As I was reprocessing last Sunday’s sermon on 1 Peter 4:7-11 (Peter’s instructions to the church to pray, love, host, and serve because the last days are upon us), my mind was drawn to a verse from Daniel, Chapter 1. Israel’s Cadet (future officers) Class was brought to Nebuchadnezzer’s palace and enrolled in a program to make them good servants of Babylon. As part of the program they were to eat like the nobles, food that YHWH had forbidden. It was undoubtedly a high pressure situation and a HUGE temptation to “go along.” But verse 8 sets the course for Daniel and his friend’s lives. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” My guess is that had Daniel waited to make that decision a year into his training, it might have been much harder to implement!
How does this apply to Peter’s “last days” pleas? Here in the states life is still pretty chill. Yes, we can see the writing on the wall, but it’s been up there since, at least, the 60’s and we’re doing fine. A fiery trial, however, could easily be right around the corner. “Purposing” to pray, love, host, and serve while our house is on fire may be too much for anyone. Get in the habit now! Individually, we need to choose now to each be the church we want around us in the fire!
The following isn’t an end-of days (1 Peter 4:7) kind of illustration, but Schuller does tell a good story about the wrong time to make decisions!
I remember one winter my dad needed firewood, and he found a dead tree and sawed it down. In the spring, to his dismay, new shoots sprouted around the trunk. He said, “I thought sure it was dead. The leaves had all dropped in the wintertime. It was so cold that twigs snapped as if there were no life left in the old tree. But now I see that there was still life at the taproot.” He looked at me and said, “Bob, don’t forget this important lesson. Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst mood. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”Robert H. Schuller, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!, Thomas Nelson.
Blessings on you and yours,