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We have spent the last two lessons examining different ways we can respond to God. These were taken from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Each "soil" in this parable represents a type of heart, or a pattern by which we respond to God. The first heart is what I call a closed heart; one that is not open to God's will and desires for any number of reasons. The second heart is the "rocky soil" heart, the one that receives God's move gladly, but does not have the depth to substain it when the going gets tough. The first heart is totally unreceptive to what God wants to do. The second one is very receptive, but they are only prepared for it if things are easy and if they can coast through things in God's anointing and power. When it comes time to stand firm, as per Ephesians 6:13-14, people with this type of heart get knocked over and taken out. This happens because they do not have a firm foundation in God and they do not have the spiritual depth to withstand the trials and temptations of life.
The third type of heart is a distracted heart. This is the one with the weeds. Weeds grow up and choke it out. This is the person that may embrace the things of the Lord. But they are quickly sucked into the things of the world. In fact that is the first thorn - worldliness. There are some things this person does not want to give up in the world. They don't want to release those things. This person comes to a place of believing that what other people think is more important than what God thinks. The person embraces the move of God and changes quickly. But then he (or she) gets back around old relationships and gets sucked back in to it.
I found this to be true back when I was a teen in my youth group. I used to get that mountain-top experience from the Lord. I would come home ready to change the world, only to be changed by the world. Do you know what I mean? You do okay. You experience the glory and power of the Lord, and who is there to snatch it away from you. That is where you have to cut off some relationships.
You see some of our young people are going to experience great measures of the glory of God and the world will try to suck it out of them. This is where the weeds come in and you have to cut off some friendships. Cut them loose. Give them up or you are going to get choked by them.
There is another thing that produces a distracted heart. We get a distracted heart if we do not have an eternal perspective. By that I mean that you are so focused on the things of this world that you do not have a heavenly perspective at all. You are so sucked into the things of this world here, and your priorities get messed up. You really don't know what is important, and what is not important.
Let me give you a question to ask yourself. Are the things that you are doing today going to matter l00 years from now? In l00 years, you are not going to be in this body on this earth, you are going to be with the Lord. 1 Cor 12:12-15 say, "Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw; each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." Hopefully, all of us here have that relationship with the Lord, and you are going to be with Him. But are the things you involved with today going to pass through the fire into eternity? Do they have eternal significance, weight, and value?
Here, again, I just love the apostle Paul. Philippians 3:7,8 says, "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ."
Sometimes we get so involved with the things of this world, that we miss out totally on God. A person will want to be president of every club they are involved in. They want their kids to be involved in every sport there is - basketball, soccer, football, etc. They want them to go to every camp. And not only that, people will decide not even really have a life because they are involved in so many different things. Many of you know that rat race. 100 years from now will it matter? In pursuit of the "American dream", will you have missed God's heavenly plan? One day it will not be there. It will be all burned up.
Now I'm not saying you have to give up everything. I am just saying you need to have a heavenly perspective on things. If you don't have that and when God shows up, you quickly get choked. You get squeezed to death with all that stuff of the world, and you can't move on with God because all your joy has now been robbed.
So if you are surrounded by the weeds, how can you begin to pull them so that your spiritual life and joy won't be choked out of you? You begin this by going back to God and asking Him for help. Invite Him to transform your thinking, to give you His perspective. Make Psalm 51:8-13 the prayer and cry of your heart on an ongoing basis:
Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.
Another thing you can to is to take your datebooks or schedulers before the Lord and prayerfully review them with Him. Look at how and where you spend most of your time. Ask God to show you which or your activities are ones that He might want to rearrange a bit. Sometimes the problem is not that you don't care about what is important to God. Sometimes the problem is that a person gets so caught up and busy in their routines that they don't even realize that their are priorities are out of line. So when they begin to take them to God and review them with Him, they may become aware that they are out of order with Gods. That realization, in and of itself, may cause some of us to change our priorities.