A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on July 13, 2008 by Pastor Dale Raether Weeds among the Wheat Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43Have you ever gone through a time when it seems like that the bad guys are winning, or the jerks of the world are getting all the breaks? How do you deal with that? Maybe withdraw into your own little world. Never look at the news. Be a monkey – you know, “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” Sometimes that’s the right approach, especially when we need a break from all the stress and pressure that’s in our life. Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things – Philippians 4:8.” However, as God allows it, sometimes the world breaks into our world. As a result we see or we experience terrible things – things that make us ask why is God allowing this? Why is He letting evil drag His children down into evil? If you’ve ever had these kinds of questions, you wouldn’t be the first. But the day is coming when all believers will have perfect peace with no temptations, or conflicts, or accidents, or illnesses of any kind. However, we have to wait for that. You see, God has determined that we’re not done growing yet. Unfortunately evil is also growing, and so this morning Jesus uses a parable to teach us how to deal with Weeds Among the Wheat. We need to: 1. Recognize their source. 2. Accept their presence 3. Be sure of their destinyWe read in our text, “Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” Everything God does is good. When He created this world it was perfect. However, shortly after creation man followed Satan into sin, in this way brought death into our world. But rather than destroy man and start over, God prepared perfect salvation for all. He sent His Son to be holy in everyone’s place and to die for everyone’s sins. Also He gave the world His perfect Word. It’s perfect, because every word of it is true, and through it the Holy Spirit gives us faith, and causes our faith to grow so that we become His mature children and co-workers with Him in His Kingdom. Reading on in our parable, “But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” Satan is the ultimate source of all evil. But sometimes it’s hard to see evil for what it is, until we see what it produces. For example, when Satan tempted Eve, everything he said sounded good and reasonable; and it wasn’t until AFTER she ate the fruit that her eyes were opened. So also for us, whenever we read something or a friend gives us a piece of advice, how do we know if that kernel of wisdom is a wheat seed or a weed seed? We don’t want to find out the hard way like Eve did. And so, I can’t repeat this too many times! Continue in your prayerful reading of the Bible! I know it’s easy to get out of that habit, but stay with it! If we don’t, when we’re spiritually sleeping, Satan can plant his weed seeds into our heart and mind. The result can be all kinds of evil in our life, and then who’s to blame for that? We are, because we weren’t being careful. However, we might argue, why doesn’t God just get rid of the devil, so he can’t tempt and confuse us anymore? The problem isn’t just the devil. It’s also everyone in this world who does evil, and then tries to get everyone else to buy into that. God could make this world a safer place for us, if He just got rid of all the bad people. But God doesn’t want to do that yet, and He wants us to accept their presence. We read, “The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.” Sometimes our lives can get so intertwined with all the evil that’s everywhere, it’s really hard for us to break ourselves free from every sin. We need to, and God wants us to, but the problem is sometimes our faith is like the tender roots of a small plant, instead of like the roots of a 100 year old oak tree. And so, as I said before, we need to keep growing in our faith. The good news is while we are growing, God actually uses the evil that surrounds us to help us grow. For example, one of the greatest evils that ever hit Christians was the persecutions. Satan loved nothing better than seeing Christians martyred, because then they couldn’t tell anymore people about Jesus. However, in killing Christians Satan was defeating himself. By killing Christians he was freeing them from death, and they were made Saints Triumphant. Also, for each Christian Satan martyred, 100 more people came to faith, because their martyrdom proved the sincerity of their message. Today Satan doesn’t use blatant persecution as much. Instead his evil is the more subtle evil of false doctrines or temptations. As we look around in the world today, it might seem to us that his new tactic is working; and it is! But rest assured, God is doing the same thing with Satan’s false doctrines and temptations as He did with Satan’s persecutions years ago. He’s making Satan’s every attack against the Gospel in some way work for the spread of the Gospel, so that, as Jesus says, the gates of hell cannot prevail against His Church. What an encouragement this is for us, to continue in His Word and to keep sharing it with everyone we can. Which brings us to another reason why God wants us to accept the presence of the weeds. As long as we’re here, and as long as the weeds are here, there’s always the chance that some of the weeds will become wheat. In fact God says, “My Word does not return to Me empty.” On the other hand, isn’t there an equal chance that some of us wheat will become weeds? That is a real possibility. But that’s why we need to keep encouraging each other and guarding how we live and the things we believe. Yet in so doing, we are safe. And also in so doing, we are growing in our faith and are becoming better and better witnesses. However, the opportunity for weeds to become wheat isn’t going to last forever, and so there’s one more thing Jesus wants us to realize about weeds - their destiny. We read, “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” One of the ways God punishes unrepented sin, is He lets that sin take over in that person, so that his guilt and consequences will make him miserable. Now, even if in his misery he still doesn’t repent, he will keep getting worse and eventually his guilt will reach a level that God’s patience can’t take anymore. At that point, God will hit him everything he have coming all at once. The prophet Joel described that in our Old Testament lesson: Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-- so great is their wickedness!'God’s judgments are terrifying! But that terror reminds us not to play around sin, lest God give us over to that sin. Incidentally if you fear that God may have given you over to some sin in your life, you know what to do. Flee to Christ for cleansing and healing daily. Another thing this terror motivates us to do is to keep trying even harder to lead weeds to their Savior, before it’s too late. I hope that God’s Word today is helping you to look at things a little differently. Instead of being monkeys who hear no evil and see no evil, or, instead of questioning God why He doesn’t wipe out everyone who keeps committing evil, we might pray, “Lord, please give this world a little more time.”He has, so far. But when He does comes, we will shine like the sun in Jesus’ righteousness that’s now ours by faith. Furthermore Jesus will transform our bodies to be like his perfect resurrected body. In fact He will make this entire world perfect and everything in it. So, yes, it may seem at times that the bad guys our winning or the jerks are getting all the breaks. But recognize where the weeds come from. Accept that it has to be this way for now. And know the outcome of these weeds. And finally know your outcome. Amen.

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