The Lord’s Day

  As my wife and I drive the short distance to church on Sunday mornings, we pass a lot of busy neighbors.  On any given week, there might be those who are getting their exercise walking or jogging gleefully up and down the street.  It is not uncommon to find someone just inside his opened garage door, bent over his riding mower, car, or truck performing some necessary maintenance.  We might have to swerve to keep from running over the heels of someone returning to their car from a yard sale.  Another neighbor might be gathering up the last couple bags of leaves for the season.  The parking lots of local businesses sometimes seem more stocked than the shelves inside, etc.  For many reasons, most have forgotten that Sunday is “The Lord’s Day.”

  I know, many of you are thinking, “Why doesn’t he mind his own business?,” but that’s my point—these people are my business.  They are my neighbors, and here in America, we are supposed to concern ourselves with the welfare of our neighbors.  Remember how the pilgrims displayed that “all for one” mentality and survived the first harsh winter at Plymouth Rock?  Remember hearing about WWII when our nation pulled together as one, and with our allies, defeated the Nazi regime?  And then, please recall, that feeling of patriotism and brotherhood that drew us together as a nation when we were attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001.  People stood in lines for hours, without complaining, to offer their life’s blood for their injured neighbors.

  So don’t be upset with me neighbor, when I say, I’m concerned for you.  History is filled with examples of people and nations who forgot God.  They are no more.  As long as we are “one nation under God,” we will also be “indivisible,” but when God is forgotten, we are divided and vulnerable.  Our faith in the God of the Bible is what made our country great and has sustained us through these many years.  The answer to our national decline, and global unrest is not in some political strategy, because the godless cannot be governed.  But the Bible says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)”

The Last Goodbye

  Truly there are rare instances in which “parting is such sweet sorrow,” but more times than not, exchanging “goodbyes” is not a happy occasion.  Just the mention of the word evokes bitter grief when it involves family or close friends.  As of this writing, it has been seven days since my son and his family left our home in Maine for the three day journey back to their home in another state.  The emotions that I experienced when they drove away reminded me of my son’s college days and saying goodbye at the airport.  I still remember that heartsick feeling that expressed itself in tears as I returned to my home alone.  The difference in our recent parting was that now each of my five grandchildren has created a hollow spot in my heart that fills with sadness when they step out of my world and back into their norm.

  Wouldn’t it be great if we never had to say “goodbye” again? Believe it or not, the Bible tells us that such a day is coming for those of us who have a faith relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  There is going to be a great reunion some day in which the saints of all ages will be resurrected and we who are alive will join them for eternal fellowship, in the presence of the Lord, with no goodbyes.  “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)”

 While we wait for that glad day, we will continue to walk upon a sin cursed earth where Satan, the enemy of our souls, and all of his cohorts, work tirelessly to accentuate the horrors of the “last goodbye” for those who still grope in darkness.  Dear believer, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).”  What a privilege it is to share the good news that there does not have to be a last goodbye!

Fixed On Things

  What do you believe to be the greatest hindrance to the work of the Lord in our day?  There are many possible answers to this question: parental failure in raising children to know Him,  the influence of sociopolitical activism by those who don’t know or understand the inherent lessons of history, or maybe it is the church’s new bent on pleasing non-believers to fill its pews.  No matter how you answer, somewhere at the root of most of our hindrances to the work of the Lord are the issues of complacency and prosperity.

  Complacency is an “I don’t care” attitude that is common today, and in our culture, seems inseparably linked to prosperity.  Nearly everyone has developed ambitions and goals that literally fill their minds and years with endless busyness, rather than God.  Long ago, life was filled with the necessities of living, such as: raising food, sewing clothes and repairing one’s aged belongings. We needed God!  Today, most everything we “need” falls into the category of consumable/disposable, and we have grown accustomed to having ours “instantly.”  Now, we spend more money and we have a lot more time to follow our dreams, rather than to seek God or learn His ways.

  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that God requires that we be dirt poor, or sit on a bed of broken glass for hours under sackcloth and ashes, but be sure, our prosperity can and does effect our spiritual appetite and zeal.  This was the context of our Lord’s’ comments in Matthew 19:24 “…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”   “…the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)”

  It is obvious that in our cultural fixation on things, people who have much, think they do not need God, while God is the one who “…giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (Acts 17:25).”  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)”

Imagine God

New dimensions are added to the phrase, “let your imagination run wild,” when we try to imagine God.  If it were not for His creative acts, his Only Begotten Son (Jesus), and His Word (the Bible), there would be no foundation upon which to base our thought of the Almighty.

  First, His creative acts reveal two very important facts about our Heavenly Father.  Consider this verse, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20)”  This speaks of the eternality of God, who already existed before the creation, at the beginning of time.  Also, His omnipotence (infinite power) is clearly delineated here, as it would require unlimited power to create and sustain this physical universe with all of its intricacies.

  Secondly, the Bible tells us that, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18)” Jesus, is God in the flesh, equal in power and glory with the Father.  He came to reveal God to man, especially His mercy (not getting what we deserve), His love (purposing our good at His expense), and His grace (getting what we do not deserve).  Jesus, God’s Son, died, was buried, and rose from the dead in order to pay the penalty for your sins.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)”  You will not know the Father without first acquiring knowledge of His Son.

  Finally, God is revealed in what He has said.  His Word is essential if you would know Him.  In the original languages of the Bible, God is referred to as: Elohim (Creator God), El Shaddai (God Almighty), El Elyon (Most High God), El Olam (Everlasting God), Yahweh (Self Existing One), Adonai (Lord), Theos (God), Kurios (Owner), Despotes (Master), and Father.  There are many other names for God in the scriptures, as well as His many wondrous acts, but perhaps these thoughts can help you begin your quest to know Him.

Eternal Purpose

 There may be exceptions, but as a general rule, we humans like to have a purpose for getting out of bed in the morning.  There are, of course, those whose only purpose in life is to satisfy themselves.  They live to eat, sleep, play, be entertained, achieve their financial goals, etc.  The problem with this self absorption is that it must end when one draws his last breath—All is lost.

  But what if there were something for which we could give our all, and then, enjoy benefits beyond the grave?  The Bible clearly affirms that it is possible:  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (Matthew 6:19-20)”  But how can one lay up treasure in heaven when he has no access to heaven, at least not yet?

  The answer is tucked away in verses like these: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Colossians 1:16)” “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)”  “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1Corinthians 10:31)”  These verses, and others like them, remind us that God created mankind for Himself, for His own pleasure, and glory.  God has designed that man’s greatest endeavor, his most noble, most rewarding purpose, is to glorify Him (God) with his life and substance.

  But God will not be outdone.  When you give yourself to Him, He gives Himself to you.  You can have a relationship with God, and a reason to get out of bed, that will reap the praise of God now, and then, His eternal fellowship and reward.  It all begins with a relationship with your heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, who promises, “…He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:39)”