Everywhere we look there are certain places where we need to be careful not to disturb others. We must keep quiet in movie theatres so as not to disturb the other patrons. We must silence our cell phones in certain places. Libraries are places where we must keep quiet. Even in church we need to show respect by listening instead of talking. Everywhere we go we need to realize there are times we need to keep quiet.
Sometimes it is wrong to keep quiet. In the Bible when Jesus’s disciples were giving praises to Him during His triumphal entry those in the crowd asked Him to quiet them. Jesus said if these should keep quiet the rocks would cry out. Blind Bartimaeus was told to be quiet when he heard that Jesus was passing by. But no matter how many times they tried, he kept crying out to Jesus. When the disciple were arrested for preaching the gospel, they were beaten and told not to preach any more in this man’s name. They responded in Acts 4:19-20: “But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”.
Our culture seems to be communicating more and more to the child of God to keep quiet regarding our faith. We are told that public expressions of our belief are not welcome. As long as we keep what we believe between our ears or between the four walls of our church it is fine. Today any vocal expression of our sincerely held beliefs is not only frowned upon, it is becoming intolerable to the politically correct crowd. We are told to keep quiet or we may be arrested. Keep quiet or you may lose your job. Keep quiet or you may be pushed to the margins of society and become hated. Jesus told us they would hate us because they hated Him. May God give us the courage to refuse to keep quiet for the cause of Christ.
Certain drinks are great when served hot. Hot coffee, hot tea, or hot chocolate are perennial favorites. Then there are other beverages that are best when served with ice. We prefer our drinks either hot or cold; somehow lukewarm just doesn’t cut it for most of us. When Jesus addressed the church of Laodicea he told them in Rev. 3:15,16: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth”. The water in Laodicea was not drinkable. They had to get their water piped from other cities. The water from Hierapolis was hot from the surrounding hot springs which was beneficial for healing qualities. The water from the neighboring city of Colossae was cold and refreshing to drink. However, by the time the water reached the city of Laodicea it was lukewarm.
Jesus described the faith in the church at Laodicea as lukewarm. Their spiritual lives were so distasteful to our Lord that it made Him sick. What a scathing and heart searching evaluation our Lord made to His church in that city. It makes me wonder if a similar verdict of lukewarmness could be issued to our church or our own spiritual life. Do we have a vibrant and warm witness for our Lord. Is there evidence that our worship services, our prayer times, and our preaching are on fire? Does our good works impact our world like a cool refreshing breeze?
Sometimes our spiritual lives resemble what happened in the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Goldilocks tasted the porridge of the Papa bear and it was too hot. Mama bear’s was too cold. But Baby bear’s porridge was just right. I’m afraid that what was “just right” for Goldilocks is not right for the church of Jesus Christ. While the world and the Devil would prefer the church to be lukewarm, Jesus wants us to be hot or cold for Him.
As I stood in line at the Post Office the other day for an hour I realized that the Christmas season is upon us once again. Those in line were a little agitated at the wait but behaved themselves pretty well. Christmas brings with it a flurry of activity and a bone-wearying busyness. There are cookies to bake, gifts to purchase, cards to mail, and parties to attend. We do it to ourselves when we overschedule and overcommit, don’t we? Sometimes instead of a season of everything being calm and bright the season turns into turmoil and darkness. Family turmoil often increases at Christmas and those who are alone find the season doubly difficult. Even our churches kick it into high gear with Christmas programs, parties, and various presentations.
In the middle of the season I think all of us need to take a little time out with all of our Christmas celebration to think of the words of a Christmas carol. Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. We need a little silence, we need some calm. Let’s slow down and take some time to do what Mary did in Luke 2:19: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”. She used her silent night to pause and ponder the significance of everything that had happened. Perhaps she thought of the angel’s words to her that she a virgin, would bring into the world the Son of God. Maybe she remembered the shepherds visit and how they told about the multitude of the heavenly host. Perhaps she was lost in the privilege that God had favored her, a young girl to be the mother of the Savior of all mankind. When Mary pondered all this, for her all was calm and all was bright.
Caught in the middle of a hectic holiday season with too much to do? Why not take some time to ponder the fact that God sent His Son to be your Savior? If we can just seize a little silent night we will discover that all really can be calm and all can be bright.
A massive sinkhole that opened up and claimed a man’s life in Seffner Florida has opened again two years later. Jeffry Bush was sleeping when a 100 foot sinkhole swallowed him. His body was never recovered and two homes and a pool also vanished in this community near Tampa in 2013. Even after the sinkhole was filled in, rains caused a 20 foot deep hole to open up in the same place. Sinkholes are more common in Florida because the state is sitting on highly porous limestone and is subject to extreme weather and aquifer pumping. You can lose everything in a sinkhole even your life. They are deadly.
I have seen people lose everything in a different kind of sinkhole. The sinkhole that I am referring to is the sinkhole of a self-focused life. Living your life for your own pleasure, your own prosperity, and your own pride is a self-destructive behavior. Jesus asked a man who was putting everything in a pursuit of money and goods a probing question in Luke 12:20-21:
“But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Jesus also talked about a foolish man who built his home on the sand. When the rain descended and the floods came the house on the sand fell and great was its fall. Sounds like a sinkhole to me. But Jesus also made reference to a wise man who built his house on the rock and the rains and floods came but because he built on a solid foundation the house stood firm.
You don’t have to live in Florida to find sinkholes. I am afraid that many people are living over one. They have carefully constructed a life but have built it upon the sandy soil. Don’t stand back a watch everything disappear, build your life on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. He is the only safe place from the sinkhole.
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