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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Amish team on Strasburg Pike
Amish team on Strasburg Pike
You need to pay attention in Lancaster County for this type of road traffic.

"The Danger Of Distractions"

Personal Note:  Stephen continues to improve a little each day. He walks with a cane for short distances and desires to stand straight or lay down fully outstretched but that will soon come. His pain level is easing somewhat. Thank you for the many prayers and the suggestions made by those who are chronic back sufferers. We've learned through this nearly two week ordeal that there are many who suffer most of their adult lives and others who suffer intermittently. Going through such discomfort and pain makes heaven all the more exciting.

Message Summary: Today, in the midst of many distractions let us heed the clear warning of Scripture and let us "pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away"  (Hebrews 2:1).

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"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).

Pokemon signIt seems I am always late on fads. No doubt I don't seek to keep up with the latest like many. Driving along a multi-lane highway in Phoenix two weeks ago I saw these large signs above the highway stating, "Pokemon Go Is A No-Go When Driving". What in the world does that mean, I wondered. I sat down to eat at a restaurant and asked my server, thinking it was probably something unique to that area. She explained it was a new game people played on their phones.

In retrospect I realize I must have seen it played several days earlier in Flagstaff when a group of young people were looking at their phones and excitedly talking about finding something. Actually it was only released July 6 so I am really not that far behind on this new "rage". The concern prompting the Arizona highway sign is distractions. As many of you know distracted driving is a major danger these days due to texting, fiddling with electronics, adjusting dials or just reaching for a cup of coffee.

Karen Swallow Prior has written an article titled, "Are We Distracting Ourselves to Death?" I quote, "Not long ago, my community lost a beloved young member because of his repeated trespassing onto a dangerous train trestle to take selfies. He posted them with the hashtag #liveauthentic. His last time there, he died while trying to outrun the train. (People take such extraordinary measures to get selfies that so-called “selfie-related deaths” are a global phenomenon. Wikipedia now keeps a tally.)"

I recall while visiting the Grand Canyon all the people taking selfies even if someone was with them that could take their photo. That's one place you sure want to pay attention!
In fact there have been several deaths lately due to people falling but I don't recall the specific details about their falls.

Paying attention is a practiced discipline of the mind. There are so many distractions in life and they seem to increase practically daily. In our electronic age there's more than ever. Electronic gadgets continue to appear that should make us more efficient with our time, but in reality they tend to clutter our schedules and distract us even more than the pre-computer age.

View from the pulpit

I came across this illustrative photo several years ago in a minister's magazine. Thankfully in my preaching I have never encountered inattentiveness as extreme as this, at least that which is visible to the eye, but it does illustrate the many distractive elements in modern life.

The Holy Spirit-inspired writer of Hebrews addresses distractions and states concerning our attention to spiritual things, "We must pay much closer attention."

The focus of our attention is to be on "what we have heard."  Of course in context this refers to spiritual truths. The Amplified Bible states, "the truths that we have heard."  Prior to the printing press and certainly at the time of the New Testament having one's own personal Bible was not possible. But they gathered and heard the Word. Today, most all of our readers can do both; gather with other believers to hear the Word expounded and also individually study the Scriptures in our devotional and prayer closet.

This warning from the book of Hebrews is so pertinent today. Paying attention is increasingly difficult no matter what age you might be. Those who know me know I am easily distracted.  I'm not alone.  I'm sure as a child I would have been quickly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, a relatively recently discovered psychological ailment. It's popular now to assign this "disorder" to every problem child. I sure was hyperactive as they called it back then in the sixties. I still have the symptoms but refuse to see a psychological basis for it. Rather I believe I need to recognize the challenge and discipline myself to pay attention and overcome.

Since people like names for problems so I'll devise one that I believe is very common today even among believers. Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD). Not paying attention affects every area of our lives, but often neglected is spiritual attention. We believe one of the greatest marks of the revival described in Nehemiah's time was the attention people gave to the public reading of God's Word and their heartfelt response that followed.

The answer was not a medication or a therapist but a call of Scripture.  I like the way the writer uses the 1st person plural; "We must pay more careful attention." That speaks of both the will and discipline. SADD is a sad excuse. God has called and equipped us to be overcomers. Depending on the issue some have more overcoming than others but God is able. Today let us heed the clear warning of Scripture and let us "pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Without it we would walk in darkness and be led astray. We acknowledge there are many distractions that can get us off course. We want to give attention to Your Word, respect its message, and follow its instruction so that we will not drift from the truth. We want to be just like the people in Jerusalem who listened carefully, gave reverence, and responded in repentance to the reading of the Scripture in Nehemiah's time.  Amen.

There's a tendency to pay less and less attention to that which we are already familiar with as we grow older. But giving our undivided attention to spiritual truth really needs to increase throughout life if we are to be mature believers.

When we first moved down to Lancaster County in 2001 we sat directly behind an elderly couple in church. Al and Thata Book were veteran servants of Christ having served in missions and various other roles of ministry. They are both with the Lord now but I recall their very purposeful attentiveness and joyful receptivity as they would listen to the Word being preached. Brooksyne and I looked forward to sitting in their "shadow" so to speak, since their earnest response to God's Word, though well-seasoned in their knowledge and teaching of Scripture, was contagious. In contrast there are those who subscribe to the attitude, "I already know that" as they grow older.  Such glum or haughty attitudes shut out the refreshing working of the Holy Spirit in one's life.

A rather obscure verse in the Old Testament describes the people's response to God's Word during a time of revival as "Ezra read the Book of the Law aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law" (Nehemiah 8:3). A mark of genuine revival is giving proper respect and attentiveness to God's Word!

A Scripture Reference Quiz

When Brooksyne teaches children Scripture she is very insistent that they always memorize the reference as well as the text. Here's a quiz regarding well-known Scripture verses that I wondered how many might be able to identify simply by the numeric reference even without the book title. The answer key is posted below

Just as 3:16 brings to mind John 3:16 what well-known verses do the following numeric references go with?
  1. _____________ 8:28
  2. _____________ 2:8,9
  3. _____________ 29:11
  4. _____________ 1:1
  5. _____________ 6:33
  6. _____________ 1:8
  7. _____________ 16:31
  8. _____________ 10:10
  9. _____________ 3:23
  10. _____________ 40:31
  11. _____________ 13:1
  12. _____________ 11:6
  13. _____________ 23:1
  14. _____________ 6:8
  15. _____________ 119:105

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Holy Is The Lord"  Video  Chris Tomlin  Dedicated to our friend Neville and his family who are leaving today for a visit to Zimbabwe, their native country.

Are We Distracting Ourselves to Death?

Pokémon Go in a Fractured and Flattened world

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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Answer Key
Scripture Reference Quiz

Please note these are the verses that I associate the numbers with. Obviously as long as there is such a reference there is not an incorrect answer and in several cases there may be several famous verses with the same numeric such as Romans 10:10.

Linked to Bible Gateway if you care to look up the verse.
  1. Romans 8:28
  2. Ephesians 2:8,9
  3. Jeremiah 29:11
  4. Genesis 1:1 or John 1:1 (I think of both when I consider 1:1)
  5. Matthew 6:33
  6. Acts 1:8
  7. Acts 16:31
  8. John 10:10
  9. Romans 3:23
  10. Isaiah 40:31
  11. 1 Corinthians 13:1
  12. Hebrews 11:6
  13. Psalm 23:1
  14. Micah 6:8 (This was probably the most obscure verse)
  15. Psalm 119:105 (This is the only 119:105 in the Bible!)
"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"

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