I am pastor Gerald Malkus, pastor of Jehoash Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your pastor for this Day. Greetings from the congregation of this historic church in Fauquier County, VA.
I am a tennis player and have been playing since I was in 10th grade in high school. That was a long time ago.
Next week the US Open tournament begins in New York. The best players in the world enter that tournament, but on September 12, at the end of two weeks of play, one man will say, I can beat anyone in the world, except him. And that runner up will be the loser in the final match.
Wins and losses are the very things that dominate life. Don’t you think that is true- even in the the life of the Christian disciple?
Horatio Bonar, a Presbyterian minister in Scotland in the 19th century wrote this: “Life is not one battle, but many. It is made up, too, of defeats as well as victories. Let us not be unduly troubled or grow moody when a battle is lost. There is always time to win another, and such a thing as flight or demoralization should be unknown in the army of the Living God.”
Do you view your Christian life that way? Defeats and victories? The highs and the lows? I like that classic song by Linda Randall- The God on the mountain is still God in the valley. You see this taught in the Bible.
Paul was a man who knew something about the terrible sting of that lurking and insidious indwelling sin in his life, and the lives of all other believers. He wrote about that pain and sorrow of it in Romans 6 and 7. He concluded with those powerful words, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” But he answers himself, the Roman believers and us in the very next verse:
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Then in Romans 8, you find those wonderful words that energized Paul and have energized all believers as they read them over and over again.
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.. Who shall separate us from the love of God?.. nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Consider the picture of the Christian life painted upon the canvas of the wilderness as the people of Israel came out of Egypt. Their first stop on the way to the promise land was an oasis where they stopped thirsty and weary, but unable to drink of the water there for the place was called Marah- bitter. Yet in the verses that immediately follow, they come to the second stop where they found 70 palm trees and 12 springs of wonderful water, and they called the place Elim – the place of large trees. There they camped by the springs. [Exodus 15 ]
That is what life is about as we make our pilgrimage to the Holy City, the way that leads from Calvary to Zion. There are Marahs and there are Elims; – In the images of John Bunyan in the Pilgrim’s Progress- there are the Sloughs of Despond and Delectable Mountains. There are tears and there is laughter. There are terrible defeats and stunning victories.
All along the way, until the day we will lay the arms of our warfare at the feet of the King, who passed the same way before us. And there, in his presence there will be peace, and victory, and joy- forever!
Keep pressing on Brothers and sisters. Fight the good fight of faith. Cling daily to the Gospel of the grace of God in the person and the work of Jesus Christ. And be assured that there is victory in the One who has overcome the world.
I am pastor Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your pastor for this Day.