Mark 1:35-39 How to STAY FOCUSED in Life
What prevents us from living our life to the fullest? Distractions.
1. We lost sense of our purpose in what we are doing - gotten into a rut and not fully aware of what we are really trying to achieve.
2. We lost touch with our priorities - not clear what is really important; having distorted values of things.
A group of tourists was taken through a tour of the great cathedral of St. Peters in Rome. As the tour ended the guide asked if there were any questions. A voice from the back of the crowd asked, "Has anyone been saved here lately? Isn’t that the reason it’s here?"
That’s the million-dollar question. Isn’t that why we are here?
To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus so that at least some would be saved because of you?
How can I truly live my life to the fullest - making the best use of my time and without regrets?
From Mark 1 - reflecting on Jesus’ life - I find these 2 keys - purpose and priority.
To stay focused on the right track, we must constantly pose ourselves these 2 questions:
(1) the question of PURPOSE, and (2) the question of PRIORITY in all that we do.
And keep doing that - because we may not be distracted today, but can’t tell if we can remain so focused the next month...
LOOK AT JESUS in these few verses.
( I ) JESUS IS CLEAR ABOUT HIS PURPOSE
Therefore he isn’t swayed by Peter’s appeal.
• When you know your purpose, you’ll be able to NO to other demands
• It was in fact a noble demand - the people (most likely the sick, demon-possessed, and more...) - they are looking for Jesus’ help.
• To help the sick and weak is a good thing - the right thing to do. Yet Jesus said, "Let’s go..."
He said, "...so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." (v.38)
• What is this THAT here - preaching the good news of God (1:14-15)
• 15"The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
You see, Jesus is not a faith healer. His primary mission isn’t to heal or impress.
• Our primary mission today is not to HEAL or have more healing campaigns, even tho’ it’s good
• Jesus’ mission, and our mission, is the redemption of souls, not bodies.
• Mt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
• Mt 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
• Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus is clear about His purpose; therefore He can say NO to other things.
Ours is a purpose-driven life. We NEED A CLEAR FOCUS.
Every believer must find out what it is that God wants him to do.
• God will not ask you to do everything.
• Paul says, “This one thing I do…” (Phil 3:13). Paul has a clear focus.
Can we clearly articulate our focus or purpose in life?
THE LION SHOW IN A CIRCUS
Someone said that the trainer goes into the cage of lions with a ship and a stool. He points the legs of the stool at the lions because it has been discovered that this confuses them.
In order for a lion to pounce, it has to focus on one point. When it sees 3 legs in front, it loses focus. This paralyzes the lion and it becomes tame.
Without a clear focus, we are incapacitated and we lose our passion.
Therefore we have to pose this question of PURPOSE regularly - in everything we do.
And align ourselves back onto the right path and invest our time in things that has eternal consequences.
Part of us wants to say to Jesus: "But Jesus, "how can you just drop them? These people love you! They want to experience your healing power. Why are you leaving them?"
• But HEARING God is more important than what the people say.
• Sometimes, saying ’yes’ to God means saying ’no’ to people.
There was a time in Pavarotti’s life when he wasn’t sure whether to be singer or a music teacher. So he asked his father, "Shall I be a teacher or a singer?"
His father replied, "Son, if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair."
Pavarotti went on to say this: "I took my father’s advice. And I chose one chair. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book-whatever we choose-we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair."
Do you have a purpose in life?
• Do you have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish in life?
• If not, then you will be dominated by the expectations and demands of others.
• You will be leading your life according to the opinions and judgments of your family, your neighbours, your friends, and your co-workers.
If you don’t have a clear purpose, then you will end up being directed by those who do.
And you will look back at your life wondering what you really accomplished by all your busyness.
At the end, Jesus was able to say, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." John 17:4
What does Jesus mean by this?
• He hadn’t healed everyone. He hadn’t preached to everyone. He certainly hadn’t converted everyone.
• In just a little while, He would be arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.
• Most of his followers would abandon Him.
• He was only in His early thirties. In the eyes of the world, He had not accomplished many things to be considered great.
But He had accomplished what was most important. The ONE thing God expected Him to do.
What about you? Will you be able to say that? "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."
Will you be able to say that? Or will you only be able to say that you’ve been very busy?
This week, sit down with a blank piece of paper and write out what you really want to accomplish, what you consider to be most important in life.
Are your activities helping you to achieve those goals? Then why are you doing them?
Have you given any thought to whether your life honours God?
Have you considered whether God may have something to say about your goals and purposes?
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE AND DO THAT WHICH IS NEEDFUL, the task God has entrusted you.
