Encouragement to Pay Attention!
I apologize for this being late. We were slammed today at OH. Worst of all, for the rest of the staff, our internet was out. For me, this is a blessing. I take it as a special treat from the Lord. Everyone else is bummed and stressed, and I am blessed. I turn a few things on and off, then I shrug my shoulders and move on. When you read my message today, I hope that then you’ll understand why I feel this way.
I pray that you and your families are well. God has led me to a message for today that everyone has the potential to struggle with. This struggle is with maintaining a personal focus on Jesus Christ. So please do not take this message as criticism or condemnation. It is not meant that way. It’s me encouraging you to pay attention to God.
We have trouble paying attention. Don’t try to deny this. To some level, all of us struggle with paying attention. Me, just like everyone else. Let’s face it, we do lose our focus. We get sidetracked from those things that are most important in our lives, concentrating instead on those things that are of minimal importance in our lives. We all do this, so don’t try to deny this. Some of us do this so much that we assign other names to this, such as procrastination, or hesitation. Maybe we just take our time, dilly-dallying, or shilly-shallying. Come on, admit it, all of us have just “kicked the can down the road” at some point in our lives. Some of us do it all the time.
Today’s scripture is a warning to us, a warning for us to pay attention, to not lose our focus, to not dilly-dally or shilly-shally in regards to our salvation. We need to keep our attention on what is most important to us, our eternity, namely our relationship with Jesus that ensures our salvation. This is our greatest treasure, yet most of us spend little of our days investing in this eternal treasure. Sadly, many of us ignore it or worse even, are completely unaware of its existence.
There are many reasons for this, but my guess, as to the two main culprits, would be technology and Satan. Let’s begin with Hebrews 2:1-4,
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding (this is referencing the Law of Moses), and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? (emphasizing that the gospel of Jesus is greater than the law) This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
The author here (nowadays believed to be Apollos) is telling us that if the law was binding enough to guide our life, how much more the Good News of Jesus Christ should be in keeping our life in proper focus.
Yet, as I just said in the opening, we, willingly or not, allow ourselves to lose our focus on this very treasure, our salvation. We then just drift away.
I can testify to seeing this. I used to attend a very large church that went through a major division after I had left and entered into ministry. I see many people, at the grocery, on walking trails, and in restaurants, and they no longer even go to church. They believe that they have sound reasons. I love these people. They were on fire for the Lord at one time in their lives. But they have drifted away from the Lord. How is their salvation? I don’t know, and I’m sure many of them don’t know.
If we dilly-dally or shilly-shally with our salvation, technology, and Satan will finish the job. This is all that Satan has left. He has lost. However, if you give Satan the opening, he will take it, lead you astray, and while leading you astray he will be telling you the whole time how smart you are for drifting away from the Lord.
You will then at some point die, and be in eternal hell. Can I implore you to please pay attention and spend some time on your relationship with God?
Verse 4 references all the testimony in the Bible, Jesus’ life, teachings, and miracles. Then there is the testimony of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives. Can I not get a witness that the Holy Spirit has somehow, somewhere in your life, confirmed the very existence of Jesus and your salvation?
I don’t need a witness for this, I’ll give you my own. In list format because I could be here for hours.
A call from God that I ran from (for 20 yrs.) yet now I preach.
A prayer for a third child (secretly by my wife Kristi because I was content with two children out of diapers) was answered a decade later.
Healing from cancer for my wife Kristi.
Kristi walked away from a freakish car wreck where she was pinned between her car and a mail truck. The mail truck was destroyed and had to be carted away on a flatbed truck.
My survival in a head-on collision that should have killed me. Details which are many, that I won’t bore you with now.
The fact that the Holy Spirit of God sits with me every week and teaches me scripture so that I can teach it to others. Every week this miracle happens. I’m smarter than I look, but I’m not that smart without God and his Spirit. I am so blessed.
These are just the highlights of the last few years of my life. Do you think that I am not focused on the treasure that is my salvation? Do you think that I am going to allow Satan to come between me and my relationship with Jesus? Do you think that I am going to just drift away? Why should any of us, just drift away?
Am I special, so that all alone I should be saved? Please, we know better than that. Or, that I have a special relationship with God, better than everyone else. No way, we can all have this kind of relationship with God. Hebrews 2:8,
“In putting everything under him (Jesus), God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.”
Until we are freed by the blood of Jesus Christ mankind is enslaved to Satan. We are slaves to sin. God’s original purpose was for all of mankind to be sovereign in the creaturely realm, only God being over us. Adam’s poor choice in the Garden allowed our sinful nature to make us slaves to sin. Jesus came to set us free. Due to this sin, the full purpose of God has yet to be revealed. But the day is coming when all shall be revealed. Hebrews 2:9,
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels (as a man), now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
So the answer IS no, I am not so special that I alone should be saved. Salvation is for all of us. Jesus came and died for all of mankind. It is a completed work, it's just that many of us still do not understand that Jesus died for all of us. Jesus paid the penalty for all of our sins. Hebrews 2:10-12,
“In bringing many sons (and daughters) to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers (and sisters). He says (through David in Psalm 22:22),
“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregations I will sing your praises.”
How on earth can we just allow ourselves to drift away from the Lord? Is there any way that I can convince you to not let this happen to you? Listen to verse 11 again, this is how special our relationship with Jesus is.
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”
We are blessed. We don’t need to play the lottery, because we have already hit the jackpot. If we have given our life and heart to Jesus Christ we are God’s children, part of the family, siblings of Jesus Christ, our King.
Why on earth, would we allow this relationship to turn stale and fade away?
We began today with this message being a warning for all believers to not let this happen, this drifting away from Jesus. Once you start to drift away, Satan will accelerate the speed with which this separation happens.
This drifting away is happening all around us. People do not attend church like they used to. The Great Resignation isn't only from work, it's from the church as well. They give all kinds of excuses. But none of that matters. I say this sincerely. None of these excuses will matter when you die.
When you die, the only thing that will matter is what kind of relationship did you have with Jesus Christ. Will Jesus welcome you into the kingdom of heaven? Saying, “Well done.”
Will Jesus say “I knew you once, as a brother (or a sister), but other things became more important. You just drifted away.”
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC