ELIMINATE THE DISTRACTIONS
Rev. Mike Phelps
Mark 8:13-18 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse code operator.
Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist's counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in.
Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn't heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.
Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled."
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, "Wait a minute, I don't understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That's not fair!"
The employer said, "I'm sorry, but all the time you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: 'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.'
None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his."
Are our ears tuned to His voice??
Now, there are some things that interest me about this story!
This young man was not the FIRST one there!
There were probably men with higher qualifications!
There may have been men who were better dressed.
Maybe they were comparing themselves among themselves, and touting their own qualifications!
Maybe each one was telling the other why he deserved the job!
Maybe they were arguing about who was right and who was wrong for the position
But, while they sat there this young man waltzed right in and got the job!
But, the reason this young man got the job was because he was listening for the right voice!
Somehow he had eliminated all distractions, all outside influences!
While others were pre-occupied with other conversations, although worthwhile they may have been, they missed the main message!
While others were talking among themselves, the small, unobtrusive voice of the telegraph machine went unnoticed! Even though the quietest sound, it was the most important sound in the room, and the one who heard it was the one who eliminated all outside influences and distractions!
I.) THE ONES WHO WILL HEAR THE STILL, SMALL VOICE OF JESUS IN THIS GENERATION ARE THE ONES WHO ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS!
The ones who block out all outside influences and concentrate on what God is saying amid the clutter, and hubbub of every day life!
WE HAVE ALL HAD PEOPLE SAY SOMETHING TO US AND WE WERE DAYDREAMING, OR OTHERWISE PRE-OCCUPIED.
And, so when we finally come back to ourselves, we say. What did you say? I didnt HEAR you!
When, what we really mean is, I heard, but didnt understand you!
I heard you speaking, but what you said didnt register with me.
I knew you were talking to me, but my mind was preoccupied with other things, and I didnt understand what it was that you wanted me to hear.
I was riding in the truck with my father-in-law the other day and said something to him and he said, "Mike, I didn't understand what you said, the doctor has told me I have lost 50% of my hearing. I can HEAR, but I don't UNDERSTAND sometimes what has been said."
And then he said this, which really stuck with me, "The only way I can really understand what someone says is if I am looking directly at them when they speak!"
II.) IN ORDER TO HEAR WHAT GOD IS SAYING, WE MUST REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS AND KEEP OUR EYES ON HIM!
In the year that king Uzziah died I SAW also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
KING UZZIAH HAD BECOME A DISTRACTIOIN TO ISAIAH, AND IT WAS ONLY WHEN HE DIED THAT ISAIAH SAW THE LORD!
UZZIAH a contracted form of Azariah the Lord is my strength. (1.) One of Amaziahs sons, whom the people made king of Judah in his fathers stead (2 Kings 14:21; 2 Chr. 26:1). His long reign of about fifty-two years was the most prosperous except that of Jehosaphat since the time of Solomon. He was a vigorous and able ruler, and his name spread abroad, even to the entering in of Egypt (2 Chr. 26:8, 14). In the earlier part of his reign, under the influence of Zechariah, he was faithful to Jehovah, and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 15:3; 2 Chr. 26:4, 5); but toward the close of his long life his heart was lifted up to his destruction, and he wantonly invaded the priests office (2 Chr. 26:16), and entering the sanctuary proceeded to offer incense on the golden altar. Azariah the high priest saw the tendency of such a daring act on the part of the king, and with a band of eighty priests he withstood him (2 Chr. 26:17), saying, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense. Uzziah was suddenly struck with leprosy while in the act of offering incense (26:1921), and he was driven from the temple and compelled to reside in a several house to the day of his death (2 Kings 15:5, 27; 2 Chr. 26:3). He was buried in a separate grave in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings (2 Kings 15:7; 2 Chr. 26:23).
Isaiah learned that position was not what he should be seeking!
Uzziah gave him a position, and when he got his position, he lost sight of God!
I want you to notice Isaiah's 3-fold vision:
1.) When the man who had taken care of him died, Isaiah turned again to the Lord, and it was then that he received his vision!
In the year that king Uzziah died I SAW also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Isaiah said, when my distractions were eliminated, then I saw the Lord!
When I stopped looking to the arm of the flesh, I saw the Lord!
When I got my focus off of the things that man could do for me and to me, I saw the Lord!
2.) After Isaiah saw the Lord, he saw himself!
5 Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah realized how far he had drifted away from God when he finally saw God again! He realized how unclean he was after he got a vision of God! And, immediately he began to repent!
3.) And, finally, after he saw God and himself, he got a vision of the world that he was sent to witness to.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
I am saying to this church tonight, God has a job for someone to do!
There is a work to be done, and the position is open, who will fill it?
Who will go and do the work of God in this generation?
III.) THE JOB POSITION IS OPEN, AND THE ADVERTISEMENT HAS GONE FORTH!
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Reach the lost at any cost!
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And a life insurance policy that is out of this world!
And, the applicants have come from near and far, and are sitting in the interview room, waiting for their turn!
But, I would say to you today, that it is not the most qualified, not the most well-dressed, not the first on the scene, or not the ones with the most ability that will get the job, but the ones that will get the nod from the Lord of the Harvest are those who will hear his still, small, voice and understand what the purpose of the church is in this day!
Those whose attention is not diverted by the other sounds that clamor all around, those who dont think that they have already arrived and deserve the job because of their superior qualifications, but those who are listening and understanding the voice of God!
We can argue all day long amongst ourselves, and use scripture to back up why we are right, and everyone else is wrong, but while we are crossing theological swords, people are dying and going to hell!
IV.) THE ONES WHOM GOD WILL WORK THROUGH IN THIS GENERATION ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE ELIMINATED THE DISTRACTIONS IN THEIR LIVES.
Not the most educated,
Not the best dressed,
Not the ones with the most impressive pedigree or heritage,
But, those who have eliminated distractions!
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
It's interesting to note that one of the meanings of both of the words used here, CLEAN and PURE, is CLEAR!
Not muddled or double-minded, but a clear, unhindered direction.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
One of the definitions for SINGLE in this passage is SIMPLE, or CLEAR!
I truly believe that what God is looking for in this generation is not talent, ability, pedigree, heritage, etc.
I BELIEVE THAT GOD IS SIMPLY LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO WILL ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS!
PEOPLE WHO WILL KEEP THEIR PURPOSE CLEAR, THEIR LIVES UNCLUTTERED, AND FREE FROM THE THINGS OF THE WORLD THAT WILL DIVERT OUR ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE STILL, SMALL VOICE OF GOD!
People that will not only hear, but understand what God is saying
How do I hear and understand the voice of God?
It's not enough to hear the voice of God; I must understand what God is saying.
SAMUEL HEARD THE VOICE OF GOD, BUT RAN TO ELI TO ASK HIM WHAT HE WANTED!
It's one thing to hear the voice, but another to know from where it is coming and what it is saying.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
The way that I can hear the voice of God is only through prayer, fasting, spending time in the Word and eliminating distractions.
We are going to work on ELIMINATING DISTRACTIONS.