January 2016

Spiritual Hibernators

This time of year is when some bears, ground squirrels, and woodchucks hibernate (sleep) through the winter. During hibernation, the animal’s body temperature drops to match the outside temperature and their heart rate and breathing slows down. What is amazing about animals during hibernation is that the animals seem almost dead. They will not wake up when they hear a loud noise or even if they are moved or touched. Hibernation is a way for some animals to deal with the harshness of the cold and the limited amount of food source. 
Unfortunately, some Christians have a habit of spiritually hibernating. They withdraw from church functions and become spiritually dormant or inactive for a period of time. And what is sad, I have seen some Christians who never come out of their spiritual hibernation.
The book of Hebrews gives warning to Christians to prevent spiritual hibernation. 

- Drifting away from your God. Heb 2:1 tells us, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it." This is a warning to not become lazy with your spiritual life, because you can easily drift away from God. 

- Falling away from your God. Heb 3:12 says, "Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God." The Greek word for “fall away” implies stand off from or to step aside from, and means to depart or withdraw in the sense of revolt or rebellion. This is a warning against stepping away from God or rebelling against God.

- Harden to your God. Heb. 3:13 tells us, "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called `Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.’” The Greek word for "harden" literally means to become dried up or stiff, hard. The author is warning us not to be hardened or calloused by sin to our sensitivity to God. 

- Dull of hearing. Heb. 5:11 tells us, "Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing." The Greek word for "dull" means lazy, sluggish, slack, and even careless in one's hearing. It comes from an old adjective that means “no push”.  Thus, you have no push or desire about hearing spiritual things. 

- Entangled in sin. Heb. 12:1 notes, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” "Entangled" is a compound Greek word meaning to place around or to stand around.  It gives the picture of a bug entangled in a spider’s web.  The writer is warning believers against sin surrounding or encircling a person so that they fall into it. 

- Weary and losing heart. Heb. 12:3 tells us, "For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart." "Weary" means to be fatigued or almost worn out. The writer is warning about walking away from God, because we are tired, trouble, afflicted, and broken. 

Rather than falling into spiritual hibernation, Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).  Jesus gives two keys to prevent spiritual hibernation. First, to abide (remain, dwell, or continue) in your relationship with Christ. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit unless it remain and grows in the vine, likewise we will be spiritually fruitless unless we remain and continue in our relationship with Him. Secondly, when we are keeping His commandments this is an indicator that we are abiding. The book of John and I John calls believers to abide in Christ. It is a principle of endurance, perseverance, and continuity in one’s spiritual life. An abiding person understands that his/her spiritual life is not a sprint, but a marathon of faith. Therefore, this year, let us abide in Christ and watch how God will use us!                    

                                                                                                                            -Pastor Mike Kotrla