April 12, 2023
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Two words that will inevitably cause a lot of excitement to appear on any face in our family - Ocean City. That's the name of this charming town on the Jersey shore where our family has got a lot of memories over the years. There was this one trip where several of us rendezvoused there for a couple of days making a few more memories.
I was riding my bike along the boardwalk there, and I passed some Herculean young men jogging the boards. Their shirts had four letters on them: OCBP. That's Ocean City Beach Patrol. Over a century ago, as Ocean City was becoming a tourist mecca, the number of drownings began to increase. So, the Beach Patrol was formed. As of the last time I was there, they had a record to be proud of. In 100 years, they had never lost anyone at a guarded beach. I remember a time some years ago when a young Amish woman drowned in the Atlantic Ocean, but that was on an unguarded beach.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Stretch of the Beach."
I've seen those lifeguards in action. They concentrate on their stretch of the water and the people that are in it almost as if it's a life-or-death matter. Because it is! Just like the rescue responsibility God has entrusted to you.
Our word for today from the Word of God; Proverbs 24:11-12. As you listen, would you try to picture some of the people on the stretch of beach God has given you to guard. He says, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?" God's saying here, "If you have a rescue responsibility, there is no excuse for you letting people die without your trying to do something about it."
The awful tragedy is that so many Christless lives are being lost forever because one of God's spiritual lifeguards is leaving their beach unguarded. Your beach? It's that circle of influence God has given you - the people you work with, live near, go to school with or recreate with. But too many of us lifeguards, we stay in the lifeguard station, enjoying the fellowship of the other lifeguards, singing our lifeguard songs, planning our lifeguard meetings while people are dying in the surf.
Maybe we leave our stretch of the beach unguarded because we forget that telling people about Jesus really is life-or-death. The people around you may not look or sound like they're dying spiritually, but listen to a few of the words God uses in the Bible to describe the lost people around you. They are called in the Bible, "Those being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:11). They're called "lost" in Luke 19:10. In Ephesians 2:12, they are "without God, without hope." In John 3:36, "Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." Second Thessalonians 1:9 says those who don't know God "will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." And in Revelation 20:15, God says, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
These are people you know, or ought to know. And you carry in your heart the one message that can change all this; the message of a Savior who loved them enough to die so they don't have to. Your job isn't to persuade them to come to Jesus, but it is to present Jesus. If you haven't done that, then they don't know they're dying and they don't know who to grab to rescue them.
You may think there's someone better to rescue the people around you, but it's you that God put in the middle of them. This is your stretch of the beach. The people there are your responsibility. Please don't leave your beach unguarded. Too many people are dying on unguarded beaches.