I recently purchased a used kayak and took it out for a day of fishing on the Peace River. I started my trip going up the river and thoroughly enjoyed the wonders of nature and the peaceful solitude away from the stress of life. I didn’t catch any fish but I did happen to see several alligators on the banks of the river. I got close to one and got my camera out to take a picture. When I did that, I began to drift down river. I remember another alligator had swam in the direction that I was drifting. After a quick picture I resumed my forward progress and said goodbye to the gators.
Drifting can be dangerous in our spiritual lives as well. The writer to Hebrews warns us about it in Heb. 2:1,3: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him”. God tells us to make sure we give earnest heed or pay careful attention to the things we have heard; those things that are clearly given to us in the scriptures. The deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection, the inerrancy of scripture, and the call to live a holy life are just a part of those truths that we have heard in the scriptures. If we drift away from these precious truths there is no escape, we endanger our very souls.
Drifting happens when we are not making forward progress. When we are not carefully reading and studying the scriptures, when we are not actively serving our Lord, and when we are not carefully walking in obedience to our Lord drift is likely occur. I am so glad that I escaped harm from my drifting toward the alligator. However there is no escape for those who drift from the Lord.
Some of the words to the old gospel hymn “God Leads Us Along” are: “some through the waters, some through the flood…” Those words became reality for our church on the day the fire alarm sounded and a sprinkler head in the attic went off. Within a short time the carpets were saturated and the ceiling began to collapse. There was no fire and we very quickly got the water turned off and began moving things out of the affected area. A cleanup company was called and the work to get up and running again was begun. We were not able to occupy our building until the sprinkler system went back on line. We were able to have services at a neighboring church but this little event caused quite a disruption. As I evaluate this disaster I am reminded of what God’s Word assures believers in Rom. 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”. Our Heavenly Father has a divine purpose for His church through this disaster. I don’t know fully what God has in store for us but there are a few lessons that we can learn. The first lesson is that God is sovereign. He is in control of everything and only allows those things to come our way that will be for our good and for His glory. Another lesson we can learn is the fact that the church is not a building but a body. Those individual believers who are redeemed by the blood of Christ make up the true church. We love our building and the place we come together to praise Him but we had it confirmed to us that Peace River Baptist is really the people. One other lessons that perhaps we can learn is for us to see what is really important. Are we attracted to our facilities, or our technology, or our programs? What if these were gone, would we still be completely focused on worshiping and honoring Jesus?
We will get back up and running very soon. But we are reminded that even though we go through the waters, or through the flood Jesus is the One we love and He is the focus of our worship wherever that may occur.
I recently purchased a different car. I love the model and the color of my new vehicle. It gives me a comfortable ride with great gas mileage. I don’t know about you but as soon as I began to drive my new car, I started to notice other vehicles on the road of the same model, color, and approximate year. I am sure that there were just as many of this type of vehicle on the road as before I purchase mine. But the day I drove my car off the lot I began to notice my car everywhere. I wonder if it is just me or do others experience this same phenomenon of model recognition? Our eyes seem to be drawn to our own model, our own style, our own kind.
Model recognition can apply to fellow fans of a favorite sports team. It can be an affinity with others from the same state where we grew up. It can be a brotherhood in a favorite hobby. But there is another model recognition that is important for our spiritual lives. We who are believers in Christ need to be drawn to others who follow the same Savior. We are instructed to assemble with one another (Heb. 10:25). We are challenged to worship together, to love one another, to serve one another, and to greet one another. God’s Word describes this fellowship, this team we are in, in several ways. We are described as workers in the same harvest field (1 Cor. 3:9). We are called members of the same body (Rom. 12:5). And we are part of the same building (1 Cor. 3:9,10). So as we look at scripture we are not just to recognize fellow believers as we go through life and perhaps wave at them from time to time. We are challenged to cultivate this vital relationship, this sweet fellowship, and this family of faith.
It doesn’t matter what car you drive, what team you cheer for, or what hobbies you enjoy. But God’s people need to stick together in this family of faith.
Hurricane Irma left a path of devastation when it lumbered through Southwest Florida. It could have been much worse, nevertheless the hurricane made some lasting marks on our area. One of the victims of its wrath was the devastation on local boats that were not secured. Officials did their best to clean out the sunken or sinking boats that littered our waterways. They hauled the shipwrecked vessels onto a makeshift graveyard near the interstate. The word was put out that owners should come and take what they wanted from the shipwrecks before a certain deadline. They would then be destroyed. I feel sorry for those boat owners that lost so much in the hurricane.
Shipwrecks are tragic. However there is another type of shipwreck that is even more serious. The great apostle Paul spoke about the need for believers to practice self-discipline in their walk with the Lord. 1 Cor. 9:26-28: “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. We can become careless in our spiritual walk and cause great damage not only to our own lives but also to those who are watching us. We can run aground in our morals, we can steer into the dangerous reef of a self-focused life, and we can break up our vessels with various addictions. We can become shipwrecked in our behavior but we can also become shipwrecked in our beliefs. Paul wrote to Timothy with the warning: “Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Tim. 1:19). There are so many siren calls that tempt us away from the straight course of biblical teaching.
The Christian life is not all smooth sailing. We must watch out for the dangers that can come our way. We must guard our beliefs as well as our behavior. The sight of that ship’s graveyard off the interstate is truly tragic. Let’s make sure that we don’t become a spiritual shipwreck.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation