February 16, 2013

Jeremiah 4:3 This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.

This brings to mind Jesus’ parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Land that is not plowed is not receptive to seed scattered on it. It is far too easy, indeed likely, that birds will eat the seed before it can germinate. As the next verse makes clear, the Lord is talking about hearts here, just as Jesus was in His parable. When our hearts are set and hard, they are no more likely to receive God’s Word and be fruitful than a packed dirt road is to produce a crop of wheat or barley. Likewise, Jesus’ parable illuminates the second half of this command. He use brambles as a picture of the distractions of the world, both those that seem good and those that seem bad. We can be equally distracted from God’s words by pleasures and by anxieties. Such things choke out a productive response to the Lord. That’s why here, He says, “Don’t sow among thorns.” In this age of information overload, letting other things crowd out the Word of God can take just a moment! That’s why it is essential to have devotional time away from all our information gadgets – cell phones, tablets, etc. – so that we can focus in on what God is saying to us. You could say that we have become addicted to thorns! The first step in overcoming an addiction is to acknowledge that you have it. If the thought of turning off your phone for half an hour or more threatens to give you a panic attack, you’re addicted! God wants to pour His Word into our hearts, but we’ve got to choose to make our hearts receptive. For too many, their hearts aren’t just packed earth, they’re paved in asphalt or concrete! God says to break that up, to let the Word reach the soft, tender part of our heart, and don’t let the world crowd it out.

I’ve used a computer in my devotions for almost 30 years now, but I do have the sense not to have my email program open! However, when I’m trying out new equipment, as I happen to be at this moment, the tool can get in the way of the work! It takes a conscious choice to set aside technical considerations and listen to what the Lord is saying to me. Also, even good habits can “pack the soil,” so to speak, so that I can’t hear when God is telling me to do something different for a change. I need to invite the plowing of the Holy Spirit, of the Word, so that my heart will truly be receptive. This awareness should give me empathy for those in my care who likewise struggle with distractions and have trouble hearing God. I am to be gentle and patient with them, speaking the truth in love as much and as often as necessary, and never in a condescending way, so that they too may receive the truth that will set them free.

Father, the longer I am in ministry the better I understand Jesus’ frequent statement, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:9, etc.) I encounter so many who seem to be earless! Help me never give up, but continue presenting Your Word with Your wisdom in Your love in the anointing of Your Spirit, so that as many as will may repent, believe, and be saved, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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