Monday, February 18, 2008

Thorns Will Make You Forlorn

As most of you know, I was out of town all last weekend. So, regrettably, I missed church service last Sunday. But, the good news is, I just got to listen to last week’s service online on our church website!! So, now I can write about Chad’s conclusion to the “parable of the sower” series.

Of course, the parable of the sower talks about the different types of ground (conditions of our heart) and circumstances surrounding the fruitfulness of the seeds that are sown. Seeds along the path get trampled on and birds (Satan) often take advantage of what’s there and gobble them up. Other seeds fall in the rocks and get scorched by the sun (the “Son” - persecution because of the gospel) when they spring up because they have no root. And, other seeds fall among the thorns where they are choked and stifled.

This is where Chad picks up the parable; with the thorns (Matthew 13:7 & 22; Luke 8:14). The thorns represent the worries, riches, and pleasures of life that can drain away the joy of our salvation. They don’t necessarily kill the plants that spring up; they just surround them, stifle them, and cause them to be unfruitful.

To get some further insight, Chad asked a good Christian friend of his (who also happens to be wealthy) why chasing wealth and earthly treasures is misleading. He told Chad that wealth has a way of turning “wants” into “needs” and it just becomes an upward spiral of endless achieving and attaining. He gave an example of his “want” of a boat - which he acquired. But, along with the boat came all the “needs” that came along with it. They had to get all sorts of things to go along with it, plus get a place to store it, pay for maintenance, etc. The “needs” that went along with the initial “want” just kept piling up. And, when you have more and more burdens piled up, that also brings certain amounts of “worry” along with it.

Chad’s friend also described how wealth is based on leverage and reward. You put out what you have hoping that you get more back in return. That too builds worry because you fear that you will risk losing what you have in order to acquire more. Wow!! All that worry and burden just to “get” earthly things that will rust and be destroyed? Why not work to acquire things that last; things with eternal value? Matthew 6:19-21 says: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

So, with all those “thorns” in his friend’s life, how do you think his Christian walk is? Yeah, needless to say, his walk suffers for it. Focusing too much on the external things, rather than the internal things, will do that to you.

Chad finished up with one final illustration. I wasn’t there to actually see it, but as I heard him describe it, it really resonated with me. He talked about how we are all like a coffee cup; we are empty and waiting to be filled. Filled with what? Well, coffee of course! But, sometimes, we try to be filled with other things; things that don’t satisfy. But, when we are filled with what we are meant to be filled with (God’s Spirit - the “coffee”) we are filled and satisfied! However, sometimes, it starts being more about the “cup” than the “coffee.” We “upgrade” to a fancier cup; a bigger cup; etc. and we don’t focus so much on what is inside. The coffee is still filling us and it’s still there, but that’s not the focus anymore.

So, are we going to focus on the “coffee” or the “cup”? The best choice is obvious, but we don’t always choose it. We’re human. We can all be choked by thorns and get distracted and focused on the wrong things. But, we can get back on track and refocus ourselves once again. We CAN be the good soil; the soil that is fruitful and yields a bountiful harvest!! We don’t have to let birds, rocks, or thorns prevent us from flourishing!!

So, think about it!! If you are in one of the unfruitful soils, ask God for a transplant!! Let’s all grow together for the good of God’s Kingdom and be fruitful!!

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