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It is hard. It is hard to watch and exponentially harder to experience the evil that is happening today. Evil exists. Evil hates. Evil destroys. In former, calmer days we might have come to doubt evil’s very existence and destructive power until it comes raging in. BUT evil never wins no matter how hard it tries. There is a Higher power who will always triumph. Today a man believes he is the highest power; bombing where he wants, destroying the innocent. We watch with frustration and may feel a sense of despair. Just like those who were at the site of the cross, despairing as they watched the evil Pharisees gloat about their evil actions against Jesus. As Jesus died, the Pharisees thought their power was supreme, they were sure they’d won. Three days later they found out just how wrong, how weak they really were. Today’s evil will be defeated too. Also, let’s not overlook the tremendous love that is bringing different peoples together; striving to serve with love, mercy and grace, the hurting and downtrodden. Again, this evil will lose. Yet going forward, in the calmer times ahead, let us not be lulled into some false sense of security that evil has disappeared or been banished by some human effort. Instead, let us cling to the Higher power, Jesus Christ, who will come again and bring a final end to evil for all time. Pray for the Ukrainians.

Which?

This food is enough

These clothes are enough

This place is enough

This relationship is enough

These things are enough

This God is enough

This day is enough

or

I want more. I need more. I want what you have. I need what you have. I will take some or all of what you have. And God quite literally knows: I don’t care.

Love, generosity, contentment, peace, life

or

Anger, hatred, frustration, violence, war, death

Which today?

The choice is yours and mine and no one else’s

I know that it can be easy to look at these dark images of the day and fret and be fearful. It is understandable and accurate to be saddened at how often we humans resort to violence and wholesale destruction especially targeting the weaker and more vulnerable among us. It is at times like these that God’s Word can be both instructing and reassuring. You see Moses and God’s people faced an enemy. In the minds of the people, that enemy was much more powerful; maybe the ultimate power, even greater than God’s power. They feared, lost their faith and failed to follow God. Because of that, they saw no victory. But, please, please don’t miss this, the victory came. A remnant of the people believed God, followed Him and God’s might won the victory for them. Today we truly have terrible weapons of destruction. Some are using them and threatening they will use ultimate weapons of mass destruction to achieve their world glory way. We can have peace knowing that no human power has ever been, is now or will ever be the ultimate power. God is the ultimate power. Let us then turn to Him in humble prayer for His power to reign and with it peace. Let us pray that His Spirit can bring about reconciliation when the hearts of men seek only divisive destruction. Please don’t lose faith in the One True Almighty Power and He, our Heavenly Father will bring us through this.

“..Jesus….saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth, ‘Follow me’, He told him and Matthew got up and followed him.‘” Matthew 9:9

“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'” Matthew 9:11

“…Jesus said: ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Matthew 9:12-13

“I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7

In Part I of looking at why our Heavenly Father allows evil to exist, we looked at the Parable of the Weeds. In it we saw the mercy, steadfast patience and love of God, that He is not willing to damage any portion of His beloved grain, which He planted, in rooting out the evil amongst it. God knows the unintended consequences/damages that can happen to us because we let (maybe even invite at times) evil to come so close to us, if God were to mercilessly destroy that evil. However, two things are clear; God doesn’t bring the evil and evil will be judged and cast out from God, when He chooses to do so.

In Part II we look at the concept of weeds and grain using Jesus’s call of Matthew. We see it plainly stated in scripture, that Matthew was a tax collector. Now I’m not sure if there has ever been a time in any history when tax collectors have been showered with praise or looked on particularly favorably. But definitely in the time of Jesus, Jewish tax collectors were a pariah of society. The hated Romans had many taxes required of their conquered foes. Additionally, King Herod had taxes he required for the upkeep of his lifestyle and other municipal reasons. Finally, many tax collectors (and there is every indication Matthew would have fallen into this) added a few extra shekels to the take to line their pockets as well.

It is not hidden to Jesus that Matthew is a tax collector. He sees Matthew sitting at the tax collecting table and approaches him. Jesus calls for Matthew to: “Follow Me”, and Matthew immediately responds and follows Jesus. The first place Matthew “follows” Jesus to is Matthew’s home where he holds a large dinner for Jesus, the disciples, the Jewish Religious aristocracy and many of Matthew’s friends which happen to be other tax collectors and assorted sinners.

It would surely appear that Matthew is a weed amongst a group of weeds. The Pharisees see this and comment on it. It would seem in their minds that these sinners should be at the very least shunned and, if Jesus was the real Mesiah, potentially destroyed as the vile weeds they are.

Notice that Jesus does not respond by excusing the evil that the tax collector does as somewhat understandable. Jesus doesn’t declare that sin is “no big deal”; far from it. However, what Jesus sees is people who are sick; sin-sick. Jesus does not see people who need to do something first to show their righteousness like sacrificing. No, Jesus sees people who are in need of a merciful Healer. Jesus sees the need for a Saving Doctor and knows that He is the only Doctor who has the cure.

We might find ourselves as judges of the world declaring who it is who are weeds and who is grain. There be some Dear Sisters and Brothers who feel that they have been righteous from birth or at least their infant baptism and never had anything to do with “weedy” behavior. There may be those of us who are well aware of our time of spiritual sickness, when we were away from the presence of Jesus and more hell-bent than heaven-focused.

