Job – Invitation and Introduction

You’re invited to our new series in the book of Job!

Description: Suffering is inevitable part of life.  To learn about suffering, there’s no book anywhere that gives us more insight than Job.  Job is a true life story of a man who endured unspeakable pain, intense suffering, and catastrophic loss.  He shares God’s answers to Job’s questions and gives us valuable insights to our own questions about suffering today.

Dates:                    Titles                      Scriptures                        

May 21 – Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People? (Job 1)

May 28 – How Will You Respond to Suffering? (Job 2)                                    

June 4 – The Do’s and Don’ts of Comforting (Job 3-37)

June 11 –A Living Hope (Job 19)

June 18 – God’s Response (Job 38-42)


Trees snap like toothpicks or fly upward, wrenched from the earth. Whole rooftops sail, cars tumble like toys, houses collapse, and a wall of water obliterates the shore and inundates the land. A hurricane cuts and tears, and only solid foundations survive its unbridled fury. But those foundations can be used for rebuilding after the storm.

For any building, the foundation is critical. It must be deep enough and solid enough to withstand the weight of the building and other stresses. Lives are like buildings, and the quality of each one’s foundation will determine the quality of the whole. Too often inferior materials are used, and when tests come, lives crumble.

Job was tested. With a life filled with prestige, possessions, and people, he was suddenly assaulted on every side, devastated, stripped down to his foundation. But his life had been built on God, and he endured.

Job, the book, tells the story of Job, the man of God. It is a gripping drama of riches-to-rags-to-riches, a theological treatise about suffering and divine sovereignty, and a picture of faith that endures. As you read Job, analyze your life and check your foundation. May you be able to say that when all is gone but God, he is enough.

Job was a prosperous farmer living in the land of Uz. He had thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock, a large family, and many servants. Suddenly, Satan the Accuser came before God claiming that Job was trusting God only because he was wealthy and everything was going well for him. And thus the testing of Job’s faith began.

Satan was allowed to destroy Job’s children, servants, livestock, herdsmen, and home; but Job continued to trust in God. Next Satan attacked Job physically, covering him with painful sores. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die (2:9), but Job suffered in silence.

Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to visit him. At first they silently grieved with Job. But when they began to talk about the reasons for Job’s tragedies, they told him that sin had caused his suffering. They told him to confess his sins and turn back to God. But Job maintained his innocence.

Unable to convince Job of his sin, the three men fell silent (32:1). At this point, another voice—the young Elihu—entered the debate. Although his argument also failed to convince Job, it prepared the way for God to speak.

Finally, God spoke out of a mighty storm. Confronted with the great power and majesty of God, Job fell in humble reverence before him—speechless. God rebuked Job’s friends (and Job), and the drama ended with Job restored to happiness and wealth.

It is easy to think that we have all the answers. In reality, only God knows exactly why events unfold as they do, and we must submit to him as our Sovereign. As you read this book, emulate Job and decide to trust God no matter what happens.

Vital Statistics

Purpose:   To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and the meaning of true faith. It addresses the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?”

Author:  Unknown, possibly Job. Some have suggested Moses, Solomon, or Elihu.

Date Written:  Unknown. Records events that probably occurred during the time of the patriarchs, approximately 2000-1800 B.C.

Setting:  The land of Uz, probably located northeast of Palestine, near desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates River

Key Verse:  “Then the Lord asked Satan, ‘Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause'” (2:3).

Key People:  Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Elihu the Buzite

Special Features:  Job is the first of the poetic books in the Hebrew Bible. Some believe this was the first book of the Bible to be written. The book gives us insights into the work of Satan. Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11 mention Job as a historical character.

The Blueprint

  1. JOB IS TESTED (1:1-2:13)
    Job, a wealthy and upright man, lost his possessions, his children, and his health. Job did not understand why he was suffering. Why does God allow his children to suffer? Although there is an explanation, we may not know it while we are here on earth. In the meantime, we must always be ready for testing in our lives.
    1. First round of discussion
    2. Second round of discussion
    3. Third round of discussion

    Job’s friends wrongly assumed that suffering always came as a result of sin. With this in mind, they tried to persuade Job to repent of his sin. But the three friends were wrong. Suffering is not always a direct result of personal sin. When we experience severe suffering, it may not be our fault, so we don’t have to add to our pain by feeling guilty that some hidden sin is causing our trouble.

