...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Friday, August 5, 2011

Choking the Life Out of Me

This past Sunday morning, I mused and pondered on the lack of fruit in my garden and the picture that gave me of the lack of fruit in not only individual Christians' lives but also the modern church. Then I went to church and our guest pastor looked right at me and quoted Scripture that I hadn't even thought of about the same thing! Isn't God amazing????  In order for this post to make more sense, you might want to read the first one HERE.

God is so amazing. Here I was wondering why the church in America is so unfruitful, and He had ALREADY TOLD ME! In fact, I have repeatedly used this exact Scripture to encourage others in parenting or to examine my own parenting issues.

The Parable of the Sower
In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the story about seed and the different ground it falls on and the effect that ground has on the fruitfulness of that seed. Some seed fell on the wayside and the birds ate it, some fell on the stony places, but could not develop much of a root system in that stony ground so the they died when it got hot and dry.  And some fell among the thorns and the thorns choked out those plants.

And then there was the seed that fell on the good ground. It was fruitful. It multiplied greatly. It did what it was supposed to do- it produced fruit.

So which one are we? The Church in the modern western world today?

Listen to Jesus' explanation:
Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.   ~Matthew 13:22

The cares of this world.
The deceitfulness of riches.
Yes, those can choke the life right out of you.

Why and how do they choke the life out of us? By taking all our time and all our energy. They become the priority of our heart. They crowd out our soul. They steal our strength. They fill up our mind. And they don't leave us any time for our neighbor.

And then how can we possibly fulfill the greatest commandments:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  ~Luke 10:27

More Thorns

Everyone will deal with thorns. It is guaranteed. How can I say that with such confidence? Because they were part of the curse of the fall:

Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it 
      All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
Genesis 3:17b-18

Well, thank you Adam!

But seriously, what do these thorns represent? Are the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches the only things we need to be concerned about? Actually, Scripture labels others issues thorns as well. Here are just a few:

Evil Influence
When the Israelites entered the Holy Land they were instructed to drive out all the current inhabitants because God knew that His people would be prone to fall into the evil practices and idol worship of the current residents. Look how God describes the influence of people who practice evil:
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, 
then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes 
and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.
Num. 33:55

Funny, because laziness is probably the opposite problem of the "cares of the world". Certainly the lazy man is not as worried about "the deceitfulness of riches"! Or he wouldn't be lazy! Instead he would be busy.  But laziness is selfishness and is just a much a thorn that will prevent fruitfulness as working too much is!
 The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns,
      But the way of the upright is 
a highway.
Proverbs 15:19

And here is probably the worst thorn of all:

Useless waste of good conditions
When I look at our affluent Western churches, I think this must be the biggest issue. We can't complain about money, not compared to other parts of the world. We can't complain about freedom to worship. We really can't complain about anything. We have been given all that is necessary to be fruitful...It is just that we so often are not!
Now listen to this verse!
 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, 
and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, 
receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected 
and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
Hebrews 6:7-8

And So....
I will end this post the exact same way I ended the last post. It is a call to me personally. And it is a call to my family. Because that is where I can start.  Will you join me? 

May we stop producing thorns, and start producing fruit!

May I wake up.
May we wake up.
May we take Jesus and His word seriously.
And may we start producing fruit...while we still can.

PS- If you haven't read the book Radical by David Platt, I heartily endorse it. But I will add a caution that someone else stated the other day: if we read it, and by taking in the information think we are somehow doing something, then we are deluded. It isn't that we know that we can and should be radical that will make the church radically different. It is ONLY by being Radical!

Here is a link:

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