October 13, 2015

Job 3-5
Then Job broke the silence.  He spoke up and cursed his fate.  “Obliterate the day I was born...and why?                 

Because it released me from my mother’s womb into a life with so much trouble...I could be resting in peace right now, asleep forever, feeling no pain...the small and the great are equals in that place and slaves are free from their masters.  

Why does God bother giving light to the miserable....What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?
    
Then Eliphaz spoke up...You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.  Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse.  But now you’re the one in trouble--you’re hurting!...

But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence right now?  Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope? Think!  Has a truly innocent person ever ended up on the scrap heap?  Do genuinely upright people ever lose out in the end?... 

A word came to me in secret, a mere whisper of a word...How can mere mortals be more righteous than God?  How can humans be purer than their Creator?....Call for help, Job, if you think anyone will answer!  To which of the holy angels will you turn?...Don’t blame fate when things go wrong--trouble doesn’t come from nowhere.  It’s human!  Mortals are born and bred for trouble, as certainly as sparks fly upward.  

If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God, I’d throw myself on the mercy of God.  After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts; there’s no end to his surprises....So what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!  

Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God!  True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound; the same hand that hurts you, heals you.  From one disaster after another he delivers you; no matter what the calamity, the evil can’t touch you....Yes, this is the way things are--my word of honor!  Take it to heart and you won’t go wrong. 
                            
Matthew 13:24-13:58
Jesus told another story.  God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.  That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn...The farmhand asked, “Should we weed out the thistles?”  He said, “No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat too.  Let them grow together until harvest time,  Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.”

Another story.  “God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants.  It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years, it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.

Another story.  “God’s kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread - and waits while the dough rises.”  Jesus storytelling fulfilled the prophecy:  I will open my mouth and tell stories. I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world’s first day.

Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house.  His disciples came in and said, “Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field.”  Jesus explained then asked: Are you listening to this? Really listening?  God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser.  The finder is ecstatic-what a find!-and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.

God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls.  Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.  Or, God’s kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish.  When it is full, it is hauled onto the beach.  The good fish are picked out and put in a tub; those unfit to eat are thrown away.  That is how it will be when the curtain comes down on history...There will be a  lot of desperate complaining, but it won’t do any good.  

Jesus asked, “are you starting to get a handle on all this?...Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”  

When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse.  He made a real hit, impressing everyone...They said, “How did he get so wise, get such ability?”  But in the next breath they were cutting him down...”Who does he think he is?” They got their noses all out of joint.  But Jesus said, “A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.”  He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.