Sermon: Love Awakens

I shared this message on Valentine’s Day at New Vision Church, where I serve as the missions and creative arts pastor. Please feel free to leave comments and feedback.

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Can You Hear Me Now Part 7

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38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

As I wrap up this series on bringing focus back to life, a quick look at Mary’s life can be very helpful. Here are a couple things I see from this passage that will assist in maintaining the right focus and opening my spiritual ears to God’s voice.

One Thing.

One major difference between Martha and Mary is the one thing versus many things. My life can be overcrowded with all kinds of things and some of those…most of those are good things. Cutting back and cutting things out is a must if I am to hear God more clearly and be able to see life with better focus.  There must be times in life when there is only one thing on the priority list and that’s hearing from God. Setting aside regular time for silence and solitude is a great practice in keeping the focus on one thing.

Good Choices.

My life is full of choices, just like everyone. However, the choices I make are a great part of what distinguishes me from you. If I am to seriously gain focus for the future and hear from God, I must use “leisure” time to listen and pay attention to God.  What I do in “downtime”, what I do in private time with God, and what I do busy times of life, all affect how well I hear from God. Making good choices with my time, money, use of resources, relaxation, and education, among many other faucets of life, contribute to how well or how poorly I sense God’s presence.

Take Advantage.

Mary did just that: she took advantage of the chance she had. She had no idea if Jesus was coming to her house again. She surely wasn’t going to miss the chance she had right there and then to meet with him and listen to anything and everything He would have to say. If there’s one thing to keep in mind, it’s that in a busy life, downtime, quiet time, or vacation time can be few and far between. Therefore, when I get a chance to listen; Take it. When I get some time to be alone with God; Take it! When I sense God may be leading and speaking: Pay attention. Taking advantage of each moment to reaffirm God’s love for me, His call on my life, and direction for the future, is proving to be invaluable as life remains busy and full.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I’ll be taking some time to do just that. I’ll be being quiet, seeking to hear and paying attention to God’s voice. May I encourage you to do the same as soon as you can? You just might hear God in a way you never have before! God is asking: can you hear Me now? What’s your response?

George Profile

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative/Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

 

Can You Hear Me Now Part 6

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38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Being still is one of more difficult things for many in our day and age. Yet it is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do who truly want want to hear from God. Psalm 46:10 clearly states: “Be still and know that I am God.” Martha was distracted with much serving, rushing about with lots of activity. What frustration could have been prevented if she could have stilled herself before the Lord? May I offer a couple of reasons we find it difficult to be still.

Activity makes us feel important.

It’s true isn’t it? The more busy we are, the more important we feel. I believe Martha could have struggled with this. She was going great lengths to prepare a dazzling meal for Jesus. How often have we busied ourselves even in the name of the Lord carrying about with a certain “air” of importance?

Activity makes us feel like we are getting something done.

Howard Hendricks once said: “My greatest fear for you is not that you will fail but that you will succeed at the wrong things.” Martha was about to succeed at the wrong thing. She was working hard for this meal and presentation and on her way to missing the truly important part of it all: the guest of honor. How am I focused on the wrong thing? Don’t just do something…be still and do the right thing.

Activity itself will never satisfy.

At the end of the day, we can accomplish all of our activities and yet feel empty. So we fill our lives with more activity or stimulus or whatever to escape the emptiness within. Jesus gently chided Martha for her complaints. He told her that Mary had chosen the good portion…the thing that was right and it would not be taken away. It would have residual affect. It would remain. What part of all of my activities have eternal value?

I have found that in stillness and quietude, I find peace, comfort, and direction for my activities of the day. Taking regular time each day to be silent and listen to the Lord has been an invaluable practice throughout my entire Christian walk. That’s something that I can’t say about all my activity, Christian or not. How about you?

George Profile

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative/Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

 

Can You Hear Me Now Part 5

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38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

One of the great lessons learned through this passage is the quiet action of Mary. It seems as Martha and Mary are in direct contrast to each other. Martha is rushing about making all kinds of preparations while Mary is sitting quiet and still before the Lord. Martha is distanced from the Lord; Mary is quite close. Martha is distracted; Mary is focused. Martha is frustrated while Mary is at peace.

Notice how calm and collected Mary is. She is at peace…even when being accused to her face (unjustly, mind you). She is simply soaking up the Lord and all He has to say. Then when these accusations and comments start to fly, Mary simply sits and the Lord defends her. What can we learn fro this?

