WEEKLY CHRISTIAN BIBLE STUDY AND DEVOTIONAL FROM GOD’S WORD, FOR THE NEWLY SAVED AND MORE SEASONED BELIEVER, AND FOR OTHERS SEEKING TRUTH. OUR PRAYER IS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, LOVE AND GRACE, AND IN THE GOSPEL OF THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL WHO SEEK HIM HAVE ETERNAL, ABUNDANT LIFE.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Photo in Central Park by Steveen Manon 2012
In this dream, I am expecting a visit that evening from
someone I’ve never met before, but whom I know is very important to my life. At
last I will meet face to face with the formerly anonymous patron of my college
education, and I want to make a good impression on him so that he’ll continue
to support me in achieving my life goals.
On a gray wintry day in New York City, I’m preparing for
this visit that could determine my destiny. I want my benefactor to know that I
am physically fit, but then I realize that actually I’ve let myself go and I’m
no longer in very good shape. So I begin jogging around Manhattan and even stop
at the gym, but I’m too exhausted to complete this last-minute workout.
Knowing that my physical fitness is less than exemplary, I
wonder if I can find the perfect outfit that would at least help me look my
best. I spot a gorgeous, turquoise lace pageant gown in a boutique window. But
it costs $460 and I haven’t saved up any money or even established any credit,
so I leave the store empty-handed.
I enter another upscale store, but no one is there. I spot
a package of crackers on top of a cabinet and suddenly realize I’m ravenously
hungry. After toying with the idea of leaving some money to pay for my
“purchase,” I just take the crackers and leave, reasoning that they won’t be
missed. Filling my stomach reminds me that I should be hospitable and prepare a meal for my guest. So I decide to rush home to see if I have any provisions in
my cupboard and to buy whatever else is needed.
I find myself in Central Park, where the trees are ablaze
in fall colors, brightening the dreary sky and momentarily lifting my spirits.
My apartment is on the East River, so it shouldn’t take me too long to get there.
But then I realize too late that I’m on the wrong side of the park, and that
I’m headed west instead of east.
I want to hail a taxi, but the streets are strangely
deserted. In a panic, I realize that night is falling, the appointed hour for
the visit has come and gone, and that I missed him because I was unprepared and
preoccupied with unimportant things.
As I awoke, my thoughts turned to the Visit I am most eagerly
awaiting – the Rapture when Christ shall return to meet His children in the air
(1 Corinthians 15:52; 1
Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus Christ alone is my Benefactor Who has not
only blessed me so richly in my life to date (John 10:10; James 1:17), but Who has secured my eternal destiny in Heaven through His death on the cross, burial, and
resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Based on Bible prophecy and current events (Matthew 24), it seems like the
remaining time before this meeting in the clouds is very short, although no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36).
How we spend this time can alter our eternal future. Those who do not know Christ
as their Lord and Savior will be left behind to face the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). If they accept
the mark of the beast, who is the Antichrist, they will be irreversibly doomed
to eternal hell (Revelation 14:9-11).
Even many who are now in churches, yet not born again (John 3:5-8), will be left behind
and no longer able to make the crucial transition from having an intellectual
understanding of Who Jesus Christ is to having an intimate heart relationship with
Him (Romans 10:9). Sadly, they
will be deluded and believe the lie that the Antichrist is God, accepting his
mark and then being doomed to eternal punishment in hell (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
These “Christians” in name only will be like the foolish
virgins who are unprepared for the wedding feast, representing unsaved people
who think they will go to Heaven because they are church members or come from a
Christian home. Unlike the wise virgins, representing born-again believers, the
foolish virgins lack oil in their lamps, which symbolizes the indwelling Holy Spirit. When the Bridegroom returns unannounced, the foolish virgins are locked
out from the feast and from His presence because they had left to buy the oil
they should have already received (Matthew
For those of us who are saved, how we spend these last
moments before His return could determine whether we have crowns to lay at His
feet (Revelation 4 9-11) and
eternal rewards to enjoy in Heaven, or whether we will suffer loss when we face
Him at the judgment seat (1
Corinthians 3:12-15). The fields are ready for harvest, and yet the
laborers who are bringing souls to Him are few (John 4:35-36; Luke 10:2). Are we doing all we can to
spread the Good News of salvation through our faith in His grace? (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Each day we face choices, and our decisions can glorify
Him or be a meaningless detour set up by Satan to distract us from God’s will for
our life. Physical fitness is good because it helps to preserve our body, which
is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1
Corinthians 6:19-20). And yet if we neglect our spiritual fitness, we
cannot possibly fulfill God’s perfect plan for us (1 Timothy 4:8).
In the dream, it was futile for me to engage in a
last-ditch effort to get physically fit. In reality, we cannot achieve physical
or spiritual development in a single, short-lived burst, as both require daily
discipline over the long haul.
Many churchgoers spend excessive hours and dollars in
selecting a flattering outfit and stylish accessories for church, and even
having their hair and nails done. Yet I know that Christ loves and accepts me
unconditionally, whether I’m dressed to the nines in a pageant gown or just wearing my old pajamas. There
is nothing wrong with wearing our best to God’s house if we do so out of
respect and love for Him and it does not hinder our service, make others uncomfortable,
or deplete our money better spent on offerings.
I have seen young women in church wearing stiletto heels
that were so high that they could not climb the few steps to the choir loft
without help, often from elderly singers who could have used assistance
themselves. I have heard of women who were struggling financially hesitate to
come to church for fear of looking shabby next to their well-heeled sisters. Sometimes
our priorities are sadly misplaced.
As we dress and get ready for church, do we spend enough
time and prayer in preparing our hearts (1
Chronicles 29:18; Job 11:13) to receive God’s blessing and to
bless others with His light (Matthew 5:14)
and love shining through us? Our obedience can be a testimony to His mercy and
grace, or we can lose the power of our testimony by sins that Satan convinces
us are harmless, even something as seemingly insignificant as taking a package
of crackers that belongs to someone else.
The Christian race set before us (Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24) is a marathon, not
a sprint, and last-minute efforts are likely to be too little and too late to
be of lasting value. Yet if we have gone off course (Hosea 11:7; Jeremiah 3:14), as I did in my dream, neglected
the daily discipline needed for a meaningful walk with Christ (1 Corinthians 9:27), or never
entered the arena, now is the appointed time (2 Corinthians 6:2) to get on track!
We don’t know when Jesus will come again (Matthew 24:42-44), so may we be
ready for His all-important Visit! Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)