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Monday, December 30, 2019

Lititz PA Main Street 12/22/19
Lititz PA Main Street

"For This Reason"

Message summary: Paying attention is a practiced discipline of the heart and mind and is essential to staying on course in life.

Note: We were both not feeling well on Friday and thus did not prepare a podcast. Thank you for the get well notes and prayers! Today we are both a bit better. I injured my knee several weeks ago and it is slow to recover and i especially feel it in the damp cold rainy weather we are having today!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it" (Hebrews 1:1, 2:1).

Yesterday I shared a message in a chapel service at a local nursing home (although they are rarely called that anymore). As I stood up to speak I realized I have been sharing God's Word in nursing homes since very early in ministry. In fact nursing homes were a place we practiced preaching in Bible College. When we served churches in a pastoral role we developed nursing home ministries.

Well, the years have gone by and as I looked out among them I realized I was preaching to my peers although they're still a few years beyond my age! I shared a message based on today's text that, like all of God's Word, is appropriate for all ages.

In life it's important to know why we do what we do and at times we need to be reminded of that. The second text begins with "For this reason" which is based on the fundamental teaching in chapter 1 concerning Christ.

"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it."

Paying attention is a practiced discipline of the heart and 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 supposedly 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 many years ago in a minister's magazine. Thankfully in my preaching I have never encountered inattentiveness as extreme as this, at least that which was visible to the eye, but it does illustrate the many distracting 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 on our own.

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 needed to recognize the challenge and discipline myself to pay attention and overcome.

Since people like names for problems I've devised one that I believe is very common today even among believers. Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD). Not paying attention affects every area of our life, 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 much closer 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 people have more overcoming than others but God is able. Today let us heed the clear warning of Scripture and let us "pay much closer attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).

As we grow older there may be a tendency to pay less and less attention to that which is familiar. But giving our undivided attention to spiritual truth, both basic and more advanced, really needs to increase throughout life if we are to be mature and faithful believers.

The concern of the writer is that they will not "drift away from it" (what they had heard and been taught). The book of Hebrews is full of encouragement to stay faithful. Bible teacher David Guzik writes, "Drifting is something that happens quite automatically when we are not anchored to anything solid. If we are not "anchored" in the superiority of Jesus, we will drift with the currents of the world, the flesh, and the devil. One doesn't have to do anything to simply drift away."

As we say farewell to 2019 and greet 2020 let us heed these words!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily 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.

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Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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Thank you,

Stephen & Brooksyne

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"You're Never Too Far Away"  Video  The Mike LeFevre Quartet

Teaching note: Mike is a long-time friend we first met in 1977. His education and career was as an electrical engineer spending many of his years working in the carbon industry. He responded to Friday's message on carbon and diamonds  with this application: "It is all about the 'structure'. The process (of creating diamonds) is through extreme pressure and heat. Similar to the process that we go through in our spiritual growth, not necessarily pleasant but definitely worth the end result."

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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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