It is clear in the call of Matthew as well as many different examples of Jesus’s life; He does not ascribe to a “once a weed, always a weed” theology. When Jesus calls out: “Come unto me”; there is an assumption that there are some/many who are away from Him.

The call of Matthew shows the loving, power of Jesus Christ. By the healing power of Jesus Christ, Matthew did answer the call and come unto Jesus. Matthew did repent and leave his sin focused life behind allowing him to become one of the 11 Apostles.

There are two other things we should note here. Matthew followed Jesus but even then he didn’t become perfect. Remember the disciples were quarreling with each other, seeking their own glory by arguing whom among them was the greatest. Matthew, with the other 11, abandoned Jesus, in the garden when He was confronted and arrested by the mob. Yet at no time did Jesus, even in rebuking His 11 disciples, judge them or cast them out. The love of Jesus Christ is about mercy and saving the lost.

Additionally, please, please do not lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ came to Matthew. Jesus Christ did not demand that Matthew change anything first, to be worthy to be in the presence of Jesus. Also, it is the Power of Jesus Christ, that changed Matthew. Matthew went on to write an inspired Gospel that teaches so much to us down to this very day. Matthew journeyed far to teach and spread the word of Jesus Christ throughout the first century world. Matthew did all of that by being in Jesus Christ; receiving Christ’s love and spreading it to the greater needy world.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, both the Old and New Testaments are clear; we are a fallen people. We are a people in need of salvation, beyond our own capacity. Left to our own devices and power, we will do evil. We will be angry with others, covet from others, we will see others in need and callously avoid or neglect them. We will judge others wrongly and seek our own glory at the expense of others. We will do weedy things. Yet Our Heavenly Father in His loving mercy does not want to bundle us, in those moments and cast us out to burned forever. Indeed, our Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ to take our condemnation upon Himself so that we could be restored to righteousness, only through Him.

Praise and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for His loving plan of salvation for us. Let us then turn to Jesus Christ who comes to us and calls out: “Follow Me!” Let us humbly confess our sins and call upon the Spirit to dwell within us to strengthen us against temptation and keep us from doing evil. Let us rejoice in the opportunity freely given to us to live with and in Jesus Christ, becoming the grain of His Love and allowing Him to let us grow so that we can be a part of His nourishing plan to spread His love to all. That in answering the call of Jesus Christ we would live the blessed lives planned for us by our Heavenly Father bringing praise and Glory to His most Holy Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly confess that we are sinners. We repent of those sins and ask for Your blessed mercy and forgiveness. We sing songs and pray prayers of thanksgiving for Your plan for our salvation through the gift of the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, Jesus that You, who we were created through, are willing to come to us no matter what our conditions and/or circumstances. That You don’t require of us any preconditions for Your unconditional love. Fill us with Your Spirit, most blessed Father, that will give us the strength to abide in Your Son, Jesus Christ and thus fulfill the call that You have for us. That we may live lives that bring praise and glory to You, Heavenly Father and to Your Son Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

“…a man who sowed good seed in his field…..his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat…” Matthew 13:24,25

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:28

“No, he answered, “Because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. …I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Matthew 13:29,30

The why referenced in the title is the “why?” of evil. Now this subject has been covered by brilliant theologians and philosophers down through the ages and I do not count myself anywhere close to their wisdom. However, the Good Lord has put it in my heart to write this and I hope there might be some comfort in its reading.

Jesus taught in parables. Jesus had many reasons for this but one of the declarations that He made was that: “No one knows the Father but the Son”. (Matthew 11:27) Jesus also stated that He wanted to reveal His Father to those whom He wished to. Thus the parable of the weeds is the second parable that Jesus uses and it comes write after the parable of the sower and the different soils (See The Servant Sower and the Soils Parts 1-3 March 2021).

While there were different lessons and motives for different parables, several Jesus started off with: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like……”. So again we see that Jesus is looking to reveal as best as our limited capacity to understand would allow, insights into Our Heavenly Father and His Kingdom. In this case, there is a man, a landowner who desires to grow a crop and starts the process by sowing good seed. Now to begin with it is vital that we understand that the only seed the landowner has is good. In no way shape or form do the weeds come from the landowner. If there was only the landowner, then only a wonderful crop would be produced by his efforts.

Yet, sadly, the landowner is not the only person with seeds. You see the landowner has an enemy. The enemy is going to attack the landowner by going after his crop that comes from the good seeds. The enemy seeds weeds into the landowner’s good crop. I don’t want to dwell on the enemy but notice that, in the parable, Jesus states, after sowing the weeds by night, the enemy leaves. You see the enemy has no care for the weeds. He has no desire to help the weeds grow or flourish. The only motive the enemy has is destruction; destruction of everything, the landowner, the landowner’s crop, even the weeds, no matter. The enemy is truly evil and sows evil.

Suddenly, in this field of good grain, sprouts weeds. Now the enemy may have worked in secret but his fruits, the weeds, are they for all to see; and they’re growing. Both the landowner and the landowner’s servants see the weeds. However, the servants don’t know how the weeds came to be in the field. Is it possible that there was some defect in the landowner’s seed or plan? No, the landowner explains the work of the evil one.

It is clear that the servants are not happy that the weeds are in the fields, find them harmful and want to get rid of them right then and there. In a way, they are as focused on the weeds and wanting to stop their growth and infiltration in the field, because they ask whether they should go and pull them up.

