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I! I? Oh the message of the world today. I can do anything! I can be anything! I can have it all! It would seem that “I” is the h “I” ghest concept of all. Enter Jesus Christ and the cross. Consider that the closest letter in the alphabet to the cross, in shape, is the letter “t”. Add the letter t to the phrase I can and you get I can’t. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is crystal clear when He states “apart from Me, you CAN DO NOTHING“. I can sure try but I’ll never thrive. I can sure strive but I will never be successful…..until I become a part of the blessed We. Please, please understand, Jesus Christ is not telling you that You are inconsequential. No, Jesus goes on to promise us; abide in Me and you will do things that are great, even greater things. You see we were never created to be “I” apart from or outside of Jesus Christ. It is in the blessed We, that we we are created to live abundantly. How much does it cost, what is the entrance fee to become part of the blessed We? All you have to do is accept the invitation. All you have to do is knock, seek or ask and Jesus Christ will come and join you. Oh and please understand this, there is a price required to be a part of that relationship. The truth is that Jesus Christ completely paid that price in full with His life. Thus let us leave behind the isolation of the worldly “I” existence and live into the blessed We of Jesus Christ and me.

Good Friday is absolutely the correct title. Yes, the horrific treatment Jesus was going through was terrible and led to a barbaric death. However, at the same time and, in fact the reason for His death was He was becoming sin. He became or took upon Himself our sin. So now when Our Heavenly Father considers and sees us, He sees us as innocent because of what Jesus accomplished. So it is good, very good for us, the sacrifice Jesus made for us today. Only good and not great? The Greater thing comes three days hence with His resurrection. Let us live into that sacrifice and see the greatness of His Good act.

Yes…but. Will the worldly clouds obscure the silver lining of God’s blessings? Today, if you’re open to it, you will be blessed by God. I say open to it because, like any gift, if you never accept it, open it or use it, then there’s little or no value to it. The world and the prince of this world wants to distract you from seeing any blessings or at the very least minimize the blessings to the greatest extent possible. How?, with messages like yes I might have received a blessings but there is suffering over here or there, or yes but the blessing won’t last, tomorrow will be bad, or yes but the blessing could have been bigger/better. It’s not like God doesn’t want you to be empathetic or sympathetic; indeed, He wants you to experience the blessings so that you might share the blessings with others in need so they might know of God’s love. God is a God of infinite resources and power. It’s not like the fact that He blessed you today means He’s running out of blessings to be able to give tomorrow. God knows exactly the correct amount of blessing to give. As too much sugar can ruin a cake, a blessing that is the wrong size too large can bring about more damage then good. Jesus Christ is clear when He said: “In the world you will have tribulation”. Christ was also clear that we can still be of good cheer and expect blessings because Christ has overcome the world by the plan of Our Father. So don’t allow the clouds of the world to obscure the power of the blessing. Instead, do two things today. First, live into the love and blessings from God with thanksgiving. Then, share God’s blessings so that the world may feel some healing and know God’s love. Happy, blessed Monday and week.

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

“…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

“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

Peter and his story, his walk with Jesus and his leadership in the faith after Christ’s resurrection is such a fascinating and enlightening one. For it seems to me that we see Peter’s humaneness in great detail and if we can be open to it, see our own humaneness as well and can learn from it.

Leadership – Much is made today about the need for leaders and the value of leadership. It seems to be one of the hallmark traits for greatness. When a situation arises that calls for it, a leader will step in and take charge, no matter the situation, even if it involves a superior. That’s what Peter felt called to do. Jesus, who is the Messiah, who had performed so many miracles, brought about so much good; started talking crazy. Jesus was talking about suffering horribly, even being killed and by His own people, no less. Jesus’s talking could definitely hurt the organization of the disciples and derail their mission. That talk must be stopped. So Peter, the leader, acted. He rebuked Jesus for the good of Jesus and the organization. That’s what a good leader does. And, if we’re talking a human organization then that might be appropriate. Jesus was and is God. Peter was rebuking God! Who rebukes God or stands against God? Satan does. Here’s something for us to reflect on. Have we ever told God He’s wrong? Have we looked at our circumstances in our life, experienced an unexpected answer to a prayer and thought or even in essence prayed to God saying or at least inferring, God I think you got this one wrong? There is no dual leadership with God and us. God is in charge. God is the leader, PERIOD. If we challenge that leadership, we may also receive a similar response, out of love, for our own good.

