Sunday, 20 July 2014

Can't Make it to church (July 20)?

Here we are at another Sunday and the theme of sowing seeds is before us once more.

Jacob's Ladder is an interesting element in the stories of the Patriarchs (the early fathers of the Jewish faith) as it describes the congress between earth and heaven. Whenever I read it I think of a lovely old lady who described it as the angels coming and going to answer the prayers of the faithful. I quite like that image and so, for now at least will leave you with the thought that every prayer sends an angel down the escalator (things are more modern now) in response.

Moving on we come to the promise that those who live by the Spirit will live (and this means eternal life) and those who choose to live otherwise are sowing seeds that will yield something awful.

Harsh and hard and difficult to accept as part of a loving God's actions?

Many would say so but here's the rub - if we have a God who is fair, just and loving then why would we think that He would bend the rules to let some who have done what is contrary to His laws in? If the government were seen to ignore transgressions and grant favours the press would be full of accusations about them being corrupt - now change government for God and tell me what changes? And as for loving - take a quick look into the eyes of a man hanging upon a cross, taking the place you should have occupied and tell me God is not loving.

So we continue in the eternal hope that comes from, through, and is Jesus.

And back to the seeds and the harvest of Matthew chapter thirteen where this time the good crop grows up amongst weeds. The question is asked, 'Shall we pull them up?' to which the farmer replies, "No, leave them alone and we'll deal with them at the harvest p the good will be taken into and the weeds thrown aside and burned!'

Now the message is clear and tragic. In Church there are many who are producing good fruit and alongside them are some who early on look like the real thing but, as time progresses, they are seen not to be. Rather than turf them up and toss them out, which would damage the believers, they are left to the judgement of God (and not being weeds - pastored and ministered too if they would accept it). Of course there are times when the Bible does tell us to 'expel the immoral among us - but as a last resort.

But the message is clear - you can sit in church but it doesn't mean you're saved (that's a heart and life choices thing)  any more than sitting in Mcdonalds makes you a hamburger!

So today
Pray for yourself, for me and the whole world that they would be good seed and choose life.

Pray for those who look like believers and yet make the wrong choices time and time again that they might be redeemed and come under the full provision of God's love as shown through Jesus, the Christ.

Pray for peace in Jerusalem and Palestine that God's heart and not man's politics would come to the fore.

Pray for the situation in Ukraine and other trouble spots across the world, for those in hospital, for those recently bereaved and for those who need God's healing in body, mind or spirit.

And as you do, imagine the angels on the way down the escalator :-)

Genesis 28.10-19a
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

Romans 8.12-25
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Matthew 13.24-30,36-43
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Almighty God,
send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Post Communion Prayer
Grant, O Lord, we beseech you, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance, that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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