“ROADSIDE DISTRACTIONS” By Pastor YAU
Text: Luke 4:1-15 November 14, 2010.
1) Words of a driver’s instructor: In recounting her experience of learning to drive, Julie Link described it like this: “Over and over again, my driver’s education instructor said these 2 words: ‘Drive ahead.’ This was his way of telling me to focus on the horizon, not just on my immediate surroundings. Drivers who continually look to the right or to the left may well go into the ditch.”
2) Words of a Christian instructor: Paul was trying to encourage the early Christians not to be distracted by their immediate surroundings which was persecution on the outside and false teaching on the inside. Then he listed all the giants of faith in Hebrews 11 to be examples for the new Christians. Then he said, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
WHY ARE ROADSIDE DISTRACTIONS?
1) Because they are everywhere: If you have been to the Disney World, you know what I am talking about. No matter where you go, whatever you want to see or ride, there are plenty of other fun things surrounding you to distraction your attention and makes it difficult to make a choice. Christians live in this world face similar delimma: too many distractions to fool us or draw our attention sidetracked from pursuing our journey. This happens not just to Christians in the pews, it also happens to some on the pulpits. Every year, we see otherwise faithful Christians and servants of God fall back from following God and ventured into the world.
2) Because they are attractive: You don’t have to be a fishing expert to know that the primary reason that fish got hooked to the baits is because all baits are attractive to their eyes. Baits are designed to be attractive in color, size and shape, motion and even smell so fish can’t resist the temptation and same thing happens to how Christians got sidetracked. To deny the attraction of this world is to deny the beauty of God’s creation. When our eyes are fixed on the things of this world, distraction is inevitable.
3) Because of human nature: And that nature is greed: we always want another thing. This is true from watching small children want more toys, adults want more shoes and clothing, bigger or better homes, newer cars, higher position and more power, fame and status, and the list goes on and on. No matter how many or much we already have, there are still more attractions we want to have. That is why we keep looking to the right and the left to find them. So long as our heart is not content with what we already have, we will fall into the ditch of distraction.
4) Because Satan is good at this: Satan is very good in positioning distractions on our ways to heaven. He will use different thing to entice our different needs or desires at different times in our life. Satan knows that our desires change in different stage of life and he will place the “right” distractions on both sides of your path. He will come to us and tell us: You deserve this. This is better than what you have. You don’t know all the goodies of this world, try some. You only need to read the text again to see how cleaver Satan is trying to distract Jesus from His goal.
HOW DO DISTRACTIONS WORK? (Luke 4:1-12)
1) They work on our physical needs: “Jesus was led by the Spirit in the desert where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and at the end of them he was hungry. Then the devil said to him: If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (4:1-3) Physical needs and weakness is the most vulnerable areas Satan works the best to get us down. Everyone needs to feed the body and fulfill all the physical needs to survive and Satan works best to use that as a stepping stone to get us away from God. This includes material needs of all kind that many Christians have fallen into the hands of Satan. Jesus warns us: do not trade your soul with material things of this world. It doesn’t pay your loss of the soul.
2) They work on our desire for glory: “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world and said to him: I will give you all their authority and splendor.” (4:5-6)Name and fame is the desire of all human and also the cause of endless conflict, struggle and war. History is a chronicle of human struggles on power, fame and splendor. We have seen people, including Christians, sacrificed their principle of life in order to achieve worldly power, glamour and splendor. But the Son of God didn’t come to grab authority and splendor in this world. He has much more of this in heaven.
They try to divert God’s plan: “The devil led
4) They will try different way again: “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” () Pay close attention to this verse. a) Satan will use all kinds of tricks to tempt Jesus, and 2) he will tempt him again when another opportunity comes alone. Satan will never stop trying to divert our attention, to distract our focus, to lead us into his tricks. He will use all kinds of tricks, different from the last, until we are tripped and fall flat. So, we can never feel safe or ignore new tricks to entice us from driving ahead on God’s path.
HOW TO OVERCOME DISTRACTION: It’s all in the Bible.
1) Focus on the right path: “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone but by every word of God.” (4:4, KJV) While Satan tried to mislead Jesus to focus solely on his need of food, Jesus pointed out that the higher path of life is to also focus on the word (promises) of God. Jesus didn’t ignore our physical needs, but he also wanted us to focus on the faithfulness of God in providing our needs. Many otherwise good and faithful Christians fell from their path because they put all or too much of their care on meeting their physical needs and not enough on the love and power of God’s provision.
2) Focus on only serving God: “Jesus answered: It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (4:8)While Satan tried to mislead Jesus into worshiping power, splendor and glamour like most people in the world do, Jesus brought the focus back to center it on God. If Christians are sure of their one focus for their life, it must be God and God alone. Anytime we look to the world and what it may offer us we are in danger of being side-tracked. James told us clearly that a double-minded man is unstable in all things he does. (James 1:8)
3) Focus on faith in, not test God: “Jesus answered: It says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” () Very early in the Exodus journey, the Israelis repeatedly tested God’s power and love in his provision of their needs. Moses gave them a stern warning in Deut. 6:16, “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.” At Massah, the Israelis tested God to give them water from a rock so they can see if God is really with them or not. (Exodus 17:7)The most important weapon to defeat distraction is to focus on the faithfulness and power of God, instead of playing tricks to see if God is real or not.
Focus on doing God’s work: “Jesus returned to
1) Distraction is real: Our Christian journey to heaven is an up hill drive. It is never an easy road to travel. Distractions on both sides can divert and detour out focus and get us wondering in the wilderness all the time without finishing the goal of life God has set for us. If Satan can try to distract Jesus, he certainly can do the same to us. So, we need to be vigilant at all times or we may end up become victims of Satan’s vicious scheme.
2) Distractions hurt: First, distraction hurt the drivers, you and me. They create unsafe driving condition for all people, others who use the same streets. Spiritual distraction hurt Christians in their spiritual growth and productivity. They hurt the building of God’s kingdom on earth, the church. Many churches can’t grow because members are distracted from building God’s kingdom to building their own castles.
3) Remove all distractions: We need to learn from Jesus to remove or stop ant and all distractions. We can do that by using God’s words to defense our bases. We can stop looking at distractions by looking only at Jesus who is the author and finisher of our journey of faith.