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The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

October 7, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Hebrews 2:1–2:13

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†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith

Text: Hebrews 2:1-13

Date: October 7th, 2018; Pentecost 20; series B

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  • I had a bit of a tough golf season this past summer.
  • While I really enjoyed my time on the golf course - I didn’t play as well as I had hoped.
  • In particular, I struggled with my approach shots to the green.
  • I would hit my shot and it would appear to be going right at the flag - but as it got closer to the hole, my ball would start drifting to the right or left and end up landing in the sand or rough - instead of on the green. 
  • This was very frustrating - and I must confess that it led me to at least think some words that a pastor ought not think.
  • While my golf shots that drifted into the sand and rough were very frustrating, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews warns us of a drifting that is far more serious.
  • This kind of drifting can have a major impact on our lives – both now and eternally.  
  • He warns us, “Therefore we must pay close attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
  • Drifting away from God and his Word has been happening ever since Adam and Eve chose to drift away from God’s clear word of warning in the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed him. 
  • Ever since that moment, God’s people have been drifting.  
  • We see this throughout the Old Testament.  
  • God’s chosen people, Israel, drifted away from God as they worshipped false idols and disobeyed his Commandments until they found themselves separated from God.
  • In order to call them back from their drifting - God would allow his people to suffer.
  • They suffered famines.  They suffered defeat by the hands of their enemies.
  • They suffered as their land was taken over by their enemies, leaving them to wander in the wilderness with no place to call home.  
  • Such hardships have a way of bringing an end to drifting.    
  • They focus you on what is important.  They help you recognize how helpless we truly are and how dependent we are on God. 
  • In the face of this suffering, God’s people, Israel, did the only thing they could.
  • They repented for their sins, for their drifting, and begged for God’s mercy.
  • And God forgave them.  He would restore them to be a great nation and provide them with all of the blessings they were deprived of when they were separated from him.
  • But it wouldn’t take long and the drifting would start again.
  • This is a cycle we see happening throughout all history and nothing has changed.  
  • You can see it happening all around us today.  God’s people are still drifting away from him and from his Word.  
  • Churches that no longer proclaim God’s Law and Gospel, but only preach unconditional acceptance - have drifted. 
  • Churches who claim that Jesus is only one of many paths that lead to heaven - have drifted. 
  • Churches who claim that Jesus came to earth to make you healthy and wealthy, to be your life coach, to make life easy for you  - have drifted.
  • These churches have drifted away from God’s Word.
  • Drifting from God’s Word continues today - we see it happening all around us.
  • In fact, when we are honest with ourselves, we see that it is not only happening around us – it is also happening within us as well.
  • We too have drifted from God and his Word.  
  • We too have allowed our society and culture to carry us away from God and his Word.
  • How much time do we spend with God?  How much time do we spend reading, and learning, and marking, and meditating on God’s Word?  
  • How much time do we spend in devotion, in prayer?
  • It’s easy to drift from God’s Word when we neglect it, when we are not anchored in it, when we don’t know it.
  • Going with the flow of our culture and society, the busyness of life, putting ourselves, our hobbies, and our desires first – have all carried us away from God and his Word.
  • We have drifted.    
  • Maybe our guilt and shame over the things that we have done and not done lead us to drift.  We focus on and do things that will distract us and take our minds off of our sin.  
  • Maybe our anger towards God over something that has happened in our lives, maybe our anger towards another member of the church, or towards the pastor – maybe anger has bottled up inside of us and has led us to drift from God and his Word.   
  • Maybe we take God’s forgiveness and gift of salvation for granted – our apathy has caused us to drift away.  
  • There are so many winds around us that attempt to make us drift from God - and when we are not careful, we can find ourselves separated from him. 
  • And when we do find ourselves separated from God, we do the same as God’s people have always done.
  • We repent.  We seek God’s grace, forgiveness, and restoration.  And we receive it.
  • “Therefore we must pay close attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
  • What we have heard, what God has revealed to us in the Bible, is the most wonderful Good News that we will ever hear in our lives.
  • God has removed the separation our sin caused by entering this world by becoming one of us.  
  • Christ Jesus took on our flesh, lived a life free from sin, and took upon himself all of the punishment that our sin deserves.  
  • Now we are declared holy and righteous before God.
  • Now we have victory over death.
  • Now we have the certain promise of eternal life.
  • When we pay close attention to God and his Word, we see the harm that drifting away causes.  
  • We see the damage sin causes in our own lives and in the lives of others.  
  • We see the death.  
  • But we also see the love, forgiveness, restoration, and life that God has won for us through Jesus Christ.
  • We hear and pay close attention to the life-giving promise, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ, pay close attention to these words and know that they include you.  
  • When the worries, sufferings, and distractions of life cause you to drift away - pay closer attention to our Lord’s promise that you are not left alone in your struggles, in your pain and suffering, or even in your death.
  • No, our Lord is with you.  Our reading from the book of Hebrews tells us, “But we see him for a little while who was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”  
  • Jesus has tasted death for everyone, for you, in order to save you.
  • Jesus has risen victoriously over death and he promises that you will too.
  • God’s Word, his gift of Baptism, his gift of his true body and true blood keep us anchored in his truth and prevent us from drifting away from him.
  • “Pay closer attention” to the Word of God.  
  • There you will find God’s love and peace.  There you will find true contentment and happiness.  There you will find forgiveness.  There you will find God’s gift of eternal life.  Amen.

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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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