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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mennonite pickup 7/31/13
Rural traffic in Lancaster County

"A Lesson From Traps"

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"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth" (Luke 21:33-35).

Yesterday I visited with Isaiah and John who were building animal traps in one of the companies we serve as chaplains. They make live animal wire traps as seen in the photo. The trapped animal can be caught without harming it and then released elsewhere, presumably where it will not be nuisance to someone else! They make traps for all kinds of smaller animals including armadillos. I was pleased to hear that they have many orders coming in and are staying busy.

Safeguard trap makers 7/31/13

Part of what I like to do in my chaplain care is affirm people for doing a good job, working hard and providing goods and services beneficial to others. Most of us have used an animal trap of some type, probably most notably a mouse trap. We have used many of them through the years!

As you might have already guessed, today I want to share a spiritual lesson that speaks of traps.

The use of traps,
which is also referred to as a snare, goes back early in Bible history. We find this reference in the book of Job, “For he is thrown into the net by his own feet, and he steps on the webbing. A snare seizes him by the heel, and a trap snaps shut on him. A noose for him is hidden in the ground, and a trap for him on the path" (Job 18:8-10). This is in the context of Bildad the Shuhite speaking of the plight of the wicked. Most of the Bible references to a trap are figurative.

Today's Scripture text is a part of the Mount Olivet discourse where Jesus is teaching His disciples regarding things to come. Now there are various interpretations of this passage among earnest Christians but most of us see it as an overview applicable to those who follow Christ all through the church age, not merely the original disciples. It deals with living our lives in light of Christ's return.

Today's text has a solemn promise and warning.

The promise:
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."

The warning:
"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth."

Traps rely on an element of surprise. After all, what animal or person, intentionally walks into a trap! Yet it is conceivable that any one of us might walk into a cleverly disguised trap; even more so when we are walking aimlessly and without purpose. Thus Jesus warned His followers to "be on guard" regarding three specific issues that weigh down the heart;

  • dissipation [carousings]
  • drunkenness
  • worries of life
Certainly in our own age we see these behaviors and attitudes and their prominence in weighing down many hearts.

"That day" in the text refers to the return of the Lord and if you heed His warning it "will not come on you suddenly like a trap." But "it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth." Note the contrast between "you" (the follower of Christ) and "all those who dwell on the face of all the earth." It will come on believers expectantly, but on all other people like a trap.

There are many reasons to believe that we are living in a time when that day is imminent. But regardless of how near we are to "that day" the warning from Christ always applies. We need to live with this daily outlook and conform our attitudes to Jesus' teaching:
"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap." Not only will we be ready for Christ's return, but we will live victoriously here and now.

Later in the New Testament the apostle Peter, who would have heard this Mount Olivet message, gave us a word that echoes this in a similar context of expectation: "What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:11b,12a)

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as believers, we are watching for the return of Christ. We cast aside behaviors and attitudes that distract our minds or weigh our hearts down with the cares and mindset of this world; otherwise we will be caught off guard and fall into the enemy's trap. We want to be sober, vigilant, and living in anticipation for that glorious day when the redeemed will be caught up in the air to meet Jesus. And so we will be with You forevermore. Amen.

Putter/fishing pole 7/31/13
Here's an idea for multi-taskers who like both golf and fishing.

Brian Althouse 7/31/13Yesterday I visited with a friend who will soon be leaving the military and is seeking God's will for his life. I met Brian about five years ago in the course of our chaplain ministry and, although he's been overseas over the past years, we've stayed connected through Daily Encouragement. We had a time of fellowship and prayer at the Village Farm Market.

Doug Paglia 7/31/13While visiting with Brian another friend dropped in. Doug and I have an interesting association in that we share the very same birthdate; month, day and year.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)Video  Casting Crowns

"Jesus is Coming Again"  Video  Wintley Phipps

"Jesus is Coming Again"  Video  Paul Mickelson Choir

"I Wish We'd All Been Ready"  Video  The Hoppers

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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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