Does God Have Your Attention?
Much goes on today that nobody notices. These occurrences may be subtle or extreme. The subtlety may be as simple as your wife changing the color of her lipstick and you not noticing, or as drastic as a president spending away your children’s future while your country stands by in ignorance.
As a boy, I looked forward to the coming of summer each year. These were times I was not daily sitting at a school desk. I had a freedom inside of me that propelled me outside and into the woods. Every day I would get up and start a new adventure of swimming, swinging on an old rope swing, playing with my dog, or doing something with a ball. To my disappointment, time didn’t stop. The summer days came to an abrupt end with the announcement that school was the next week. This left me with a list of undone adventures and a frown on my face. The time had just slipped away.
How many of you are aware of when the daffodils show up each year? I saw them in the stores this week. If you don’t pay attention their arrival can pass you by and you never knew they came and went.
I trimmed my mustache this last week. No one said a word. That was a big deal! Did anyone notice? It didn’t appear as if anyone did.
How many of us have children or have had them? I have a son and a daughter. I am currently in Cody, Wyoming while they are in Saint Joseph, Missouri, preparing with my wife to move out here. My son has lost two teeth and had a black eye from bumping into a cabinet in the time that I have been Cody. By the time I see him, the black eye will be gone. I will have missed it. When did that moment happen where “Chutes and Ladders” and “Candy Land” became taboo for my kids? Did the moment your child decided to be interested in a girl or boy come as a complete surprise to you? These things always sneak upon me! I don’t see them coming. They fail to capture my attention.
Phil Jackson is the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers professional basketball team. He was a player and he has been a coach for quite some time. He has won championships as a coach and a player and in professional and semi-professional leagues. I read an article sometime ago that caught my attention. Phil Jackson has a unique way of getting the attention of his players. This is not an easy task at all times. Professional basketball games can house tens of thousands of screaming fans. Phil Jackson lets loose on a powerful horse whistle. That is, using his fingers and lungs, not a manufactured whistle; he grabs the ears of his guys. It is loud. It is piercing. It is effective. I cannot imitate the volume, but I do employ a similar strategy with my children.
Now, whether it is Phil Jackson with the Lakers or myself with my children, the whistle represents more than an attention getter. It represents a moment in which a message is going to be conveyed. Phil may use the instant to convey the need for unity among his players. It may be used to point out a fault or an opportunity. He may whistle at times when his players are being taken advantage of in a specific play set and don’t even realize it. His job is to oversee his team and get the best out of them.
God has used various methods of trying to get our attention throughout time. When mankind sinned in the Garden, He got their attention by providing dire consequences (Gen 3). Pain in child birth was increased, the ground was cursed, man had to work to eat, and after his days, he would return to the dust. Man was hopefully saying at this time, “Wow! There is no way I am going to mess up again!” Unfortunately, man continued in sin and God had to continue to grab their attention to get them on the right path.
In the time of Noah, we see him preaching righteousness and building an ark. People had to notice, didn’t they? If they did, they did not heed the message. So God sent the flood, delivering Noah and his family. He destroyed so many, because they were not paying attention. The Flood had to grab their attention! Yet, even as Noah and his family began to repopulate the earth, it was evident total attention was not achieved.
Sometimes, God uses some pretty extreme events to get our attention and at others he is more subtle.
Exodus 3:1-5, shows us how God gets the attention of Moses. He catches Moses’ eye with a burning bush, which is not burning up. This isn’t a worldwide event that is meant for all to see, but it is for Moses alone.
I Samuel 3:1-10, shows us how God gets the attention of Samuel. He calls to Samuel. Samuel hears and runs to Eli whom he thinks is calling. Samuel doesn’t dawdle, he doesn’t stay in his warm bed acting like he didn’t hear anything. This happens twice more and each time Samuel’s response is the same. He is listening and ready to respond. It is not until Eli gives him instruction that it is the Lord calling that he communicates with God himself. Not calling communication with God minor, God got the attention of Moses and Samuel in less obvious manners.
Note: God’s correspondence with Samuel did not go unnoticed by all others. I Samuel 3:11-17, details God’s message shared with Samuel of punishment upon Eli and his family. Samuel is afraid to share it with Eli, but Eli wanted to know the message of God. God got Eli’s attention too.
