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Archive for January, 2018

Surely, this is the time between times… our dear pastor calls it “the dawn.” After centuries and centuries of darkness, it is a time of hope rising, a new day has most-assuredly broken upon history now that God has walked among us.

 

Jesus alone did what we could not.  He lived righteously all his days on the earth.  He became our sin and bore its eternal penalty.  When all God’s wrath was spent on our sin, death had no further claim on Jesus and the grave could not hold him – He lives and has been given His promised place of eternal honor.  O yes, there is an enemy in the camp, but he is fatally wounded and his end is sure.  Even now the King makes preparation to come again in power and rightness.

 

Just as we are often unaware when dawn ends and day begins, so many move about unaware of the King’s sure coming.  Full Day will soon be upon us; soon Jesus will gloriously come again to set all things right.

 

When the dawn gives way to new Day, Jesus will draw those who are his into his marvelous safe kingdom where they will behold his beauty and know his goodness forever.  C. S. Lewis pictures for us the new Day in this way:  “All their life in this world and all their adventures… had only been the cover and the title page – now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on for ever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

 

Still, we have this moment of time before full Day breaks.  For God says, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  Do not waste the dawn.  When the True Light appears the gates will close in the wake of his procession.  Now is the time of favor.

 

I tell you, the Day is on its way. The King’s men will soon declare, “The term is over – the holidays have begun. The dream is ended – this is the morning” (Lewis’ The Last Battle).

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On the cusp of the 20th century, William Booth (1829 – 1912), founder of the Salvation Army, wrote of his fears for the turn of the century.  Now looking back on the past 117 years we might see just how prescient he was as he wrote:

“I consider that the chief dangers
which confront the coming century will be:
religion without the Holy Ghost,
Christianity without Christ,
forgiveness without repentance,
salvation without regeneration,
politics without God,
and heaven without hell.”

Happily though, the following famous quote is also attributed to Booth.  With it we need not just wring our hands or flee to the mountaintops to search the skies for Christ’s sure coming.  Jesus said, “We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).  Booth put it this way: “Work as if everything depended upon work and pray as if everything depended upon prayer.”

 

 

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Elisabeth Elliot was this mom’s mentor in the young years of my parenting.  She spoke common sense; and she did not allow the fear of man to be a snare.  She plainly divided the Word of Truth and applied it to everyday, commonplace life whether it was popular or not.  She gave me a mantra in those early days which helped when I found it difficult to keep my head above water while rearing and oft-times homeschooling four extraordinary children.  It is brought to mind and found useful even to this day.  Her mantra? Do the next thing.

Somewhere along the way I had forgotten that this wonderfully practical advice came to Mrs. Elliot via an old poem.  Justin Taylor recently highlighted the poem (author unknown) in its full.  It helps to flesh out this simple saying and reminds us of the resource we have when we know not what else to do.  Over the years I’ve heard the variation – do the next right thing – which can be a helpful determiner when faced with a number of options.

On this new year, if we resolve nothing further, let us resolve to do this one thing – do the next thing.

Do the Next Thing,
author unknown

From an old English parsonage down by the sea,
There came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
Like low inspiration – Do the next thing.

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance are given:
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
Do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering by thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
and the light of His countenance, be for thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing;
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

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