Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014 “In Times Of Declension”

“Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’” (Luke 16: 25-26)

Good Morning Partners in Prayer,

A good friend of mine, a parishioner in the congregation I am now serving in North Carolina, sent me a provocative article recently regarding the fact that few Christian churches today, even the more evangelical ones, do little preaching on the subject of Hell and eternal separation from God. After all…who wants to hear about hell anyway? God’s love and grace resonates more with most people than the thought of eternal damnation and separation from God. Yet Jesus himself is not shy about the subject at all. In this passage from Luke’s gospel, we are told by Christ of a rich man, quite content with the state of his earthly life who paid little regard for spiritual matters, being comforted by his opulent lifestyle prior to death. Jesus compares him with a man named Lazarus who enjoyed no such comforts while alive, living the life of a sore-covered beggar who would have gladly fed on the droppings from the rich man’s table. Being a godly man, when he died, he found himself in heaven, while the rich man ended up in the torment of hell. Now in agony, the rich man cried out , “have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’”  But his cries were to no avail. The course of his life had been laid out and the chasm between his eternal fate and that of Lazarus was sealed long before his plight.  There are still those who believe a casual relationship with God or an occasionally muttered, halfhearted prayer, or no prayer at all, for that matter, is substantial to assure comfort in the next life. God is, after all, a loving and merciful God, so why bother. He’s supposed to take me in. That’s his job, right? If that is your attitude, perhaps you need to spend a little more time considering the Word. Christian author Oswald Chambers wrote,

“In times of declension we are inclined to place the need of prayer instead of penitent approach to God in the fore front.”

Times of declension” may very well describe the world in which we live, as a family of humanity or as an individual. Immorality, godlessness, wickedness, and evil surround us. Some live a life like the rich man…aloof to God until the time of need arises. Then, like the master of the house summoning a butler, we expect God to come running and correct our situation when we cry out to him. We would do much better, as Chambers suggests, to come humbly before our “Master”, with genuine repentance and humility before expecting God to come running when we ring the bell for him.  Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Those who realize their poverty of spirit, as did Lazarus, and humbly confess it before the Lord…to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven. Real wealth is found there. Let’s pray!

O Lord; May we ever realize that true wealth and a rich inheritance are the products of a humble and contrite heart. We bow before You today seeking Your abundant grace and rejoice in Your steadfast love. hear our prayer, O Lord, for we ask it in Jesus’ Name. Amen

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