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Jack Graham - The Danger of Drifting


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    Jack Graham - The Danger of Drifting
TOPICS: Going the Distance

I would invite you to take God's Word and turn to the letter to the Hebrews, the book of Hebrews, chapter 2. This is our series called GOING THE DISTANCE. That's the theme of this letter to the Hebrews. It's a letter to you as a believer and follower of Jesus. That you would persevere in your life and in your faith, that you would run with endurance the race that is set before you, that you would not only start the race but that you would finish the race and finish it well. Now if we're going to persevere in life and in our Christian faith, then it requires a muscular faith. So we're talking about developing a muscular faith, a strong vibrant faith. That's what this is all about. To live a life that stays on purpose and stays on course without wavering, never drifting.

And the title of my message today is "The Danger of Drifting". I might even add, The Deadly Danger of Drifting. Look at the first four verses of Hebrews 2, "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable". The message declared by angels, delivered by angels is the Law, the Ten Commandments. And we know that's reliable, the Ten Commandments given by God, "and every transgression or disobedience received is a just retribution". That is, we are judged by the law. When we break the law, we're not really breaking the law; we're broken by the breaking of the law.

But then look at verse 3. This is an unanswerable question. It is a question that preachers cannot answer, philosophers cannot answer, scientists cannot answer, politicians cannot answer. It is a question that is unanswerable, "how shall we escape if we neglect (or ignore) such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord (That is, Jesus proclaimed it. He announced it), and it was attested to us (the apostles, who believed it and advanced it) while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by the gifts (or the power) of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will".

If anyone ever says to you, you can't find the Trinity in the Bible. Where's the Trinity, you just saw it. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit right here in this brief breath of scripture. Yes, God is Father, God is Son, God is Holy Spirit. And God gave us His word, God gave us His Son. Jesus announced His salvation. He was the greatest proclaimer of his own message of salvation whoever lived. God had one Son and He made Him a preacher, Jesus. He came preaching the Gospel.

Hebrews 12:2, "He's the Author and the Finisher of our faith". It's all Him. And then the Holy Spirit who empowers this message through the works of the apostles and the witness that is attested here. In the first chapter, the first couple of messages in this series we saw the superiority and the supremacy of Christ. That He is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Redeemer and the Savior of all who believe. And therefore, the writer says, therefore, because this is true, because of the superiority of Jesus Christ, you must not neglect this salvation, you must not drift away, you must not go back into your old way of life. That's what he's saying.

Therefore, because this is true, if you really believe that Jesus is who He says He is and what the Bible claims Him to be, how can you drift? How can you ignore or neglect this salvation? There are some who reject Jesus and salvation, unbelievers. But there are those who neglect it and this is addressed to Christians: How will we as believers escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It's possible to drift away and to be shipwrecked. Obviously this is a mariners term, sailor's word, this "drift away".

When I was in West Palm Beach, Florida in the 1980's the guys down there would often tell me, "If you'll go out with us into the Atlantic Ocean and into the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean which is a river that runs through the Atlantic Seaboard there", they said, "guaranteed we will catch a sailfish". Sailfish capitol of the world! So two or three times I went. Every time we began to drift out there in that sea and the more we drifted, the sicker I got! Never caught a sailfish! Never saw a sailfish! But I did feed the fish quite a bit! Because drifting in the ocean will make you sick guaranteed. And drifting in the ocean of life, in your journey of life, will also be a disaster. Now it could happen in a number of ways.

You know this idea of drifting. It can happen to a business. For example, Blockbuster. Blockbuster business while they made the transition from VHS to DVD, they were unable to advance beyond that and they didn't factor in Netflix and YouTube. So when is the last time you went to a Blockbuster to rent a movie? They lost their vision, lost their mission. They just sort of drifted. They didn't take care of the business. It can happen to an athlete, it can happen to an athletic team. On a personal level this drifting can take place. Many of us began our diets and a new exercise program with dedication and desire, but the first time they pass the big cake and the ice cream you went back into your old habits, it got tough again, and we gradually drift away back into our old habits, back into our bad habits we drifted! It can happen in a marriage. Sure it can. You promise one another to love and to live together in marriage as long as you both shall live.

But some say, "I'm just not feeling it anymore". And so you're looking for other options. It didn't happen overnight. What happened is you didn't nurture your relationship; you didn't pay attention to it. The writer of Hebrews says "pay attention to what we heard lest we drift". If you don't pay attention to your family, if you don't pay attention to your husband, your wife, before you know it you're drifting apart. And more and more your marriage is moving in the wrong direction. You know, it just happens a step at a time; a slip at a time. This decision that doesn't please God, and that decision that dishonors God. Just drifting. Just backing up, and backing up and backing up, and before you know it, you're far away from God, living in the darkness. That's why the Scripture says, "Pay attention to the things that matter the most: your faith, this great salvation"!

So how are we going to do that? One, there is a clear exhortation here, a clear exhortation. This is a warning passage. There are five of them in the book of Hebrews. Some people don't like the book of Hebrews because these warnings come. But these warnings are like alerts, it's like a news alert. And five times in Hebrews, as we make our way through this, we're going to get these warnings, these alerts. And this one is an alert regarding this problem of drifting. Again, it's a mariner's term. In the ancient days, of course, a ship would pull up anchor, and castaway and go into the seas. It's important that they have a clear direction because if a ship is drifting, before you know it, it hits an iceberg and sinks, or it slips away from course and runs into disastrous enemies and all the rest. Because if you're just drifting, if you're just floating, like you're floating in your pool, then you find yourself floating right by, drifting right by the safe harbor.

Your life, my life is never to be aimless! God is calling us to meaningful directions, not just floating away! With that is a compelling affirmation. Because the key word in this passage if you don't want to drift is salvation. You see it there? Right in the middle of this passage. "How will we escape, how will we survive if we neglect this great salvation"? If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that salvation does not come from your human achievement, your effort, your performance, but by the grace of God, the gift of God. What is the Gospel that was announced by Jesus, that was advanced by the apostles, that was attested to by the Holy Spirit with these signs and wonders and miracles? It's the Gospel of salvation! It's the Gospel of the cross and the resurrection!

So here's a news alert, it's a good news alert! You're not saved by keeping commandments, achieving personal goals, modifying your behavior; you are saved by the grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone! That's why this salvation is so great! If salvation is up to me, that's not great because I'm not good enough, I'm not great enough to save myself! And neither are you! The reason it's great is because of the great price that Jesus paid for your salvation on the cross, the precious blood of Jesus! It's a great salvation because He gives it to us free and clear when we receive Him as Lord and Savior. And that's the attestation; that is the affirmation. So in view of that, how can we neglect that? If you're a believer, how can you ignore that? Some are substituting neglect for reject. And truly you are not a believer. You have rejected, maybe not overtly so, but you're just not a believer. You've rejected salvation. How will you escape if you reject your salvation? There's no other hope. Nothing but despair; nothing but judgment and hell.

You say, "Are you one of those preachers that believe in hell"? Absolutely! Jesus believed in hell, and told us that there is a hell, and there is a judgment. We'll read later on in the book of Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment". So, yes, there is a hell! And to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to reject your last and final hope! There is no hope apart from Him! But if you are a Christian, as these were Christians noted in Hebrews, chapter 2, then how will you escape, how will you survive, how will you then live if you neglect this salvation, if you ignore it? You began as a sincere Christian. You were committed, you were dedicated, you were all in! "I've decided to follow Jesus"! But now? Gradually over time, you drifted: you stopped reading your Bible regularly and faithfully; you used to pray a lot, now really you can't remember the last time you really prayed unless it was an emergency SOS.

You used to attend church faithfully, regularly. You're here today, or maybe you're watching on line, watching on television. But you used to be really faithful to your church, and serve. But you started drifting. It wasn't a big decision; it was just, you began treating this whole thing casually. When it comes to church, you're pretty much in and out when you feel like it. You're a spiritual drifter. How will you escape? How you going to live? How are you going survive if you're drifting through life? You used to be a faithful witness for Christ. Your testimony was strong and true and vibrant. People knew you were a believer. But then you began to compromise here and there in choices. Again, you didn't do it deliberately. It's just adrift. And now your friends barely know if you're a Christian or not.

You see what we're saying here? It's possible to be a believer and follower of Jesus and ultimately be outside! Not losing your salvation. You can't lose your salvation. But you can sure lose your testimony, and you can sure lose your reputation. And you can sure lose your family! You can lose a lot of things! Not because of some big dynamic decision. Nobody wakes up. Rarely does anybody wake up and say, "You know I've decided today to be an atheist". No, it happens over time and you stop believing God and you begin to drift, and then you're in deep waters and you have no faith at all. It's a sad situation, isn't it? It's a clear exhortation, a clear warning, just a compelling affirmation. But in the midst of all of this you can get things turned around.

I have a little acrostic for you to help you take away some truths, some practical ideas as to how we keep from drifting in our spiritual lives:

Number one - D: determine. Determine your priorities in life, determine your priorities in life. Determine what is my purpose in life? I am really glad that as a teenage boy God called me to the ministry and I made a decision about the direction of my life as a young man. Now that's just my story; it's not everybody's story, of course, and I don't set myself up here as a perfect example. But I'm just telling you I'm grateful that the course of my life was set as a young man, as I began to get serious about my Christian faith and walk. And so I began, rather than drifting through those college years and twenty-something years, had a purpose, had a plan, began to live my priorities in my life. And even though some winds blew, and some heavy winds blew in those years in our life, but I stayed on course because I had determined God's purpose, God's plan for my life, and therefore, I lived by those priorities. That's number one. That will keep you from drifting. "Seek first", Matthew 6:33, "the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all of these things will be added unto you".

