However, this is a parable and in the next verses, the disciples are asking Jesus why he is speaking in parables. They come right out and ask Jesus why he is speaking in parables. Jesus answers them by saying that the secrets of the kingdom have been given to them…and they will be given more secrets of the kingdom. In other words, they are willing to listen and take the words to heart for giving to other people. For those who choose to not listen…they are given no secrets. I am also of the opinion that Jesus used parables for teaching the disciples. He not only is showing them how the Word they will...

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Freedom

Posted by on Jul 5, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Freedom

Dear Lord…be with us as we consider the concept of Freedom. The freedom you give to us…the meaning of the word and what it means for us. Speak to each one of us as we listen, individually, to us. Our gospel reading for this Sunday is Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. Also, considered in this message will be the writing of Paul from Romans 7:15-25a. These verses are far from easy to determine the “why” they are being written. In Matthew, Jesus is starting off by using an analogy that is a description of the adults of his time. He describes them as children….who are just sitting around, not dancing, not enjoying the flute being played for them nor offering sympathy to one who is sad and troubled. Part of these reactions is due to the fact that the Israeli people of that time were weighed under by rules and regulations that were tied directly to the regulations of the Jewish faith. They would not listen to Jesus. I’m sure people felt why try to live or do anything, because it would be wrong in the face of the Pharisees. I would only get berated for living the way I felt I should. And they did not accept either John or Jesus. Then, Jesus goes on to say that the people of the community and the church at that time talked against John the Baptist by saying he was a demon, even though he preached life in God. John did not go against the Jewish law…but the people were berating him anyway. Jesus goes on to say that he, too, was excluded even though he was “communing” with the people. They called him a drunkard and glutton…and a friend of sinners. Jesus also puts a “human” type of reference to “wisdom”…saying that wisdom would be vindicated by her deeds. The Jews found it hard to believe that the Messiah would suffer abuse and be crucified rather than deliver the people from their oppression and rebuild the temple. So, they listened to John and Jesus, but refused to believe the message they were bringing of God’s sovereignty. However, there were people in the audience that DID believe Jesus’ message as well as John’s. In the eyes of the people of that time, these children were babies because they didn’t follow all of the Laws of the Torah. These people, too, were being degraded for their beliefs. To those who believed Jesus’ words, God gave insight…which Jesus thanks God for by saying, “You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to the infants.” (verse 25). The beginning of this verse is a restatement of the first words of the Lord’s Prayer. It is this special “power” that God is giving to both Jesus and the disciples to speak to those who listen and become part of God’s family. Jesus said that “his yoke is light”…and it is light in comparison to the Torah…that is often referred to as the yoke, also. Freedom….freedom to talk to people, accept people, welcome all people. Freedom to live for God and pass His word on to the world. We battle against ourselves most of the time, which is what Paul is talking about in his writing to the Romans. We often don’t know why we do something we know isn’t right. Yes…we berate ourselves for this type of action and get depressed when we realize what we have done. We tell ourselves, “Why didn’t I call that person?” “Why didn’t I greet that person when I met him on the street?”...

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