Summary: God uses many avenues to get our attention. Perhaps the CoronaVirus is one avenue He is using!
I don’t mind telling you that dealing with the COVID-19 has been a real challenge –
• Preaching to a camera and an empty auditorium is hard.
• Dilemma – do we keep on with what we were doing before the virus or has God stepped in to rearrange our plans?
• I’m opting for the latter – I don’t want to overdo the virus focus but don’t want to miss an opportunity to see where God may be leading our thoughts
1. This lesson morphed. I started to talk about the “judgment” through the virus; then it changed to the “discipline” through the virus; and I wound up with the “attention” through the virus.
2. I’m sure we are all wondering – Did God send this virus/plague/pestilence or did it just “happen” as a result of some filthy habits of some Chinese people?
3. Whether it is sent by God or is being used by God (Romans 8:28), God has reclaimed much attention as a result. Let me ask some hard questions:
a. How long have you taken the blessings of God for granted? [Grocery stores/restaurants/gym/etc.
b. How long have you taken God for granted? [If worship is boring to you/if bible study is a burden/if serving is a chore/if prayer is the last resort of your life you are taking God for granted!
c. [A farmer had a mule that was a hard worker. He wanted to show his mule off to a friend. He stepped up and hit the mule between the eyes with a 2x4. Why did you do that? I had to first get his attention. God HAS our attention!
4. God gets our attention in a variety of ways – much like Israel – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
a. We are not exempt
b. We are much like they were
I. Put Our Attention on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-4)
A. He is: Master; Teacher; LORD; God incarnate (John 1:1) – living word; displaying Torah
B. Yet He Became One of Us – John 1:14
1. Set aside deity – Philippians 2:5-8
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
2. Became a servant
3. Became a crucified servant – that gets our attention!
II. Attention from God is Not Always Pleasant (Hebrews 12:5-11)
A. God’s Attention Through Jesus Reflects His Love for Us – Perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2)
B. “Immanuel” = God with Us (Matthew 1:23)
1. Sometimes pleasant
2. Sometimes unpleasant – Living stones built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5)
a. Chipping and shaping to make us useful
b. Can be painful – it’s a way he gets our attention – Matthew 5:30b For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Eye/Hand)
C. A Lesson on Relationship with God
1. As Parent-Child – Ephesians 6:4
2. As Master-Slave – Philippians 2:7 taking the form of a servant
III. Our Proper Attention Brings New Life (Hebrews 12:12-17)
Adopted into the family; born again into the family of God
A. We Gain Strength in Our Weakness (purpose of disciplined exercise)
B. We Strive for Peace (Are people being nicer now?)
C. We Seek to be Holy
1. Jarred into reality – we are called to be holy (Leviticus 11:45 You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.)
2. We don’t blend into the culture – we are called to stand out and change the culture
3. People want to see something different – when we are immoral; shallow we do not value God or his gifts so he has to get our attention!
D. Share God’s Grace – enough for all
1. God uses many avenues to get our attention but he has only one way to bring us to himself – Jesus (John 14:6)
2. He brought the Hebrews out of Egypt to get their attention at Mt. Sinai
a. In the process he destroyed the gods of Egypt – who also influenced the Hebrews
b. Plagues/Red Sea/Thundering at Sinai