by Pete Garcia
I’ve long considered my own feeble estate. I realize I am mortal, and that my days, my numbered moments, are known only by God. What will I leave behind if the Lord tarries another decade, or another century? What knowledge shall I pass on to my children? What will remain of the memory of my life? Was it only of a man, marred by sin? Or of a man redeemed by the One marred on my behalf?
I don’t pretend to be one of the ‘greats’ like Spurgeon or Tozer, who when gathered up into heaven, leave behind a triumphant life dedicated to the Lord. I spent most of my life living for myself. I wish I had run a good race as a younger man, impacting thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands. Have I made a difference to the Kingdom Come? I don’t know….and I won’t know this side of heaven what affect I had in this life. I just pray that I too can be faithful in the planting and watering, and that I may encourage or correct and be useful in the eternal purpose of God. But in the time I have left, I allowed God to use me and that I was a good husband, and good father. But at the very least, let me leave a life where the evidence overwhelmingly declares if nothing else, ‘that this man loved God’.
Although I am just a man made of dust, I know that I have been ‘born again’, into that spiritual and eternal family of our Lord and brother Jesus Christ, who, took my sinfulness in exchange for His perfect righteousness. Now, I (like many of you) will wear this coat of dust only until the day of our redemption, in which our perishable shall put on imperishable, and our mortal put on immortal. Even so, Maranatha.
The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 1 Cor 15:48-49
I sometimes watch the television late at night, and witness the men and women on there, prancing around onstage, preaching a gospel that is foreign to the Bible. They carry around Bibles, and boast only about the generosity of God, as if He were some benevolent genie who could be commanded at will. To them, true wisdom isn’t measured in the study of God’s word, but comes by way of selected prophets who frequently have ‘a word from the Lord’. They alone can parse His messages to us, so no Bible needed. Their messages laden with ‘hidden wisdom’ that God only cares about blessing men and women financially and usually only when we give to their ministries liberally.
The televangelists, the ministers of health, wealth, and prosperity prove in their gospel, that God heals…but only on brightly lit stages in front of a televised audience. In their gospel, God only blesses those who have the faith to ‘sow their financial seeds’. In their gospel, faith is not measured in living in obedience to Christ, but in how frequently one can open their wallets.
Don’t they know that God also cripples, and allows crippling? Don’t they know that the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away? (Job 1:21) Don’t they know that God tells us to not store up for ourselves treasures on earth?
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying:
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21
As offended I am of them, they invoke in me my own guilt, that I am like them to a lesser degree. How many of us, spend our days, slavishly working for things we know we can’t take with us? How we long to live just a little bit more comfortably, a little more at ease, a little more distracted from a world quickly spiraling out of control. I point these accursed ‘ministers of profit’ out to show the absolute futility and foolishness of living for this life. God has allowed them, as a warning to the rest of us that their sin, as egregious as it is, still separates them as much as ours does us, from the righteousness of God. Were it not for the finished work of Christ on the cross, and His blood shed on our behalf, we would all be damned.
But I wonder when it was, that these ‘ministers of merchandise’ first lost their fear of the Lord. Was it a gradual process? Was it never there to begin with? They are so eager and so invested in storing up goods in this life, that they trade their eternal souls, for a few fleeting moments of fame and luxury. Instead of storing up goods, they store up wrath upon their heads, and any person could hear no more dreaded words, than to hear our Lord speak these…
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matt. 7:21-23
Hal Lindsay soberly noted last week that we Americans are become increasingly distressed and depressed, not because of Ebola or Isis, but because our nation’s moral base is crumbling. Right is wrong, up is down, and evil is increasingly only getting a wink and a nod these days. Americans are increasingly living in fear, and whether that fear is based on a weakening economy, or because of the burgeoning lawlessness, or both…no one can say for sure. America used to be a ‘shining city on a hill’, and now that light has all but been distinguished and darkness is enveloping the land.
Like a weeping Jeremiah, or a demoralized Elijah, we see evil prevailing and we wonder ‘where is God in all this madness?” People search for tranquility in a bottle, in a pill, in a drug, and in religion. And yet, nothing can quiet the disturbance we feel…because all is not right. Creation is groaning louder, and it knows, that the time is drawing nigh. But remember brother, remember sister, that God knows are toils and our troubles. God knows the days we are living in, and He told us ahead of time, that we would live through them. He chose us, to be His ambassadors in this dark day. Before the foundation of the world, He chose us in Him, to be the light bearers, in an increasingly dark world. May our lights burn brighter because of the darkness, that we may lead more to the safety in Christ.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Phil. 2:14-16
My tone today is somber, even sobering I hope. That I may serve as a reminder to you that our life here is fleeting. It is a wisp of air and has the longevity of a flower. We are here today, and gone tomorrow. Our flesh is as a blade of grass that grows one day in the sun, and is hewn down the next and caste away. Our life, were we to live out to the ripe old age of 99, is a speck on the timeline of man. It is even smaller in comparison to eternity. What do we hope to achieve in this life? We brought nothing into this world, and we certainly can’t take anything out of it. The times change, cultures change, world powers change, and the only constant we have, is change. Even the greatest, most powerful men and women in history, all meet the same fate, in that death always found them.
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:14-16
So let us live with holy abandon, and not care what the world thinks. We are charged with sharing the Gospel (the Light) to a lost and dying world. Let us take with us, the only thing we can carry into eternity, and that is the souls of those around us. We are to be obedient to the will of God, and God is long-suffering, that none should perish. Someone shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with us; now let us likewise, share it with someone else. We may not see the fruits of our labor this side of heaven, but if we are faithful in our calling, God is faithful in delivering. If you want to ‘sow seeds’, don’t open your wallet for some televangelist, sow the seeds that bear lasting, eternal rewards. Sow in other people’s lives and we will do the will of God.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:16-17
We live in a fallen Babylonian system, that enslaves men and women in this cycle of debt and desire, that we should work, work, work, and buy things that only serve to distract us from our true purpose in life, which is to share the Good News with those around us. And this is as much a message for me, as it is you. We need to remain focused on what really matters. (2 Cor. 4:16-18) We need to remind ourselves daily, that heaven and hell are reality, and this place we are in now is the façade. We may be the only Bible some people ever read. May we take this mantel as Elisha once did, and kill the oxen and walk away from the plow to serve the Lord. I don’t mean that we quit our jobs and leave our families to join a ministry, but that we prioritize what truly matters in this life. We realize that wherever God has placed us, we are a ministry. We have a congregation, and that congregation is anyone and everyone God puts in your path.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Romans 16:25-27