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.
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.
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.
In 2 King’s 10:18-30 we read of king Jehu and when he first took over the Northern Kindom of Israel. He immediately executed all the priests of baal. If we only read this much we walk away thinking this guy was a great king, a real man of God. However when we read v31 we find that even though he did this and God rewarded him for that achievement, his heart was not for God.
What lies beneath the surface is very important. What motivates us and our moral flexibility are who we really are. They dictate if we are true followers of God or just using Him for our own purposes. Jehu hadn’t expected to be made king but when he was he took full advantage of it for himself. When God does something for us do we proceed for His glory or our own selfish desires?
When the new dock plates were installed at work the other day I watched how those guys did it. At first everything was going right. The materials were here and they had all the necessary tools to do the job. One guy took measurements and marked where everything should go.
Then I noticed something. Now my dad taught me how to weld many years ago and I admit I am out of practice. There is one thing you really need to do before you try to weld two pieces of metal together, you must clean the surfaces that are going to be welded together. These guys just slapped the first mounting bracket on and started to weld. It didn’t stick. Finally after welding a 6 inch stretch they had enough “good weld” to hold but not support. Eventually they welded all four sides of each of the first two brackets on to the building and drove around to do the other side. I told my boss that they didn’t clean the surfaces first and that had caused them problems. Either they figured it out or they heard me because they proceeded to clean the other side before trying to weld anything.
Salvation goes like this. First you get saved. That is the cleaning that must be done first. We all stand condemned in our sins before God, thus Jesus said in John 3:7 “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” and went on to say in v18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The good news is that once saved you are automatically cleaned, cleansed, and cleared from that one way ticket to hell! And like any “good weld” you don’t have to go back and redo it. The weld never breaks itself, an outside force must be applied. Here the only force capable of breaking your salvation is God Himself and He ain’t gonna go contrary to Himself and unsave you no matter how bad you are.
Those sins you make after salvation are the same as dirt and grime getting on the weld. Just wash it off! 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” no need to re-weld anything, just confess and move on for God!
At our depot yesterday we are getting new docking plates installed. The boss had me watch them being installed to see if we could do it ourselves and save some money. Everything the guys did I know how to do but I am on lite duty, so I can’t, and we don’t have some of the tools needed.
While I was watching though they started using a welder. Of course you can’t watch the actual welding going on without proper eyewear. So I turned my back. You could feel the electricity in the air on this humid summer morning.
It made me think of the revival that is going on now down in Burlington North Carolina. C. T. Townsend is being used by God mightily there. The meeting started in a church 7 weeks ago that holds 900 and they had to move it to a nearby field and put up a tent.
Churches are busing in people from all over! Last Friday night Kenny Baldwin preached the Youth Night service and they had over 5,100 people in attendance. Over 300 people so far have been saved so far!
God made Israel a promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I believe God extends that promise to His saved people too. People are hungry for God, there is electricity in the air down there and it is spreading some, let’s all pray it continues.
In Ruth 2:15,16 we read “And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.”
Boaz was not talking to Ruth here, in fact she had already gone back to work by this time. This commandment was to his servants. Those experienced men who had been with him for years. Boaz was now telling them to not only let Ruth glean in the field with them, right where the sheaves were being stacked, and they were to take some of the sheaves they themselves had worked so hard for and drop a couple here and there for Ruth to have.
Saints of God how much of what God has blessed you with are you passing on to the next generation? Preachers especially, the more experience you have the more you should be striving to pass on to the younger preachers around you. Do you have a ministry where you can spare some time for a new preacher to come in and get some experience? How about some books that this young fella can trust to read and help in his studies of God’s word?