What a Ride!

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I remember hearing about a man from a country where it is deadly to be a Christian who was visiting the US. On his first stop at an American church, he talked about having armed men invade his house and threaten to kill him if he didn’t denounce his faith in Christ. After 3 three months of visiting around this country speaking in multiple churches and staying in church members’ homes, he prepared to return home. He spoke to the first church once again and what he said stunned the people. “I thought it was dangerous to be a Christian in my country, but it is more dangerous here. I am only in danger of being killed for my faith, but you are in danger of having your faith die a slow and miserable death because you are spoiled by comfort and ease. I am going home where my faith can grow strong again.”

When Moses was preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he told them, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God.” The danger of complacency was very real for the fledgling nation, and it is just as real, if not more so for us today. Moses warned them that when they are satisfied, “and “build fine houses and settle down,” when their wealth increases and they become a powerful nation, “then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God” . . .  “so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:10-20, selected verses).

Remember, the Lord was talking to His people. I believe the Lord would say the same thing to Christians in the West today –people who claim to belong to Him. And He would be absolutely right.  Jeremiah spoke about a nation that was “like wine left on its dregs,” that had not been stirred as it fermented (Jer 48:11). It was ruined by excessive sweetness. And so are believers who become satiated by the pleasures and wealth of the world. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matt 16:25). I don’t want to hoard my life. My desire is to come sliding into heaven out of breath, armor all dinged up, shouting, “What a ride!” knowing I gave it all for Christ.

Wake Up Church!

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“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

The book of Jonah is so much more than a good fishing story. The wickedness of Nineveh had gotten on God’s last nerve – and that takes some doing. The Lord ordered His prophet, Jonah, to go there and “preach against them.” God could have just gone into Nineveh and starting blasting, but He wanted to give them a fair warning – and an opportunity to turn themselves around. Lesson 1: God never sends a warning without an invitation to repentance.

Jonah wants no part of this (we’ll see why later) and jumps on a ship, trying to run away from God. That’s never smart and it’s also futile. Lesson 2: You cannot run away from God. A storm breaks out at sea, so severe that the ship and all on board were in danger. The sailors were frantically trying to save their lives, throwing cargo overboard to lighten their load. Meanwhile, Jonah was fast asleep. No really. The ship is going down and Jonah is asleep, comfortably oblivious to the storm and the danger every soul was in. Lesson 3: You can become so comfortable in your sin that you are ignorant of the danger you are in. And the danger of every soul around you.

I see so many parallels to the United States in this.

The wickedness in this place has become a roar in the heavens.

God desires for this nation to repent before His judgment falls.

The messengers who were called to confront the wickedness are running away.

The church has become so comfortable that we are sleeping through the storm.

Souls are in grave danger all around us.

Oh church, wake up before it’s too late.

Cruise Control Christianity

cruisingWake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die” Revelation 3:3

I love the cruise control feature on my car.  I get my car moving at the posted speed limit, pop that little button and just enjoy the ride. With my cruise control set I don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on my speedometer.  I’m especially grateful for it when I pass a law enforcement vehicle looking for speeders. “Yep, got my cruise set, I’m good here.”  I’ve often wished I could set my Christian life on cruise control.  You know, work really hard to achieve the posted standard for Christianity and just ride.  “Yep, got my Christian cruise set, I’m good here.  Just enjoying the ride till I get to heaven.”  Wouldn’t that be so much easier?

Jesus had some pretty strong words for the church in Sardis in Revelation 3.  This is a church that felt they had achieved some great level of Christianity and they were just cruising along, business as usual.  But Jesus said they had “a reputation of being alive, but [were] dead” (v. 1).  He said their deeds – indeed their own selves – were incomplete, meaning they were not fulfilling God’s purpose for them, neither as a church nor as individuals.  He commanded them to “Wake up!” and to stand firm with resolve to keep their faith alive.

My friend, it is so easy to get into a Christian rut – to set the cruise and feel pretty safe in our Christianity.  But when we do, our zeal for the Lord begins to die and our faith becomes business as usual.  I know this one well.  Jesus told the church in Sardis: “Remember what you have received and heard; obey it and repent” (v. 3).  Remember your salvation.  Remember your calling.  Remember who you are and Whose you are.  Beloved, is it time to wake up?