Secondly, renew your faith daily. I believe there is a success habit in the life of every dynamic believer that I've ever known, and that is this: Give the first moments and minutes of your day to God! How you begin your day sets the mindset of your day and often the direction of your day. And so it is essential if you are going to keep from drifting, because you know what happens when you begin to neglect prayer, begin to neglect God's Word. You know, you hadn't been there a day, then it's been a week, and then it's been two weeks. Same thing happens with church. Before you know it it's been a month, it's been a half a year, it's been a year. You're just drifting! You didn't intend for it happen, but that's what happened. Why? Because you didn't renew your faith on a daily basis. If you live a normal lifespan you have about 25,000 mornings to greet every day of your life.

Some of us have less than that. The good news is if you're a Christian in heaven everyday is morning. It's an eternal morning. But on this side about 25,000 mornings. So on our journey home every day presents an opportunity for a new beginning! For a new birth! New opportunities! So this is why you don't neglect your salvation. You just don't blare out pell-mell into your day without taking time to worship, to pray, to read your Bible, to ask God for guidance, to make a list even, what does God want me to do? I have a habit, I journal most every day of my life these days. I didn't do it all my life. I wish I had. But if I will take the time to regularly bathe my soul in the presence of God, if I will open God's Word, if I will speak to Him, ask and pray.

Listen to a couple of these scriptures: Psalm 5:3 "In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice, in the morning I lay requests before You and wait in expectation". Psalm 90:14, this is the prayer of Moses. Would you like to know what Moses prayed and how Moses was so great in his life? "Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days". Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it". Again, make your first appointment of your day an appointment with God! It doesn't have to be long, but it can be a divine appointment. You hear His voice. You listen for His instruction. You seek His blessing. You renew your faith. You offer your life. And repeat the next day. You say, "Well, that sounds like a lot". Well, do you want to drift or not drift? That's the question. How will you escape? How will you escape disaster in your life if you're drifting?

Number three, quickly: Invest in what matters. Give your life, your talent, your time, your treasures. Invest in what really matters. If you focus on selfish pursuits, sinful pursuits rather than spiritual pursuits, you will find yourself wasted. Invest in what matters. Invest in eternal things.

Number four: Fellowship with other believers. D-R-I-F Fellowship with other believers. This is why God has called us together as a family, as a church. Because we get fired up together. When you put the logs together on the fire, it's a bigger fire. I need you; you need me. No wonder in Hebrews chapter 10:25 the writer will again say, "Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much the more as you see the Day approaching". The dark days, the tough days! "So much the more" encourage one another! And exhort one another!

So church, the family of God will keep you from drifting! I can't tell you how many times in my life I've seen it happen. An individual faithful in church; before you know it, they're missing a Sunday or two, they're doing other things, got a vacation place, got a house by the lake, going to miss here, going to miss there. Before you know it, you're missing every Sunday! I've seen it so many times. It's just a casual. You didn't wake up one day and say, "You know what, I'm never going to church again". You just started drifting. And as a result you put yourself at risk in the high seas of life because you don't have the support of God's family.

Finally, trust in God. Trust God for your future. Live with Hope. If you life with Jesus Christ, you're living in hope every single day. In fact if you'll look, and we'll close with this, in Hebrews chapter 6, there's a scripture that will help your soul to be anchored and steadfast in stormy seas. It's verse 19, chapter 6: "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain". A sure and steadfast anchor for the soul! We need that, don't we? Something to steady us, to strengthen us, to keep us from drifting away, slipping away from our faith, from our family, from our commitments! It's an anchor for the soul.

Did you know that one of the first symbols of the Christian faith was the anchor? You know about the cross. That's an early symbol of the church. You know perhaps about the fish, the Ichthys, became a symbol of the church because those original followers were fisherman. They were fishing for men; thus the fish, the Ichthys. You may not know that one of the earliest symbols of the church was an anchor. If you visit the catacombs in Rome you will see the symbol of the anchor on many of the tombs and gravestones. If you go to Jerusalem and walk into the empty tomb, the tomb that many think was the very tomb where Jesus was laid in the Garden, etched on the backside of that tomb is a cross and then the anchor below that cross.

The cross, it becomes an anchor. It comes right from that verse. "Hope which is an anchor for the soul". And in these dark days, in these stormy seas in which we are living in our lifetime, we need an anchor for the soul. And that anchor is hope. And hope is not wishful thinking; hope is the sure and steadfast confidence that what God says is true. The songwriter put it this way: "In times like these we need a Savior. In times like these we need an anchor". Some of you know this old song. Times like these we need an anchor! Be very sure, be very sure that your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock. That Rock is Jesus.
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