Summary: This sermon seeks to encourage spiritual renewal in the life of a believer as well at participation in an upcoming spiritual renewal event in the life of the Church.
What happens when we neglect to work a garden? Plants get choked off by weeds. What happens when we neglect to water plants? They die. What happens when we neglect to get physical exercise? We develop a “spare tire!” What happens if we neglect to nourish a baby? They suffer malnutrition and lack of growth. The very same thing happens when we neglect our spiritual development. We lose interest, become unmotivated and ineffective in living the Christian life.
That’s exactly what had happened to the Christians of this congregation. They had begun to neglect their spiritual development. They had received Christ and His message and were involved in being the Church. But after some time had elapsed, they became stagnant. In fact, at this point they were neglecting their spiritual growth.
In our society, we often hear an emphasis on development and growth – personal, psychological, social, physical and so on. We see many involved in fitness, body building, walking jogging and the like. We talk about whether our children are developmentally ready to begin school. And while we see a ready emphasis on all these kinds of development, there’s also a need for us as Christians to develop spiritually at the same time. So my question this morning in light of our preparation for Spiritual Renewal is: “How can we keep from neglecting our spiritual development? May I suggest, first of all:
I. Pay Closer Attention To Christ verse 1a
A. These Christians had stopped paying attention to Christ.
They had heard at a point, but they had stopped hearing. Maybe it was out of neglect or possibly fear or perhaps persecution. But the writer ‘s point was, they ought to give heed “now.” The RSV translates it, “We must pay much closer attention. They needed to pay attention at this point. In fact, the text says, “we ought” meaning they must – not out of obligation, but out of necessity. They must pay much closer attention to or give more earnest heed to the life and message of Christ.
B. We must pay closer attention to the voice of Christ.
That is, if we’re going to develop spiritually. Just because you’re here in body doesn’t mean you’re paying close attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit. You can’t prop up your spiritual feet as if you’re arrived. You can’t allow yourself to day dream when the Word of God is proclaimed. You need to pay attention to the mind of Christ on a moment by moment basis whether it’s in your private devotion or during the day when God is speaking through the circumstances of your lives. If you want spiritual renewal you must pay much closer attention to Christ. Secondly, to keep from neglecting your spiritual development:
II. Pay Closer Attention To Life verse 1b
A. These Christians passed up some life experiences.
Opportunities were passing them by and it was possible they would never come again. Time came for Christianity to move out into the Gentile world and they were refusing to move forward. At this time Christians were still worshipping within the confines of the synagogue. Spiritually they weren’t ready for this step, so the opportunity was slipping by them. They couldn’t gain from it nor have a part in it. Therefore, the lesson for us is:
B. You must grasp the spiritual significance of everyday life.
If you’re going to grow spiritually you must grasp the significance of life’s daily experiences. You need to pay closer attention to every day of life you live. There are two reasons: so that you can gain from and lest you drift away from it or it pass you by. The issue is that if at any point you let life pass you by you may never regain the spiritual impact or purpose of that moment again. And that’s especially true with our upcoming Lay Renewal Weekend. If you miss this special spiritual weekend you will miss the significance of what God wants to do. The image the writer is attempting to draw is of a person standing on the bank of a river and the boat drifts along, but you miss the opportunity to get on board. If you are to avoid neglecting you spiritual development you must pay closer attention to life. Thirdly:
III. Pay Closer Attention To The Word verses 2-4
A. These Christians didn’t act on what they had heard.
Time and time again they refused to act on what they had heard and experienced. Angels were seen to have played an important role in the giving of the law. And the law was to be believed, but it was also to be acted upon. It was to be heard, but also to be lived out in action. They were neglecting to do what the law had commanded them to do.