Let the Heavens Rejoice

Get ready to anticipate the Kingdom’s potential. (Matthew 13:31-52) How many remember the old Gaither song from last century, I am a promise, I am a possibility, I am a promise, with a capital P, I can be anything, anything God wants me to be. As we grow and mature in our physical lives, we become more focused. Some think this means that we are no longer looking at the possibility but rather as we age we become more limited in our lives. However, I want to remind us that we are only as limited as God decides.

You may know of someone who learned to play the piano because the Lord gave them the gift without work on their part. For others, you have watched the Lord open a door that only he could open. That is precisely the case we read about in Luke 1:18 where it records how Zechariah and Elizabeth were old and well past their prime, and yet bore a son to herald the way of Messiah. Then we turn to Peter who was just a fisherman, long before he was head of the church. We could take time to go through the life of each of the other disciples, but I want you to grasp that they were all on their second act when Jesus Christ called them. (Matthew 4:18-22, and that’s just the fisherman) 

Many of us started our adult lives as one thing, a soldier, banker, teacher, an esquire in private practice. One among you today, even helped create a color used for dyeing fabric. How’s that for a trivia question about our community. We must learn to anticipate the Kingdom of God’s potential in our lives. Saints you’re filled with amazing potential, because of Christ!

However like many of us who have surveyed the landscape of life, seen the direction of our nation has thought how can the gospel continue? After hearing Jesus’ parables of the sower and the weeds, the disciples are probably wondering if the Kingdom can survive with such a meager beginning of twelve uneducated disciples. For that reason, Jesus tells them another parable, this one about a man who sows a grain of mustard, in his field. Matthew 13:31-32~The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants…a tree… the birds come and perch in its branches.” (ESV) 

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that an ounce, 1/16th of a pound, has about 20,000 mustard seeds? Each one with the potential to become a tree. For the horticulturist among us, mustard is classified as a shrub, but it can grow more than twelve feet high, making it the largest garden plant. In the same way, Jesus Christ’s Kingdom had a very small beginning, I bet it was even small in your life, yet it’s grown to have an amazing impact in our community and across the globe. We must anticipate the Kingdom of God coming alive in our lives. Even after 40 days with the risen Lord, at the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1:9-10 they still have no real understanding.  Watch what happens when Peter after preaching is full of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:41~Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (ESV)

Matthew 13:33~The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. (ESV) It’s the yeast that did all the work. What was that work? Spreading the message to about 100 loaves. As yeast permeates the flour, it brings about a change. Jesus Christ is teaching us, that the Kingdom is the power to permeate, to influence and change a world for a harvest. 

Paul writes in Romans 1:16~For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (NIV) Everything in a parable, Christ Jesus is making it very clear, that the power at work in our lives is the Kingdom and its message, is the gospel. It’ll change a life, just as it has changed our world. In Matthew 13:44-45 Jesus says the Kingdom is more valuable than anything else we will ever possess. In Matthew 13:47-50 He says the Kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net thrown it gathers every kind. This is the great multitude that no one could count in Revelation 7:9.

Remember he told Pete, I’ll turn you into a fisher of men. Jesus Christ has already forever altered the meaning of disciple from just a learner to one fully-committed to following. (Matthew 8:21) Mathew 13:52~Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. (ESV) 

Today, you may feel like an old treasure, but I want you to focus on is, you are a treasure. You’re like the master of a house, responsible for the entire family. and the word treasure refers to a storeroom. Where a wise master would not waste anything, knowing it can be reused. All of us have days where we feel more like a relic than a treasure, so listen to 2 Corinthians 4:7~But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. God is our source. Today, take time to tap into the real source of power, as you ask God to wash over you afresh and new. Taking time to lavish your love on Him as he renews you.

Prologue, And God…Who sees Genesis 9:1-29

Genesis 9:1~Then God _________ Noah and his sons, saying to them, Be _________ and increase in number and fill the earth. (ESV) If you have wondered about why God created, listen to His true purpose revealed in Isaiah 45:18~For this is what the LORD…who created the heavens, he is God…who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but to be inhabited…(NIV) God created earth as a place to display His mercy, love, and grace on the objects of His creation. __________ is the object of God’s unfailing love. And God…Who Sees: Revere, ________, Identify. 1) Revere Human _______ (9:2-7) The sanctity of life is of preeminent importance to God and ought to be so for humans as well. With only ______ humans on earth, the animals could have ended humanity. Therefore, God provides a means of protection, fear & dread. Genesis 9:3~God says…I now give you everything. With two caveats: Clean and Unclean, and don’t eat the blood. Genesis 9:4~But you must not eat meat that has its __________ still in it. (ESV) God says blood represents ____, and there will be an accounting. (Genesis 9:5) Lifeblood implies an important physical truth humanity won’t understand until the 1620s when William Harvey discovers the circulatory system. Leviticus 17:11~For the life of a creature is in the ______, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; _
Prologue, And God… Genesis
it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (NIV) This is God sharing a _________ principal with us. God commands Noah to be good stewards. Genesis 9:7~As for you, be fruitful and ________ in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it. (ESV) Be a good steward.
2) Keep Your ___________ (9:8-17) The word covenant repeats ____ times over the next ____ verses. God’s _________ is not only for Noah and his family but also for all future generations. What was the sign of God’s covenant in Genesis 9:12-13? A__________God’s covenants provide us with salvation and protection. 1 Corinthians 11:25~In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my_______; do this in remembrance of me. (NIV)
3) Identify the ____________ of Personal Sin (9:18-29) We all must acknowledge that sin is human a problem. To this point, Noah’s been the Life University class leader. Especially in the stewardship series: Following __________, Evangelism 101, Caring for All, even during his internship program (life-a-float). Fresh off the boat Noah builds a new life. Genesis 9:20-21~Noah, a man of the _____, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its ______, he became drunk, lay uncovered inside his tent. (ESV) The Bible is filled with genuine people who _________, make poor choices, get angry, mess things up, even question God as they ask for signs. They are just like us. Does Noah know or not? Anyone who has drunk wine knows it does not take long to find out the effects. This another life lesson for Noah and his sons. Do you gossip? Do you overshare? Take-A-Step:__________________________________

Good Seed

I woke up today with a song on my heart, which is not uncommon for me, does that ever happen to you? The song was a modern classic from 1707 when Isaac Watts penned the words: When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Pride is the one thing that has always kept me from the harvest. Here in Matthew 13, God calls us to consider the harvest. (13:27-30, 39b-43) When the workers discern they have weeds in the field, they don’t hide it, rather they share it.

Matthew 13:27-29~“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed? Where did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ ‘Do you want us to go and pull…’‘No,’ ‘because while you are pulling weeds you may uproot the wheat. (ESV) Don’t you love to hear Godly wisdom? It’s practical, it’s applicable and more often it’s just down to earth. The landowner says we will let the harvest work this out. Jesus says don’t just leave, don’t forcibly remove yourselves from those who do not yet know me as the Lord and Savior of the world. Give it time and let them grow.

As a young Pastor in the mid-90s, I watched my mentor work one Sunday like Jesus. Pastor, you’ll never believe it but I caught so and so smoking behind the building. My first thought would have been why were you behind the building? But he just listened. After her diatribe fo mortification and melted in the passion of this moment. He said sister, do you know what he was doing six months ago? No, she replied. He was getting high, running dope, and girls. If he is just smoking, I would hope we could all change that much in six months. Talk about a multi-layered meaning. 

Jesus said to give it time. Isn’t that one of the hardest things to hear. Let’s test again in a couple of months, WHAT? That’s a great testimony, Lucille. Why not give the Lord a real chance to work, in our lives, in the lives of others? This means we will continue to live among weeds, sinful people, because this isn’t the age of judgment; we live in the age of evangelism. Jesus explains this in Matthew 13:39~…The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. (ESV) Jesus says I want you to understand that right now we need to be calling people to God. We need to be praying people into the Kingdom, we need to be on the mission field seeking a harvest. Consider what you are doing for the harvest. We don’t want anyone to go to hell. Jesus calls it the fiery furnace aka (γέεννα geenna) or hell, eight times in Matthew’s gospel (5:22, 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 16:18, 18:9, 23:15, 23:33) Jesus references that this is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I bet you’re not booking a summer VaCa there. It is a place for Satan, for rebellious angels who fell, a place for weeds who won’t confess. 

Matthew 13:43~Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (ESV) This suggests that when we receive our glorious bodies (Philippians 3:21), we will share in the Shekinah glory of God. The word Shekinah is not found in the Bible but occurs frequently in later Jewish writings. It refers to the splendor of God’s presence. After returning from the presence of the Lord on Mount Sinai for forty days, Moses frightens all Israel. Why? Exodus 34:30~When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. (NIV)

I am not sure where you are on your journey through life and faith today, but for me, I want to be with my Lord and be like Him. Saints, we must consider the good works the Lord has planned for our lives. (Ephesians 2:10) If our heart’s desire is to be a world-changer, then we must know that God has sown good seed in us, in our public schools as students carry the power of the Kingdom, as teachers and professors shine the light of Jesus. He’s sown you as the good seed in businesses, shops, restaurants all across our community to shine the Light of Jesus Christ into the spiritual darkness surrounding us every day. I want you to make room in your life today to consider the harvest that God wants you to participate in. Then go out and respond to the in-breaking of the Holy Spirit.