Risk Taking – Risk taking is another attribute that is often lauded today. Don’t be afraid to fail, take the risk, the greater the risk the greater the reward. Peter took a risk. To start with the situation was dicey. Night, in a small boat, far from shore, with a storm kicking up, the disciples were in a deteriorating situation. Then, they see what must be a spirit, a ghost. Nothing physical, no person can walk on water. Yet here comes what seems to be just that; a man walking on water. Jesus called out a reassurance to them not to be afraid for it was Him. Who’s the risk taker in the group? Peter. How does a man walk on water? If this is really Jesus doing this then He should be able to allow me to do it as well; Peter thinks. So he asks Jesus to allow Peter to walk on water as well. Probably, much to Peter’s surprise, Jesus agrees and calls Peter out of the boat. Talk about a reward! Peter is walking on water! Then humaneness rears its ugly head. The storm is still there. The wind is still blowing, the waves still crashing. The world takes Peter’s attention of Jesus and Peter starts to sink. We may pray for great things in our lives, things that are truly outside our comfort zone. We may believe that we are ready to fulfill them if God will only allow it. However, what about the world? What will happen when the world either through threats of storms or perhaps the glory of successes; attempts to have us take our eyes, our concentration off of God and His plan? The peace comes from knowing, because of what happened to Peter; that Jesus Christ will never let us drown should we take our concentration off Him and start to sink into the sea of worldliness.

Fear and Hesitancy – The disciples had been around Jesus enough to know; if He said it was going to happen, it was going to happen. If Jesus said 5,000 can be fed with five loaves of bread and two fish, they can. If Jesus says to a girl who is dead; arise, she will. If Jesus tells the lame to walk, the blind to see, the lepers to be healed; they are. Jesus is now saying that one of His disciples; one of His most trusted friends, is going to betray Him. Dread comes over the group. Maybe in earlier times, the disciples would have protested that Jesus was wrong; that they would never do such a thing. This night, there was only fear. It was also interesting that it was not a fear that led to finger pointing or accusations: “I bet it is Thomas or I know it is Andrew, that is something he would do”. No, each discipled feared, that because Jesus did not name the traitor, it could be any one of them. If Jesus said it, it will happen. The hesitancy comes into play with Peter in that he dearly wants to know who it is or at least that it is not him. Yet, he is hesitant to ask Jesus directly. Why? We can’t be sure. Maybe Peter thinks he won’t get an answer. Maybe Peter is afraid of another rebuke. Maybe Peter believes John is more likely to pry the answer out of Jesus than Peter is. Maybe it is that old adage: “Never ask a question you can’t stand the answer to”. In one respect, the fear the disciples feel comes from being confronted with the truth of and from Jesus. Jesus Christ is God. Therefore, what Jesus Christ says is it, period, exclamation point. We may not want to hear it, we may want to deny it, but the power of God will always win out. It is only accurate to have a fearful respect in being in the presence of that kind of power. Yet, the Power of God is always used in righteousness, justice and love. It is a power we can’t truly comprehend, but it is a power always used for the perfect good. In the face of such power, we may become hesitant to ask or even interact. If God is so powerful, what does He care about the singular me? I can’t matter to Him, so why ask. I would agree with that assessment from a human point of view, except that Jesus Christ specifically calls on us to ask. He tells us that each of us, even our hairs are numbered and important to God. Our Creator God, Father in Heaven, loves us and will answer us and will never abandon us; even if the question, let alone the answer seems scary.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, in looking at Peter and his humaneness, it is most certainly not to judge Peter. As for me, I don’t know if I would have had the strength or courage to do any of these things let a lone not make the errors that Peter did. No, we look at Peter to reflect on Peter, to learn through Peter. We look at Peter to ask ourselves about our own humaneness and how it is impacting our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is to also understand the Great Grace and Miracle that our Savior knows about humaneness because He came to this earth and became completely human as well as completely God. That Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of our humaneness that we might come and abide in Him, through His perfection. Praise be to God and thanksgiving for Peter, for what we can learn from him and that God has a plan for each of us, just as He did for Peter.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so thankful, for Your word and how it teaches us about Your Loving, Perfect Nature. We give thanks for servants, past and present, like Peter who answered Your call and gave so much of themselves, even with their humaneness and frailties that we all share. Forgive us when we allow our human traits to take our focus off You and supersede Your direction for us with our own. Like with Peter, instruct us, save us, answer us and moreover love us that in Your Mercy, we can always return to You. That in Your instructing, saving, answering and loving us, we may become servants who share Your Love with this needy world and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest” Luke 12:16

“This is what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.” Luke 12:18,19

“But God said to him: ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.” Luke 12:20

So as we look at the final installment of the Servant Sower and Soil, I ask your indulgence. For in the past two posts, I’ve used the parable of the Sower in the Gospels of Mark and Luke (Matthew also chronicles the parable). However to finish our reflection I’ve brought in another parable which I think is also particularly applicable; the parable called the The Rich Fool.

We’ve looked at the need for, the responsibilities of, along with as well as the blessings associated with being the sower. Next we contemplated the states of the four soils and how they may change over time. Yet a sower sowers and when a soil accepts the seed, there is an expectation of produce. We saw how we can play the role of the sower, also that we may find ourselves in the state of one of the soils, additionally we’ll discuss here how we interact with the produce that comes with the process. For remember the “good” soil does produce, some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred fold.

Thus Jesus tells a parable concerning a person whose soil has produced abundantly and how important it is that we handle that abundance appropriately. Forgive me as I mix the parables somewhat. For in this case, Jesus is not starting out by saying that this particular abundance was produced by the seed which is the Word of God. However, Jesus makes clear in his teaching that all blessed abundance is a gift from God.

In this case, the person receiving the abundant harvest is already rich. The fact that this rich man already has barns to store his harvest shows us that this is not his first time sowing, growing and harvesting. Seemingly, he has already done well in this regard. Yet still he receives an even greater abundance in a harvest. He thinks, I have not enough room to store this greater abundant harvest; what should I do? I already have barns. Those barns already have a capacity to store, but not enough. His answer; I will tear down those existing barns which have been adequate for me to become as rich as I am so I can build even bigger ones to become that much richer. Then I can use all that wealth for myself to have a life of self indulgent leisure. What the man doesn’t know about, what none of us know about is the timing of God calling us to leave this life. For all his effort, the rich man never gets to experience the fruits of his inward focused plan. Jesus declares that God calls this man “You Fool!”

But wait! What was the man to do? After all he was already successful and knew how to become that way. This was his land, his soil. He had decided to sow the seed. He had seen to the harvest. Wasn’t he entitled to keep the harvest? What if “someday” a famine came? In the telling of the parable, Jesus doesn’t seem to imply that the man cheated in getting the harvest or treated those who would do the demolition and rebuilding of the new barns wickedly. Wouldn’t we want to keep the abundance that God might be so gracious to bless us with? Wouldn’t we want to enjoy it perhaps believing we deserved the “better” life the abundance provided? The world would have a retort to God. The world would say the man was not a fool but was wise. The world would say God was in the wrong for having this man’s life end. The fault is not with the man, but with God would be the claim.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, going back to the Parable of the Sower, we may indeed find ourselves blessed in the sowing. We may also find ourselves, by the Grace of God, being able to receive the seed of His Word and finding that it brings about an abundant produce in us, thirty, sixty or even a hundred fold. We may find that abundance in an aspect of being able to love with great abundance, to forgive unconditionally, we may have abundant talents of speaking, writing and/or listening. The grace of our soil may even allow material abundance of money or certain possessions. The question for us, as it was for the rich man in the parable, is what to do with that abundance? Is the abundance just for us to use as we see fit?

Am I anti-saving? No. When God warned of a devastating famine that was going to affect much of the middle eastern world, He had raised Joseph to the exalted position of high advisor to the Pharaoh of Egypt just so that Joseph could store the God given abundance of harvests in advance of the harvest. When the famine struck, God’s chosen people traveled to Egypt and were saved by God’s plan. Later, when the Jews left Egypt and were crossing the wilderness, God gave them mana and quail to eat. God required that the people collect enough mana and quail on the day before the Sabbath for two days, so they could rest from their labor on Sabbath and keep it holy. It might be wise to note that some tried to store up several days of mana and quail on other days than God commanded and that extra mana rotted before it could be consumed. When God says save; he supplies the abundance to be able to save with.

