Mark 4:18-19 (NIV)
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
I have had a lot of pressure on me recently. Some of the pressure is self-inflicted. Some comes from normal family and work responsibilities. Some comes from Satan trying to stir the pot. At one level I like pressure. It helps me get up everyday. The need to get things done is a great motivator. However, pressure that takes your eyes off of the greater goal, the higher calling is not healthy.
When Jesus told the parable of the sower he was talking about the way people respond to God’s word in their lives. The seed represented God’s word (Luke 18:14). The types of soil on which the seed fell represented the hearts of the hearers or perhaps stated differently, their reception to God’s word. There was seed sown on the hard packed dirt, in the rocky soil, amongst thorns and finally seed that fell on good, fertile soil.
I would encourage you to read the various accounts of the parable. You can find them in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. There is a lot we can learn about the way people respond to Gospel. However, I just want to focus on the seed sown in the thorns. Jesus explained that the thorns represented the, worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things. Pressures. Those things, good and bad, that take our eyes off of what God is doing in our lives and in the world. Continue reading
John 8:28-36 (NIV)
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
If you live in America it is easy to say, “I am free.” After all, we have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, a right to privacy, the right to bear arms and so much more. Is that all there is to freedom? Do all the rights Americans share provide true freedom? Not according to Jesus.
The context of the verses above indicate that Jesus was engaged in conversation with a group of Pharisees about his testimony about himself and his “father.” As Jesus spoke we are told that “many put their faith in him.” Then Jesus directed his comments to the Jews who believed him and said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus knew that something was missing in their lives. Belief in Jesus was great, but they needed a paradigm shift. In the end, these Jews still held to their position as Abraham’s descendents. “We are descendants of Abraham. We have never been slaves. How can you free us?”
They did not recognize the chains that still bound them. Perhaps it was pride, perhaps it was ignorance. Bondage is not always evident. The world is full of people who are slaves. Slaves to vices, slaves to desires, slaves of thier career, slaves to sin. Until we realize that the path to true freedom is only found in Jesus Christ, we will never be truly free. Traps are set in every corner. Sin waits to hold you down.
Jesus is there to offer you hope and freedom. Without Christ your freedom is only good until the next trap. Jesus extends his hand to bring you into a relationship that will break the chains. Get to know Jesus. Read his words, “hold to” his teaching. Believe.
Joshua 3:5 (NIV)
Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you”
There are a number of times in the Scriptures where the listeners were told to prepare (consecrate, purify etc.) themselves (cf. Ex 19:10, 19:22, 28:41, Lev. 11:44 and more). The point is that God deserves the best we can be. Partying until 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning and then bearly dragging yourself to church does not honor God.
If that is your standard method of operation, don’t be surprised if God does not “show-up.” You prepare yourself for work. You prepare yourself for a date. Why wouldn’t you prepare yourself to meet God? God is looking for people who desire to see his face. God is seeking people who will worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Don’t misunderstand me. If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, your sins are washed away. However, that does not mean live life as if nothing has changed. You are adopted sons and daughter’s of the living LORD. Let your life reflect that grace.
This is not just a Sunday preparation issue. God is Lord of everyday of the week and he deserves our attention. Lord, help me to honor you. Help me to seek after you and prepare my heart and mind for that encounter everyday. Help me to usher in the great wonders you want to do for a people “ready” for the encounter. AMEN
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