Monday, November 26, 2012

Time - Counter-Clock-Wise

(These were the notes I used as I preached the first message of the "TIME" series yesterday at Crossroads. Click here for Sunday Worship audio. The message begins about 40 minutes in.)
Psalm 31:14-15 As for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand.
We’re beginning a new preaching series today, just in TIME for the ramp up to Christmas.

How many of you find this to be a relaxing time of year?

We sing songs that sound relaxing at Christmas… Silent Night… O Little Town of Bethlehem… but often times Christmas seems more like this… watch carefully… it’s a very quick video…

Video Clip from Alice in Wonderland... "I'm Late"

How does that feel to you?
Does it feel like God?  Does it feel godly?
So why do we get like that?  So worried about TIME.  And worried about time in a really wrong way.

At the end of the message today I’d like to take time to pray for some of you personally about this.
Because some of you don’t really know what it is like to rest in the presence of God regularly… to do what it says in Matthew 6:33 and to experience the peace and provision that is promised.

Matthew 6:33 – Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and everything else will be added, provided, given… everything you need.

That’s the promise.  Everything you need will be provided when you seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness first. 

First—First every day.  The word “seek” here isn’t a one time seeking.  It’s a regular, every day sort of thing.  You can see that clearly in the original Greek of the Bible.

Regularly, continually, seeking the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness… Regularly, continually… reading God’s Word, taking time to let God speak to you personally.  Spending time with God in prayer. (This is not a seeking God for salvation. God is the "seeker" in that case.  He seeks after us!... see

Going off the clock with God.  Being counter-clock-wise.

When you do that… when time with God is your first priority, then everything else will be provided.  Everything you need.

But don’t think that means you’ll always make everyone else happy.
Sometimes putting the kingdom of God first every day means you’ll be late!  Or it might mean you’ll need to leave early.  Or it might mean that you won’t be able to meet everyone’s highest social expectations… or even your own…

God is calling us to be transformed, to be changed, to reflect HIS glory more and more… not to be conformed to the clocks or the expectations of this world.
The devil wants to distract us, and during this time of year the devil uses social expectations in an especially expert way… he lies to us and makes us believe that to be a Christian means to make everyone comfortable… and that is just not true.

Let’s look at three examples from Jesus’ life.

Example number one—from John chapter 11 beginning with verse 1
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha… (we’ll get to Mary and Martha again later)… This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Verse 4 – When heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son (that’s Jesus himself) might be glorified through it.
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  Yet, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
Jesus got a call from Mary and Martha.  Lazarus was sick.  Deathly.  But Jesus did not drop everything; in fact, it was important that he get there late so the disciples, and Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus… so they could all know the extent of the wonder working poser of God!
Jesus did not get to Lazarus until he had been dead FOUR DAYS…. And then the miracle happened.  Lazarus was raised from the dead!... 
Part of the plan was for Jesus to be late.
I’m sure that made Mary and Martha really uncomfortable… and perhaps even a bit angry.
But, obviously, making them happy was not Jesus’ first priority.

Second, let’s look at Mark 1… Mark chapter 1, verse 32…
Here we have Jesus doing some great healing ministry in a city down by the Sea of Galilee called Capernaum.  He has just healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law...:
Mark 1:32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed.  The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
But see what he does the next morning… Verse 35 - Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed. Simon (that’s Simon Peter) and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Verse 38 – Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Here Jesus doesn’t arrive late, he leaves early! 
Jesus has got to do this FIRST thing… He’s got to spend time with God… seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness… even Jesus does that!

How many of you want to be disciples, followers of Jesus?  (pause)  How many of you have learned Jesus is the best?  Don’t you want to model your life after his?

Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  What he does, we do.
Let’s say that:
Jesus is our Lord and Savior. 
What he does, we do.

So, if that’s true, we will recognize that sometimes God will tell us to take time away from others even when they want us to be there. Sometimes, following Jesus, we will leave early and move on when others don’t want us to. 

Once again, making everyone happy and comfortable was not Jesus’ first concern.  Spending time with His Father… spending time in prayer… that was first.

So, followers of Jesus – disciples – you who want to be close to God’s heart…
Is this seeking of the kingdom of God and his righteousness the first thing in your life, the top priority, the ONE thing that you will not give up…?
  • Is your time with God an every day sort of thing, something you really miss if you skip a day?
  • How much time do you spend with the Lord?
  • Are you reading God's Word and meditating on it, allowing it to permeate your soul regularly? 
  • Are you taking time for prayer like Jesus did, enough time that sometimes other people wonder where you are?
  • Are you seeking to hear God's voice, to know God's will about what's going on in your life?
  • Or have you allowed the devil to distract you from your first love?
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and everything else will be added unto you… everything you need.
Will you let me pray with you after church or at another time about this?  I won’t shame you… this struggle is common to all of us… no one is immune…
One more place from Jesus life to look at… this time it is a teaching… a teaching that Jesus gives to women in particular… 
Luke 10:38–42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What a radical word!  So countercultural. 
There is a specially designed temptation… the devil has designed this one especially for women… a temptation that seems so socially acceptable if not politically correct… a temptation to a hurry-hurry lifestyle that scurrys around trying to make everything just so…

And it’s a distraction… not the only distraction… time spent with sports or hunting or too much time at the office or in the shop can be just as bad if not worse, but this lifestyle of hurrying to make everyone happy and comfortable is not what God wants—and especially this needs to be heard by women who are disciples of the Lord.

It’s okay, no, it’s commanded by God to make sure just ONE thing is done… and that ONE thing is to make sure you take time with your Lord.
Mary, and Martha… (look at and name women if possible... ) spend time with God... hear His voice…
Jesus has honored you and he sets you free to do that.
When you spend time with the Lord, he will set you free from other voices… from the voices of friends or family, the voices of your mother or mother-in-law… Perhaps sometimes from your husband or children… Or disembodied voices in your head telling you that you need to make everything just so…
In Jesus name, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are FREE… in Jesus name!
Women, you are not second class disciples.  It is just as important for you to be spending time with God as it is for the men.  Recognize the devil’s temptation here...

All of us, men and women, we all need to recognize this… the devil does not want you to take time with God, to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness… that’s why Jesus says it needs to be FIRST… this time with the Lord and His Word… the time when the Holy Spirit transforms your mind sets you free… this time of listening to your Good Shepherd.
Everything else you need will be provided… Sometimes supernaturally, sometimes through other people… you can trust God’s promises… and if you’re worried, pray… and ask others to pray… will you pray for me? I’ll pray for you!

Everything does not have to be just so… it is okay sometimes to be late… it’s okay to leave early… it’s okay to just tend to what is needed… the basics… not everyone’s top of the line expectations.

In Jesus name you are free of that to spend that time with the Lord.  We are not on anyone’s clock except God’s.

Psalm 31:14-15 As for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand.

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