March 12

Judges 4-5, Psalm 71

A major factor in the outcome of cardiac arrest is the time between the actual event and the initiation of CPR and/or the defibrillator. Once 4 minutes have elapsed without oxygen, irreversible brain damage begins. Once 10 minutes have elapsed without CPR death is generally the rule. When a person has a stroke the window of opportunity to use the drug, tpA, which can help dissolve the clot, enable reperfusion of the brain, and reverse brain damage is 3 hours. When with a woman in labor and the baby has a prolonged drop in the heart rate (termed a bradycardia), we have 12 minutes to get the baby out before brain damage starts to occur. Procrastination or delay on the part of the medical team in each of these situations has disastrous consequences. We have all been to funerals. Those of us who know Christ as Lord and Savior must look at that individual in the casket and ask ourselves, "Did we act with the gospel message while there was still time?" The situations before this will improve the individual's earthly existence or save it. The latter example has more important consequences, for they are eternal. While that individual walked the earth, did we procrastinate or delay in planting that heaven directed seed, the gospel message, before it was too late?

When Barak was given his marching orders by the prophetess Deborah, he initially delayed, as we read in Judges 4:8, "And Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!" This is the same reasoning and excuse so often used by those of us who procrastinate. Rather than going it alone, possibly being embarrassed or ridiculed, we play it safe and wait for someone else or join in when the other person initiates reaching out to another. On the battlefield before the large army of Sisera with his 900 chariots (which were the ancient equivalent of tanks), we see him frozen. We then read in 4:14, "Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?" Barak delayed but did get involved. We read in the song of Deborah about a couple of groups who refused to get involved. We read in Judges 5:15-16, "...Among the divisions of Reuben There were great resolves of heart. Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, To hear the pipings for the flocks? The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart." Reuben suffered from the "paralysis of analysis". Reuben did not get involved because he overthought the situation. We finally read in Judges 5:23, about a city called Meroz, " 'Curse Meroz', said the angel of the Lord, 'Curse its inhabitants bitterly, Because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty'."

When we view the participants in the battle above, who are we more like: Deborah, Jael, the men of Zebulun and Naphtali? Or, are we more like Barak, the tribe of Reuben, or the city of Meroz? There is a battle before us now. We who are filled with the Holy Spirit must decide if we are going to engage or sit in the background and wait. In James 1:22, we read, "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Jesus goes on to describe in 7:24-25, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." We are either believers or make-believers. If we are like the individual described in Matthew 7:21, the destination of our eternal soul is in question, like Meroz. If we are like the individual described in James 1:22 and Matthew 7:24, then we will never fulfill all that God has in store for us, like Barak. Though their eternal soul is in heaven, as it said in 1 Corinthians 3:15, "..yet so as through fire." Billy Graham and Chuck Smith served as beautiful examples of those who gave it all to the end, and have heard, "Well done, good and faithful servant". We must decide what we want to hear when we breathe our last. Rather than being plagued by the "paralysis of analysis" may we all step out boldly in our faith, proclaiming the gospel message to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster