Thursday, February 23, 2012

Weeds or Wheat?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Click this link to see this card and others by Margot
The Parable of the Weeds
Matthew 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time 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.’”
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
 36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
   40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

In the church now and through out history there have been those who claim to be Christian and those who truly believe and follow Christ.  Which is why it is important that true believes know what the Bible actually says.  There are those who take the word and twist it to their own advantage and power.  The verses above state that an enemy sowed weeds into the field of the world. The good seed are those who truly believe and follow Jesus and the bad have some other agenda. It is at times hard to tell the real from the pretenders.  

Even in Pauls day there were those who wanted to add to what it meant to be a believer in Christ. They at that time wanted to impose the Jewish practice of circumcision.  

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

It is true that there are those who can quote scripture and some who take it out of context and promote a gospel of hatred in the name of Love. The crusades are certainly a stain on church history. 

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

 Jesus himself says he did not come to condem the world. It is already in the process of dying. He came to offer the way to be reconciled to God.  Just prior to going to the cross. He gathers his followers to pray. He cries out to God in Matthew 26:39  "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

There was not another way to reconcile the dying world to God except that sinless Jesus go to the cross and take the punishment that we deserved.  Our access to that pardon is only through accepting that Jesus is God and that he has paid the price to redeem us.  The thief on the cross next to Jesus did absolutely nothing except to recognize who Jesus was and believe in him. Jesus himself tells him today you will be with me in Paradice.  He was not baptized, he had done nothing to atone for the sins of his life, he had done no good deeds to tip the scales of justice in his favor. He did not walk forward in a church service. He did not pray the sinners prayer. He did not get filled with the Holy Spirit. He did not live a holy or righteous life. He was a sinful man who recognized Jesus as God and accepted and believed in Him.

How do you know who the true believers are?
It is not how much of the bible you can spout but do you know Jesus, are you spending time with Him in His word and in prayer. Spending time not out of religious duty but out of love. When we are in love we just can't get enough of that person. The more time you spend with someone the more you become like them. Our lives as believers should be modeled after the one we believe in and follow.

Jesus did not come seeking power. He held no religious office. He spent time setting people free from sin and sickness. He spent his time modeling the values of the Kingdom.  He modeled humility and service, he modeled prayer, and obedience to God. He had compassion on the poor and the oppressed.
He came to reconcile a dying people to a just and holy God who loves them.

He publicly reads Isaiah 61 in Luke 4
   18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me
   to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
   19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

He says to His followers at the last supper in John 13  33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

How has Jesus loved us? He accepts us where we are. Just like he accepted the thief on the cross. He begins a transforming work in our lives in which we become more and more like Him. He sends us the Holy Spirit to lead us in to all truth. He helps us to overcome sin in our lives and to become free of the chains that have held us captive to the power of death.  Our lives should be marked by His love, we should like him care for the poor and the oppressed. We should like Jesus be humble and serve others. Not grasp for power, fame and prominence.  He forces no one to follow him. He never gave anyone a convert or die message. The truth is we are dying already he came to give us the way to be reconciled to God and to have a new life in Him. 

There are plenty of other verses that could be covered. No matter where you are at in your journey to know and follow Jesus, realize that he is not waiting for you to clean yourself up. He waits only for you to accept him as God and to believe that he has the provided the way that justice is fulfilled in that he took upon himself the punishment that you deserved. 

This should produce thankfulness in your life not religion. 

Some of the things that should be growing in your life according to Galatians 5
 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Even as believers we often fall very short and thankfully there is grace .
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 
I am reminded that Jesus is love. It is the love of God that sent the son into the world. It is the love of Jesus that sends us the Holy Spirit.  Our lives should be marked by love. Love of God, love of others.

1 Corinthians 13 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.
Lord search our heart, open our eyes to see the things in our lives that need to be transformed more into your likeness. Help us to know you more. Help us to be living Bibles - often the only ones many will read. How do our lives reflect your likeness. Help us to repent and help us to forgive help us to do your will.




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