“Hi! Whatcha doing tonight?”
“I don’t know. ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ is showing at the theater. I heard that’s pretty good.”
“Oh, yeah? We could do that—there’s nothing else to do.”
“How about you? What are you doing tonight?”
“Oh, my folks said I have to go to this dumb church-doing. I don’t know, some kind of installation service or something. Ugh.”
“And, you. What did you say you were going to do tonight?”
“We were thinking about going to the Disco.”
“The Disco, you know. They’ve got a really decent dance floor and—you should go there once. It’s pretty neat.”
“Hm-m-m. I’ll have to go there sometime.”
Hey! Wait a minute. Open your Bible to Proverbs 15:3 where it says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the good and the evil.” I came across this text one time when I was reading the Bible before I went to bed. You know, it really struck me. It’s nice and easy to think that God sees all our good little deeds. We kind of tingle inside with self-pride and esteem because we did “another good thing”. Nobody likes to think and admit that God sees all our bad things, too.
Like, how often don’t we wake up on Sunday morning, turn up our noses, roll over, and go back to sleep. It’s that boring day of the week again. We brag that we went to church twice, maybe even three times. We complain that the minister preaches too long. But, really, we don’t complain when we have to sit three hours at a basketball game or at the races. Why is it that we complain when we have to sit in church a little over an hour? Look at the Psalmist David. He says in Psalm 122:1—“I was glad when they said, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” He was glad, he was happy, he rejoiced! He was eager to go to the house of the Lord. He loved the Lord—he wanted to praise Him, glorify Him, show his gratitude to Him. And, like us, he had been through another week of trials, temptations, hardships, and regular daily activities and routines. God had been with him the past week, and now at the beginning of a new week, he was again going to ask God to continue to bless him, give him the courage and the faith to fight each battle and fight Satan and his temptations. He cries, “Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul, O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.” And again he cries, “great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” Look what God has done for us. He sent His only Son Who was born in a lowly stable, suffered His whole life, was rejected, mocked, spit upon, had to carry His own cross, and was crucified on that accursed tree, descended into hell for three long and dark hours—willingly. He knew no sin. That’s why He had a human nature. Man sinned, man had to be punished. But He also had a divine nature. God’s wrath was so terrible that only Someone Who was truly God could bear that wrath. Really, then, how dare we complain? Instead, we must rejoice with David when we have the privilege to go to the house of the Lord. After all, the minister isn’t just another man standing up there, saying what he pleases. That is God speaking through that man, revealing Himself unto us. And that knowledge we obtain is a saving knowledge. One that is necessary to possess and enjoy the fellowship with the ever blessed God.
Another thing that I would like to touch on is living in this world. It says in the Bible that everybody will be judged according to his own works. If you think about this, this is really serious. Think of all the things that go on in our minds—evil lusts and desires, judging others, taking God’s name in vain without verbally saying it, and the list goes on. Think of all the things that we say—our jokes, talking back to our parents and teachers, swearing and cursing, gossip…. Jesus says in Matthew 12:36, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” We say a lot of idle words, don’t we? And our actions—even little things like how we spend every little penny, we have to give account for that, too. Here’s a big one—we read the books and magazines of the world, watch their filthy T.V. shows and movies, listen to and sing along with their songs—and think nothing of it. Most likely when we get home from school, work, or whatever it is, we go right to the radio and turn it to our favorite station. Then a song that we especially like will come on, “Oh, my favorite song! I just love it.” And we run to it and turn it up and just sit back in a daze and listen to it, or even sing along. We frown when it’s over. What we’re really saying, then, is that we love them—the world—their sinful lusts and desires, their mocking and cursing the name of the Lord, their filthy jokes, or whatever. But if the Almighty God were standing here, would we dare say, “I love that song. I love that show”? No, we wouldn’t dare because then what we’re saying is that we love the world, the things of this world. And that we hate God—the all-powerful God, Who created this whole vast universe, and upholds it, and preserves it. So great a God and we dare to say, “I hate You”? You might say, “But I didn’t say that—I didn’t say that at all.” Proverbs 24:1 says, “Be thou not envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.” And again in James 4:4—‘‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Enemies hate! So if we are lovers of the world, then we are enemies of God—we hate God. But, instead, we are commanded to seek those things which are above where neither moth or rust corrupt nor where thieves break through and steal.
How many of you have thought about the end of the world? I mean, really thought about it. Humanly speaking, it’s scary. Did you know that there is going to be a time when if we don’t have the mark of the beast, we won’t be able to buy or sell? It says this in Revelation 13:16-17. If we can’t buy nor sell, we won’t live long. Or there might come the time when the rulers of our land will say, “You bow down to this god or we’ll take your life.” The true child of God won’t bow down. He will profess along with Paul in the beautiful passage of Romans 8:35ff, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And the sad thing is that I can say, “We must do this,” and “We mustn’t do that”; and we think, “I know I’m not supposed to be doing this,” but we do it anyhow! You see, just because I’m pointing out a few of these things doesn’t mean that I think I am better than you. I’m not. You’ve all heard the old saying, ‘‘If the shoe fits, put it on.” Well, let me tell you, this shoe fits perfectly—it’s just my size. But, instead, I’m speaking to you out of love and concern for you and of the love of God. That’s the only way I can speak to you. You and I both are in duty bound to heap coals of fire upon those who are living in sin. If we know they are committing a certain sin, just say stealing, we must show them they’re wrong and also show them the right way—not because we never steal or because we think we’re better, but because we love them and God. And God will reward us for this. Probably this person will hate us, literally despise us, but that’s what is called ‘‘suffering for Christ’s sake”. We’ll probably be mocked, laughed at, scorned, be called a “goody-goody”. But if we heaped coals upon his head out of the right motive—out of love for him and for God—then we can have the assurance that someday the Lord will reward us. There will be different degrees of blessings in heaven. The more we are persecuted and suffer for Christ’s sake, the greater the degree of blessing will be. Remember the old familiar text in Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Now, you may be thinking that I’ve been pretty negative about the whole thing. Well, in the human sense of the word, I have. But, like I’ve said before, the life of the child of God isn’t easy. It never has. Look at Moses. Hebrews 11:24-27 tells us, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” He didn’t want to be famous—to be known and have an earthly name. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Look at all that he went through—pleading with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, the plagues, crossing the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his horsemen close behind, the murmuring and rebellion of the Israelites, seeing the children of Israel and Aaron dancing around the golden calf, the wars and battles, and you know the rest. He chose these tremendous trials and sufferings rather than the pleasures of Egypt for a short time. Why? Because he “esteemed the reproach of Christ”—or the suffering for Christ’s name—“to be greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. For he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” Or, in other words, he realized that suffering affliction along with the people of God would have a much greater and eternal reward that the insignificant and temporal rewards which Egypt had to offer. Just think of that promised land… Read Revelation 21:1-4. A new heaven and a new earth. No more tears, death, sorrow, crying pain—for these are passed away. Also read Revelation 22:1-5. “And they shall reign forever.”
What a blessed assurance! And what an incentive to continue as pilgrims in a strange land, as Moses did.
“How long halt ye between two opinions?”
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” I say, therefore, “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only….” James 1:23.