How can the Bible say that God works all things for our good? It’s not that we don’t want the statement to be true. It’s just that it does not seem to be true. That little word “all” makes it hard to believe.
How can God work all things for our good when so much badness piles up? Think of the cancer diagnosis, or the lost job, or the car accident, or the sick friend. Take your pick of any awful scenario that has happened to you or someone you care about. How can it be good? Why does God allow it?
Is it maybe because you don’t love God enough? After all, the verse says that God works all things for the good “of those who love him,” and you can probably think of many times when you have not loved God.
Don’t go down that path. It only leads to uncertainty and despair. Instead, focus on how “those who love God” are further described as people “who have been called according to [God’s] purpose.” What a relief! God’s calling was not of your doing or deserving; it was according to God’s purpose. He loves you, and his plan has always been to work bad things for your good.
He did this in the past when he sent Jesus, who “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus knew a thing or two about badness. And yet God worked Jesus’ horrific suffering and death for the greatest good of all: your eternal salvation.
He continues to work all things for your good in the present. Your life is also part of God’s purpose. He is in control and makes sure that everything that happens to you will fit together in a good way. You may not understand the plan, but he does. And in the end, you know that the outcome will be perfect because that is God’s promise.
Lord God, help me to accept your good purpose for me in bad times as well as good. Amen.
Please note- St. John’s Midweek Worship has changed. Beginning this week, no more Wednesday service at 6:30pm. Beginning 8/15 we’ll worship on Saturday at 4:30pm, outdoors, north of church, weather-permitting.
Please bring a lawn chair.
In Jesus Christ our loving & protecting Savior, Pastor Pete Zietlow (608-408-7830 talk/text & ZietlowPL6@hotmail.com)
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
What makes you rich? The money you earn? The things you have? A good job? Plenty of friends and family? A full stock portfolio? That is what the world calls rich.
But what happens when a virus comes and pops those balloons one by one?
You learn in whom to really put your hope. If you think wealth in this present world makes you truly rich, give it time, it will disappoint you. Why? Because it is what the Bible calls uncertain—it cannot be depended on. Just look at how a few months of disease and isolation have evaporated so much. A life built on the uncertain will ultimately fail you.
So life that is truly life has to be built on something other than earthly riches. It has to be built on the God who provides you with everything.
You are so important to God that he richly provided his perfect Son to pour out his precious blood to free you from sin. Then God raised him to life again to leave no doubt in your mind that you will live forever with him in the coming age. Because of Jesus, you have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). That’s certain!
That certainty frees you to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share. In other words, you get to be a shining light of God’s goodness in this world. And you do it with the certainty that your eternal riches are completely secure. What a life!
God, thank you for richly providing everything I need. Amen.
“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:7-9
When Solomon became king of Israel, he had some big shoes to fill. His father, King David, was the most successful ruler in the history of God’s people. David defeated their enemies, expanded their borders, and gave them the security they had only dreamed of. During David’s reign, God was keeping one promise after another that he had made to their ancestors. As a result, Israel had become a prosperous and plentiful nation.
Understandably Solomon was nervous. How could he possibly live up to his father’s example or govern such a great people? But God wanted Solomon to be successful. So the Lord appeared to him and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5).
Solomon asked for wisdom to govern his people. How amazing is that? God offered Solomon whatever he wanted, and he did not use it to serve himself. He used it to serve others.
Would you do the same? Or would the temptation to selfishly use God’s gifts be too great? Sadly, we have to admit that we are often more selfish than selfless.
But, thankfully, Jesus used all his greatness to serve. He even said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). So he blessed children, washed feet, taught thousands, and died to forgive the selfishness of all people.
So, your selfish sins are forgiven. And you can look forward, this day, to selflessly serving those whom God chooses to bring into your life.
Lord God, please give me the wisdom to serve the people you have placed in my life. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankfulness of praise.
Please note: Worship Service Restart Plans (Bulletin pages 11, 12) Worship f.)Due to the recent increase of COVID-19 virus cases testing positive in our area, worshipers are kindly asked to maintain social distancing, refrain from singing, and wear masks that cover both mouth and nose. Thank you for your consideration.
PASTOR’S WELCOME, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND PRAYER BEFORE WORSHIP
M: O Lord – our Maker, Redeemer, and Comforter – we are assembled in your presence to hear your holy Word. We pray that you would open our hearts by your Holy Spirit, that through the preaching of your Word we may repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, and grow day by day in grace and holiness. Hear us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
OPENING HYMN 282 Lord, Open Now My Heart to Hear
*Sung by soloist.
M: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
M: We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve him as his dear children. But we have disobeyed him and deserve only his wrath and punishment. Therefore, let us confess our sins to him and plead for his mercy.
