One day last week, I got into work early as I always do. It had been raining and didn’t look like it was going to stop for quite some time.
When I get to my office every day, I typically take about 15-20 minutes to pray (making Prayer a habit). It’s the best way for me to start off my day as I will give thanks for waking up that morning and for the day even before its started… because I know my Lord will be with me!
That morning, the rain was just a little too much for me. I quickly jumped from my truck and ran for the door, avoiding as many raindrops as I could, to start the coffee machine.
I have to tell you; the day wasn’t typical by any stretch of the imagination. I had unusual difficulty fixing some of the problems I could normally do in my sleep!
Something was wrong, something was off…can anyone tell me what my problem was that day? Yes, I had been distracted and suffered the consequences… Distraction!
I’d like to talk a little this morning on distractions and why we should do our very best to avoid them and stay focused on the more important things in life. After all, I wasn’t going to melt from a little bit or water that morning!
The Devil Knows
Do you realize that distraction and deception are two of the biggest tools the devil uses to take us from God?
April 28, 1019 – The Devil’s Tools
In April of 2019, we had a discussion regarding some of the tools the devil will use in our world today. See if you remember this one from Jeremiah.
The Prophet Jeremiah (Prophet of Courage and Hope or The Weeping Prophet) told us all in the Old Testament what kind of a world we all live in.
Jeremiah 9:6 – “‘You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,’ declares the LORD.”
Things didn’t change in the New Testament either. Jesus gave us the same warning about deceitfulness of the devil.
Quoting Jesus, from the Parable of the Sower…
Mark 4:18-29 – “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
We cannot let the devil distract us as he will try every means available to him, in this world (look at how many), to take your focus off of God… off of Jesus and on to his way of things.
Jesus Walks on Water
Matthew is one of our Sr. Elder Joe’s favorite Gospel. Here is a lesson from Matthew about distraction or losing focus.
Matthew 14:25-31 – “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.”
“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’”
“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’”
“‘Come,’ he said.”
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”
“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’” he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”
Why did Peter begin to sink? Yup, you guessed it! Instead of him keeping
Am Example of Staying Focused
Baseball fans all know the late Yogi Berra, the legendary catcher for the New York Yankees in the 50’s. He had an amazing career at the plate, offensively and defensively.
Some consider him the greatest catcher in the history of baseball; his lifetime batting average of .285 and great defensive skills got him inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1972.
Yet, as good a hitter as he was, Yogi’s peers remember him more for his endless chatter during the game—particularly behind the plate, where he talked to the opposing batters in order to distract them.
Hank Aaron, another HOF’er tells the story about the 1958 World Series, with Yogi behind the plate, and Hank, the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves up to bat. As usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to motivate his teammates and distract Milwaukee’s batters.
As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron responded by driving the next pitch into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and crossing home plate, Aaron looked at Berra and said, “I came to hit, not to read.”
Yogi knew something about people. He knew that if he could distract a batter for even a moment, he could break their concentration and cause them to fail. Distraction brought doubt into a hitter’s mind, and there was no one better at that than Yogi. It simply didn’t work on Hank Aaron!
Remember, this is the devil’s domain. I can’t begin to tell you how easy our society has made it for him to cause us to lose our focus. Here are just a couple of the modern-day distractions we deal with every day.
- You’re driving in rush hour traffic when suddenly your phone rings. You fumble to answer it as you see it’s from a “really important” caller.
As a result, you instantly read end the car in
front of you as you weren’t paying attention (lost focus).
- You’re with a good friend you haven’t seen in a while having dinner and/or drinks. They’re telling you a story (excited) about something that’s been bothering them for a long time.
You then hear that proverbial “ding” from your
phone indicating you’ve just received a text message
from someone… you’re not even sure who but,
nonetheless, you interrupt the conversation with
“I just gotta check this.”
After you’ve checked your “unimportant” message,
your friend has lost where they were and just drop
the conversation and move on.
What have you just shown to your friend? How important do you think they felt that you totally ignored what they were all excited about and shifted your concentration on your cell phone.
When you hear that proverbial “ding” when you’re talking to God, what are you showing Him? Doesn’t God deserve your undying attention? Hasn’t He been there enough for you even though you’ve ignored Him in so many ways?
Let’s imagine, for a moment, what God might see in the things we do every day of our lives.
- You slip on those ear-buds – God knows you cannot HEAR His words are DEAF to you as they are drowned-out by whatever else you’ve chosen to list to.
- You put on that movie/video – God knows you cannot SEE His presence around you. You are now BLIND from your distractions.
- You can’t stop running your mouth – God knows you cannot speak the words He would have you speak as you have become MUTE.
- You can’t put down that phone – You are SHACKLED and cannot do those things He would have you do.
You have just become deaf, blind and mute as you are unable to focus on what it is God has to say to you. Also, how can you help a brother or sister in need if your hands are “shackled?” Perhaps they have fallen, but you are unable to pick them up again.
What If? (Bible)
David & Goliath (The Valley of Elah)
Who remembers the story of David and Goliath? No, not the cartoon you may recall when you and I were both very young! The Biblical story of a young boy who didn’t lose his focus on God and later became a King!
David had been sent to deliver food to his brothers who were fighting with the Israelites against the Philistines.
1 Samuel 17
25Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”
28When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
What if David had been distracted by his brother’s rampage and lost focus on what he knew he must do?
32David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
What if David believed Saul in that he was “just a boy” and couldn’t possibly defeat such a skilled warrior?
David did not lose focus on what he knew God had sent him there to do. He, instead, stayed focused on the God that delivered him from the lion and the bear and, in His name… defeated the great giant!
The Call of Jeremiah
Here is the story of Jeremiah from Jeremiah 1:5-8…
While Jeremiah was serving as one of the priests at Anathoth, in the territory of Benjamin, the voice of the Lord came to him…
5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah loses his focus and becomes afraid…
6“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
This was not pleasing to God at all…
7But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
What If? (Today)
How may times do you doubt yourself… every day? How many times do you think you’re not worthy or simply incapable of doing whatever it is you need to do?
Are you losing your focus on God? Have you forgot He has made you, created you with a purpose? Do you really believe that an Almighty God is going to do all of this for you and then simply let you fail?
- What if you do… finally realize God is on your side?
- What if you do… realize He has a purpose for you?
- What if you do… understand He really has set you apart?
- What if you do… finally understand why He sent His one and only Son that you might be freed from the care of this world? Who would do that?!
- What if you do… get it now; whatever it is you’re going through is making stronger than you ever though you could be?
- What if you do… try, and maybe try again (never giving up), and you do beat this trial you’re going through?
As God spoke to Jeremiah, you are NOT too young; you are NOT unworthy (stop saying these things); and you CAN do this!
Also, here is a better question to ask yourself after hearing these scenarios… What if you dont?!
Don’t ever lose your focus on God! Don’t let the devil take advantage of all he has in this world to take you away! Just as our little lesson from Matthew taught us this morning… if you keep your eyes fixed on Christ, you WILL walk on water!
Okay, now for the bad news… Yes, the devil can beat you; he is strong, has many resources, and knows the things that will distract you from your God… from the Lord Jesus Christ!
But now, the good news… whatever your challenges, whatever pain and suffering you’re going through, if you keep your focus on Him and do the things He has asked of you, you are NOT fighting alone!
…and let me let you in on a little secret: NOBODY, NO THING… can defeat your God!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)!