However, and please don’t miss the landowner’s focus and love, the landowner has a different focus. The landowner sees the weeds out in his good soil and in and amongst his good grain as well. He knows the weeds are feasting off the fine fertilized soil and will drink in the water that is provided. The landowner knows for a time, that the weeds will grow and survive.

Why wouldn’t the landowner order is servants to go out and rid his precious field of these horrible, evil weeds by yanking them out, complete roots and all? Because the landowner is focused on every single stalk of his precious good grain. The landowner is not willing to sacrifice a single precious plant of grain to the process of removing the weeds. The landowner is keenly aware how closely the weeds and grain are together with the weeds attempting to intertwine their roots with the grain.

The landowner loves the grain. Note this in the story; the grain continues to grow. The landowner deeply cares for the grain, will ensure that it is fertilized, watered and grows to its destined glorious maturity. While the landowner, for a time to keep from damaging in the slightest his grain, will tolerate the weeds, the landowner will not let the weeds takeover and destroy any of his good crop.

Finally, and don’t miss this, the end is not good for the weeds. Harvest time is coming. The landowner is in charge and his harvesters are talented enough to separate out every last weed, bundle them together and cast them out to be burned. Also, note where the power is. The enemy does not come back to fight for his weeds. The enemy has no control over the harvest time or the destruction of his weeds. The power for mercy and judgement rests completely with the landowner.

Why does evil exist? Well it doesn’t come from God in any way, shape or form. There is an enemy who is evil and wants to sow his evil against God and His creation at any moment he can. God knows this. Notice that it is only the good grain that is allowed in the landowner’s barn. God will not tolerate evil in His Kingdom in Heaven. Why does He tolerate it at all and not just purge it the instant the enemy tries to sow it?

Jesus Christ gives us an insight into the Father’s mercy, patience and love. The Father knows of our fallenness and how intertwined we can let evil be with us because of sin. The Father didn’t plant us so that we could be ruthlessly ripped out and destroyed when we allow evil to get close to us. We sometimes want to be hasty and judgmental when we see evil, wanting to strike out against it. How often do we look at the bigger picture of how our attack against evil might have unintended, destructive consequences to the good. If God’s focus was simply the immediate ridding of evil, would you be comfortable accepting the risk of being the collateral damage of God’s purge of evil?

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Jesus Christ makes it very clear. God planted us, God loves us. God is not willing to see us harmed in the process of rooting out evil. You may feel surrounded by evil weeds, but know this. You are the grain of God and He will nourish and strengthen you in His word, protect You by His power and water and sustain you with His love. Also, evil’s day of judgement is coming. God will not let evil slide. Evil will be thwarted, gathered up, tossed away and burned in an eternal fire. Our Heavenly Father went so far as to sacrifice His only Son that you and I would be rooted in the soil of His salvation. Take heart, be at peace and grow in the light and warmth of His all-encompassing love.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we see that this world has much evil in it. We confess, Father, that we, at times are tempted to become intertwined in that evil. Forgive us and protect us from the evil, most Merciful Father, keeping it from taking root in us and turning us to weed. By Your Spirit, remind us that we are Your creation, planted by You, nurtured by You, to be harvested by You and to dwell in Your Kingdom forever. Also restrain us, when we impatiently strike out against evil on our own, risking damaging others of Your crop with our impatience. Creator God, may it be that we would stand firmly rooted in the soil of love and salvation laid down by the sacrifice of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may grow to be the harvest that praises and brings praise to Your Most Holy Name. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen

“But he said to them: ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe'” John 20:25

“Then He said to Thomas: ‘Put your finger here; see may hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'” John 20:27

“Then Jesus told him: ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” John 20:29

SHOW ME THE DATA!! FOLLOW THE SCIENCE!! GIVE ME THE PROOF, THEN I WILL BELIEVE YOU!!!! These kinds of statements and many more like them are being bandied about, shouted at one another, used as a pretext for non-actions and the justification for other actions.

In a way it is not surprising in this instant Wiki-info world, where “facts” and data are just a few key strokes away, that the general public is less inclined to take declaratory statements at their face value. The fact that you’re reading this on some device means that you’ve also probably used that device to search for some recipe, some process like how to get your device working again or better, some aspect about that reoccurring pain in your body or some historical event you and someone are having a disagreement about. Why should I completely trust you if I can so easily look up the information myself. As a part of an “older” generation; it is not uncommon for us to look down on or speak disapprovingly of “younger” generations. However, I’m not so sure that our “higher” level of trust and respect of and for experts had as much to do with some virtue as it did the difficulty and time involved in researching all but the most obvious topics (i.e. needing a dictionary, encyclopedia or even library).

However, needing proof to accept and believe in something is not a new phenomena. Let’s take the disciple Thomas for example. Now understand that Thomas was not someone who had come to experience Jesus, briefly before Jesus’s death and resurrection. Thomas had been with Jesus throughout His ministry. Thomas had seen Jesus heal the sick, feed thousands, quiet the storm and even raise Lazarus from the grave. Thomas was the disciple who said to the rest of the disciples that they should accompany Jesus and die with Him when Jesus declared He was going to back to Judea (John 11:16)

Thomas had been through incredible times with Jesus and his brethren disciples. Thomas had been told by Mary, that Jesus had indeed risen from the grave and was alive, the third day after His crucifiction (although to be fair to Thomas, the other disciples didn’t believe Mary, at that time either). Now Thomas was confronted with testimony from 10 of his closest companions, that Jesus had risen from the dead; is not just some spirit but an actual, living in the flesh, being. And yet, Thomas did not believe them. Thomas needed proof. Testimony, no matter how credible; wasn’t going to cut it. For Thomas, seeing, touching was the only proof that would bring about his belief.

Now please Sisters and Brothers understand, this is not some sort of bad-Thomas, judgement story. As stated above, none of the disciples believed Mary, even after John and Peter found the tomb empty; until Jesus appeared in their midst (sans Thomas). Would Nathanial or James believed if either or both of them had also been missing? AND, I’m not so sure I’d been jumping up and down hallelujahing versus being mighty skeptical had I missed the glorious meeting.

Now let’s cut to the chase. It’s several thousand years later; dear Sisters and Brothers, is Jesus Christ alive today? Am I living, behaving, praising, praying and most importantly loving, as if Jesus Christ is as present here at this time as He was in Galilei? Jesus Christ declared that He would rise and indeed did rise from the grave. Through scripture we are told that Jesus Christ now resides at the Right Hand or Our Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit is sent to us to testify to the current, vital life of Jesus Christ and the blessings that come from it. Do we believe? If we question, what proof do we need? What do I need to see, hear or touch?

I can hear you: “Come On! We’ve got wars every where we turn, pandemics, hatred, famines! From what I see, hear and experience, how can I be certain that if alive, that Jesus Christ’s being alive really maters?” Jesus Christ warned us; there would be manmade disasters (wars and such) and natural disasters. Yet Jesus also told us that; because of Him and His being alive, we can have peace in Him. Jesus declared as He has overcome the world, that should we believe and abide in Him, He will never forsake us and allow us to great things, even greater than He did.

I also hear you when you say and ask: ” I believe Jesus Christ lives. But, what am I supposed to say, supposed to do, to answer to others who don’t believe and require proof of God and Jesus? How do I prove it to them?” Jesus had/has an answer there too. He told us not to be afraid or worry about what we are to say when asked to defend our faith. Jesus told us the Holy Spirit will supply us with what to say. Additionally, Jesus made it clear; we’re not to be in the business of proving His existence. We are to live lives of love, proclaiming the risen Lord and that is enough.

Finally, something to consider. Jesus Christ did come to Thomas. When Jesus came to Thomas, He didn’t curse Thomas or cast him away for his unbelief. Hardly, instead Jesus, in mercy, allowed the proof that Thomas needed. And Thomas did end up believing and serving.

Jesus Christ is alive. Let it be that you and I Dear Sisters and Brothers find ourselves among those who Jesus declared blessed; that we do truly believe in the earthly life, death, resurrection and continued life of Jesus Christ, even though we have yet to see Him. And in that blessing, live lives that bring praise and glory to the Name of Our Heavenly Father.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we understand that we live in a world where now most everything is open to debate and requests for proof to believe are everywhere, even proof of Your existence and that of Your Son Jesus Christ. Forgive us Merciful Father when we too find ourselves questioning our faith and Your relevance/power in this world. Through Your Holy Spirit, Dear Father, fill us, strengthen us, calm us; allow us to abide in Your Living Son, that there we might find that certain confident faith. Through Jesus Christ, let us be beacons of Your light, hope and love that will show others the path that leads to belief and life in You. We thank You, Creator God for Your patient mercy with us, Your creation, that You would fill us with Your steadfast love which is all the proof that will ever be needed. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

“Jesus answered: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

“Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

“Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?” John 19:10

“‘What is truth’, retorted Pilate'” John 18:38

Truth – a judgement, proposition or idea that is true or accepted as true. Merriam-Webster

I was watching a news/commentary show the other day and several people were discussing aspects of current events and utilizing the words truth and facts and interjecting them into the discourse synonymously. Even as the discussion was taking place, it was clear that the panel engaged in the discussion believed that they were making their points on the basis of truth. In addition the “truths” they were basing their points on were not shared or in agreement.

It got me to thinking about how much conflict there is these days over our differing truths. The truth is this happened during the 2020 election or this did not. The truth is this vaccine will end the pandemic and the truth is the vaccine is dangerous and doesn’t work. On and on we, not only have different truths, but we are willing to go to the greatest lengths to defend our truths and destroy any truth we find in conflict. So I wondered; just what is expected of us when we come up against “other truths”, especially those truths which are demonstrably false?

Let’s look at Jesus. While Jesus was on earth, He certainly dealt with disparate truths. Pontius Pilate had a truth that the Empire of Rome was the greatest power in the world. There is nothing in scripture concerning Pilate’s faith in Roman gods but he certainly had faith in the power of Rome and how that power translated to his power to deal with Jesus. The Jewish leadership had a truth that Jesus could not be the promised Messiah. Jesus was a self serving fraud from Nazareth who was trying to steal power and lead the people astray. A Samaritan woman had a truth that a Jewish man would never talk to a Samaritan women, especially one unaccompanied and ask her for a drink. There were many other “truths” during the time of Jesus and about Jesus.

