2021 Archives

Gradualism

  Did you ever watch a sunrise?  Perhaps you have been amused by the first rays of light as they beamed over the horizon to introduce a new day.  Did you ever think to yourself, “I’ll concentrate for a few minutes to see if I can detect the movement of the sun”?  In a matter of minutes, you probably realized that the sun was peeping more boldly around the curvature of the earth now, but you had not yet observed even its slightest advancement.  You had experienced the phenomenon that we call gradualism.  The change came about so gradually that it was imperceptible.

  In my younger days, I remember wading into a rough surf on a fishing trip, shuffling my feet on occasion to keep my balance or adjust my gear.  After several minutes, when I turned back to the beach, it appeared that none of my stuff was where I had left it.  After frantically working my way back to shore and getting my bearings, I realized that the currents had gradually carried me away from my original site without my slightest perception that I was being relocated.  I was the victim of gradual change—gradualism.

  Gradualism happens in the moral, social and spiritual realms as well.  We as a nation have succumbed to the gradual decay of moral absolutes, wholesome philosophies, and time honored principles that long served as the underpinnings of institutions that once defined us as a Christian nation.  Without the slightest detection of immediate change we find ourselves separated from our moorings, drifting away from every ancient resolve.  We are not the same nation that we were, and yet, on a day to day basis, there has been no perceptible change.  Gradualism has altered the hearts and souls of those who have ever lived only in the light of our blood bought freedom.

  Let it suffice to say that our only hope is to return to the moral absolutes, wholesome philosophies, and time honored principles of the past.  They work because they are God’s, and He promises to bless “the nation whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 33:12)”  Only you can be responsible for you!

Redeeming The Times

  So often I am reminded of the brevity of life, even more now, in these later seasons of my earthly pilgrimage.  Just yesterday, or so it seems, I stood in the delivery room with unbidden tears streaming down my face.  A joy I had never known came welling up from a part of me that I did not know existed; God had given me a son!   Now, after these few fleeting days, my eldest son is married with five children of his own.  I have lived long enough to experience what my father and grandfather tried to help me grasp in my youth, “As you get older, time seems to pass more quickly.”

  Perhaps God intended for all fathers to impress this truth upon their children, for even He, the Heavenly Father, has included this thought in His immortal Word.  “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again… (2Samuel 14:14a).”  “…What is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14b).” 

  On several occasions, I have heard preachers remind young congregants that in a few years, they would look back on these days and marvel at the passage of time.  They didn’t get it—yet, …but I was there, and time had made a believer out of me.  Now, I am a grandfather, trying to impress upon my grandchildren that, “Time waits for no one.”

  In this season of life, I am more serious about the old question, “What ought we to be in light of the brevity of life?  I am happy to report, I have found the answer!  Here, I will share it with you; “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be?… Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,… be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (2Peter 3:11-14).”

  C. T. Studd (1860–1931), an English Missionary to China, India, and Africa wrote a poem with this reprise:  “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”   I whole heartedly agree!

The Battle Is The Lord’s!

  Serious servants of the Lord understand the reality of spiritual warfare, and have enlisted in the the age old conflict between good and evil, truth and error, light and darkness.  These soldiers of light are keenly aware of the battle that rages in the ever present, but unseen, realm of God, angels, and the souls of men.  They will stand until the promised day of victory. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2Tim. 2.4).”

  Generally speaking, when men go to war, commanding officers don’t lead their soldiers into battle.  Not so with our God; the soldier who carries the banner of truth takes comfort in the words, “The Battle Is The Lord’s.”  The shepherd boy, David, spoke to the giant, Goliath, in 1Samuel 17:46-47,  “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee… for the battle is the LORD’S.”

  Nowhere is the promise of His presence more powerfully illustrated than in Exodus 13-14, where Israel had just been delivered from their 430 year bondage in Egypt, and God led them out into the wilderness toward the “land of promise.”  The Bible declared that He went before them in “a pillar of cloud by day,… and a pillar of fire by night.”  The purpose of His manifested presence becomes obvious as we read the text: He wanted to maintain a high morale (Exodus 13:17-18), provide reassurance and guidance (13:20-22), and to protect them from their enemies (14:10-14).

  What our Lord did for His people Israel in the physical realm, He has promised to do for us in these times of spiritual warfare.  “…If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)”

  The Omnipresent Almighty is out front leading the way, and He is behind us, guarding our backs.  The outcome of the conflict has already been determined, and by faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin, you can be enlisted on the winning side!

No Hope

  Last year, a dear lady who attended our church when she was able, went home to be with the Lord.  As I met with her family, I shared this verse, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (1Thessalonians 4:13).”  In this passage, we were reminded of the wonderful promise that the souls of those who die, having accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, will go on living in His presence.  Paul said, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2Corinthians 5:8).”

  As described by God, Moses recorded the events that took place in the days of creation.  Consider how, “…the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7).”  Perhaps you have not considered the fact that a soul never dies.  The souls of those who have received God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, will enter into His presence, while the souls of those who reject God’s Son will be relegated to the “outer darkness” of Hell.   Time for repentance and salvation will have passed.  All hope will be lost.

  At the end of the age, God promises a resurrection program in which every soul will be reunited with his body.  “…there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (Acts 24:15).”  Again, those who have accepted God’s forgiveness will enter bodily into heaven, and those who reject God’s offer of forgiveness will be cast, body and soul, into “…the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41).”

  These truths should effect you in one of two ways:  If you are an unbeliever, you should feel an urgency about making ready for eternity.  Christ is the answer.  If you are a believer already, rejoice!  Your home is reserved in heaven and your deceased loved ones, who knew Christ, await you there.  Sorrow, yes, but not as others who have no hope.

Prayer

  Are you and God on speaking terms?  The Bible has much to say about prayer.  The book of James tells us, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16).”  The word translated “availeth” in this verse means, “has much force.”  Someone wisely said, “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.”  Peruse the prayers of the Bible and you will be amazed at their display of power.  History too, is replete with illustrious stories of how prayer changed the course of the world and the lives of the prayerful.

  Another verse that boggles the imagination is, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:2).”  According to this verse, divine aid and blessing is forfeited when we neglect prayer.  Consider for a minute how this truth might affect you.  For example: Let’s say you were about to take a trip and decided to pause for a moment and ask God to get you to your destination safely.  This verse says that your brief prayer could make the difference between having an accident or not.  Don’t misunderstand here; I’m not suggesting that prayer is like the proverbial genie in a bottle with a promise that your every wish will be granted.  We must remember that God uses the trials of life to make us more like Christ, nevertheless, some blessings are forfeited because I refuse to pray.

  We live in a day in which we truly need God’s intervention.  Our country is divided and economic strain is wide spread; churches have drifted away from the fundamental truths upon which they were established, and the family has been redefined, etc.  We need the Lord desperately!  Could it be that we have neglected our blood bought privilege called prayer?  Could it be that our nation, churches and families could be spared some of the turmoil and hardship that we face if you and I would give ourselves to prayer?  “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1John 5:14).”