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Upper Dever Churches

Sunday 26th July 2020

Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52 He told them another parable:‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. ‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied.

Reflection Do you ever wonder where society is heading? With our ‘woke’ society, the pandemic, the mammoth refugee crisis and the unending wars it is easy to despair. But these five short parables in Matthew’s gospel remind us that in every person who is longing to see God’s Kingdom, He is at work re-creating and renewing. By the sickbed, in the refugee camps, in the tough business set up, those who keep their focus on Jesus can be encouraged that, like the mustard seed growing into a beautiful tree, like the yeast working through the dough, the Kingdom of heaven is slowly growing, and one day all injustice and evil will be banished. How encouraging that as we put our faith in Jesus and walk with Him, His life in us is making a precious difference, like the treasure in a field, or the priceless pearl. It is indeed the only thing worth pursuing.

Romans 8 : 26-39 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 105 : 1-11 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, you his servants, the descendants of Abraham, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant for ever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.’

Prayers Father God we cry out to you in our prayers for our nation and for those who rule us. Give them integrity and honesty but give them that sense of being servants to your people and honouring your holy ways. Bless all those who suffer and for whom these days of lockdown have been particularly hard and tedious. Help us to find evidence of your kingdom in all we do and say and think. In Jesus name, Amen