|Volume 18 Number 6 June 2016||
Ernest S. Underwood
As I write this article (1987), I am overlooking the beautiful harbor of Singapore. Lying at anchor in that harbor are more than 150 ships of different sizes and shapes. As I have sat here from time to time and observed them, it is interesting to watch how each ship faces the tide. If the tide is coming in, they face the ocean; if it is going out, they face the mouth of the Singapore River. However, because the ships are securely anchored in the harbor, they remain in their respective places. They are neither washed aground nor out to sea by the moving tide. Why? Because their anchors hold them in their places.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews had something to say about an anchor. He wrote, “…that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (Hebrews 6:18-19). Let the storms of life come to tempt us, bringing in their sorrow and doubt; let the false prophet attempt to lead us astray with his great swelling words of false doctrines. Neither will be able to move us who have that anchor both sure and steadfast. It will keep us safely moored. Shall we cast off our moorings and be cast against the rocks and crags on the shores of eternal destruction for the love of power, popularity, pseudo peace or numbers? We have our anchor of hope securely attached to the Gospel and the Rock of Ages of that Gospel. There is no hope apart from it.
Hear the apostle Paul. “…That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). Shall we now forsake the eternal verities of God’s holy Word through which our blessed hope comes, to wander aimlessly upon the wild and raging seas of the theories, philosophies and false doctrines of men? Some of these are now being advanced by our own brethren, which will lead those overcome by them to be ultimately dashed against the shores of destruction.
We sing the words of a song, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fastened to the rock which cannot move; grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.” Let us ever keep our lives deeply imbedded in that rock so that we may enjoy the eternal bliss of heaven when this life is over.
Nehemiah Say about Us?
Adam B. Cozort
The Book of Nehemiah is one of my personal favorites in the Old Testament. It is the inspired diary of the man who oversaw the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem after the return from captivity. The rebuilding of the wall was a feat not often seen because of the ways and means by which it was accomplished. People from all walks of life were working on the project. In Chapter 3 there is an extensive list of the builders of the wall. They were rulers and common men, priests and craftsmen, people of Jerusalem and families from the outlying towns and villages, men and women. All came together to work on this great project, and the whole wall was built in a mere 52 days because the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6; 6:15).
However, within that list of workers in Nehemiah 3 there is one very interesting statement made by the author. He recorded in verse 5, “And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.” Of all the people in the region, and of all of those listed as physically assisting with this project, the Tekoite nobles are the only ones stated to have refused the work of building the wall. The reasons for their actions could be many, but the excuses are not enumerated in the text. What is important is that when the time came for the work to be done, they were absent.
Seeing this particular statement causes me to consider another question. What if Nehemiah were to write about the works done in our congregations, laying out the individuals and families that were fulfilling the duties and works of the church in each location? What would he say about my family and me?
It has often been repeated that in most congregations 10% of the people do 90% of the work. While in my experience I have no doubt of the general truth of such a statement, such is not the way it should be. We have a responsibility to be working in the kingdom of the Lord (John 9:4; James 1:25). The Lord’s church is not the place for the lazy or the self-absorbed, but for the servant and the workman (Matthew 20:1-16, 27-28). Therefore, it should be the case in every congregation that 100% of the work is done by 100% of the people. It is understood that there are varying degrees of ability and areas of expertise, but there is always more than enough work to go around. There is always the need for more hands and hearts willing to devote themselves to the task.
If Nehemiah were to write about your congregation and you, what would he say? Would he write of you as he did of so many in his time, how they took of their time, energy and resources to ensure that the work was accomplished to the best of their abilities? Or, would he write of you as he did of the Tekoite nobles, that while others worked around you, you did nothing but stand back and watch?
Let us always be willing to put our hands to the task. There will never be too many workers in the kingdom of God, but there are often far less than there should be. We must respond to the Lord’s tasks in the same manner that the people responded to Nehemiah. “Let us rise up and build” (Nehemiah 2:18).