  3. A YOUNG MAN ANSWERS JOB (32:1-37:24)
    A young man named Elihu, who had been listening to the entire conversation, criticized the three friends for being unable to answer Job. He said that although Job was a good man, he had allowed himself to become proud, and God was punishing him in order to humble him. This answer was partially true because suffering does purify our faith. But God is beyond our comprehension, and we cannot know why he allows each instance of suffering to come into our lives. Our part is simply to remain faithful.
  4. GOD ANSWERS JOB (38:1-41:34)
    God himself finally answered Job. God is in control of the world, and only he understands why the good are allowed to suffer. This only becomes clear to us when we see God for who he is. We must courageously accept what God allows to happen in our lives and remain firmly committed to him.
  5. JOB IS RESTORED (42:1-17)
    Job finally learned that when nothing else was left, he had God, and that was enough. Through suffering, we learn that God is enough for our lives and our future. We must love God regardless of whether he allows blessing or suffering to come to us. Testing is difficult, but the result is often a deeper relationship with God. Those who endure the testing of their faith will experience God’s great rewards in the end.
Suffering Through no fault of his own, Job lost his wealth, children, and health. Even his friends were convinced that Job had brought this suffering upon himself. For Job, the greatest trial was not the pain or the loss; it was not being able to understand why God allowed him to suffer. Suffering can be, but is not always, a penalty for sin. In the same way, prosperity is not always a reward for being good. Those who love God are not exempt from trouble. Although we may not be able to understand fully the pain we experience, it can lead us to rediscover God.
Satan’s Attacks Satan attempted to drive a wedge between Job and God by getting Job to believe that God’s governing of the world was not just and good. Satan had to ask God for permission to take Job’s wealth, children, and health away. Satan was limited to what God allowed. We must learn to recognize but not fear Satan’s attacks because Satan cannot exceed the limits that God sets. Don’t let any experience drive a wedge between you and God. Although you can’t control how Satan may attack, you can always choose how you will respond when it happens.
God’s Goodness God is all-wise and all-powerful. His will is perfect, yet he doesn’t always act in ways that we understand. Job’s suffering didn’t make sense because everyone believed good people were supposed to prosper. When Job was at the point of despair, God spoke to him, showing him his great power and wisdom. Although God is present everywhere, at times he may seem far away. This may cause us to feel alone and to doubt his care for us. We should serve God for who he is, not what we feel. He is never insensitive to our suffering. Because God is sufficient, we must hold on to him.
Pride Job’s friends were certain that they were correct in their judgment of him. God rebuked them for their pride and arrogance. Human wisdom is always partial and temporary, so undue pride in our own conclusions is sin. We must be careful not to judge others who are suffering. We may be demonstrating the sin of pride. We must be cautious in maintaining the certainty of our own conclusions about how God treats us. When we congratulate ourselves for being right, we become proud.
Trusting God alone knew the purpose behind Job’s suffering, and yet he never explained it to Job. In spite of this, Job never gave up on God—even in the midst of suffering. He never placed his hope in his experience, his wisdom, his friends, or his wealth. Job focused on God. Job showed the kind of trust we are to have. When everything is stripped away, we are to recognize that God is all we ever really had. We should not demand that God explain everything. God gives us himself, but not all the details of his plans. We must remember that this life, with all its pain, is not our final destiny.
Source: Life Application Study Bible , (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 783-785.


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The Example of a Child – Matthew 18:1-4

What name does God use most often to describe His people? The Bible identifies the people of God by many names. But more frequently than anything else we are called “children;” “children of promise, children of the day, children of the light, beloved children, dear children, and children of God.

As believers we can rejoice in the wonderful truth that, through Christ, we have become God’s own children, adopted through grace. We bear the image of God’s family and are joint heirs with Jesus Christ of everything God possesses. We enjoy God’s love, care, protection, power, and other resources in abundance for all eternity.

But there is another side to our being children, and in Scripture believers are also referred to as children in the sense that we are incomplete, weak, dependent, undeveloped, unskilled, vulnerable, and immature.

Matthew 18 focuses on those immature, unperfected, childlike qualities that believers demonstrate as they mutually develop into conformity to the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.

