Summary: In an age when the church is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the daily life of people, when the message of the church seems to increasingly fall on deaf ears, and when the truth is mocked as meaningless and unattainable, Jesus speaks to us these words
Seeds that Survive
Pt 4 – Tending the Ground
We’ve talked about Wayside hearts that need the work of the plow and the rain to soften them so that the Word takes root. We’ve talked about Rocky hearts that need determination to put down deeper roots. Today we come to Thorny Ground.
Characteristics of Thorny ground – Unlike the wayside soil and the rocky soil this ground is lush with vegetation. There are things growing everywhere in fact. So much is growing and competing for soil and sun that the new seeds of the word simply get choked out and are unable to thrive.
The Thorny Heart: If the need of the wayside soil is a softer heart; and the need of the rocky soil is deeper roots; the need of the thorny heart is weeding. Thorny hearts receive readily the wonderful counsel of God and begin to grow in fact they even put down good roots into the soil. The problem with thorny soil isn’t the roots or desire or determination; it’s competition.
Neglect: I planted a new garden this year doubling my old garden by putting in a raised garden filled with new topsoil and mushroom soil. The most fertile ground I could provide to mature the plants I put in it. I conscientiously tended that garden all through the spring and early summer weeding and watering and it was beautiful. Then I went on vacation. In two weeks I returned to find my garden overtaken by weeds. It only takes a little neglect to see the weeds take over the garden. Our hearts are often untended – 6 days a week we neglect them and leave them to find their own way. And the weeds take over.
Improper margins: Failure to leave enough space between plants and rows. When we overplant it’s impossible to tend the garden and weeds grow. Improper margins in life mean that we are living at or beyond our limits leaving no margin or reserve to cope with changing conditions.
Divided Loyalties: We live in a God and … world. Christ becomes one among many competing ideas, demands, visions, motivations that fill our lives. The problem with thorny soil is the weeds always outgrow the Word. Weeds grow faster because they do not have to form and support fruit, their energy is wasted. So it is with those things that so dominate our hearts that the real eternal things are choked out by things that really don’t matter at all.
Weeding the Heart
Deal with Worry: “choked with the worries”. Worry is simply trouble on credit. We are borrowing the trouble of tomorrow by worrying today. The truth is that most of the things we worry so much about never happen. Here is what Jesus said to us about quelling worry in our lives. Matthew 6:25-34 The cure for worry –
• better perspective – “is not life more than food or clothing”
• trust God – “and yet your heavenly Father feeds them”
• understand your value – “are you not more important”
• change your focus – “seek first His kingdom”
Deal with Lust: “and riches” There is something in us that always wants more. The truth is that prosperity breeds want. The more we have the more we want. There is a simplicity in poverty – God called Abraham to leave all he had and go to a land he did not know. The act of leaving everything behind brought a freedom to follow into the wonders of peace and contentment. Luke 18:18-22 Jesus talked to a rich young ruler and told him to sell all he had and come and follow but he couldn’t do it. He wanted peace but wouldn’t give up his toys.
Simplify your life: “pleasures of this life” The most destructive myth of this life is that you can have it all. You can’t you have to make choices and choices require priorities. Where you put your priorities will govern the peace of your life. Trying to have it all and do it all is killing us, robbing us of peace, and choking out our lives. It’s time to make choices – you cannot do it all. We need margins. We need undivided hearts.