On Sunday, 18 June 1815, one of the world’s most important battles was fought, the Battle of Waterloo. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was seeking to conquer the world. He was opposed by the Anglo-led Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington. After 4 days of the extreme fighting, Napoleon finally surrendered.
There was no way for the news to reach England except my ship. When a ship finally arrived in England they sent the message by the only means at their disposal. The ship communicated with those on land by the use of semaphore, a system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetic code. A fog rolled in and only part of the message that was read was W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D…
They assumed the worst and news of Wellington’s “defeat” swept the country. When the fog finally lifted they received the rest of the message, “t-h-e e-n-e-m-y.”
In life, Christ’s message to us is sometimes obscured by the “fog” of circumstance. Sometimes in our hectic pace, we jump to conclusions without knowing all the details. Proverbs 25:8 The best advice is to be still until the fog lifts!
When America was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before Congress to ask them to declare war. In his speech, he said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!” That may make a great political speech and it might stir people’s patriotism but unfortunately it is not true. There are a lot of things to fear in life but we should not allow our fears to control us.
My son has no fear of snakes, NONE. He has handled rattlesnakes, cooperheads and water moccasins; no problem. But spiders are a totally different matter. If he walks into a spider web, he almost has a heart attack!
When Jesus sent out the 12 disciples, he gave them detailed instructions. In Matthew 10, he let them know they would face rejection, persecution, and and possibly death. In light of this he encouaged them not to fear. “Do not be afraid of them who kill the body. They are not able to kill the soul.” Jesus made it very clear; there is only one person we need to fear. “But fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” God is the only we need to fear.
What is the worse man can do? Kill us? If they do kill us, we will be immediately with Lord!
People love racing. The urge to be faster than everyone else is ingrained in us. Whether it is in a race car, on foot or involving animals, nothing quenches our competitive thirst like a good race. Here is some race that you might not be familiar with.
* Hamster racing. The United Kingdom is quite fond on betting on hamsters racing miniature vehicles in a 30-foot straight line.
* Pig racing. Four trained pigs race around a circle track, knowing there is a delicious (for them) prize at the end.
* Mud racing is an adventure race where contestants hurl themselves through mud pits, waist-high mud rivers, obstacles on a challenging cross country race.
The Apostle Paul repeatedly referred to the Christian life a race but he carefully explained the differences from secular racing.
1. In secular racing, the winner wins a crown made from plants that only lasts momentarily. However, the Christian’s crown is the eternal life that never withers or dies. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
2. Only the person who crosses the finish line first wins the prize. But every Christian that crosses the finish line receives the prize. Matthew 24:13, James 1:12
The most important thing in your life is to realize that because God has created you and given you life, you ARE entered into this race called life. I know that you did not choose to be entered into this race but it is your responsibility to finish the race. Do not be afraid, God has provided everything you need to reach the goal.
Failure to finish means to be eternally lost.
Several years ago, I worked for a Pest Control Company whose clientele consisted mostly of millionaires. One of our customers lived in a wooded area and was having problems with rats. We set out our traps and within a couple of days, we had three rats (dead.) This presented a slight problem. How do you dispose of three dead rats? We couldn’t just toss them in the woods or put them in their garbage can. We were in South Carolina and it was a very hot summer, so you can imagine the stench!
We solved the problem by putting the rats in an empty zip-lock bag that had contained a pest control product and placed them in the back of our pickup truck. The plan was to properly dispose of them at the end of the day.
We finished our day and was headed to the office when we decided to stop and buy a couple of soft drinks. After buying our drinks, we discovered that someone had stolen the bag containing the rats, thinking they had a bag of expensive pest control product! I can only imagine their surprise when they open the bag! Remember the rats had been in that bag day in the hot South Carolina sun!
I guess they got more than they bargained for!
I grew up in a very legalistic church where spirituality was measured on personal performance. My acceptance to God (and my church) was based on how well I kept all the rules: modest clothing; no television, no movie going, very strict Sabbath observence, etc.
I dreaded when our church had revival services because the evangelist would always use the rapture as a means to get people to come forwardto the altar. He would use Christ’s return to scare Believers into wondering if they would miss the Rapture because they didn’t “cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s” spiritually speaking.
But when the Apostle Paul spoke of Christ’s return he said, “Therefore encourage one anotherwith these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
“The prize that shows I have God’s approval is now waiting for me. The Lord, who is a fair judge, will give me that prize on that day. He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again.” 2 Timothy 4:8
There is no question that our culture worships at the altar of success. We love rags-to-riches stories. We swallow the world’s lie that the person with the biggest bank account, largest mansion, most expensive car and who is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is a success.
In the “religious” world, the church with the largest congregation and the most elegant campus is considered a success. Churches compete with each other for recognition. TV evangelists [some, not all] pride themselves with their ratings. Pastors from the small, country churches feel inferior to the “big-city” pastor.
While I don’t believe that churches should compete against one another, I do believe we should do and be our best. We are told to be faithful not successful. Matthew 25:20 Sometimes faithfulness and “success” run on the same track but not always. Missionaries and pastors sometimes labor years without seeing the fruit of their labor.
As Christ-followers, we must remember we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Each of us have our place of service in the Kingdom and it all works together. “The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” I Cor. 3:5-9
Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.” Matthew 6:19-20
We have all heard the commercials about investing in precious metals; gold or silver. One advertisement tells us to buy silver. Why? Because silver is at the lowest price it has been in years! Logic: Buy low – sell high.
Another company tells us to buy gold. Why? It is at its highest price ever, so buy now before the price of gold again. Then they ask “What is in your wallet?” The implication is – what are you trusting for your future? Jesus words does not condemn wise investing. Matthew 25:14-26
What makes a “wise” investment?
- Security. The TV ads try to convince you buying silver or gold is safe. Not true. But Jesus said if you store your treasure in heaven; it is 100% safe.
- Good return for your investment. Luke 18:28-30 ; Colossians 3:23-24 ; Matthew 6:33
- Invest in those things that Jesus valued. People. Souls. The Church.
I guess I could summarize “heavenly treasures” by considering Matthew: 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”