Sermons

Dont't Just Do Something.... Sit There

Sun, Feb 07, 2021
Teacher: Mark Hull
Passage: Mark 1:28-38
Duration:27 mins 32 secs

Message text

Don’t Just Do Something...Sit There
Mark 1: 28 – 38


If I asked you what your favorite part of the Sunday morning worship is, I would probably get answers like, “I like the song service, I like seeing everyone, I like the prayer time, and so on. One minister actually asked some of his congregation that question and one person said it was the reflection time at communion that he liked most.
The minister looked at this person and was surprised. “You mean it is not the sermon?”
”Oh no, preacher. It’s definitely the communion reflection time.” So, the minister asked what made that time so meaningful. To which the church member said it was because his whole week was so full, and so busy, and so intense. But when it came time for communion and the associated time for reflection, it was the only time all week when he could just sit back, be quiet, and be with God.
Back when I taught I remember how much I enjoyed working in my classroom after coaching after all the other teachers had gone home. What a refreshing time it was.

Today, our text is from Mark 1: 28-38.
28And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee. 29Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. 31So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.

32At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33And the whole city was gathered together at the door.
34Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
35Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
38But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
Most of us are simply too busy to stop and do nothing for even a few moments each week. Most of us feel like we need to be active every minute of the day. We confuse busy-ness with being productive, successful, effective and meaningful.
So, it comes as a surprise to read our New Testament lesson and to find Jesus, not being so busy with life. In fact, in the midst of a very busy time in His life, He sneaks off to a solitary place and prays.
Quiet time – doing nothing but talking to God. Most of us are too busy to do anything like that! Most of us feel like we need to be busy doing something. And for some reason, prayer just doesn’t feel “busy” or “active” enough. We are a people and a society in which being busy makes us feel like we are worthwhile.
If we are not doing something, there is something within us that makes us feel like we are lazy, or that we are wasting our time.
A generation or two ago, the life of the family was going to be revolutionized by the automatic washing machine. Up until then, washing the family’s laundry literally took an entire day. People referred to one day of their weekly routine as wash day.
Then technology came through with the washing machine, and you could throw the clothes into a machine, and then leave it and go do something else. What a time saver. So, what happened? Did we get more time to relax?
No, we filled our time with other duties.
The computer was the same way. It enables us to do more work in a lot less time. But do we get off work early?
No. We simply do more work. There is something within us that compels us to fill up every moment of our time. Even if we are not talking about work, our families are stretched to the limit with activities as we go from ballet classes, to soccer, to outings at the beach, to concerts, to this and to that.
It is as if we are afraid of what might happen if we would just be still for a moment.
In our Passage today, Jesus is very busy. In fact, Mark’s Gospel is the most compatible Gospel there is to our current society. Because Mark gives the impression that everyone is always in a hurry – always busy. The word “immediately” appears over 50 times in Mark’s Gospel.
Mark tells the story of Jesus being baptized and then he says, “And immediately the Holy Spirit sent him into the desert.”
Then Jesus encounters Simon and Andrew fishing and invites them to be disciples and Mark says, “Immediately they left their nets.”
Jesus heals people and casts out demons, and “immediately and quickly the news spread about Jesus.”
And finally, after a fast-paced beginning, Mark says in verse 35 of our text that “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Even in the fast paced, and very successful and meaningful life of Jesus, there was the need to sometimes retreat to a quiet, lonely place for reflection, meditation, prayer and communion with God. This is absolutely necessary in our busy lives.
It makes our busy lives worthwhile and bearable. More than bearable – times of being in a solitary and quiet place with God enable us to do the work we are to do.
Jesus doesn’t just go to that quiet and solitary place and stay there. He goes there to recharge his spiritual batteries. Being there enables him to then get up and move on to find other places to preach his message.
Now if you think that living life in a fast paced, busy fashion is only a problem to the modern age, think again. In the Gospel of Luke, there is a story of Jesus being hosted by sisters Martha and Mary. (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus comes to their home. Mary is content to be still and silent, and to be with the Lord. Martha can’t do that. She has to be busy. She complains to Jesus that her sister isn’t helping her work. In the words of Luke’s Gospel, Martha becomes "distracted and upset at many things."
And so it is with us. Jesus is in the midst of our life. But we become distracted and upset at many things. Our world is so busy, our lives are so full. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could slow down just a bit, and be still, and simply experience the presence of God in our lives.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could, in the midst of work, family pressures, school work, and just turn off the television, turn off the cell phones, and just pray. Being still and quiet from time to time is God’s will for our lives. First, we need to rest from our work, and find that solitary place of quiet.
An old time minister shared a conversation he had with one of his church members. He said that one day an angry church member called saying, "I called you Saturday, but I couldn’t get you." The preacher explained that it was his day off.
"What? A day off? The devil never takes a day off!" the member said with a holier-than-thou tone. "You’re right, " said the minister, "and if I didn’t take any ’time out,’ I would be just like him!"
We all need times in our week when we slow down and become still and quiet because it is vital for our soul. So important is this principle, that God made the command for a day of rest, a Sabbath, part of the Ten Commandments.
There’s a story that occurred in the deep jungles of Africa. A traveler was making a long trip on foot. Natives of the area were hired to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. When asked about the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
There are times when our lives move so fast, that we need to slow down and let our souls catch up with us --not literally, but figuratively.
There’s an old legend told of a preacher in biblical days in Ephesus. His hobby was raising pigeons. On one occasion a hunter passed his house as he returned from hunting. When the hunter saw the guy playing with one of his birds, he gently criticized the him for spending his time so frivolously. The preacher looked at his critic’s bow and remarked that the string was loosened. "Yes," said the hunter, "I always loosen the string of my bow when it’s not in use. If it always stayed tight, it would lose its rebounding quality and fail me in the hunt."
"And I," said the preacher, "am now relaxing the bow of my mind so that I may be better able to shoot the arrows of divine truth."
When we have that time in a solitary place, we need to pray. That’s what Jesus did. He went to his solitary place to pray. Prayer is not always a matter of talking to God, or giving God a list of things that we need for him to do.
It is an interesting insight. We think that prayer is talking to God, giving God a list of things we want him to do.
“Heal me from my headache,
make my car last another week,
bring down the gas prices,
do something about this pandemic, etc.”
But prayer is spending time with God. It might involve asking for things. It might involve thanking God for things. It might be simply being with God.
Have you ever simply spent time with someone, and you are both just quiet? Not really saying anything. Just quietly being together. Perhaps with your spouse. Or holding your child. Or at the bedside of your sick parent. We need more of that time spent with God. Quiet time with God. We will rarely find God in the hectic moments in our lives, but we will often find Him in the quiet moments.
In 1 Kings 19:11-12, Elijah had an interesting experience. The Lord told him, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." The Bible says:
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, a "still, small voice."
It has been stated that, "God rarely is found in the midst of noise and restlessness; instead, He is the friend of silence."
The Psalmist tells us in (Ps 37:7), "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him."
Then in (Ps 46:10) we are told, "Be still, and know that I am God."
But, we are too much like Martha. Just as she was in the Gospel of Luke, we are “distracted and upset by many things.” We live in a Martha World when what God would have us to do is to just be still, and be quiet in his presence.
In the busy-ness of our lives, we need to be like Mary. There are times when we need to just stop and be quiet and still, and rest in the simple presence of the Lord.
It is good for our own soul, it is good for our relationship with others, and it is good for our relationship with God.
Several years ago, newspapers told how a new Navy jet fighter shot itself down.
Flying at supersonic speed, it ran into cannon shells it had fired only a few seconds before. The jet was traveling too fast! Some of us are traveling through our lives too fast. We’re going to find ourselves in a mode of self-destruction.
There come times when we need to slow down and let our souls catch up with us, and even though we live in a Martha world, we need to be still and quietly rest in the presence of God.
Then comes the next step, ACTION!
If you have ever watched as they are filming a movie, the characters get into place and the director yells ACTION. Immediately the actors do just that, go into action. Over and over again the director will yell action. There is something about that word ACTION. It’s exciting. Hearing it sort of energizes everyone. It means that they are supposed to do something and get to work. Quiet time is over. Time to work.
The word AMEN is like that. It’s like a director saying ACTION. We tend to treat the word AMEN as like a GOODBYE and sort of like hanging up the telephone.
We have our prayer, we say AMEN, as if we are disconnecting from God. But prayer should be a constant thing. It should be an attitude and a frame of mind that never ends.
The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Thessalonians, “pray without ceasing.” (1Thes 5:17)
Never say “Amen” as a way of disconnecting God. Rather, say “Amen” as a way of the director saying, “Action.” The end of prayer is action. There are times when you should not just do something, but sit there in quiet prayer. Then there are times when you should say to yourself, “don’t just sit there, do something.”
In our passage today, Jesus sneaks off for prayer in a quiet solitary place. The disciples find Him and at the end of the prayer time, Jesus gets up and gets on with life. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, "Let us go somewhere else-- to the nearby villages-- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."
At the end of your prayer, when you say AMEN, what ACTION do you do?
Do you pray for the sick and then leave it at that?
Or do you pray for the sick, and then pick up the phone and call them to let them know you are thinking about them.
Do you ask if you can do anything for them?
A hot meal brought to their home?
Medicine they need to have picked up?

Do you pray for the poor and hope God does something about the poor?
Or do you pray and ask God to use you?
Do you put actions to your prayer, giving to the poor, working with Habitat for Humanity, donating to the food pantry?
Do you pray that God would help our church grow and then hope that God inspires someone else to do something? Or do you pray and then say as Jesus said, “I have to go somewhere so I can tell someone about the Good News of Jesus.”
That’s the point of today’s message. Our lives are so busy.
We need to stop from time to time and go to that solitary place for prayer. And then at the end of the prayer, get up and get busy with the things that are most important – the work of God.

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