Psalms 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORDS song in a strange land?
How many of us tonight are seated by the river of Babylon? Not because we have been taken captive, but because we let ourselves wander into captivity? How many of us friends, would weep tonight if we would remember the days of Zion; would we weep if we compared the days when we rejoiced in the light and glory of Gods presence with where we are today?
Why is it that the Children of God are so prone to wander? It is a fact that I hate, yet it is still the truth. Just like lambs in the wilderness we think we are just taking a few little steps away from the fold, we are just going to walk at a little bit of a distance for a short time, from the Shepherd. But soon we have our eyes off of him and we end up miles from home, miles from the one we love. Lost and hungry in the old sinful world.
And oh how cold and how dark it is out there on the banks of the river of Babylon; in the wilderness of this world. And how cruel are the princes of that place. They tempt you to wander, they entice you to stray; and when they have you out of the fold they begin to mock you. "Sing to us a song of Zion! Preach to us the word of Zion! Speak the testimony of Zion". But how shall we sing in that foreign land? How can we do anything but despair.
In the Babylon of sin our harps are hung upon the willow tree. Our shouts have long become whispers. Our feasts have become famine. The fellowship is deserted, our bible neglected, our prayers silenced and the work halted. Oh the dust that soon falls upon the altar.
How sad it is to be on the banks of that river, when home seems like a million miles away. What drives men to forsake the gladness of Zion?
WHY WE WANDER?
Isaiah 1:2-3 ¶ Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Gods children are so often forgetful children. The ox and the donkey remember their master, but we so often forget ours. You can raise an animal and feed it a little, and show it a little affection and it will love you and obey you and remain faithful to you until death. Some will give their life to serve and protect you.
Yet God so loved the world that his only begotten Son to die for us. He feeds us, he clothes us, he gives us the breath of life. He gives us the strength to live and move and to have our being. We do not have anything that God did not give us. Yet, we rebel against his word and we are so unfaithful to him. The moment trouble comes we are ready to depart from him! The moment the Word of God comes between us and our fleshly desires we ignore the word to serve the flesh. Why do we not consider? Do we not know that we are wronging our heavenly Father? It is sad but true, a dog would not do his Master the way we do the Great Jehovah!
Oh how we refuse to trust and obey him, how we ignore his commands and make a mockery of his word! "But I believe the word!" you say; yes you believe with your head, but so often our actions prove we do not believe it with our heart. How sad it is that the servants of God pretend that his Commands are a hard thing, but in truth they are not grievous. How sad it is to hear Christians say it is a hard thing to serve God! As if Satan is an easier Master. Dear friends the way of the transgressor is hard.
Where is the loyalty of the church world today? Where is the commitment? You would think men would be willing to die for one who loved them so much, who has done them so much good?
If God was unmerciful, unkind and overbearing: if God was hateful, crude and unjust I could understand men departing from him. But He is just the opposite of those things. God is love. God is kind. God is merciful, gentle, good and lovely. And yet men flee from him, and run into the arms of Satan. How it must break his heart.
Why do men break the heart of their heavenly Father? Because they do not consider the goodness of God. Just like the prodical son, we deceive ourselves into thinking that the grass is greener in that far country, but in truth over there we shall only find famine and death.
REMEMBER your Creator
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
If it is because we forget that we wander. If it is because we do not consider that we fall, then remembering must be a key to standing firm. We need to keep the blessings of God in the forefront of our minds. The bible teaches us to remember thy Creator and it tells us: forget not all of his benefits (Psalms 103:2).
SHE COUNTED HER BLESSINGS
One sister had fallen to the point that she was ready to turn her back on GOD and to go back into the world. Before she left the Lord she decided to pray one last time; just so she could thank God for all his blessings she had received. After naming off a long list of blessings she exclaimed, "OH LORD, Im not going to leave you, youve been too good to me!"
How hard is it to wander from God when you are thinking upon Christs death upon the Cross. When you remember that he hung there and suffered and died because he loved you. When you think that the Prince of the Universe was willing to step down from glory and become a man, just so he could give him self for you. When you think that he shed his life blood for your sins. Oh how he suffered for your sake.