C: Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray: Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love. Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.
M: God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven all your sins. By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, he has removed your guilt forever. You are his own dear child. May God give you strength to live according to his will.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
M: O Lord, your ears are always open to the prayers of your humble servants, who come to you in Jesus’ name. Teach us always to ask according to your will that we may never fail to obtain the blessings you have promised; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
✠ T H E W O R D ✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON1 Kings 3:5-12 (today’s sermon text)
Summary: The Lord offered King Solomon whatever he wanted. Solomon did not ask for the earthly props in which the world places its trust. He was struck by his solemn, God-given responsibility and his own inability. Solomon first sought God’s kingdom by asking for a heart that would lead God’s people God’s way. God granted his prayer and added everything he had not asked for as well.
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
“Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
PSALM OF THE DAY 119b
*For your personal devotion at home.
Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;*
then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law*
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,*
for there I find delight.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;*
preserve my life according to your Word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,*
so that you may be feared.
How I long for your precepts!*
Preserve my life in your righteousness.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son*
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,*
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
SECOND LESSONRomans 8:28-30
Summary: This is the most comforting gospel for the trembling believer in Christ: Before he created us, God knew us and destined us to be his. In this life he called us to faith by the gospel and justified us. Even now there are no accidents in life, no blind twists of fate. God turns Satan’s evil into good for those who love him. If our gracious God has so carefully forged each link in the chain of salvation, we can be sure he will not forget the final link:” he will bring us to glory!
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 likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
VERSE OF THE DAY John 6:68
M: Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 13:44-52
Summary: The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl show us the inestimable value of the kingdom of heaven. The trusting heart will joyfully sacrifice everything to keep from being separated from it. God’s kingdom, like a net, attracts both believers and unbelieving hangers-on. How precious our faith in Christ is as we prepare for our final destination―heaven.
“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 fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied.
He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Please be seated.
HYMN 421: 1-3 All Depends on Our Possessing
*Sung by soloist.
SERMONETTE1 Kings 3: 5-12
“God, Give Me Wisdom!”
My heart’s desire
Your Word’s gift
*For your personal devotion at home.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker or heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
PRAYER FOR GODLY WISDOM–TRUE SPIRITUAL WEALTH & INTERCESSORY PRAYERS
*Intercessory prayers listed on page 10.
*Spoken by congregation.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
HOLY COMMUNION LITURGY
*Read by pastor.
Please be seated for the distribution.
At St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church & Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church we practice closed Communion. If you are a guest at worship today and interested in receiving the Lord’s Supper, please speak with the pastor prior to the service. See page 17 for communion schedule and distribution information.
M: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and + give you peace.
CLOSING HYMN 421: 4, 5 All Depends on Our Possessing
*Sung by soloist.
Next week’s theme:
August 16 , 2020 11th Sunday after Pentecost
“God Satisfies Our Needs”
St. John’s Lutheran Church Montello & Emmanuel Lutheran Church Mecan
Updated Response to Worship Concerns Created by COVID-19
July 30, 2020
When will we worship? An outdoor Saturday service is being added to help members worship in a safe environment. This service will replace the Wednesday evening service.
Saturdays @ 4:30 pm (Any St. John’s or Emmanuel members)-Beginning Saturday, August 15
Sunday @ 8:00 am Emmanuel (Emmanuel members)
Sunday @ 10:00 am St. John’s (St. John’s members 55 and older)
Online worship services continue found at stjohnsmontello.org
Where will we worship? Groups should be 50 or less indoors. To provide safe worship experiences, the new Saturday worship service will be held outdoors when weather permits.
Saturday @ 4:30 pm will be an outdoor service on the lawn behind the parking lot of St. John’s. In case of inclement weather, we will move to the sanctuary.
Sunday @ 8:00 am at Emmanuel in the sanctuary
Sunday @ 10:00 am at St. John’s in the sanctuary
How will we worship? Providing a safe worship experience is a high priority for the leaders in our congregations. Because the virus continues to spread, and because of the science regarding singing and speaking, the following policies will be continued and new ones enacted immediately:
Please use the hand sanitizer upon arrival at the worship service.
Masks will currently be optional at all services (see below**) Masks will be available.
Designated seating will be provided indoors to provide for social distancing.
Please bring lawn chairs for the outdoor service. Some seating and a canopy may be available.
The congregation is asked to not sing for the time being.
Services will be shortened to a length of approximately 40 minutes.
A soloist will sing the hymns and any liturgical responses.
Continuous communion will be practiced on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. The Saturday before the 2nd and 4th Sundays will also include communion. Family units are encouraged to commune together.
The congregations should exit the sanctuary from the back at the end of the service, taking all belongings including the bulletin along with them.
The sanctuary will be cleaned and sanitized between services.
