By Chris WittsSaturday 1 Nov 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves “what’s really important in my life?”. We can live each day not worrying about the future,or thinking we’ll concern ourselves about the bigger issues of life sometime in the future. But on occasions,things happen to us which bring us up with a jolt. For example,a routine visit to the doctor reveals a hidden lump or possible cancer,and our life suddenly becomes more focused. Someone refers to this as a “clarifying moment” – a time when we stop perhaps in shock to think “what’s going on with me?” I think that many people who have these “clarifying moments” sense a strong desire to make the most of their lives. They know better now not to take anything for granted.
They don’t want to waste any time,because they are acutely aware that the clock is ticking. They’re focused,knowing clearly that each day is a precious gift. So,it’s helpful to ask the question ‘what’s really important to my life?’ Who or what is the director of your life? Is time or money the encouragement and limitation of your life? Or maybe it is other people’s expectations. Are the expectations that everyone has of you directing your life? What about shame and disappointment?
Are these directing your life,preventing you from going out,or going up,or going forward? Maybe hurt and anger are directing your life. Could this be keeping you from having the life God intends for you? Is your spouse or your family directing your life? Maybe you’re still trying to live up to your father’s expectation for you? Or maybe the implied demands of your family are keeping you from being free to hear God and His call,His place,His purpose for your life? Are you directing your life? Most of us think this is the goal,that we be the directors of our own lives.
I read somewhere that Dr Billy Graham was honoured by community leaders in Charlotte,North Carolina. Many nice things were said about him,and when Billy Graham stepped up to the rostrum to speak he said this .. “I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein,the great physicist honoured by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once travelling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle,punching the tickets of each passenger. When he came to Einstein,Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket,so he reached in his other pocket. It wasn’t there,so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat by him. He couldn’t find it. The conductor said,”Dr. Einstein,I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.” Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car,he turned around and saw the great physicist on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket. The conductor rushed back . “Dr. Einstein,don’t worry,” he said. “I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.” Einstein then said,”Young man,I,too,know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going!” Billy Graham then said to the crowd .. “See the suit I’m wearing? I bought it for this luncheon and one more occasion. This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead,I don’t want you to remember the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am,I also know where I’m going.” What a great lesson about one man who knows what is important in life,and to have the assurance that everything is OK for him. What does God want from my life? When you read through the Bible,you can summarize the answer to this question fairly simply:
God wants your whole life. There is not a single verse in the Bible,not one,that says you can be a Christian and live your life any way you want. It’s just not there. God wants all of you. He doesn’t want 10% of you. God doesn’t want 50% of you. He doesn’t want 99% of you. God desires all of you. C. S. Lewis once said,”The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.” You see,if the good news of Jesus’ life,death,and resurrection is really true,then he deserves everything you’ve got. If it’s not true,then I’m certainly wasting my time being on air today. The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important. It’s either all,or nothing. It’s either true,and that should determine the rest of your life,or you should just go and do whatever you want to do.
There’s a myth that says that you can do it all, you can have it all—but you can’t. God desires that we put God first in our lives, and everything else will fall into place. That’s what is really important. I think the writer of Hebrews had this understanding of putting God first. Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “We must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. And we must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne”.
Notice there are two things that hold you back in life. There are two things that keep you from being all that God wants you to be. There are two things that limit your potential in life. There are two things that waste your life. And the writer of Hebrews says,You’ve got to let go of these things. One of them is ‘sins’ and the other is ‘weights’. Now, you know what sins are: missing the mark, breaking the commandments of God, living the lie.
But what is a ‘weight’? Well, a weight is something that’s not necessarily wrong; it’s just not necessary. There are some things in life that are not necessarily wrong; they’re just not necessary. A weight can be all kinds of things. It could be a relationship, it could be an expectation, it could be an activity, it could be a club. It could be a memory that you refuse to let go of, it could be a fear, it could be a job.
There are a thousand, or a hundred thousand different kinds of weights. And the writer of Hebrews teaches to grow, you must learn to say no. You can’t say ‘yes’ to everything. You have to say ‘no’ to some things. You have to say ‘no’ often to good things in order to have time for the best things.
