As I sit here I have been wide awake for the past three hours, pain in mind neck from the accident that took place nearly two years ago is not helping any. Knowing that I need to get some sleep and that there is nothing I can do about it is very frustrating. I imagine I am not the only one who has to deal with this problem.
This level of frustration has got me to thinking about Noah there in Genesis. As we read his story we come to find out that it took him about 100 years to build that ark, gather supplies, gather the animals, and warn people to get in the ark. One hundred years and he only got seven other people to join him. How frustrating! All that work, all that effort for only eight total people to use the ark. He must have been so frustrated and maybe even a little depressed. With all that he did and practically no one cared. That ark was as much for t he rest of humanity at the time as it was his family and yet only they joined him in there.
As a preacher it is also very frustrating to get up behind the pulpit and preach your heart out and see so many in the pews seemingly not paying attention. Laboring to prepare the sermon, soaking it in prayer, and then giving it your all just to feel at the end of the invitation that you missed the mark. It really gets to you. What needs to be remembered is that God’s word will not return void, Isaiah 55:11, someone heard something that will stick with them. The result may not be seen for some time but God will see it through, our frustration will only be for what amounts to as a moment.
I was just reading in Genesis chapter 19 about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and it got me to thinking about Lot. Back in chapter 13 both he and Abraham had become so rich (wealth back then being defined by cattle not gold) that they had to go their separate ways in order for them to find enough pasture for their flocks. In chapter 14 those cities are conquered, Lot and his family are captured, and uncle Abraham has to ride to the rescue. Then chapter 19 takes place. There is no mention of Lot’s wealth only his civic job (judge at the gate) and the angels tell him to get all his family together and run, but no mention of all those servants he had had back in chapter 13. We know from the closing verses of chapter 19 that he has no more wealth otherwise his virgin daughters would not have had to get him drunk in order to have kids (on a side note, what would have happened if their plan failed the first time?).
What happened to those servants? Had they left his employ after the events of chapter 14? Did Lot buy his seat by trading them for it? Had they lead the mob to Lot’s door to rape the angels? Were they just so discussed with Lot that they didn’t believe him when his warning came (remember the angels asked if he had sons and whosoever thou hast v12)? Could that be why Abraham when he was pleading with God to not destroy the cities started with 50 because he figured a good part of Lot’s servants would be believer’s? Surely these missing servants died with the rest in Sodom, or even perhaps some had already moved on.
As I draw this to a close I can’t help but think about people who I have met over the years at church. People who have left the local assembly. Not those who moved away or relocated to a different church mind you. I am talking about those who have just gone missing. For whatever reason they left. Perhaps because they had their feelings hurt. Maybe they had come expecting one thing and when it didn’t go their way they gave up on their idea of God. Some left because of sickness or work and even after that stretch was over they just stayed where they were. Comfort can be a bad thing for a Christian and many have fallen into that trap as well. We need to pray for the missing, pray that they come back on the scene before God starts lighting His fire.
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.
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.
Philippians 2:8 “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
“obedient unto death” Jesus didn’t try to be raptured out like Enoch and Elijah were. For Him that would have been cheating. This was about our redemption and that redemption depended on His death. Which in this case was the lowest point someone can go, a common criminal’s cross.
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.
We have this guy at work who could honestly care less about time. I sincerely doubt his wrist has ever worn a wrist watch. In fact when you make a comment about time, even if you don’t mention time and time could only be loosely intended, he will look at said wrist and say “right on time”. He knows that the boss is waiting on him so that he can go home but this guy also knows that his time is just as important as the bosses time. None of it matters so long as the customer is propely taken care of.
In Matthew 24:36 Jesus answered the disciples questions about the coming destruction and the kingdom. Jesus told them that only His Father in Heaven knew the time. Then in Acts 1:6,7 after thevresurrection we read about a conversation that was also about time. The group of disciples wanting it to be now that Jesus would set up the kingdom and Jesus telling them now is not the time.
The hour is coming and it will be right on time, where will we be when it happens?