Weed out your own garden

Matt 13:24-25 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.”

In a previous parable, Jesus said the good seed was the word of God planted in the heart of the listener.
Likewise, in this parable, the enemy also sows seed.
As both seeds sprout it is difficult to tell them apart.
You know the weeds will overgrow and choke out the good plants.
The servants wanted to do it immediately but the owner said they would end up pulling up the good plants with the weeds.
Given time, you will tell the difference between the two and weed out the bad.
God’s word is truth but the enemy, Satan, wants you to believe his word is true.
In my life, I have heard many “preachers” and read many books that seem true in relating to the word of God.
But as I grew I discovered inconsistencies in some of those teachings and writings, when I compare them to God’s word.
I had to weed out the bad before it choked the word of God in me.
Do not automatically believe every minister or every author that says, “Thus says the Lord!”
This includes me!
But check out for yourself with prayer, study, and the meditation of reading God’s word yourself to see if those things told you are true.
You must weed out your own garden!

Be Better

John 9:1-3 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

It was, and often still is, common thought that birth defects, deformities, tragedies, and accidents are a result of sin.
Certainly sin effects every person but not necessarily in the way you think.
Sin attacks health, that is, without sin there would be no sickness, no deformities, and no death.
When the reign of sin ends those things will also end – Rev 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Now back to the man born blind; although he is a sinner it wasn’t his sin or his parents sins that caused him to be born blind.
Sin is like a virus or a cancer
Paul said, “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” Rom 7:11-12
Sin is like a virus or a cancer.
It spreads and takes it toll on everyone.
But the lesson learned from todays scripture is you can be better – you can do better.
You do not need to let sin destroy you.
Jesus came to destroy sin and give you a more abundant life.
There are many people that overcome deformities, accidents, and tragedies.
Do not let them define you but allow Jesus to define you through those things.
Be better!

Early with God

John 8:2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

While reading early this morning (3:30 am) I came upon this verse and was reminded about all the other verses with “early” in them.
Gen 19:27 – And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
Gen 28:18 – Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.
Ex 24:4 – And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain,
Josh 6:12 – And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
Mark 16:2 – Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
Early means different times to different people.
Early for me would mean 3-4 in the morning.
But if my wife says, “Let’s leave early”, I think more toward 7:30 am.
For others, early may mean mid-morning.
I don’t know what time Jesus arrived at the temple but people also came early to hear Him.
That tells me no matter what time you call early, the important thing is to spend time with God first.

Personal Demons

Acts 19:16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

I believe in demons because Jesus has dealings with them, as did Paul.
Today’s scripture is what happened to some men who dealt with a demon without the benefit of the blood of Christ covering their lives.
Indeed, many people have personal demons they deal with every day with the same results.
Personal demons like alcoholism or drugs leap on the host and overpower them.
They are prevailed upon by these demons until they are exposed and wounded by them.
Certainly, there are great institutions and people that help individuals overcome these demons.
However, nothing is better for overcoming demons than a relationship with Christ – for even the demons are subject to you in His name.
And, although it is great when someone overcomes their alcoholism or drug habit, it is even better when they can say their name is written in heaven.

No Fear Only Joy

Acts 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Yesterday, we had two come forward for baptism.
In the latter part of last year, a woman that had accepted Jesus many years before came to present herself for baptism.
Baptism is an important part of salvation.
If someone accepts Jesus as savior, what hinders them from being baptized?
The eunuch asked the same thing of Philip.
Philip’s answer was “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” Acts 8:37
So it seems the heart is the key.
Belief in the heart gives permission for baptism.
However, the belief in the heart must overcome any phobias.
Some don’t like to draw attention to themselves, which baptism will do.
Some are the tiniest bit fearful of water.
Others, perhaps, fear the commitment that comes with baptism.
I am always honored when someone trusts me for their baptism.
As for the eunuch, he came up out of the water rejoicing and returned to his native land and shared the message of Christ.
There is no fear in baptism – only joy.

Get ready for another miracle.

Matt 14:26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

Have you had a great day that suddenly turned sour?
The disciples did.
It was a day they saw and participated in one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.
Thousands of people turned out to hear Him speak.
Jesus ended up feeding the crowd with two fish and five loaves of bread.
Not only did they feed a crowd in excess of five thousand but took up twelve baskets of leftovers.
This was unbelievable.
They have witnessed Jesus do many things but nothing like this.
At the end of the day, Jesus had the disciples get into a boat and start sailing to the other side of the lake.
As they journeyed, a storm began to brew.
The waves became higher and the boat pitched back and forth and side to side.
They strained as they tried to unsuccessfully get the boat to safety.
As if things could not get worse, something appeared out of the darkness on the water.
A few of the disciples were fishermen accustomed to being on the water and they had never seen something like this apparition.
They were afraid thinking it was a ghost.
The fear spread from man to man.
Their awesome day of joy and praise had become a night of fear and doubt.
The ghost they presumed was Jesus walking on the water – an even greater miracle than what happened earlier in the day.
You know the rest of the story.
Peter also walked a few steps on the water toward Jesus, another miracle.
In conclusion, God is a God of miracles – in the bright daylight and in the gloom of night.
God wants to calm your fears with a miracle.
He wants you to trust Him in the storms that encircle you and in the ghosts that plague you.
Get ready for another miracle.

Crazy about studying.

Acts 26:24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

Paul gave his testimony before King Agrippa and Governor Festus.
He told them about studying and becoming a Pharisee, his zeal for the Law and Israel, and then his conversion on the Damascus road.
What Paul did not tell was the amount of time he took to reverse his theology.
He went from an advocate of the Law to an advocate of grace.
He went from destroying the church to preserving it.
Basically, Paul studied the scripture and discovered Yeshua (Jesus) throughout.
Remember, the only scripture Paul had was the Old Testament.
He was excited about this discovery of Jesus throughout the Law and Prophets.
Festus thought too much studying was driving him crazy.
But can too much study make you crazy?
I think it makes you informed and knowledgeable.
If you fail to study you will fall behind.
My preaching of God’s word is not the same as it was in 1980.
Why?
I studied and learned more.
Plus the closer we get to the return of Jesus the more we understand the scripture.
Some things exist today that did not exist in 1980 that may play into end-time prophecy.
The Internet has opened up a world of resources and libraries that, at one time, you could only find in books.
It is up to you to continue to study God’s word through your church and all the resources now open to you. Become crazy about studying God’s word.

Off the milk and on the meat.

Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

I remember taking high school algebra.
We had a classroom.
We had a textbook.
And we had a teacher.
The school did not just issue us a textbook and say, “Go learn algebra!”
The teacher taught, we listened, and we asked questions when we did not understand.
For a few years after I was married, I helped some local high school kids with their algebra.
I became a “teacher” of sorts.
I know there are times the Bible is difficult to understand but God has not just handed you a Bible and said, “Go learn My word!”
God gives you a classroom and it’s called church.
God has give you a teacher and it’s your pastor or Sunday school teacher.
But can you teach?
If you have been a Christian for several years – you should.
The writer of Hebrews says they should have the ability to teach but there were still on the milk of the word.
It’s time for Christians to get off the milk and get on the meat.

Listen and ignore or listen and heed?

Matt 14:8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

John’s preaching had offended the entire family.
Herod had taken his brother Philip’s wife.
Notice it says wife and not the ex-wife.
This is a case of adultery and Herod and Herodias are guilty.
Herodias is the granddaughter of Herod the Great and Philip is her half-uncle.
Now she is with Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.
Herod the Great is the same that ordered the killing of the children after the visit of the wise men.
He is from Idumea (Edom) and therefore not a Jew of the lineage of Jacob but an Edomite from the lineage of Esau.
Herodias hated John for calling her relationship sinful.
So she had her daughter, Salome, dance for Herod and demand the head of John as payment.
This did not change her adulterous relationship.
In fact, she just added murder to her list of sins.
Many people go to church and hear a message that makes them uncomfortable.
They hear that what they are doing is sin.
Their solution: don’t go back to church, effectively beheading it from their lives.
The problem: it doesn’t change the message of the word of God – we are still sinners.
God’s solution is to listen to His word, repent, and accept Jesus as your savior.

Fear Not

Matt 14:27 “…do not be afraid.”

You’ve probably heard the Bible says “fear not” 365 times – one for each day.
That’s not exactly true.
While the Bible is full of phrases instructing you to not fear, the exact phrase “fear not” is not listed that many times.
Plus there are variations of the term like today’s scripture.
It’s difficult not to fear when you have no hope.
If you know Jesus as savior, then you have the only hope, so why fear?
Fear says, “I do not trust God with my future.”
I admit I have been afraid in my life.
I fear because of the unknown.
I also admit God is faithful in helping me every day.
The only reason I am afraid is that I forget God.
For God, there is no unknown.
So I need to trust in His knowledge for me.
All in all, God does not want us to fear and it does not matter how many times it says it in the Bible.
Once should be enough.