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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"It's No Joking Matter"

"So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, 'Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!' But his sons-in-law thought he was joking" (Genesis 19:14).

Those who know me personally are aware that I sure enjoy teasing and having a good laugh. The Bible says there is "a time to laugh" and I am thankful that God placed this feature in our human disposition. Sometimes people don't know how to take my personality and more than a few times my teasing and joking has got me in some minor trouble.  But as Brooksyne tells Ester when I tease her and her friends, "You just have a Dad with a colorful personality."  It’s interesting that Ester is also a tease!

But there are issues in life that are just not joking matters. All over the world Christians regularly proclaim their belief in the judgment by reciting the Apostle's Creed, "He shall come to judge the living and the dead" or they profess this belief in a doctrinal statement. Today there are those faithful ministries that warn of impending judgment, but this is a subject many just don't want to hear. Indeed for many, judgment is just a joking matter. 

The response of Lot's sons-in-law typifies this attitude.  Lot had been told to warn anyone who belonged to him to leave the city, for it would be destroyed.  This is an act of grace on God's part.  Lot urged these young men, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!"

Ponder with me a moment about their response.  They "thought he was joking."  And yet Biblical history records the awful judgment that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  Many today, now some 4,000 years later, still laugh and scoff at the notion of a future judgment.

Whether God's judgment is that of the whole earth, specific nations, or every single individual, it's just a joking matter to many people. The good life, along with years of secularism and Biblical illiteracy, has dulled us to this most certain future event.  There are many who regularly profess that, "He shall come to judge the living and the dead", but give little thought to the meaning or impact of these solemn words.

Even so God has made Himself very clear in His Word. "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).  To the scoffers of his day Peter warned, "But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5). 

I contend that among my main responsibilities in this life is to personally prepare for this judgment and to warn others.  And God has also been very clear regarding how we are to prepare.  Fundamentally He wants our trust and obedience.*

Many consider judgment a joking matter, but let us who truly believe in the Lord continue to stand up for the truth and warn those around us that judgment is coming.  Lot's sons-in-law were urged to "hurry and get out of this place." The New Testament parallel is a plea that, "now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

* Here's a common prayer that expresses faith in God's plan of salvation.  It's often called "the sinner's prayer."  Believing what this prayer expresses is the main component of being prepared for the coming judgment. I urge you to pray this prayer from your heart today.  "Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner.  I believe that You came to this earth and died on the cross as a substitute for me.  I place my faith in You and what You have done for me.  I receive You into my life and choose this day to follow and serve You.  Thank You for hearing my prayer."

MosesThis morning Brooksyne is out early on a trip with our Amish friends and was unable to get back to share a prayer or note. Tomorrow she will share a story about Moses.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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