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Religious Autopilot

Words of Faith Final

Religious Autopilot
Words of Faith 10-22-2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Romans 11

    [7] What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, [8] as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day."
    [9] And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. [10] May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever."

     A number of years ago, a news story captivated many in Central Florida and around the country. News broke that a Lear Jet from Orlando was traveling across the country, apparently on autopilot, toward an unknown destiny. For several hours the nation watched helplessly as the jet containing five people traveled without apparent guidance.  
     The passengers were finally assumed to be unconscious, including famed Central Florida golfer Payne Stewart. A striking interview played in which one of the F-16 pilots chased and attempted to contact the runaway aircraft. He shared his helpless frustration at knowing that there were probably people alive inside the jet, but that there was nothing he could do to reach them or awaken them.  
     Many prayed that some miraculous intervention would occur, but the jet finally crashed in a field in South Dakota. Central Floridians grieved the loss of Mr. Stewart and the others. Reports in the news testified that Payne was a believer in Jesus who supported his church generously.
     I recall thinking that seemed to be a striking application related to this tragic event. Have you ever felt a similar sense of desperation in dealing with friends or loved ones? Sometimes we observe people who have slowly turned their lives onto a sort of doomed autopilot toward disaster for one reason or another.  
     Paul talks about the hardening of hearts that can occur in religious people who refuse to receive the free offer of grace in Christ. He draws reference to Deuteronomy 29:3-4 and Isaiah 29:10 in pointing out that those who did not receive Messiah were given a "spirit of stupor"-- a spiritual lethargy and drowsiness that comes upon those who reject the Good News. This is what happens to those who refuse to listen, hear, trust and obey and watching their life journey can be an experience of frustrating helplessness.  
      Paul was particularly concerned with the people of Israel who rejected Christ, but the same is true of any religious person who defiantly attempts to justify themselves. He quoted Psalm 69:22-23, which predicts that the "table"-- the very things which should have been the source of nourishment and blessing to Israel and should have led Israel to Christ-- became a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and God's retribution on those who refused to receive God's truth. Without the grace of God offered in Christ, a person's back will be bent under the weight of guilt and punishment forever.
      The truth is that it is pretty easy for a person to get onto a "religious autopilot." It may even be the unorthodox religious autopilot of secularism, me-ism, hedonism or sensuality.  We may think we are fine because we fly high in matters of religious concern, but the air at such an altitude is very thin. If we reject the free offer of grace, we essentially reject the life mask-- the one hope we have. We quickly find ourselves in a religious stupor. The tragedy is coming, and there is little that those around us can do to awaken us.  

      The truth is that only God can possibly awaken us from such a stupor, as He did for the Apostle Paul. Are you asleep at the wheel? Listen for the call of God. Awake! Do you know someone whose destiny is bleak? Pray like never before for the voice of God to break through.

      Lord, my prayers are with the hurting families of the air tragedy yesterday. Give comfort, Lord God. But Lord, I also pray for the many who need a wake-up call from You. I pray for the many who have slipped into a religious stupor and cannot seem to hear the Good News of Your grace. Lord, awaken this world to hear Your voice. In Jesus' name.  

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)        
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2021 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.