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Summary: Keeping priorities in check.

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Seeds Among Thorns

(Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)

3rd in a Series on: Parable of the Soils

Introduction:

USA Today ran an article on October 25th, 1995 that is a great illustration about priorities. It reads…

“Ronald Warwick, captain of the luxury cruise ship Queen Elizabeth II, questioned a passenger who paid full fare for his dog to join them on an around-the-world cruise. (Accommodations ranged from $25,000 to $150,000.) ‘Wouldn’t it have cost less to leave him at home?’

“‘Oh no,’ the man said. ‘When we are away a long time, the dog’s psychiatrist fees are so high, it’s less expensive to bring him along’” (Edward K. Rowell, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations & Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, 1997), 531).

When our priorities are out of wack, our sensibilities get out of wack. And when our sensibilities are out of wack we can waste a lifetime trying to do something but never accomplishing anything.

William Barclay puts it this way, “It is not the things which are obviously bad which are dangerous. It is the things which are good [which are dangerous], for the ‘second best is always the worst enemy of the best’” (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2 (Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, Kentucky, 1975), 61).

This week, as we get into our discussion about the Parable of the Soils, we’re going to take a closer look at the soil that was full of thorns.

Read with me again,

Matthew 13:1-9 (NLT)

Later that same day, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore, [2] where an immense crowd soon gathered. He got into a boat, where he sat and taught as the people listened on the shore. [3] He told many stories such as this one:

"A farmer went out to plant some seed. [4] As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. [5] Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, [6] but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. [7] Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades. [8] But some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. [9] Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"

Matthew 13:18-23 (NLT)

"Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: [19] The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. [20] The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. [21] But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. [22] The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. [23] The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest—thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted."

There are two different things that Jesus tells us results in “thorny ground” in a person’s life; and it’s these two things that I want us to take a look at today.

The first thing Jesus said the thorny ground represents is:

1. The cares and worries of this life.

“Film maker Walt Disney was ruthless in cutting anything that got in the way of a story’s pacing. Ward Kimball, one of the animators for Snow White, recalls working 240 days on a 4 ½ minute sequence in which the dwarfs made soup for Snow White and almost destroyed the kitchen in the process. Disney thought it was funny, but he decided the scene stopped the flow of the picture, so out it went” (Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1993, 1996, 1998), 559).

What is it that stops the flow of the picture of God in your life? What is it that hinders you from growing to your fullest potential.

There will be things in your life that pull and tug at you relentlessly; things you may even have a great desire to do. But many times these things that are vying for your attention are merely distractions from the more important things in life.

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