Yet Jesus was the only One to have the real, total truth. Jesus knew the total truth about the Father because Jesus was the Only Begotten Son. Jesus was the only One who knew the truth about Father’s plan for salvation. Jesus was the only One to know that complete truth that would set the captive free. Jesus knew that He was the truth.

So Jesus is God on Earth and is the only one who has the real, accurate truth. How does he handle all these false-truths and those who are purveying them? You might think, as God, He would completely wipe away any false-truth and utterly destroy they who were spreading that false-truth. Jesus certainly had the power to do just that. However, Jesus didn’t. Jesus confronted the false-truths wherever He came across them. Jesus did not change His truth to make it more palatable, less confrontational for people.

But really notice what Jesus did and instructed should be done. When Jesus sent His disciples out to teach the truth, if a place didn’t accept the truth or wanted to espouse a different truth, Jesus instructed His disciples to simply, walk away. Jesus, Himself, confronted and refuted the false-truths but took no revenge on those who were spreading them.

It is probable that Pilate went to his death continuing to believe that Rome was the highest power that existed. We know that the Jewish leadership continued to believe that Jesus was not the Messiah and that they were more powerful than Jesus’s believers.

So what did Jesus command? He commanded to go forth and preach the truth; tell the Good News. That’s it. Don’t change the truth if it’s not received. However, also don’t attack those who don’t accept the News and are living by a different truth. Just walk on and continue to spread the Good News in other places. If Jesus, Himself was not going to destroy those who had a different truth and purveyed it to others; why are we so angry and feel so justified in attacking and wanting to destroy those whom we feel have a false truth?

Boy I can hear some gnashing of teeth as this is being read. Where’s the accountability? Some might be screaming. These people of the other, false-truth are getting away scott-free for all the damage they’re doing. Dear Sisters and Brothers please understand, Jesus declares that there is a terrible day of judgement coming and those who believe in and spread false-truths will have an extremely horrific judgement against them. Yet Jesus is also clear, that judgment comes from and is based on the timing of our Heavenly Father and is not something we are to be concerned with. Instead we are to be free from that anger, frustration and pain because we’re living in the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and by our Father’s grace, we are allowed to know The Truth. Then let us be about spreading that truth. Understand, God needs no defense from us. He wants us to live in peace and love, forgiving those of a false-truth and not being concerned with their judgement. It is in living and spreading the truth of Jesus Christ in a calm strength and leaving the judgement and conflict to God, that we bring glory to His most Holy Name and live the lives of peace and blessing He intends for us.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim that there is only One Truth and that Truth resides in and comes from You. We are so thankful that You chose not to hide or keep secret that Truth from us but shared that Truth, sending it in the Person of Your Son Jesus Christ, to share it with us. Forgive us Father when we are tempted to and even sometimes do turn from Your Truth, seeking or composing false-truths of our own. Also forgive us, when we seethe in anger and strike out against others and their false-truths instead of leaving that judgement and consequence to You. Let Your Truth shine in us Dear Father that through Jesus Christ we might also shine that Truth in peace and confidence to such a false-truth torn world. That in living into and sharing Your Truth, we may bring glory to Your Most Holy Name. We pray in the name of the Truth, the Way and the Life; Jesus Christ. Amen

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth”. John 16:13

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

Why? In our own thoughts, discussions between people of faith and between people of faith and those who don’t believe; why is so often a question asked. Why did the hurricane strike? Why did my ____________ (mom, dad, sister, wife, child etc.) die from ____________________? If God is all powerful, why does He let evil exist? These are understandable questions. Some would say these are “good” questions. If we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, we’ve probably asked those same questions in some shape or form ourselves. If we’ve been asked those questions by others, we’ve also probably struggled mightily with an appropriate, satisfying answer.

I don’t understand. Isn’t there a Holy Spirit? Isn’t the Holy Spirit supposed to dwell in us? Isn’t the Holy Spirit supposed to make everything so we can understand it? Well, yes there is a Holy Spirit. Also, yes the Holy Spirit does dwell in us. However, our complete understanding was never a promise concerning the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us to the Truth. Yet we must also understand; that we see something clearly as the truth, doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to understand it, especially to the detail of being able to explain it.

I’ll use an imperfect example/illustration to discuss what I mean. So let’s take the sun for example. Yes it produces heat and light; pretty much everyone would agree with that. Yet if someone asked most of us exactly how the sun goes about doing that; many of us (or at least yours truly) would have difficulty going into an in depth explanation that covers the entire process.

Indeed, you might know that part of the primary process is this thing called fusion where hydrogen atoms are smashed (fused) together which causes the release of great energy. Yet with all these smashing atoms happening, how does gravity hold them all in place enough so they don’t just explode into space. How does a particle of light get created? Also, did you know it can take 30,000 years for a particle of light, created in the interior of the sun to reach the surface and be released? Now I could go on and on with questions which some specialized scientists might be able to answer but I most certainly could not.

What does my lack of solar knowledge have to do with anything? Whether I can explain it or not; one thing is particularly clear; without the sun, life, as we know it, could not exist on this planet. It is crystal CLEAR just how important the sun is, even if I can’t explain all its processes.

Here’s where the grace, the mercy and the love of our Heavenly Father comes into play. You see, Dear Sisters and Brothers; God’s Word, in the forms of the Old and New Testament is His way of bringing clarity to us about His loving nature to us. His Word is not a text book designed to lead us to a perfect understanding of His methodologies and processes. His Word is about being the Light that brings clarity to our relationship with Him and the blessings He desires to share with us.

