LIVING ON THE BRINK
Like most of America, Sunday night our TV was tuned to the Super Bowl. All the hype, all the work, all of America’s attention lives on the brink of a Super Bowl Champion each February. And for those short two or three hours many lives swing in the balances.
Then it’s over—in a heartbeat the dreams of some become reality, while for others, hopes of fame and fortune are dashed. Sunday night, Peyton Manning engraved his place in the legends of football history. While one of the Carolina Panther players sat on the bench sobbing. Yes, a big ole burly football player, having spent months, years, of his life to end up with nothing. Zero, Zilch. Always to be remembered as Losers of Super Bowl Fifty.
Living along the brink of whatever consumes you often brings profound sorrow, especially when that consuming force is a vanishing idol that allures, tempts, and teases. A fickle dream, rewarding some. Crushing others. Yet when all is said and done, how will the way you have lived count for eternity?
For good, or for evil? For despair or hope?
Few of us will ever compete in a super bowl or anything like that here on this earth, but God’s Word tells us of a time when, like the scoreboard clock of the 2016 game ran down, and the game was history, God will say: Time is over, Son. Go get my children.
“And the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV).
But many will be left behind. Left to face the wrath of God that will be poured out on this earth for seven years. Scripture tells us of horrendous judgments for all who’ve scoffed, refused, and denied Jesus—Jesus who died so they might have been redeemed and forgiven because God’s mercy and grace. Yet, they chose death rather than life. Darkness over Light. And God will give them what they chose.
Wait a minute, you say. I’ve been told God is love. Where’d this wrath business come from?
Would you be angry if your son was put to death for something he didn’t do and then the real perpetrator kicked you to the curb? Shouted your name in profanity? Did everything they could do to hurt you? We’re talking a major portion of humanity that lives as though God is dead. Are you foolish enough to believe the Sovereign God of the Universe will hold them guiltless just because they refused to trust Jesus to pay for their sin? God left the Book of Revelation to describe for us, in great detail, what the just and righteous punishment will be for those who by rejecting Jesus also rejected God, will be…in that day.
Every football team believes all their Super Bowl hype. All the words flung out by the media and fans. And each team believes their own press. Well, we have a Super Enemy who’s been flinging his deceptive lies at mankind since the beginning. And the sad part is…many have and still believe those lies. And they will be left sobbing on the benches when the multi-dimensional truth of God’s character is suddenly revealed in real time and mind-boggling color.
God has revealed His since truth, through His Word, since the beginning. But those left behind will be forced to face the reality they lived life along the savage brink of deception and lies, purposefully neglecting His Truth.
And tragically, many of those left behind will be church members. Church members who knew in their heads about Jesus, but their hearts were far from Him. Church members busy living on the brink, clinging to their latest obsession. Too busy indulging the lusts of their flesh. Too busy absorbed by the culture around them, rather than reading and learning the truth from the Word of God. That’s not fair! They will scream. I don’t understand all that Bible mumbo-jumbo.
And they’re right, they can’t understand, because they were never changed. Never “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11 NAS).
In ancient times God instructed all Jewish males to be circumcised when they were eight days old. This was a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham. A covenant where His people were to come apart and be different. But in Deuteronomy 30:6 God told His people about a new circumcision that was to come:
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6 NKJV).
This is the circumcision Paul was telling the Church at Colossae about. And these were some of Abraham’s descendants God was speaking of in the Book of Deuteronomy. Descendants who had come to understand the mystery of the Church—Gentile and Jew in one body in Christ Jesus. People whose hearts were truly changed by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of His testimony.
But in plain English, many today walk the aisle of a local church, maybe get dunked in the pool, but never experience change. Change that comes only when a heart is truly repentant. Real change brought about by the Holy Spirit living inside you, remodeling, transforming you into the image of Christ.
The others? No change—not in this lifetime. Not interested in putting sins to death. No desire to know who God really is. Or surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They don’t want change. They wanted fire-insurance They’d rather spend time wrapped up with the things of the here and now, rather than studying and abiding in the Word of God. Indulging fleshly lusts rather than being concerned and repentant about what grieves the Spirit of God.
This morning my heart was convicted by Paul’s words as I understood a little more about who God is, and what Jesus accomplished for me.
“For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him (Jesus) you have been made complete, and He (Jesus) is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him (Jesus) you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him (Jesus) in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him (Jesus) through faith in the working of God, who raised Him (Jesus) from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He (God) made you alive with Him (Jesus), having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He (God) has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:9-14 NAS). Emphasis in parenthesis mine.
Or if you have been saved by grace, through faith, you are:
• Complete in Christ Jesus
• Circumcised with a circumcision without hands
• Buried with Jesus in baptism
• Raised up with Jesus through faith in God
• When you were dead in trespasses and uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with Jesus.
• Forgiven by God of all your trespasses
• The certificate of your debt—God nailed it to the cross
Where are you walking this morning? On the narrow path that leads to life? Or are you racing along the brink of deception, comfortable with an unchanged life, always grasping yet never receiving His peace? His hope?
Perhaps you’ve been sitting on the sidelines of life, weeping over past failures. God doesn’t want you to remain there. His grace is sufficient to cover any sin. Sufficient to stand you on your feet again and wash you in Jesus’ blood. He will wrap you in His mercy and grace, and redeem and restore you to Himself. That’s why Jesus died. But you must recognize your need, then ask and receive, then trust and obey. He will do the rest.
Perhaps you are walking each day to please Him, bearing the fruit of all He’s done for you with thankful heart? How does this scripture impact your life today?
I’d like to hear from you.