Thursday, August 29, 2013

#1 Wheat and Weeds and The Longest 7 Seconds of Silence I Have Ever Heard

Matthew 13:24-30
Title in NIV: A parable: Wheat and weeds.

 This is what the words refer to:
1. The one who sowed good seed= Son of Man
2. Field=world
3. Good seed= sons of the kingdom
4. Weeds= sons of evil one
5. One who sowed bad seed= devil
6. Harvest= end of age
7. Harvesters= angels

The first sentence is from the Bible. The second sentence is translated from the explanation Jesus gave about the parable. Reading them side by side deepened my understanding of what Jesus was saying to the people.

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed…

*like a man who sowed good seen in the field
*like the Son of Man who placed his creation in the world

*but while people slept the enemy came and sowed weeds
*but while people did not notice, Satan planted evil people in the world

*wheat sprouted and weeds sprouted
*good people lived for God among the bad people who lived for Satan

*the owner’s servants came to him
*God’s angels came to him

*Do you want us to pull them up?
*Do you want us to get rid of the evil Satan planted?

*No because you may pull up some of the wheat with the weeds
*No because you may destroy some of the good people when you destroy the bad

*Let both grow together
*Let both good and bad live together

*At harvest, I will tell harvesters to gather weeds and tie them for the fire; then gather wheat and bring it to the barn
*At the coming of the Lord, the angels will gather all the bad people who denied Him and were sown by the devil and throw them to hell. Then they will gather the good people and bring them to heaven

?Can an evil person Satan planted ever turn to the Lord and reject Satan, the one who planted him?
?If good people would be destroyed when the bad people were pull up, does that mean that some of the good people are so entangled and associated with the evil in the world that they would be damaged if that part of their ‘world’, ‘self’ were to be removed?
?When I think of God saying let both live together, I can’t help but think of the verse that says God is patient and wants all to turn to him. He is giving those good people time to turn the evil ones to the Lord.

I think it is interesting how God keeps us on our toes in His word. In this parable, the evil people are gathered first and thrown into the fire then the good are gathered to heaven. In other parts of the Bible, the good seem to be gathered first (Mt. 24:31; Mark 13:27). So, when the Lord comes, I’m a little confused to know which group I want to be included in—the first or the second. I just want to go with Jesus and I don’t care which group that is. Maybe the Left Behind books are right and all the good people go first to allow the bad people to change and turn to God. But, I see evidence in the Bible for both scenarios to happen. This is where I think God is testing our faith. He also tests us to see how staunch we are in our understanding of the Word. If someone is truly open to the Lord and his teaching through their personal bible study, they will say, “I don’t know and I am at peace with that.” Many cannot say they are at peace with not knowing.
            In a large bible study I used to attend in Fort Worth, the opportunity presented itself for me to use this example. I think the conversation was heavily on ‘going first’ (ie. Rapture), but, being me and enjoying stretching people’s knowledge, I flipped over to this verse and explained that in this parable, the weeds go first and the good people second. That was the longest 7 seconds of silence I have ever heard. I suppose they were digesting that comment and new insight. My comment apparently did not fit with what they had always been lead to believe or what they whole-heartedly already believed to be true. (Just a side note: I was asked to be a leader of the bible study groups (there were about 10 groups), but I said no because I was being called to write and that particular bible study took up many hours and miles.)

            The point: Be open to new understanding from the Word. Don’t be so staunch in some of your beliefs and think everyone has to have the same view you do. Everyone has a different personal relationship with God.

            Challenge: Think of one of your staunch beliefs you could lighten up on. For example:
1.      People with tattoos are bad.
2.      People should wear a certain kind of dress to church.
3.      It is easy for people to turn to the Lord, I’ve done it. Just do it!
4.      Some people are not worth it.
5.      Worshiping the Lord should be done quietly.
6.      ‘We’ interpret the Bible correctly, everyone else does not. (arrogant!!!)
7.      There is only one translation of the Bible that is approved by God.
8.      If I get involved, I will get ‘dirty’ and God will not approve.
9.      Do not associate with sinners.

Blessings! I pray I have sparked your desire to study. Ponder God’s word.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Journey to my Kingdom Study

Kingdom of Heaven Study: Where I Got the Inspiration

            My journey began several years ago when a sweet young lady came to my door and wanted to share some Scripture with me. Of course, I allowed her to do so. For about a year she would come and share a scripture about every 2-3 months and give me some reading material. Sometimes she had a ‘trainee’ with her. One day she turned to a passage in Daniel (I tried to look up the specific one but there are 53 references to the kingdom in Daniel and I really don’t remember which one). She read about the kingdom and asked my opinion. I told her I believed there is a kingdom of God’s believers on earth that are called to win as many into the kingdom of believers as they can before the Lord returns to take us to the heavenly kingdom. She did not agree with that. She only believes there is a heavenly kingdom. 

            After she left, that got me to thinking. I did a long study on the kingdom and how it IS here on earth and how there is a heavenly kingdom we will go to when we die (or Jesus comes back). The next time she returned, I was armed with scripture. It just so happens that my house was clean the day she and her trainee stopped by. I invited them in and we sat on the couch and all opened our Bibles. I shared with them my scriptures. She shared with me her scriptures. After a short while when I decided this was going no where, I said, “You know, we probably should agree to disagree. Whether you believe your interpretation or I believe what I have found, neither is a ‘bad’ view to hold. Neither is denying God or against his teaching. And, believing that a kingdom of believers is here on earth is not a bad concept, it is just different than your concept.” Well, they really didn't like that, but they were nice about it and the sweet lady expressed that it was really refreshing to actually have someone talk to them and not brush them off. It was nice to know someone took the time to study the scriptures. 

         After that, she did come back several more times but we did not talk about the kingdom any more. What I found to be most interesting came after the visit I had with her about the kingdom. Two older men came to my house. They were obviously from the same church as the sweet lady. It seemed they were ‘checking up’ on me because of something she had told them. God was with me that day!! They asked me questions and I talked with them on the front porch for a short while. At one point in our conversation, I made a comment (I really don’t remember what it was, but it was about my understanding of some scripture we were discussing.) You know that long pause you get when someone is digesting something you said? Well, they paused and stared at me. One finally nodded in agreement with a look on his face like, “I never thought of that before.” I credit God for putting the words in my mouth for that situation and for giving me the opportunity to nicely debate others who have a zest for scripture, too. I like debating. I learn a lot.

            Anyway, I have always been fascinated by the whole ‘kingdom’ concept ever since these encounters. So, I started researching the “The kingdom of heaven is like…” passages in Matthew. Each week I will share one of those with you. And my interpretation is that there has to be a kingdom on earth fighting good and evil. There is also a kingdom in the heavenly realm fighting good and evil. But, Heaven, I think, is were there is no evil and no tears and all is at peace with us worshiping God constantly.

            Next week, I will start with Matthew 13:24-30 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.”