Monday, April 4, 2016

The Longest Day

The Longest Groundhog’s Day
Barbara Henderson

Most people are familiar with the movie ‘Groundhog’s Day’.  The star of the movie had a problem.  He was a very selfish man.  In the movie he kept repeating the exact same day over and over until he acted correctly through the day instead of being his normal narcisstic  self. 

Most people have a day or two or even one hundred that they would like the opportunity to do over.  They made some big mistakes and they would like the opportunity to do better on that day.  Truthfully, most of these people would not do any better if they had a second chance.

In a way our life is like a do-over.  We don’t get the opportunity to re-do an exact day, but we do get the opportunity to do the same things in a better day.  With each new day we get the opportunity to improve our actions.  Most people don’t take advantage of this opportunity.  They keep doing the same things in the same way.  How they feel about something is their guiding light on how they react.  They don’t take advantage of their opportunity.  Just like in the movie ‘Groundhog’s Day’, they miss the opportunity of causing things to turn out better than the day before.  In the movie the narcissist did the same thing day after day after day.  We are all guilty of doing that to some extent.

 Change starts with the individual.  More change is possible when two people such as a husband and wife decide to do things differently in the hopes of getting a better outcome.  When an entire family decides to do things differently great change for that family and those around them is possible.  In times of a national revival many people decide to do things the right way, and the course of history is changed for the better.

An obvious example of people not deciding to make any changes for the better is found in the children of Israel.  Israel is the nation chosen by God Almighty to show the world the goodness of God.  Instead, Israel as a whole keeps doing the same thing over and over.  They are not faithful to God.  In fact, it appears they will take any choice that doesn’t include God.  God preserves them as a distinct people, but they go through turmoil after turmoil.  The future of Israel is given to us in the Bible.  Through generation after generation of rebellion against God they face turmoil and persecution.  The people are physically slaughtered by those who blame them for all the ills of the world.  But, the Jewish people never change their actions and bow to God.  Instead they follow after whatever sin is considered normal for the day in which they live.

The Bible tells us that in the very last days of the tribulation Israel will finally turn to God with their whole hearts.  Superficial and ritual worship of God will be put away by the Jews and eventually the entire world.  They will cry out to God with their whole heart, and their longest day will finally be over.  God will usher in the Millennial Kingdom, and true peace will come to the world.  What a day that will be for all who believe.  Joy will overwhelm the people of the world.

Those who are not descendants of Israel really face long days as well.  Like the nation of Israel all other nations have rejected God.  Times of revival bring about some changes for the better, but the nation in its entirety never fully turn to God.  Soon, most of the people are back doing things in a manner that does not please God.

As in everything else the only one we can change is ourselves.  Our example may help those around us to change as well.  If you feel like you are stuck in a day that keeps repeating its self, then it is time to do things differently.

A new day and a new life begins by taking God seriously.  Superficial Christians abound around the world.  They give Christianity a bad name.  Christians who wake up every morning and pray to God to help them please Him in their thoughts, words, and actions throughout the day are rare. 

Elections are coming up later this year here in the USA.  The nation is so divided on beliefs regarding the way to a good future.  Voters for the most part are divided on what constitutes a ‘good future’.  Some people believe the bigger the government and the more freebies they hand out the better the world will be.  Others believe that a world without borders is the best way to go.  Elitist politicians believe that they should be making the choices instead of voters.  All politicians seem to be calling those who don’t agree with them insulting names like ‘low information voters’, ‘haters’, ‘people voting based on their anger instead of rational thought,’ ‘racist’, and any other insult they can think of.  Ultimately the national election will probably be narrowed down to two candidates.  There is a possibility of a third party candidate or even a 4th party candidate.   Bernie Sanders would have enough delegates to be a very serious contender if it weren’t for ‘super delegates’ who are allowed to ignore the voters’ choice and choose whoever they want to vote for.  Seriously, we could see an election where the party candidates are chosen in a way that angers voters.  There could be a third party run from both parties.  We could have an election where Hillary and someone who isn’t even running at this time are the party nominees.  Voters in both parties might be so angry they refuse to vote for the candidates and choose their second choice.  I do see a possibility of Democrat voters going third party with Bernie Sanders.  I see the GOP voters going third party if the candidate with the most delegates does not get the nomination.  That would be four candidates running for president.  Surely that would result in a runoff election.  But, the end result will be someone chosen to lead the USA for the next four years.  Ultimately we can ask ourselves, ‘What difference will it make?”

Don’t misunderstand.  I do believe that the next elected President does make a difference.  But God’s children can make an even bigger difference simply by acting like the Christians they claim to be.

In today’s world it seems that ‘acting like a Christian’ has a lot of different meanings.  People who don’t even know Jesus Christ claim to know how Jesus wants everyone to act.  ‘Acting like a Christian’ is said to include tolerance of everything which means you are not allowed to judge anything as sin or wrong.  Jesus Himself judged a lot of actions as sin.  It is not judgmental to point out that God calls certain things sin.  Lost sinners will not be turned to the Lord by people around them accepting their sins.  If they don’t even know they are sinning how can they turn from their sin?  Jesus loved people enough to tell them the truth.  Can we do less and still call ourselves Christians? 

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ 
John 25:12-11
Christ loved us enough to tell us the truth and to lay down His life for us.  Today there are Christians around the world who are being martyred for their faith.  That may come to America in our life time if the Lord delays His coming.  But at this time ‘laying down our lives for others’ means (at least in part) being faithful to tell the truth that there is one way into heaven through Jesus Christ.  Certain things are called sin by God Himself.  Speaking out in favor of the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, may cause enough problems that the life a Christian is living is over.  The bold Christian may be forsaken by family and friends for simply loving them enough to tell them the truth.  The truth is that there is one specific way into heaven by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. 

The Apostle Paul, the writer of a great deal of the New Testament, first gave up the life he had before he knew Jesus Christ to go out and tell the world that Jesus is the only way into heaven.  Eventually he gave up his physical life and was martyred.  

Jesus, our example, was not distracted from His mission by social unrest, government intrusiveness, or hatred toward Him by religious authorities.  Christians today face the same distractions.  We see things that are wrong and launch into correcting social ills.  We forget that people who become practicing Christians change society simply by following the instructions for living that Bible gives us.

The government intrudes into the daily lives of the entire population.  It is easy to get carried away in protesting government intrusiveness.  The most important way to combat government intervention is to tell those around us that Jesus saves.  As people become believers they do the things that are right according to Jesus Christ. 

Christians face hatred from the world on a global scale.  The best way to fight against that behavior is to love others enough to tell them the truth. 

One day our trials and tribulations will be over.  The longest days will be over. 

Hebrews 9:17 says, ‘And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Christians do not face the judgment of unbelievers.  We are secure in Jesus Christ.  No matter what our actions we will go to heaven.  However, there are rewards in heaven for our good behavior while we live now.  Proverbs 11:30 says, ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.’  The Bible never tells that it is wise to preach a social gospel, vote correctly, or make a lot of money. 
Matthew 5:11-12 says, ‘11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.’

Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus will do good for themselves and for the world.  Become a real ‘do-gooder’.  Do what Jesus says to do. Don’t be distracted by the cares of the world. Let your vision for the future be Jesus Christ and His Glory.

Be Thou My Vision 

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

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