Distracted by the CARES of the world

14 The sower soweth the word.

WAYSIDE.

15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

STONY GROUND.

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

THORNY GROUND.

18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

GOOD GROUND.

20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. [Mark 4:14-20]

All of us are barraged daily with things that distract. The CHALLENGES of life feel like trying to take a SIP of water from a FIREHOSE. Does your life feel like that? Mine too. Everyone seems to want / need your attention. Some of them are not sinful in themselves, but when we allow them to take away from more important things, then they become sin.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” [James 4:17]

Paul tells us, “And be not conformed to this world” [Rom 12:2]; John says we must “not love the world or the things in the world” [1John 2:15-17]; James wrote “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God” [James 4:4] and to remain “unspotted from the world” [James 1:27]. While much can be said about all 4 soils, this article will focus on the Thorny Ground, “the CARES of this world.”

First, we all face the physical (the bible calls them CARNAL) needs of life. Food, Clothing & Shelter are necessities and not sinful. For most of us it feels like we work just to pay our bills, or that we’re in a rat race. This is telling us that the Carnal needs of life are surpassing the “weightier matters.” Another way of saying this is with one word, WORRY. Jesus gives us the remedy; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Mat 6:19-34]

A second thing that is not necessarily sinful are the AMUSEMENTS we have. The scriptures teach us that God, “giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” It’s ok to relax, rest and enjoy the fruits of our labor. However, when they push out the “weightier matters” they have become sin.“There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” [Prov 21:20] When we take time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, do we forsake the assembling of ourselves together when we go on vacation? We’re not speaking of sinful things like adultery, fornication, stealing, drunkenness, lying, etc. Often, it’s the lawful things that we’ve placed ahead of our service to the Lord.

The third thing that can become a distraction, and I say this with all humility knowing that this one hits our heart, is our RELATIONSHIPS. Family & Friends are important, commanded, and necessary to our existence. [cf. Gen 2:18; 1Cor 7:2; 1Tim 5:16 et al] However, even these can lead to distraction if we allow relationships to take us away from that which is right. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” [Mat 10:37; cf. 1Cor 7:32-33] We must care for our families, AND we must serve the Lord. God is not telling us to stop loving our family, friends, or neighbors. We ought to do these things without leaving the others undone. Here’s something to remember; our family, who have gone on before us, would give this exact advice! [Luke 16:19-31:]

Fourthly, mixed in with all of the above is our need for money. Our household ECONOMICS can elevate to a point where we begin to trust it above our trust in God. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God,” [1Tim 6:10,17; cf. James 5:3; Mat 6:19] One must love and trust the Lord PREEMINENTLY [Col 1:18].

A fifth distraction can be the SOCIAL Ills of the world. Some of us have placed our concern for Societal ills ABOVE the spreading of the Gospel. This concern creeps into our practices in the church. We must be constantly reminded that the Gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” [Rom 1:16]. We must help our neighbors, and the best way to do that is by teaching them the way of the Lord and by doing things His way [Mat 22:21; 2Thess 3:12; 1Tim 5:16; Eph 4:28].

Be on your guard, be watching and let’s not grow weary doing good while waiting for the Lord’s return. May we be found well doing when He returns. “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” [Luke 12:37]

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and CARES of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” [Luke 21:34; emp mine seb]

From the mouth of Babes

“When it’s thundering, that’s just God bowling.”

“When it’s lightening, that’s God taking pictures.”

“When it’s raining, that’s God crying.”

Perhaps many of us have heard these as children from our parents trying to comfort us. While their intentions were good, the doors were opened for more errors.

I remember hearing a little girl refer to spirits, witches, demons, devils & ghosts to explain sickness, troubles and strange events in her young life. She said, “that’s what my mom told me.”

And this mom is a church goer!!

This little person continued to describe other things she was taught from her parents. “The devil has horns, a red face and a long tale.” Truly sad.

You think that these lies will leave the heart of an imaginative child and not follow them into adulthood? Nay, Nay. An acquaintance of mine spoke about the loss of an adult son; “he had demons.” They weren’t speaking figuratively. Truly sad.

These lies continue to be taught through movies, songs, and YouTube videos. All of which our children are given unfettered and unsupervised access without giving them access to the truth, God’s word.

These stories illustrate a problem we have, people know more that isn’t so than they know about the comfort from the truth. They don’t know the truth, because they are too busy to read it.

A LITTLE MAID.

In second Kings, we hear of a little maid who offers comforting hope to the man that had stolen her from her home in Israel [2King 5:1-4]. What can we learn from a little girl, a little MAID?

The story begins with the description of a MIGHTY MAN of Valor that had stolen a little maid during a raid on Israel. He is not a friend; he is an enemy to the little maid. However, he had a problem, he was a leper.

Rather than withhold from her enemy the hope of a cure, she ADVISED her mistress, Naaman’s wife, who then told Naaman. Naaman believed and was willing to go to the land from which he stole, and went to the land for help! This all began because of the faith of a little maid. This speaks volumes about her more than it does of the others.

What was it about her that she was willing to tell of a cure to her enemy? Perhaps it was the teaching about love for an enemy… “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” [Lev 19:18; cf. Mat 22:35-39] This command is connected to Loving God Himself! When a person has love for their enemy, the desire for vengeance will evaporate. Love changes our actions toward another, even toward an enemy.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” [Luke 6:27-28]

What Advice did she give her captor?

IF ONLY my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” She told of a cure, not half-truths or falsehoods. She told of actual hope, not the mythological fairy tales we tell children to give them false hope. AND THEY BELIEVED HER.

We have to turn to hear Jesus to complete the story

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” [Luke 4:27] Did you catch it? She told them of a cure that She DID NOT HERSELF SEE!! She knew it because of her faith in God, her trust in the Almighty. She had more faith than the king of Israel [2King 5:7]. Jesus uses her example to illustrate Himself being rejected by his own people.

What’s the moral to the story? Children can learn the truth and be comforted by it during their time of need. They don’t need to be told myths. They can handle the truth. The truth will make them free from fear [John 8:32]. And not only that, they can grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and share their faith with others in their time of need.