While It Is Day

As the days grew shorter and shorter recently, I found myself reflecting on the things I wished I could do, but could not, because it was now dark. I long for the extended days of light when I could do the things that I want to do and need to do.

These days will come again, but the question that remains is, will I make the most of them when they arrive? Have I learned the lesson from the extra hours that I had to spend in the dark? Will I make hay while the sun shines? Will I accomplish the work that I need to do while I have the light to do it?

What about the Church? Will we be productive and fruitful while we have the opportunity to do the Work? Will we perform the work that God has placed in our hands and has given us the responsibility to accomplish? In John 9:4, we read Christ’s words, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

There was a time when we had more of the day in front of us, but now the night is near. Do we feel the deadline approaching? Is the onus of that which is ahead weighing heavily upon us? Are we motivated by the fact that we have made a commitment to do the work that God has given to each of us individually?

In Matthew 21:28-31, we read this, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

The answer is obviously the one that repented of his wrong attitude and eventually did the work.

Right now it is still day, but we are rapidly approaching the twilight of the Work, and then it will be night. It may then be too late to do the work effectively that we will have to give an account for (Romans 14:11-12). Without delay, let us follow the example of Christ and work the works of Him who gave us this great calling… while it is day.

Groping in the Dark

When the lights go out and we are left in the pitch black, typically the first thing we search for is a source of light – a flashlight, a candle, etc. Without light, we are prone to stumble and fumble. Sometimes the smallest things will trip us up in our quest to find what we are looking for. Also, along the way we will grasp several wrong items as we probe for the right one.

Spiritually speaking, the same condition currently exists today. There is a pitch black that has descended upon this world. Because of it, people are wandering blindly, grabbing and taking a hold of whatever they run into, believing it to be a means of helping themselves.

In the darkness, they have grabbed a hold of guns for protection; politicians or parties for guidance; money for deliverance; man-made or contrived philosophies for salvation; science for true knowledge; war for accomplishing peace; poisons for healing; the unjust for justice; and the list goes on and on as the blind continue to follow the blind.

The world as an overwhelming whole has rejected the ONE thing that can shed light on these subjects and give us the answers we are looking for: God and His Way as outlined by the Bible. Of course, those who have not read and studied the pages of the “Owner’s Manual” will scoff at the idea that this could possibly be the solution for the ills of mankind.

Isaiah describes the condition of man in this way: “Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places” (Isaiah 59:9-10).

BUT, before we begin to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, we need to reflect on whether we still have blind-spots, things God wants us to see, but that we cannot notice because we are not walking completely in the light? Do we see everything clearly that we need to, or is it vague because we have not come completely out of the shadows?

We were once floundering in the dark, trying out the misdirected ways of the world, but God in His mercy has turned on the light for us, “in the hope that [we] might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…” (Acts 17:27).

“A Work”

Radio had its Golden Age and then Television had its turn. Now the emerging media of the last 10 years has no doubt been the Internet. Never has there been a time when we can reach so many so easily.

One of the main topics that we have to address every year is how we go about fulfilling the commission of Matthew 28:19-20 which as most, if not all, of you know is “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

In thinking about the mediums available for preaching the Gospel to the world, we are moving forward in our effort to utilize the Internet to a greater extent. We will, of course, continue evaluating other means of getting the Gospel out. We are very excited at the myriad of possibilities. As we quickly finish the projects that we are currently undertaking, we plan to delve into several other endeavors.

“No” Is Not Negative

Sometimes, when we come before God in the right manner–petitioning Him fervently, obediently, faithfully, humbly and persistently–the answer that we will receive will be, “No.”
God has said “No” to many before us and will continue to do so for those that may come after us. But “No” shouldn’t be viewed in a negative way.

Often we are unaware of how our request can and will impact our future and the plan of God, and we won’t understand why we got the response that we did. Perhaps, there will be a time in the future when we learn why things didn’t work out the way we thought they should have. But for the time being, we need to realize that God is completely and totally in charge of our life, and we can take solace and comfort in the fact that the right things are going to happen at the right time.

We need to view a seemingly negative answer in a positive way. God knows what is best for us. What He does, He does in love and for our own good. We need to have faith in this! When God says, “No,” it is for our growth and character. Innately, our hearts are deceitful and there is a way that seems right to us, but isn’t (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 14:12). We need to trust God implicitly.

Instead of becoming upset, we need to look at going in a different direction; knock on other doors; move on with our life; and don’t become stuck in a quagmire of uncertainty. We ought to pray: “Teach me your ways, show me your path,” and then take any course corrections in stride.

God DOES hear the righteous (Psalm 34:15, 17). We need to keep in mind that in the end, God wants us to become immortal members in His Kingdom. He will do what it takes to make sure that we are successful. It is not necessary to live a life of luxury, but it is of paramount importance to build character purified by fire.

