Gorging Ourselves or Engaging with the Gospel

I still think back to the times we had an open fire burning briskly in our lounge room. People would just love to come over in winter and warm their hands and backs in front of that warm, crackling fire. Mind you, another benefit of this was that I had to chop the wood for the fire. No wood, no fire. And that was good exercise - could I do it now???  I doubt it!

Well like all good and worthwhile things, our open fire became a victim of Government legislation. It wasn't built with safety in mind (so they said) or with sufficient insulation (so they decreed). And so now it just sits there with the soot from years ago lining the insides of the chimney. The only movement is when we have strong winds which loosen the soot and make it come crumbling down - no worries! Just another mess to clean up!

But no, I do not speak the truth. There are other movements, like when a bird decides to investigate if the chimney is a good spot to build a nest. It becomes disorientated, annoyed with the sooty dust, finds it can't fly upwards and struggles in a prison of its own making. We hear the flutter of wings, and see the clouds of soot coming out of the open fire area.

Eventually it learns that it is easier to fly (or fall) downwards, and soon there is a black sooty bird puffing away, sitting in the fire grate. Before he or she is able to fly round the lounge, and decorate our white walls with black soot, I approach very gently, take hold of the bird, take it outside and before releasing it, blow as much soot off the poor thing as I can. But you know, just as that bird needed releasing from its prison, so there are many people who need the same.

In 2 Kings 7:9 we come across a very intriguing story. The enemy army is all around Jerusalem, and no food has come into the city for a long time. The people inside Jerusalem are starving to death; people have turned even to cannibalism to stay alive! Unbeknown to them, God has not forgotten them and is about to rescue them.

The way that happened is very interesting.  There were four lepers who lived outside the wall of the city, and they lived on whatever scraps the people threw over the wall - which by now was zero. Together with inhabitants inside the walls, they are starving. So they figure, "Our best chance to survive is to give ourselves up to the enemy army and hope they don't kill us. That's the worst that could happen; but either way we could die."

And so they walk towards the enemy camp, with their hearts in their throats. What will the enemy soldiers do to them? But wait a minute - something strange here - no noise, can't even see any soldiers. The camp's empty! They say, "I can't believe it!"

What had happened was this: God had miraculously scattered the whole army. They were so frightened by whatever God had sent their way, that the enemy army even left their camp and all their food behind.

The lepers begin to gorge themselves on the food - some of it still sitting on tables under tents. But then they thought of their people still starving in that prison of a city. They need releasing, they needed to hear the good news. No longer did they face death but life! And so they said to each other, 'We're not doing the right thing here. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. Let's go at once and bring this good news to the city and set the prisoners free!"

Day after day, we can be gorging ourselves on the things of the world - our money, our possessions, our work, our family, our wife or our husband. We can plan for our next trip overseas or holiday adventure back home.

We are very much like the farmer in a parable that Jesus told. He was just revelling in the fact that each year he was getting better yields. And so he decided to build bigger storage barns - he was just gorging himself on his bigger crops each year: "I know what I will do. I will build bigger barns" And then after a while (perhaps a few more years - or never?) ".....I will take my ease and then drink and be merry." Unknown to him, he was a prisoner in a cell of his making.

A prisoner to possessions, a prisoner of storing enough of his crops to take it easy at some time in his life. But God intervened and said: "You fool, this night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" (Luke 12:20)

What sort of a prison are you in? One of your own making? What you are gorging on is not something which will sustain you into eternity. You are not full, but empty - starving - just like those people in Jerusalem who were facing death, until the good news came to them. The Good News of course is that Jesus the Saviour came and died for your sins. He conquered everything that keeps you in prison and starving. By rising again on the third day, all who believe on Him are set free for all eternity.

Jesus says: "I am the living water.... Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:10-14) And - "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." (John 6:51) Do not gorge yourself on the things of this world which only bring death. Repent of all your sins and believe on Christ - who sets you free and sustains you for all eternity.

There is here also a lesson for Christians. We are good at gorging ourselves - on good books, worship, Bible Study, Prayer Meetings, and so on. All very good in themselves - but what do all these lead to? Okay, let's go back to the story of the lepers. Hearing the cries of dying people coming from the city, they asked: "How can we sit on all this food? Let's go at once and bring this good news to the city and set the prisoners free!"

Well, how can we be focusing most of our Christian efforts on gorging ourselves? It's time we pray for lost friends to know Christ, and lots of other lost people. There are people to set free. People are dying. They go to an unthinkable eternity. Can't you hear God saying, "My Son gave His life for these lost people. Will someone leave their Christian ease and start giving their lives for the lost ones?" Are you set free from the things of this world? If you are, then maybe you're the one who will say, "Well, Lord, I will." Grace and peace....

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