Thoughts From The Journey 02-2019

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Rev. Marc Sanders

I don’t know of many of us who are eagerly praying for another snow this year. The confinement that the snow and cold has forced upon us this winter has created a longing for the warm climes of summer. Yet, let us sit for a while longer in winter, for there are a couple of lessons to learn that I think will be beneficial to us.
   I adore the beauty of freshly fallen snow. Its pure and spotless surface covers over the barren dankness of winter turning everything into a glistening wonderland. If the snow is deep enough, it is almost impossible to deter-mine the sloping contours of the yard thereby leveling out the entire landscape. Sadly, this beauty is destroyed by the first footprint as often the desire to go and play around in the snow wins out over the urge to maintain the snow’s purity. I cannot think of anything that is more bleak than dirty snow. Snow is not supposed to be dirty, it’s too pure for that, my heart screams. It occurs to me that dirty snow though is a great description of our souls. God’s forgiveness leaves our souls as pristine as newly fallen snow. We choose to mar it by going out and playing around in sin. I can hear you say, “but playing in snow is so much fun!!” Yes, I know, and I know of many who say that playing around in sin is just as much fun. Yet, just as we are told to stay off the roads for our own safety after the snow, so too does God’s Word instruct us to do the same with sin in our own lives. The question is why are we willing to listen to fallible authorities and ignore the infallible Creator of all?
   Secondly, the saddest thing I see in the days after a snow are snowmen. The temperatures rise to much warmer ranges and here are these frozen reminders that seem completely out of context to the world around them. It seems to me that we often find ourselves in the same predicament. We become frozen in our thoughts and actions and fall out of step with where God would have us be at the present. The snowman was great for that day, but its joy and beauty creates an air of sadness on those later days that bear little resemblance to those now past. We can long for them to come back and protect us, but sadly the chances of that happening are slim. The snowman at this stage is but an ever-decreasing picture of its former glory. Beloved, let us never become snowmen of faith, but let us always set ourselves to the task to grow in the grace and witness of our God. Let us not be where God has us to be yesterday, but where He wants us today as we seek out where He would have us be tomorrow.

Thoughts From The Journey 01-19

   A new year has dawned and with it all the uncertainties that accompany a fresh beginning. Will this year bring success or failure? Will this year bring us good health, or will it be a year of immense physical frustration? Will this year finally bring the fulfillment of a long-held dream or will it usher in dashed hopes? It would be incredibly nice if we could answer all of those questions right now so that we could be prepared for whatever may arise, but sadly we are not afforded such capabilities.
   However, there are some helpful things we can remember based around the life of Abel that I think will insure a successful navigation of 2019’s unknown waters. One, Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel lived by faith. Faith, by its very nature, is a darkness that we cannot navigate apart from grabbing the hand of the one who can carry us through. If we walk in faith, relying on the providence of God to steer our course, we know that even when the course is choppy, God is in control. So very often, our world is rocked because we rely solely on our capabilities and the visible to carry us through. Such actions do not meet the definition of walking by faith, but instead show us that we walk by sight.
   Secondly, Abel’s faith caused him to live a life that was devoted solely to the glory of God. The blood sacrifice that Abel offered in Genesis 4 was an acknowledgment of the sin in his life and his need for forgiveness. Cain failed to offer such a sacrifice, essentially stating that he knew best how to run his life and didn’t need anything from God. Such a course is dangerous and ultimately precipitated Abel’s murder by Cain. When we believe we are self-sufficient and do not need God or simply pay lip service to our need for Him, we place ourselves as the center of the universe instead of God. We deflect proper glory from the Creator to the created. God will never stand for that and we must be constantly on guard to protect ourselves from such mindsets that lead to our ruin.
   Finally, let us remember the last words of Hebrews 11:4 that because of Abel’s faith, though he died, he still speaks. It has occurred to me as I have reflected on this line that we all will continue to speak after death, it’s simply a matter of what will we say? Abel’s faith speaks loudly throughout the intervening centuries, as does Cain’s lack of faith. Let us live lives that speak so loudly that we will be for-ever remembered like Abel and Enoch and the assembled cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11. Let our lives be a testament to the glory and goodness of God so that we are obscured by the image of God we present. Truly, if we do this, 2019 will be a year of success as we feast on the bounty of God.