Code YELLOW Alert
“Warning About Drifting”
* In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush established a Department of Homeland Security to protect us from this sort of terrorism. This was a progressive concept which took almost 18 months to flesh out. However, only 6 months after 9/11, President Bush signed the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-3 which establish the Homeland Security Advisory System. As most of us know this system has five levels of warning which are designated by colors. The lowest level is green which indicates “Low risk” and the Highest is red which indicates a severe risk of terrorist attacks. From bottom to the top are Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Red. When I checked today (like many days) our alert stands at YELLOW which means “significant risk.” In thinking about this alert system, it seems that the Bible offers an alert system for all people. Over the next 2 months, let’s think about that MIDDLE Alert color & what it means. We will call our Sunday night series of messages “Code Yellow” Alert which will include the 7 warnings to us from the Book of Hebrews.
* One of the most wonderful books in the New Testament is Hebrews. This book contains many of the great truths of Christianity. Although we don’t know who it was that God selected to pen this book, without a doubt it is a book of wonder. Someone has compared it to the first time they saw the Alpines. When one reads this book carefully, he finds much to embrace. The first warning is found in chapter 2 & is about drifting.
* Turn with me to Hebrews 2 and let’s read the first four verses.
* What comes to your mind when you hear the word drifting? Were I to ask you to close your eyes and meditate on that concept, what mental images would you see? Perhaps a sailboat on an ocean or a ship on the sea. For me, drifting conjures up several memories which are not all good. When I was a teenager my dad and I went to the mouth of the Pearl River to fish. We had an old motor that dad had fixed for this trip. All was good until the motor stopped running. Then, we were at the mercy of the tide and current. Oh by the way, we left the “paddles” in the truck. Throughout my younger years I have several recollections of drifting in a boat.
* Consider the driving of a car. Have you ever become so distracted while driving a car that you drifted into the other lane or off of the road? It happens.
* How about a nation? The USA was founded on the Holy Scripture. Every constitutional document & monument of those early days is filled with Bible verses. Yet in recent days, we have abandoned the God who gave us life and liberty for the pop gods of our culture. There was probably not a decision made to steer us away, just a gradual lack of focus, loss of direction, & carelessness until the erosion had begun.
* Institutions also experiencing drifting. Many if not most people don’t realize that most of the “Ivy League” school were started to train pastors. Until the early 1900’s the presidents of the colleges were largely “Pastors.” How much they have drifted.
* Denominations also drift. The SBC admits that almost 80% of our American churches are plateaued and/or declining. Bro. Kevin Hamm hit the nail on the head on Thursday evening when He spoke about “passion”. Have we lost the burning fire to reach our community, our county, and our nation? Has the “light has all but gone out.”
* How about marriages? You ever had someone to say, “I don’t know what happened, we just drifted apart.” It’s sad and no, it shouldn’t happen. But it has and it does.”
* Churches drift. They begin like a house “on fire.” (because they are on fire) In those early days of a new church, the members are consumed with reaching people, touching lives, growing the church, and being a good positive influence in the community. Those members are willing to do whatever it takes to let their lights shine. Yet, not meaning to, they can drift into the lukewarm or cold spirit of mediocrity.
* Certainly, believers can and do drift. Meeting Jesus for the first time gives every true believer a hot heart for God and somehow, over time, given the “status quo” of the day, the heart grows cold.
* With this background consider 4 thoughts with me;
1. The Description of Drifting – We began this thought with a mental image of a boat adrift on the water. It has no course, power, or anchor; it is completely at the mercy of the outside forces. The boat is simply sitting, floating, and waiting. Truth is, if it waits long enough, it will indeed slip away. I submit to you that drifting is dangerous & deadly. When you drift, you have no control.
a. Drifting is literally “going with the flow” or “if it feels good” or “following the crowd.” I have heard it said many time that a “man who stands for nothing is a man who will fall for anything” and “ the only man who cannot be bought is one who is already sold.” Here’s the point; when an individual does not have a firm foundation to stand on and a divine anchors to which he is moored, he is susceptible to drifting. He’ll just kind of go along to get along, no real focus.
b. Consider that the KJV translates this drift as “slip”. The Greek word means that you “flow past” or “carelessly pass or miss your mark”. Think about it this way, a sign on the floor says, “Caution – Wet Floor”. Why is this sign placed like this? Because someone will walk in and not pay attention, hit the wet area, “SLIP” (or lose their tracking), and fall hurting themselves. This is exactly the picture we need to paint in our minds about spiritual drifting. Next, imagine fishing in a motor boat up the river from the launching area. You have a problem when the motor and you have the idea of allowing the river to take you back to the dock. That is good, but you have to pay attention for the current has the potential of doing great damage. And if you don’t pay attention, you will totally miss the dock.
2. The Development of Drifting- Verse 1 answers this question.
a. If we don’t pay attention to what we’re doing, we will find ourselves drifting and “backsliding”. I dare say that no authentic believer has ever made a decision to backslide. Yet becoming careless about the things of God, the ways of God, and the truth of God, sliding backwards becomes very natural. Inattention breeds unconcern and unconcern breeds neglect and to be neglectful is a condition of drifting & backsliding at its worst.
b. The list of how drifting develops is a long one. Carelessness, purposelessness, selfishness, resentfulness, bitterness, lustfulness, and covetousness, are but a few of the many things provide the fertilizer for drifting.
3. The Detection for Drifting- Now don’t forget this, no one sets out to drift, so how do we detect it or discover it?
a. Living on the coast for almost 20 years gave me the opportunity on several occasions to go deep-sea fishing. When all you see is water, you need to have some reference point to know if you start drifting. If not, you’ll catch the snapper for a few minutes and then will not get a bite 5 minutes later.
a. Most of those ships owners and captains have put out in the ocean some kind of surface landmark to keep them on target. It could like an oil rig or something as small as a Styrofoam chest.
b. What are the landmarks we can use? The first answer is God’s word. Verse 2 speaks of the message spoke through angels. When we have drifted, we’ll lose our love for God’s word, the Holy Spirit becomes silent, and commitment to the Church may wane. When we drift away and attendance becomes optional instead of essential. By the way, our heart is not hot any more.
4. The Danger in Drifting- Our text asks us this question: if all of this is true, “how will we escape such a great salvation…” In a boat the danger are the rocks, the bottom, the bank, rushing water, storms, and much more. If we become neglectful, distracted, or even arrogant, our boat will drift into trouble because that is what drifting always does. If you are pulled around by the crowd, you will be pulled into exactly what they are pulled into. This is why the selection of friends is so important. Those people with whom you run will impact your life beyond what you can even know.
a. In our lives God uses 3 things to get our attention (and He’s not playing games). He uses tragedy to wake us, He uses death to take us, and He uses His word to break and remake us. Fred Henderson was a member of a church in Milton, Florida, when he experienced a devastating heart attack which probably should have taken his life. God granted Fred 15 more years of life. Fred made sure these years counted for the Kingdom.
5. The Deliverance from Drifting- Although this text gives us a “Code Yellow Alert” to keep us from drifting and doesn’t speak directly to being delivered, the implied answer runs through the entire Bible. First, we must pay even more attention. Next, we must hear the message spoken to us. Then, we’ll have to repent of transgressions and disobedience. To be delivered means we reconnect to our anchor. One of our favorite songs is, “My anchor holds—in spite of the storm.” Candidly, the question is not will your anchor hold; it is if you will hold to your anchor.