Things in Hell We Need More on Earth

rich man and lazarus2 (1)What if I told you there are some things in hell we need more on earth?  “Crazy,” you might say!  “No way!  It’s just not possible” you say.

Before you discard such a statement as nonsense, consider the following from Luke 16:19-31 – 19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

First, we need more prayer on earth.  Notice the rich man cried out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).  The rich man prayed for mercy, but it was too late.  The rich man prayed that he would receive just a little comfort from Lazarus, but there was none to be found.  Nevertheless, the rich man’s prayers remind us that, as Christians, we need to be praying people.  The apostle Paul taught us of the peace that results when we always go to God in prayer, offering our thanks and bringing our supplications before Him – 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).  James wrote that we are to pray to God during our time of affliction – “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).  We are never to cease praying (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Second, we need a proper outlook toward material wealth.  When the rich man pleaded for comfort, Abraham responded, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented (Luke 16:25).

Although it was a lesson learned too late, the rich man now understood the temporary, fleeting nature of the material things he enjoyed while on earth.  As Christians, we need to focus on that same lesson.  We need to center our lives on those things that are eternal rather than those things that are temporal. Paul wrote, 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17-18).  John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).  Too many people spend their live diligently searching for more wealth, only to one day be disappointed by their search.

Third, we need to have a greater concern for the lost.  The rich man prayed, 27I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28).  On earth we may often say “Misery loves company.”  In hell, nothing could be further from the truth!  The rich man did not long for company in hell.  No, he did not even long for his own family to be with him!  He desperately wanted others to be spared from the torment of hell!  Christians absolutely must be concerned for those who are lost.    This must be an active concern – a concern that will motivate us to help those who are lost.  To help them learn of the saving gospel of Christ.

Are there things in hell we need more on earth?  Certainly!

ABC’s of Decision Making, Part II

Decgood-choice-bad-choiceisions, decisions.  We make them every day.  But how can we be sure we are deciding wisely?  How can we know we are making the right choices in life?  As we continue to look at the “ABC’s of Decision Making” we remember, from a previous post, that the letter “A” reminds us to Always be Aware of Others.  The letter “B” reminds us to always Base Our Decisions on Biblical Principles.

What are some of these Biblical principles?  First, making the right decision often requires going against the common thinking of the majority of people.  We must be willing to “stand out in a crowd.”    In Exodus 23:2 we read, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”  Perhaps no better example of this principle can be found than that of Pilate (Re: Matthew 27:11-26).  At the Feast of the Passover it was customary to release a prisoner.    Pilate asked the people, “Whom will ye that I release unto you?  Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?”  The people, because they had been persuaded by the chief priests and the elders, responded, “Barabbas.”  When Pilate then asked what he should do with Jesus, the crowd responded “Let him be crucified.”  Pilate found no guilt in Jesus but, because of the pressure of the crowd, he turned Jesus over to be scourged and later crucified.  Pilate foolishly thought he could wash his hands of the matter and tried to declare his innocence (Matthew 27:24).

Friends, for you and me to make right decisions we must often be willing to go against the crowd.  We must be willing to speak out against the majority.  We must never follow a multitude to do evil.

Second, making the right decision may require going against our civil authorities.  In Acts 5:17-29, the High Priest, acting out of anger, put the apostles in prison.  But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and told the apostles to go to the temple and preach.  Not surprisingly, the apostles went to the temple early the next morning and taught the gospel to any who would hear.  When news spread as to the apostles’ whereabouts, the apostles were brought before the high priests.  The high priest asked them, “Did we not straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?  and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”  Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

The scriptures clearly speak of the need for Christians to be obedient to civil authorities (Romans 13:1-6).  But where a conflict exists between the requirements of our government and the requirements of God, making the right decision requires us to obey God rather than men.

Third, making the right decision cannot involve going against our faith.  In Romans Chapter 14, the apostle Paul encouraged those of the church at Rome not to become involved in unnecessary disputes, or strife, over issues that we might commonly think of as scruples.  Specifically, Paul contrasted the weak (who were, because of their lesser knowledge, overly strict concerning the eating of meats that had been offered to idols) with the strong (who, because of their sufficient knowledge of the scriptures, saw no problem with the eating of these meats that had been offered to idols).  Paul taught that, as Christians, we are to strive for unity in matters of Christian liberty and not force our particular “scruples” on others.  Our decisions must be made on the teachings of the scriptures.  But, where this is a lack of clear teaching on a particular subject, we must ensure that our decisions do not violate our conscience (Romans 14:23).

Talk to Someone With Power

It was my first trip to Africa.  I was scheduled to fly from Memphis to Amsterdam, then non-stop from Amsterdam to Arusha, Tanzania.  Once I left Memphis to fly to Amsterdam, I knew that it would only be a matter of hours before I would be walking on African soil!

Surprise, surprise!  Not so fast!  After arriving in Amsterdam, seven other passengers and I were “bumped” from our flight to Arusha.  We were flown to Nairobi, Kenya instead where we were to spend the night and then ride a bus to Arusha the next day.  While checking in at the Crown Plaza in Nairobi, we were told our bus would be waiting for us at 7:30 the next morning.  Seven-thirty came and no bus.  One of the other passengers, a Tanzanian who was returning home, called the airline and was told a bus would arrive in a few minutes.  A few minutes passed and still no bus.  Eight o’clock came and still no bus.  Another phone call to the airline resulted in the same promise – a bus would be waiting for us in a few minutes.  Eight-thirty came and still no bus.  Another phone call and the same promise – a bus would be waiting in a few minutes.  Nine o’clock came, still no bus, another phone call was made, and another promise was given.

After another phone call, we found out the airline’s office was located only a few blocks from our hotel.  I walked the short distance to the airline’s office, accompanied by the Tanzanian returning home.  I do not remember his name but I’ll never forget what he said as he walked up to the receptionist – “I want to speak to someone with power!”  Obviously, he was tired of getting the “run-around” and wanted results!  And that’s what he got – quick results!  It wasn’t long before a bus arrived at the hotel.

As I look back on my experience, I am reminded that great things are accomplished when we talk to someone with power.   When I pray to God, I talk to someone who has the greatest power of all.  God has the power to create the world from nothing (Genesis 1:1-33).  God has the power to part the Red Sea, allowing Moses and the others to cross on dry ground (Exodus 14:21).  God has the power to cause the walls of Jericho to fall (Joshua 6:20).  God has the power to enable David, while only a young boy, to overcome Goliath, a mighty giant (I Samuel 17:1-51).  God has the power to raise the dead (I Kings 17:17-22).  God has the power to enable the blind to see and the lame to walk (Matthew 11:4-5).

When I talk to God in prayer, I talk to someone with great power.  And because of that, I know prayer will bring fantastic results!