Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What to Do in Days of Distress

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit may be on the vines; Though the labor of the oil may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls--Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habbakkuk 3: 17-18

At a writer's meeting I attend, an older fellow who also enjoys writing memoir pieces told of how he had come to receive the Lord as his Savior. He has a great memory and distinctly remembers going to an open air crusade while in the Army back in the 1940s. When the altar call was given, he strongly felt the urge to go down and settle the matter, or take the free gift of salvation. He said he felt this prompting so strongly but he put it off.

He went to a second meeting and had another opportunity to receive salvation, but that time, the urge inside him wasn't as strong as at the first time. Finally, after he had been married and had a little child and wife with him, he attended a Billy Graham crusade, and he once again was given the opportunity. This time the urge was even less stronger. The field was huge and people were pouring down to receive Christ. Since he had his family with him, he decided this time to take the opportunity to believe on Christ right there from his seat. He stressed to us about the urge to receive Christ growing less with each time that he put it off.
The strength of the conviction of the Spirit gave less and less influence over him.  He recalled to us the verse that says that the Spirit would not strive with man forever (Genesis 6:3).

That story really gave me pause to think about how the Spirit strives with those who are still on the fence about whether they will believe that Jesus is the Christ who paid for their sins on the cross. My husband and I talked about the fellow's story and how my husband had come to Christ the first time he heard the offer of the free gift of salvation.

My husband was a young man, only 24, but not happy with the direction his life was taking. He went to a salon near his home and noticed every time he got his hair cut that there would be lots of Bible materials lying around. So one day when he felt desperate he asked the guy who cut his hair, "What is it with all of this?" Basically he knew the guy had something he did not have, and he wanted it.

Now maybe the barber did not present the gospel the same way a pastor would but he told him Jesus was calling him, and that he could have a new life with Jesus. My husband remembers the very date, 34 years ago, when he received Christ sitting in the barber chair.

I asked him what he thought might have happened if he had put it off, or just said that he would think about it for another time. Hubby said he thought he, like my old friend, would have had less and less of an urge if he  put it off.

That is why they say that young people are the easiest to reach. They hear and do not have a chance to harden their heart or a bunch of excuses. But it certainly seems that one's heart only can get harder and harder, until there reaches a point of no return.

That is sobering. Esausold his birthright in Genesis 25: 32, because he was more worried about filling his belly than what God offered him. The Bible warns in Hebrews 12: 16-17:

lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
This may be the most important blog post I ever wrote. There is darkness coming over this land, and the window of opportunity to receive Christ could suddenly be cut short. If we just look around us in our own country we can see that things are only going from bad to worse. We have extreme heat in the east, floods in the south, fires in the West and riots in the midwest. Did I hear someone say judgment?

If you are not sure of where you will spend eternity, you don't have to put it off for another minute. Jesus Christ came into human history for the precise purpose of being the great sinbearer for the sins of all mankind. He died naked on a Roman cross after living a perfect life here on earth. His unique position of being sinless qualified Him to be the sinbearer for all mankind, without exception. No matter what you have done in the past, you can receive this free gift simply by believing what God says about His Son:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures... I Corinthians 15: 3, 4

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved,  and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:7-10

If you want abundant life, He is waiting for you to take it.Today is the day of salvation. All around us we see things headed downward on a greased pole. But if we take His free gift   we will be saved from ultimate destruction. I beg anyone still sitting on the fence, do not delay any longer. Receive His gift of salvation today, tomorrow may be too late.

If we are already believers, we also must be very careful how we live.

You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian.             
 (Living Bible Paraphrase by Kenneth Taylor, II Timothy 3:1)

 It is only getting more difficult, the deception and distractions stronger and stronger with every passing day. Our only place of safety is to abide in Christ and stay in His Word daily. Let us pour out our many concerns to Him at His throne of grace, and one day soon this day of darkness will give way to His righteous rule forever. 

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