If you are serious about fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, which we are going to talk about later, you have to make space for God in your life. And if you’re going to make space for God in your life, you’re going to have to cut some things out, even some of the good things.
I want to be honest with you. As one of your pastors,I’m concerned about you. We’re getting ready,next week in the 40 Days of Purpose journey,to add three new habits to your schedule. A daily devotional reading of about 15 minutes a day,which will help you understand God’s purposes for your life; a weekly meeting in a small group for six weeks that will help you understand God’s purpose for your life,and a weekly verse to memorize that probably will take you about five minutes,which will help you understand God’s purpose for your life. I’m giving you fair warning: you need to decide right now what you’re going to cut out before you start 40 Days of Purpose. You can put so many irons in the fire you put out the fire! And if you burn the candle at both ends,you may not be as bright as you think you are. Any time you begin doing something new,you need to ask,”What am I going to stop doing” at the same time,right?
Did you know that the average person in this country will live about 25,550 days? That’s what the average person lives. Don’t you think it would be smart to cut a few things out of your busy schedules so that you can take 40 days to figure out what you should do with the rest of your days? The writer of Hebrews also says that we are to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith…” Notice two things here. First of all,the image of running is used as a metaphor for the Christian life. Now I don’t know if you are a runner or not,but I’m a recreational runner. There were times in my life when I’ve actually run quite a bit,but it’s hard for me. My wife Kim is a great runner. I’m proud of the fact that she can go out on a Saturday and run off 12 miles and still come back and function. I can’t do that. But I do know this about running. It takes perseverance. The Greek word for perseverance means “endurance,” and is something that is only acquired through training and discipline. You know that if you haven’t been training in running and you go out and try to run a mile,you’ll feel pretty exhausted by the end of the mile. Imagine just going out and trying to run 12 miles like my wife Kim. That would give me a heart attack! So pursuing God’s purpose in your life is not something you just go do. It begins with training,daily exercise if you will,a little at a time day by day until you build up your endurance.
Secondly,we’re to look to Jesus while we’re running. If you’ve ever run in a race before,you know that it’s important to run with the right pace. If you try and just run your hardest,you’ll blow out in a matter of minutes. You’ll physically break down and collapse in a heap. I’ve run my best races when I fix my eyes on a person just ahead of me,who will set the pace for me and who will encourage me to keep on. Jesus is the one who calls you; he beckons each of us to follow him. He desires that we live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel,experiencing the full joy that he has for us.…Which paradoxically means that we must stop our running around,and sit at his feet. Our Gospel lesson is about a couple of friends of Jesus,two sisters. Jesus had come to visit at their home. And Luke writes,”Martha was distracted by her many tasks.” Let me stop there. Do any of you identify with that phrase? Martha was distracted by her many tasks. So,she came to Jesus and asked,”Lord,don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.” You see,Mary had gone and just sat at the feet of Jesus. But the Lord answered,”Martha,Martha,you’re worried and distracted by many things.” In other words,Martha had spiritual ADD. “There is a need of only one thing,and Mary has chosen the better.” Jesus is saying,”If it comes down to spending time with me or washing the dishes,there’s no competition.” When it comes down to getting the house ready,finishing that work report,or spending time with me,cause “I’m here” Jesus said,there’s no doubt what should happen. Let me ask you,do you find yourself distracted like Martha? Does your to-do list distract you from God? Jesus says firmly,”Mary has chosen the better part.” You know why I like that? It means it’s a choice. You say,”Scott,I just can’t get it all done.” You’re right. But allow me to let you in on a little secret – it isn’t all worth doing. You don’t have to do it all. Nobody’s forcing you,saying you have to do it all. God surely doesn’t expect you to do it all. A lot of things in your “all” are self imposed and really not mandatory. You just do them – out of a sense of duty,or other peoples’ expectations or other things. But you’ve got the time. You’ve got the time to grow spiritually. Do you want to make the time? Will you make the time,make the choice? Will you,like Mary,choose the better part?” Which brings us to our last question,”Why do it? Why pursue God’s purpose in your life now?” Very simply,because the clock is ticking for you too!