READING: Matthew 13-14
Ministry is hard. Preaching is hard. Waiting and praying for people to respond to the gospel are hard. Dealing with rebellious people in the church is hard. It’s all hard, at times, and there’s a reason for that: we’re up against an enemy who fights against all that we do. Today’s reading makes that truth dramatically clear.
Using two word pictures, Jesus shows us what the enemy does. First, he keeps people from hearing, understanding and applying the Word; he is the “bird” that carries away the seed in Jesus’ parable of the sower: “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart” (Matt 13:19). That means that a spiritual battle is ongoing even as we preach the Word. Unseen to us, the enemy is doing all he can do to prevent the Word from settling in hearts and transforming lives. This truth, by the way, is one reason I believe we need prayer teams praying even while we’re preaching.
Then, the enemy is also sowing among the wheat in the church his own weeds, those described as “the people of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). God will eventually take care of the weeds when judgment comes, but we face the reality of their presence in our churches in the meantime. It’s no wonder, then, that some church people are continually a thorn in the side of church leaders.
In the midst of these battles, though, we are to give our attention to the gloriously valuable work of the kingdom of God (Matt 13:44-45), being God’s hands to minister to the multitudes (Matt 14:13-21). Doing so may stretch our faith like Peter on the water (Matt 14:22-31), or it may cost us our life like John the Baptist in the prison (Matt 14:1-11) — but we trust the day will come when “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt 13:43).
- Determine whether you are wheat or a weed in your congregation. If you’re a weed, turn from your sin and trust Christ. Seek forgiveness from your church’s leaders.
- Next Sunday, commit to praying more for those who are hearing the gospel during your church’s service.
PRAYER: “God, I pray that I’ll hear Your Word today, and the enemy will not snatch it away from me.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Matthew 15-17