Today, God has given us His Word, the Bible, to get our attention, not to be ignored. This gives us a message of the blessings and curses of God. Properly paid attention to, it will lead us to eternal life. Ignored, it will seal our destruction as those in the days of Noah. It is a message the entire world has received in complete since the first century (Col. 1, Jude 1:3, Gal. 1:6-10). God is a patient God. He does not want to see us perish (Is. 30:18, Jn. 3:16, 2 Pet. 3:9). However, we have to pay attention.
I Samuel 3:13 details that Eli was attentive to the fact that his sons were in violation of God’s will, yet he did nothing (James 4:17). He wanted to act as if ignorant, a direct contrast to the behavior of Samuel.
When we talk about our children (and our brothers and sisters in Christ), we have the role to watch over them (Ez. 33). It’s that role that is kind of like Phil Jackson’s with the Lakers. If he does not engage in his role properly, problems will result. Certainly, ignoring the problems in our physical and spiritual families will not make them go away, we will be held accountable. We have to be ready to blow the whistle and get our Children’s attention. Do they know more about sports, cars, video games, a music group, farming, hunting, or fishing than the Bible? That is a whistle blowing moment (2 Tim. 2:15, Rom. 10:17, Eph. 6:15). They will be lost eternally if they are not prepared for the judgment day. Do they spend more time with friends in the world than Christians? That is a whistle blowing moment (Heb. 10:24-25, Acts 2:46, Phil. 4:8, I Cor. 15:33, 2 Cor. 6:14-18). Are your children’s (or brothers and sisters) clothes tight? Do they show the cleft of the breast, the form of their body, the navel, the knee or thigh? I am not talking just about at church! Have they become desensitized to God’s standard of modesty wherever they are? This is a whistle blowing moment (Jer. 6:15, 8:12, Gen 3:7,10,21, Ex. 28:42, Is. 47:1-4). Does God have your attention on these issues or you choosing to ignore Him?
Satan wants us to ignore God. He wants us to be so wrapped up in our lives that the only attention we pay to anything is our own appetites. He wants us to be so busy with the world and our own wisdom that we don’t spend time in the Word or with our brothers and sisters in fellowship or study. He wants us to stress over the length of 45 minute studies a few times a week. He wants us to have anxiety over messages presentations we would not have chosen. He wants us to fret over the singing of others and the songs our song leader chooses. He wants us to grumble, complain, and whine about prayers that are too long. Overall Satan wants our attention to totally miss the fruit of the spirit which should characterize a church (Gal. 5:22-23).
Sodom and/or Gomorrah are mentioned in 14 of the 66 books of the Bible. They are noted for their wickedness and immorality. God got their attention (Gen. 19:24-25). Yet, the wife of lot turned back. Jesus tells us in Luke 17:32 “Remember Lot’s wife.” She looked back to the things of the world. She was turned to a pillar of salt. Jesus is trying to get our attention. We must focus on the Lord not upon our own desires (Mt. 6:33). Gross immorality will be punished, but most men are simply guilty of following their own desire and not Christ.
As the greatest gift of grace and His greatest attention getter, God sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins. While he was here he performed miracle after miracle to get our attention. He healed the blind, made the lame walk, cast out demons, replaced body parts, and raised the dead. He told his disciples in John 14:15, if they loved him they would keep his commandments. He said in Mt. 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” He said in Luke 9:23 “ If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Does Christ get your attention? Are you engaged more than one to three hours a week bearing your cross and filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Col. 1:24)? Do you know all the studies that are going on at your congregation right now? Do you see your brothers and sisters more than once a week? Are you actively engaged in the encouragement and comfort of the body or do you have time for that in your busy schedule of seeking worldly comfort and joy?
2 Pet. 3:10-18, is the final attempt to gather mankind’s attention. It establishes we need to be holy in conduct and godliness, spotless and blameless, looking toward the Day of Judgment, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. That day will be a day of fire and destruction for those that are not prepared.
Our Father has raised the Alarm. “Fire” has been called. Will you respond to the call? Will you ignore the warnings? Are you ready for that day to come?