July 5, 2020
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV)
The tradition of fire works on the 4th of July goes back many years. Earlier last week my grandson asked me what kind of fireworks Ava and I are going to have for the 4th of July. I told him none. He found that to be an unbelievable answer. His father’s family has for years had a lot of fireworks. They put on a display that really rivals some professional shows. It is not that I’m against fire works we just don’t have a safe place to shoot them and it is against the city ordinance. I do enjoy watching them and I appreciate those who go to the expense of both the fireworks and provide a safe atmosphere to do so. I like this holiday and according to the internet the first official celebration of “Independence Day” with fireworks was in 1777.
However, this year maybe for the first time the 4th of July seems out of sorts. We have a large number of people in our country that are trying to forcefully remake it. We are a country that is made up of many different ideas, sometimes wildly different. My struggle is with the negative way some people approach differences. Why can’t we talk about the differences without slandering or accusing one another?
When we lived in South Louisiana, I became friends with a minister from a different group. We would spend many hours talking about the differences between our respective groups. Both of us identified as Christians yet our understanding of that was very different. Never once in all the time we knew each other did we have a cross word. That doesn’t mean we failed to discuss any issue, we just simply disagreed. It also doesn’t mean that I take lightly my belief in scripture. If I’m going to discuss it I must do so in the spirit that Jesus would have me reflect. If I am a child of God then I must take that same attitude into every discussion no matter the subject.
Satan, however, would have all differences of opinion erupt into shouting matches but the presence of God brings peace. I want my way as much as anyone but I’m not always right and sometimes my opinion really doesn’t make all that much difference.
What does all this have to do with fireworks? Fireworks are nothing more than explosions. Some of them result in more attractive displays than others. In the proper setting they can be beautiful. A Fourth of July Firecracker in 1866 started the Great Portland Fire in Maine. The conflagration, the worst to date in the United States, burned and destroyed eighteen hundred buildings. It left ten thousand people homeless and killed two. The difference is one was under control the other completely out of control.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”” (Isaiah 52:7, ESV) Thanks
Thanks for listening and keep on shining.
Jesus explained to the disciples that He spoke in parables, “...because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13). Parables were stories teaching practical lessons to those who wanted to hear and understand and to hide His message from those who were unreceptive.
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The parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23) is one of those parables that can be very plain if we choose to accept what the Lord is saying. Jesus speaks plainly of the seed as the Word (vs. 19). In sowing, the seed falls on different types of soil: roadside, rocky, thorny and good. Each soil is representative of hearts who hear the Word. The outcome of that seed and growth is based on the soil. We know that the heart of people who hear the Word will determine the amount of fruit or if there will be any fruit at all.
One of the obvious lessons we need to take from this parable as children of God is the need to be about sowing the Word. I know as a young person, we were encouraged to be about evangelism, aka: sowing the Word! Is it possible that over the years the church has lost its desire to evangelize? Have we determined beforehand that the soil around us is no good, so why bother sowing the seed? Is it possible that we are looking for others to do the work, because sowing the seed is just not my thing? The church is to be about teaching a lost world about Jesus Christ and salvation through Him and Him only (Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:6; Eph. 3:10). Our world needs that message today!
Early in my work as a minister of the gospel, I was reclining at home on a Sunday evening, following the usual “exhaustion” of the day, but also frustrated because I was sure I had preached the gospel and I knew there were those who should have responded to the Lord’s invitation. But then I was reminded of this parable and how different hearts will respond in different ways. Our task is to teach whenever we have the opportunity.
Some of that teaching will fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts. But, some of that teaching will fall on hearts anxious to grow for the Lord. We may become frustrated because we don’t see the desired response, but our task is to teach! We have no control over how people will respond to the Word. Let us concentrate more on sowing the seed, and less time worried about the result. God will give the increase (1 Cor. 3:7).
— Paul Mowrer
Monticello church of Christ