The Cares of the World

We just returned from a trip to Oregon to visit family. It is always a joy to see the kids and grandkids and go watch some of their sporting events. Our grandson, Luke, even got to compete in a tricycle race during a time-out in the third quarter of a Portland Trailblazer game. He won and got as a prize weekly Value Meals at McDonalds for a year!  Not sure if that is a good or bad thing?!  As usual, we also got involved in a work project. We spent a day at our daughter’s place near Albany cutting out black berry vines. For those of you who know what they are, you know what a task that is. They are kind of like “ginormous” raspberries with long thorns. Some of the vines were a good twenty feet long, crawling up and over bushes and way up into trees. In many cases, both ends were rooted into the ground. When we finished, our bodies looked like we had the measles, from all the pokes through our clothing. When I was pulling on one of the vines, one of the thorns broke off and stuck in my thumb. Even after having it removed, my thumb was hot and puffy for a couple days. On a couple occasions we had to help each other get unstuck from vines that had wrapped around to where we couldn’t get loose. These things grow wild all over western Oregon and Washington and can easily take over if not controlled.

     As I worked to remove the blackberry vines I was reminded of one of Jesus’ parables in Matthew chapter 13, the parable of the sower and the seed. The seed was sown on various types of soil–the hard road bed, rocky soil, thorny soil, and good soil.  The Parable of the Sower reveals that our Lord sows the seed (His Word) in the field (the world). The soil represents the hearts of people and how they receive the Word. Some are hard (v. 4), some are shallow (vv. 5,6), some are worldly (v. 7) and some are receptive (v. 8).  It indicates that only a minority of those who hear God’s Word are truly born again and bear fruit.
     Jesus said, “And some seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out” (Mt. 13:7).  As He went on to explain the meaning of His parable, Jesus said, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (v. 22).  In this case, the person is so caught up in the cares of the world that the Word of God is squeezed out before it can really get rooted and bear fruit.  Not only does this prevent individuals from coming to Christ for salvation,  but it also is a problem with believers who allow the allurements and cares of the world to squeeze out their spiritual vitality. There are many warnings in Scripture about the world and what it offers and how we can lose our spiritual focus and be rendered ineffective for Christ. The Apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and also its lust; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” ( I Jn. 2:15-17).  The world is whatever cools our affection for Christ. Satan is the “ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31), and consequently, the world system is opposed to Christ. Satan will do all he can to wrap you up with the thorny vines of the cares of this world to keep you from bearing fruit for Christ. It is very easy to become so entangled in these thorny vines that you need help to get out. Praise God, our Father is the “Vinedresser” (Jn. 15:1) who will cut out the vines if we come to Him and ask for help, confessing our sins of falling prey to the temptations of the world and its cares. And by the way, not all our involvements in the world are necessarily bad things (sinful things), but we can become so busy with our involvements that our priorities get turned around and Christ and the church just get the leftovers.  I’m sure that’s what Jesus had in mind in His “Sermon on the Mount,” in which He exhorted: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:19-21).    
     Blackberry vines actually produce some very yummy berries and if they are confined and controlled their fruit can be useful. When God saved us, He did not take us out of the world, but sent us into the world to bear fruit. If the things in the world are used for God’s glory and not our own lustful desires, they can bear spiritual fruit. But if we become focused on them, they will ultimately wrap themselves around us, sink their thorns into us and control us, rendering us useless for God. So, maybe you need to let God, the Divine Vinedresser, do some pruning in your life. Warning: It may be a bit painful, but the results are well worth it. After all, “He chose us and appointed us that we should go and bear fruit, and that our fruit should remain” (Jn. 15:16).
 
                                                        Forever His,
                                                                    Pastor Dave
    
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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