My friend and preaching colleague Roger Shouse in New Albany, Indiana, publishes a very fine blog entitled Jump Starts Daily. You would both enjoy and profit spiritually from reading it.
Yesterday Roger’s post especially arrested my interest with this two word warning: Pay Attention. The thesis of his post was many Christians lose focus, fail to stay on guard against the wiles of the devil, and are caught up in some sin because they failed to pay attention to the warnings of the Lord.
Roger cited these examples that are sadly a familiar refrain to all of us who’ve been preaching very long.
“A pretty Christian girl starts dating a rough looking guy. He makes her laugh. He makes her smile. He is not interested in God. He is rough on the inside. He hangs with a rough crowd. This sweet girl, starts skipping services. She begins to dress looser and more immodest. Before long, she’s gone. She’s stopped coming. She stopped paying attention.”
“A young college student is in awe of his college professor. He’s brilliant. The student starts taking in all that the professor says. Soon, this young student has embraced atheistic evolution. He has no room for God anymore. He wasn’t paying attention.”
“A businessman works with a pretty co-worker. They share stories about home and dreams. She flirts. He returns the flirts. In what seems to be an instant, they are in bed together. How did all of this happen? He wasn’t paying attention.”
The Bible warns us to “be sober and alert” (I Pet 5:8) for Satan’s cunning craftiness (Eph 4:14). His lies (Jn. 8:44). His temptations to lust and pride (I Jn 2:15-16). And his deceptive transformation into “an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14) that blinds us to Truth and godliness.
Think of the many Bible examples of those who failed to pay attention to God’s warnings and suffered the consequences. In the beginning Adam and Eve took their eyes off of God and were allured by the forbidden fruit. All three Kings of Israel, Saul, David and Solomon, began well, but at some point lost their focus and suffered spiritually. Envy and jealousy sent Saul into fits of blind rage against David. David’s lust for Bathsheba caused him to abandon all reason and commit adultery. And Solmon, known for his great wisdom, allowed his weakness for foreign women to lead him away from the LORD. They weren’t paying attention.
The ESV uses the expression “pay attention” in several places.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said because Israel “did not pay attention to my words” that he would “strike them down” send them into Babylonian captivity” (Jer. 29:19-23).
Jesus warned his followers to listen carefully to His message when he said, “Pay attention to what you hear” (Mk 4:24).
In Luke 17:3, regarding another matter, Jesus admonished, “Pay attention to yourselves!”
Dr. Luke records the conversion of Lydia on Paul’s visit to Philippi as a “worshipper of God.” Furthermore, she was a woman whose heart was opened “to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:4).
The apostle Peter knew about the consequences of not paying attention when his faith wavered while walking on the water. And certainly when he fell into the trap of denying Jesus 3 times. Later he wrote to encourage his readers to give heed to the prophetic word and said “you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” (2Pet 1:19).
Roger’s warning is reasonable. Real. And relevant.
Pay attention. To the movies you watch. The music you listen to. And the books you read.
Pay attention. To the friends you keep. The places you frequent. And the entertainment you enjoy.
Pay attention. To the thoughts you think. The choices you make. And the actions you take.
Pay attention. The devil and his minions are out to get you.
Thanks, Roger, for the reminder.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman