As I look around our world today, I see how really fragile is our life here on planet Earth. I am certainly not a prophet, nor do I wish to try to interpret the events of the day. However, I am beginning to think that the oft quoted words of Tocqueville are having a haunting effect on our current events. This old world continues to be a scary place at times. For those who are suffering from the economic downturn, troubles loom large on the horizon. Who knows what kind of bumps in the road lay ahead of us? I think Pope Benedict got it right! "We Christians" must repent of sins (ours and those of our nation) and recognize mistakes!!!!" Perhaps we flew through the unseen cloud of volcanic ash and our engines flamed out and with them the heat that should be radiating from the pulpit. Instead of the seeker finding salvation, perhaps many find only a millstone cleverly disguised by the enemy. Take a moment today to pray for our nation in a way befitting the attention of Him Who sit upon the throne of Whom the angels sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy."
They are torn from the security of their homes and are brought down to the king of terrors. (Job 18:14 NLT)
We still often search the clouds for the wrath of God to come thinking we have time while all the while judgment has already been pronounced! Death reigns! It remains, as Bildad describes, "the King of Terrors." We need look no further than the nearest cemetery to see wrath inflicted. There is no escape even for the infant who "did not sin in the same way that Adam" solely because of sin imputed from Adams fall. Were it not for the second Adam we would all be lost to eternal separation, the King of Terrors indeed! But for those who are in Christ Jesus, we have the eternal blessing of forever knowing Him who set us free from the bondage of sin and death. Not only so, but also to be able to share from the "hope that is within us" the amazing love we have thus experienced with those around us!
What then shall we choose? Shall we do as the "Heavy Metal" lyrics ascribe and turn death into an object of worship believing that there is nothing beyond the grave. Is that the end of our created being to become worm food? If we evolved out of the primordial soup and have no reason for being except the random act of untamed amino acids then hope is a star trek myth. If however, we are created in the image of the Most High, then perhaps hope is real and Christmas is the greatest gift of all! God come down as a man to save us from our sins!
Sin comes before transgression. With the nation fixated upon the energy crisis you with think that the delusional ramblings of what now masquerades as journalism would refrain from large atmospheric releases of hot air in order to prevent further global warming. However, what really transpires is the continuous Neanderthal homological chest pounding focused upon convincing homosapiens (Latin: wise humans) that perversion is merely the natural extension of orderly Darwinian evolution. The argument used in a recent news magazine is that Jonathan and David were CLOSE friends. Therefore, it is completely permissible to engage in licentious and lascivious conduct. If that were truly the case then we should all commit adultery with Bathsheba and have Uriah the Hittite killed to cover up an unwanted pregnancy in order to exercise planned parenthood. When Jesus said, "let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone" He also said, "go and sin no more!" The reprobate mind thus becomes the swine looking for pearl casters. Except for Grace we would all be in the pit for our foot would "slip in due time." The fact that Jesus came into the world to save sinners does not imply anywhere in Scripture that He condones sin for the purpose of inclusion. He came to save us from our sin not to leave us to expire in the midst of it. I suppose that it would be good here to list a few verses:
Back in Chapter One we mentioned that the wrath of God was being revealed against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness. We ought not be surprise that our ever descending society wishes to replace the wisdom of the Almighty with that of our own and like Israel become lost in the midst of our own sin. Sin is the judgment! We have been "abandoned" in our own sin to do what is right in our own eyes (Romans 1:24, Judges 21:25 paraphrase mine)
I have heard it said that life is all mind over matter. “If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” (Mark Twain) In the midst of a universe, that from my humble perspective, whose length, breadth and depth are seemingly immeasurable, how can I matter at all? And if my plight should bring me to picturesque mountain top or dark and cavernous valley, what matter?
I had occasion to “recline in the grass” of late for an extended period of time. Truth be known, I am lying there still. More thought provoking yet, I will be lying there for all eternity. If the Lord tarries, then those who come after me may see the end of all matter, yet the "only immortal, invisible, God only wise" will live on and we with Him who have believed in His only begotten Son.
Perhaps the events of life ought to be looked upon as an opportunity for God's love to bless. I have often found myself saying, "God is good" after seeing a joyous event in the lives of His people. But wasn't He also good at the memorial service for the dearly departed? Was His goodness somehow absent as I celebrated my 60th birthday not knowing that a cancer was growing within? Some days later, prostrate in the surgical suite, as well-trained hands deftly removed the “poisoned pill” from my kidney and preserved some of its function, was goodness lacking? Yet only an hour before, another sojourner lost this same organ and was put upon a path of longsuffering and uncertainty called chemotherapy. Was my fate now changed? Or was it only illuminated?
I cannot testify for others but for me His love surrounded me in ways that defy description. Though He did make me lie down in green pastures, I was not alone. Family, friends, elders, and pastor were physically present there with me. I felt the warmth of the prayers of the thousands of saints who were interceding for me "in light inaccessible hid from our eyes." Not only these but "most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, almighty, victorious," whose great Name I "praise" was also there in our midst.
Where could I choose to go that would be better than to recline in the grass prepared for me in a universe created by Him, for Him and through Him where, because of His "clouds which are fountains of goodness and love," my life matters. It matters to Him!
Is life better if it is longer? Or does the child who dies while yet in the womb held less precious by Him who “To all, life thou givest, to both great and small; in all life thou livest, the true life of all.” When we are allowed to sojourn in green pasture, it is during this reclining that we are able to see Him more fully. Though our gaze be veiled for now, the light revealed to us is most precious! It is the hope upon which we cling until that day when we are allowed to gaze fully upon His face — the face of Him who died for us.
When that day comes, would it not be made more blessed because we have remembrance of the blood moon of Calvary? Will not the first gaze be given greater grandeur because of the travail of tears shed in living sacrifice by the mercies of God?
Peter is right when he reminded us:
We often wrestle with the origin of our present estate. But here clearly is established that sin entered the world through the disobedience of our paradisiac parents. We commit sins because we are sinners (not the other way around). Wesley even reminds us that infants are not excepted. Did we ever have to teach our children to lie, cheat, steal or demonstrate selfishness? To the contrary, we had to spend much time in their training in righteousness. The Scripture is replete with examples of our true nature and death being its consequence. And because of our nature, death came into this satanically controlled world and continues to reign. That is why we needed a Savior!
We often hurry past this amazing verse and in doing so miss out on the revelation of the Greatest Gift Ever Given! What is more amazing than Jesus Himself living in me? The airwaves are replete with country songs sharing the heartaches of unrequited love or love lost. I think as believers we settle for the counterfeit deception that is "mere milk and water" of sorts. If our relationship with the Savior cannot be described as an "ecstasy of love and delight" then we have been deceived already! Fear not because this union with Christ Jesus is available to "everyone who believes"!
Notice that the purpose of "Peace on Earth" is Christian civilization NOT Christian Government. Senator Colquitt endeavors to express that the principal purpose of the Christian faith toward the state is to temper politics and statesmanship NOT to establish a state religion. Yet today, in a government sans Christ in particular and hostile to all things religious, what we have is ill-tempered and waxes more vitriolic with each passing day.
Is Christ my friend and portion because I have embraced Him as such? OR Am I able to embrace Him because He is my friend and portion? I oftentimes struggle with whether I am able to see in the flesh what is wrought in the Spirit. I suppose this is part of the ever present tension we will face as long as blood pulses through our veins. Jonathan Edwards captured this in his book, The Religious Affections. He said that we will have a great many affections because of our relationship with Christ. But the fact that we have affections does not mean that they are holy affections! We have been brought into this wondrous membership in the Body of Christ by the death of its Head! How much more will we be nourished by Him who lives and is seated in honor at the right hand of the Father? In the flesh we remain dead. We must remember this lest we stumble and fall because of self-deception. Only in the Spirit are we alive with Christ as our head!
Not to take this verse out of context, but rather to see ourselves in the midst of blindness that comes from self will. Can you see the fruitless energy expended in looking for the door when our eyes cannot see the hand of the Almighty in our midst. How often do we dance like the Tasmanian devil cartoon character at each confrontation from the world that comes our way.
If we are hard groping for the door, it is because we cannot see. If we cannot see, then our eyes are damaged and the darkness covers us like a veil. Our eyes have drawn in the sunlight and its unseen spectrum has, without our knowing, caused a slow degeneration to occur. Why? Because the light we saw was really darkness. Therefore, guard your eyes against the darkness in this world that masquerades as light.