Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 1

“Wheat and Weeds”

“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?’ ‘An enemy did this’,” he replied. Matthew 13:27-28

Jesus teaches his followers about the Kingdom of God with many parables. Matthew 13:24-30, records Jesus’, “Parable of the Weeds.”

The Parable of the Weeds

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 uproot 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.’”

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As I watch the new reports covering the protests surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd’s, there are definitely two groups of protesters. One group of people are trying to sow good seed. This one group is trying to bring greater attention and conversation to the issues of inequity and racial injustice, through non-violent action. They are trying to plant seeds that will result in greater understanding, respect and peace.  

There is another group of people who are sowing weeds among the wheat. These people have been organized to wreak havoc. They show up at night, seeking to create chaos and cause destruction. Their motives are not to generate conversation. Their actions are clear; looting, graffiti, and causing mayhem. This latter group is being led by an enemy.

In Jesus’ parable, the weeds are allowed to grow together with the wheat until harvest time. In relationship to God’s Kingdom, Jesus says that the weeds must not be pulled out because in doing so, you may uproot the wheat.

Wheat and weeds will always grow together. But it is critical that we are able to recognize and discern the difference between the wheat and the weeds. The wheat seeks to bring in a harvest of love, compassion, understanding, respect, unity and forgiveness. The weeds seek to grow dissension, destruction, and division out of selfish ambition.

As we watch and pray, may we be good seed among the weeds. Let us sow conversations and action that will reap greater understanding. Let us work to cultivate a harvest of righteousness that will glorify God and build His Kingdom of peace.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

   



Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 15

“Mulch”

“When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” Mt. 13:26

Last weekend, I was weeding a flowerbed in the front yard. The ground on the one side of the bed was hard and dry. It was so hard, that I became more and more frustrated, trying to dig them out at their root. I was hot, miserable, upset and irritated at the whole job. Thoughts whisked through my head that maybe I should just go ahead and sell this stupid place. After hours of laboring and toiling in the heat, I finally finished weeding half of that pesky flowerbed and gave up. The following day, I began pulling weeds on the opposite side of the flowerbed. Those weeds were as thick as thieves. But I discovered that the ground on this side of the flowerbed was soft and moist. The weeds pulled out with such ease, that it was crazy. I hate to say it, but I almost felt like I was having fun – ALMOST! I couldn’t believe the difference experience from the day before. What made the difference? MULCH! As I began to work my way around the flowerbed, I remembered what happened the year before. I ran out of mulch half way around that bed. The difference was amazing. One side I could run my fingers through the soil. The other side, hard as rock!

Now, just because I put down the mulch didn’t mean that I would not have weeds in my face. Actually, more grew in that area. But when it came to pulling them out, the work was so easy, and so satisfying.

During this time of isolation, our hearts can become kind of hard. Remember to throw down some mulch. And even when we tend to our hearts and relationships, it doesn’t mean that we won’t face weeds. Those pesky seeds will find a way into our soil one way or another. But the blessing in the preparation and the tending is in the removal. Weeds are able to be removed from a tender heart with ease. But wait until that heart is hard and crusty, good luck –  let the frustration begin! The weed breaks off every time.

Jesus told many parables about the Kingdom of God using the example of weeds. I wonder if he could have used this one? He told a parable about various soil conditions as well. In Luke 8, Jesus tells of hardpan, rocky, thorny and good soil. The good soil, represents the soft heart toward God that 1. Hears God’s Word. 2. Receives God’s Word. And 3. Perseveres in God’s Word.

In my little parable, I would add that not only in good soil does God’s Word flourish. But in good soil, the weeds are also easy to pull out. I would encourage you to give it a try. Tend to your heart. Throw down some mulch and allow your heart to become soft and responsive. Then see when those weeds of irritation and disappointment pop up, how easily they are pulled out.

God’s Spirit is the mulch to cover the barren ground of our heart. When God’s Spirit is worked into our soil, everything is easier.

So, I’ve decided not to sell my house. And yes, I still have more weeds to pull. But I’m not going to worry about that now. I have some other mulch to lay down. A friend invited me to play golf. It’s Friday afternoon. The tee time is in 32 minutes. The weeds can wait. Time to soften up the soil. With masks on of course. Have a great day.

God Bless!  Pastor Mark



Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 25

“Even the Dandelions Know!”

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

 

Why do the weeds know more than the flowers? This morning I was looking forward to mowing down the flowering herbaceous perennial plant of the family Asteraceae. In other words, I was ready to destroy all of those bright yellow dandelion plants peppering my yard. But as I looked out my kitchen window, there were no yellow flowers to be seen. Those pesky weeds were hunkering down due to the strong winds and pelting rain. Why would the weeds know to protect themselves more than my flowers? The few tulips I have in the yard, stand up through whatever weather comes. In the process, those beautiful flowers get painted and battered beyond belief?

The sun is supposed to shine this afternoon. You know, as well as I, that once a few rays of sunshine fall, those perennial weeds will rise up and bloom in all their glory. To make matters worse, their blooms are a precursor to the seeds that will rise and spread throughout the yard. The flowers, on the other hand, have been so beaten down by the weather, that they are left in shreds. It doesn’t matter how much sun shines down on them, they are toast and ready for the burn pile.  

Yesterday, I watched reports of people who hunkered down in their basements while the raging tornado tore apart their houses. Entire neighborhoods, a day earlier, that were once beautiful, now were left in shreds. Yet from the rubble, as the sun returned, reports shot out about neighbors reaching out to help fellow neighbors. People all over town were experiencing beauty rise from the ashes.

Sometimes, it seems like weeds know more than we. Somehow, they can inherently read the signs. When a storm is coming, they stay put. When the sun is shining, the weeds send forth their flowers. Sometimes, when storms blow into our lives, we try to face them head on, taking on the full torrential force. And when we do face the rage on our own, we are often left in shreds. We must be careful to protect the Spirit within. Some people have been so beaten down that it has wiped out their faith – beyond belief.

Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life.”

Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

We must know to read the signs. We must know when to guard our heart from outside threats. We must also know when it is time to come out from hiding and share our heart with those around us. The key is the SON!

We have been facing an unprecedented storm. When you feel the winds blowing and the sting of pelting rain on your face, guard your heart. There are times that we simply need to hunker down and protect our soul. Then when the storms blow over, and we begin to feel the Son on our face, that is the time to come out from hiding. The Son is always with us! The Son will be the indicator when we rise and spread our flowering herbaceous in love to all the world.

I could take this analogy a bit further and discuss Jesus’ parable about wheat and weeds. I could write about how the wheat is stored in barns and the weeds are burned and destroyed. But I think I’d rather stop right here. I’d rather just wait for the sun to appear and then mow those suckers down!

Enjoy a wonderful Saturday. Let the feel of the Son indicate when you guard yourself and when you spread the seed and let them fly!

Remember you are not a weed. You are more precious to God than the lilies of the field!

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark