As I was sitting in the passenger seat of our car waiting for my wife to return from a store I noticed our side mirror. On it was printed these words “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” and it caught my attention. I have been driving for over twenty years professionally and even longer on a regular basis but it has been a while sense I have paid close attention to those words. When I am driving by habit I incorporate those words into my decisions but nothing more. Their warning is clear and all, but long ago I stopped reading them.
It got me to thinking about James 1:23,24 and the clear warning the apostle is giving us. Those verses say this “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. That word glass can also be translated mirror. We look into the mirror and see what needs to be seen. What do we do with that information though? I fear far too many Christians are on autopilot, we hear the sermon or do our Bible reading and yet instead of applying what information the mirror of God’s word gives us we just keep on doing as we please. And that is the trouble. Even if we recognize that the potential exists for problems to arise we are on autopilot, stuck in our habit, or what not and fail to realize just how close to a wreck, to sin, we are until it is too late. The mirror told us it was closer than we thought but we thought better of our human self. For example, we see that sin and we can handle it or God tells us to do something and we think we have plenty of time to do it. Turns out the mirror was right and we were wrong.
The mirror also makes no bones about it’s message either. In bold letters it declares OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. Aside from the possibility of sin I can think of two other things that message can allude to for us the reader. One is that of the destination. In that mirror I can see part of the store my wife went into and when she returns I can see her. Jesus said He will return for us (John 14:3). The mirror of His word tells us this clearly. Secondly because I am close enough to read the message I must be close enough to use it. Which reminds me of a promise made back in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” No matter how far away a child of God gets away from Him we are still closer to Him than we think! Just a prayer away. It’s just a matter of remembering Jesus will always take us back.
John 3:19,20 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
There is a song lyric out there that says “the night is on my side” and I would say the song I am thinking of is talking about being a rebel. Whenever I see a bar or club in a movie or t.v. show they are always pictured as being dark inside. In fact it used to be in westerns the bad guy always wore a black hat. Everything pointing to the darkness and whether people wish to admit it or not the darkness of the soul. Even trying to wear all black clothes is us trying generally trying to hide our weight, which spiritually agains has the potential to suggest we are hiding how lightweight we are in that area of our lives.
Did you know we cannot create darkness? It is true. Even when we turn the lights off we are not in actuality making it dark. Our mind says we are but truth be told all we are doing is turning off the light. We can dim the light or we can turn the light on so high it can blind a person but we cannot turn on the darkness. Darkness is the absence of light.
In the darkness of the womb we are conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5). That darkness reprents the darkness of our souls because thanks to sin we are all born spiritually dead. Contrast that with Jesus, who through the power of the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35) His human body was conceived thus no sin in Him. Jesus came into this sin filled world as the Light (John 8:12). Light to shine into our blackened souls to reveal to us our hellbound condition.
Because of that hellbound condition we are in desperate need of His light. The problem with that is that people kinda like the way they are and don’t want to leave their confortable darkness. They believe the darkness is on their side. It feels good where they are at and they don’t see any need to change. What they are missing because of shortsightedness is that the darkness of this world which has the light of Jesus in it will one day end in Hell which is described as a place of outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). That means the darkness will become visible to them, no light at all for the rest of eternity. Darkness so thick you can feel it. Yes I know Hell is supposed to be fire so how can there be such darkness? Because the fire there will be so hot it will burn up the light normally generated and the payment for the sins of this life will insure a person there is never able to finally die (Romans 6:23).
The darkness is on nobody’s side. Jesus asks that we put our trust in Him and His light and be saved. Have you? If not, will you?
In John 4:4,6 we find that the Bible said that Jesus needed to go through Samaria and tgat His body was tired from the long journey so He sat on a well. There to His disciples it looked like He was waiting for them to return with lunch but in reality He was waiting for a certain woman. She had no claim to Him as that she was a Samaritan woman, a half breed at best (part Jewish and part Gentile).
This woman was coming to the well at the weong time of day because even in her own community she was an outcast, a sinner’s sinner. A five time divorcee and currently shacked up with a fellow who she wasn’t married to. Everyone in her village knew all about her. By the way so did this Jew! To make matter stranger He asked her for a drink of water, something no self respecting Jew would do. Good thing He wasn’t into His self like so many humans are.
Jesus was there waiting for her because He loves every human being who has ever lived, is currently living, and is yet to be born. The plan that God has was for Jesus to come and die on the cross so that anyone who was willing to come to where He is waiting for them can be saved.
Saved from what? In a word death and not our physical death. Nor is it our spiritual death either because we were all born spiritually dead. No, I am talking about eternal death where a person will suffer body, soul, and spirit for eternity. Our sins guarantee us this death (Romans 6:23). No one was ever good enough nor will no one ever be good enough (Romans 3:10,23) to escape the sin debt we owe God. There is only one way to avoid eternal death and that is by accepting Jesus as our Saviour (Romans 10:9,10) while there is still breath in our lungs. Yes, Jesus is waiting for you and all tou have to do is ask Him and He’ll do it (Romans 10:13).
I was thinking the other day about what advice I would share with a young preacher who was just starting out. Three things came to mind. Each of which I wish someone had shared with me when I first started out. While I don’t know the extent of the change it would have made for me I know the right advice would have gone a long way.
My first piece of advice would be this. When it comes to what a God called man is to preach, God has already told you what to preach. He has given you 66 books in one volume called the Bible. Stay on your knees in prayer with your nose in the good book. You don’t have to look for the eight-run home run sermon, just give ’em Jesus.
The second piece of advice would be in regards to opportunity. That is, take advantage of every opportunity. Don’t hide behind the line that you are not good enough yet to go out somewhere, that you need more seasoning. If God called you and you have been faithful to study and not just have opinions and traditions then God will be with you. A young preacher may not feel up to the challenge of an invitation, but I would urge them to take it. The opportunity they pass on may be the same one someone like me would be begging to have.
Lastly, and just as importantly as the first two. Please young preacher ask questions. Don’t just assume that the older more experienced preachers will just open up the flood gates of knowledge to you of their own accord. They tend to not remember how it was to be that inexperienced. There is knowledge and wisdom there but you most likely will have to tap into it yourself verses them taking you under their wing.
I am reminded of what Paul wrote over in 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Paul just listed four generations in this one verse. How much Paul brought out on his own verses how muxh Timothy had to dig out of the apostle on his own I don’t know, doesn’t matter anyway. The point is that there was knowledge there and each preacher has the responsibility to get all that he can and pass on all that he can.
I heard a preacher say one time that we had best learn to get along with our co-workers because if we don’t God will make sure you two get stuck together. With that in mind I must confess that there is a group of men where I work that I don’t see eye to eye with. For the record I am a union member, where I work is a union business, my local is in need of more members, and I was always taught that if you work at a union shop you must be a union member. Long story short this group of guys are not union member, which puts me at odds with them.
However over the past few months I have had to deal directly with them more than normal. Yes they are just as human as I am, which is no surprise, but they are still non-union workers in a union shop but I am getting over that. I can’t change what they are but I can work with them, even dare I say work a little with them. As part of my transition back to my normal job I have had my hours changed to where I come in earlier and help our shippers ship the product to the drivers. Part of this new responsibility includes shipping some of their product. For me that is a little weird, bad enough I am shipping but also shipping to these guys!?! We do have a common goal though. All of us want to make a living to support our families.
This got me to thinking about who in the Bible were some “opposites” who had to learn to work together? David and Jonathan come to mind. Jonathan is the crown prince yet he knew David had been choosen by God Himself to be the nect king, 1 Samuel 23:17. These two agreed to work together even though Jonathan knew he was getting the short end of the stick. The over all goal was more important, they knew they had to follow God’s will for their lives and for their nation.
