Fruitful Waiting;

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05/24/2009 Fruitful Waiting Knox 16 PC

290/814/744 Psalm 5 Hebrews 5:7-10 Mark 1:35-39

OOPS! William Wilberforce, statesman of Great Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, once said, "I must secure more time for private devotions. I have been living far too public for me. The shortening of private devotions starves the soul. It grows lean and faint." Following a failure in Parliament, he remarked that his problems may have been due to the fact that he spent less and less time in his private devotions in which he could earnestly seek the will of God. He concluded, "God allowed me to stumble."  
  UGH! There was more than one occasion when the people were looking for Jesus and they went out of their way to find out where he was. They had many urgent concerns. But, were they dealing with the priorities in their lives that they needed to address.
Many things in our lives will distract us from our God-given path of living the life. There will be calls from telemarketers, telling you and me how urgent it is that we listen to what they have to say. This is an example of what I'd call unwanted interruptions. Even as you and I watch television there is a delay every so often to hear her several 15 second clips of somebody advertising something. They know that there are great claims upon your life and so the message must be short and succinct and to the point to catch your attention.  
  In this busy day our problem is not in the amount of time that we have but in our priorities. It is doubt and fear, not hard work or shortage of time, that cause us to worry. There is a constant competition between the truly important and the merely urgent.
The urgent tasks demand immediate action, but the important things can be put off a day or a week. We become enslaved by the tyranny of the urgent, but Jesus never did. He worked hard to finish the work He had been given(John 17:4), but His life was not frantic. He had a marvellous balance and sense of timing. The secret of His success in this area is that He was willing to prayerfully wait for instructions from the Father.  
  Prayerless-ness has been called the greatest sin because self-sufficiency (or independence from God) is the root of all sin. In order to effectively serve God, we must prayerfully wait on Him.
When somebody says to you that they haven't the time to do something for you, what they really mean is that you have not made it to their priority list of things to do. Every human being only has a certain amount of time available. The issue here is to discern what are our priorities.  
  AHA! Jesus waited on his Father for instruction as to what to do next. He got up very early in the morning, while it was still dark. He left the security of the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. When everyone discovers where Jesus is, starting with the disciples, we get a sense from Jesus' own words as to what the priorities are. Listen to verse 38! "Let us go somewhere else, to the nearby villages, so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.
WHEE! Jesus was hearing the prophetic word that comes from the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. If we are to remain in the will of God, it is imperative for us to take time in our times of waiting to pray. Jesus is shown to be a man of prayer in all the Gospels.  
  There's a painting that depicts a Christian farmer who has left his plow and turned aside in the early glow of morning to pray. The outstanding thing about the picture, however, is that while the man is lifting his heart to God, an angel is going on with his plowing for him! It is a "parable in paint".
Let us be certain of this. Praying does not mean that you and I do all the talking. There is a need during prayer to listen for God's voice. Prayer is one of the most profound places for hearing God speaking his instruction. Most often when I'm looking for direction in my life, I find it in a time of prayer.  
  To pray well we must shut the world out. We must be ready to turn off our blackberries, our cell-phones, and even our phones at home. There is a need to shut off the radio and the television. To shut down computers.
The main concern of the Christian community is to know Christ and to make him known. We come to know him most profoundly in the Scriptures and in prayer.  
  Listen to the introit that we sing here. It is very instructive. Take time to behold Him, speak oft with Thy Lord. Abide in Him always, and feed on his word. Make friends of God's children; help those who are weak, forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek. There is a third dimension given in this particular introit. It is meeting with God's children in worship.
It is very tempting in given weeks and under certain circumstances and certain pressures to forget about going to church. We could easily say I don't have time for that just now. But to give it up leaves one open to be overwhelmed with the tyranny of the urgent. To be overwhelmed by all those things that seek our attention that have no long-lasting value in time or in eternity.  
  You can sing particular hymns that you are a well acquainted with. And that too can be a form of prayer. We must not limit the ways in which God communicates with us. His desire is to have his church caught up in the priorities which he has set.
We will be singing this morning the hymn will your anchor hold? It will hold if we keep Jesus Christ as our top priority. Everything else will flow out of that. Seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added on to you.  
  Jesus had no divinely drawn up blueprint or schedule; he discerned the Father's will day by day in a life of prayer. These were the times before blueberries and blackberries to guide us in our daily duties. These were even the days before there were printed calendars in which to mark our appointments. Supported by a daily life of prayer, Jesus was able to resist the urgent demands of others and do what was really important for his mission.
Jesus' disciples had become embarrassed over their leader's delay. Didn't Jesus realise that back at the house people who had not yet been healed were crowding around the door and asking for him? And Jesus' answer couldn't have been more shocking. "Let us go somewhere else, to the nearby villages, so I can preach there also. That is why I have come". He then turned away from the waiting crowd and travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and driving out demons.  
  Jesus was focussed on the work that was before him. He did not have time for other people's agendas. On another occasion Jesus faced difficult choice between two worthy tasks. In the middle of a fruitful ministry, Jesus received an urgent message from his close friends Mary and Martha concerning their brother Lazarus. "Lord, the one you love is sick. "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
The urgent need was to prevent the death of the beloved brother. But the important thing from God's point of view was to raise Lazarus from the dead. So he was allowed to die and his sisters to grieve. Then Jesus travelled to Bethany and also wept with the family. He raised Lazarus having proclaimed; "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, do you believe this"?  
  In both of these situations Jesus' yes to the Father's purpose meant saying no to urgent demands of human need. As a man of sorrows who suffered a great deal those frequent decisions must have been extremely painful.
Jesus' prayerful waiting for the Father's instruction free Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave him a sense of direction, set a steady pace at that end of his earthly ministry and gave him the satisfaction that he had completed the work God had assigned him.  
  Many of us have experienced Christ's deliverance from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. Are we also letting Him free us from the tyranny of the urgent? In this message he points the way: "if you hold to my teaching." This is the path to freedom, continuing day by day to meditate on the Scriptures and gain our Lords' perspective in prayer and in community.
A time-management expert was giving a seminar to a group of business students. He began his presentation to these high-powered over-achievers by saying, "OK, here's a question for you." He pulled out a one-gallon wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on the table. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the group said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" Reaching under the table, he pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the students were catching on. "Probably not," one of them answered.  
  YEAH! "Good!" he replied as he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the whole group shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the students and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that's NOT the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

Brothers and sisters in Christ: From ancient time it has been the custom of the people of God to set apart with all honour and dignity, places of internment for the bodies of their beloved dead. Our blessed Lord by His own burial held the grave as a resting place for His people. We are assembled in His name that, by reading of the Word of God and solemn prayer, we may rededicate this ground and the beautification of it to the glory and the honour of our Lord.

John 11: 25-26

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I dedicate the beautification of this ground to be continued in the use for which it was dedicated. Let us pray.

Merciful Father, who is the God, not of the dead, but of the living, look down upon this place which we seek to beautify for your glory and continue to set it apart for the sacred purpose for which it is appointed.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who did break the bonds of death and rise triumphant from the grave; sanctify this resting place of those who fall asleep in You; that, like your own holy grave, it may be but the gate of life eternal, the entrance to the glory that excels all others.

O Holy Spirit, the Comforter, pour the oil of Your consoling grace into all hearts that sorrow here, that they may be lifted above their darkness and distress into the light and peace of Your eternal presence. Amen.


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