Yet in the above parable, there was no warning of impending famine. The man was already rich. Yet when faced with even greater abundance; his first thought, his only thought was that of his own selfish, greedy pleasure. Isn’t it very possible, that there were others that were not as fortunate where that excess grain could have gone? Is there any indication that the man thought beyond himself and his own comfort?

Again Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, let us go back to the Parable of the Sower. Remember, out of the four soils, three of them are hindered in producing with two probably not producing at all. That’s a tremendous amount of non production. In the so oft quoted and wonderfully supportive statement of Jesus Christ in John 3:16, Jesus doesn’t say: for God so loved only the Jews, or for God so loved only those who first love Him, or for God so loved the righteous, that He sent His Only Begotten Son. No, Jesus proclaims: “For God so loved THE WORLD.. If so much of the world is not, can not produce; how might God be able to still show His love for them, provide in some way for them. Maybe, just maybe, God will be looking for that “good soil” producing such an abundance that not only is there enough for that “good soil” but plenty left over to share with those who are struggling and trying to find their way to God. Perhaps by God using this good soil to spread His abundance in a nonjudgmental manner, He can show them how His Grace and Welcoming love works.

As we sow, let us remember it is by the Grace of God that we are called to do so and it is His Word which we are spreading. Let us pray for His Generous Grace that we might find ourselves in the position of being a “good soil” of abundant produce. Finally, let us look beyond ourselves, looking especially to Him, that should we come into abundance, whatever it might be, that we look to others, especially the lost and down trodden as a place to spread that abundance. That in the Spirit of Christ, we look out, not in some hesitant, guilt driven way, but in the joy and desire in helping way. That being the selfless, generous sharers of abundance, we would feel His declaration of “well done by good and faithful servant”, bringing praise to His Most Holy Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim and are thankful for that all blessed abundance comes from Your wonderful Grace. We thank you for the many frequent times You have seen fit to allow Your Seed to produce fruitfully in us. Forgive us when we stray into the prideful, selfish realm of believing the abundance is based on our talents and should only be used for us as we see fit. Pour out Your Spirit upon us allowing us to have a generous, joyous giving nature, that we would seek out those in need to share our God given abundance with. That abiding in Your Son Jesus Christ, we would be sowers, be the good soil which produces and sharers of Your abundant love bringing glory to Your Most Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

“Seed along the path…….Satan comes and takes away” Mark 4:15

“Seed sown in rocky places…..when trouble and persecution comes because of the world, they quickly fall away” Mark 4:16

“Sown among thorns……worries of this life, deceitfulness of wealth and desires for other things, choke the word” Mark 4:18-19

Sown on good soil….hear the word and accept it, produce a crop – some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” Mark 4:20

As we continue to reflect on Jesus’s first parable; the Parable of the Sower, in the past post we concentrated on the sower of the seed. In this post we are going to reflect on the four soils. Jesus, as He so perfectly does, being God, explains the nature of the differences of the four soils and I would not be able to illuminate any further the individual characteristics of the four soils. Where I think there is value is to to reflect on some of the overall characteristics and lessons of all the soils together.

Let’s start out by pondering the idea of these soil conditions over time. In Jesus’s parable the farmer goes out to sow the seed and at that particular time of sowing, he finds four soil conditions, hard path, rocky, thorn filled and good/productive. Yet a farmer sows seed more than just one time, there is often more than just one season. So does the farmer skip the other soils in future and only sow the seed in a quarter of the soils? Can the soils ever change? Can the good soil become diminished?

To answer those questions, let’s look at two biblical examples. First let’s look at a young man named Saul. Now here we’re talking about the Saul of the New Testament, of the Book of Acts and beyond, not the Israelite King Saul. This young Saul lived at the time of Jesus Christ. He heard the Word of Jesus, if not personally preached by Jesus, at least by Jesus’s disciples. How do we know? Because Saul was there when Stephen, who was chosen to replace Judas was martyred by the crowd for preaching the life, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. Saul helped to support Stephen’s stoning by looking after the perpetrators’ belongings as they carried out their deed. The word Saul heard, the seed Saul received would have appeared to land on a very hard path, immediately taken away by Satan. Saul would go on to become a leader in persecuting Christ’s followers in the very early period.

