Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139:1-13, 23-24 or Isaiah 44:6-8; Psalm 86:11-17; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Saved by grace, we are led “in the way everlasting.”
Was this just another night (Genesis 28:11)?
No! This was a night to remember, a night Jacob would never forget. God came to him with His wonderful promise of love: ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (Genesis 28:15).
At Bethel (‘the house of God’), powerfully transformed by the presence of God - ‘Surely the Lord is in this place’ (Genesis 28:16) - , Jacob consecrated himself to the Lord. ‘If’ (Genesis 28:20) means ‘Since.’ See Romans 8:31 - ‘If (Since) God is for us, who can be against us?’ Giving the tenth (Genesis 28:22): this is not legalism, a kind of repayment scheme. There can be no ‘salvation by works.’
We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our giving must always be a heartfelt expression of thanksgiving to the God of grace: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’. We are saved ‘to do good works’ (Ephesians 2:10) - not because we do good works!
God has given us eternal life. We pray, “Lead us in the way everlasting.”
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (Psalm 139:24; 1 John 5:11).
God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’- ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true...’ (Psalm 139:6; Church Hymnary, 385).
God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’.
We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (Psalm 139:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:24).
We walk “in the way everlasting” when we are “filled with the Spirit.”
‘I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants’ (Isaiah 44:3).
Here, Isaiah is looking forward to the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost - ‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit...’ (Acts 2:4).
It is ‘the Spirit’ who brings ‘streams of living water’ into our lives. It is ‘the Spirit’ who sends ‘streams of living water’, flowing out from us to others (John 7:37-39).
We are to ‘be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ’- Let your life be full of praise to God: ‘filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Each of us must choose.
We can ‘live according to the flesh’ or we can ‘live according to the Spirit.’ We can ‘set the mind on the flesh’or we can ‘set the mind on the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6).
The new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. God is preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). We have ‘the first fruits of the Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance.’ He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more - ‘an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you’, ‘the redemption of our bodies’, ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
Led by the Spirit, strong in the Spirit, we press on to glory (Romans 8:14, 26, 17).
“In the way everlasting”, our praise and prayer are inspired by God’s love.
‘You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you... Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth... I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart... For great is Your love towards me’ (Psalm 86:5, 11-13).
God loves us. He forgives our sins. We receive His love. We want to love Him more.
* His love inspires our praise - ‘I will praise You...’
* His love inspires our prayer - ‘Teach me Your way...’
Our whole life is to be a celebration of His love - ‘Great is Your love towards me.’
* We are to celebrate His love with ‘joy’ (Psalm 86:4).
* We rejoice in the Lord because of who He is - ‘You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness’ - and what He has done for us - ‘You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me’ (Psalm 86:15, 17).
“In the way everlasting”, God’s Word grows in us and bears much fruit.
Jesus’ parables are so rich in spiritual content. They speak with an indirectness which is very direct! They may be parabolic in form, but they do go right to the heart of the matter in a way that is very challenging.
Jesus tells us the parable of the ‘wheat and the weeds’ (Matthew 13:24-30). He gives us its explanation (Matthew 13:36-43). In this parable, Jesus contrasts a real believing response to Christ with an empty profession of faith in Him.
There is also something else. Leave judgment to God. He knows those who are His and those who are not.
The parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) is a word of encouragement. Do not give up hope that the seed of God’s Word is growing, slowly and surely, in the hearts of those who do not appear to be bearing much fruit.
The parable of the yeast is also encouraging - What a difference even a few believers can make to a whole community!