Summary: We must not be distracted with the temporary, but make eternal things our priorities.
September 30, 2012 Morning Service
Immanuel Baptist Church, Wagoner, OK
Message Point: We must not be distracted with the temporary, but make eternal things our priorities.
Focus Passage: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Supplemental Passage: Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14 NASB)
Introduction: Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other.
Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.
One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.
God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, friends. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the program takes priority over people, people often suffer. How much cargo do we sacrifice in order to achieve the number one slot? How many people never reach the destination because of the aggressiveness of a competitive captain? Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 97-98.
I. Distractions of the Temporal
a. "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:20-22 NASB)
b. Everyday life distracts us from the eternal
c. Satan throws things at us to deliberately distract us from the eternal
II. Tyranny of the Urgent
a. But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42 NASB)
b. Emergencies and urgent things CAN distract us from the eternal
c. Emergencies and urgent things CAN focus us on the eternal
III. Priority of the Eternal
a. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)
b. We must focus on the things that last, not on the temporary things
c. We do this by realizing that we are more than flesh and blood, and life is more than food, shelter, money, sex, pleasure, leisure, and entertainment
Invitation: Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 NASB)
Over the triple doorways of the cathedral of Milan there are three inscriptions spanning the splendid arches. Over one is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and underneath it is the legend, "All that which pleases is but for a moment."
Over the other is sculptured a cross, and there are the words, "All that which troubles us is but for a moment."
But underneath the great central entrance to the main aisle is the inscription, "That only is important which is eternal."
If we always realize these three truths, we will not let trifles trouble us, not be interested so much in the passing pleasures of the hour. We should live for the permanent and the eternal.