Forget not thy Creator! Forget not his benefits. Be sure to count your blessings. Oh Father, I thank thee that you gave your Son, I thank thee that you loved me that much. I thank thee that you came by my way and knocked upon my heart. I thank thee for saving me, I thank thee for blotting out my sins. I thank thee for freeing me from the chains of darkness that was in my life. I thank thee for thy Word and thy Spirit. I thank thee for another day youve given. I thank thee for another day that you have given to my family. I thank thee for every one that you have saved. I thank thee that you have given so many that are lost another day to repent. I thank thee that you gave me my right mind today. I thank thee for feeding me, and clothing me, and giving me the strength to get out of bed. Thank thee for loving me, for being so patient with me, for being so longsuffering and merciful toward me.
Oh when you begin to count, when you begin to consider and to remember you soon realize that no one loves you like God loves you. No love can even compare to the love of GOD.
REMEMBER - ALL ELSE IS VANITY
Ecclesiastes 12:6-8 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it. "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All is vanity." (NKJV).
Remember that the most important thing you have on this earth is your relationship with the Creator. All else is vanity. All the material things shall pass away; the cars will be gone, your home will be gone, the gold and the silver shall be burnt up. On that day all these things shall be nothing. How sad it is that men sell their souls for nothing. What would you give in exchange for your soul? Oh please realize that Christ is your most prized possession. Hold to him with all your might, seek him early, seek him late and seek him often. Love and obey him, for this is the whole duty of man!
I HAVE WANDERED
Some may say, "But I have wandered, I have forgotten my Creator and now I sit by the river of Babylon. And I do not know how to make it back?" Listen, I am not talking to your neighbor, but I am asking each of you, are you closer to Christ now than ever before? If not then you are near that wicked shore and I am speaking to you. Some here may say, "Yes, this is the closest I have ever been!" But are you filled with his presence? Are you walking in the light of the Word? If not then you need to take notice. The prodical son did not return home until he realized his condition and you will not until you realize yours.
Where are you tonight? Look at the holy standards that is given in the word of God and see where you are right now with GOD? Look into the mirror and forget not what manner of man you are. If Christ stepped down from glory this moment would you be ashamed? Could you say, "Lord I love you with my whole heart, and my whole life is devoted to you?" Can you say, "Id rather die than to wilfully break thy commandment?"
CLINGING TO MILLSTONES
Is that which you cling to worth the price of losing the joy of salvation? Is it worth the gladness of the Spirit? The Unity of the Spirit? Is it worth the separation it has brought between you and GOD? Is it worth putting tears into the eyes of the Lamb? Is that sin, is that weight worth going to hell for? There isnt a thing in this world worth that friends, not a thing. Forget not your duty, forget not the benefits, forget not the consequences of your actions.
GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN
Isaiah 49:14-16 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
You may have wandered into the land of forgetfulness; you may have wandered into that far country and have forgotten your first love; but God has not forgotten you. His eyes are continually upon you and he is longing for you to return home. Tonight you may listen and hear his voice saying, "Where art thou?" As the good shepherd walks the dark hills, calling his sheep by name. Oh how the Father longs to see you arise and to come back home.
Christ has not forgotten a single one, the scars are there to continually remind him. He has not forsaken you, he has not drawn back from you. It is us, we have forgotten him and have forsaken him. But praise God that he promises that if we humble ourselves and pray and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways, he will hear from heaven.
We do not have to be on the banks of Babylon for another night, we can pluck our harps from the willow tree, and rejoice with the angels in the presence of God! Tonight, right at this moment, all can be well with you and your Creator. Turn your heart completely over to him at this moment.
You know there was a time when King David, the mighty king of Israel, the man who was after Gods own heart, forgot his Creator, and became entangled with the things of this life, but you know he prayed a simple prayer from his heart, and God heard him, and God forgave him and he restored him. Lets read that prayer.
Psalms 51:7-13 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
I do not pretend to know the condition of the hearts that are here to night, but if they are not clean, if they are not filled with the love of GOD and the joy of his salvation, then I ask you to pray to be restored. Trust in the blood of Jesus Christ only and he promises to make you whiter than snow.