It should have already been done

So after several days of below normal cold weather that basically guaranteed Northwest Indiana a white Christmas, the temperature has risen above freezing. That or course means the compacted snow and ice are starting to melt a little. The resulting slush is heavy but it can be moved if necessary.

At our depot the snow removal crew did a lousy job of keeping up with the snow before our cars started showing up. That lead to everything still being covered with that same compacted snow. Now with the warmer temp my boss decided to go out and try to shovel some of it himself. Soon as I could I went out and took over, he has a heart condition. While I was out there I could actually see the guys playing around with their equipment and yeah it burned me a little because I was now doing what should have already been done.

It got me to thinking about the Apostle Paul and the church at Corinth. When one reads these two letters you kind of get the impression he was a little steamed himself at this bunch. There is a great deal of doctrine in those two letters but also a great deal of correction for those folks. In fact as you read 1st & 2nd Corinthians you come to realize this is more likely 2nd & 4th Corinthians with possibly a little bit of 3rd Corinthians added in. Paul was time and time again dealing with stuff at this church that should have been done already. People were on sight who shpuld have known better but it just wasn’t happening. They all had a heart condition, their hearts wanted to act worldly and not saintly so Paul had to step in yet again.

How many of us act that exact same way? Far too many I am afraid. God sends messengers to correct us and we straighten up for a couple of minutes. Then boom! Back to our “normal” whixh is no good. Let’s try to get ourselves right with God before He has to deal with us again on the same matter.

Avoiding God’s will

Often times we avoid God’s will due to just how scarry what we see is. The seemingly unavoidable destruction of what we hold dear is neyond our willingness to surrender. In Acts 27 we read a couple of interesting things in regards to God’s will for the 276 people on the boat.

First in verses 14 & 15 we read how the ship that was carrying the Apostle Paul was caught in a terrible storm, a hurricane. Then after many days Paul stood up and told every one that Jesus had promised to bring all the people ashore and that Paul would stand before Ceasar but that it was the will of God that the ship be destroyed (v22) and that they all would be cast on a certain island (v26).

The another thing we see is the crew doing what they could to preserve that same ship. Then finally the crew began to check the depth of the water and soon learned that even though they couldn’t see land that they were indeed approaching land. Big rocks and big ships don’t mix and they didn’t want that boat being destroyed if they got too close, so ww read in Acts 27:29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

It was God’s will for them to reach that island but they couldn’t do it with the boat. They loved it too much! Thus they did what they could to stop or avoid the will of God. This last time they threw overboard 4 anchors. Here us what I believe each of those anchors represent in our lives.

1. Fear. That unknown us too great. Faith is nice when things are going swell but when they ain’t what do we do?!? How can God let us come so close to ruin? Our minds focus solely on the negative aspects and we forget that God knows all and loves us so much that He Himself paid that aweful sin debt for us. Fear is indeed the opposite of faith.

2. Frustration. We get this way usually hecause we have been working so hard on things to go our way. All of our ducks are in a row then suddenly things begin to fall apart yet again. How can this constantly be happening we wonder. It seemed like this had been God’s plan and now it appears that He has changed His  mind. The best laid plans of man are not God’s plans and we must learn to accept that truth or we will never know the victory He has for us.

3. Fraility. As humans we are very frail when it comes to sin and we have tendencies to love our sin more than God. We carry this crutch around predominantly on display. I’m just a sinner saved by grace and I still sin. While it is good to acknowledge that stop trying to use it as an excuse to avoid God’s sovereign will for your life. Remember Jesus told that woman in Jihn 8:11 to go and din no more. He wasn’t telling her to never sin again but to stop habitually sinning, stop relying on her frailty.

4. Foresight. Our foresight. We think we see something better and instead of going with what God has for us we go with what we know. Trouble is what we see is very shortsighted and misleading. Going back to faith, it is not what we see that counts but what God sees. We are told to walk by faith and not sight for a reason (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our foresight can’t comprehend eternal truths and will always fall far short because of it.

Bear in mind that Paul declared that the people were all going to end up on a CERTAIN island and not just any old place. God’s will was for them to reach that certain island. It ended up with some swimming ashore while others arrived using broken pieces of the ship to help them stay afloat. How much time and energy are we wasting by avoiding God’s will? Had they just gone forward the ship would have been lost on the shore of the island and they would have arrived a bit more safely than they did.

Committed?

I stood outside the other in the rain. Actually it wasn’t much of a rain more of a sprinkle and I only was able to do it for a few minutes. The sky was dark like it could really start pouring any minute but it just stayed that way and some time after I went back in it stopped altogether. Guess neither me nor rain clouds were all that committed to the deed.

While I was there though I did enjoy it. As I have said before I enjoy taking walks in the rain and in general a light rain like that I like being in but I was also busy with other things and didn’t have the time for it. In hindsight it reminded me of a verse in the book of Jude. When we get down to verse 12 Jude is describing the apostates those who are not living for God but self. In the middle of the verse he calls them “clouds they are without water, carries about of winds”. They have no ability to be of help because they have no water in them to tain down. These individuals because they look one way but act another are are useless for people follow for leadership and being carried about however the wind blows shows they have no commitment to anything. 

How are we with our commitment? Do we follow through or are we easily able to jump from one task to another without completing the prior one? Having ideas are good, getting started is great, but staying with it following through to completion is a must. Without that we really have nothing to show for it.

