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Monday, July 16, 2018

Missouri hay (Click for larger photo)
Hay on farm in Southern Missouri
(click on photo to enlarge)

"Pay Attention!"

Message summary: God has clearly revealed and imparted His will and shown us the way through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you paying attention to this most important information?

to our message on your audio player.

"And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Ephesians 1:9,10). "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19).

There is much discussion about what many are observing concerning the addictive nature of social media. I had initially prepared this message for Thursday (postponed due to my emergency room visit that morning as mentioned in Friday's message). Yesterday's message, at the church we attend, also pointed this out with a blunt assertion (which we believe to be true) that this behavior is not only addictive but can easily become idolatrous (we provide a link to that thoughtful message below).

On an observational level this is very apparent and studies bear it out. How often do we see people walking along with their eyes looking down to their device. Break rooms used to be a time when employees got to know one another on a personal level, but now most pull their phones out and spend the entire break on their devices. Distracted driving is a major problem causing many injuries and deaths.

A few days ago friend relayed that she and her husband were on their way to a function and passed a house where a number of people had gathered. All were all on their phones. That's a common sight these days, but what really caught their attention was on the way back from their activity they passed the same people who were still on their phones. None socializing with the other, but occupied with their individual phones.

Although I don't get on Facebook much I can sure see how it can become addictive. But it's not just Facebook or even social media. For me the caution is more about keeping up with current news. For others it may be shopping. EBay, Amazon and many other stores regularly inform me about the latest great deals they are offering and admittedly at times it piques my curiosity enough to distract me from the real reason I picked up my phone in the first place.

I read an article that asserts this addictive inducing element in social media is very purposeful. Aza Raskin invented the infinite-scroll feature on websites which allows you to scroll down seemingly endlessly. (I had never given any thought that somebody invented this!) Raskin wrote, "Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally, like literally, a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting." *

The endless scroll function is brilliant in regard to inducing addiction and has been compared to strategies used in casinos to keep people gambling such as endless music, color schemes, lighting effects and no clocks. You don't want to give people any hint of a break which disrupts their attention and may prompt them to stop what they are doing.

But my thought today is not so much on the addictive or idolatrous nature of modern tech, though we all need to mindful of that possibility, but rather a reminder of what we should pay attention to foremost.

We are flooded with information more than any other time in history. We can now follow people and events anywhere in the world instantaneously. But some information is more important and holds greater significance. But then, there's the most important information in this information age. It begs our full attention. And it's not new.
But tragically, for so many, this information is shrugged aside.

Today let us consider the ancient words of Scripture.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Consider the degree in which the human race has ignored and rejected the most important information of all time, the instruction manual for life inspired by our Creator. Of course it's the Holy Bible I am speaking of. It is widely available and applicable to every generation since the beginning of time. If you are reading our message you almost certainly have access to it as well as those around you.

Yet for the most part the Bible's instructions are ignored and considered irrelevant by many in the "enlightened" modern generation. And increasingly these timeless decrees are not only ignored but mocked. They're commonly misinterpreted by modern philosophers who are secularized rather than Christianized. Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus "so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments"
(Ephesians 2:4b).

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians almost 2,000 years ago from prison, bound to a guard while doing so
(Ephesians 6:20). Consider the great effort he made to impart God's truth "to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus" (1:1). It surely took a lot of time for the message to be delivered and read aloud as the people assembled in church. Now, as part of the Holy Scriptures, his words are for us as well.

Our desire today is like Paul's and many, many others who have gone before us and like those who presently serve as ministers of Christ. We want to share a perspective that we must pay attention to from God's instruction manual and especially focus on the phrase "And He made known to us". What an extremely rich blessing this impartation is.

Thank God that He has spoken and made known to us "the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure". Primarily and fundamentally we have His Son and the written Word of God. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe" (Hebrews 1:2).

God has clearly revealed and imparted His will. He has shown us the way through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. We have an absolutely adequate instruction manual that the majority pays no attention to. It is so often under-utilized or unread, even by believers, leading many to ignore, mock and ridicule His Word.

Today in all the hustle and bustle of life with all the beeps and notifications of our modern life, consider and rejoice that the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth has spoken and made known His will to the human race. Are you faithfully paying attention to this most important information?

The next time you open the Scriptures, prayerfully consider the words of Lynn DeShazzo, "O let the ancient words impart."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, turn my eyes away from worthless things, whatever they may be and preserve my life according to Your Word. Help me to delight in your Law, in Your Word, in Your message. Help me not to neglect your Word. Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. As we see so much attention given to that which is relatively worthless and the deliberate neglect and ignorance of the ancient words that Scripture imparts, help us to not lose hope, but be fervent in our study of Your Word, so that it changes us from the inside out and strengthens our resolve to live as light in this darkened world. Amen.

"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

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

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"Technology" Video Message referred to in the opening paragraph. 

* "Social media apps are 'deliberately' addictive to users" from BBC news.

"Ancient Words"  Video

"Yours (Glory and Praise)"  Video C
alvary Church worship team (Closing song from yesterday's service.)

Health update: I will be seeing a pulmonologist concerning the breathing problem that prompted an emergency room visit last week. I am feeling better and breathing better but I still am short of breath.

Finally today:
Our sunset last night!

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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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