The outlook is dreary, gloomy and wet. That is, the look out our window. It has rained, drizzled or sprinkled for this whole year of 2013. And the year is already 10 hours old!
We finished our last Lord’s Day of 2012 with an encouraging and challenging message from Pastor Roger Griffith at New Fellowship Baptist Church in Lineville, AL. He took us thru Paul’s testimony found in Philippians 3:12-14 and according to him, the outlook for the remainder of this day and the year to come depends on us. Paul looked back, looked around and then looked ahead. But ultimately he looked up. And as we do the same thing, the direction we set our gaze and our attention will pretty much determine the way we go.
Reminds me of that poem Granny used to quote to me when she spoke of the picture of the old sailing ship Ironsides that hung in her living room:
“One ship sails East and another West
On the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale,
That determines the way they go.”
When Paul looked back it was a tangled picture: saved for 30 years; 20 years as a missionary; been starved, beaten, stoned, imprisoned and shipwrecked; had written half of the New Testament; seen visions unspeakable; started churches on 2 continents.
When he looked out it was through a prison cell window.
When he looked ahead, he saw a Roman executioner prepared for him.
What we see when we look around is a crumbling American “empire”, a deflating dollar, a Godless and hostile terrorist movement that is daily growing bigger, stronger, more ruthless and daring.
We see a heathen and pagan world that still has not been fully reached with the good news of the Gospel of grace and hope. We hear an increasing call for missionary reinforcements and see a diminishing response among the saints.
Cold, cloudy, fog and rain outside. But our fireplace is still warm and cozy. Our roof does not leak. There is nothing on the sidewalk that needs to be shoveled. The smell from the kitchen of my Southern Sweetheart promises black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread for our new year’s noon meal.
And this weather system came to pass!
And what is the realistic outlook as we face 2013 and the ‘rest of our life’?
After Paul looked around and behind and ahead he LOOKED UP. We have that same prize of a high calling of God in Christ Jesus!
We are called to be light in a dark world.
We are called to be salt in a tasteless world of materialism.
We are called to be heralds of hope in a floundering culture.
We must take our stand with Paul in I Corinthians 16:9. While realizing that “there are many adversaries” we must be continually remember that a GREAT DOOR for effective ministry is OPEN before us!
I must choose which one I will focus on. And so must you.