**We will abide by any state or local mandates that may change any of these policies
As we hold firmly to the truths of scripture, we know that God continues to keep his promises to us. He has promised the wonderful spiritual blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation. He has not, however, promised that things will always remain the same. In the words of our synod president, Mark Schroeder, “we recommit ourselves–as individuals, as congregations, and as a synod–to the mission that God has called us to carry out, trusting that he will bless us in that work.” Let us work together as we move forward as a congregation. Let us help, support, and encourage each other as we gather around God’s Word.
Question or Concerns? Contact your Elders or pastor
Emmanuel Elders: Darrell Buchholz (608) 215-7871, Wayne Stelter (608) 369-1790
St. John’s Elders: Jerre Duerr (608) 697-8706, Jay Eisermann (608) 297-8171, James Wachholz (608) 369-4006 – Pastor Pete Zietlow (608) 408-7830
We Receive God’s Kingdom
Through His Word
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost – A
God’s Word for Today
God in heaven has blessed us in untold ways. Take a moment to consider just how many blessings you have. Chances are that most of what you considered was temporal, that is, for this life only. More important that all that, certainly, is our salvation in Christ Jesus, the only blessing that offers us an assurance of life eternal. This blessing is ours through the precious Word of God alone.
First Lesson (1 Kings 3:5-12)
What excellent role model does Solomon provide for us as we undertake tasks in life?
Since Solomon placed godly things first, what else did God provide?
Second Lesson (Romans 8:28-30)
How does God call us for his purpose?
4. A wonderful chain of events is described, beginning long before we came to be. If God intricately wove his plan for us through all these steps, what continuation of these steps will he most certainly bring to pass?
Gospel (Matthew 13:44-52)
5. What do both the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value represent?
6. The Parable of the Net teaches of the final judgment. How does its message also extend the thought of the first two parables?
Young King Solomon was poised to begin his reign as ruler of Israel, replacing his father, King David. This was certainly a daunting task. So Solomon correctly subjects all earthly things to the important spiritual things and seeks for God’s wisdom to carry out the demands of his new position in a God-pleasing way. In the words of the hymn-writer: “With the Lord begin your task, Jesus will direct it.”
In addition to the wisdom Solomon requested, God also granted him riches, power, and fame unparalleled in any other human. Remember the words of the Savior: “Seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:31)
As in days past, God still calls us through the means of grace—his Gospel found in the Word and Sacraments.
From eternity God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Through the Gospel he called us and justified us by faith in the promises that he himself made. Since God carefully planned each of these steps, bringing us into our current relationship with him, we can with confidence expect that he will bring that plan to completion by glorifying us one day as we enter heaven itself. Note that Paul’s confidence in this is so strong that he speaks of it as if even the final step had already occurred.
Each represents the kingdom of heaven, a prize of priceless value. Each parable indicates that nothing else should be considered so highly as to risk losing this most precious possession.
While its main teaching is of the final judgment, this parable implies the importance of our faith in God’s promises. May that faith remain strong so that our stake in the kingdom of God is not lost!
How do you determine the value of something? Well, you could have it appraised. For a fee, a jeweler will tell you what your wedding ring is worth, for example. Then there are those things that you can appraise without the help of any experts. Hold your child in your arms and as his breath gently brushes your neck, you know immediately how valuable he is.
Jesus wants us to understand how valuable it is to be a member of his kingdom—to be his disciple. So, he told a story to help us understand. He said, “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.” Jesus is saying that being a member of his kingdom is such a treasure that it is worth giving up everything we have to keep it.
Unfortunately, too often we don’t treasure the kingdom of heaven. We treat it more like cubic zirconium than a fine pearl. We do this when we forget its true value. And when we forget its true value, we are in danger of losing it altogether.
But this won’t happen when we remember that Jesus’ life and death keep us from the fires of hell, when we remember that Jesus’ resurrection is our way to eternal life. Remember what the kingdom of heaven is and what the kingdom of heaven gives, and it will always be your most treasured possession.
Lord Jesus, being a member of your kingdom is my most treasured possession. Keep me from ever being convinced otherwise. Amen.
Years ago, I used to watch my mother make bread. She kneaded a big ball of dough and then placed it in a large bowl. She mixed the contents of a small package in warm water and then poured the mixture onto the dough and worked it in. Finally, she covered the bowl with a white cloth and set it in the south window of the kitchen where the sun warmed the dough. It seemed miraculous to me that after a short time the dough started to expand. It pushed up the cloth and sometimes it stretched over the sides of the bowl. Of course, it wasn’t a miracle. It was just the yeast that mom had activated with the water that did its work throughout the bread dough. The yeast worked invisibly and silently, but the results were obvious.