National tragedy

If I heard correctly the high school freshman class of 2016/17 are being taught about 9/11 as purely history. They were not alive yet when it happened. Personally I was born in the seventies and just 30 years or so after World War II that might as well have happened centuries before. I mean no disrespect to the greatest generation, it simply is point of view. Now to fathom how this crop of high schoolers views 9/11 is madness to me.

I remember the events of the night before and how I tired I was the next day. Remembering the door bell ringing to wake up because an “horrific accident” had just happened. Our slumber was disturbed and for a little while we were just Americans. Of course that didn’t last long.

I am reminded of a national tragedy that occurred many centuries ago to Israel. The event is recorded in 1 Samuel 4. Israel went to battle against the Philistines. They were losing at 1st but got the big idea to go get the Ark of the Covenant and use it like a “good luck charm”. At first the enemy was afraid but once the battle started they easily beat the Israelites. Many were killed, including the priests who brought the Ark, and the Ark was captured. When word reached Shiloh where the tabernacle was located Eli the high priest and father of the slain priests was devastated at the loss of his boys but it was the news that the Ark was captured that killed him. The news was so bad that his daughter in law went into labor and in verse 21 we read this: And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

That was indeed a terrible day but there was a man who used it to do something for God. His name was Samuel. Over the next 20 years he lead the people in a nation wide revival and got the people moving back toward God.

Good can come from tragic events but only by determination. Our enemy wants us to be apathic God wants us to march forward in His power and Spirit. If you have already been beaten get back up and go for God. Better to die on the firing line then collect spiritual dust on the side line.

Elijah’s sermon

In 1 Kings 18 we see the prophet Elijah going to deliver a sermon. In v20 the people have been gathered together and in v21 Elijah gives the introduction to his sermon, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, then follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” Elijah was looking for a response from the people. A sermon should be given with the idea of getting a response. Now maybe by the time the sermon is over nobody comes to the altar but we should keep in mind that people may be praying in their seats. That the sermon will continue to resonate with someone long after the last amen has been said. Cold hearts however don’t like to respond and here that was the case because no one gave any sort of answer.

The body of his sermon consisted of his challenge to the false prophets, what was to be provided, the expected production, his mocking of the paralysis of Baal, their pleadings ignored, and the path of true worship.

His conclussion came when the fire fell and consumed the sacrifice, the soaked wood, the stones, and the stored water in the trench. He called upon the people once again to make up their minds. What he didn’t do was just say, the fire has fallen and that’s all I got! No, he wanted them to respond so he provoked them to respond. The people had already declared twice that the LORD is God but that wasn’t enough. Actions speak louder than words. That is why an altar call is given, to allow people to step out and make the decision real. Elijah didn’t stop with them confessing the LORD is God he wanted them to prove it by removing the sin literally from their lives. The only way to do that was to follow God’s judgment and kill the false prophets and they did just that.

Are we preaching for a response or just to hear ourselves talk?

In a dark place

In 2 Kings chapter 2 the time had come for Elijah to leave this world. As he and his servant, Elisha, made his final tour of the phophet school several men came up to Elisha asking if he knew that God was gonna take Elijah home today. He already knew it, they it seems didn’t know that Elisha was to be the next mightily used prophet. So it seems that Elijah’s time was not a very well kept secret.

At the moment I do not have a topigrapghical map in front of me to know for sure if this was an actual valley that they were transversing. I do know that Elisha was walking through an emotional valley and each person who came up to him to “break the news” to him only made it darker for him. Why no one is recorded as offering him a word of encouragement is unknown. I suppose these young guns were just excited to be “in on” the big secret, to be part of the clik, “in the know”, or to be one of the   preachers. At any rate their excitement not only overshadowed the coming event but only made things harder for one of their own.

Why couldn’t one or more of them make an effort to speak with Elisha about how he was feeling? Were they really that blind to one of their own in his pain? Perhaps they just expected him to speak up if he was hurting not realizing he may not have known how. All their words succeeded in doing was to get him to ask them to be quite. 

I have been that way so many times myself. Wanting my preacher friends to include me but always feeling like a fool for even trying. Being such an outcast, knowing that no matter what I will never fit in with their clik. Walking around so depressed I can’t stand myself and everyone around is having themselves a grand time. Even now feeling this way. Wondering if anyone in my life will actually read this. Spiritually I am cold, tired, and running on fumes.

It’s easy to ignore people. Even more so when they are in a dark place and don’t know how to speak up. I know people will say they are not mind readers so how can they know. If I had that answer I wouldn’t be here now.

Picking up the pieces

Clean up duty involves having to clean up someone else’s mess.occasionally we have to pick up the pieces left from a destruction that we had nothing to do with.

It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

It reminded me of a king that the Kingdom of Judah had toward the end of their run. In 2 Kings 22 after 18 years on the throne this 26 year old king realized that there was a spiritual problem and it was represented by the damage and vandalism of Solomon’s Temple. So he sent men to go clean it up and make repairs. In so doing they discovered a copy of the Law. Inside it’s pages they learned that judgment was coming for the nation because they had been disobedient to God.

Josiah wisely chose to seek spiritual counselor. To see if it was possible to pick up the pieces that his ancestors had been leaving in their wake. Because he sought God God rewarded his hearts desire and held off on His judgment until a later time.

The same can be done in our own lives, if we will come back to God. Some things we won’t be able to avoid while others can be held off on. The only way we will know for sure what will happen is to call upon God for forgiveness and mercy.