THORNS OF THE HEART

Once Jesus preached to the multitudes on a boat by the Sea of Galilee about the Parable of the Sower.  He said in Matthew 13:7,12, "A sower went out to sow, some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.  Those seed fell among thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful."

Today, many gather together to listen to the Word of God.  Some are able to keep the Word firmly in their hearts like the seed that fell on the good soil and yield thirty fold, sixty fold, and even one hundred fold; however, others hear the Word but it was of no benefit to them, just as those seed that fell among the thorns and were choked.  Thorns must never be allowed to exist in the soils of our faith.  Before we can expect fruits from a piece of soil, we must first remove the thorns in the soil, the obstacles in our hearts, which can choke the plants.  What are the thorns and the obstacles in our hearts?  Anxiety, fear, and greed.

I.       ANXIETY

Jesus said to a rich man who knew only to store up treasures but fad to realize the value of human life, "You fool!  This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" Jesus also said to His disciple,

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds .... For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and you Father knows that you need these things.  But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.' (Lk 12:22-31)

From these words spoken by Jesus, we know that there is no need for us to fear, for our existence depends solely upon God (Acts 17:28).  Since worries and anxieties cannot resolve our problem, why then should we worry?  The best solution in resolving our problems is to trust and rely upon God in all things.  King David said in Psalm 37:4- "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in I-Em, and he shall being it to pass." Do not let our worries and anxieties overshadow the mighty power and grace of God.  Apostle Peter said in lst Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." God is completely reliable and trustworthy.  We should be anxious of nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:5-7).

II.    FEAR

Fear and anxiety exist in parallel and will cause us to loose the peace in our hearts.  However, we should not fear anything or anyone except our heavenly Father.  Jesus said in Luke 12:4-7, "And I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more than they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear.  Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him .... But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." We can therefore boldly say, as recorded in Hebrews 13:6, "'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?"

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.  For no longer are we servant, still living in fear, but rather, we are sons of God and therefore, we shall live without fear.  The process of our growth should be like that of Jesus.  To grow up, become strong and be filled with the wisdom and grace of God so that we will no longer live in fear.

Love is the best means of overcoming fear.  Apostle John said in lst John 4:17-18, "Love has been perfected among us in this that we may have boldness in the day of judgment because as He is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." Because of His boundless love for mankind, Jesus Christ came to the world to die for our sins on the cross.  During the later part of his ministry, Apostle Paul knew that afflictions and tribulations awaits him in Jerusalem; however, he was unafraid and continued his missionary journey without hesitation.  This was because Paul was filled by the perfect love of Christ.  A sinful woman anointed Jesus with an alabaster jar of perfume as she wept and repented in the presence of Jesus.  The love that she had shown touched Jesus deeply and all her sins, as the result, were forgiven.  Jesus then said in Luke 7:47, "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many arc forgiven for she loved much." The more we love, the more often our sins arc forgiven.  When we can put aside our fears, then thorns in our hearts can be removed so that our hearts may grow and become strong.

III. GREED

King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 15:10-14, "He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase, This also is vanity.  When goods increase, they increase who cat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes.... There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun; riches kept for their owner to his hurt.  But those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand."

The Bible teaches us that we must not have any greedy intentions, but rather, we should be content with the things we already have.  Contentment is a way to keep our greedy desires to a minimum.  Apostle Paul encouraged young Timothy that "Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim 6:6-10).  It is obvious that God shall preserve the lives of those who fear Him.

CONCLUSION

It is of utmost importance that we protect and preserve our heart.  Therefore, we should keep our heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.  If our heart is like a piece of good soil, and the seeds of truth arc planted within, then it will produce an abundance of fruits.  However, if the soil of our heart is filled with thorns, then there is no way for the truth to grow and bear fruits.  We must, therefore, protect the soil of our heart so that we can produce fruitful results.

After the seed has been sowed, we must cultivate and develop the soil, which represents spiritual cultivation.  Giving all diligence and add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love, As we continue to progress in our life of spiritual cultivation, we can gradually remove the thorns in our hearts so that our hearts may become a good soil to bring forth fruits thirty fold, sixty fold, and hundred fold.