( II ) JESUS IS CLEAR ABOUT HIS PRIORITIES
In this whole chapter, the feel we get is that Jesus had a really hectic day...
• Calling His followers, preaching in village and synagogue, casting out many demons, healing the sick...
• So eventful and cluttered. Jesus could have been easily distracted and upset at many things.
What did Jesus do? Rest more? No. Pray! He went to a solitary place to pray.
Our world is equally so eventual and busy. Our lives are so full.
• Rest is needed but we know we can be resting and yet feeling troubled and disturbed.
• Learn from Jesus – make time for solitude and be with God.
A PASTOR’S DAY-OFF
Not long ago, a fellow minister shared with me a conversation he had with one of his parishioners.
He said that one-day an angry church member called him up on the telephone one morning, saying, "I phoned you Saturday, but I couldn’t get you."
The pastor explained that it was his day off.
"What? A day off? The devil never takes a day off!" exclaimed the member with holier-than-thou attitude.
"That’s right," said the minister, "and if I didn’t take any ’time out,’ I would be just like him!"
We all need times in our week when we slow down, become still, and quiet because it is vital for our soul. So important is this principle, that God made the command for a day of rest, a Sabbath, part of the Ten Commandments.
From Mrs. Lettie Cowman’s book, Springs in the Valley (pp. 196-197), comes this interesting tale from African colonial history:
Centuries ago in the deep jungles of Africa, a traveller was making a long trek. Natives of the area were hired to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveller had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested.
When asked about the reason for this strange behaviour, the traveller was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
There are times when our lives move so fast, that we need to slow down and let our souls catch up with us - not literally, but figuratively. We are emotionally drained, mentally stressed out.
WE NEED TO MAKE TIME FOR SOLITUDE.
Prayer is not always a matter of talking to God, or telling God a list of things that we need Him to do.
PRAYING 8 HOURS A DAY
There is a Science Fiction writer, a theologian, named Robert Sawyer. In his writings he will include a page or two of subplot that carries with it a profound spiritual insight.
In one of his books, people from earth are having their first encounters with alien life from other planets. One of the scientists from the planet earth is surprised to learn that the aliens not only believe in God, but also spend 8 hours a day in prayer.
The scientist from earth asks, “What in the world are they asking for that it takes them 8 hours?”
To this the alien is shocked and says, “Why does prayer have to do with asking for things?”
It is an interesting insight.
• We think that prayer is talking to God, giving God a list of things we want him to do.
• “Heal me from my headache, help me pass my exams, give me strength for my work, etc.”
Prayer is spending time with God. It might involve asking for things. It might involve thanking God for things. It might be simply being with God.
Have you ever simply spent time with someone, and you are both just quiet.
• Not really saying anything. Just quietly being together.
• Perhaps with your spouse. Or holding your child. Or at the bedside of your sick parent.
We need more of that time spent with God. Quiet time with God.
We will rarely find God in the hectic moments in our lives, but we will often find Him in the quiet moments.
Elijah, in the Bible, had an interesting experience in the OT - 1 Kings 19:11-12
The Lord told this prophet, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
• Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
• After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
• After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, a "still, small voice."
Mother Teresa has observed, "God rarely is found in the midst of noise and restlessness; instead, He is the friend of silence."
The Psalmist tells us –
Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him."
Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God."
But we are too much like Martha.
• We like to DO SOMETHING - most of the time.
• And the Lord says she was “distracted and upset by many things.”
• For we live in a Martha world. The devil wants it that way
When what God would have us to do is to spend time in His presence - sometimes with many things to say, and at times nothing much. But we need that. It is good for our own soul, it is good for our relationship with others, and it is good for our relationship with God.
JET FIGHTER SHOT HIMSELF DOWN
Several years ago, newspapers told how a new Navy jet fighter shot itself down. Flying at supersonic speed, it ran into cannon shells it had fired only a few seconds before. The jet was travelling too fast!
Some of us are travelling through our lives too fast. We’re going to find ourselves in a mode of self-destruction.
• There come times when we need to slow down and let our souls catch up with us.
• Let us learn from Jesus - in solitude and prayer, He was able to stay focused.
Of all the good things He could do, His time with God provided Him with the knowledge of the BEST thing to do, the most NEEDFUL thing to do. He experiences God’s guidance and peace about what to do next.
All I can say is that if Jesus needed this, how much more do we need such times with the Father.
• I believe only then can we know who we are and what we suppose to do.
• To know what the next step should be, and how we can complete the task He expects from us.
• This knowledge only comes when we seek Him in times of quietness and solitude.
SET THE RIGHT PRIORITIES by making time for solitude and time spend with God.