Focused Christianity

18Others are like the seed that fell among the thorns. They are the ones who hear the word 19and the worries of this life and the deception of riches, and the desire for other stuff comes in and chokes the word so it becomes fruitless.       Mark 4:18-19 (HN)

In Mark 4:16-17, we discussed temporary Christians. What many people get from those verses is that they must receive everything enthusiastically and then keep up their enthusiasm and never let it waver. Such Christians usually become temporary, but in a different way—they burn out from trying to do too much. In our churches we often not only let them do that; we encourage it. “Please say yes to whatever you’re asked to do,” says the pastor. But the real question is whether God is asking you to do something, not whether the pastor or the nominating committee is asking you to do it.

Here we have the key to becoming more permanent Christians. Get rid of the “stuff that comes in and chokes the word so it becomes fruitless.” That doesn’t mean just get rid of the bad stuff from your life. It means bringing your life into focus to do what God wants you to do.

That’s been my own struggle over the years. I let my life get so full of “stuff”–good stuff, generally, I think—but not the stuff that God wants me to be involved with. I have been trimming things down. Jody has also trimmed some stuff off of her schedule. That’s one reason I write some of the devotions. One of the things God has told me to keep is time spent writing. I’m to increase my time in devotions. I find that writing my thoughts helps me concentrate and get more out of my devotional time. Those two efforts at trimming then came together. I write my notes in a form that Jody can use for devotions, and she always has a pool of devotional thoughts to work consider using.

I say that because people have a very hard time giving up the good things that they are doing in order to have time for the best things. As I force myself to focus my life, however, I remember that one of the least effective church congregations I ever observed was also one of the busiest. Just like Jody and myself with these devotions, it’s easy to assume that if we let something go, the kingdom of God will start falling apart. But when you’re following God’s direction in getting rid of the “stuff”, he has a better plan around the corner.

You can only be a good hearer of God’s word if you have space in your heart for what God wants to plant there.

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