We should take every opportunity to glimpse into the mind of God and see what He wants for us. When we pray, we need to ask for the strength and wherewithal to accept, learn and move on when God says, “No.”

Fatal Sequence

The “fatal sequence” of an empire is most commonly attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler. It states that a nation progresses as follows:

From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage
From Courage to Liberty
From Liberty to Abundance
From Abundance to Selfishness
From Selfishness to Complacency
From Complacency to Apathy
From Apathy to Dependency
From Dependency back into Bondage

There may be debate as to whether they all have followed this course, but when looking at it, there are some undeniable accuracies. For some time now the English speaking countries have been the dominant empires. So this begs the question, where might we be in Tytler’s cycle?

If we are honest, we would have to say that we are near the end… in more ways than one. We are near the end of the list as well as being near “The End.” The Bible long ago predicted that the end-times would come and that there would be indicators that we are living in those times. Those events are presently happening all around us, and harbingers of future events are becoming clearer every day.

There is no question that these prophecies are going to take place and this present day empire will come to an end. This WILL happen! What is not clear is whether we as individuals will get caught up in the surge and suffer the same fate.

What are our tendencies? Is it to head towards bondage and away from godliness? Or is it to head towards spirituality and away from carnality? As we live in this world and walk through it, is the world wearing off on us or are we wearing off on it?

In the parable of the sower, Christians are warned about “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22)–that they will choke off the Word of God and cause us to become unfruitful. If we succumb to these temptations, then we are in danger of receiving a great trial and tribulation (Matthew 24:21) to help get us back on the track.

We have been given a tremendous blessing in the calling and knowledge that has been bestowed upon us. Matthew 13:16-17 says: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

God brought us out of bondage and led us to the spiritual faith of Christ where He has given us courage, liberty and abundance in His way of life. Now we must be ever vigilant not to be caught in the vicious circle that leads back to the ignominy of bondage. Where are we in this “fatal sequence”?

True Freedom

We have no doubt heard it loftily said that “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We are accustomed to believing that we are free – and we are in many ways unconstrained to do what we want, but does this make us really free?

We are free to make choices, but not all choices make us free. There is one Way that does, and many others that do not. Of course it is God’s Way that truly frees us, and Satan’s that truly enslaves us.

When we follow the path that the devil has enticingly put before us, it seems pleasant for a time – this is how he sells the lies that he is pawning. In the end, whether we know it or not, there are dire consequences for choosing these falsehoods. They lead to sorrow, pain, damage, destruction and ultimately in all cases to death. His ultimate goal is to thwart the plan of God any way that he can, and he will stop at nothing to frame his lies as truth.

It is God’s truth and only His Way that can free us from the penalties of sin that we can become bound by in both the short and long term. This is how we are truly made free! We have the opportunity to reap the benefits of this now, as well as qualify to be a part of the Kingdom and the Family of God later.

If we weigh our actions against the commands of the Bible and choose wisely, not only will we be free from sin, but we will be free to enjoy the fruits and blessings that come with doing what is right. Then we can truly stand in the liberty by which Christ can and does make us free (Galatians 5:1).

Probation

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was recently released from prison, where he served eight years for giving a fatal injection to a 52 year old man who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. What he did was wrong in the eyes of God, and the judicial system in the USA agrees, hence the jail time.

The interesting aspect of this whole ordeal is that Kevorkian went into the penal system a rebellious and defiant man of 71 years of age and came out as a 79 year old who was still just as brash, gruff and combative as ever.

While his time in the penitentiary did manage to keep him off the streets, it did little to make the man, known as Dr. Death, penitent. Of course, this is nothing new. Most do not come out of correctional facilities “corrected.” If anything, some going in come out “better” criminals.

What does it take then to rehabilitate a person from his errant ways?

It takes a conviction that what we are doing is wrong, and then a conversion to become a “new” person. The only way that this can truly be accomplished is by the power of God working in our lives and giving us the recognition of who and what we are, and then, who and what we can become. The heart is naturally contrary to the way of God (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:18-20), but with the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be transformed (Psalms 51:10; Ezekiel 11:19).

Some today have been given this insight to see themselves as God sees them. The question now is, what does He see? Is it the same attitudes and actions that were present at the beginning of their rehabilitation or is it a “new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)?

Citius, Altius, Fortius!

These three Latin words mean “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” and are a continuing motto for the Olympics. Once every four years it is truly amazing to witness some of the feats that are accomplished. These athletes continue to out-do previous records, some of which were thought to be unassailable. In many cases it is a testimony to what can be accomplished if someone puts their mind to it.

