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Friday, April 15, 2011

Parable of the Sower (part 5, conclusion)

It seems that the world’s goods never completely satisfy us...

Text: Mark 4:1-4:20, also Matthew 13:1- 23

You find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and the price of gold falls. You strike oil, and the oil market deteriorates. Your ship come in, and it sinks in the harbor. There was another article, this one in the Colorado Springs Gazette by Michelle Singletary entitled, “How much is enough in the pursuit of money?”

She started by writing about Karen Hughes, counselor to President Bush, who decided to leave the White House so that she could return home to Texas and spend more time with her husband and teenage son. Turning down the pursuit of fame and fortune for family is a radical concept these days. Ms. Singletary quotes workplace consultant Pamela York Klainer from her book, “How Much Is Enough? Harness the Power of Your Money Story -- And Change Your Life.” In it she writes: “In our American culture money has moved to the center stage.” “Money, Klainer points out, ‘has gone well beyond its literal function as a way to provide for our essential needs and has become, in itself, an essential need. We’re working harder and earning more, yet we continue to be driven, restless, unsatisfied.’

Ms. Singletary also writes, “Klainer warns that for too many men and women vigorously pursuing money and success, work has become the center of their lives around which most other things --
friendship, volunteer service, spirituality and family needs -- revolve.”

As I study the Bible, I realize that a life structured in this way is actually inside out. Our Christianity should be the center of our lives, around which friendship, ministry, family needs, and work… revolve.

If “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” are choking out your spiritual development,
you need to restructure your life. Stop making the pursuit of worldly wealth your highest objective and make the pursuit of spiritual riches your grandest goal.

Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31,33).

Let me add one more practical step to putting God first in your life: Start serving others. Get involved and get your focus off of your needs and start focusing on the needs of others for a change. It will totally revolutionize your life to stop worrying about yourself and start caring about and for others.

There’s a fable about a miserable rich man who went to visit a rabbi. The rabbi took the rich man by the hand and led him to a window. "Look out there," he said. The rich man looked into the street.
"What do you see?" asked the rabbi. "I see men, women, and children," answered the rich man. Again the rabbi took him by the hand and this time led him to a mirror. "Now what do you see?" "Now I see myself," the rich man replied. Then the rabbi said, "Behold….in the window there is glass, and in the mirror there is glass. But the glass of the mirror is covered with a little silver representing wealth, and no sooner is the silver added than you cease to see others, but you see only yourself.

If you really want to have a spiritually productive life, you can have it.

One day a student came to Plato and asked him how he could come to have true knowledge and wisdom. The teacher told the student to follow him and he led him to the river. The teacher waded out into the river and called for his student to join him. When he did, the teacher told the student to dunk himself under the water. The student thought that this was a bizarre request, but he did as the great teacher told him. As soon as his head was under the water the teacher put his hands on his students head and held him under the water. The student fought desperately, but he was unable to break his teacher’s hold. The teacher held his student under water until the student began to weaken and lose his strength. Then he released him and the student shot up and began to gasp for air desperately.

The teacher said, “When you desire knowledge as desperately as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed -- then you shall find it.”

Jesus said something similar: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

If you truly want to live a spiritually productive life, then plow the soil and prepare your heart to receive God’s word, put down roots and persevere through the trials of life, and pull the weeds of worldly wealth and pursue spiritual riches instead. If you do these things then you will have good soil and the seed of God’s word will produce a bountiful harvest in your life. Jesus said that the harvest would yield “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”.

When you make your life match God’s model, the results are miraculous. It’s basic. Start with the Word, then endless possibilities will open up for you as you gain more understanding and gain more openness to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Let us, be people who have ears to hear the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.


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