Friday, June 03, 2011

Floating or Fighting

Hebrews 2:1 – 4

Floating or Fighting

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. [2] For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, [3] how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, [4] while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” [Hebrews 2:1 – 4]

A law of nature is atrophy. Unless effort is put into something it will degenerate, become less effective, and die.

This happens spiritually. It is the key to the book of Hebrews. How do we lose energy so gradually that we miss were we are?

Let’s give this some serious thought today.

I. We must know where we are in relationship to where we are.

A. Warning signs... when these go bad:

1. How much time do we spend in prayer?

2. How much time do we spend reading the Bible?

3. How often to we attend or skip church?

B. Physical truth that illustrates spiritual truth:

1. It requires energy to move...

2. It requires more energy to move from a dead stop...

3. It requires the most energy to reverse course...

II. We must be honest with ourselves about our condition and direction.

A. Ignoring warning signs does not get us out of the condition we are in.

(Ill. Before World War II Joseph Stalin ignored two of his most accurate spies who told him that Hitler had moved 4.5 million soldiers to the Russian border. Stalin even issued orders to have these spies punished for what he called “lies.” AND he ignored intelligence that America presented to him to the same fact. Why? He wanted to believe he had a deal with Hitler and that Hitler would never break that deal.)

B Ignoring the possibilities does not make them any less important.

***** Fact: most people tend to discount unpleasant or negative possibilities. *****

(Ill. While stacking his army on the Russian boarder, Hitler believed the war with Russia would be short one. He refused to listen to his advisers who told him to prepare the German army for the brutal Russian winter. As a result, when winter hit his army became bogged down and eventually routed by a less advanced Russian army. Why? Hitler wanted to have peace of mind, so he simply refused to listen.)

III. How do we drift?

A. We discount the importance of what we are hearing.

1. Sermons (and Sunday School lessons) are not taken seriously.

2. What is said and happens is for someone else.

(Ill. We want the alter to be used BUT we don’t use it ourselves.)

B. We perceive the value of spiritual things to be less than practical things.

(Ill. A church in Joplin MO that was destroyed by a tornado this week. The pastor said that the church was not just a building where people met it was the people as they met and served others.)

1. Trouble is that as Americans we tend to focus on stuff... what we have as the perceived value.

2. Denominations count people NOT impact.

(Ill. I know of a church that over 30 years set out 14 pastors and missionaries FROM the children that grew up in that church. You might be tempted to think it was a large church... and you would be dead wrong. That church never averaged more than 20 people. It was closed by that denomination [NOT the Free Methodist church] because it was considered to be to small. How do I know this? My aunt and her co-worker were the pastors of that church.]

C. Simple neglect sets in with time and opportunities.

1. What happens is simple. We just don’t think about it.

2. Think about it. When was the last time you cracked open your Bible and read it to get something out of it?

D. We become distracted.

1. It seems more needful or profitable to spend our time doing something else.

2. Here’s the killer: most of these things are either necessary, useful, or good.

***** So we let the “good” and the “better” replace the “best.” *****

E. We find ourselves B.U.S.Y.

1. We begin to feel forced to put energy and attention on other things.

2. B.U.S.Y “Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke” (Dr. David Jeremiah)

F. Before we know it we become indifferent to spiritual matters.

1. Spiritually we start going through the motions but it is only superficial

2. We make no effort to grow spiritually or stay currently maintained.

(Ill. How many of you have thought of something else in the last few moments? The house, the kids/parents, the lawn mower, the Jeep. Yes, this has been an interesting week for all of us. But this is a serious warning sign... miss this and who knows what you will miss.)

G. Spiritual things become “optional.”

1. Following Jesus, seeking the love of God poured out in our hearts, keeping in step with the spirit becomes just one more thing on the “to do” list.

2. While it’s good those things are still on the “to do” list. We miss the fact that they are the “to do” list.

***** Take our eyes off Jesus, lose spiritual energy, stop listening to God and we die spiritually.*****

Listen to Jesus: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [35] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. [36] For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? [37] For what can a man give in return for his soul?” [Matthew 8:34 – 37]

Do you hear what Jesus is saying? We must deny ourselves... set those things that control us aside and follow Jesus. What are those things going to profit you if you forfeit your soul? How are you going to get your soul back?

You have to understand, one of the constant themes of the book of Hebrews is that there is a point were this drifting becomes fatal, irrecoverable, final.

Do I have your attention yet? What follows is even harder if not impossible to recover from.

H. We fall in love with the world.

1. The pleasures of this world draw us more than Jesus does.

2. The emotions are stirred by the world, not the Holy Spirit.

I. We begin to rely on a false optimism and self-reliance.

1. Laodicea said “I need nothing.” Jesus said, “you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.” [Revelation 3:17]

2. We twist our theology into something about “eternal security.”

***** Understand, in right relationship with Jesus we are have assurance of salvation. Step outside that relationship and there are no promises. In fact, we are going to run into progressively more serious warnings in Hebrews than receiving “just retribution” [v 2] *****

J. We die spiritually.

1. We have deliberately moved so far away from God that we either cannot hear Him speak to us or will not respond when we do hear.

2. Response to this: “whatever” or “no way” or “this is for someone else” or “Pastor, you’re an idiot.”

IV. Reality check and Response.

A. Fact every person has TWO personal enemies:

1. First, there is the ancient serpent, the devil, who is either crouching at the door of your life or prowling/stalking you.

2. Second, there is a sinful nature aided by a deceitful heart. God never takes that nature away from us (according to John Wesley).

B. So are you going to let those enemies win or are you going to put some energy into your spiritual life?

Re-start today by responding to God today? Walk away will just make it that much easier next time until you won’t remember when the last time was you came forward to meet God in a special way.

Just remember, when you choose today... your soul may be at stake... and there are no guarantees of another chance.

(Alter call)

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