As we compete in the Christian Olympics, we also must continue to grow and do better on a continual basis (compare 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:1-2; Psalm 92:12).

Swifter
We are running in a race towards a prize. We are not to run lackadaisically or half-heartedly, but to run with certainty (compare Colossians 3:23). Without a doubt, the quickest distance between where we are and where we are going is a straight and narrow line (compare Matthew 7:13-14); it does not wander aimlessly but stays on the track with the goal always in mind: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Higher
We are to take the “high” way. If we are of Christ, we are to seek and strive for those things above (compare Colossians 3:1-2)! God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (compare Isaiah 55:9). In and of ourselves we cannot reach these heights (compare Psalm 139:6). But with the help of God we can soar to new altitudes that were once unobtainable (Psalm 18:33). This is what we should always be shooting for.

Stronger
God is our strength (Psalm 118:14), but this does not negate our part in our fight: “All that your hand finds to do, do it with your strength. For there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom, in Sheol, there where you go (Ecclesiastes 9:10, LITV).” Now is the time to do all things through Christ who strengthens us (compare Philippians 4:13). Then we will increase all the more in strength as Paul did (compare Acts 9:22).

The finish line is in sight. Our goal is the Kingdom of God, and the gold medal is eternal life in His Family. In many respects it has been a marathon (compare Hebrews 12:1), and now more than ever as we come to the end. Brethren, let us finish Citius, Altius, Fortius!

The Black Swan

In the first century A.D., the saying, “A rare bird in the lands, like a black swan,” was meant to convey something that was not believed to exist. At that time, the European world had only seen white swans. So you can imagine their surprise more than 1,600 years later when the first one was seen and later caught and brought back to Europe. This changed the way many thought, even to the extent that the saying, “A rare bird in the lands…” was used ironically.

Recently, an author has taken this story and come up with the Black Swan idea. His criteria for such an effect is:

The event is a surprise (to the observer).
The event has a major impact.
After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been expected.
Furthermore, he also states that these events can be either positive, negative or both.

An example of a Black Swan event would be the first coming of Christ. It was unexpected by most; affected many in a profound way; and now nearly 2,000 years later, many have said that Jesus was merely a man who caught the imagination of the people of His time, as so many before and after Him have done.

There is another Black Swan event on the horizon that will catch most everyone off guard; completely change the whole world; and after it has come to pass, most will be able to see that it was the consequence of predictable occurrences. Of course, I am speaking of the return of Christ and all that immediately precedes and follows His second coming.

The world will not expect His coming at the time He arrives, nor in the manner in which He does. In one respect, it is amazing that we can live in a time where the Bible is the #1 best selling book worldwide, year after year, and yet most are unaware of its contents, thus making Christ’s future return a Black Swan event.

In addition to being a surprising event for most, Christ’s return will of course have a major impact. He will save mankind from utter destruction, and this present evil world will be totally changed for the better. And the third criterion of this concept is that Christ’s second coming will be viewed after the fact, as having been foreseeable. This will be the outcome, after the Kingdom of God rules this earth and God has made His Spirit available to all and their minds become open to the truth. They will read the prophecies of the Bible, and the words will jump off the page at them, as they wonder how they did not see this before.

It should not and can not be this way for us today! The events of the very near future are not concealed to our eyes and therefore, should not be a bombshell to us, as it will be to the rest of humanity. Those, guided by the Holy Spirit, who correctly study the Word of God and watch and pray always, will see all of this fermenting.

We should not be oblivious to what is coming down the pike; rather, we should be knowledgeable and prepared for Christ’s second coming. The result of this Black Swan event will be a dire outcome for many, but it should not and can not be that way for those who have been given an ear to hear and eyes to see.

Now What?

Hopefully everyone has had a meaningful Passover season and has come out of it with a “high hand” as it were.

But what now? We have started the count down to Pentecost. Is there anything that we can be doing or should be doing?

Now is the time to go from strength to strength by letting the impetus of these past feast days vault us towards the next one.

We have a great opportunity to be really right before God after taking the Passover. We have walked in this world and tried not to be a part of it, but we dirtied our feet. Now they are clean. During the Days of Unleavened Bread we exemplified coming out of sin by putting leaven as well as transgressions out of our lives.

There is no better time than the present to walk in the newness of life as epitomized and embodied by the last day of Unleavened Bread. The best admonition that we can follow comes from Christ and His conversation with the woman caught in adultery and the man at the pool of Bethesda…”sin no more.”

As we struggle against Satan, the world and ourselves in these days preceding the feast of Pentecost, let’s endeavor to walk the walk and to do our utmost to overcome. However, at the same time we should be realizing just how much we need God’s help and the Holy Spirit He has given us… the same Spirit that He gave on Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago.