The Work of the Enemy

Book Reflection // August 13, 2022

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 2 // Matthew 13:24-43

Just like the previous parable that focused on the different types of soil that receive the gospel seed, Boice classifies this triplet of parables as dealing once again with the Kingdom of God. In this section Boice takes a bit of a different approach than what I have heard in the past and what I have seen in my small circle of Christian influence. Boice groups these three parables (weeds, mustard seed, and leaven) as speaking directly about the influence and work of evil in the Kingdom of God as it spreads throughout the world. These parables highlight the work of the enemy in our lives and the life of the church. Jesus tells us these parables to highlight the strategies and designs of our enemy to infiltrate, influence, and ultimately hinder the work of God in this world.

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The Seed and the Soil

Book Reflection // August 6, 2022

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 1 // Matthew 13:1-23

In this book by Boice, he classifies this parable as one dealing with the Kingdom of God. In particular he marks this particular parable as unique in this category since it is dealing more so with the origin of the Kingdom. Meaning that this specific parable is focused more on the beginnings of the spreading of the grace and gospel of Christ throughout the world. The uniqueness of this parable is that Jesus uses the picture of seeds being scattered and planted in different types of soil to represent the different stages of readiness to receive the gospel message of hope and salvation – hard heart, shallow heart, strangled heart, and an open heart.

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Apathy and Ignorance

Journal Entry // June 13, 2022

And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”

Acts 24:25 ESV

Here in this passage is the response of Felix to the gospel of Christ being taught before him with reasoned explanations for righteousness, self-control, and judgement. Paul articulated the truths of the gospel in such a manner that Felix understood what was being said and the implications of his decision in response. So what was Felix to do with this gospel truth? He was alarmed. He knew that the truth of the gospel had brought him to a point of decision in which he could not vacillate. He needed to accept or reject this reasoned message. Yet, Felix chose to delay. He chose to put this truth out of his mind. Felix chose to send Paul away and remove from  his sight the messenger of this critical point of decision. He chose apathy and ignorance.

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Healthy Eyes

Journal Entry // March 20, 2022

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

Luke 11:34 ESV

How I view the circumstances of my life and the world around me through the lens of the gospel is what this passage is getting at. My eye direcst and guides me through this world and as such, it informs and directs not only the content of what I allow to penetrate my body and mind but how I view these things from a spiritual perspective. It is essential that my eye is healthy. This allows my entire body to be full of light. To be full of the gospel of Christ. When my eye leads me astray and I begin to view the things around me from a worldly perspective, the darkness grows and swells within me.

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Taking Offense

Journal Entry // February 19, 2022

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Mark 6:3 ESV

And they took offense at him… This is a painful statement to read about the heart attitude of the people of Nazareth that watched Jesus grow up into adulthood. They had a well defined notion of who Jesus was based on their experience in life of watching him grow and develop into a man. Jesus was already in a box of their own choosing and they would not allow him to change boxes or better yet let him destroy that box completely. He is the carpenter, not this miracle worker claiming to be the Son of God. So they took offense at him. They knew without a doubt the humanity of Jesus and they had no room in their heart for his divinity.

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Tough Love

Journal Entry // January 9, 2022

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 5:43-44 ESV

Yet again Jesus brings his counter-cultural teaching to expose the self-centeredness of worldly wisdom and our sinful nature. We believe that since we are a modern society with advanced technology that we have everything figured out. But this statement from Jesus cuts just as deep and precise as it did 2,000 years ago. Do I love my enemies? Do I pray for those that persecute me? That sounds almost repugnant to my ears. Why in the world would I ever love my enemies and pray for them? It’s quite the opposite in fact. Like Jonah refusing to preach to the Ninevites, I want my enemies to taste the full wrath of God. It’s this heart attitude that Jesus speaks his gentle command of love and prayer for my enemies.

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Eternal Endeavors

Journal Entry // December 25, 2021

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Revelation 14:6 ESV

This is one of the passages that the Lord has been imprinting within me for the last 25 years. He has put a desire within me that wants to be part of this eternal gospel being proclaimed to everyone. I want to see people from across all cultures and contexts come and join the chorus of praise and worship to our holy and sovereign God. I want to be part of this process in some form of fashion.

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Irrationally Angry

Journal Entry // December 8, 2021

But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”

Jonah 4:9 ESV

Jonah is a tough read for me. I really enjoy the honesty of Jonah’s life and how we get a real glimpse of life at a prophet. There’s no doubt Jonah loved God and there is no doubt that God loves Jonah and used him in amazing ways, but I see far too much of myself in how Jonah respond to adversity and God’s plan. Even after Jonah repents inside the fish and is vomited onto the shore heading to Nineveh and sees a whole city repent in response to his message of destruction, Jonah is not only unhappy but angry. Not just angry, but irrationally angry.

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No Darkness At All

Journal Entry // December 2, 2021

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5 ESV

God is light… Pure light. He is light without darkness. That’s an intriguing phrase to use. If God is light then surely it is understood that darkness cannot exist in light. Why does John point out the obvious of the statement? I think it’s because we will naturally put this into our human experience and begin to taint the purity of God’s holiness. I know that God’s light is in me, but I also realize that there is darkness lingering. John wants me to understand that this is not true of God. He is light… No darkness at all.

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