Dear Lord, as believers, we pray for the lost to turn to you, and as Paul prayed, “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath,” (I Thessalonians 1:10, NIV).
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died, and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’” Luke 16:19-26
One of the greatest threats to our country and our world today is the destruction of moral values and standards. If there is wrongdoing committed, if harm is done to another, we can be very quick to look the other way and act like it didn’t happen. Let’s look to sports to provide a fair analogy. In baseball, when a batter gets three strikes, they are out. The batter heads to the bench and the next man is up. The batter does not say, “hey, give me another chance,” or “I got distracted, pitch me another ball.” After three strikes, the batter is out, end of story. In today’s world, however, we see people on TV steal goods from stores in broad daylight and it’s okay. We might say to ourselves, ‘insurance will pay for the merchandise and no one was harmed.’ What other examples of eroding moral values can you see in society today? Why are we so afraid of consequences?
If you have been unfortunate enough to get pulled over for a ticket, the first questions the officer may ask is, “did you know how fast you were going?” or, “do you know why I pulled you over?” How did you respond to those questions? (Are you squirming a bit right now?) Whatever your response was, your next focus was, ‘how do I get out of this ticket?’ You may have a handful of stories or you may have been tempted to put on your ‘Hollywood tear show,’ but in a lot of cases, the officer simply handed you the ticket and that was that. In the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in today’s reading, the Rich Man dies and heads straight to Hades (hell). He received his good things in this life and took no thought for Lazarus or others in need. His focus was this life…not the next. For him, this life of riches and pleasure had no end. He had no interest in God…until he died. He experienced fire, burning, agony in hell – the place of torment.
Hell is a real place, as seen in scripture today and while we long for everyone to know the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in order to live a fulfilling life in ‘this’ world, those who do not choose Christ await the worst agony, suffering and destruction – for eternity. Mark 9:48, NIV, describes hell as this, “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” How many people will you encounter today who have not given their lives to Christ, have not heard the Gospel message and are on a road to hell’s eternal flames? What can we do about it? What will we do about it?
Dear Lord, guide us to opportunities to share your love and light with the lost world around us. Let us not stick our head in the sand, focusing only on our own cares, but burden us with hearts for the unsaved people of this world. May the lost understand what is at stake for eternity, not being “afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell, (Matthew 10:28, NIV).