Breaking The Barrier of Distractions
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 17:6, Matthew 14:22-33
Sunday 1st February 2015
We have been examining the series titled 'Beyond the Boundaries of Limitations'. Here is a brief re-cap of what we learnt last week, from the message titled 'Breaking the Barrier of Limitations': From the foundation scripture in Genesis 17:6, we agreed that God has already blessed us, we are fruitful and we have been made kings. It is now our obligation to access this blessing from God.
We also learnt that between where each of us are presently, and our 'excel' destination are gaps; these gaps we referred to them as 'barriers'. One of the barriers which we discussed extensively last week is the barrier of perception. We agreed that it is important that we see life from the viewpoint of God rather than that of men.
Today, let's examine another barrier, from today's message titled: 'Breaking the Barrier of Distractions'. I have come to realise that regardless of how much of God's provision He's promised to give, a distracted person will hardly enjoy, if at all, those blessings that He has provided. Such a person stands in the danger of missing out on their God ordained destiny and being robbed by the devil. From today's foundation scripture in Matthew 14:22-33, we read a narration, beginning with Jesus' directive given to his disciples to cross over to the other side after one of the outstanding miracles of his ministry – the feeding of the five thousand. Soon after they began their journey, Jesus made his way to the mountain to pray. Here is a good lesson for us, by way of digression; If Jesus could spend a good amount of time praying as he did in this passage, shouldn't we also make prayer a matter of priority? Let me encourage you to find the time to be alone with God – it is the place of your power, relevance and significance.
Again, let's revisit verse 22: 'Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home' (NLT). The New King James version translated the word in bold as 'made', which means, the disciples were compelled, forced and constrained. This seems to suggest that after a remarkable spectacle of feeding the five thousand, the disciples were about to relax, settle and enjoy being complacent on that hillside plain, without giving any more thought to the next assignment awaiting them. Can I challenge you to forge ahead, regardless of whatever your accomplishments may have been? Don't settle for less than what God has prepared for you. There is the other side that you are being called by God to explore.
You can't afford to live casually and without purpose in life. Remember that this is the one life you've got and it is certainly not a rehearsal. Again, what you may have experienced so far is not your best. God has something better in store for you; He is calling you to reach further, as this is what 'excel' is all about. Remember that you will never know what awaits you on the other side, until you step out. That is exactly what the four lepers in 2 Kings 7 experienced – after stepping out, they came across so much abundance as foretold by Prophet Elisha. So reach out and experience God's best for you, in your relationship with God and men, career, family, business and your life as a whole.
'The other side' in biblical Greek means to 'go beyond', and it is no surprise that God is calling us to go beyond. As the disciples made their way to the other side, a storm arose. The New King James version of the bible described the wind as 'contrary' – this could also be described as an opposing wind or a barrier. 'I command every storm that may have arisen against you to be still in Jesus name!' Storms could be referred to as a distraction. A distraction could simply be described as anything that takes your attention away from your original or primary assignment or intended destination.
It is important that you fully understand what 'excel' is all about for you. Find out from God where He is taking you to this year. You need to know – a person who lives without any form of direction is already distracted. Living without any direction is simply going to a place leading nowhere – it is similar to going for a stroll. Anything that can get your attention can also give you direction.
In order to excel, you must be able to overcome distractions. You also need to remember that distractions come in different packages, of all shapes and sizes, and could sometimes appear legitimate. Sometimes, friends could be a source of distraction, if they do not fully understand what God is doing in your life – so be careful so as not be derailed from your God-given assignment. These are the days in which having to stay focused could be challenging and perplexing, despite the fact that all you need to excel has already been provided by God's grace. This simply means you have to be deliberate in remaining focused. It is also vital that you walk in discernment, just like the sons of Issachar did. Remember that we will give an account of our lives to God, and it is expedient to put this into consideration when making decisions each day.
As useful as technology can be, they could also be a good source of distraction. With various smartphones and tablets clogging our settee and coffee tables, it is no wonder that conversations at home is gradually diminishing. Associations at work and relationships in various walks of life could also be a distraction – be on guard. It is worth repeating that anything that has the tendency to pull you away from your God-given assignment, however legitimate it may look or sound, is simply a distraction. And here is the danger to be mindful of: if you are distracted, you stand the chance of missing on what God wants to do in your life in a particular season. If Eve, Abraham, Samson and David could be distracted, then it is imperative that you live circumspectly. All distractions eventually lead away from the original intended destination to a purposeless end.
This is how John 10:10 put it: 'The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life'. The role of distraction is to steal, kill and destroy. The better you are at recognizing what distractions are and overcoming them, the better you will be excelling.
Let's learn some valuable lessons from Nehemiah, who lived a life of purpose and shunned all appearances of distraction. Here are few verses from Nehemiah 6: 1-4: 'Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: "I am engaged in a great work, so I can't come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?" Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply'.
Nehemiah was an exiled Jew who served king Artaxerxes as a cupbearer in the palace in Susa. News soon reached him that the walls of Jerusalem had been demolished and life was difficult for the remnants of the Jews in Judah. This stirred up Nehemiah and he decided to do something about it. With God's favour and the approval of the King, he was commissioned to alleviate the suffering that the Jews in Jerusalem were experiencing. Soon, they commenced the work of re-building the wall and re-organising the city, which before long caught the attention of Sanballat and his cohorts.
Here are some lessons to learn from this story: Firstly, Nehemiah was very discerning; He realised that these men wanted to harm him, and he declined the offer. He had developed an innate regulatory mind to decline offers that encouraged him to do things at the spur of the moment. The sons of Issachar are another good example whom we referred to earlier: they were 'men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,'
Conversely, we must also be careful to consult with God on any offers given to us. Just like Nehemiah discerned the intention of the invitation sent his way, so must we. As good as hanging around people is and as enjoyable as having dinner with acquaintances seems like, you must be discerning with all associations, as this ultimately determine your destiny. In other words, if an acquaintance is not going in your direction, it is advantageous not to join their company. Your blessings can only be found at your God-ordained destination.
Secondly, Nehemiah gave priority to his assignment: After the invitation came from these detractors, Nehemiah simply sent word back to them saying; 'I am doing a great work. I am too busy to come down'. Conversely, we all must place priority on the assignment given to us by God. Let those around you know that you are on a mission and cannot be pulled away unnecessarily. So how important is your 'excel' this year? This would determine how unlikely you are to be distracted. Hence, you need to quickly determine the worth of your 'excel'. If you do not see your work as important, you could be easily distracted.
Thirdly, Nehemiah did not give his attention to distractions: In life, whatever you feed grows. Just like a baby grows as it is fed, so will anything you sustain and support with your attention. Nothing just happens – every association, including soul ties happen gradually. Here is Nehemiah's response again: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down". Every distraction, inevitably wants to pull you down. His response 'cannot come down' indicates an innate conditioned mind-set, such that coming down was not within his thought process.
Fourthly, Nehemiah refused to yield to the pressure of distraction: Here is another look at Nehemiah 6:4: 'Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply'. Nehemiah refused to be drawn away despite the persistence of his detractors. Repeated phone-calls and other forms of communication should not be big enough to derail us once we've established that the intrusion is a distraction. All the enemy wants to do is to weaken your resolve and determination, and it is expedient that you stand your ground and refuse to give in.
Lastly, Nehemiah finished his assignment – He excelled: Here is Nehemiah 6:15-16; 'So on October 2, the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God' (NLT). The wall of Jerusalem was completed because Nehemiah refused to be distracted. I declare that your life's assignment will be fulfilled and you will excel this year. You will not fail, fall, be distracted or derailed in Jesus name! (Amen).
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