You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their harvests because of the fierce anger of the Lord. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; You shall have them for food. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. How then does it have weeds? At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.
And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
Planting Seeds Of Faith
Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
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He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—.
For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Go; quickly. Tobias hastened just below the ridgeline to the grove and then slowly crested the ridge yet remained concealed in the shadows.
He did snap a small branch that released the slightest of sounds, and this alarmed him at first. But then he realized it mattered not for the screams stemming from the curious object positioned in the village drowned out the sound. The object had the appearance of being a person and stood taller than the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls was deep. Tobias realized that the material to make the figurine was likely wicker hence the name. He also observed that the screams were coming from people who were either being stuffed into the Wickerman or who were already within.
Is that figurine being filled with people the sacrifice that is to be burned? Apparently, the Druids have ordered that the people of the village on the east fork of the river near the cliffs be sacrificed. They sent a small group here last week to discuss the message that we preached in their village last month.
The Druids sent them home and asked that they come back today bringing the leaders of the village and their families. They returned but the Druids declared that there is no place for the teaching of a religion that is rising from the east. They then ordered that all who came be offered in sacrifice by being burned alive in that Wickerman. Just then the cries grew louder and Tobias and Tudwal witnessed the torch bearers igniting the bottom of the Wickerman.
As the flames rose and consumed the Wickerman the cries of death grew faint and the smell of burning flesh lofted into the forest and down into the valley. Tobias realized that there would be no evangelizing that night and thus they slipped back deeper into the woods and set camp an hour away from the village. After deciding that it would be best to light a fire rather than hide away the night in darkness, to conceal any scent of the charred bodies that may be clinging to their garments, they then sparked into flame a small fire and sat downwind bearing the blunt of the smoke.
As the night drew darker the snow fell harder and the cold pierced the two men to the core. Why do you think that the Druids wanted the elders of the other tribe murdered? What did the lads tell you?
Are they all from the same tribe? Does Rome have authority over them? In the past tribal warfare limited the size of the tribes and the distance they were from each other. I cannot be sure of the situation here unless I speak with someone, but I would venture that due to the separating distance that the village where we proclaimed the gospel last month is of a different clan than this village. I see signs of this in most villages we enter.
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It is common throughout the empire. It is how they govern Smyrna. At first there was tension and war, but as time went on the tribes within the States realized that though they paid tributary they did get representation and Rome assisted with aid, mostly designed to encourage commerce. Therefore, the States accepted Pax Romana as it did indeed bring peace. If a tribe within a State was deemed as disruptive, then the Druids would find a solve. That is likely what we witnessed tonight. After that night Tudwal desired to return to his tribe far north from their location and Tobias decided to return to Lugdunum and report to the Bishop his failures and misgivings.
Irenaeus listened to the stories intently and took special note of the story of the Wickerman. Was that the only one you ever saw signs of? It was only the second that Tudwal has ever seen and he has lived his whole life in these regions. He did mention that the first he saw was small and only contained a family whereas this one was at least three stories tall and held the whole tribal council and their families.
The thought arose that he may have caused them to meet the same fate. We just did not realize why until you shared the rest of the story. My young apprentice, rest in the sovereignty of our Lord. It is true that you have had little success in the mountains, but we are experiencing great success with the mountain people here in the city. Your effort focused on just one village at a time. We will restructure so that ministry will focus on one State at a time. I will organize larger teams. As Irenaeus and Tobias were organizing a new team to be led by Tobias back into the mountains, a new situation arose.
There was a military buildup taking place in the city. Word came to Irenaeus that Tudwal was soon to rejoin the effort, and this pleased the Bishop. Mid one afternoon while the team of Heralds were partaking in their mid-day meal a courier arrived from Rome.
One of the items that he was carrying was a letter from Sabina addressed to Tobias.
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Tobias took the letter and while pacing atop the roof he read:. Rumors are swirling that the seat of rebellion that takes its stand against Rome is there in Lugdunum. Rome is dispatching an army to quell the revolt and this news brings about immense fear, fear for your safety and fear of losing you. It brings great sorrow to my heart my reflections of all that has taken place these past six and a half years since your departure. How despite the growth of the church in Smyrna and the forthgoing benevolent ministry that you started I have waned in weakness of faith. I do still love our Lord, yet my desire to be reunited with you comes across with force that I must admit equals that of my love for our Lord.
