So Easily Distracted from Jesus

The issue of distracted driving has become a big issue in our day. Most often we see this when people are engaged in text messaging or talking on their phone while they are driving. A person can get so distracted with their phones that they forget that they are in a car going down the freeway at 70 mph or more. The consequences are often disastrous.

This can happen in our everyday life in a less spectacular but more damaging way. It happens when Christians get so wrapped up in worldly cares that they don’t pay attention to the spiritual needs that are around them

In Matthew 16:5-12 Jesus, sitting in a boat with his disciples, sought to warn them about the “leaven” of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These religious leaders were legalists (Pharisees) and liberals (Sadducees)–two extreme errors that his disciples needed to avoid.

But instead of understanding that Jesus was speaking about spiritual things, the mention of leaven made them think about bread, and the fact that none of them had thought to bring bread on their trip. Frustrated, Jesus pointed them to the fact that he was not speaking about bread, for the clear and simple fact was that if they were in want of bread, he had proven over and over that he could miraculously provide for them the needed food.

There are some important lessons to learn from Jesus and his disciples about the reality of daily spiritual distractions that we encounter:

Three Consequences of Christians who get so wrapped up in worldly things that we don’t become properly engaged in heavenly things.

1. We run to others and not to Jesus (verses 7-8)

First,  the disciples turned to each other for bread. This is a natural response for an unbeliever who feels he has no one else to turn to because he is separated from God. But we are children of God and are no longer enemies of God. As God’s children the first person that we should run to in our need is to our heavenly Father. For a Christian who is living life not by sight and not by faith, the distance they feel between themselves and God may lead them to find their needs fulfilled in others first. We can be like a child who is estranged from her father. She may have very real needs, but because the relationship is distant and not as it should be, whether by sin or mere neglect, this child would rather seek out help from friends and even strangers before a loving parent who would readily help.

Friends,Jesus is right there in the boat! But they turn to one another. Jesus is as close as a prayer! His Spirit is within you! But when we become so overwhelmed in the things of this world, we can turn to worldly solutions and those around us before we turn to God.

2. We forget how dependent we are on God (verses 9-10)

Jesus reminded the disciples how he had provided for the crowds of 5,000 and then 4,000. The point that they should have grasped was one that we often forget. Everything we have comes from the good hand of God, and when we are in need He is the One who provides. This means that we receive not only food, but clothing, jobs, children and grandchildren, friends and homes, even the rain and the sun. The very oxygen that fills this room and fills your lungs came from God.

I am saying this because sometimes we can think in such worldly terms that we see the “extras” in life, the pleasures and blessings in life, as a gift from God, but the mundane and everyday things we regard as somehow our own doing. But we are fully dependent upon God for everything, even life itself. We can forget this when we are wrapped up in the humdrum day to day matters of life. We fail to look into the face of Jesus and thank him for things like dirty laundry, which fills our laundry hamper, remembering that those children who make all that laundry are a gift from God that so many long to have and cannot. Or we fail to thank Jesus for that unfair supervisor who makes you work overtime. We fail to see that so many people would love to have that job so they could feed their family and pay their bills.

Isn’t it easy to get distracted from Christ? We run to others when the Lord is there for us if we would just ask. And how often do we forget how dependent we are upon him and how good he has already been to us?

3. Finally, we get so wrapped up in worldly things when We forsake the lessons of Jesus for everyday troubles (verses 11-12).

Jesus was warning his beloved disciples about a very real danger—false teachers! But all they were thinking about was who forgot to bring lunch!Does this remind you of Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus? Martha also was too weighed down with worldly things. She was so wrapped up in preparing a meal that she failed to engage in heavenly conversations, choosing kitchen duty over a Bible study with Jesus!

This isn’t to say that we need to take care of meal preparations and oil changes. But the urgent things of the here and now, and worse, the frivolous and wasteful things of this world, can crowd out and take away from the time and importance of those spiritual lessons that God wants to teach us.

But that is being penny wise and pound foolish because we eventually reap what we sow! We might enjoy that TV show of football game on Wednesday night instead of coming to Bible study but our souls will be poorer for it. We might get a little bit more sleep on Sunday morning by skipping church or coming late, but our souls are drying up and leaving us open as prey for the enemy. We may choose “family time” over serving the Lord and others, but in the end, can we blame our children for growing up without a love for the Lord and his people? What shall we do then?

The disciples were so earthly minded that they were no heavenly good. Their interests were stuck in this world and not in God’s kingdom.Our world offers so many resources outside of God. But for a Christian, God is the only resource we ever need. Run to him. The conversation that the disciples had in that boat was a conversation that is totally natural for any person on earth to have. BUT Jesus was sitting next to them. Jesus had fed them. Jesus was seeking to teach them. We need to make sure that we don’t carry on like everything is normal. God is with us. Nothing will ever be “normal” again, praise God!

The Ministry Is No Place for Lazy Men

 

“The ministerial work must be carried on diligently and laboriously, as being of such unspeakable consequence to ourselves and others. We are seeking to uphold the world, to save it from the curse of God, to perfect the creation, to attain the ends of Christ’s death, to save ourselves and others from damnation, to overcome the devil, and demolish his kingdom, to set up the kingdom of Christ, and to attain and help others to the kingdom of glory. And are these works to be done with a careless mind, or a lazy hand? O see, then, that this work be done with all your might! Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow; and, as Cassiodorus says: ‘Here the common level of knowledge is not to be the limit; here a true ambition is demonstrated; the more a deep knowledge is sought after, the greater the honor in attaining it.’ But especially be laborious in the practice and exercise of your knowledge. Let Paul’s words ring continually in your ears, ‘Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! ”

—Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

 

 

Don’t Waste Your Life

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Last night, as we finished our study of Psalm 91, I pointed out that God protects us for a purpose; He preserves us with a plan. After 15 verses that describe the abundant protection of God, Psalm 91:16 ends the psalm with these words, “With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

This reminded me of a powerful illustration that John Piper gave in his book, Don’t Wast Your Life. I’ve reproduced it below. Remember, God preserves His children for His purposes, so that we will use our redeemed life in His service. Don’t waste your life.

In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly. I asked my congregation: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ—even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles. No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.

—John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, 45-46.