Are you serious?
Is there a reason to take the bible seriously? Is there a reason that we should be concerned with what the bible says? We’ve got pretty good lives, what do we need the bible for? We eat good, we’ve got a lot of recreation available to us. Lots of fun things to do. We’ve got friends, we’ve got family. We’ve got belongings, we’ve got a little money. Can the bible give us more of all these things?
The bible says in John 10, verse 10; “..I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly”? Did Jesus come so that we all could have an abundance of the good things of this life? Is that why we should pay attention to the bible and do what it says.. So that we can have more of all these good things?
I had know a man and wife, who found this verse in the bible, Luke 6, verse 38. Here’s what it says; “Give, and it will be given back to you; Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your measure, it will be measured back to you.” And so they began to tithe 10% of their income, so that they could start receiving back from God.
So then, they were basically looking at the bible, as a means of getting more of the good things that this life has to offer. Is that what the bible is? A guaranteed way to prosper in this world? I think I can guarantee you one thing. If the bible were a means of prospering monetarily, everyone would be studying the bible, and everyone would be doing what it says.
There was a point in time, when God did indeed bless people with all the riches of this life, if they were faithful to Him. Here’s what God said to the nation of Israel, in Deuteronomy 8, verses 7 thru 10;
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills. A land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey. A land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything. A land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten, and are satisfied, you shall bless your God for the good land which He has given you.”
But strange as it may seem, the richness of blessing like, this can lead to problems. Listen to what God says in verses 11 thru 14; “Beware lest you forget the Lord your God, by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today. Lest when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them; And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies; Then your heart becomes lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
Physical and monetary blessings were a big part of the life of the Israelites. God blessed them with everything in this life. Listen again to everything God gave them; He gave then brooks and fountains and springs of water. He gave them wheat and barley, and vines and figs and pomegranates, and olive oil and honey. He gave them iron and copper, and silver and gold, and houses and herds and flocks . God gave them all that, but yet that wasn’t the point at all.
The point was to remember God, by keeping His commandments, and His ordinances, and His statutes. That’s the point! In the days of the nation of Israel, God wanted His people to have all the good things that this life has to offer. But yet He wanted their ATTENTION to be focused on Him. But that’s what’s so difficult to do. That’s where the challenge comes in.
We’re challenged with the same thing today, as the Israelites were challenged with back then. Enjoy the blessings of this life, while at the same time, focusing our attention on God. Maybe that’s why God hasn’t promised to bless us with all the same blessings that He gave Israel. All the things of THIS life. All the things that make us so proud. It’s not WRONG to have all these physical things, and it’s not wrong to ENJOY all these things.
We’re told in 1 Timothy 4, verse 4; “For everything created by God, is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude.” In other words, “with thanksgiving”.
“Every good thing bestowed, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, nor shadow of turning.” James 1, verse 17. In other words, God is the GIVER of all these good things. So then, of course He wants us to enjoy them. And He wants us to enjoy them, in THIS life. But our ATTENTION has to remain focused on Him!
Our love needs to be focused on Him. 1 John 2:15 says; “Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
But the things in the world have such a “pull” on us. We’re attracted to “things” that we can see. But all those things that attract us, pull us away from God. We need to find a way to be attracted to GOD, not to the world. That’s the challenge for us, finding a way to be MORE attracted to God, than we are to the world. There will always be things in this world, that attract us. But God has to attract us MORE!
the apostle Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 4, verse 18; “While we look NOT at the things which are seen, but at the things which are NOT seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are NOT seen, are eternal.”
Now there’s the real crux of the matter. You know what that means, right? It means there is the heart of the matter.. “..the things which are seen, are only temporary, but the things which are not seen, these things are eternal. Would you rather put your life into something that’s just temporary, something that you KNOW is going to end; Or do you want to put your life, into something that you KNOW, will NEVER end?