Why doesn’t God just come out and explain it all to us? When a very little child asks you why the sky is blue; have you ever tried explaining the finer references of Rayleigh scattering in the atmosphere? The simple answer is that we don’t have an adequate frame of reference to allow God to offer the explanation that would lead to our understanding. We live in a linear existence so how are we going to understand being in the past, present and future all in the same instant? What exactly is spirit? Is it some wispy energy thing that glows or……..what?

God tries to get us to understand; His thoughts, His process, His being are beyond, are “higher” than us and our ability to understand no matter how much we might study or research. However, He doesn’t want to leave us in the dark. Therefore, He sent us the One person who intimately knows the Father; the Son. Jesus Christ became fully human to speak to us in human terms. Christ speaks to us of the mercy of the Father, the forgiveness of the Father and especially, the love of the Father.

And as if Jesus Christ were not enough; we are sent, God to dwell in us as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Bringer of clarity, the Guide to the truth. A truth that indeed passes all understanding, but a truth that is clearly the most vital to our successful being for all eternity.

So when I’m asked those why questions from others, I have to, in all humility, admit, I don’t know. I don’t understand. Yet I don’t end there. What I also try to get across is; Your question is directed in the wrong direction. You’re asking of another person, another equal act of creation, for insight and understanding of the Creator. There’s only one place to direct that question; to the Creator, Himself. Here’s the miraculously merciful point; the Creator will answer. God wants the question. God craves the question. For it is through the question; honestly asked, open to the Truth of the answer, that God will come and bring His blessed clarity to the questioner’s life.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for Your Patience and Mercy with us. Thank You for not becoming impatient with our questions and sometimes arrogance that we believe that we can completely understand You. Thank You for the amazing lengths You go to, through Your Word, Your sending of Your Son Jesus Christ and Your Sending of the Holy Spirit to bring clarity concerning Yourself to us. Continue to forgive us when we lose focus on that clarity and turn to the false understanding of the world. Through Your Spirit, guide us back to the Truth and the Light. That by being clear in You, we might become beacons of Your light, helping to live and bring Your clarity to this world so ravaged by confusion and darkness. To the glory of Your Most Holy Name and in the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen

“‘You have done a foolish thing’, Samuel Said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord Your God Gave You; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time‘”. 1 Samuel 13:13

“Therefore Jesus told them, ‘My time has not yet come…..'” John 7:6

“After Jesus said this, He looked to heaven and prayed, ‘Father the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You.'”. John 17:1

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him..” Psalm 42:5

Patience is a…..virtue?, burden? overrated? obstacle? in short supply? (Note: “Patience is a virtue”; is not a quote from the bible, it is attributed to Cato the Elder)

Are we running out of patience? Is patience keeping us from action?

So let’s start; what is there to be patient about? There is a lot happening these days; what with, wars and pandemics, mass shootings, bombings, hate crimes, climate change and the list goes on. Especially, when these types of events impacted numerous people, it has been a mainstay to offer and exhort the offering of “thoughts and PRAYERS as a way of facilitating comfort and restoration.

Here’s why I want to ponder patience in connection with these happenings and offering of “thoughts and prayers”. It seems that recently, while there is still a very common and sincere desire to offer and exhort the offering of prayers for comfort, there is a, perhaps small but perhaps growing pushback concerning that sentiment, that “thoughts and prayers” have little to no value. Seemingly in some way, that praying is some cop out for not doing any real substantive, effective action. There seems to be a sense that we can’t afford to wait on some future response to some offered prayer, that may or may not match what we feel is the needed solution. What we need is action NOW! And if God is not going to act as we’d like, it then becomes up to us! Also, perhaps, out action is just as good as God’s!

Dear Sisters and Brothers, one of the greatest blessings of the Bible is the teaching it can give us about living. You see Saul had a pretty dire situation. There were enemy troops on Israel’s border and more were coming every day. As King, Saul felt responsible for the defense of Israel. Saul also felt that he needed to take immediate action to defeat the enemy. As more enemy troops arrived, Saul’s own troops were getting scared and less motivated to fight. There was one major problem. Saul was a king, appointed by the Will of God. As such, he wanted to honor God by sacrificing to Him before going into battle; to not have a sacrifice would be a grave blunder and put victory in certain jeopardy. Yet by law, God’s law, there were only a few, a priest or prophet who could appropriately offer sacrifices to God. Unfortunately there were none available to King Saul at the moment. He believed the Prophet Samuel was on his way, but time was wasting and the threat was growing. So Saul lost his patience with the delay. Saul felt that action, any action was warranted over doing what was right. Saul offered his own sacrifice which was just ending as Samuel arrived. It is said it is better to beg forgiveness versus waiting to ask permission. King Saul might disagree. Because of his impatience and subsequent rash action King Saul was advised by Samuel that the kingdom would be stripped from him; which it was indeed done later.

Now please understand, this is not a diatribe against action or even immediate action to relieve pain and suffering; far from it. It is a reflection on the possible discounting and devaluation of putting our Heavenly Father at the center of our actions even it there is time needed for discernment, versus taking what we believe to be equally valuable and effective human action sans prayers or thoughts of the Almighty.

