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Life Among the Thorns - A Devotion

Life Among the Thorns
Life Among the Thorns
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Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP)
Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the
Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Life is full of distractions. It would seem that our mind races from one thing to another unconsciously in the overstimulated world in which we live. We thrive on busyness. No one really knows how to relax. It is an atmosphere of extremes with those who tend to be overly busy and those who are overcome by complete laziness. I am not a fan of television. Oh, don’t get me wrong I will watch it sometimes. I love all the home improvement shows and other DIY-type programing. But if it is up to me, the television in our house stays off. When the husband and kids are not home, I enjoy the quiet as I work around the house. I find that if it is on something will inevitably catch my attention and steal precious time. There are other distractions in life. Distractions are not necessarily a problem. A distraction is nothing more than an interruption. It is something that serves as a diversion. However, it can lead to mental turmoil and overall distress as well. The opposite of distraction are things like calm, peace and order. I like all three of those words. Unlike the other words synonymous with distraction such as complication, confusion, disturbance and interference, I want to be calm, live in peace and maintain order in my life. I like it that way.

Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, who is the Leader and the Source of our faith giving the first incentive of our belief and is also its Finisher bringing it to maturity and perfection. Many people come to Jesus asking Him to be Lord and Savior of their life but fail to realize the importance of dealing with all the little distractions along the way to remain in His Presence. Note that it says, “giving the first incentive of our belief” which is salvation but there is more to life than just being saved. God has our life completely planned out for our good, future and hope. He wants the very best for us. Salvation is the acceptance of God’s Grace which is His Favor. This favor does not just apply to the remission of sin but perfection of our life. Is your life less than perfect today? I know that mine is. There are distractions that remain prevalent in my life that I want to remove. It seems just about the time I experience God’s joy, calm, peace and order in one area of my life something else gets all messed up. The enemy wants to distract us from the Way of Jesus Christ. He does not want us to read the Word of God. He is totally against us doing the Will of God so he offers up daily distractions. Those distractions will become thorns that bind us if allowed to grow.

Mark 4:18-20 (AMP)
And the ones sown among the thorns are others who hear the Word; then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless. And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil are the ones who hear the Word and receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit—some thirty times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some [even] a hundred times as much.

The best intentions can become deadly distractions with us even realizing it. The Word of God when sown among the “thorns” of life will not prosper as the Lord intends it to. When the cares and anxieties of the world along with the distractions of the age, it will suffocate the Word. Only those who make sure that they are good “soil” will ever experience the prosperity that the Favor of God has the potential to produce. What are some of the distractions in your life today? We have one. It is called cancer. The enemy uses it every single day to try to create chaos in our life and sometimes his effort is successful. Each day we must decide whether to live by faith or be consumed with worry. It’s a daily choice to allow God’s Grace to work His Calm, Order and Peace through our life where cancer has tried to leave many voids. Some distractions are not so heinous. There are bills to pay, schedules to keep and chores to do. The distractions of the age have been heightened by technology. You sit down to check your email and three hours later after perusing Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and surfing the web mindlessly you wonder where did your time go. But then when we are encouraged to have a consistent quiet time, or bring meals to a sick friend, or volunteer in our church – we insist that we just do not have the time. Where did it go? We freely gave it to all the distractions which have now led to complication, confusion and interruptions in our life. We cannot understand why we are overworked and undercompensated financially and emotionally never realizing the thorns of distraction have stopped prosperity in our life.

Luke 10:38-42 (AMP)
Now while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]! But the Lord replied to her by saying, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; there is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [[b]that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.

I am innately a “Martha” personality. I love the consistent hum of productivity. I enjoy the grind that makes everything come together and work. I am comfortable in a task and struggle without purpose. Martha takes a hard wrap in this text because she has become distracted. The great part about Martha though is her hard work and motivation make her test and prove the Word, Will and Way of God consistently because that is who she is. Mary is more passive. When Lazarus died – it is Martha who is confident in the Resurrection of the dead. She is the one who runs to meet the Lord. “Martha then said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You. Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live; and whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this? She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed [I do believe] that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God, [even He] Who was to come into the world. [It is for Your coming that the world has waited.]” (John 11:21-27) But in this instance, Mary does not come to meet the Lord by faith but remains shrouded in her grief. So you see, everyone whether a “Martha” or “Mary” personality has the potential to be distracted. Distraction will always lead to discontentment. When Martha looked at Mary, she took her eyes off Jesus. When we begin to look around at other people’s lives rather than concentrating on what the Lord is doing in our own, we become distracted. When we keep looking, that distraction grows into discontentment. It is a thorn that will choke the life right out of us.

