by Seattle ALC
As autumn approaches, the thoughts of those who till the soil turn to harvest and the gathering in of their crops. The benefit of their labor is seen when the elements have been favorable, there have been sun and rain, and no inclemency’s have occurred to affect adversely the maturing of the seed which was sown. God has given His blessing, once again there has been seedtime and harvest, and the earth has produced its fruit. We can receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
Not every season, nor every land, are so singly blessed continually. History tells us of terrible times of famine. This plague, which we call famine, was again brought to our attention in the tragic deaths of one of our congressmen and his entire party on their recent trip to the nation of Ethiopia. Their humanitarian mission was to assist in relieving the suffering of a starving people.
May these thoughts be a lesson to each of us, young and old. How good it is when we not only have bread but are also able to eat it with the degree of health God has given, enjoying the company of our families and the comfort of our homes. The Bible has many lessons regarding daily bread, and our appreciation for it.
There is a greater Biblical lesson to be learned, and that concerns our attitude toward the Word of God, the Bread of Life, which has come down from heaven. God has sent many visitations throughout the ages in which He has given people the opportunity to hear the gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ. Fortunate are those people who have heard and believed this gospel. In some families there have been many generations of believer. Timothy, to whom Paul wrote, had both a believing mother and grandmother. (II Tim. 1: 5)
This blessing carries responsibilities with it. We cannot rest on this heritage alone and say: “I believe in my parent’s church.” The Jews placed a great deal of trust in the fact that they were Abraham’s descendants. This did not save them. In my early ministry, I met a woman who trusted in the truth of her parent’s religion. In her youth, when she came to Seattle from her native Finland, she immediately looked for people of like faith with her parents so they could help her should she be in spiritual need. When asked about her personal salvation at that time, she responded: “For now I am a lady of the world, and that is what I want to be.” She used her heritage and knowledge of the christian doctrine as a security blanket for a trip into the world. The parable of the prodigal son is rich in teaching concerning the abundant grace of God, but it is not a round-trip ticket to the world with an unconditional promise of a safe return to the Kingdom of God.
A most serious warning was given by Prophet Amos when he wrote: “Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread and water, but for hearing the living words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, even from the north to the east and shall not find it.” (Amos 8: 11&12) Think of it, friend. The gospel of Jesus Christ, embodied in the Word of God, is not something that we have the privilege of taking at will. We cannot liken it to the simple act of taking a piece of bread from the table. We can receive it only when it is offered to us by the One Who has prepared this salvation for us. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon him while he is near.” (Is.55:6)
These words of the Prophet Amos are soul-searching. They indicate that the Omnipotent Creator, Who has made Himself known to us as a loving Father through the ministry of His Son, will not permit His honor (His eternal Word) to be held in disrepute forever. He will send a famine of such a serious nature that it will affect not only the physical well-being of people (as does a natural famine) but the spiritual and the eternal. Such an intense search for the Word that would take one from sea to sea, from the north even to the east, will be rewarded by this sobering conclusion: “AND SHALL NOT FIND IT.”
Why would God send such a famine upon the people? Could it be because of a lack of appreciation for the truths of the Word and an unwillingness to honor it by believing and submitting to it? When Jesus came to the land of the Gergesenes (Gadarenes), they did not receive Him. Instead, they asked Him that He would depart out of their coasts. (Matt. 8: 34) There is no evidence that He ever returned to these people.
Although the majority may not respond to Jesus in such an openly unfriendly way, it is common for the human reason to interfere with the receiving of the truths of God, Martin Luther wrote that the “light of reason and the light of the Holy Spirit cannot be friends,” This he said because the “natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness unto him.” (I Cor, 2: 14)
St. Paul warned the Thessalonians about the consequences to be suffered by those who did not receive the love of the truth so that they might be saved. In His righteousness, God sent them strong delusion so that they would believe a lie, and this resulted in their damnation because they did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (II Thess. 2: 10-12)
Many respond to the call of the gospel by procrastination. Although they acknowledge its truth and desire to reap the eternal benefit of salvation, the care of the soul is left for a later time.
Even the professing christian can fall from his steadfastness. That is why it is important for us to walk carefully. Spiritual carelessness and indifference are often rooted in unwatchfulness.
Upon awakening His sleeping disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord told them that they should watch and pray, because the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. In his epistle, St. John warns concerning the danger posed by the love of the world and tells us that those who love the world do not have the love of the Father in them. (I John 2: 15) This condition of ten results in the forsaking of the assembly of God’s people as we read in Heb. 10: 25,
Then we have another danger posed by beginning to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom. 12: 3), In this condition we become fault finding. The other members of the church, the body of Christ, never measure up to our ideas and expectations. As we then grow in ourselves, the result may be the beginning of a serious and sometimes fatal spiritual decline which we do not ourselves recognize as a problem, This can not only lead to a falling away from Christ, but if the real reasons for this condition are not recognized and repented of, they may lead to an apostacy from the living God that will be so serious that we may embrace another gospel (Gal. 1: 6) and even another Christ. (II Cor. 1: 1-4)
These warnings of the Scripture are intended to serve us in love so that through faithfulness unto death, we may obtain the crown of eternal life. What an unthinkable situation will confront those who experience spiritual hunger in the time of famine described by Prophet Amos. The comfort of the living Word will not be found on this side of eternity. And we all know that the Word gives no promise of the gospel message being heard in eternity. When the rich man opened his eyes in hell and asked for minimal help–just the amount of water that could be carried on the tip of a finger, even that was denied him and he was left there in that condition.
"Come to the Saviour, Make no delay! Here in His Word He's shown us the way; Here in our midst He's standing today, Tenderly saying, "Come."
From the archives of the late Pastor Alvin Holmgren September 1989
Submitted by Pastor Stan
September 17, 2023
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October 12, 2022