Thesis: Staying focused on Christ keeps us from drifting away.
1. Illust. Early on the morning of Feb. 17, 1994 James Rich got into his new twin engine Piper Seneca airplane at an airport near Louisville, KY. The plan was to make a 30 minute flight to Crossville, TN to visit a friend. But he hadn't slept much the night before. So as his plane left the runway he was pretty tired. After climbing to 3,500 feet he put the plane on automatic pilot. Then he went to sleep. When he woke up--three hours later--he was in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico 200 miles from land--and he was running out of fuel. The engine sputtered, then crashed into the Gulf. The plane sank in 45 seconds. Rich--who could not swim--was pulled under by the undertow. The only thing that saved him was two discount-store cushions he clutched under his arms. When they found him he was alive, embarrassed, minus one $70,000 uninsured airplane, and still holding those two cheap cushions under his arms.
2. James Rich fell asleep at the wheel and flew off course. As Christians we can do the same thing with even more serious consequences.
a. The book of Hebrews was written to Christians who were in danger of drifting off course (2:1-3a).
b. How do you stay on course?
I. ADOPT A RADICAL ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN. (3:12-14)
A. Sin is deceitful!
1. Illust. The word for "hardened" is the word we get "sclerosis" from. What is sclerosis? A gradual hardening of something--arteries, nervous system. Grave consequences because it decreases sensitivity.
2. Illust. If we fail to be radical against sin we will drift because sin is deceitful. Paul Harvey tells how an Eskimo kills a wolf. Coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Adds another layer, then another, and another ... until blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Fixes knife in ground, blade up. Wolf's keen sense attracts him and he sniffs and takes a lick...then another. Licks faster & faster. Feverishly. Doesn't notice when blade is exposed. Doesn't realize he's being satisfied by his own warm blood. Bleeds to death!
3. How do we keep that from happening spiritually? (We need help!)
II. LEARN ALL YOU CAN ABOUT GOD'S WORD. (5:11-6:12).
A. "By this time ..." Hear the rebuke? (v. 12).
1. Readers had drifted off course!
2. Why? (5:11 cf. with 6:12 ..... nothroi).
B. Metaphor here is of an infant growing to adulthood.
1. There's a time for milk, a time for solid food.
2. Illust. Picture here is of maturing infants who refuse to give up the bottle! Natural for a 1-yr. old to drink from a bottle. At some point he gives it up! Some keep bottle longer than they should because too lazy to give it up!
3. If maturity is too slow in coming then one may fall away (6:4-6) and be destroyed (6:7-8).
III. DON'T MISS A SINGLE ASSEMBLY OF GOD'S PEOPLE. (10:19-31).
A. By faithfully attending church we:
1. Draw near to God (22).
2. Hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (23).
3. Consider how to provoke ... love & good works (24).
B. What happens when we absent ourselves from the community of faith? (10:26-31).
IV. RELENTLESSLY FOCUS ON JESUS. (12:1-3).
A. Illust. Do you know who the world's best basketball free throw shooter is? Michael Jordan? David Robinson? No. A 71 yr. old foot doctor named Tom Amberry! In Nov. 1993 he set world's record with 2,750 in a row! Didn't miss 2,751--had to close gym for the night. What's his secret? Concentration! "The more I read about it and looked into it, the more I realized the only way you do it is practice. You have to perfect all parts of your technique; then it's just focus and concentration. You have to put all other thoughts out of your mind." So he bounces the ball three times, focuses, shoots ... swish!
B. Something very specific writer of Hebrews wants us to focus on about Jesus--his endurance! Ability to see long-term perspective!
Conclusion: Do you want to stay on track spiritually?