Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | February 16, 2015

February 16, 2015 “The Land Mine”

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.” (Acts 26:28-29)

Good Morning and Happy Presidents’ Day Everyone!

I discovered something this weekend that really doesn’t surprise me a great deal, but I find it interesting nonetheless. Lydia and I went out for dinner on Valentine’s Day with relatives visiting from New Jersey. Like many restaurants these days, television monitors were tuned in to some sporting event or another. One of them featured an NFL game from who knows when. Now football season, as you know, has come and gone, but die hard fans still dealing with withdrawal pains from the conclusion of the most recent season will watch about anything, I guess, so long as it’s football! In fact, there are still those who are discussing the dramatic conclusion of this year’s NFL Championship game, and how Seattle almost won, except for an unfortunate play call in the last minute of the game. They ALMOST won, which translated, of course means They LOST. I am of the opinion that there are few words in the English vernacular that are as forlorn as “Almost.” To be so tantalizingly close to a desired outcome but then to fall short of that goal in the end only adds to the disappointment that is felt by such failure. At times, it isn’t the unsuccessful team or individual that is most disappointed. It could, and often does, include others…parents, teachers, coaches, fans…that all share in the disappointment. When it comes to winning a particular race or contest, that disappointment, no matter how significant it may seem at the time, is often short-lived, for its consequences  are usually short-lived. But when it comes to eternal matters, “almost” can be devastating. Consider the case of King Agrippa, before whom Paul shared his conversion testimony. So powerful was Paul’s testimony that King Agrippa declared, You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Translation: “You present a cogent argument, but I am not convinced.” To quote a line from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, “Almost carries no weight in matters of the heart.” There is no greater “matter of the heart” than to have a heart for God. There are many like King Agrippa going through life satisfied with their own sense of morality, accepting that which has a veneer of righteous appearance as a reasonable substitute for that which is of true value. Preacher Charles Spurgeon once said,

“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”  

To be “almost right” is more subtly deceptive than recognizing that which is clearly wrong. Like a land mine hidden on a well-traveled path, “almost right” lies in wait to unleash its explosive devastation on the unsuspecting heart. To recognize the tripwire of ‘almost right’, one must learn discernment, and that is taught by the Spirit through the Word. Study it. Meditate on it. Digest it. Apply it. Live by it. Let’s pray!

Just and Merciful God; You are my All-in-All. I desire to know You intimately, not casually. My heart’s greatest longing is to live in accordance to Your perfect will. Grant me the Spiritual gift of Discernment, I pray, in Jesus’ Blessed Name. Amen!

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