Thursday, September 16, 2010
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It was the strangest picnic in American history. It was July 1861, on a hill in Northern Virginia, overlooking a stream called Bull Run. The Southern states had seceded from the Union, they'd attacked a Union fort in April, and now what the North called "the rebel army" was headed for Washington, D.C. Most people in the capitol thought the Union Army would mop up these Southern forces in a matter of weeks, and they wanted to see it happen as the Northern troops moved to engage the Confederates at Bull Run. They came from church in their Sunday best, the ladies and gentlemen of Washington arriving at the hill overlooking Bull Run in their carriages. They laid out their tablecloths, commenced their picnic, and started passing the fried chicken. Down below, the men in blue and the men in gray mingled their blood in the waters of Bull Run.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Time for Picnics."
How can people have a picnic when there's a battle going on? That's a question God must be asking of His own children - those who are supposed to be the soldiers in His army.
It's a scene reminiscent of the day the ancient Jews were getting ready to invade the Promised Land, and a couple of the tribes asked if they could just take their inheritance on the safe side of the Jordan River and settle in there. In Numbers 32:6, our word for today from the Word of God, Moses asks them this haunting question, "Shall you sit here while your brothers go to war?" Well that's a great question. How can you just settle into a comfortable little spot while there are battles to fight for God that require every one of us to be in the fight? A picnic while a battle is going on.
We were shocked on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 Americans died in one day. Did you know that more than twice that many will die this day in America, every day in America? On an average day in the United States, over 6,000 people go into eternity. Sadly, many - maybe most of them - will not be ready for eternity. Today in our world, over 150,000 people will go into eternity. Again, many with no relationship with Jesus and no hope of heaven. And there is a battle raging to get the Good News about Jesus to them in time! There's a small army of believers who understand that the battle is the responsibility of every one of us who belongs to Jesus. But, tragically, so many of those who could help rescue the spiritually dying are sitting on a hill with other believers, enjoying the view, passing the blessings, and playing no active role in the battle for human souls.
Yes, God has to draw people to Him - spiritual rescue is totally a God-thing! But the same man who wrote the verses about us being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world is the same Apostle Paul who was driven to get the Gospel to as many people as possible...even at the cost of his life.
The battle for a lost world begins with your own family, your own co-workers, fellow students, and friends. When it comes to telling them what you know about Jesus, silence is not golden - it's deadly. They need to see Jesus in your life. They need to hear about Jesus from your lips. You can't just enjoy the fellowship of those who are already headed for heaven while so many around you are headed for hell! God has a place for you in this battle, and the battle is the Lord's! For you, this is no time to be passing the chicken. It's time to be passing the ammunition! As the great missionary Amy Carmichael said, "We will have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only a few short hours to win them." And we are in those few short hours.