My eighteen year old son and I watched one of our favorite movies, Apollo 13.It's a story about a mission which has gone out of control.Astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert fought against unbelievable obstacles to bring home their wounded spacecraft.There wasn't enough power, poisonous carbon dioxide was being released into the cabin and they faced the possibility of missing their re-entry window and sailing off into space.Their situation seemed hopeless as millions watched and prayed.
Helplessness is no stranger to Christians.It's one of Satan's favorite tricks to remind us when things go wrong just how vulnerable we are and how dependent we become.Maybe you are facing a situation now which has you feeling helpless and hopeless.I want you to know that you are not alone.Given enough time everyone is placed in that uncomfortable position.One person reminded us that through all our trials it is important to maintain a steadfast heart:
It’s very early on a cold Sunday morning and the heavens have opened their floodgates.The rain is steady and provides a melodious backdrop against the windowpanes and quiet in my house.
While I am not excited about having to navigate through high water to get to church today, I am thankful for God’s gift of rain.It is a cleansing of the soul that helps to make all things new.
"I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: 'Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making His home with men and women! They're His people, He's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good - tears gone, crying gone, pain gone - all the first order of things gone.' The Enthroned continued, 'Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down - each word dependable and accurate.'"Revelation 21:2-4 (The Message)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I cry out to You in joy or despair, thank You for comforting me and for my tears.I am wonderfully made in Your image and I thank You.
May we always know that You are with us no matter the circumstance.
“When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.”
The Valley of Decision is surrounded by the slippery slopes of self-doubt.It is the place where we have been challenged to move forward but we are trapped by our inability to make the right choice.Fears of past mistakes, memories of failures lure us back into a bad decision-making process. But the fault isn’t really in the process at all; it lies in the hearts and souls of the ones making the decision.
A few years after Jehovah had led Israel from their Egyptian captivity, He told Moses to explore the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1) by sending twelve men, one from each tribe, to spy out the land.They brought grapes from the Valley of Eschol, a symbol of the wealth of their new home.When the committee gave their report, they said:“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.”Caleb, a member of the minority report, represented by only he and Joshua, said “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But he was too late.The majority had spoken eloquently and already influenced the hearts of the Israelites, who then raised their voices against Moses, Caleb and Joshua. The decision was made that Canaan was out of the question, so Jehovah punished them with forty years of wandering in the desert.
What happened?Why didn’t Israel accept the challenge and move forward?The problem was that they were anchored in their past.When the committee spoke about the giants they would face in Canaan, it reminded them of when they were slaves in Egypt.All the bad memories of the beatings, hard labor, and unjust treatment of their past came pouring back into their minds and they were defeated all over again.Their instinct was to stick with what they knew best.Even if it was the desert, manna and quail wasn’t so bad in comparison with the fierce Amalekites and Canaanites which were awaiting them if they dared cross the Jordan River.
It could have been different for Israel.And, it could be different for you the next time you are facing a critical decision in your life.Ponder these thoughts:
When faced with a decision, look backward at your journey, not your defeats.Israel had been miraculously delivered from Egypt, but all they could remember were the bad times.
What has God been doing in your past to prepare you for this moment of decision in your life right now?Life is a journey of preparation for tomorrow, and God has a way of getting us ready for the next big step by helping us to take such small steps right now that we may not even see our own progress, but He does.And He knows when we are ready.
Look inward.Jehovah had planted the Law inside the hearts of His children, and His Shekinah Glory led them on their way.He was not asking anything from them which would contradict His covenant.
Look within your heart.Does the decision you face ask anything of you that is contrary to the Word of God?If the Bible is your “rule book,” and you are certain that what you are being asked to do is within the Truth of God’s Word, then maybe that is your answer.
Look forward.There is no way that Israel could have defeated Canaan without the hand of Jehovah to go before them.It would require a miracle!The enemy was too big, the territory was unfamiliar, and they were going to have to depend upon a new leader (Joshua).
Will your new task require something from you that borders on the impossible?When I have groaned over a major decision in my life, it is usually because it will take me way out of my comfort zone.A decision which will cause you to stretch beyond the capacity you have now is often the one which God has planned for you.When that happens, my thoughts are, “Hallelujah, and hang on!”
The Valley of Decision is not a place to linger.To choose NOT do make a decision is to make a decision.Like the Valley of Eschol, our place of decision can become comfortable, a place of contentment and joy because it is there that we dream big dreams for the future.The enemy will tempt us to spend far more time “dreaming” about tomorrow than we ought.Even if the answer from God is to wait, seek His answer and it will come, for He is a God who “knows the plans He has for you,” and will not leave you clueless about your future.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, forbid that I allow my time in the Valley of Eschol to become a valley of indecision.Make me careful, not careless; courageous, not cautious; and consecrated, not complacent.Deliver me from haste, and set my feet in motion the very moment I hear from You.Amen and amen.
USA Today published an article by Sharon Jayson entitled "Premarital sex common for decades, study finds." (USA Today, Wednesday, December 20, 2006, Page 10A)This article quotes Lawrence Finer, director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute; a New York City based non-profit organization that studies reproduction and sexual health.Mr. Finer states that "The reality of the situation is that most people had premarital sex, and it's been that way for several decades."
This article also states that 95% of a group interviewed in 2002 reported that they had premarital sex; 93% said they did so by age 30.It further quotes Finer as saying that the data suggest that abstinence programs face an "extremely high hurdle… Is it really feasible to make it normative behavior to have everyone wait until they're married to have sex?"
The article ends with a quote from Steve Conley, a sex therapist and Executive Director of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists in Ashland, VA: "It fits with other trends we've been seeing."
Almost two thousand years ago, Paul wrote: "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power." (2nd Timothy 3:1-5)
He also added "Have nothing to do with them." (2nd Timothy 3:5)
This may be the "trends we are seeing" and 95% may be engaging in this behavior; however, as Anatole France said (1844-1924):"If fifty million people say a stupid thing, it is still a stupid thing."
Scripture tells us that even if we suffer for what is right, we are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." (1st Peter 3:14)
We do not belong to the world, but have been chosen out of the world. That is why the world hates us. (John 15:18-19)God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. "He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31)
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."(Romans 12:1-2)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, set us apart from the world.You have called us out of the world to be Yours - different - not conformed to the sins and pleasures of the world; but transformed by Your Holy Spirit and Your grace into Your children, heirs, brothers and sisters with our Lord Jesus.Keep this knowledge ever before us and help us live in Your will, not the will and pattern of the world through the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus.Amen!
“…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
“Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills.”
Genesis 14: 10
Sodom and Gomorrah.Ask a dozen people on a crowded bus if they have ever heard of these twin cities and most will say yes, Christian or not.These ancient places are historically associated with humanity’s evil actions and God’s judgment.
The Bible says the herds of Abraham and his nephew, Lot, grew so large that the land would no longer support them together.When the herdsmen began to argue among themselves for grazing rights, Abraham decided to separate from Lot by giving him a choice.“If you go right, I will go left.If you go to the left, I will go to the right,” he said.So Lot chose the plush green valleys near the Jordan River, a perfect place for raising his herds.Later he decided the wicked city of Sodom would be his home.This place, as its name suggests, was a city of perversion and wickedness of all kinds.
When God said that He was going to destroy Sodom, Abraham bargained with Him to change his mind if ten righteous people could be found there.But there were only four, Lot, the nephew of Abraham, his wife and two daughters.Only Lot’s family would be saved, except for his wife, who turned back for one final glimpse of the life she had enjoyed, and God destroyed her, too.
Pulpits today speak less and less of sin.In the New Testament, sin is most often translated from the word hamartia, which means “to miss the mark.”The vivid picture is created from an archer who may hit the target time after time, and then suddenly the arrow flies away from its mark.There are consequences when the target is missed.
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities were destroyed by fire.
Are you missing the mark?Is your life in turmoil now because you have failed to live up to the standards set by God?Paul writes in the book of Romans that “the wages of sin is death!”(6:23) I plead with you to leave your Sodom and Gomorrah lifestyle and seek the grace of Almighty God.Turn aside from those things in your life which cripple, maim, and finally destroy your soul.
Mercifully, God sent two messengers to the home of Lot to lead his family away from the tar pit of sin into a place of safety.Time and time again, Jesus has sent you a messenger to lead you back into the way of righteousness.Until now you have rebelled.Yet the God of mercy has given you another and another and another chance to heed His warning.If at last you allow some messenger of God to lead you toward the Kingdom, do not hesitate, and do not look back!Lest you be destroyed as was the wife of Lot.
But there is more to that scripture from Paul’s letter to Rome:“The wages of sin is death… BUT… BUT… BUT… the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)Hallelujah!Be lifted out of the valley of sin today, and accept the gift of everlasting life from Jesus Christ, the Savior, Lord, and Redeemer of your soul.
GospeLines Prayer:Righteous Father, will you withhold your judgment for just a moment longer?There is someone, now, who has just read these words and wants to give their life to You.Oh, God, give them time…just a moment, or a day, or a week to come to You.Spare your judgment for awhile, Lord Jesus, until this sinner becomes a saint, by placing their trust in You, the only hope for salvation.Amen and amen.