“Older people can remember with nostalgia their childhood homes in which there was often a special room of mystery. It may have been the parlor or possibly the bedroom of a deceased one. In the parlor, there would be special chairs and a sofa of horsehair covering, a phonograph to be played on particular occasions, pictures of an older generation looking down sternly upon the new generation, a family Bible seldom used except to record births, weddings, and deaths, and a stereoscope which could bring before the viewer’s eyes scenes of faraway places.
It is regrettable that in this age of scientific research man desires to uncover all the secrets of the material universe and has largely lost his sense of awe in the presence of the mysterious. No longer do we look at the clouds and, in fancy, see images in their contours, or see ourselves playing upon them and exploring the canyons between. No longer can we close our eyes and, in imagination, visit the great ice lands of the arctic, imagining ourselves there; or visit the deep woods of the North, chatting with the strong, mysterious inhabitants. Largely, we have lost our love and appreciation for mystery and the mysterious.
In the Bible, God’s great temple of spiritual truth, there is one special room filled with mysteries and wonders that fire the imagination to celestial heights and leave us amazed at the grandeur of its portrayal of the spiritual. That room is designated as The Revelation. Man may fathom many of the mysteries of the physical world, coming to an almost complete understanding of them, at least to the point that he loses his sense of awe in their presence. But in contrast, although we can grasp something of Revelation’s meaning and use for us, we never cease to stand in amazement and wonder at its mysteries which continue to challenge us.”
(Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary)
Procrastination is a terrible habit that can invade your life very easily. Like any habit, once it takes hold it is very difficult to change or overcome. Years ago I was sitting in my office at the bank, and a customer entered and tossed a wooden coin onto my desk. I picked it up and found inscribed on one side “A Round Tuit.” The point being made was: don’t get into the habit of procrastination by telling yourself “I will get around to it eventually.” I’m afraid we all use this excuse from time to time to justify doing what we want to do instead of doing what we ought to do!
The Bible has much to say about taking advantage of the opportunities we have today. We have been given no promise of tomorrow. James wrote “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (4:13,14). Joshua understood this same concept as he prepared the Israelites to live in the land of Canaan without his leadership. He charged them to “choose this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15).
These are but two examples from Scripture which should teach us that today is the day to prepare ourselves for eternity. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “He says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). It is true that God has continued to this very day to be patient in giving us time to repent (Rom 2:4). However, His patience will someday come to an end. We must not allow the prospect of tomorrow distract us from where our focus needs to be today. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mat 6:33,34). My priority for today must be to do what is necessary to please the LORD and to serve Him faithfully in His kingdom.
While the prospects of tomorrow can be distracting, our past can also hinder us. Paul looked forward with anticipation to a future resurrection when he wrote, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi 3:13,14). Because he had a reward in the future, Paul determined not to let anything distract him or prevent him from reaching it—including his past. Although he was formerly “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” and was “foremost” of sinners, he also “received mercy” and became an example to others who would be saved and come to serve the LORD (1 Tim 1:12-15). Equally important for us is to continue to serve God today despite how faithfully we might have served in the past. While encouraging the Corinthians to run the race before them, Paul acknowledged his own potential to be “disqualified” if he did not continue to serve faithfully (1 Cor 9:24-27).
We have already mentioned the challenge issued by Joshua: “Choose this day whom you will serve.” No one can make that choice for you; each person will make his or her own decision. But beware, because putting the decision off until tomorrow is a decision in itself! God’s eternal purpose is to save mankind from the sins that separate him from the Father. He has done everything necessary to make salvation possible for everyone, but He will force no one to accept it. It is up to us to accept it by being obedient to His instructions. There is no other time to do that but now. Now is the favorable time and now is the day of salvation. Today is the day to make yourself right with God!
We had a very successful Vacation Bible School this year and I want to say “Thank you!” to our teachers and their helpers who we constantly saw in the workroom or in their classrooms preparing for this special series of lessons. Many weekends and evenings were spent working to get things ready. And this can be said for all of our Bible class teachers who instruct throughout the year.
“Thank you!” for sacrificing your time preparing these lessons that contributed to developing the spiritual foundation for young minds. We know that your schedules and “to do” lists are just as full as everyone else’s. The fruit of your labors will be seen in a coming generation of young boys and girls who will know their Bibles -- not just the names of the books, but the content and theme of the Book.
“Thank you!” to our Junior High and High School students who were willing to help out. You may not realize how valuable your example is to the young eyes that watch you. You showed the younger kids how important this effort was. “Thank you” for helping our kids to see the awesome, creative power of God.
I think I speak for all of us as we say “Thank you!” for not just being teachers but, more importantly, for practicing the message you teach. “Thank you!” for caring, for trying to do it better, for succeeding, and for helping our young people to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam 30:6)
One of the most fascinating and admirable characters in the Old Testament was King David. David was far from perfect and yet he was beloved of God and dear to the hearts of his people.
David was anointed king while still a boy, but it was a long time before he actually became king. First, he distinguished himself as a valiant warrior. This brought him favor with the people and with the king initially. But King Saul’s admiration for David quickly turned to envy when the people praised David more than himself.
Soon David found himself an outlaw, being persecuted by the king and often betrayed by his own people. Saul would have killed him if he’d had the chance.
That was bad enough, but one day while David and his men were away from the town where he lived (Philistine territory), the Amalekites came, raided the town and captured their wives and children together with all the valuable goods of the city. David’s two wives were taken, and the 600 men with David threatened to kill him because of the tragedy. This was very distressing to David. It seemed his troubles were insurmountable. However, David had a way of dealing with such reverses that you and I can also use.
The record says “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). David communicated with God. He carried his burdens to the Lord and asked for help. This is the very best thing to do in such a situation, but it is sometimes very hard to do. David might have become resentful and blamed the Lord for not taking better care of him. He might have reasoned that, if God were even looking, He didn’t care. However, David’s attitude toward God was right and his means of dealing with a crisis worked very well. He strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
There is another source of strength when troubles come. Earlier in David’s career, he had saved the city of Keilah from the Philistines. David thought, surely the people of Keilah would have enough gratitude to protect him from his enemy. King Saul had sent out soldiers to capture him. Inquiring of the Lord, David learned that the citizens of Keilah would not protect him and his men but would hand him over to the king. So, David had to flee into the wilderness (see 1 Samuel 23).
It must have been like a cool drink of water on a hot, dry day when David’s friend Jonathan caught up with him at Horesh! Jonathan “strengthened his hand in God” (1 Sam 23:16). He shared David’s faith in God. He troubled himself to go through that hot, barren desert to encourage and support his friend. What a privilege to have such a friend as Jonathan!
Most of us have received such encouragement from some thoughtful brother or sister in Christ. How very much we appreciate that! Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for all of us to go and do likewise?
Northpark church of Christ bulletin
September 12, 1984