Friday, April 21, 2006

Thorns and Weeds

Hey, all! I seem to have slacked off on this blogging thing, haven't I? It's been several days, and I realize the need to keep blogging because though not to many comments are left, I know quite a few out there in blogland are reading. It's a vehicle to minister to those who are reading. So, I don't want to lose you! Here is another little devotion that I pray will bless you.

I was going to write on our responsibility to live our lives in such a way as to give God glory and honor through our good conduct. Really, it is based in the fourth commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain", Ex. 20:7. That will be for another day, now, because I sense the need to write on something different. Perhaps I can pick up on the fourth commandment next time.

Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment. I found out that my blood pressure is somewhat high. I wasn't stressed out about anything, so I knew that wasn't part of it. I got to thinking about my lifestyle and eating habits lately, and I believe that I have found the culprit-me!

I'm a busy guy. Between my now good-sized family, work and ministy, I am pretty much going nonstop. To help make ends meet, I have a second job that I work a few nights of the week delivering pizza. Being around all that food is tempting, and yes, I have given in, taking advantage of my employee discount! Not to mention the salty junk food, and a lot of coffee lately, it's no wonder I am having some issues physically. Of course, as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. I have to make some changes in my eating and lifestyle habits to bring my health back where it should be. I am starting today. I have a half a chicken breast that I grilled last night left over, and a salad, sliced pepper and some baby cucumbers. I need to start eating better. Now, if I can only beat myself into a regular exercise routine!

We do the same thing spiritually. We allow junk to take the place of the most substantial spiritual meal we can eat, God's word. We'd rather read a newspaper or a good book than take the time to read the Bible. There isn't anything wrong with recreational reading, but if it takes the place of the Word of Almighty God, I think we are stuffing our spirits with spiritual potato chips. We allow anything and everything to crowd out our study time and prayer time.

We live in a time of distraction like never before. We have digital cable and satellite TV, the internet and radio. We keep busy with our jobs, our hobbies. And we choke out the most important stuff. I'm reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus in the Parable of the Sower:

"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful" Matt. 13:22

(For a good study in this parable, see Pastor Henry's blog, as he has been writing about it lately.) Jesus in his explantion of this parable, said that seed sown is God's word, and that the ground it's sown into is our hearts. So, that tells me that nowadays, we seem to have very thorny hearts. The cares of life, the pursuit of "the good life", the American dream, has choked out our desire to grow in the grace of the Lord. We are an unfruitful lot. Friends, God didn't call us so we can sit pretty in our big houses and drive our fancy cars and look "blessed". I know that seems to run contrary to the message many of the TV preachers seem to preach. But didn't Jesus call us to forsake all and follow him? He had a conversation with a young man one day that was actually quite thorny himself. The guy wanted to know how to have eternal life. He had tried to honor the commandments of God. Yet, Jesus told him that he still lacked one thing. He said to "go and sell all you have, give the money to poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me." The Bible then says that the man went away sorrowful, because he had great wealth.(See Matt. 19:16-22) His heart was full of thorns so that he could not allow the Word of God to grow and flourish through the junk he held onto.

Friends, we are allowing our spiritual health to fail. And just as my body won't fuction the way it should when I stuff it with junk, so spiritually we can't be fruitful and function the way God intends. So, let me encourage you, start weeding your garden. Get the weeds and thorns out of your life. Cultivate your life with the Word of God, with prayer and relationship with the Lord Jesus. Spend time in worship and praise, not just in a church setting, but in your personal time with the Lord. I pray that this devotion has sparked a desire in your life for more of the Lord. God bless, friends!


Neil said...

Good Word! It's so easy to become weighted down as you wrote earlier and to get caught in the daily thorns and weeds...I think we all struggle with this. Watch the blood pressure, you're too young to be bothered by this...take it from one with high blood pressure. I stay pretty consistently around 157/99-160/103-104
Not a good place to be and I'm quite a bit older than you and yourself my friend!

michigan preacher said...

Thanks for the concern, Neil. I know I'm too young for this kind of thing. As I write, I am eating green pepper slices! I did sneak and eat some sweet onion flavored chips, but for the most part, I've done good today. I even went out on both breaks for prayer-walks.

God bless, brother!

Neil said...

There's a good book on high blood pressure and some natural treatments by Dr. Don Colbert. I take one 81mg aspirin per day and one odorless garlic softgel per day, 1000 mgs. It has helped, I think the big think is watching your salt intake, I'm trying not to use salt other than what it is seasoned with when cooked. Exercise is good too. Someone on my blog suggested cinnamon bark...I'm not sure about that...I've read all kinds of stuff about treating it naturally...we don't have insurance so I can't really afford to be strapped with another monthly fee...but I am also believing God for healing and am trying to do all I can to get it down in the process. Drink water like it's going out of style, limit your caffine intake...just use wisdom...take it from Dr. Neil, you want to get a handle on it early!
Just concerned, not trying to be a know it all or expert, I'm far from it but in the same boat!

ruthrap said...

great analogy! Made me think about all my "weeds". I have had some concerns about my blood pressure lately and I work with pizza everyday at my job and eat way too much of it! My spriritual garden could stand some "weeding" too, but I'm working on it!!Thanks for your encouraging words...all you blogging pastors definitly help keep me in line!!!