Judges 2:1-4 (AMP)
Now the Angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And He said, I brought you up from Egypt and have brought you to the land which I swore to give to your fathers, and I said, I will never break My covenant with you; and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; but you shall break down their altars. But you have not obeyed My Voice. Why have you done this? So now I say, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. When the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the Israelites, the people lifted up their voice and wept.

I have a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He inherited it from my father. When his attention was necessary, I knew that I was in for a fight. He was very easily distracted. Our society has put people in boxes so that if your behavior does not meet the norm of society than you have a problem. Everyone to some degree get distracted so I do believe that we have taken the diagnosis of ADD or ADHD and labeled just about every boy under the age of 18 with it at some time. The Children of Israel were a prime example. The witnessed miracle after miracle yet still turned their eyes from the Lord. He gave them their own land. A land that was rich and fertile conquering all enemies. All they had to do was walk in and take it all the while remaining faithful to the Lord. Yep, they got distracted. But back then the Grace of God and His Spirit had not been poured out on mankind so they would pay a penalty for their sin. When sin is allowed to continue in our life, it becomes thorny distractions that will interrupt prosperity and purpose. We will work harder. We will have less. We will wonder why God is not with us when all the time it was us who allowed the garden of our heart to become distracted by lesser things.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (AMP)
And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; but He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

We all have thorns in our life. Distractions whether painful or permitted it is part of life. Those who learn to live a life focused on Jesus Christ and not be so easily distracted will have prosperity in this life and forever. I have asked the Lord to remove cancer and heal our son more than three times, yet still we fight this battle. Self-pity, fear, doubt, anger, and disbelief all seem logical at times but they are nothing more than the enemy offering a distraction from faith. I refuse to accept. I need the confident hope born in trusting God. I need His Strength and Power to get through this. God is glorified in my weakness when His Grace proves sufficient for me. His Grace is sufficient when I no longer need my problem answerer, trouble to pass or my situation resolved to experience the calm, joy and peace-filled order of God to prevail in my life. Jesus understands our need for help with distractions. He bore those thorns on His Way to the Cross so we could overcome them in this life. “And they stripped off His clothes and put a scarlet robe (garment of dignity and office worn by Roman officers of rank) upon Him, and, weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head and put a reed (staff) in His right hand. And kneeling before Him, they made sport of Him, saying, Hail (greetings, good health to You, long life to You), King of the Jews! And they spat on Him, and took the reed (staff) and struck Him on the head.” (Matthew 27:28-30)

Matthew 7:16-17 (NLT)
You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.

Am I distracted? Yes. How do I know? I do so by examining the fruit in my life. What fruit? The Fruit of His Spirit that should flourish and prosper in my everyday life not just good times but all day every day. Those fruits are “love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).” (Galatians 5:22-23) These qualities should dominate my life in season and out of season as a Child of God. If I am not living and breathing these attributes than some part of me is distracted. You will have time for those things that you make time for. If you want the Fruit of the Spirit, then you will work to sow such seeds in your life and wait while you watch for them to grow. Discontentment is characteristic of distractions. If your life feels complicated, confused, disturbed, delayed, or interrupted, look for the distractions that are robbing you of peace, calm and godly order. Just ask the Lord and His Spirit will point those things out to you, but it is up to you to rip them out of your life and apply His Grace to the void left behind. The way of the sluggard is overgrown by thorns, but the way of the righteous is plain. (Proverbs 15:19) Sowing seeds of righteousness in your life and tending faith and hope requires effort. It is up to you to continue to turn your heart, mind, body and soul over to Jesus Christ taking back the parts previously given to distractions. If you are distracted today, I ask the Lord to reveal those areas to you that are being squandered. I ask His Spirit to empower you to make the necessary changes. I curse every thorn in your life to the pit of hell from where it came. I ask this all in the Name of Jesus Christ “Who is the
Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].

John 15:7-8 (AMP)
If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.