13. The Blessing of Both

Reading Plan

One passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:

  1. Matthew 13:24-30; 13:36-43
  2. Genesis 48
  3. Genesis 50:15-21
  4. Ezekiel 37:1-14
  5. Romans 7:15-8:2
  6. Philippians 3
  7. 1 John 4

eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection, too!

The Blessing of Both

[The video above is a different service than the one I was at so if there are any differences in the message between the video and the notes that is why!]

Pastor Steven begins by sharing he wasn’t sure which passage of two choices to use for today’s message, so he invited the church to help him make the decision. Old Testament or New Testament? As he expected, many shouted “Both!” so hence the name of the message today: The Blessing of Both.

Passage #1: Old Testament

5 As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6, ESV, emphasis mine

Passage #2: New Testament

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Matthew 13:24-30, NIV, emphasis mine

In a nutshell, this message is about how, in our lives, we can be dealing with both good things and bad things, trials and blessings, sins and faith, etc., and to trust that God is still God regardless. It reminds me of a term from the Protestant Reformation (about 500 years ago), simul justus et peccator, “at the same time saint and sinner.” We are both.

Teaching the Kingdom of God

To Jesus’ disciples and his audience, the Kingdom of God was a brand new concept. He couldn’t just define it or describe it, he had to demonstrate how it worked. In doing so, people often misunderstood his actions. When he fed the 5,000, they were more concerned about what he was giving them than about who he was.

Jesus would demonstrate then explain. (Not either/or, both!)

The challenge of preaching is speaking to both the people who know everything and those who don’t. Jesus did both.

Pastor Steven tells a quick story about the Golden Corral and how if he and his friend timed it right, they could eat both breakfast and lunch.

Sometimes we play an either/or game with God, but he wants to give us both. Sometimes we think we can either be holy or happy, but God wants us to be both.

This is called the “already/not yet” eschatological tension. [Nick: Philippians 3:16: “Let us live up to what we have already attained.”]

The Cycle of Prayer and Praise

Prayer requests and praise reports…

Sometimes our prayer requests become praise reports, only to become prayer requests again. You pray for your problems:

  • Praying for a child
  • Praying to be promoted to be a supervisor

Now we pray for the problems associated with our prayer requests being answered!

What we ask God to give us may become our new prayer request.
What we ask God to take away might be a blessing if we let God do his job.

Your burden might turn into a blessing.

I Don’t Know What’s Inside of Me

Pastor Steven tells a story about being at his son’s baseball game and arguing about a bad call. One of the other dads said, “You’re a preacher, Furtick,” and his reply was “But I’m also a dad. I left my collar in the car for this one.” He can be both a preacher, a father, and a husband.

We can be pretty judgmental about other people. We don’t always wear our halos so straight. We’re not always singing praise songs after a caffeine crash at work at Tuesday.

Let the angels do their job [Nick: See Matthew 13:39 when Jesus explains the meaning of this parable]:
Our job is to sow,
God’s job is to sort.
I don’t let the weeds question my trust in the wheat.

You never give up because you don’t know what God can do (Ecclesiastes 11:6). [Nick: He mentioned the story of Ezekiel and the dry bones briefly, recorded in Ezekiel 37. The story goes like this: God shows Ezekiel a valley of dry bones, and God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel basically replies, “I don’t know, but you know.”]

I don’t tell God what can and can’t happen in my life because I don’t know what’s inside of me. [Nick: He didn’t really elaborate on this point but I think he was trying to draw a connection to 1 John 4:4, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” or perhaps Philippians 1:6 “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”]

Sermon prep — I need to prepare but I also need God to breathe on it.
Solomon — I need wisdom but I also need God’s spirit.

You can be in the season of your greatest struggle as well as in the season of your greatest growth. Don’t accidentally root out the wheat when you’re trying to root out the weeds.

Some of the best sermons I preached were for me. I was preaching faith but I was experiencing fear.

The seeds of your next success might be from this failure.

There will always be the presence of something trying to choke out the blessings of God – But don’t stop sowing.

Even the Devil Has to Work for God

Joseph’s life from Genesis is a great example of these truths.

Seeds don’t go into the ground to die; I trust I will see it rise up again. Sometimes seeing both takes time.

Joseph’s brothers sell him to an Ishmaelite caravan. [The Ishmaelites were cousins, descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael who Abraham had through Sarah’s handmaid when he didn’t trust God enough to give him a son from Sarah.] God used Abraham’s mistake to get Joseph to Egypt.

You can look at any moment in Joseph’s life and wonder, is this evil or good that he’s going through? But…

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Genesis 50:20, ESV, emphasis mine

God is big enough for both.
God can bless us both.
Even the devil has to work for God.

John followed Jesus all the way to the cross and Judas betrayed him for thirty silver pieces, but Jesus chose them both to be his disciples.

Jacob/Israel blesses both of Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48), holding his arms in such as way as to form a cross (Verse 14), pointing to Jesus.

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