LOOKING TO JESUS
The coming of a new year gives us cause to pause and evaluate the successes and failures of our life and perhaps make some constructive decisions concerning the future. But how do we evaluate our lives? If we lived among folk identical to ourselves and never knew of anyone whose life counted for more than ours, then we could be content with our failures and escape the disquieting thought that we were living below our potential.
Recently I read a book entitled, "Fire in the Hills." This book is an account of the transformation of an isolated, lawless, and seemingly hopeless community in the hills of Kentucky thru the ingenuity and tireless efforts of a Methodist minister, Hiram Frakes. Here was a man who left the comparative comfort and security of a successful pastorate to go, without a salary and at great risk to his life, to minister to these backward mountain people. As I read this story of Hiram Frake and the establishment and success of Henderson Settlement, I marveled at how God rewarded Hiram Frake's daring acts of faith with miracle after miracle of grace in the transformation of people and conditions of this community that was once thought of and given up as hopeless. Something else happened as I read this story of Hiram Frakes; I began to ask myself if I was as willing to obey and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as Hiram Frakes was. Frankly, I am not too sure that I would and even if I carbon-copied his devotion and faith, I would still be guilty of choosing a lesser spiritual measuring stick for my life than required by God. God gave us Jesus as a pattern for our life and before Him all that ever lived must bow and confess that they "Have sinned and come short of the glory of God." But God sent His only Begotten Son for a more important mission than being a pattern of sinlessness. If we only had a pattern and no way of shaping our life into that pattern, we indeed would be hopeless and justified to despair of ever living acceptable lives for God. Thank God Jesus is more than a pattern. Jesus came to save us from our sins and to give us His Holy Spirit thru the new birth. Thru the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit we can rise above the sins and failures of the flesh to victorious living in Christ. Then let us face the new year, "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith," "and" let us faithfully run the race that is set before us."
'Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he" (Proverbs 29:10)
One of the most frustrating and frightening things that happen to an individual is to suddenly lose his ability to see the physical would about us. While I have always had good vision (thank God), I have been in situations where absolute darkness prevailed and have experienced some of the sensations of helplessness and frustration that must be the lot of those who have lost heir eyesight. Think what it would be like to never be sure of what direction from us anything is or, what may happen to us the next step we take or move we make. Each step or move must be taken in faith that it will not bring harm to us.
Now, look out through the days and months of 1971. What do you see that you are sure about? Well, you say, "Things always have come out alright and the world will go on as it always has and I'll get by the same as ever." Are you sure of that? Of course not. None of us knows what another day will bring forth.
The writer of Proverbs is expressing the uncertainty of the future for all who do not keep the laws of God but in the same verse he describes the condition of happiness of the one who obeys God. These have a vision of the future that lies beyond the bounds of time. Like the apostle Paul they have the assurance that "He" (God) "Is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day," and that "Our God is able to supply all of our needs through His riches in glory" for this present world.
For 1971 and the years ahead of us, we need a vision that is three-fold. First: We need to see ourselves as we are. Without Christ we are lost and without hope. Our sins make our present and our future as black as midnight. Second: If our life is darkened and the future clouded by reason of our sin, we need to see Jesus Christ, who is the "Son of Righteousness" and "The light of the World." Look upon Him as the propitiation for our sins and accept Him as Savior and Lord. We alone can bring light to our sin-benighted soul and bring peace. Third: Like Isaiah of old, in our new-found relationship to God, through regeneration, we need to see the world as it reels blindly and helplessly onward in the darkness of its sins toward the inevitable judgments of God and cry out to God, "Here I am, send me." Send me as a bearer of the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, the "Light of the World." May God give us this three-fold vision for the journey through the remaining time of our pilgrimage through this world.
Dec. 30, 1970
President Lincoln pardoned a young man under sentence of death or imprisonment. His mother's gratitude was so great that she was unable to speak for a while after leaving him. Then she broke out in an excited manner with the words. "I knew it was a copper-head lie!" (Copperhead was a name applied to political enemies of Lincoln.)
"What do you refer to?" asked Thaddeus Stevens, who accompanied the woman to visit President Lincoln. "Why, they told me that he was an ugly looking man," she replied with vehemence. "He is the handsomest man I ever saw in my life!"
The prophet spoke of Christ as being so marred and so scarred by the hand of man that no man would desire Him. Yet, how beautiful is Christ through whose love and merit we have full pardon for our sins and the gift of heaven!
As we enter into Lent and review once again the events of the last days of Christ on earth, Let us keep in mind the debt of gratitude that we owe Him. Truly, "How beautiful are the feet of Him who brings the good tidings of redemption," not to just one or one nation, but to whosoever will.
That "Whosoever" includes YOU, if you will receive it.
Feb. 8, 1978
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