Introduction

As the year 2017 comes to a close, it is a time for us to consider how our previous year is like. So for tonight as it is less than 1 hour to the new year. Therefore, I would like to spend the last hour thinking. If there are things that I have neglected this year.

According to the dictionary neglect means failure to take care or to give attention to something. Neglect can happen when we overlook or if we are uninterested in something. Someone who is careless and does not pay enough attention to thing, runs the risk in neglecting something.

Let us consider 3 points for tonight.

Pt 1: Do not neglect the needy

“Now in those days, when the number “
  of
the disciples was multiplying, there
   arose a complaint against the Hebrews
  by the Hellenists,because their widows
  were neglected in the daily distribution.”- Luke (Acts 6:1)

In this record, the church neglected something that they should not neglect. In those days, the church helped orphans and widows by providing daily necessities for them. But then the church neglected the widows who are in need of their care. This neglect happened probably because of a lack of workers.

As the result, the Hellenist (Greek speaking Jewish Christians) had a complaint against the Hebrew speaking Christians, and if this neglect is unchecked, it will lead to further criticism and fights within the church. It can potentially divide and destroy the church.

The Apostles understood the magnitude of the problem. But their main duties are to pray and minister to the word of the Lord. Therefore, they selected 7 deacons to help take care of the administrative function of the church. They hoped that by sharing the load and responsibility the number of neglected widows would decrease over time.

From this story we can see that as Christian we cannot neglect the brethren who needs our help. The duty of taking care of them does not fall to the minister and church leaders only. It is also the responsibility of every brother and sister. Everyone of us had a part to play in creating a loving atmosphere within the church. That is why we need to watch out for our brother and sister who needs help.

Besides not neglecting the needy in the church. The Bible reminds us of 2 other issues that we must never neglect. Let us consider them together.

 Pt 2: Do Not Neglect Salvation

“For if the word spoken through 
  angels proved steadfast, and every
  transgression and disobedience
  received a just reward,
  how shall we escape if we neglect
  so great a salvation, which at the
  first began to be spoken by the Lord,
  and was confirmed to us by those
  who heard Him,”-Author of Hebrews (Heb 2:2-3)

Over here the Author of Hebrews warn us, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Let us resolve not to neglect the salvation we receive from God. For it is the grace of Christ.  Jesus brought this grace with him when he preached about the kingdom of God

This grace is better than the Law that was given through angels (messengers and servant of God). In the wilderness the Israelites followed the Mosaic law delivered to them through Gods messenger Moses. To the Jews, that law is the most precious gift from God.

But that Law cannot be compared with the gospel preached by Jesus. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (Jn 1:17). For our grace of salvation is taught by Jesus Christ. He is the originator of the new Covenant. While the Old Testament Joshua wrote the law onto stone tablets as he renewed the Mosaic Covenant. The New Testament Yeshua (Jesus) completed the work of salvation by dying on the cross and nailing the curse of the Law onto the cross.

As the Author of Hebrew continues telling us

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little
  lower than the angels, for the suffering
  of death crowned with glory and honor,
  that He, by the grace of God, might taste
  death for everyone.”- Author of Hebrews (Heb 2:9)

Only Jesus can give us this grace, and it is confirmed by those who hear him. When the Author of Hebrew wrote the word Us in verse 3. He is referring to the 2nd and 3rd generation Christian of his time. For the first generation received the gospel from Jesus directly. They were the eyewitness of Jesus. The gospel that was preached by Jesus was affirmed and preached by them to the 2nd and 3rd generation Christians. God himself gives a witness to them, confirming their teaching with signs miracles and wonders. These signs bore witness that what Jesus said is true.

Throughout history to even today, God had preserved the word of God faithfully so that the church in the end days can still find the words of salvation within them. If we were to consider these facts, we will see that this grace of Salvation is not something easily obtainable.
Jesus needs to proclaim it to the disciples and eyewitness first. Then they are supposed to hand it down to the next generation of Christians, finally to be preserved in the new testament. On to the church in the last days over a span of 2 millennia. Throughout the process, God continues to use signs, miracles and wonder to affirm this message. Even today he had given us the Holy Spirit so that we have a witness from God concerning our beliefs. In order to bring this salvation to us, everyone needs to play a part.

What a sin it would be should we neglect this salvation!

The Lesson for Us Today

When the author of Hebrews wrote Heb 2:2-3, the believers were undergoing persecution, that is why he began the chapter by telling them

“Therefore we must give the more
  earnest heed to the things we have
   heard, lest we drift away.”- Author of Hebrews (Heb 2:1)

In the same way, Christians today ought to be diligent to ensure that we continue in the grace of God. For Christ had already sacrificed his life and destroyed the power of Satan. He suffered so that he can redeem us who were once slaves of sin.

God has planned to bring us into eternal glory, Jesus had completed his part of the work, it is our work to take heed of what we heard and not drift away from God. As Heb 2:2 remind us. “Every transgression will receive a just reward". If we fail to take heed of our salvation, we would receive our just reward as well.

What does he mean by just reward?

Just reward refers to the end result we get for what we have done. If a worker were to perform his duty, the boss would need to pay him. If he did not do his job well, his reward will not be good.

Jesus had chosen us out of the million of people on earth and he had given us this grace. We need to repay him by preserving this grace that he had given. If we did this successfully, we will receive our reward in the kingdom of heaven.