Jesus teaches on the specific theme of the childlikeness of the believer, speaking directly to the reality that we are spiritual children with all the weaknesses that childhood implies. It is also essential to see that the chapter teaches the church, as a group of spiritually unperfected children how to get along with each other.

The context for the sermon is indicated by the phrase at that time, which refers to a period the disciples came to Jesus, possibly at Peter’s house in Capernaum.

The Lord’s teaching was prompted by the disciples themselves, who asked Him a very selfish question that betrayed their sinful ambitions. We learn from Mark and Luke that the question, Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? resulted from an argument the Twelve had been having among themselves “as to which of them might be the greatest” (Luke 9:46; cf. Mark 9:34). Although Jesus omnisciently knew what had happened, He asked, “What were you discussing on the way?” The disciples were so ashamed of their attitude and conversation that “they kept silent” (Mark 9:33-34).

Their embarrassed silence shows they knew that what they had been doing was inconsistent with what their Master had been teaching on humility. But the fact that they nevertheless were arguing about their relative ranks in the kingdom shows they were making little effort to apply what they had been taught. They were as proud, self-seeking, self-sufficient, and ambitious as ever. In light of what they had been discussing and the way they phrased the question to Jesus, it is obvious they expected Him to name one of them as the greatest.

Leonard Bernstein, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra, was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play. Without hesitation, he replied, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm—that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

This is the failure of the Disciples. Just as they had heard but not really accepted what Jesus had been teaching about humility they also had heard but not really accepted what He had been teaching about the kingdom. They obviously still expected Jesus soon to set up an earthly kingdom, and each of them was hoping to have a high rank in that dominion. They were especially competitive about being number one.

Earlier that same day (see 17:22-23) that Jesus had told them (for the third time) about His impending suffering and death. Although they did not fully understand what He was saying to them (Mark 9:32), they should have sensed its gravity And even though they were afraid to ask Jesus what He meant, it would seem they would have been discussing that issue rather than which of them was to be the greatest.

The Disciples demonstrated no concept of humility, very little compassion, and certainly no willingness to take up their own crosses and follow Christ. (Matt. 10:38-39; 16:24-26).

Several months after this lesson in Capernaum, their selfish ambition was still very much evident. Probably at her sons’ instigation, the mother of James and John asked Jesus, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left” (Matt. 20:20-21). The other disciples were indignant at the two brothers, but their indignation was not righteous but envious (v. 24).

It must have been especially painful to Jesus that, just as on the occasion recorded in chapter 18, this self-seeking request came immediately after He had predicted His suffering and death (20:19). There is no indication of sympathy, consolation, or grief concerning what their Lord was about to endure on their behalf and on the behalf of His elect. And on the night before He died, while He was eating the Last Supper with them, they were still arguing about their own greatness (Luke 22:24).

Like all of us, the disciples needed repeated lessons in humility, and here Jesus used a child as His illustration.

In verse two: calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them

The word used for child “Paidion” identifies a very young child, sometimes even an infant. This particular child was perhaps a toddler, just old enough to run to Jesus when He called him to Himself. Because the group was likely in Peter’s house, the child may have belonged to Peter’s family and already been well known to Jesus. In any case, the child readily responded and allowed himself to be taken up into Jesus’ arms (Mark 9:36). Jesus loved children and they loved Him, and as He sat before the disciples holding this small child in His arms, He had a beautiful setting in which to teach them profound lessons about the childlikeness of believers. In taking the child up into his arms, Jesus put Himself on the same level as the child and the other adults around him.

The essence of the first lesson is in verse three, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn from your sins and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

That is an absolute and far-reaching requirement of ultimate importance. Entrance into Christ’s kingdom demands childlikeness.

The “Kingdom of Heaven,” a phrase Matthew uses 32 times, is synonymous with the kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of Heaven emphasizes the sphere and character of His rule, and kingdom of God emphatically pointing to the ruler Himself. God rules His kingdom with heavenly principles and heavenly blessings and in heavenly power, majesty, and glory. Entering the kingdom means coming under the sovereign rule of God.

Jesus is talking directly about entering God’s kingdom by faith, through salvation that will result in eternal glory. The phrase “enter the kingdom of heaven” is used three times in the book of Matthew (see also 7:21; 19:23-24) and in each case refers to personal salvation. It is the same experience as entering into life (18:8) and entering into the joy of the Lord (25:21).

