My Father’s Business

November 1, 2014

My Father’s Business

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49)

Here we have one of those moments in the life of Jesus that everybody knows about – even people who are not at all familiar with much of what the Bible says. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about the boy Jesus at twelve years old, in the Temple confounding the religious leaders with his understanding and answers concerning the things of God.

His parents, Mary and Joseph, had taken him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They had traveled together in a large company from Nazareth, and when the time came to return home they thought that Jesus was with one of the other families. After about a day’s travel, perhaps about dinner time, they realized he was not anywhere with the group. So they turned around and went back to Jerusalem, and there they found him in the Temple.

“Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?” Mary said to Him, “Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49)

This was a game-changer. The Bible tells us plainly “they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them.” Not only were they doctors and lawyers and religious leaders astonished by His answers, but Joseph and Mary were astounded by His awareness of the high calling upon His life.

The incident concludes, “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Now here is the thing that strikes me the most in all of this. Jesus was twelve when this occurred, and He is at that time fully committed to be about His Father’s business. Yet, we do not see or hear anything else about Him until He is thirty years old. That’s eighteen years unaccounted for except to say that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Is it possible that long seasons of unseen and uncelebrated faithfulness are part of “my Father’s business?” And could it be that this stretch of seemingly endless silence and mediocrity you are slogging through may in fact be part of a bigger, deeper work God is doing in you…and eventually through you?

“Have heart,” Jesus says to you today, “you are employed in My Father’s Business!”

From the daily devotional “Rylisms”.

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Tending Flowerbeds

I remember a story my Papaw once told on himself, which my mother has repeated many times; she laughs herself nearly to tears every time she tells it and I recall him chuckling pretty heartily as he told it, too. I’ll relay it as near as my memory allows:

As far back as I remember, Granny always had flowers growing around the house, be it in beds, pots or where ever she thought they looked nice, of all different types. She had houseplants and perennials, annuals and the occasional vegetable; my grandmother had a green thumb, that’s for sure.

Once while she was at work, Papaw took it upon himself to “help her” in the flowerbeds after he had finished up his yard work. He was very pleased with all he got done that day and looked forward to her surprise when she arrived home that afternoon.

He was sitting inside, probably having a glass of iced water, when he heard her pull into the driveway. It took a few minutes for her to make her was inside, longer than normal, since she had stopped to see the work Papaw had judiciously put into the flowerbeds for her. The smile he wore as she entered the room was soon replaced by a look of “uh oh” when he realized Granny was wear “that” face instead of the grin he’d anticipated.

“Bill, what happened to my flowers?” she asked him.

“Well, after I finished mowing, I saw your flowers were full of weeds so I pulled them for you”, he replied.

Her face went intensely red at his answer. I only wish I could show you what I remember his face looking like telling the story and what I’m sure her’s looked like! It makes me laugh just picturing it.

With finger-pointing and waving and voice going instantly gruff Granny said, “Those weren’t weeds Bill! You pulled up all the flowers that were getting ready to bloom and left me with the dead ones; I won’t have any more blooms this whole summer now!”

He really, honestly thought he was helping Granny, not ruining her garden. I probably don’t need to tell you that Papaw never weeded Granny’s gardens again.

This story made me think about the parable of the wheat and the tares, or weeds. It is a strong lesson that Christ gave us, one we need to understand and heed. Let us begin with reading from Matthew 13.

Matthew 13:24-30

24  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25  But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26  But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27  So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

And then a few verses later in the same chapter:

Matthew 13:37-43

37  He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39  The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (Or end of time)

41  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

I suppose the first thing to address here is about “time”: I’ve heard folks say this is fulfilled prophesy and not for us today and other, similar things. Well, to be frank with you, prophesy isn’t my area of interest, so to speak and I’m not too into discussing the subtleties of it, or dispensations. But I will assert this: This is as much for us today as it was for those who personally heard it roll of Jesus’ lips. This is a parable, teaching tool, which is still very much relevant as I write this and will be until the literal end of time.

