Bible Reference: Matthew 13:41-43
Translation: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Bible Text: 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. 42 Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 43 But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention!
OBSERVATION: The Holy Spirit impacted me as I read through these verses today and caused something to really pop out to get my attention. Jesus said in verse 41 that His angels will gather from HIS kingdom – meaning HIS children, in other words – those who claimed to belong to the Master, and they would be taken out and thrown into the flaming furnace. I believe it is important for us to really meditate on, and understand, this Scripture lesson today.
APPLICATION: To read that there are thorns among the wheat, and that these thorns will stunt the growth of the wheat, if left there during the growing period, is mind boggling. Yet we are told that the thorns should remain there. What do we make of this? I believe we would understand it very clearly if the Scripture said that those thorn bushes must be removed and burned, so that the wheat would mature without hindrance from the weeds. But that’s not exactly what Jesus said, is it? In my studies, I found out that back in verse 24 and following, Jesus told His audience that these weeds were planted to look just like the wheat, as they grew together. But let us consider this idea in its proper context. For example, in our beautiful, plush and proper churches today. Wouldn’t it be extremely challenging to look out over our congregation, or even rub shoulders with many of them, and try to imagine that some will produce fruit (wheat) during their lifetime, while others are uncommitted and are their as decoys (known as ‘weeds’ in this Scripture). However, Jesus reminds us that because everyone walking through our doors are dressed just like us, look just like us, sing just like us, and may even give to the ministry just like us, we must not conclude that they are children of the kingdom. In Psalm 1:5, we are told that “sinners will have no place among the saved” on Judgment Day. Therefore let us pay close attention to what Jesus is teaching here. Friends, I believe that way too often we look at what our coworker is succeeding at, or how happy that new Sunday School member seems to be in their life, and we start emulating their lifestyle, or we join them in the things that seem to successfully bring joy in their life. But Jesus is teaching us today that we have only one role model, only one Savior and only one Lord. He tells us throughout His Word how we are to seek His righteousness, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim. I believe that when we start desiring what another person has – whether it’s happiness, a great spouse, wonderful children, a healthy lifestyle, an expensive car, etc., then we are permitting ourselves to seek our happiness and pleasure in another person (wheat or thorns), rather than in the joy, peace and wisdom of our almighty God, who proved His love for us on Calvary. In our times of meeting at church, or any gathering, with fellow believers, or those we assume are fellow believers, we tend to lift up and encourage each other. But let us always remember that we are there for one purpose only – to corporately lift up the name of Jesus and worship Him from the very depths of our heart. It’s a given fact that some fellow church members may have more knowledge than us about the teachings of God, and some may even have experienced miracles from God, but if you miss your one-on-one encounter with your Maker, and if you confuse His direction that He has planned for your life, by following the lead of your fellow worshipper, then you are missing out on the importance of corporate worship. Remember, He has laid out a plan for you, and that plan will involve experiences that you may totally miss, if you receive your guidance and leadership from a friend. We all must accept Jesus individually, and we all must seek His perfect will for our individual lives, if we are to live the perfect life He has in store for us. How are you doing with this dear friend? Do you have a really intimate relationship with Jesus, and listening to His every command for your life? If not, let me encourage you to seek Him while He may be found. Draw near to Him, my friend, and He will draw near to you. You are the apple of His eye. He loves You and would like nothing better than to welcome you through the gates of Heaven when He calls you out of this world. Sure things up today, won’t you?
PRAYER: A challenging parable, but a much needed message for each of us today, dear God. Thank You for speaking to us in such unexpected, but important ways throughout Your Word. Thank You for drawing our attention to the real source of revival in our land. It’s not my brother, or my sister, but it’s me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer and needing to draw even closer to You. Please speak to the hearts and souls of Your people today. Draw us to yourself, so that all doubt will be removed whether we are Yours – redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Lord, may those who are considered ‘weeds’ in our midst be reminded of the One in whose name they’re are known. Encourage them to grow in their relationship with You and cement their decision to follow You until Your return. People still need the Lord – yes especially those who feel comfortable in church, even without ever having experiencing You in their lives. May today be the day that they are introduced to the Master, and may they surrender their whole being to You and to Your will for their life. AMEN!