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Monday, March 27, 2023
Given a choice, which bouquet would you select from this assorted variety of beautiful flowers displayed at Central Market?
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"The Peril Of Backsliding"
Message summary: Today we consider a particular danger in backsliding.
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“Although our sins testify against us, O LORD, do something for the sake of Your Name. For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against You” (Jeremiah 14:7).
Yesterday we drove up to the Lehigh Valley to visit the church where my nephew is Pastor. On the way home we stopped and ate lunch with my brother and his wife along with their oldest daughter and her husband.
I had an experience driving on a four lane limited access highway that in turn prompts a memory followed by what I hope will be a spiritual lesson for our readers today!
We entered the busy highway on a cloverleaf type exchange (RT 22 and RT 33). As I was picking up speed I noticed a car in the shoulder driving backwards toward our car. I assume the driver had missed the exit and rather than safely driving ahead a few miles to turn around he was "saving time" by rather speedily backing up, swerving a bit into my lane.
This can be extremely dangerous especially on a busy highway. Small changes to the steering in reverse can lead to a pendulum effect which will result in losing control.
I learned this 30 years ago on a very non-busy highway in mountainous northern PA known as the Quehanna Highway. After climbing a long grade from the valley the engine in our car blew. There was virtually no traffic on the road so I decided to back down the mountain, though Brooksyne warned me of the potential danger. When driving in reverse steering is very sensitive and it's easy for the car to get away from you. I was struggling to keep control but very unwisely proceeded till it all went haywire and I veered off the road striking a guardrail which kept us from plunging into a mountain stream. (If the blown engine didn't total the car this sure did!)
I consider a spiritual lesson here in regard to the peril of backsliding.
"The word 'backslide', in a Christian context, implies movement away from Christ rather than toward Him. A backslider is someone who is going the wrong way, spiritually. He is regressing rather than progressing. The backslider had at one time demonstrated a commitment to Christ or maintained a certain standard of behavior, but he has since reverted to old ways. Backsliding may manifest itself in several ways, e.g., dropping out of church, losing fervor for the Lord, walking away from a ministry or a family, or falling back into old habits." (from gotquestions.org)
The word backslide is used infrequently in the Bible in the Proverbs and prophets but the concept is all though the Bible. Today we will consider our daily verse from Jeremiah, especially his candid confession, "For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against you”.
Jeremiah lived during the years immediately prior to Israel’s destruction and captivity in Babylon. The spiritual and physical conditions were horrific. God’s judgment fell not only on the idolaters but also upon His own people (read Lamentations 2)*. Jeremiah pleaded with the people to repent and turn to God and earnestly prayed as expressed in the daily Scripture verse.
Jeremiah did not argue against the basis of God’s judgment but readily acknowledged the sins that were an inarguable witness against the character of God’s people. He appealed to God’s mercy based on His sinless character and for His honor and glory.
Like driving in reverse one has a lot less control than he thinks he has when choosing to backslide. One may think "I have this sinful rebellion under control and will only go so far" but very quickly he or she loses control and the rebellious spirit takes charge.
A much better outlook is expressed by the apostle Paul. One that we should all follow: "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13,14).
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, if we search our hearts we too will cry out with Jeremiah, "Our sins testify against us". Our behavior reflects the inner desires of our hearts and all too often it does not reveal God-like character. Help us to heed the warnings of Scripture regarding backsliding, to listen to the Spirit at work within us showing us the way to keep walking the paths of righteousness. Worthless pursuits, straying affections, or wasteful energy can so easily lead us astray from the narrow path laid out before us. We want to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness so that we will honor and glorify Your name in that which we do and that which we think upon. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
*Brooksyne's Note: I added the asterisk so that I might comment on the potential fallout of one's backslidden condition. Just as the Scripture comments, "God’s judgment fell not only on the idolaters but also upon His own people" I also consider the innocent family members, the church body and others who are greatly affected by the sinful behavior of one's backslidden condition. "No one lives unto himself" is a verse that applies here and I believe there are times that if a person who is preparing to walk away from God realizes the impact his or her actions will have on others it will help to steer them away from such ungodly thinking. The consequences of one's choice is also consequential to those they love the most, and it can be one of the deterrents to keep us on the right track, seeking to find peace with God rather than strategize with the enemy of our soul, whose sole ambition is to wreak havoc and destroy our soul.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me" Click to listen on YouTube CityAlight
What are some Bible verses about backsliding? (from gotquestions.org)
After a chaplain visit we went into the city Friday morning to visit Bill, a friend of ours, who has recently opened Lancaster Pie and Coffee downtown. We had a wonderfully tasty pie. The photo does no justice to the attractive and appealing display of the pies in the showcase. We thoroughly enjoyed a pie sized for two made of biscoff pie crust with biscoff cheesecake topped with cherry pie filling. We are praying for Bill's new business to keep him busy making lots of irresistible pies in Lancaster City.
While downtown we walked through Central Market established in 1730 and the oldest continuously operating farmer's market in the US.
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The Groff family has been selling produce at the market since 1946. Mr. Groff has been working in this stand at Central Market since 1954. Wow, the year of Stephen's birth! We especially appreciate their witness for the Lord. A Groff family specialty is lettuce – with more than 14 varieties from which to choose all grown on their own farm! But we were also impressed that they grow their own mushrooms which he is holding before he bagged them up for us. They were delicious!
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Among the most unique stands is Long's Horseradish. For five generations, the Long family has been handcrafting its now-famous horseradish – since 1902.
As we were headed up to the Lehigh Valley yesterday morning to visit family and attend church we saw this Amish buggy crossing the overpass likely on the way to church as well.
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