Still though they didn’t have that difference of opinion like me and the non-union guys. That lead me to think about to of Jesus’ disciples. Matthew the publican and Simon Zealotes. Simon Zealotes was as pro-Israel as you can get while Matthew the publican had “betrayed” Israel by going to work for the Roman’s as one of their tax collector’s. Early on it must have been somewhat uncomfortable for these two to work together. Not even much of a stretch to think that they did their best to be as far apart as possible but still they hung in there. Personally I kinda picture it taking Jesus at the last supper washing everybody’s feet before it really started to click for them. The idea that they have a common goal and a common employer (God). Their past was in the past and now a day would soon come for them when they would work together, Pentecost, both giving out the good news that Jesus saves. Then one day coming to understand that salvation was not just for the Jews but for all mankind, so long as they would accept the free gift. Yeah even those two could get along, they needed common ground and that was found at the foot of the cross.
Recently we had a weekend filled with snow. As the weather allowed I did my best to keep up. With my daughter being in a wheelchair it is all the more important that we keep the walkways clear. However it came to the point on Sunday afternoon where I had to go to bed, this meant there would be more snow to shovel when I got up around midnight for work. Sure enough there was about an inch of heavy weight snow. As quickly as I could I cleared a path to our cars and headed off for work.
When I got home though things were different. That heavy weight snow had frozen up due to the drop in temperature. The good news was that everything I had shoveled before work was still clean. While the bad news was the snow plow had come through and pushed some snow back over the section of road that had been cleared dor my daughter to get on and off the bus in her chair. Cars had driven through and the neighbor had also backed over the freezing snow turning it to hardened ice. There was no time to try using salt to melt the ice. Experience had taught me that at this point I need my ice breaker and shovel. That ice breaker would chip away at the ice and the shovel would move the broken off pieces put of the way.
I would love to say I cleared the area of ice by the time my daughter came home, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Still though I did bust up some ice which opened up a little of needed area. Those parts where the ice was too hard I worked on chopping grooves into it to allow our boots a means of gripping the ice instead of only dealing with that super slick surface.
While I was working away I got to thinking about John the Baptist. Over in Mark 1:3 he was described as the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” his call was to “prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” He wasn’t the voice of all nor were multitudes gathered saying the same thing as he was, he was just one voice doing what he could. His task was similar to mine in a way, we both had to prepare the way for the arrival of someone important, it’s just that his person was vastly more important than mine. For the brief amount of time he had John did what he could with what little he had. We actually have more than him as that we have the complete Bible and that Jesus has already come the first time. Whixh brings me to my next point, that being Jesus is coming again soon. It is our duty to prepare the way for Him into people’s hearts. Because the next time He comes for those who are not saved it will be too late. Chip away at the cold hearts with what you got about eternal salvation, it might make all the difference and keeping them from falling into Hell one day.
During my time spent on light duty one of the tasks I have is to throw out the stale bread from the warehouse. The stale bread that the drivers bring back they are supposed to throw out themselves. One day I got started late due to other responsibilities. As a result I was still pitching the old bread when the drivers began coming back with rheir stale. Since I was already doing this task I just told the drivers to leave it there and I would take care of it. They were thankful because it meant they didn’t have to do it themselves and got to leave that much sooner. Those fellas didn’t ask for it I just volunteered to do it. It wasn’t even a matter of that they deserved it either, in fact I could have easily jusr stepped aside and let them work for themselves, but in all honesty I just felt like doing it (more of the Holy Spirit directing me so I could write about it).
Humanly speaking I am sure this is not the first time in human history that something like that has happened nor will it most likely be the last either. Spiritually speaking though I do have a by far greater example of that principle. Paul wrote about it in Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
None of us asked God to do anything for us. We each had a job to do which to be perfectly honest not one human being could ever do for themself. That job was to fulfill the law and thereby save ourselves but as I said we couldn’t do it. In fact we would never have asked God to do it either because we are such sinful creatures. Without God doing what He did we would never have had a chance for salvation.
I didn’t ask for it yet He made a way for me to be saved. While we are at it I didn’t even know that I needed Him but yet He sent someone to tell me that I needed Him. Jesus came to this Earth to buy salvation for a world that didn’t ask Him for it. The hardest part of salvation is done, all that is required of man is to accept His free gift which He does ask that we do.