The fact that a person must enter the kingdom assumes he is born outside of it under the rule of Satan and that he is not naturally a heavenly citizen under the rule of God. The purpose of the gospel is to show men how they may enter the kingdom and become its citizens:

Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

The purpose of Christ’s ministry and the ministries of John the Baptist and the apostles was to call people to the kingdom. That is still the supreme task of the church.

The first component presented for entering the kingdom is repentance.

The message of John the Baptist was:

Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

It was with that identical message that the Lord began His own ministry (4:17). The initial call for ending the kingdom was a call for people to recognize and repent of their sin, which involves genuine desire to turn away from it.

A second component of the faith that grants entrance to the kingdom is the recognition of spiritual bankruptcy. Beatitudes begin with a call to humility, expressed there as poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3).

Matthew 5:3-8 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The Greek word “poor in spirit” refers to a beggar who has absolutely no resources of his own. Because the repentant and bankrupt person is deeply aware of his sin, he mourns over it (v. 4); because he has no righteousness of his own, he hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness (v. 6); and because he cannot himself cleanse his sin, he longs for the purity of heart (v. 8) that only God can provide.

The person who genuinely wants to enter God’s kingdom sees himself as utterly unworthy and undeserving. His awareness of his sin brings guilt and frustration over his inadequacy to remove it. He knows that he cannot himself cleanse his sin and that he has nothing to offer God that could merit forgiveness for it.

As Jesus took the young child in His arms and held him up before the disciples, the Lord gathered up all those elements of salvation explaining the beginning of verse three:

Matthew 18:3Truly, I say to you, unless you repent and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus explained. A little child is simple, dependent, helpless, unaffected, unpretentious, unambitious. Children are not sinless or naturally unselfish, and they display their fallen nature from the earliest age. But they are nevertheless naive and unassuming, trusting of others and without ambition for grandeur and greatness.

Children trust their parents to take care of them. They do not lie awake wondering where the next meal is coming from. They are anxiety free and confident that everything they need will be provided.

The conclusion is then in verse four:

Matthew 18:4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Who is this message for? The first word of verse four tells us: Whoever.

The nature of humility pictured with a child shows the end to the desire for power, status, self-sufficiency, rights and control.

A little child makes no claims of worthiness or greatness. He knows he cannot meet his own needs and has no resources to stay alive. That is the kind of humble submissiveness that results in greatness in God’s eyes and in His kingdom.

The greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the one who is humble, unaffected, genuinely sincere, undemanding, not self-centered, receptive to whatever God offers, and eagerly obedient to whatever He commands.

The disciples had become so preoccupied with the organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom that they had lost sight of its divine purpose. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage. It is easy to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status. It is difficult, but healthy, to identify with “children” weak and dependent upon Jesus.

In what ways are you making progress with childlikeness?


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Scripture references are from the English Standard Version
 Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1579-1580.
Humble Yourself In Childlikeness, Servanthood, And Brokenhearted Boldness Matthew Kratz


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Are You Ready for the Most Important Deadline? – Matthew 25:1-13

We are used to living our lives according to deadlines, but are you prepared to meet the most important of all deadlines that Jesus describes here for us today; the parable of the wise and foolish virgins? Read on, and be surprised.

To some people this parable is designed to get us thinking about when Jesus returns or as the time in which we die and meet our maker.

The question is: are we prepared to meet Jesus? Are we ready for his return? Jesus does not want to find us unprepared, and therefore warns us accordingly.

In this parable, Jesus talks about the end of time and the eternal life; but Jesus tells a story that relates the point in everyday terms, a typical wedding for the first century Jews.

Back then, when a couple married, there was a legal betrothal ceremony first that took place; officially uniting the couple as husband and wife, because the couple did not live together as husband and wife, until later, at some set time in the future.

On that day in the future, there would be a formal procession where the husband and his groomsmen left his house, to arrive at the bride’s home, and then lead the bride and her bridesmaids back to the groom’s home where there was a brief ceremony, then a banquet or feast.

Then, and only then, where the couple allowed to live together; and this was the scene Jesus used in his parable to illustrate his point.

The ten virgins or bridesmaids.

In the parable there were ten virgins, the bridesmaids, and from our perspective they represent those who are for Jesus, assembled and waiting for His appearing.

The groom

Next, we have the groom arriving to bring his bride back to his home, and the groom on this occasion represents Jesus who has come to take us back to his home in heaven.

The foolish virgins or bridesmaids

Jesus said that half of the virgins/bridesmaids were wise and half were foolish, because half of them were prepared for a long period of waiting, the other half were not. The first five brought oil to keep their torches lit, but the other five did not.

The torches or lamps

The torches or lamps normally signify the human spirit of a person. For example, Proverbs 20:27 which says “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” The lamps or the light from the lamps is therefore a reference to our human spirit with a small “s”; our spirit with our personal thoughts and motivations it is; basically ourselves, without God.

The oil in the lamp

The oil in the lamp therefore, is the fuel or substance that makes lamps shine light, and keep shining light. The oil in the bible is a reference to the Holy Spirit.

Most Christians agree that the dove, the wind and oil are some of the symbols of the Holy Spirit and throughout the Old and New Testament we see oil being used for holy purposes: such as pouring oil on heads for anointing (which is empowering) and consecration (which is to make clean); basically, the physical symbolic application of the Holy Spirit.

This reveals to us that the Holy Spirit must be involved in every area of the believer’s life. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches, spiritual darkness would soon overtake

The ten virgins describe those who appear to be Christians, they’re assembled, have dressed the part and are now waiting for the return of Jesus. Five of the virgins (who had oil in their lamps) signify the fact that the Holy Spirit was alive and working through them in their lives. The five foolish virgins, (who had no oil in their lamps), were not working by the power of the Holy Spirit, and who for some reason, were working by their own strength, alone, and without the help and power of God.  For whatever reason, we’re not told, they were acting like believers in Jesus but had never invited Christ in their lives.

The five foolish virgins did not bring the oil needed, and the wise five couldn’t share their personal supply with them.  That in the parable is a reminder that each person must believe in Jesus for themselves. You cannot believe for someone else. A wife can’t believe for her husband or a parent for a child or a believer for a friend.

Every individual person needs to be ready for either the return of Jesus, or to meet him face to face.

Jesus is very clear on this and goes on to say that the five foolish virgins lived to regret their decision by saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.’ But Jesus replied, `Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

Jesus goes on to give us this warning, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Jesus told this parable to give us insights into our own spiritual preparation. To finish we must ask as ourselves why did Jesus warn believers about being ready for his return?

Jesus here is concerned with spiritual complacency that says, “I’m good to go, and I will coast my way into heaven as long as I am a good person, or I go to church and do religious stuff.”

We cannot ignore the fact that Jesus came face-to-face with hell’s punishments for our sin by his death on the cross, and that our sin was buried in his tomb, and that we can rise to a new spiritual life in him, and that God will declare us holy and innocent in his eyes so that we can stand righteous before him on the last day.  We must believe in Jesus alone, not our religious actions.

So be ready, be prepared by acknowledging sin and inviting the Jesus in our lives which includes the Holy Spirit indwelling our lives.

Here’s a prayer you can pray,

“Dear Jesus, thank you for making me and loving me even though I’ve gone my own way.  I confess my wrongs. Make me a new person inside.  Even though I don’t understand it all, I commit to follow you.  Amen.”


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Beware of Infiltration and Imitation – Matthew 13: 24-40

We all have virus and malware pre-installed on our phones and computers and we must constantly be aware of all kinds of scams and phishing, but now there is a new threat in Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has taken phone scams to a frightening new level.

An Arizona mom claims that scammers used AI to clone her daughter’s voice so they could demand a $1 million ransom from her as part of a terrifying new voice scheme.

“I never doubted for one second it was her,” distraught mother Jennifer DeStefano told WKYT while recalling the bone-chilling incident. “That’s the freaky part that really got me to my core.”

This bombshell comes amid a rise in “caller-ID spoofing” schemes, in which scammers claim they’ve taken the recipient’s relative hostage and will harm them if they aren’t paid a specified amount of money.

Jesus parable today deals with impersonation and infiltration designed by the enemy to distract, distort and destroy. The good news about this “Parable of the Weeds” is we don’t have to speculate about the meaning, the Lord gives us a full interpretation.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells seven classic parables about the Kingdom of heaven. Last week we looked at the parable of the Sower, which also is recorded in Mark and Luke. Today we’re going to examine the parable of the “Wheat and Weeds,” which appears only in Matthew. This is an amazing parable because it encompasses God’s work of redemption from the beginning of time until the end of time. Several times in scripture the end of time is compared to a harvest.

