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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Bindnagle Lutheran Church
Church built in 1803, Lebanon County, PA
(Click to enlarge)

"A Lesson From Rubbernecking"

Message summary:  If we get distracted easily and struggle with rubbernecking on our journey to heaven our focus may need regularly redirected so that we very intentionally "fix our eyes on Jesus"!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2).

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land
O who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land.

Rubbernecking is an expression used to describe what happens when drivers slow down to observe a traffic accident. The term "rubbernecking" refers to the physical act of craning one's neck, performed in order to get a better view. When driving on one side of a multi-lane highway the traffic on the side that did not have an accident will inevitably slow down due to the rubbernecking curiosity of drivers on the unaffected side. I admit, I've done that.

That got me thinking about our journey through this life to heaven expressed in the song "Bound For The Promised Land" and in the Scripture "the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus".

As we make this journey we can so easily get distracted by what we see along the way.
  • Sometimes it's something that directly affects us and that we ourselves experience; a trial that we encounter such as we would experience if we were in a traffic accident. Those trials inevitably come in life and we trust the Lord to get us through them. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33).
  • Other times it's a matter that indirectly affects us such as when we are on the same side of the road as the accident and traffic stops or slows which throws off our schedule. That happens a lot in life.
  • At other times we really aren't directly affected but we and many others get distracted by curiosity.
I was considering this and I mused how I tend to rubberneck at the inevitable results of mankind's rebellion against God. My focus of course should be "the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" and as the writer of Hebrews stated, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus." However admittedly far too often I get my eyes off the prize and focus on the carnage around me.

Now this requires some balance since we want to stay informed regarding national and international conditions. But at least in my case I am very prone to get distracted and redirect my focus which can lead to discouragement and at times even despair.

Another verse comes to mind as I prepare this message. "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12).

For many of us a fiery ordeal and testing is due to a health crisis, being in an accident, a financial or family struggle and so forth. But when Peter wrote these words he was very likely speaking of a fiery ordeal and testing due to persecution, an experience hundreds of millions of our fellow believers experience presently.

However let us consider just the phrase, "Do not be surprised". Why should be surprised at the direction of a nation and world increasingly rejecting God and His standards of living? The Bible speaks of reaping what is sown (Galatians 6:7) and this concept applies not only to individuals but to nations.

If we get distracted easily and struggle with rubbernecking on our journey to heaven our focus may need regularly redirected so that we very intentionally "fix our eyes on Jesus"!

Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we're reminded often in Scripture of the eternal inheritance that awaits the faithful. We anticipate that day when we will behold Your beauty and know the fullness of Your love. But it's on our journey below that we get sidetracked or caught up in matters that distract our attention from that which has lasting eternal value. Help us not to be surprised by the trials that come upon us but enable us to endure because we know that You want us to be faithful, to stand the test, and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Amen.

Farm in Dauphin County PA 1/22/19 (Click to enlarge)
Farm in southern Dauphin County, PA
We've not had a deep snow yet this season but enough to add some additional interest to this rural photo.
(Click to enlarge)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Am Bound For The Promised Land"  Video  Musicians not identified

"One Day (When We All Get To Heaven)"  Video  Matt Redman

"This World Is Not My Home"  Video  Guy Penrod

"Drifting Too Far From The Shore"  Video  Bradley Walker (This song uses a different analogy.)

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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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