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Friday, May 7, 2021
"We Are Just A Vapor"
Message summary: This life is all we now know and thus seems wholly significant unless we develop and nurture an eternal perspective.
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"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). "But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King" (Jeremiah 10:10).
Yesterday I spoke to a group of senior men at the Calvary Homes Men's Fellowship. The oldest attendee just turned 100 last month and there was a variety of "younger men" also in attendance. But it was nice to be in a setting where I was the youngest, though that is often not the case anymore!
The one hundred year old class member was Eric Crichton, a former pastor of the church we now attend. He served the congregation from 1964-1987. He remains vibrant and sharp. He told me after the message I shared (essentially the same as today's encouragement) that we may be a vapor but we can also be a fragrance for Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 2:14-16) Can I get a hearty "amen" from our readers today!
One hundred is a long time to live but consider this: he has lived just 5% of the time since Christ came to this earth 2000 years ago. In my case I've been around just 3.3% of that time (if you need help determining your percentage, and like me are not a whiz in math, see this helpful percent calculator widget). If we go back to creation our percentage of time is of course far less!
But if we go ahead into the future we can consider the line from "Amazing Grace" that most all of us have sung hundreds of times (depending on age and Christian background):
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
But for now this life is all we now know and thus seems wholly significant unless we develop and nurture an eternal perspective.
"Be Unto Your Name" is a song that powerfully contrasts our present moment of life in light of eternity:
We are a moment, You are forever.
Lord of the ages, God before time.
We are a vapor, You are eternal
Love everlasting, reigning on high.
Today, we ask you to consider the single line, "We are a vapor, You are eternal". Lynne DeShazzo and Gary Sadler, authors of this song, share their thoughts:
"We started talking about how fragile and temporal life is, that it's just a vapor or a moment and how our lives pass so quickly and yet God's life goes on and on forever. Juxtaposed against the vastness and eternality of God, all that we could say in the chorus of the song we wrote is what anyone would say when faced with that reality – "Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty". It seemed to echo a heart expression of every believer – awe, humility and reverence in the light of One so great."
James writes of this in the daily text, "You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away". When Brooksyne first introduced this song to the church we were pastoring at the time she illustrated the James passage as she sprayed a fragrant mist in the congregation that disappeared within seconds though the fragrance lingered for a couple minutes, a vivid reminder of how quickly we pass through life on this side of eternity. It's also a reminder of the 2 Corinthians passage that we are to be a fragrance for Christ.
Long after a faithful believer is gone his testimony and devotion to God follow years later as though his fragrance lingered for us to breathe in deeply the works and example of one now residing in heaven. For example last night Pastor Kevin Eshelman, speaker at the National Day of Prayer gathering here in Lancaster, cited godly individuals that were prominent and used by God to spread a revival fire throughout New York City in the late 1850's, so much so, that revival gatherings took place in every community every day of the week. These individual's names were not familiar to us, but their works in Christ were remembered 150 years later. Send revival, Lord, we pray and start it in me!
A good way to seek another perspective of how quickly time flees is a walk through the cemetery. A slow, thoughtful walk while examining the markers reminds us that life is indeed just a vapor. We are so blessed when we see expressions of faith on some of the markers, a lasting reminder of the eternal dimension. A Scripture message we inscribed on my parent's marker sums up the entire reason for living as well as the reason for dying, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."
In light of our lives being like a vapor what great assurance the short statement that comprises our second daily verse must have given Jeremiah and also us today. "But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King" (Jeremiah 10:10). Three words in this text powerfully describe the immutable (unchangeable) God of the universe;
Consider each of these bedrock adjectives in light of the shifting sands of the world's system. They are just as valid in describing God today as they were 2,600 years ago, for God does not change. They describe the One who said, "I am the God". The present tense is always necessary in describing the true, living and eternal God. He always "is".
The song we noted in the earlier part of the message goes on to proclaim in the chorus,
Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Highest praises, honor and glory.
Be unto Your name, be unto Your Name.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the longer we live the more we come to understand the brevity of life on earth. Our time spent on this earth is just a vapor in the eons of time, yet we are of incomparable worth to You who gives us the principles, teachings and tools to walk our brief pilgrimage on this side of eternity. So much is lacking in this life where sin abounds, but we gladly hold onto Your hand for the glorious victory that awaits the believer where sin is no longer present. Our perishable bodies will no longer be like a vapor but will be imperishable, made to last for all of eternity. It's only because of Calvary that we are afforded this amazing privilege. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.
Matthew Henry writes: "The frailty, shortness, and uncertainty of life, ought to check the vanity and presumptuous confidence of all projects we have in mind for the future. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun's rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapor being scattered. So short, unreal, and fading is human life, and all the prosperity or enjoyment that attends it; though bliss or woe forever must be according to our conduct during this fleeting moment. We are always to depend on the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands, but at the disposal of God. Our heads may be filled with cares and contrivances for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but Providence often throws our plans into confusion. All we design, and all we do, should be with submissive dependence on God."
Throughout life I only recall meeting two men who passed the century mark. When we first moved to Lancaster County in 2001 we sat in front of a man in our church who celebrated his 100th birthday a year or so after we moved here and lived till he was 102. Menno Brubaker was born in the very house that he lived out his entire life and where he also died. He was a devout man and influential in many lives. He, like David, "served God's purpose in his own generation". (Acts 13:36) It's easier to recall women we have known who have lived to be 100 or beyond, and I believe statistically speaking women outlive men as a general rule. (After considering our personal experience I went online and found a study from Boston University that says 85% of those who live to be 100 or over are women, so it is not surprising that we've met far more women than men in the centenarian age category.)
Yesterday following the men's meeting we spent some time with our friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt, including lunch at the Agape' Cafe and Grill in Strasburg, PA. Their website states, "It is our goal to provide an atmosphere where the love of Christ is felt by those who enter our doors." With Scriptures posted on the walls and even on the waitress's T-shirts or aprons, since a number of them are Amish, you can't eat there without getting a witness for the Lord.
While we were with Jim and Dorothy Ester stayed on the Old Windmill Farm to take some photos. Yesterday they hosted a busload of Jewish girls from Brooklyn.
The lambs and their goat friend are growing. Do those look like curious eyes needing some loving attention?
Ester ran an errand with Jamie to the Tractor Supply and had a view just a bit different than when riding with us.
The last week of school in the Amish schools so we see even more than usual activity outside - relays, picnics, special trips to the creamery farm for some home-made ice cream, and other special places.
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