My heart sorrows on how I persuaded our children to relocated to Rome in hopes that I would be able to step forth and proceed in joining you. Yet now with the wars and rumors of wars I fear the end draws nigh. You were my strength and stalwart and I truly long to be together again to relive the times of comfort and excitement that I only experience in your presence. I truly do miss you and look foreword to gazing into your eyes and feeling the embrace of your strength.
Stay safe, my love. I pray for you daily. And fear not, I will stay strong and remain faithful to both you and our Lord. He stood at the parapet gazing down into the streets below where the soldiers were assembled. As he stared at the sword of an infantryman his mind shifted to seeing Sabina seated at the golden table with the silk canopy. Again, he could see the expression on her face that was etched into his mind. Yet now the look was intensified, and this caused him to break out of the vision and into prayer where he pleaded that he could be reunited with her to offer service. But as he prayed, he again was drawn toward the sword of the solider and this drew him back into his vision where he saw a being of light with a sword fastened about his waist.
As he pondered the blade that glistened like light, he looked into the eyes of the Swordslayer and in turn the Swordslayer beamed back at him in delight. As before, Tobias drifted away from the golden table on the pearl island and hoovered over the golden pathway looking at the building that looked as a sea. Looking up, and too his amazement, the building was taller than any structure he has ever seen.
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It seemed to be taller than the highest mountains he has trekked through. As he turned to look at the other nearby buildings, he only then realized that all the buildings were of such grandeur. The sounds of the armies clashing were like no other. Tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of soldiers took to instant fight in the streets of Lugdunum. This was as no other fight that the Romans have ever waged. The war was short and could be measured in days rather than weeks, months, or years, but the main battle was long yet also measured in days — days, not hours such as most battles.
In the end the city was but rubble littered with over a hundred-thousand dead soulless bodies. The valuables were mostly stolen and many of the women raped but, to the amazement of most, the men who were not soldiers were spared. This was good news for the Bishop and the Church of Lugdunum. Yet they had to readjust their ministry agenda. Before the war the Bishop was thinking of constantly forming teams and sending them out to the different States in an attempt to evangelize a whole State in one concentrated effort.
Now the Bishop tweaked the plan to send a team to just one State and then commission Tobias to head up an effort to evangelize through skills training and feeding programs such as he did in Smyrna. After which, commission a second team to evangelize a second State, and then a second team to work within Lugdunum evangelizing through feeding and training. All proved well. Tobias experienced similar success in Lugdunum by regathering the church, organize a feeding program, and then begin training the young men in furniture making. The rebuilding of the city went quick as the Romans established a military post in the city and this ensured security which in turn brought funds for rebuilding from Rome.
Yet this made way for a new set of problems. Other local merchants and importers were unable to compete with the lower cost for production of the furniture Tobias was producing and this led to aggressive jealousy. Yet as Tobias had the blessing of the government the envious factions resorted to religious persecution that was tolerated decades before but was on the wane in Lugdunum prior to the war. Thus, Tobias was targeted for persecuting by the Druids that were bribed by the other merchants. So, a packet of seeds from flowers will have to do, and I want to encourage you to plant them sometime this week and enjoy the beauty of the flowers that will spring up — and so that you will be reminded of what we will be talking about this morning.
I thought, this morning, we would talk about planting seeds — actually seeds in the form of children. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
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Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. But where does this purity and love flow from? And mom and dad do what moms and dads do when they want a baby.
A seed is planted, a life is conceived and a baby comes into this world — 10 fingers, 10 toes, a bushy head of hair and a wail that would raise the dead. And we make over that precious little baby and raise her the best we can — we educate her, provide for her needs, provide her with all of the comforts of life — and then turn her loose to live her life as an adult. But as Peter reminds us, that seed that was planted is perishable seed — as much as we hate to think about it — one day that precious child of ours will die — most likely of old age after a long and full life, but maybe young and in the prime of life.
But one thing you can count on — a life that springs from that perishable seed will die. But, Peter says, we plant another seed, an imperishable seed — and he says that another birth takes place — a new birth — we are born again, when the living and enduring word of God is planted in our life.
And because this seed is imperishable, it will never die.
The body that sprang from the perishable seed will die and decay, but the life that springs from the new birth will never die. But for plants you want to grow you have to prepare the soil, and water it and fertilize it and weed around it and keep the insects away. Some things will choke out or poison a seedling. You have to clear the soil and get it ready for growth.