In this parable, Jesus uses the working of yeast in dough to describe the power of God working in people’s hearts through his Word. The Word works silently in hearts, but it is powerfully effective. God uses it to turn our hearts from unbelief to faith in Jesus, to free us from our sins, and to rescue us from eternal death and give us the free gift of everlasting life.
The yeast of God’s Word continues to work in our hearts to help us live more consistently according to God’s holy will. As God’s power works invisibly and silently in our hearts through his Word, the result in our lives will show in what we speak with our lips, how we act with our hands, where we walk with our feet, even what we allow ourselves to look at with our eyes and listen to with our ears. God’s love for us in Jesus that he communicates to us in his Word moves us to gladly live to the glory of God!
Prayer: (from Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, 469)
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee.
Take my voice and let me sing always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee.
Some animals can shine. This special capability is called bioluminescence. You’ve probably seen it in fireflies on a warm summer night. You may even have seen it in some sea creatures, such as lanternfish, anglerfish, and jellyfish.
No true plants (as far as we know) have natural bioluminescence. That’s why the end of Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the weeds may seem a little strange. All along, he’s been talking in terms of plants: wheat and weeds. He explained that both the wheat represents those who believe in him, and the weeds represent those who do not. Those who do not will be separated from God forever when this world ends. Those who believe, Jesus says, “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Where does this “shining” come from? This picture of God’s people shining is one that God has used before. In the book of Daniel, God says, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:2,3).
In both this passage from Daniel and in Jesus’ parable, God is describing what those who believe in him have to look forward to. On the Last Day, after God has removed “everything that causes sin and all who do evil” from his presence, he will take his people home to heaven. There, set free from all their sins and covered with Jesus’s perfection, they will shine like the sun. This won’t be bioluminescence that they produce. Rather it will be “Christ-luminescence,” since it is through Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death on their behalf that they are now shining.
Wheat normally does not shine. But in heaven, God’s wheat will. By God’s grace, all who believe in Jesus will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father forever.
Lord Jesus, grant that I always trust in you so that by your grace, I may shine with you forever. Amen.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:40-42
When you pull weeds out of your garden, what do you do with them? Do you arrange them in a vase and set them in your living room? Do you extract their seeds so that you can plant them next year? Of course not. Weeds, by definition, are plants that you didn’t want in your garden, and you have no use for them. So, when you pull them from your garden, you throw them away on your brush pile or in your garbage can.
In Jesus’ story, when harvest time came, the farmer sent his harvesters into his field. Their first task was to gather all the weeds, bind them in bundles, and burn them.
A time of harvest is coming for this world as well. On the last day of this world’s existence, Jesus will return, accompanied by all his angels. He will send his angels to separate those who refused to believe in him from those who do believe, just as the harvesters in Jesus’ parable separated the weeds from the wheat. Then, he will cast those who refused to believe in him into the eternal fires of hell, where they will experience eternal separation from God and all of his blessings.
This is not the way God wants things to work out for people. God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). That’s why he sent his Son to live, die, and rise again for all people. Unfortunately, people reject the gifts of salvation and eternal life that God offers them in Christ.
But for those who by God’s grace do believe in Jesus as their Savior, a different, more glorious future awaits. They will shine like the sun forever in the glories of heaven.
Heavenly Father, keep me always close to Jesus, my Savior, that I may never lose the blessings that he has won for me. Amen.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull [the weeds] up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 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 13:28-30
The farmer’s enemy was exceptionally devious. The weeds that he planted in the farmer’s field were a species that looks remarkably similar to wheat while it is growing. In fact, it is only when both plants are mature that you can infallibly tell them apart.
When the farmer’s servants saw the weeds growing in the field, they asked the farmer if he wanted them to go through the field and pull up the weeds. The farmer replied, “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.” Since the weeds and the wheat at first looked very similar, it was quite likely that the servants, in their zeal to eradicate the weeds, would unwittingly uproot wheat plants also. That would be counterproductive. Much better just to let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest. Then the harvesters would be able to tell them apart and separate them accurately.
As you look at all the other people who are growing around you in this world, can you tell which of them believe in Jesus and which of them do not? You may be able to judge by a person’s words and actions whether they believe in Jesus. But you cannot know for sure unless you look into their heart. That is something only God can do. Only God knows infallibly who believes in him and who does not.
Thankfully, God has not given us the task of trying to separate believers from unbelievers. That is a job he has reserved for himself, and he will carry it out unerringly on the last day of this world’s existence. In the meantime, our task remains to grow as wheat alongside the weeds in whatever part of the world where God has planted us, confident that God, who alone can read the heart, unfailingly knows those who are his.
Heavenly Father, enable me to live my faith in this world, confident that you know those who belong to you. Amen.