December 31st. New Year's Eve. A time to celebrate the start of something new. A time to make new promises, some to be broken, some to be kept. A time to look ahead and try to change things for the better. A time to look behind and see what we may have done wrong, and how to change it. A time to start new friendships. A time to ask for forgiveness. It's a joyous time because we feel like we get to start over. People are happy, laughing, giggling, sharing about events of the past year and those before. I share some of those feelings, but yet my heart breaks.
Tonight, 6569 people will die just in the USA. Tonight, 3100 people will lose their life in car accidents many from drunk drivers. Tonight, there will be over 34 people die from drug overdoses. Tonight, 75 people will commit suicide. Tonight, 48 people will die from being beaten to death during a robbery or mugging. A lot of those will be teenagers and small children. There will be mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, grandfathers, best friends, worst enemies, sisters, and brothers.
Sad numbers. In fact, it is disturbing how all that could happen in one night. Here's what breaks my heart…how many of those people were not saved? How many of those people have I come into contact with and either took for granted they were saved, or chose not to tell about Jesus Christ? How many of those will be in a burning Hell for ever and ever because of me? How many people had the wrong views of Jesus Christ such as Islam, Mormons, Catholics, and Jehovah's Witnesses, and I didn't tell them the Truth? How about you? What opportunity have you missed? How many are going there because you chose to say nothing?
Think about that for a minute would you? Burning in hell-fire and brim-stone, weeping and gnashing of teeth, for ever and ever with no hope of it ever changing. Life ends here on earth. You get out of your bills, bad paying job, turmoil, strife, hunger, sickness, anger, sorrow, self-pity, and more. Or do you? If you are saved you do. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior you do. But, what about those that didn't? What about those we don't tell? It's our fault!! For them, those problems on earth were nothing and only the blink of an eye when compared to Hell and eternity.
Now I submit to you this. Tonight, thousands of churches around the world that know the one TRUE God, and Jesus Christ is their leader, are having services. They're planning on having an extra service or gathering to bring in the new-year. And out of all those churches, (understand, church is NOT a building, it is the gathering of the saved ANYWHERE), some of their members are missing in action. So many of God's children that have received God's grace and mercy through His Holy Son, are repaying it by spending tonight, drinking the night in. Some of them have decided to do something else more fun to them like a party, not necessarily drinking, but not at church either. Why is it so hard to devote our time to God? Why isn't fellowship with other Christians fun to them? It's fun to me! The people are great, and God is greater. So why won't they come? Because, Satan has dictated what is better for them…….and they listened.
Is everyone that doesn't gather with the saints taking dictation from the devil? No, some people have true needs. But if you talk out one side of your mouth and say you love the Lord and thank Him for saving you, then choose a night of drinking over Him, you have a great need to drop to your knees, ask forgiveness, and get your head on straight. Think about this. You have a son. He's out with friends. Someone tries to shoot one of his friends. He jumps in the way, and dies saving him because he took the bullet. The friend thanked you for the gift, but soon never mentioned it, never acknowledged you, or tried to repay the act. It would be a slap in the face wouldn't it? You'd be mad wouldn't you? In fact, it is safe to say, you wouldn't care if they fell off the face of the earth. But God is different.
Even though we turn our backs, even though we sin, even though we can't devote just a few hours of our time each week to Him, when we are His children, He still loves us. I can't fathom that! It is incomprehensible. I'd be furious and want to take the gift back, but Jesus died to save us, and God gave us free-will. But we often misuse that free-will getting caught up in things of this world we should not be involved in. But it's good to us. It's fun to us. It's what we want right here, right now. God will still be there waiting when we come back. I mean. After all, we're saved, we walked down the aisle, we accepted Him, got baptized, rededicated our lives, got re-baptized. We can party, drink, lay-out, steal, cheat, watch that movie, play that video game, say those cuss words….and He's still there waiting for us. He still forgives us. We're still saved. WRONG!! We just made God into and idol and a get-out-of-jail-free card. Live life of this world and still go to Heaven. Don't make small sacrifices for Him to spend time in church for Him, and STILL go to Heaven. Wow! Life is grand. How arrogant! How self-centered! How egotistical! How rude! How unthankful! You have slapped God in the face, and you're still wrong. Jesus said it was those who loved Him and followed His commands. His sheep don't recognize His voice and still go another direction! They come to Him. Read Matthew Chapter 7 sometime, and know Jesus' own words, that not all who call Him Lord will be saved. Get it together!