The next time we need to understand is this: What is a tare? According to Wikipedia the definition is thus:

Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as “false wheat”. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The spikes of L. temulentum are more slender than those of wheat. The spikelets are oriented edgeways to the rachis and have only a single glume, while those of wheat are oriented with the flat side to the rachis and have two glumes. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black.

The similarity to young wheat is uncanny. One Bible dictionary says this about the Darnel “These stalks … if sown designedly throughout the fields, would be inseparable from the wheat, from which, even when growing naturally, and by chance, they are, at first sight, hardly distinguishable.”

So, who are these “tares”? They are the same, in description, that the church has been dealing with as long as she has existed, longer really, as they extend well back into the Old Testament: The ones who profess outwardly their “religion” while their hearts are far from God or Spirit filled.

Mat 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, (8) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Old Testament and new, the Bible speaks of these tares always being present:

Psa 55:12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:

Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

So this is nothing new, even though it may seem it to us.

The reason for these tares among us is simple, and given to us in the text “an enemy hath done this”, referring of course to the devil, Jesus later says to the disciples. Satan will, and always has done whatever he can to disrupt the church and weaken the saints.

2 Co 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Speculation beyond this point is useless, really, though we often will ponder and discuss it; God doesn’t tell us all the reasons He allows certain things. Some of these things He uses to test and strengthen our faith and dependence on Him. This, I think, is an area He allows and uses for such good.

Then question then begs to be answered, what do we do with the tares? Being children of God, heirs and joint heirs with Christ, we naturally want to eradicate them, pulled them up by their roots and toss them out of our midst. We think that these false-brethren reflect poorly upon the church. We think they allow the world to see these false-fruits, rotten fruit, if you will, and blaspheme the name and work of God and His children. We think about the relationships that are damaged among the true members of the Kingdom by these false ones and we are passionately moved to do something. And we are motivated by love, therefore to our credit, feeling we must do whatever we must to rectify the situation. But yet, we are wrong.

The Lord tells us why we are wrong in the very text we are looking at today; we, of and on our own, risk damaging the true “harvest”, plucking up by accident the real “wheat” in our attempts to right the wrongs we see.

God in His perfection and righteous judgment with sort out the tares from among the wheat in the end; He tells us so. How terrible would any one of us feel if we were to take this task into our hands lightly, and make no mistake compared to God’s judging of the situation all we can do is take it lightly, to learn later that we caused a brother or sister to stumble? And God forbid that stumble that we caused have eternal consequences on the soul of that other person.

Granny’s flowerbeds weren’t the same for some time after Papaw’s “help”. Being perennials, the flowers did what they do and propagated in time; I don’t know how long it took but they eventually grew back and looked nice again. But every time Papaw saw those flowers it was a reminder to him of the mistake, an honest one mind you, that he had made and the consequences of it. The church is a lot like the flowers in this story: though she be damaged or weakened, she will, through her members, work and grow again, producing a nice harvest in time. Like the perennials, the time it will take her will depend on man things, but the addition of new “flowers” is sure. You, however, don’t want to have a perpetual reminder of your “gardening mistake” like Papaw had: Your mistake would be much more costly, hurtful, and it could be the end for others and possibly even your our spiritual demise.

As we close today, think back a few weeks ago when we spoke about Joseph. He told his brothers that what they had intended for evil God had used for good. But first, when he realized the situation, he said:

Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

We would be wise to follow Joseph’s example when we find ourselves in a “gardening conundrum” my friends.

Billy … who?

Over the course of the past week I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and spending several hours with a young couple. Wednesday night, during what was probably our last conversation, the subject turned toward the Lord and His Church. I can’t recall how exactly but Billy Graham came up in our conversation. The lack of response from them prompted me to ask if they knew or had heard of him; to my surprise, neither of these young folks had. I took a few minutes to pause there and tell them about him and his ministry, even sharing a YouTube clip with them.

All day today, and most of last night, this has been weighing on my mind: How could two bright young people have never heard of this iconic man? I suppose that “we” take it for granted that the next generation knows about great people of the Faith, such as Dr. Graham. We also figure they know basic tenants and truths of God’s Word. In many instances “we” are dead wrong: they don’t have a clue.

The Bible says we are to teach the things of God to our children and our grandchildren. Just because most of the 40+ demographic grew up with at least basic Biblical knowledge doesn’t mean that the ones behind did. In fact, we dropped the ball and are seeing the results of that fumble nationwide, if not worldwide.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11 KJV)

It’s not too late. But we don’t have any more time to waste either. An untold number of souls are on the wrong side of the balance today.

Specialist Divers

Not long ago I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel about divers that specialize in underwater repairs. It started, I think, with a group of Navy divers who were trained to make emergency repairs. These divers had to leave the comfort and safety of the ship to do their job, job that many lives depended upon. It was cold, dangerous work but so very necessary to the fleet, especially during war-time.

We are in a war today: a spiritual war. And as much today as any time in history disciples of Jesus Christ are under attack. The attacks come from all angles, all places, from where we, often, are least likely to look or think about. Like the specialists divers, there are times when we need to leave the comfort and safety of our “boats” and get in the water. Just like those Naval divers, we have to go to the problem even if it’s out of our comfort zone and address it directly. The cargo and supplies and people the Navy protect are very important. But the eternal cost of the lives that our enemy is assailing are so, so much more important.

In this New Year, I pray that we all, the Church, will find the courage, the desire, and the drive to get out of the boat and do the job at hand. The cost of not doing so is just too high to bare.

Jig-Saw Puzzle

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

At my church we just finished week three of a multiple week series studying the Book of Revelation. I have to be honest with you- I’ve never been much of a prophesy-guy; it’s just not “my” area. Now, that isn’t to say I don’t have a desire to better understand it; I do. And that’s also not to say that God won’t light me afire for prophesy; He might. But up to this point it hasn’t been a major focus for my study time.

Regardless of if God gives me a greater interest in this area of Scripture or not, I have gleaned quite a bit in our study so far. There is one single sentence that has given me the most light so far, not just in this study but for all of Scripture and I’d like to share it: The Bible is like a jig-saw puzzle, you have to see how how the whole thing fits together to get the picture. A lot of time I think we forget this fact. From the first verse of Genesis to that last word in Revelation, Scripture all points to Jesus. If we will keep this in the front of our minds when we read and study we will get so much more out of God’s Word.

Payday

When I was in sales I knew that my paycheck depended on my quality and quantity of work. The more diligent I was at doing my job the higher my paydays were. So I had plenty of incentive to go to work to work.

In our Christian lives we have a similar expectation. Our Lord wants us to do what He has set forth for us to do. We are all to pray, to assemble ourselves for fellowship, praise and worship, and we are to put God first in our lives, among other things.

If we are willing to put in long hours and work hard at our jobs for our paycheck, how much more should we work toward our ultimate payday, Heaven?

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Are Your Bags Packed?

I was watching an old movie the other day. The main characters were a young couple who were about to have their first child. They spent hours taking parenting classes, reading books on raising kids, just about everything you can imagine to get ready for the big event.

When the time finally arrived, the wife went into labor, they began to scramble about to get out of the house to go to the hospital. They couldn’t find anything they needed. The husband finally asked, in total distress, “Are your bags even packed?” In all their “preparation” they hadn’t remembered the most basis thing of packing a bag for the trip to the hospital.

Sometimes we are like this in our Christian lives. We wait for the Lord to call us to do something, all the while we are getting ready for what ever He may ask of us. Then, we we finally get that call from Him, we don’t even have a bag packed.

Daily study of His Word, prayer, and fellowshipping with His children are all part of that bag-packing, as is attending worship services as often as possible. We ought not to be like that young couple, busying ourselves with things that won’t be of much help when the time comes. Rather we ought to be about our Father’s business so when the time comes be of service to our Lord as He calls us we can answer confidently as Isaiah did.

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.