Whenever you study a parable of Jesus, there is always the natural truth of the story itself, and then there is the supernatural layer of meaning below the surface. There are questions the disciples asks and even questions the “workers” or angels asked.    We’ll call them…

Burning Questions

  1. What is the Cause of Evil?

This is really one of those basic questions of life which has numerous variations – “If I’ve done all the right things why did my kids still turn out wrong?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“If I take care of my garden so well how come I keep getting weeds? If God is in charge, why do bad things happen?”

“If Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose victoriously over death – why do people still sin and die?”

“Why are there still grumpy people in the church?”

“Why are my neighbors inconsiderate when I go out of my way to be kind?”

“Why? Why? Why?”

What is the cause of evil?  Jesus says,  “‘An enemy did this”  (vs. 28a)

“The enemy who sows them is the devil.” Matthew 13:39

After a thousand volumes are written on the origin of evil, we know as much of it as Christ has told us here, “An enemy has done it, and this enemy is the devil.”

 Why does God allow evil on earth?

 God created us with a free will.  Love allows choices.  Turn from evil and do good” Psalm 37:27

 Why doesn’t God remove all evil?

‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.” (vs. 29) 

 Because the wheat and the weeds are almost indistinguishable, they look alike!
We are a mixture of wheat and weeds.   “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor classes, nor between political parties… but right through every human heart and through all human hearts” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 If God started controlling things- we’d be the first to complain ‘hey, I thought you gave me free will!’  God comes back and starts wiping out murderers, rapists.. (fine by me!)… adulterers… ok, those who don’t handle anger rightly, who lust, or gossip,  woops! We all start sweating! None of us would stand a chance!

If God removed evil I would have been gone a long time ago.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”  Psalm 51:5

Jesus is saying to us – “Hey, I don’t want you to be discouraged and to think that the dismal state of the world (or the church) is the final word. Don’t be troubled. You trust God now trust in me. I’m in charge – really I am. I may not be working this thing out the way you want it, in your preferred time frame. But my kingdom is coming into power. Its already up and functioning in some places – in the hearts and lives of some people. And on harvest day when I’m done implementing my plan all of the loose ends will be wrapped up. You won’t have to put up with this nonsense any longer.

  1. What is My Response to Evil?

 It is natural to want to do something about evil.

          ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ (vs. 28b)

 Jesus doesn’t want us to be discouraged but to be aware.

          The kingdom of heaven is like…(vs. 24)

Of course, this isn’t really a lesson in agricultural practice. It’s about the kingdom or reign or rule of God.

The Jewish people of Jesus’ day were anxiously awaiting the coming kingdom of God – that which the prophets had predicted – the time of the Messiah – the reestablishment of Jewish independence and power.

This, at least according to their thinking, would mean purifying the land of all foreign influences. And everyone was trying to figure out the best way to make this happen.

The Essenes were trying to bring the kingdom about by living purified lives out in the desert. If they could avoid all impurity they figured that they could become the pure starting point for a new Israel.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, thought that they could bring in the kingdom with an organized and structured revival of Jewish practices.

The Zealots were trying to bring about the kingdom through revolutionary and guerillas tactics directed at the occupying Roman forces.

They were all pretty much shooting for the same thing – the coming of the kingdom of God or heaven.

So Jesus comes along and starts talking about the arrival of this kingdom – which got everyone all excited. “We’ll be freed from the Roman yoke. Once again Israel will be the light on a hill.”

But leave it to Jesus to throw a monkey wrench into their plan or perception. He tells them; indeed the kingdom is coming into power but not exactly in the way that you’re expecting. We’re going to be stuck with a few weeds for a while.   Like them we can respond to evil in an inappropriate way.

I can respond to evil in one of four ways.  I can be a …

  1. Separatist  – in Jesus day the Essenes

In the middle ages it was the monastic movement to start monasteries to separate from society. You may have heard of this term because it described a movement in European Christianity and continues to this day. They are putting our head in the sand like Ostriches is how I think of it.  “See no evil hear no evil.”  We have given up and decided we have no power, no influence.  When Jesus says we do.

 2. Puritan – in Jesus’ day the Pharisees

Trying to maintain a religious purity no matter the cost. You have heard of this term because it was another middle age and European Church movement that many still try to emulate today.  In Salem the Puritans burned suspected witches — to maintain a pure society. In the Spanish Inquisition people who disagreed with the official teaching of the church were tortured. Husbands have beaten their wives to teach them submission – so they could have model godly families.  Others have embraced such strong religious views that they cut off all ties with their children because they disagree with some of their lifestyle decisions.  We knew a family that their daughter didn’t marry a catholic so they disowned her and wouldn’t talk to her or their grandchildren for over ten years.  They got a divorce and they welcomed them back with open arms.  A friend of mine from college her dad, split a church over what translation of the Bible was the best and began a new church.  When she got married she married someone who didn’t share his views and the dad didn’t go to the wedding and now ten years later has not spoken to them.  Is this kind of behavior the answer?  NO!

Every time we try to use worldly influence, religion or power or scheming to get God’s work done we end up doing more damage to his kingdom.

3. Militant – in Jesus’ day the Zealots

When the puritan methods aren’t working fast enough some Christians become militant.  We see the same thing in some contemporary political movements. “Once we organize and get rid of the hated godless pornographic homosexual media-driven infestation which is menacing our nation we’ll become the nation of God once again.”

And once people begin to think this way it’s not too much of a leap before they’ll take up arms against abortionists or homosexuals or whoever the current sinner happens to be. But hear Jesus, we’re stuck with weeds until harvest time.

4. Realist

We’ve got to be realists! We are not going to eliminate evil from the world and we ought not to act as though that were the case.

Every group or individual that takes on themselves the mission of bringing in the kingdom of God in political or strong-armed or religious or rule infested ways ends up really warped with an inflated view of self-importance. Ironically, they begin acting in ways that are completely contrary to the kingdom of God.

Which am I?

 By the way these are also models of churches today.   Many churches in America today are a puritan model, they try to gather a pure church according to their definition of that with followers who follow their prescribed tenants.    We try to be realists.   Let me share with you our realist model.  We allow people to be in process.  There are wheat and weeds together.  Together we grow, we are not perfect we allow people to be who they are but we also provide opportunities for the wheat to grow.

Those who want to grow, take advantage of the opportunities.    Those who want to be held accountable are held accountable by their decision only.  They decide to become a member, they decide to serve, they decide to lead.  We don’t hold those accountable who do not wish to.

 What is My Responsibility?  

 Evil will not stop my spiritual growth

           Let both grow together until the harvest. (vs. 30a)

 As a believer, I am the good seed.  My responsibility is growth and reproduction.

 “The wheat sprouted and formed heads”  (vs. 26)

As wheat is profitable for bread, food, and seed, it has purpose. God’s children have purpose and are useful for God.  Is your life bearing fruit?  What are you doing in God’s field?   Are you spending your energy growing and reaching others?  Or are on some witch hunt or some gossip campaign or puritan endeavor or inquisition?   No growing and reaching others.  It works!

There have been wonderful examples of those who have been changed when we thought they had no hope:   Alice Cooper, Korn guitarist,
But the question asked by many is, “What happens to these evil people when they become good?”  The same thing that happens to you and me. They are forgiven and become new creation.

My greatest weapon against evil is transformation.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

God is in the business of transforming lives.  He changes us and recreates us.  He takes the evil and makes it good, the wrong and makes it righteous.

God can take this Johnson grass plant (a nasty weed) and transform it into a corn plant that is useful and provides food.  It’s not magic it’s a miracle! It’s a spiritual truth! God is in the life changing business.   He has called us to do the same.  We are to take every ounce of our energy and reach others with this truth.  Look at this.

 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

 He has given us the ministry of reconciliation (bringing people to Christ) not the ministry of grumbling, Ministry of complaining, or ministry of judging, the ministry of do nothing.

If you have never become a Christian today is the day Christ can plant a seed in your heart, it will begin to grow and will transform your life.  If you are a believer let me ask you:  are you growing?  Are you seeing a change?  And lastly, whose life can you plant the seed of the gospel?  Which co-worker, family member can you give a bible to, invite to church or pray for?



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