The last few months have found me incredibly busy. My project with first-job has become permanent, I’ve taken to writing bits of sermons and gospel songs (of sorts), and my writing has been so scattered, it’s difficult for me to even consider it real writing. I think what’s been most pressing, however, is my faith.
Several times over the past couple months, I’ve asked myself, “Wouldn’t life be easier if I were an atheist?” I would certainly have more time on my hands not taking the time to study the bible each day, not going to bible studies, and definitely more time on Sundays. What I would do with all this “extra” time, I’m not sure, but it’s presumed that I would have it.
A couple weeks ago, my pastor did a sermon about what to do when one finds him or herself angry with God. The message was simply to recall that you can’t really be angry with God because God owes you nothing and you owe God for everything; from every breath you to take to every thing you have done or ever will do. As I write, these thoughts press against me because, while I want to take them fully to heart, I’m not sure I’m there yet.
It’s hard, very hard, to remain steadfast when I continuously see the righteous left to suffer. I know…deep down…everything is all a part of God’s plan and purpose, but lately, I’ve been having a difficult time remaining satisfied with not knowing the end results. I am, for lack of a better word, utterly frustrated with the state of things. All around me, life seems to get worse and worse and especially so for those who, at least outwardly, seem the most faithful and the least deserving of the world’s malevolence.
I try to press forward and I try to consider the positives. I have a good career and a hobby that makes me happy. I have a nice roof over my head and a nice car to drive. I have family who would miss me if something were to happen. I have a lot more than a lot of people could say and I certainly don’t take that for granted. Still, I can’t help these thoughts that wander into darkened places, considering the what-ifs and could-bes of a supposedly easier life.
I’ve written some “mini-sermons” recently for a program focusing on the seventh chapter and the seventh verse of any book of the bible and, though, I’ve only given the first one and I worry that I don’t even understand the words I preach to myself, I think it prudent to include them somewhere:
“O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.”
Life is short.
I was talking to my father’s mother a few months ago and she said to me, “It goes by so fast.” Now, my Nana is 91 years old. Ninety-one years on this planet and she tells me that her time has gone by so fast.
I’ll be 31 at the end of next month, I’m thinking to myself that the years between when I finished college and the point where I stand before you today have gone by a little quicker than I’d prefer. I can hardly imagine what I’ll think if I live long enough to be my Nana’s age.
In this 7th chapter and 7th verse, Job is referring to the brevity of life as a man who has lost virtually everything, and he is calling on God to give him a speedy death rather than let him continue to linger in his current state. But, we should not pass judgement on Job’s mentality at this time of his life.
We should, as we should always do in reading God’s Word, look upon ourselves and apply this Word to our own lives.
Our time here on this rock is short. What we do with this short time, however, will determine how we spend eternity. So, everything that we do ought to be for God’s greater glory.
How we speak to one another, how we behave when we’re outside of God’s house, how we carry ourselves when we think no one is looking.
God knows all and sees all and He is perfectly cognizant of how you are using the gifts He has given to you. So, be honest, and ask yourself: How are you using the short time God has given?
Are you using this short time he has allowed you to walk amidst His creation to wreak havoc on the lives of others or are you using this short time to walk the straight and narrow path and be a light to others?
Are you using His time to lie in the front of the television and watch hours and hours of Real Housewives of Atlanta or Extreme Cheapskates or perhaps even some truly nonsensical television that will likely corrupt you and those in your household?
Are you spending God’s time posting and saying ungodly things on Facebook, and on Twitter, and on Instagram? Are you using God’s time to make passive-aggressive statements to other Christians when, clearly, your time could be better spent?
Are you using the short time God has given you to eat yourself into oblivion? Are you more likely to go without feeding yourself God’s Word than go without feeding yourself McDonald’s or KFC?
Are you using the short, breath of wind that God has given you to grow closer to Him? Are you studying God’s Word daily? Are you loving others as you love yourself and as you love God?
Are you doing whatever you can be to a light to this dark world and bring others to Christ?
My brothers and sisters, our time on this Earth is but a trifle. I’m here just to remind you this afternoon, that we are to use this little time that God has given us to continue to magnify His glory and bring other lost ones back home to Him.
2 Kings 7:7
“Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.”
So, let me take you back for a moment to the Year 891 BC at Samaria:
Leprosy was highly contagious disease and those who had it were forced to live outside of the walls of the city, often surviving only on small charities or even the table scraps of the city when life was good. But, at this point here, Samaria has been under siege by the Syrians battling against them and there was great famine in the land. Food was scarce and what little food was available was incredibly expensive.
So, the lepers living outside the city, couldn’t even depend on the extras because everyone, everywhere was starving to death.
At this point in our text, there were four lepers living outside Samaria and they were starving as the city continuously prepared for battle against the Syrian armies.
One of them, stands up for a moment and says to the others: Listen. We’re just sitting here starving. If we continue to do what we’ve always done, we’re going to continue to get what we’ve always got. If we stay here, we are going to starve to death. However, if we get up and go to the nearby camp where the Syrians are…well, to be honest, they may very well kill us, too. But, there’s also a chance that they may be willing to give us something…anything to eat. So, we either go to our graves quickly by being killed outright by the Syrians, or we might get a little something to eat from them. Either way, we won’t be starving anymore.
So, up they get and go off towards the Syrian’s camp. What they didn’t know what the God had already made a way for them.
Just before they arrived at the Syrians camp, God caused the Syrian soldiers to hear something in the distance. The Syrian scouts and generals and foot soldiers thought they heard the sound of many chariots rushing towards them and they started to panic amongst themselves. They said to themselves, the Samarians have somehow hired armies from the Hittites and the Egyptians and they were all coming for them right now and they thought that EVERYONE was about to be killed. And, they didn’t just run. They panicked! And, they left everything behind them in their haste.
Now, a little common sense at the time should have helped at least one of them say, “Hang on. How are these Samarians who are practically cannibalizing one another for lack of food getting money to hire other soldiers to battle for them?” But, they were in a panic and no one thinks rationally when they panic.
Now, the four lepers arrive at the camp, and they see everything has been left. Food, clothes, money, everything is out for the taking and Syrian is nowhere to be found. So, our four lepers sit down and have a NICE meal amongst themselves and even get a little money for their troubles. But, that’s not where this ends.
Elisha, the pupil of Elijah, had told the Samarian king prior this, that food, which had become so dear in the siege against the Syrians, would soon be so plentiful that it could be sold cheaply. There was a doubter of the prophet, of course; we all know, there’s always at least one, but this was what the prophet had told the thing.
Now, the lepers, after eating to their fill, returned to the city and through them, the king was advised that Syrian armies had fled. And, the starving Samarians were then able to take up all that the Syrians had left behind and just as Elisha had prophesied, food became so plentiful that it could be sold off to the other cities at a profit.
So, you may ask, what’s the significance of this?
Well, friends, we know here as it is shown in the Word, that God can and will use anyone for His glory. And, many times he will use those who mean to do you wrong or simply malevolence to do great things that will always show His glory.
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
I’d like to pose the rhetorical question: How do we know right from wrong?
Even before a person is taught the tenants of religion, some truths are universal. To tell the opposite of the truth is generally undesirable. Treating others as you wish to be treated is generally considered the best way to live across many religions. But, how do we know the difference between what is right and what is wrong? Only through the Word of God.
You can be told many things, but until you study the Word for yourself, you’ll never know what is sinful and what is not.
Some cultures and even some sects of Christianity will tell you that women must always wear either dresses or skirts and it is sinful to do otherwise. But, in studying the Word, we learn that the law says that men and women are to be dressed differently. It’s not that women can’t wear ladies’ slacks or a woman’s pant suit, but that women shouldn’t be wearing silk neck ties and men’s Armani suit in an effort to look and behave like a man.
A lack of studying the Word can often lead to misconceptions about the bible.
A common misconception is that Even took a bite of an apple in the Garden of Eden, but in the studying the Word, we know that the fruit is never specified and that the apple has been ingrained in our imaginations because of the interpretations of a few artists.
Another misconception about the bible is that Noah gathered two of every single animal on Earth into the ark, but in studying the Word, we know that he took two of every unclean animal into the ark, but seven of the clean animals, making his feat even more incredible.
Biblical misconceptions say that you shouldn’t eat pork because the pig is deemed as unclean in Leviticus 11:7 and 8, but in studying the Word, we know that God says everything that is His is good to eat. Now, personally, I don’t eat any meat because I’m an American and I’m an adult and I can choose to not eat whatever I want, but that’s a subject for another day…
But, ask yourselves: How can you ascertain whether you are walking on the narrow path of righteousness or taking that broad road towards damnation? It is only when we take the time to stop and study the Word of God that we see for ourselves the light and right path God wants us to walk.