Believe series session 14 Single-mindedness
George Methodist Church
6th May 2018
8am and 10am
Key idea: I focus on God and his priorities for my life.
Key verse: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The Outeniqua marathon run in such a way as to win the prize – focus – is critical to finishing. Keep your eyes on the author and finisher of your faith – Jesus – Hebrews 12:1 -3.
Press on towards the goal Phil 3:13, 14.
As we approach the topic of being single-minded, I think it is one of the areas we all struggle with. Our minds are so often all over the place and there seem to be more and more distractions which are really not helpful.
As the people called out to follow God in the Old Testament understood very well, that it was impossible to go anywhere without the direction of the Lord and when they got distracted they basically got lost in culture, religiousness, other religions or their own selfish desires.
In Exodus 20 God lays out a blueprint which is still valid to this day as to how to behave with each other and how to be with Him – the 10 commandments – 6 about us and 4 about Him.
The key focus for them was to be reminded of who he is – I am the Lord your God .
Part of mission in life is to keep focussed on the Lord. Jesus reminds us this morning that there are many things that you can be worrying about and that we should not allow these things to hold us down. The key to focus according to Jesus – seek first his kingdom and righteousness.
Question: “What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?”
Answer: Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33). The verse’s meaning is as direct as it sounds. We are to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world. Primarily, it means we are to seek the salvation that is inherent in the kingdom of God because it is of greater value than all the world’s riches. Does this mean that we should neglect the reasonable and daily duties that help sustain our lives? Certainly not. But for the Christian, there should be a difference in attitude toward them. If we are taking care of God’s business as a priority—seeking His salvation, living in obedience to Him, and sharing the good news of the kingdom with others—then He will take care of our business as He promised—and if that’s the arrangement, where is worrying?
These “negative” aspects of the kingdom run counter to a heresy which is gaining ground around the world, the so-called “prosperity” gospel. A growing number of false teachers are gathering followers under the message “God wants you to be rich!” But that philosophy is not the counsel of the Bible—and it is certainly not the counsel of Matthew 6:33, which is not a formula for gaining wealth. It is a description of how God works. Jesus taught that our focus should be away from this world—its status and its lying allurements—and placed upon the things of God’s kingdom.
Righteousness for me is answering the question “What makes God happy and keeps us satisfied from above? Having a right relationship with him.
In Philippians 3: 1- 14 Paul lists all the reasons why he should be highly favoured by God – circumcised on the 8th day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, persecuting the church (in his pre-converted life) and righteousness based on the law – faultless.
But he says he considers this rubbish compared to worth of knowing Jesus Christ his Lord!!!
We can be so dogmatically single minded that we miss the very message of the bible and it’s critical for us to understand this. When the word is hidden in our hearts, then our attitude and our way of life should reflect Jesus more and more – amen!!!!
So I want to finish with an example of single mindedness in the Old Testament and it’s the story in the 2nd book of Chronicles 20: 1-30
Jehoshophat is the king of the Southern Kingdom during a time when the kingdoms had divided into the north Israel and the South Judah. This story slides right between the prophetic time of Elijah dying and Elisha about to take on the mantle of Elijah.
There is a huge attack on the people of the south and Judah is invaded and Jehoshophat as king calls them together to pray, fast and worship.
His prayer is so profound in terms of being single minded and it should guide us in our calling on the Lord as well:
- Our eyes are focussed on you and not the enemy.
- The declaration from Jehoshophat is a recognition that the battle is not theirs but the Lord’s.
- The men of Judah stood with their wives children and little ones. Include the whole community/family of believers. Don’t leave anyone out and don’t underestimate the wisdom of a small child’s prayer.
- Let the prophet raise his voice but make sure it’s a trusted recognised voice – note that they make it very clear that JAHAZIEL (meaning God sees) is declared as the son of Zecheriah,Benaiah,Jeiel,Mattaniah, a Levite (priest) and a descendant of Asaph.
- Encouragement – do not be afraid or discouraged. The battle is not ours but the Lord’s (remember that Jehoshophat has already said that but he reaffirms it.)
- Go out and face them -March against them.
- Take up your positions – know what your position is in the Lord.
- Stand firm.
- See the deliverance the Lord will make.
They set out early in the morning and did exactly what the Lord had told them to do through the prophet Hazaliel .
They sang and worshipped – “Give thanks to the Lord our God and King – His Love endures forever” vs 21 – the Lord set ambushes against the enemy.
They destroyed one another. Interesting. Only dead bodies were left and they took the plunder (bootie) away.
They concluded by praising God in the valley of Berakah – meaning benediction or an expression of Praise. Berekoth – a blessing of food – Blessed art thou O Lord our God King of the universe who has created the fruit of the vine.