Many people do this because they believe that there is only one Judgment and since we are saved, we don't have to worry about it. Who gets judged? Just sinners? Did you know there are 4 Judgments? Not one general judgment!
1. Judgment Seat of Christ
2. Judgment of Israel
3. Judgment of the Nations
4. Great White Throne Judgment ("And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." -Rev. 20:11) This is the one people commonly refer to as Judgment Day and believe that it is the only Judgment. It is for sinners, the lost.
"For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." -Romans 14:10
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" -1st Corinthians 3:11-15
Here we plainly see that our works will be judged. It states that we will be build our foundation (this is our works) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble. They will be judged by fire. What do you think the significance is of each of these?
Precious stones: This symbolizes what the priests of the old Old Testament used on their breastplate to enter the holiest of holys. 12 different rows, all different stones, symbolized the 12 tribes of Israel. They made intercession/atonement for theirs and others sins. We do that know and is how we earn rewards. Through prayer, forgiving others of transgressions against us, and helping others. We don't have to have a priest do it for us, Jesus Christ made a way for us to go to God directly!
Silver: "The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver" (Proverbs 10:20). This is the words we speak. What is coming out of YOUR mouth?
Gold: Symbolizes your devotion to God. Prayer life, ministry, actions, going to church, using Him to make decisions. This is our works, and when you melt gold down, it becomes nothing more than melted gold! It does not turn to something else. We get closer to God through prayer, so our prayer life is the biggest factor in our devotion and if it is large, the rest of our actions follow easily.
Wood, hay, stubble: Here's your kindling wood! Here's those actions words, and selfish acts of that earn a reward that won't stand up to the test of fire.
Think of it…WHOOSH!! Up in smoke goes those that only merited the wood, hay, and stubble. All that will be left is the gold, silver, and precious stones. These are the crowns we will cast at the Lord's feet to show our thankfulness for what He has done. This is the time when you will look back and feel ashamed as you look at the others who took time to walk with the Lord, with many things to cast at His feet. What is YOUR pile going to be made of?
Remember when we were told to live Christ-like? Does that involve drinking, partying all night, staying at home because you're just too tired (lazy) to serve Him, and the list goes on. So you'll say, "But Mike, we are not to be gluttons. You are overweight." How true that is…but…when's the last time you saw me miss serving God from a spaghetti hangover? When's the last time I didn't go to home fellowship because I couldn't put down a chicken leg long enough to come to be there? Have you seen me miss serving God because I needed to stay home and watch the Food Channel to get a new recipe? When's the last time you've seen me love pizza more than God? When is the last time you saw me where I couldn't remember the night before?
It's all about serving God. It's about knowing that what is enjoyable here, doesn't mean a thing in Heaven, these worldly things won't be there. It WON'T matter. Your job, the things you own, the things you've had, the love in your life, the family that you have…..you owe every single bit of it to God. You owe Him at least those few hours a week. You'll find yourself overburdened like a sinking ship with God not the major force in your life. Things will happen out of your control that wouldn't if God was in it because you wouldn't make the stupid decisions we as humans make. But when the trouble comes, God would be there with us instead of you forgetting where He is because it has been so long since you've been near Him. You could ask for help right then and even if it was not your time to come out of it, He would lift your head above it to get through it and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, you'll scramble trying to solve it on your own. Cuss, fuss, and cry and then run to church when you realize that there lies the answer... serving the Lord. Get out of your problem, and then most of you will simply walk away again.
Here's the problem. Remember what I said about living Christ-like? We are commanded to do that. When you don't, others that know you as a Christian see that and immediately, you have discredited the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving grace. Your life is a walking testimony. Remember when I asked about all those people that died without being saved? Remember I asked how many of you would be at fault because you did not witness? Don't think it is because you didn't say anything. Don't think it is not on your hands because you don't remember a time when you had the chance to talk to someone. Your LIFE is a testament. How many unsaved people have seen you as one of God's children laid up drunk, high on drugs, golfing on Sunday morning and the like? You just testified that God is not worth your time. You just lead them down the wrong road. It IS your fault.
Tonight needs to be a night of reflection. Self-reflection. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? It could be too late. Are you a child of God and not living for Him? You need to change. When you die, will you have cause to rejoice, or cause to weep and wail in fire? Will God tell you, job well done, or ask you… "What were you thinking?"
In His Grace,
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