TOO LATE 10-1-17

TOO LATE

October 1, 2017

 

               Have you ever walked into a grocery store with a coupon promising you $1 off, or 2 for 1, or any other promising discount, and presented it at the checkout counter with your item, only to be told that the coupon has expired and is no longer valid?  Or maybe you have been watching an item on Ebay, hoping to get in the last bid and win the item, but you had trouble with your computer and couldn’t get the bid in before the item closed, and lost out on something you really wanted?  Being too late has consequences.  Showing up for a job interview late, no matter your excuse, pretty much guarantees you won’t get the job.  Make a credit card payment late and your interest rate goes up.  Make a payment late to the mafia, and the penalty could be far worse.  The white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland was running late for an appointment with the Queen, and feared losing his head.  But losing money, possessions, a job, or even your head, is not nearly as disastrous as what you will lose if you are too late in accepting Christ as your Savior and Lord.  Are you putting off something that determines the fate of your eternal soul, thinking you have all the time in the world, and possibly saying to yourself ‘why not enjoy life first, and think about God later’?  If so, you are listening to the lies of the devil, who is eager to have you face the judgment seat unprepared, and thus spend your eternity with him.  The Bible assures us that “each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27), and that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Jesus questioned the crowd, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”  (Mark 8:36,37).  How would you answer Him?  Is there something you would declare is more important than your soul? 

          Too often we continue down a road we know will lead ultimately lead to disaster.  We don’t like to give up immediate pleasures for long term benefits.  We plan to make the necessary changes in our life tomorrow, next week, in the new year, when I turn 30, 40, 50, when we move, when the kids move out, when I retire, before I die…  Once you have advanced lung cancer it’s too late to quit smoking.  Once you crash head first into another vehicle, killing you, as well as a mother and 3 kids in the other car, it’s too late to give up drinking and driving.  Once you OD on tainted drugs it’s too late to beat your addiction.  Some things should not be put off.  The longer you smoke, drink, or use drugs, the more difficult it is to quit.  And the longer you put off repenting of your sins and asking Jesus to save you from them, the harder your heart grows and the less likely you are to do it for real.  You may know that you need Jesus.  You may know that you can’t get to heaven on your own.  You may even know that your current sins (call them what you like – guilty pleasures, mistakes, errors in judgment) are keeping you from repentance and asking Jesus to not only save you from the pits of hell in the afterlife, but from the grip of hell in this life.  But know this, the longer you cling to them, the harder it will be to truly repent of them.  Do you think that just mumbling, “I’m sorry Lord” two minutes before you die is going to get you into heaven?  If you truly mean it, it will.  But will you truly mean it?  Or will you be like a kid that gets caught stealing candy and says “I’m sorry”, but isn’t really sorry he did it, he’s just sorry he got caught?

          I would like to believe that most of you have repented, have asked Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, put your faith in Him for your salvation, and are doing your best through the power of the Holy Spirit to live your life for Him.  For those of you that have, then think about the people you care about.  Do you have a relative or friend that is still hesitating?  Or maybe has flat out refused the hand that Jesus is holding out to him or her?  The apostle Jude said we “must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering (and) Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment (vs 22-23).  How do we show mercy?  We encourage those who are trying but struggling.  We don’t condemn, we gently guide them onto the correct path.  And how do we rescue others?  Those who have become very hardened against God and resistant to the Holy Spirit, need more than encouragement.  We need to pray that God does whatever it takes in their lives to show them the error of their ways and break down the barriers they have put up before it is too late.  That does not mean we do not love them.  We love them with tough love.  We love them, but we don’t condone their sin, their lack of faith in God, their refusal to accept salvation through Christ, or their mockery of the Bible. We still help them when they need help, but are cautious not to help them continue activities that are leading them further away from God.  We don’t let them drag us down.  Instead we pull them up.  We show them by example how our lives have been changed by Jesus.  But if we grumble and complain, if we live one way on Sunday and another on Monday, if our Bible is dusty and our prayer life lacking, if we praise God one minute and curse another person the next, are we pulling them up?  Are we getting them closer to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?  Are we snatching them from the flames of judgment?  No, we are helping to stoke the fire!  We are giving them even more reason to stay away from God, from the Bible, and from the church.  And while each and every person has to answer for themselves, and is personally responsible for their decision for or against Christ, it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to persuade them of the urgency of making the right decision, of showing them the benefits of a decision for Christ, and also of warning them of the eternal consequences of making the wrong decision.

          And so I say to all of you, the same words that Joshua said over 3300 years ago, “If serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15).  Amen.

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

What was the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland worried about?  Being late.

What was he worried about being late for?  A meeting with the Red Queen.

What would happen to him if he was late?  She would scream, "Off with his head!"

Coloring page:  It is never too early to have faith in Jesus, but someday it will be too late.