Category Archives: life

The Power of Spiritual Vision

When the servant of Elisha saw that the king of Syria had surrounded the city of Dothan in order to capture Elisha, he trembled in fear, not knowing what would become of them. But Elisha comforted him by assuring him that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” He must have been uncertain as to what they meant until, when the servants’ eyes were opened, he saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (II Kings 6:13-18).

Much too often we fail to see things in the right way, as they really are. The truth is, “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam. 16:7). While we might be clean in our own eyes, the Lord looks at us as we really are and weighs our spirits (Prov. 16:2). The way we look at an issue, will determine how we will address it.

The story is told of two rival shoe salesmen who went to a very backward country. When the first man got off the plane and looked around, he immediately went to the nearest phone and called his office. “Buy me a ticket and bring me back home. No one wears shoes here. There is no market!” The second shoe salesman got off the plane and looked around. He, too, went immediately to the nearest phone and called the home office. “Send me all the shoes we have. The market is wide open. Everyone needs shoes here!” How we look at the situation determines how we respond.

Some look at their own sin-filled life and wonder how they can ever straighten it out. Like the rich young ruler, they look at it as an impossible task (Luke 18:18-30). “Who then can be saved?” they wonder (v. 26). As long as we focus on our possessions, which is what the rich young ruler did, then we will not see the greater issues involved. For “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:6).

When Jesus came to the apostles by walking on water while they were in the boat, Peter wanted to walk to Jesus on the water, too. And, at first, he did. But when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused only on the wind and the boisterous sea, he began to sink (Matt. 14:25-33). When we take our eyes off of Jesus, when we lose focus in life, when we don’t see things as they really are, we will sink in the boisterous waves of life. That is why we must ever look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:1,2).

Sometimes how we look at things is betrayed by our speech. Some say, “I have to go to church Sunday” or “I have to go to Bible study.” But one who has the right attitude will sincerely say and mean “I get to go to worship” or “I get to go to Bible study.” They will see it as a privilege and a blessing instead of a burden and a chore. Some look at giving in the same light: “I have to give to the church…” instead of “I get to give back to the Lord…”

How we sincerely look at things makes a big difference in our life. If our eyes are opened and we see things as they really are, when we see that sin is real (Rom. 3:23), and when we see that God’s love is manifested to us in the gift of His Son (John 3:16), when we see and understand that Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary (Heb. 9:17-22), and when we see that there is a judgement day coming (Acts 17:30,31), it will make a difference in the way we live our life.

Eric L. Padgett

Lost Moments

Have you ever been given a unique opportunity but then wasted the moment? All of us have probably done this, probably over and over again, to our never ending regret. But the Bible implores us to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16). Since death is a certainty for us all (unless the Lord should return, of course), time is so very precious (Heb. 9:27). James adds that our lives here are as a vapor that appears for just a brief moment of time, then vanishes silently away (James 4:14). We need to learn to redeem the time and not let precious moments pass.

We should not let the moment pass when we tell someone we care deeply about that we love them. For some reason, these words are sometimes hard for us to say. Maybe because it leaves us vulnerable and our hearts exposed. Unfortunately, we often only say these words when we fear we might loose someone, and then it is sometimes too late! Since life is so uncertain, we can not know when will be the last time we can speak these words to someone. How terribly sad it is to let this tender moment pass because of fear or any other vain emotion! How painful it will be to bear the memory of such a moment lost forever!

We should not let the moment pass when we sincerely compliment someone. How stingy we are with our compliments and free with complaints. Sometimes we act as if it hurts us to compliment someone, almost as if it depletes our own store of confidence. But it doesn’t and in fact it adds to our stature at the same time it encourages others. A sincere–and the key here is the word “sincere”–compliment is such a simple yet powerful act that lasts well beyond the words uttered. But if we let the moment pass, that moment can never be regained.

We should not let the moment pass to do something bold. Life is so often full of the routine and humdrum, that we can get burned out. But one injection of boldness or excitement–in Christian moderation–can restore necessary zest for life. If we pass on an opportunity to do something unique or grand, we might live with regret the rest of our lives.

We should not let the moment pass to stand up for the right (I Cor. 16:13; Acts 18:9). Too often, to avoid conflict, we say nothing when the truth is distorted, abused or attacked. For some reason, whether because of fear of rejection, or fear of rocking the boat, or fear of being seen as a trouble-maker, or a host of other rationalizations, we hold our peace. The truth is the truth whether we defend it or not and we will all be judged by that truth. But men’s perception of the truth can be damaged if we stay silent when an attack is launched and, consequently, men’s lives and souls destroyed (Gal. 2:1-4). Reprove, rebuke and exhort should be the maxim by which we conduct ourselves in relation to the truth (II Tim. 4:2).

We should not let the moment pass to go to God in prayer (I Thess. 5:17). God should not just be a pressure gauge that we go to when we need relief! We should never fail to give God thanks for His bounty, we should not let the moment pass to request His providential aid, we should not let the moment pass to pour out our heart to God in a quiet hour. How often and easily we go to God in prayer is directly related to how close we are to God.

We should not let the moment pass to tell someone that we forgive them. If someone sincerely requests our forgiveness, we should not let the moment pass to offer that forgiveness (Luke 17:3,4). How much damage may be done by not forgiving we may never know (II Cor. 2:7,8). It could last an eternity! Do we want that kind of guilt on our shoulders? When we hold a grudge and let it fester, it darkens our soul and conscience. It colors our view of everything we do in life. We should relieve ourselves of the unnecessary burden of smoldering malice and seize the moment to forgive.

We should not let the moment pass to tell some one of Jesus. How sad it will be on the day of judgement when we hear someone say, “You never mentioned Him to me.” We may only have one opportunity to introduce the Lord to someone we meet, and if we let the moment pass without seizing the opportunity, that soul may never again be able to hear the truth (Acts 20:31). God may require their blood at our hand (Ezek. 3;18). If we do convert the sinner from the error of his way, we may just save a soul from death and hide multitude of sins (James 5:19,20).

We should not let the moment pass to obey the Lord. Some people know they should obey the Lord but want to “sow their wild oats” first. And so they wait. Sometimes they wait too long and their life is snatched from them in one brief, tragic moment. Because our life is but a vapor, we know not what the morrow may hold (James 4:14; Prov. 27:1). When our life comes to a close, as it surely will (Heb. 9:27), there will be no other opportunity to obey. Our eternal destiny will be sealed. How terribly sad it will be to hear the Lord say,”Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matt. 25:41). Perhaps the flames of perdition will burn even hotter as we constantly are reminded that we had an opportunity but let the opportunity to obey the Lord pass.

Eric L. Padgett

Life, Liberty and Happiness

This country is unique in the history of the world in the liberties it enjoys. These freedoms have been codified into the founding documents of this country. In the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, the Founders acknowledged that our freedoms come from God, not from men, and that these freedoms include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While we cherish these blessing greatly, there are greater spiritual blessings that we enjoy as citizens of the Kingdom of Christ.

As Christians, we enjoy the promise of life such as the world can never know. Physical life comes from God and all men enjoy it (Gen. 2:7). Since sin came into the world, however, we all live in fear of the flame of our life being extinguished (Heb. 2:14,15). For what is our life but a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away (James 4:14). But the Lord came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Therefore, we have the promise of life that now is and of that which is to come (I Tim.4:8). Jesus came to abolish death and He brought life an immortality to light through the gospel (II Tim. 1:10).

As Christians we also enjoy the blessings of liberty. God created man as a free moral agent, free to choose what he wants, even disobedience to His will (Josh. 24:15). But to choose contrary to the will of God enslaves one to sin (Rom. 6:20). Many men thrill at the promise others make of bringing them liberty, only to find themselves enslaved to some man-made ideology or power. There is a clear-cut , scriptural principle: of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage (II Pet.2:19). However, Jesus came to bring actual deliverance to the captives and to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18). We have a perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). And one day, even our bodies will be delivered from the bondage of corruption in to the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21).

Finally, we also have the promise of happiness. The Declaration promises that Americans may “pursue” happiness. The Founders understood that true happiness is a very elusive thing and they were wise to say that it’s pursuit was all that could be assured. Many seem to think the more things they possess the happier they will be, but truly a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses (Luke 12:15). The truly happy man is the one that trusts in the Lord (Prov. 16:20). The truly happy man is the one that keeps God’s law (Prov. 29:18). The truly happy man is the one who suffers for righteousness’ sake (I Pet. 3:14) and is reproached for the name of Christ (I Pet. 4:4). They are truly happy who endure (James 5:11). In Christ, there is joy unspeakable (I Pet. 1:8)!

While we should always be thankful to God for this great country in which we live, and the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness it proffers, and appreciate the cost in human blood which made it possible, we should be even more thankful to God for the spiritual life, freedom from the bondage of sin and the eternal inward joy that comes from being a citizen of the kingdom of God. Nor should we ever forget the price in divine blood that these blessings cost the Son of God (Acts 20:28). The day we are raised from the watery grave of baptism is the greatest Day Independence the world has ever known.

Eric L. Padgett