Section 1
Lesson 7

Killing The Thorns

          Okay, so if we didn't already, we surely ought to have a better scope as to the fullness of why Jesus brought His invisible Kingdom to earth by now. And, we should be compelled more than ever to be true disciples of Christ. We should be eager to thoroughly develop the truth of the Kingdom in ourselves, so that we can finally excel in the attributes of God's Spirit. In fact, we should now be able to tear out all the thorns and weeds in our lives that choke out our love for God's Word, and hinder our pursuit of His Kingdom once and for all! But...
          If only it were that easy! Unfortunately, there's no switch to flip to instantly love God above everything that competes with Him, to truly regard and esteem Him above all else. There's no button to push to shut off all that we're acclimated and even addicted to. 
          If you recognize that God's not truly first in your heart but you're not sure that you care enough to change this yet - because you're so entangled with and even attached to your thorns, you've come to the right place. You may feel stuck. You may lack resolve. You may even lack conviction. But you will move forward. Just watch, you'll see. 
          We know that the thorns constitute both the anxieties and the longings for the good things of this life. I know the Bible says "riches" but God showed me this encompasses all the aspects of life; at least the things that someone may find "enriching" to them personally. I used to think this part of the passage didn't apply to me since I never longed for riches. However, as the years passed, God showed me how, in my pursuit for financial stability (as a single mother on welfare), I may as well had been longing for riches. Because, though all I longed for was to not be on welfare, and because it is right to work and earn which is what I esteemed, what's wrong is when we idolize it - which is what I did. During the times when God held first place in my heart, however, my pursuit for financial well-being came from a place of peace, with submission and working with Him concerning it. When He wasn't my highest priority and I wasn't seeking Him first, my pursuit for financial stability came from a place of desperation and idolatry. Fortunately, through a very painful course of discipline which I share about elsewhere in this program, I found out that being consumed with good things and even things that God wants for us... is idolatry. It's all about the excessive value these things hold in our hearts. So, I assure you, when Jesus speaks about the riches of this life choking the Word in us, it has to do with everything that we esteem in not so good a way.
          Let me reiterate that God made the good things of this life for us. It is His pleasure to give us pleasure! The problem is we let these things take His place and become more important than Him. Things like measuring up to the Joneses is a perfect example of the deception of riches that Jesus was talking about. Not to mention the obvious longings for pleasure, comfort, entertainment, and "things", big and small. Whether we need them or not. And don't forget about status or being worried about how others perceive you, including family. Now there's a tricky one! Because it seems it's a necessity and a right thing to make sure our family members, especially spouses, are "happy" with us. But this just isn't so.
          Beyond worrying about the bills or obsessing over if we'll be able to take that vacation finally, we place our relationships with people before God, too, especially our spouses, like I said. And that's tricky, as well, because we're supposed to be making the most of our marriages so it only seems right. Yet, we are more concerned with pleasing our spouses or having their approval or love, than pleasing God. Even in bad marriages where one spouse puts up with a lot of unkindness - to put it mildly, you can bet that they struggle to focus on God because of the pain of the marriage. Why? Because their marriage or spouse "changing" or healing may just be an idol - something they're desperate for, more than God. They love God, but their longing for their situation to be made right is more important to them than God Himself. Trust me, I've been there and I see it all around.
          And it's not just marriages. Singles who live in pain for lack of a mate often struggle to focus on God first, too, because their desire for a mate is greater than their desire for the Kingdom of God. Again, not that this desire is wrong! Just that it's bigger than the desire for the Lord and knowing Him intimately. God's "just not enough" or "the same" because He cannot meet a human's physical needs. Believe me, I know. I spent years as a single woman. What makes it so hard is when you "know" God has someone for you and you have no patience! You're desperate for your destiny to happen yesterday! Why? Because you love the notion of having your mate (or whatever) more than loving God Himself. 
          Though the Bible clearly establishes that loving anything more than God as idolatry, I believe Jesus referred to the normal desires in life that we sometimes idolize (mates, healthy marriages, financial stability, success) as thorns to help us hone in on the fact that they are naturally occurring, as opposed to man-made false god type idols. This type of idolatry, therefore, is very sneaky and deceptive, which is exactly what He said. Because these are normal desires so there seems to be nothing wrong with craving them, loving them more than God Himself.
          Yet, despite how tangled up we are, we MUST choose to get rid of these naturally ocdurring idols! We MUST put God first! We MUST get to the place where He is the meditation of our heart - noth the throns! Where we not only can focus on Him and deeply seek Him, but we WANT to! Of course, I know it's not as easy as flipping a switch, but the necessity remains! Please, do not leave Section 1 without dealing with this!
          And here's how...
          Because we can't just turn excessive love off, especially for things that even God desires and HAS for us (financial stability, a healthy marriage, a mate), what you need to do is:

  1. Confess your sin of loving things above God and repent. Call it what it is. Don't sugar coat it or make excuses. Regardless how right it is to desire God's destiny for yourself, it is WRONG and DANGEROUS that it's more important than knowing God Himself.
  2. Now cry out for great hunger and thirst for God's Word. Passionately ask God, and I mean passionately, to give you pure hunger and desperation to know and understand the Word of God; not just as head knowledge, but in a way that actually changes you finally.
  3.  Ask God to woo you.  Tell Him you want to love Him first, but He's got to give you something to go on, considering He's invisible and all. Tell Him that you will gladly give up your excessive preoccupation and desperation for your physical needs, and your extreme dependence on the hopes of this life, if He'll appeal to your spirit, tantalizing and invigorating your invisible senses. Ask Him to let you experience the ecstacy of having spiritual intimacy with Him so that the physical stuff will lose its seduction.
  4. Now this may be all you can do right now. You may be struggling to stay on top of this program, even. Fortunately, you may manage to praise God each day, you may even manage to pray little prayers for help or for needs, even for family, here and there, each day, and you may even have it in you to read a two minute devotional or the Bible for a few minutes here and there each day. If so, great! But, depending on how much your thorns are choking you, this is why you may not be able to dig deep into and meditate upon the Word of God in a life-changing way, yet. You may not be able to spend time in your prayer closet pursuing God intimately, praying at length and worshiping Him, either, because you just don't have the desire or focus for it. But it doesn't have to stay this way. For now, however, continue to do everything you have managed to do, but add the above three instructions to it; that's all. But do these continually, every day, with passion! Even if it's all you can accomplish in your pursuit of the Lord. Even above doing this program! In fact, there's far less benefit to doing this program if your heart still isn't able to truly and completely put God first. So before you continue, make sure God is in fact first in your heart! And like I said... Do the three instructions above non-stop until you experience an intimate touch from God that begins to change your heart. And continue even still, asking Him to give you even more hunger and thirst for His Word as well as an intimate understanding of His presence that will knock your addiction to carnal reality out of the water. Like I said, if that's all you do, DO IT PASSIONATELY non-stop, every day for the rest of your life on this earth. You must establish that you want your heart to change. You must demonstrate that you don't want to put anything else before God any more. Again... If that's all you do, do it with great fervency and resolve until you experience a most wondrous, intimate moment with God. Then go after more, forever!