Jesus Christ knew about timing and patience during His earthly ministry (and of course still does today). On several occasions the Gospels give accounts where mobs were going to either stone Him or throw Him off a cliff and they did not succeed. Not because Jesus would never die at the hands of men, but that the appointed time and circumstances for that death had not come. When the time came, a small, scared, weak mob was able to arrest, try, convict and kill Jesus. Jesus had the patience to put the Father’s plan first and patiently live into it. Thus Jesus Christ lives and lives at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.

So what is it that you or someone you know is struggling with today? To you or them, this struggle may be as completely overwhelming and tragic as the most horrendous mass shooting or act of hatred. The world may be screaming at you to act and act now. Additionally the world may be warning you that to include prayers, to include time for calling out to and awaiting an answer is a fool’s errand and an extremely dangerous delay. The world may be proclaiming to you that either you yourself, or the world has all the plans and resources necessary to solve all your problems; you should look no further. If you are feeling tempted in that way; I encourage you to remember King Saul.

The Holy Spirit that resides in you is exhorting you to be like Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ prayed to God throughout His life here on earth. Even during the stress and despondency of Jesus’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus reached out in prayer. And God always answered. Jesus Christ knew to be patient. Jesus Christ knew God’s plan, including timing is perfect. Jesus Christ was at peace in and because of His interaction with God. We can be too.

Let the world rail against prayer as a waste of time. Let us make it a priority to put prayer first, even when we act; having complete faith in the perfection of our Heavenly Father’s answer both in its solution and its timing. Patience in God is a virtue indeed.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we understand that we live in times where speed is a primary measure of effectiveness. The faster the better. Forgive us when we are tempted to apply that worldly standard to You and Your Plans. Forgive us when we are tempted to and actually go with our own actions, foregoing Your counsel, because we are impatient to wait upon You. Strengthen our spirit of patience in You that we might faithfully reach out to You in all things and be supplied with strength enough to wait for Your perfect reply. That being in peace and alignment with Your Plan and Will, we will live confident lives that bring praise to Your Holy Name. We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

“Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. ‘Never, Lord’, he said. ‘This shall never happen to You!'” Matthew 16:22

“‘Lord if it is You,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.'” Matthew 14:28

“So Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask Him which one He means.'” John 13:24

“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting of his ear.” John 18:10

“But he began to call down curses and he swore, ‘I don’t know this man you are talking about!'” Mark 14:71

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold, I do not have, but what I do have, I give you. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'” Acts 3:6

Again, as in Part I, we are taking a look at Peter, one of Jesus’s closest disciples and leader of the group in all his humaneness. Additionally as stated in the last post, this is not about judging Peter by his actions, but seeing ways and learning from aspects of Peter and his actions and how they impact our spiritual journey with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taking Action With the Best of Intentions – It has been said: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”; according to Google first printed in Handbook of Proverbs published in 1855 by Henry G. Bohn. In Peter’s case, just a few hours earlier; Peter had declared that, even if the rest of the disciples deserted Jesus, he was ready to fight and die for Jesus. Now in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was time to put his words to the test. The mob, led by Judas had come to arrest Jesus. In the melee that ensued in taking Jesus, Peter draws his sword to defend Jesus and strikes the High Priest’s servant and cuts off his ear. Peter was doing exactly what he said he would do. Peter is acting with the best of intentions. Peter is not seeking glory for himself, nor does he have some private grievance with the servant that he is trying to get even about. Peter is defending Jesus, hoping to keep Jesus from being arrested. The only problem was, God’s perfect plan called for Jesus to be arrested. Peter was seeing things from only his perspective. Even though Jesus had stated to them, on several occasions, that He was to be turned over to His enemies and killed. For Peter, no matter what had been said, the arrest of Jesus was wrong and come HELL or high water, Peter was going to stop it. Again there is no judgement of Peter here. In a very real sense, this was very brave. Yet Peter is acting against the Will of God and Jesus lets him know it, in no uncertain terms. What we can learn from this is that we all have our own perspective and judgement as well. We may diligently read the bible, listen to our pastor or maybe even visit a blog 😊. What we have to be open to is, even with all our efforts, we may still get it wrong. We may be acting in a way that is contrary to God’s Will. When that happens, again if we’re open to it, God will let us know. First if we are acting in misalignment to God’s Will, our actions will not lead to the outcomes we were expecting or hoping for. Additionally, when our actions are out of alignment with God’s Will, He will tell us through our spirit. Even though we think our actions are justified and righteous, within our spirit there will be no peace from His Spirit. We will feel conflicted and feel led in a different direction. To fulfill God’s plan and scripture; Jesus had to be arrested and all the disciples needed to flee. And that’s exactly what happened. Today, let us be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we think, say and do, seeking out the peace that will come from knowing we’re abiding in Christ and in alignment with God.

Failure – We just covered how we can find ourselves doing things for what we believe to be righteous intentions but the acts are indeed wrong. However, sometimes we have no doubt; what we are doing is wrong for the wrong reasons. Peter had claimed that he would die for Jesus Christ. Peter had acted to try and defend Jesus Christ. Then Peter finds himself in a lonely dangerous situation. If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, could be arrested by mere men and hauled off for judgement; what power did Peter have against a same or worse fate. Peter had fled, but whether it was curiosity to see what was going to happen to Jesus or love of Jesus or some of both, Peter couldn’t stay away. He followed the mob to the High Priest’s house, where they were interrogating Jesus to see what would happen. Peter was staying outside in the courtyard, gathered with others around a fire to stay warm. Suddenly, the situation turns. Peter is found out, a servant girl recognizes Peter as having been a close follower of Jesus and points that out to the other bystanders. Peter is caught off guard. Peter wanted to know what was going to happen to Jesus, but he knew if he declared he was a follower of Jesus, he could be in great peril; so Peter denies knowing Jesus. Peter knows it is wrong, knows it is a betrayal to claim not to know Jesus, but he does it anyway. Yet Peter is given the opportunity to make amends. For the servant girl brushes off Peter’s denial and again accuses Peter of being a follower of Jesus. More people are taking notice; Peter still doesn’t want to leave but doesn’t want to put himself in the danger that would come from acknowledging his relationship with Jesus; thus Peter denies Him a second time. But this second denial doesn’t end the torment. Now others are openly suspicious of Peter, one noting that Peter must be a follower of Jesus because Peter is a fellow Galilean and that is why Peter must be there to help a fellow Galilean Jesus. This is too much for Peter, the danger is too high; Peter starts to call down curses upon himself and the group to cause his denial to have more validity. Suddenly a rooster crows and the harsh light of truth and reality hit Peter square on in the cold light of truth. He; Peter, the man who claimed he would die with and for Jesus, had just knowingly and with purpose, three times denied he even knew his master Jesus. Peter now leaves, weeping bitterly. Dear Sisters and Brothers, we are told, we all sin. We all give into temptation and become sinners. Sometimes our sins are born our of fear of the world, sometimes they are born out of desires of the world. But we know what we are doing, and know what we are doing is wrong. Those times should affect us. We are acting against God. We shouldn’t be of a mind, well Christ died for my sins so no big deal. Actually they are a big deal. They should cause us the kind of sorrow and pain as they did Peter that brings us to confess and repent of the sin. Yet there is a bigger deal. Jesus Christ knows of our sins, just as he knew Peter would deny Him three times. Jesus Christ died for our sins, paying the price so we do not have to die for our sins. Sin should matter enough, to try to avoid it at all costs. But when we fail (not if), what should matter more is Grace, Forgiveness, Mercy and Love provided in Jesus Christ that leads to our ultimate restoration and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father.

Humility and where our True Power Comes From – This is a trait of humaneness I wish I would use much more myself and see much more around me. Jesus Christ has forgiven and restored Peter, after Peter’s denial of Him. Peter and the other disciples (except Judas) have been given the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, the following of Jesus Christ is growing by literally thousands daily, thanks in part to Peter’s leadership. People are selling all their possessions and giving them to the disciples to administer. On the other hand, Peter is being threatened, arrested, beaten and worse by the religious leaders because of his preaching of Jesus Christ, risen from the grave. Their ill treatment doesn’t stop Peter one moment. Then Peter comes across a lame beggar. Now, while Peter may not have had any money on him at the time, Peter may very well have had the resources from donations to help this man out. Peter might have told a follower to go back to where they were staying and get some money to support this man with. But Peter doesn’t look to earthly riches to share with the man; Peter has something more valuable, more powerful, Peter has Jesus Christ. Peter tells the man he has no silver of gold to share. However, Peter is not content to leave this man empty handed. Peter has the Power of Jesus Christ within him and he knows it. Peter does not call great attention to himself as some righteous, wonderful miracle worker. No, Peter is very clear, the Power of the gift comes from Jesus Christ and this is the power to heal the man. Peter commands the man to walk and the man does just that. For Peter, it is not about his greatness, but about bringing the Power of the gift of Jesus Christ to all who are in need, that Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father might be praised and worshiped. It’s not just Peter, Jesus Christ declared that all who believe in Him and abide in Him have His Power to do great things. Yet, like Peter we must understand, it is not our greatness that allows us to have this Power. The Power comes as a precious gift, of much greater value than any earthly gift, given freely by and through the Grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, looking at Peter’s life is not about trying to copy him or be like him. Jesus Christ was also clear when He met Peter and the other disciples on a beach for breakfast after His resurrection. Christ took Peter aside and was foretelling him what an aspect of his life would be like. Peter feels the need to ask Christ, if these things were going to be happening to Peter, what was John’s life going to be like. To which Christ responds; what does that have to do with you. In essence Christ is letting us all know, we have an individual plan with our Heavenly Father. We were not created to be identical. We are created to be equal but not identical. Thus, it is learning about Peter and aspects of Peter’s life and his interactions with Christ and the outcomes that we can use to reflect on our interactions, on our behaviors and their motivations; to learn from the challenges and triumphs to aid us in our journey. By the Grace of God, I hope to meet Peter some day and hear about the so many amazing aspects of his journey that no chapter or book could adequately capture.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that, after creating us, You have not abandoned us to try and figure out how to live and how to interact with You on our own. We are so thankful for the Your Word and the people who populate it which give us such wonderfully constructive lessons on how to receive Your Love and Blessings, You so long to give. Forgive us we pray when we are tempted, or worse yet actually act out on our own without considering Your lessons for us. Through Your Spirit, guide us back to You and how to stay abiding in You so that our lives can lessons for others which brings praise to Your Glorious Name. We pray in the Name of our Great Teacher and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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