If Saul’s soil was not able to change, we might only know him as a lessor actor in opposition of Christ in the guise of Caiaphas or Pontius Pilot. However, on the way to Damascus, Saul’s soil was obviously changed by an encounter by non other than Jesus Christ, Himself. By the Power and Grace of Jesus Christ, the Seed/Word was able to travel deep into Saul. Thus Saul who became Paul went on to be one of the most prolific producer’s for early Christian churches and theology in history. So it is evident that soils can change. What does that mean for us who might be sowers? It means we should not be judges of the condition of “a soil”, of a person’s perceived receptiveness to the word. We can not truly know what is in another’s heart and thus should be faithful to Christ in sowing the Word and let Christ’s Grace abound.

Let’s take a look at a “generating soil”. King David, of the Old Testament surely seemed to be a producing soil. Being zealous about faithfulness to God versus worried about personal safety, he slew the great warrior Goliath with just a sling and stones. David won great battles with his faith in God and increased amazing power for the Israelites and their treasured city Jerusalem. Yet David was King and a man. He let the earthly power of an earthly man-king grow thorns in his field. He saw a lovely woman who was a bride of another, bathing and he wanted her. David took another man’s wife and then hatched a plan to have the man killed when it appeared that David’s misdeed would come to light. The lust of someone forbidden, the fear of having a crime found out; they seem to be aspects of thorns which grew into David’s productive soil. Understand this is not some holier-than-thou judgement about David, it is a cautionary example to all of us that the thorns of life can come at us from so many different directions at a time we least expect and our soil can become diminished and or production limited if not stopped altogether. At times the thorns may come from a tragic event or energy, sometimes it’s from the pride of success and achievement.

One last element I would like for us to consider. In three of the four states of the soil, their lack of production is a direct result of the activity of the enemy. In the first soil mentioned, Satan is identified by name as the one who takes the seed. Yet in the second soil, persecution is a tactic of the enemy. It is the act of attacking the people of God by those arrayed against God, or the enemy. Finally, the thorns discussed in relation to the third soil are worldly cares and circumstances. The prince of the worldly aspects of life is the enemy. Why is this important? Because, and this may be largely my perception, there is a real, purposeful inclination; not only in society, but sadly in some of our modern theology, to dismiss the concept that Satan even exists and/or too the extent that he does, he has no power against us in any state.

I’ve spent a great part of my life, both in the active duty military as well as supporting it. One of the keystones to a victorious strategy is if I can convince an enemy that I am no threat, that I have no power, that they should look everywhere but at me when considering a needed defense. To the extent I can get the enemy convinced of those things; they are woefully unprepared for my attack and much more easily conquered. Now please don’t misread me hear. Jesus Christ will never be conquered or defeated by Satan. However, it is Jesus in His life and teachings, that shows just how powerful Satan is and how we are no match alone against him. The man in the tombs could not dislodge the power of enemy from himself nor could the combined resources of the local townspeople. It was only by the power of Jesus Christ that the enemy was vanguished.

Dear Sisters and Brothers understand that I am not one who believes that we should spend our time completely dwelling our focus or our preaching on hell and Satan. However, we also don’t want to be dwelling in hell with Satan either. We have to fight the arrogant tendency to accept the power of God but then elevate ourselves as the next all powerful force in existence. Jesus Christ is clear; apart from Him we can do nothing; that includes defeating the enemy. It is only by abiding in Christ can our soil be gracefully blessed to overcome the attacks of the enemy and produce a blessed bounty. On our own, we will not be victorious. Thanks be to God Almighty, there is never a time He desires us rely on ourselves.

There is seed being sowed to us constantly. If we are to be the productive soil we must be watered and nurtured by the cleansing water of the blood of Jesus Christ. All soil needs some sort of replenishing fertilizer. Let us take in the sustaining, nutrient rich, restorative love of Heavenly Father, through the Word of Jesus Christ, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is then that our soil might be truly productive, being able to bless a world of challenged soils and bring glory the name of Him in whom all things, including soils are created.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we proclaim that You have created in us soil with Your desire that it be abundantly productive. Forgive us Most Merciful Father when we depart from You and allow are soils to become ineffective and unproductive. Through Your Spirit, bring us back that we might abide in Your Son Jesus Christ, relying on the restorative grace filled gifts of love, forgiveness and peace. Through Jesus, allow us to be producers of blessed bounty for all, showing all soils that they too may become good soils of produce in You. That in our taking in the Seed of Your Word and producing through You, we would be bringing praise to Your Most Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

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