Time before the Lord calms our lives.

Mary was probably accustomed to working hard. Having watched her sister serve, Mary was not a slacker because she was spending time at the Lord’s feet. She simply had a different priority. When we take the time to sit with the Lord awhile, things move into perspective. A calmness can be found and peace can be given when we spend time with Jesus. If there’s anything we need in our speed of light living society it’s a downshift into peace. Time before the Lord can truly calm our lives if we will take time to be quiet and still.

The Lord defends us.

Learning to let the Lord speak up and for us can be a challenge. If I were in Mary’s shoes here, I would have probably jumped up and immediately started defending myself, my actions and given Martha a few of my own words to justify my actions. Mary is such a great example of trusting Jesus and loving her sister. There are times when we simply need to be quiet and let the Lord do all the talking for us, on our behalf and in correcting others. Far too many people are playing the role of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. If God’s Spirit is within someone, they will know the Lord’s correction quite clearly. My position needs to be like Mary, simply still and quiet before the Lord and let Him work things out in His own timing and way. He speaks when He needs to. He defends me when He needs to.

George ProfileGeorge Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative/Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

 

Can You Hear Me Now Part 4

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38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Amid all he running around, preparing the meal for Jesus and His disciples, Martha lost focus. She had invited Jesus and the guys over for a meal but essentially handed Him the remote to the TV and said: “Make yourself at home while I get some stuff ready for you to eat”. Martha had the chance to spend time with the Savior but instead found herself frustrated. What lead to this lack of focus?

Much Serving

Serving is great. In fact, Jesus came to serve. However, there is a time when serving should cease and rest and fellowship should ensue. Martha lost focus because she had so many things to do. No one can focus on many things at once. The loss of hearing Jesus’ voice can often be traced back to a time when much serving was substituted for much listening.

Shifted Perspective

Martha’s service got out of focus. She moved from doing something out of love and joy for Jesus to becoming frustrated, angry and resenting the very thing she was doing. This is the picture of the focus becoming blurred. I believe Martha started out with a laser focus on how things would need to be done. But this soon shifted and became blurred and it’s evidenced in her accusatory remarks made to Jesus about her sister, Mary. Martha had become focused on herself, the preparations, the dinner. She had lost all joy and pleasure in having Jesus at her home. Could it be because Martha wanted the attention to be on herself and the meal?

It’s vitally important that we refresh our perspective and take some time daily to question our motives, intentions and acts of service. We need to keep a sharp focus on why we are doing what we do. Otherwise, our focus will shift to ourselves and we will get lost in our own doings.

Poor Choices

When it all comes down, Martha made some different choices than Mary. It wasn’t that Martha was “less spiritual” necessarily but she did make different choices. When it comes to hearing Jesus’ voice, following after Him or being with Him, we all have to make our own choices. As in any relationship, people who spend more time together are usually more connected, share more memories and understand one another better. Martha had chosen poorly and this was a huge reason she was upset and her life was out of focus because of it.

What things can you cut back or cut out from your service in order to hear from God? Is your “serving” preventing you from actually obtaining God’s best for you?

How has your focus shifted? Are you still living with laser precision? Or have things become blurred? What do you need to do to refocus?

What choices have lead you astray? How have you chosen poorly? How can you choose wisely? What would be the best choice you can make today in regards to hearing God’s voice?

 

George ProfileGeorge Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative/Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fatyetteville, GA

 

The Way Of Worship

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SAM_1379Magnify The Lord With Me...

It seems weird to say a verse like that knowing that God is bigger than anything I could possibly imagine. Blowing God up to God-size is needed but really unfathomable. And yet, that’s what I am to do. But how? God desires for us to truly find the way of worship where we see Him for who He is even if we can’t comprehend exactly how big He is.

Magnification Means Reduction

In other words, it’s like Honey I Shrunk Myself. The Way Of Worship is discovered when we reduce ourselves in light of Who God is. For many of us, we become the god of our own universe. We rule our own domains, we make our own rules, and we dare anyone to invade our space much less tell us how to live.  John The Baptist was clearly aware of the reduction principle…

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Questions For One Thing To Rule Them All pt. 2

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What good things get in your way on a daily basis?

How can you better prepare for your day?

How do you view problems and people in your life?

Have you considered your problems as a way for God to get glory?

What most pulls you away from your focus on God?

If there was one thing you could do today to refocus what would that be?