|Volume 24 Number 7 July 2022
One can’t help but notice that we are in the very midst of an awakening. Although we had a very mild winter, nature had her winter rest and sleep, and now, “the hills are alive with the sound of music” (Hammerstein). It’s always fascinating to see how quickly the earth comes forth from dormancy. One day there’s a tiny blade of grass here and there, and then, a few buds on some trees, etc. Alice is a flower gardener, and we see spring happen quickly at our house because some things spring forth, then others and then others. Every bit of it comes forth with energy, ready for the growing season. God made this promise in Genesis 8:22, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease” (NKJV). God arranged the order of the earth, He will always be in charge of it, and it will function at His will. Be thankful to Him for the beauty that now surrounds us.
The awakening that is more important is that of our souls coming to life for the glory of the Lord. Christians must not feel the need for Christian work only at this time of year, but they should feel the urgency of being about the Lord’s business with all our beings every day with which we are blessed. Too often, we seem to go into a deep sleep and can’t wake up. It’s just easier to stay relaxed and snooze than to arouse and energetically face the day, working for the Lord. The desire is to relax and to rest rather than to work and burn energy. Paul warned about such drowsiness in Romans 13:11, which reads, “…it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”
Paul was not talking to the Roman brethren about physical sleep. He addressed their lack of work in the Lord’s service. He warned them that the end of their days was drawing closer all the time and that they needed to be working in order to ensure their salvation as the judgment was drawing nearer. This is true for every one of us. Each day takes us closer to the end of our physical lives and brings us closer to our eternal destiny. We have just so much time in this physical body, and we need to use it to the best of our ability for the Lord while we have the opportunity.
Paul admonished in 1 Corinthians 15:52, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” the end will come for all mankind. The end will happen fast! Jesus Himself taught this lesson. “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. …Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:42, 44). Christians must not lapse into sleep (lack of effort) and fail to be about the Lord’s business. One must not believe that professing to be the Lord’s servant and bearing the name “Christian” will accomplish eternal salvation. A Christian must be actively awake and working in this life to enjoy eternity in Heaven instead of in Hell.
We read more of Paul’s wisdom as he penned, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34). His admonition is that Christians wake up and go about the business of teaching others who don’t know God. He said it was shameful that others were not being taught. If that was the case then, what excuse can we possibly have now for not teaching others the truth? I submit to you that there won’t be any acceptable excuse for any of us who don’t work at teaching the Gospel. We can't sleep right through life and receive the reward of the just. The apostle Paul admonished, also applicable today, “…Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14). Wake up to energetically perform your Christian work, and Christ will be with you. He will give you strength!
Hammerstein, Oscar and Richard Rodgers. “The Hills Are Alive.” Sung by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, 1965.
Your Life, Death and Future
Imagine, if you will, that it’s a hundred years from now. The likelihood that you’ll still be alive and kicking is quite low. Should your mortal remains be in a graveyard, inquisitive folks will stop and read what’s on your gravestone. I’ve done this myself, and you probably have also. My favorite quote I’ve seen is, “I told you I was sick!” The most moving read, “Where you are now, I once was, Where I am now, you shall be!” To quote Yeats, at his most poetic, we note, “Cast a cold eye on life, on death; horseman, pass by,” encouraging us to make the most of our time while we yet live.
As our memories grow longer, our lives grow shorter, and the urgent need for a settlement with God before we abandon our mortal coil is apparent. Most people live lives of quiet, and sometimes not-so-quiet, desperation. Stress, with its twin, Worry, are the biggest killers of our age. Death, and what comes after, is the cause of much anxiety. The Bible says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NKJV).
We get caught up in the concerns of the here and now – too busy to take care of sin because of work, too happy because of play, too lazy to think of our lives because of sin and too happy with our own accomplishments. Our Lord described folks like this in Luke 12:19. “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’” We often trust in our own strength, while unaware of how weak we truly are! Our Lord continued, “…‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” (Luke 12:20). How about the sluggard spoken of in Proverbs 22:13, which says, “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” He is too afraid to do anything worthwhile with his life and wastes the gift God imparted to him. Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” However, Christ, through His work, defeats sin and fulfills the law (Matthew 5:17-20).
I’ve yet to see a gravestone that declares, “I wish I spent more time at work.” God loves those who faithfully work for Him. Think about Abraham, David, Daniel and Esther (among so many others) whose examples are given to encourage and to inspire! They committed their lives totally to God, having confidence that He is in control. Hebrews 12:1-2 notes:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What wonderful comfort! Consider, also, the attitude of the apostles and other first century Christians. James 4:13-15 urges diligence in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).
Through Christ, death, in all its power, has been defeated. “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).
Death is not the end, but your future is up to you. We must take time today to get right with God. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that all will stand before God, so it’s up to you to obey Christ, and that will determine where your immortal soul will be throughout eternity. I sincerely pray the future words you will hear on Judgment Day will be the ones found in Matthew 25:23, “Enter into the joy of your lord.”
The words on your grave do not describe you or your soul. It is your name in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15) that speaks of faithfulness and love for Christ. Will you love Him today (John 14:15)? Become His before it’s too late (Acts 22:16). Your future in Heaven depends on it!