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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

James 4:14

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"We Are A Moment"

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).
"But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King" (Jeremiah 10:10).

Chain dam on Lehigh River near Easton PA
Yesterday Ester and I visited with my brother Pat and his family in the Lehigh Valley. A custom we've established during holiday visits over the twenty years he has lived in his present home is taking a hike down a trail to the Lehigh River, overlooking the Chain Dam. This dam is designed with the waterflow constantly cascading over the crest of the spillway.

Greg and Gretchen, Pat's daughter and son-in-law, joined us for the walk and we went down to a fenced overlook to get a closer view. Below the dam we noticed one log caught up in the swirling waters and continuously tumbling, but unable to escape the swirl of the water. They mentioned seeing this log on previous visits and Greg said, "It seems that log's been trapped there forever." Well I suppose only the Lord knows how long it's been there or how long it will stay, but of course it hasn't been there forever and neither will it be!

Many of our readers are familiar with a song titled, "Be Unto Your Name" which powerfully contrasts our present moment of life in light of eternity.

We are a moment, You are forever.
Lord of the ages, God before time.
We are a vapor, You are eternal
Love everlasting, reigning on high.

Today we want to consider the single line, "We are a vapor, You are eternal." Lynne DeShazzo and Gary Sadler, authors of this song, share their thoughts: "We started talking about how fragile and temporal life is ---that it's just a vapor or a moment and how our lives pass so quickly and yet God's life goes on and on forever. Juxtaposed against the vastness and eternality of God, all that we could say in the chorus of the song we wrote is what anyone would say when faced with that reality – Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. It seemed to echo a heart expression of every believer – awe, humility and reverence in the light of One so great."

James writes of this in the daily text. "You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." When Brooksyne first introduced this song to the church we were pastoring at the time she illustrated the James passage as she sprayed a fragrant mist that disappeared within seconds, a vivid reminder of how quickly we pass through life on this side of eternity.

A good way to seek another perspective of how quickly time flees is a walk through a cemetery. A slow, thoughtful walk while examining the markers reminds us that life is indeed a vapor. We are so blessed when we see expressions of faith on some of the markers, a reminder of the eternal dimension. A Scripture message we inscribed on my parent's marker sums up the entire reason for living as well as the reason for dying, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."

What great assurance the short statement that comprises our second daily verse must have given Jeremiah and also us today. "But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King" (Jeremiah 10:10). Three words in this text powerfully describe the immutable God of the universe;

Consider each of these bedrock adjectives in light of the shifting sands of the world's value system. They are just as valid in describing God today as they were 2,600 years ago, for God does not change. They describe the One who said, "I am the God of…" The present tense is always necessary in describing the true, living and eternal God. He always "is".

The song I noted in the earlier part of the message goes on to proclaim,

Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Highest praises, honor and glory.
Be unto Your name, be unto Your Name.

The apostle, James, acknowledges this in the daily Scripture portion. He quotes the confident assumption still expressed, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." In my generation we in America hear the buzzword, "preparing for retirement." However most have given little thought to preparing for eternity. Retirement is uncertain and temporal at best, while eternity is certain and forever through the eons of time. 

Listen carefully to the sobering words of the apostle as he forthrightly tells us, "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow." That's right! We really don't. In fact, we really don't know what will happen the remainder of this day. Modern man may bristle at James's words but the perspective of eternity will reveal how right he is. "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

Are you ready?  I urge you to examine your heart this moment (not later today or sometime down the road).  Is your heart right with God?  Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior who is the atoning sacrifice for your sins?  "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the longer we live the more we come to understand the brevity of our life on earth. We are but a mist in the eons of time, but we are also of incomparable worth to You who gives us the principles, teachings and tools to walk our brief pilgrimage on this side of eternity. So much is lacking in this life where sin abounds, but we gladly hold onto Your hand for the glorious victory that awaits the believer where sin is no longer present. Our perishable bodies will no longer be like a vapor but will be imperishable, made to last for all of eternity. It's only because of Calvary that we are afforded this amazing privilege. Thank You, Jesus!  Amen.

Matthew Henry writes, "The frailty, shortness, and uncertainty of life, ought to check the vanity and presumptuous confidence of all projects we have in mind for the future. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun's rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapor being scattered. So short, unreal, and fading is human life, and all the prosperity or enjoyment that attends it; though bliss or woe forever must be according to our conduct during this fleeting moment. We are always to depend on the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands, but at the disposal of God. Our heads may be filled with cares and contrivances for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but Providence often throws our plans into confusion. All we design, and all we do, should be with submissive dependence on God."

Pat and Stephen Weber along Lehigh River 1/1/13
Yesterday Ester and I joined my brother Pat and his family for a New Year's Meal at their home near Easton PA in the Lehigh Valley.  (Brooksyne stayed home to do some projects and watch our rascally pet, Mollie, who has now learned to jump the fence so we can't leave her outside when we're gone). here's a photo of Pat and me at the Chain Dam.

Peach/cherry pie 1/1/13
For our dinner we had a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch New Year's meal of pork and sauerkraut and finished with a cherry/peach pie made by my sister-in-law, Laverne.

Pets sharing bed 1/1/13
Yesterday Brooksyne caught Mollie and Roxie sharing their new bed they received for Christmas. It's nice to see them get along!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Be Unto Your Name"  Video   Robin Mark

"Remember"  Video  
Laura Story

"Faithful God"  Video  Shannon Wexelberg

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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