Do you remember what I asked at the very beginning of this lesson? Is there a reason for us to take the bible seriously? Is there a reason that we should be concerned about what the bible says? The answer is YES! There IS a reason to take the bible very seriously, and to be very concerned with what it says. And the reason is summed up in the last part of that verse I just read; “..For the things which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are NOT seen, are eternal!”
All those things that attract us so much, the things that pull our attention away from God, how long are they gonna last? Not long are they? And how are the things of God gonna last? They’re gonna last a long, long, long, time. Jesus assures us, in Mathew 24, verse 35; “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall NOT pass away.”
When you allow the things of this world to draw you away from God, you’ll probably enjoy yourself, for the moment. Maybe even for several moments. But then what? What happens when those moments are over? The bible calls those moments, “the pleasures of sin, for a season”, or “the passing pleasures of sin”. Hebrews 11, verse 25.
And it doesn’t matter what that pleasure is; If it pulls you away from God, it’s sin. And when it’s over, what remains is God. And what remains is YOU, facing God, both of you knowing full well, that you chose to focus your attention on sin, rather than on Him. And another thing that remains is eternity. Everything else will pass. The temptation that pulls your attention away from God, will pass. The sin will pass, the pleasure will pass, and before you know it, your life will pass. But eternity remains.
Is there a reason that we should take the bible seriously? Is there a reason to pay attention to what the bible says? There is a reason, and the reason is eternity. Eternity with God, in His warmth, and in His brightness. Or, eternity without God, in total, and utter darkness. We’re truly challenged, to focus our attention on God. But it’s something that we have to “learn” to do, because it seems like it’s those temporary things that “naturally” grab our attention.
Consider your situation right now. Here we are, thinking about God and eternity; But could there be something else that’s trying to draw your attention away? Are you preoccupied with something of a “temporary” nature, so that your not able to focus on things eternal?
When we come together for worship, it cam be a challenge for us just to focus our full attention on God.
How long is your attention span? Your attention span, is defined as.. “the amount of concentrated time that a person can spend on a task, without being distracted”. “Concentrated time”.. time spent focusing on one thing only. How long can you spend “focused” on God?
Have you ever said a prayer, privately, and been distracted during that prayer. I don’t mean that you were distracted by some outside source, like someone interrupting you. But what I mean is.. Have you ever been distracted by your own thoughts, while you were praying? If you try to engage in a fairly long prayer, haven’t your thoughts ever “wandered away” from that prayer? And then you have to “re-focus” on the prayer. That happens to me if I try to pray privately, for an extended period, like for several minutes.
If we’re going to learn to focus our attention on God, in our day to day lives, maybe we should start by learning to give our full focus to Him, during our worship service. When we sing a hymn, can we give our full attention to the words of the song? And then, can we get re-focused, so that when a prayer is led, we can be fully in tune with the words of the prayer? And how about during the Lord’s supper.. We need to be focused, don’t we? Remember what the bible says about the Lord’s supper, in 1 Corinthians 11, verse 26; “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death, until He comes.”
Some people think that “as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup”, means that you can do it as often or as little as you choose. But that’s not what it means at all, is it? What it means, is that every time you come together, and partake of those emblems, you are making a very solemn proclamation. “Every time” that you eat the unleavened bread, and drink the fruit of the vine, you are proclaiming your faith that the body of Jesus was the sacrifice for your sins, and that the blood of Christ, is what washes your sins away.
And do you remember the warning that God gives us, pertaining to the Lord’s supper? Since the bread and the juice represent the very body and blood of Jesus Christ, and since they represent what saves us eternally, God says, in 1 Corinthians 11, verse 27; “Therefore, whoever eats this bread, and drinks this cup, in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”
In other words, while you partake of the Lord’s supper, if you don’t focus your full attention, on the sacrifice of Jesus, then you might as well have been one of those who crucified Jesus!
I need to close this lesson now, because experts say that the typical attention span of any listener, is only about twenty minutes. But let me ask you one more question.. Can you afford to not focus your full attention on God? Eternity demands that we learn to focus.