Tag Archives: New Testament

Matthew 13:22

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. NIV

I’m still working my way through the listings of the word, “worry,” in my concordance. This parable of the sower comes up again and again. The phrase that strikes me this morning is “the deceitfulness of wealth.”

Last night, I saw the movie “Slum Dog Millionaire.” I was struck by the living conditions, or lack of them, that the characters endured.

I’ve visited a third-world country, one where poverty is rampant and people are literally starving. And yet, I met people there who had true joy, and who were spreading the word and making a difference for the kingdom. They weren’t worried about their circumstances, and they weren’t distracted by their possessions.

As I look around at my life and my surroundings, I can see the deceitfulness of wealth … When one is afforded the comforts of this world, it is easy to lose sight of the reason we are here — to fellowship with God — and of the important mission we have been given — to make a difference for Him.

Today, I’m praying that I will be alert to the things that threaten to choke my fruitfulness, and that God will show me where and how I can best bear fruit.

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I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. NIV

What a beautiful, beautiful verse.

What a privilege.  What an honor.

The creator of the universe cares for me.

When I used the Greek to English dictionary in my concordance to look up the word “cares,” in this verse, I was surprised by its definition, “to trouble; to concern.”  Curiously, those same words appear in the definition for “anxiety.”

Candidly, I never pictured God as being troubled over me.  I’ve always pictured Him as calm, never surprised, never grieved.  But, as I think about it, I think that there are verses that say he is grieved sometimes … I should look those up. As I typed that, I thought, “well, you have a concordance right there … do it!” And, sure enough, the Lord appears to be grieved in several instances.

He is all an all-knowing God.  He knows everything I’ve done and everything I will do, and yet, He still cares.  That’s pretty powerful.  I am so thankful to have that knowledge today.

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Luke 8:14-15

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.  But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  NIV

As I’m working my way through the “worry” listings in my concordance, I came to this one.  I knew that, in the Bible, each of four disciples tells the story of Christ from their own perspective, and that therefore you see a lot of the same stories repeated in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  But, this is the second time in about three weeks that I’ve come across the parable of the sower.

Now, prior to starting this project, I could have told you the parable of the sower.  I probably could have even recited the four kinds of seed … I’ve been in church all of my life.  I, like most people, have always reacted to the story in this way … “I want to be the seed that grows up in good ground!”  But, wanting to be the seed that grows on good ground, and taking the steps to BE the seed that goes on good ground, I’m learning, are two very different things.

I confess that I had not previously contemplated this story deeply.   What little thought I did give to it though, was focused on where the seed FELL.  It fell on rocky ground … it fell on the path … etc.  I think I saw this as pretty much a random act, and, I saw myself as the seed — I wanted to fall into a nice, hospitable environment.

But, I’m the GROUND.

I’m taking a landscaping class.  It lasts for two hours, once a week.  A couple of weeks ago, I kid you not, we spent two solid hours talking about the ground … preparing the ground, mulching, etc.  For two hours!  My friend and I laughed and laughed afterwards that we had signed up for this class hoping to learn about how to better landscape our yards, and we had spent two hours just discussing dirt.

Thank God!  Thank God, that I’ve learned that dirt can be altered, it can be enriched, it can be made to produce much better fruit!  The seed, the Word of God, is the same … yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“But, the seed in the good earth — these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.”  The Message

I want to be good dirt.  I will seize the Word of God, and hold on — no matter what!


Filed under Luke, New Testament, Worry

Matthew 6:31-33

So do not worry saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  NIV

So, I’m pretty sure that this passage in Matthew is part of what is called the Sermon on the Mount.  The book of Matthew goes on for pages with Christ providing practical advice on how to live a Godly life.  “Do Not Worry,” is a subheading, along with, in my bible, “The Beatitudes,” “Love for Enemies,” “Giving to the Needy,” “Fasting,” “Treasures in Heaven,” “Judging Others,” “The Narrow and Wide Gates,” “A Tree and Its Fruit,” and “The Wise and Foolish Builders.”

It is very interesting to me that “Do Not Worry” is the only command among these many subheadings.

As I think about the elements over which these verses say that I should not be worrying, they seem to me to correspond to the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  As I remember it, Maslow hypothesized that we as humans could not move up the hierarchy and/or exhibit unselfish behaviors until our basic needs — food, water, shelter, clothing — were met.

Yet, Christ calls us to abandon worrying over these basic needs and to rest in the assurance that our heavenly father knows that we need them.  Instead, we are to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God, and THEN we will be provided with the necessities of life.

It is upside down from Maslow’s thinking.  And, the verse says that — it says that “the pagans run after these things.” As a Christian, I am called to live differently.

Today, I will adhere to the guidance in this passage — “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry about missing out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” The Message

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Luke 12:11-12

When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.  NIV

My new concordance has 13 listings of the word, “worry.”  In addition, it shows two listings for “worried”; four for “worries”; and finally three for “worrying.”

This verse is in that first list of 13, as are several others that I’ve already found pretty much on my own — with a little help from some of you.  I’m working through that list.

This verse really strikes me when I look at it through the lens of my relationships with the children in my life.  Years ago, when I was a scout leader, I learned that I could tell a child what to do, and there was a small chance that it might get done.  The chance of the child taking action did seem to increase as the volume of my direction increased, but the relationship was not proportional.  If, however, I combined the direction with a “because,” and if the “because” made sense to the kid, the thing would always get done.

“Please go and fill this bucket with water and bring it back here, because, we are going to start a campfire and, if it gets out of control, I want to have water to throw on it.”  Buckets of water would always be faithfully delivered.

As I examine this verse through that lens, it becomes very special to me.  My heavenly father directs me not to worry, because “The right words will be there.  The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes.”  The Message.


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Ephesians 6:13-17

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the  breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. NIV

I’ve been studying the parables in Matthew.  One of my favorites, is the parable of the sower.  You may recall that the seed falls in four places — on the path, which is too hard for it to take root;  in shallow ground, where it sprouts quickly, but then dies out because of an undeveloped root system; in a place where thorns grow up and choke it out; and then finally on fertile ground where it takes root and multiplies.

The seed, of course, is the Word of God, and the various kinds of ground are the kinds of people who receive the Word.  Some are hard hearted and refuse to listen.  Some get enthusiastic early on, but, their faith fails to take root.  The third group, I think, are where Satan spends the majority of his time.  If he can use things to bind up believers, to make them ineffective, the word will fail to multiply.  And there will be fewer believers in that fourth group, which is out there making a difference.

One of the tools that Satan uses so effectively, in my opinion, is worry.  If I am bound up in worrying about things over which I have no control and that I cannot change, I am not up and out in the world making a difference for God.

I want to be Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth.  I am so thankful that God has provided these instructions and tools to use to overcome the thorns so that I can be fruitful.

I must protect myself from worry.  And I will do that by putting on the whole armor of God.

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Filed under Ephesians, New Testament, Peace, Worry

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  NIV

This is one that I hear quoted a lot.  People often say, “don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.”  That phrase taken out of context really makes no sense to a true worrier … “Oh dear,” one thinks, “do you know something I don’t know about trouble that will be happening tomorrow?  What could possibly happen that would be bad tomorrow?”  And so, the cycle begins, a list of possible calamities is mentally made and then faithfully worried over.

But, when you look at this verse in the context of all of the verses that come before it in Matthew (several of which I’ve looked at over the past two weeks), this verse is an affirmative assurance of God’s sovereign control.  The Message translates this verse so beautifully, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  The Message

That’s my prayer today, that I will give my entire attention to what God is doing right now.  He is at work and I want to be in His will.  I will be listening for His voice and awaiting His guidance as I walk through today, each today, one today at a time.

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Filed under Matthew, New Testament, Trouble, Worry