Summary: Making room for God in our busy lives can enable us to cope with the stresses and business of living in our hectic, modern world.
Intro: In 1975 I assumed my duties as the Pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in South Bend, IN. I was delighted to see new Bibles carefully placed in every pew. I opened one to see what version it was and in huge large, red letters these words were stamped inside the front cover, “NOT TO BE TAKEN FROM THE CHURCH.” Perhaps they had a problem with people stealing Bibles in the past!
I. Not to be taken from the church is the attitude many people have regarding religion. It’s OK as long as it doesn’t interfere with my life, my home or my business. There are 2 events in today’s gospel lesson.
A. VS. 29 – EVENT #1: Jesus leaving “church” and going to someone’s home. As a single seminary student I was often invited to go home with members after church. I guess they felt sorry for me. I was a lot thinner then.
B. Once there, Jesus is confronted by yet another problem, a sick mother-in-law. Ulterior motive?! --- I was always asked to return thanks before eating. ULTERIOR MOTIVE!
C. Simon and Andrew were not expecting Jesus to leave the truth and power of the gospel in the sanctuary. They wanted him to bring it to their home unlike us who like to keep it at church.
II. I think part of our reasoning in leaving things at church is that we are so busy doing other things. Americans are busier than ever.
A. Have you seen the commercial where the mother says its dinner time and the kids run, get their coats and are sitting in the minivan? The percent of meals eaten away from home has increased from 16% to 29% since 1978. We eat while we are doing other things – working, driving, watching TV. GRAZING!
B. There is also an explosion of choices that we didn’t have when I was a kid. Then, BLUE LAWS kept most businesses closed on Sunday. MY GRANDMOTHER kept anyone from doing anything accept breathing.
C. Telecommunications has made it possible for our work to “reach out and touch us” anytime, anyplace. Beepers, cell phones, home computers. There is an explosion of choices and things that impinge on our lives. --- Sometimes I just want to scream, “EVERYONE STOP AND BE QUIET!” VSS. 32 – 34 / Just leave me alone!!!!!!!
III. The 2nd event begins with VS. 35 – JESUS WENT OFF TO A SOLITARY PLACE. The word translated as “solitary, lonely place” is erhmov. It is also translated as wilderness. ERHMOV is a holy place, alive with presence of God.
A. How many of you here today have busy lives? How many of you wish you could slow down, replenish your spirit, and renew your strength? In a recent CNN poll 59% of Americans who participated in the survey agreed.
B. Jesus NEVER HAPPENED to find himself alone. The whole city was clamoring at his door; but, Jesus sought somewhere else to be alone and pray.
C. Life has become gregarious and it is hard to shut doors and find “somewhere else.” --- We find time for the internet, to watch TV or do any of the other hundreds of distractions that tempt us. BUT, we can’t find time to be somewhere else with God.
Conclu: After hearing her pastor encourage people to enter a closet and close the door to be alone with God, a young lady said to him, “In my apartment there are no doors and no closets. Now what do I do?” --- She had missed the point. The somewhere else isn’t a location; it is an attitude, an attitude of deliberateness. We must be deliberate about sharing our burdens with God in prayer wherever we find ourselves. I urge you to make time for that solitary, quiet place within your mind, within your temperament. Find that somewhere else where you can be alone with God in prayer.