But if we choose to neglect it, if we feel that our faith is unimportant, and we allow it to die and drift away. Then God will reserve for us our just reward, for he had given us so much grace, and instead of treasuring the grace, we allow it to die. As the author of Hebrews continues to warn us

“For it is impossible for those who were
  once enlightened, and have tasted the
  heavenly gift, and have become partakers
   of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the
  good word of God and the powers of
  the age to come, if they fall away,
  to renew them again to repentance, since
  they crucify again for themselves the
   Son of God, and put Him to an open
  shame.

   For the earth which drinks in the rain
  that often comes upon it, and bears
  herbs useful for those by whom it is
  cultivated, receives blessing from God;
 
but if it bears thorns and briers, it is
  rejected and near to being cursed,
  whose end is to be burned.”- Author of Hebrew (Heb 6:4-8)

Their end is to be burned. Sometimes we wonder why is God so cruel. But that is because they did not treasure the grace that God had given, they wasted the grace of God.

That is why to neglect salvation is a severe sin. God had prepared the kingdom of God for his children, the bible had described it as a big feast. He had given us a sample of the feast by giving us the Holy Spirit. We have tasted and tried everything that God had prepared, we have used them in our lives and God had blessed and satisfied us.

We have already begun that spiritual journey when we accepted Christ, and were baptized in his blood. We have already partaken that feast. Now that we have eaten it half way, we decide to throw it away. Is that not a great waste of the grace of God.

Let us remember the preciousness of this grace and never neglect this grace of God

Pt 3: Do Not Neglect Our gift

It had just passed midnight, I am able to see 2 location of fireworks from my apartment.

The third point came from the writing of Paul

“Do not neglect the gift that is in you, 
  which was given to you by prophecy
  with the laying on of the hands of the
  eldership.”- Paul (1 Tim 4:14)

Paul reminded Timothy not to neglect the gift that is given to him. In the same way , let us not neglect the gifts given to us by God. To Timothy, his gift is granted through prophecy and the laying of hands by the elders.

That is why in my church, we have a tradition where ministers would pray and lay hands on the workers before they begin ministry. God will grant his worker gifts, so that they can edify the church. For God wanted them to work together to establish a glorious church.

God granted Timothy a gift, so that he can be an example to the believers. Through his preaching, he could guide them to learn to fear God. Paul reminded Timothy to be a good steward of the Lord, and never neglect or despise the gift he had given. Instead, he ought to accept all opportunities to serve God.

Paul wanted to encourage Timothy, for it is something he needs, for Timothy is a younger preacher, inexperienced. Sometimes he had doubts if he could guide the church since he is young. He neglects the gift given to him by God, for he felt he was young. He refrained from using his gift, which resulted to setbacks in his service to the Lord.

That is why Paul emphasized and encourage him. “To be courageous, and not despise yourself because of your youth"

Meditate on these things; give yourself
  entirely to them, that your progress
  may be evident to all.”- Paul (1 Tim 4:15)

Paul reminded him to meditate on these gift, use them often so that others can see his progress. Paul was writing as a teacher of Timothy, he is speaking from the perspective of being a teacher.

As teachers, we wanted our students to grow, we willing impart knowledge to them all the time, but how well they will learn depends on how much they pursue. Some student put in a lot of effort to listen and to take notes, while others waited for the lesson to end. The only way to track their progress is to test them and see how they applied their knowledge. That will reveal who had been paying attention.

Learning From Experience  

Paul is reminding Timothy that he needs to learn as a student, even though he may not have the right experience, he can continue to learn. He can learn from others and grow. He can let others see his progress, when God gives a gift, it doesn’t mean that we are experts in using it. We would still need experience, and on the job learning. That requires us to encounter many setbacks for it will not be a smooth sailing journey.

Let us not give up thinking that we are failures and unprofitable, for if we think like this we will remain unprofitable. But since God had already given us the gift, let us improve and work on it. We need to have an attitude of a student, be willing to learn.

Today there are many youths who think that they cannot serve God, they did not have the experience in life to do it. But they forgot the fact that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he chose to ride on a young donkey’s colt. It is a young and inexperienced donkey, but Jesus sent his disciples to fetch it. He used it to enter Jerusalem at his most glorious moment. That donkey was never ridden before, yet the first person who rode it is the Lord.

There are various degrees of church work, and God had given us the gift to serve him. Even if we feel that we are young and inexperienced, though we may not have the courage to serve yet.
Let us not neglect the gift that God had given us. We need to seize the opportunity and learn. If we persist in this, our progress will be clear to others.

Take Heed To yourself and to the doctrine

Paul encourage Timothy one more point

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.
  Continue in them, for in doing this you
   will save both yourself and those who
  hear you.” –Paul (1 Tim 4:16)

This is something we need to continue in our work in serving the church, we must not give up on this. There will always be work in a church that requires our help and we need people to participate in these ministries. Even though serving the church may be tough, but it will allow us to work together with the Lord. With God on our side, he will always give us the strength we need. But to do some we must choose not to neglect our gifts

Conclusion

Today, we learn about 3 things that we should not neglect in our lives of faith
   a. Let us not neglect the brothers and sisters in need of help and concern 
   b. Let us not neglect that great grace of salvation given to us by God
    c. Let us not neglect the gifts God has given us

May these be the directions for us in this new year.

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