Stephen R. Clark
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Stephen R. Clark
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Oreland, Pennsylvania
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Delivered July, 1989 | Puebla, Mexico

Never Too Soon, Never Too Late

It's never too soon to come to Christ

Often, when we need to come to Jesus, for salvation or restoration, we feel it's either too soon, or too late. We think it's too soon because there are areas in our life we want to get right first. Or we think it's too late because we've sinned so badly He will never forgive us. Both are lies of the devil! It's never too soon or too late to come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and restoration.

Hosea 10:12 says, "it is the time to seek the Lord until He comes." And 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, "now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." The time to come to Christ is always now! So why do we hesitate? Why do some think it's too soon to come to Jesus?

Christ often encountered people who felt it was too soon to follow him. In Luke 9:59-62, we can read about two such people. To both, Jesus said, "Follow me." The first said, "I have to go and bury my father before I can follow you." And the second said, "I must go and say good-bye to my family before I follow you."

What were these people really saying? They were really saying, "I want to follow you, Lord, but I need to get my life in order first." How many times have we said this to ourselves, and heard others say it? "I'll follow you Lord, eventually, but first, I need to take care of this problem, or that sinful habit. I'm not good enough yet, Lord. I need to make myself a little better first. It's too soon to come to you."

In John 4 we can read about the Samaritan woman Jesus encountered at the well who was also like this. She knew about God and religion. She knew about worship. Yet, she was living in a sinful situation which was only the latest in a series of related sins. I can just imagine this woman early in her life thinking, "I really should commit myself to God, but I first need to straighten up this one area of my life. When I can control this sin in my life, then I'll come to God."

But she couldn't control the sin in her life on her own. She was powerless over sin just as we are powerless over sin without Christ. So instead of getting better by making herself better, she only got worse. She was caught up in her sins by her sinfulness. That which she sought to control on her own controlled her. And eventually, instead of thinking it was too soon to turn to God, she probably thought it was too late.

First things first

What's the first valid step toward really getting our lives together? The answer is in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you." Seek Christ first. Come to Jesus first. Then, your life will begin to take on a sense of order and purpose and wholeness. This is what Christ taught the woman at the well. It's not religion It's not a certain place or style of worship. It's not anything we can do for ourselves that makes us good enough for God. Only Jesus through His blood and righteousness can make us good enough for Himself. And He does so freely when we ask.

The Samaritan woman had been rejected by her community, rejected by her many husbands, rejected by her society, and, most likely, rejected by herself. She was looked upon as being worthless, and even thought of herself as worthless. But Christ saw her just as she was—a sinner created in the image of God. To Him, she was priceless. And He knew it was not too soon, or too late for her to come to Him. This woman, who everyone else rejected, Christ accepted. Just the way she was. And she was the very first person Christ clearly revealed Himself to as the Son of God!

It's never too soon to come to Christ. If you don't know Him, then right now—at this very moment—is the time to make Jesus Lord of your life. You don't need to dress up your life first. When you come to Him, just as you are, and confess your need of Him, He will cleanse you of your sins and dress you in His righteousness.

Coming back again

As Christians, it's never too soon to seek God's forgiveness and restoration when we fail. Even as Christians we often tend to wrongly believe that our lives must be lived out absolutely perfectly to be acceptable to Christ. When we fail and fall into sin, instead of coming to Christ quickly and finding immediate forgiveness and restoration, we tend to move away from God and become cold. We, too, think we can make our lives better on our own, and then we'll ask for God's forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." It doesn't say, "after we get our acts together—after we get our lives in order—then we can seek the Lord." Nor does it say that if we sin as Christians God will not accept us back.

David was a man that even God said of him, "He had a heart after God." He was a godly man. A man who loved the Lord and worshipped God with all his might. And he was also a man who failed God. Big time. In 2 Samuel 11 and 12, we can read how David lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery with her, and then murdered her husband so he could have her as his wife. And he kept the whole thing quiet.

What was David thinking? Perhaps he thought, "If I just worship harder and live right from now on, then it will be okay. And later, when I've made myself a better person, then I'll seek God's forgiveness." Or, maybe he thought, "I've failed God so badly, He'll never take me back."

David was thinking it was either too soon, or too late to come to God again. But David couldn't put the pieces of his life back together on his own. And God didn't want David to avoid Him. So God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David. And David confessed to God and was restored. It's never too soon to confess our sins and accept Christ's forgiveness and restoration. When we sin, there is a painful price to pay, but our Father is merciful and heals the hurts.

Never too bad

There are many who believe, like the woman at the well, that their sins are so horrible, God will never accept them. Even as Christians we struggle with sin and feel as if we'll never be fully acceptable to God. That we have to earn his acceptance and until we can do that we'll always be second class citizens. We believe that even though God saved us, we're too damaged or dirty by our pasts or problems to serve any useful function in the body of Christ, in His church. But it's never too late. We are never, ever too far gone as to be considered worthless by Jesus. We are never hopeless.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." To God, you are very special. He made you. He designed you. He hand-crafted you. To Him, you are infinitely valuable. You are priceless. And He has a plan and purpose for your life, just as Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." And it's never too soon to come to the Lord and enjoy the blessings He has planned for you.

When Christ was being crucified, there were two criminals being crucified at the same time. One rejected Christ's Lordship and was lost. But the other, as he faced death, sought Christ's forgiveness, and received eternal life. It was not too soon or too late for the thief. It was not too soon or too late for the woman at the well. It was not too soon or too late for King David. All had sinned terribly. All faced social disgrace. All deserved death by God's standards. Yet all were forgiven, restored, and given eternal life.

It's not too soon or too late for you, either.

If you're a Christian, and you're struggling with an area of weakness, or you've strayed, or you feel damaged and worthless because of your past—God loves you. He does not think you're too bad, or too evil, or too wicked, or too far gone to be restored. That's what Satan wants you to believe—and the devil is a liar! Jesus loves you—passionately—just as you are. He loves you in spite of your failings. And he is ready to forgive you, restore you, to lift you out of despair, and support you in your struggle until you've won the complete and lasting victory.

God doesn't stop loving you when you sin. When you make a mistake. He loves you deeply all the time. He stays right there with you, whether you're up or down. He helps you and encourages you. He fills you with His Holy Spirit and empowers you to be victorious. After David confessed his sin, he wrote Psalm 51. Verse 12 and 13 state, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you." David's life wasn't wasted. Now he could better understand the power of sin to destroy.

God takes what Satan meant for evil and He turns it around for good. It's never too soon, and it's never too late. Stop thinking you'll come to Christ when you've got your life in perfect order. You can't do it. Stop thinking you'll return to Christ by making your life better. That when you have all of your problems solved, and you've made yourself acceptable, and you've got your life together, then you'll turn to God. It will never happen!

Don't delay! Act today!

There will always be one more problem to fix. There will always be one more hurt to soothe. There will always be one more sin to try and control. Someone has said, "Trying to get our lives all in order is like trying to eat once and for all." You can't do it! That's why God's mercies are new every morning. We need them new and fresh every morning.

If you've strayed away from Jesus, He wants you back. And He's seeking you! In Matthew 18:10-14, Jesus tells a parable that expresses His passionate desire that none would be lost. He explains how a shepherd who has a flock of 100 sheep realizes that one is missing, he will leave the 99 and go in search of the one who is lost. And when he finds the lost sheep, he is happier over its return than over those that remained.

If you've never committed your life to the Lord, now is the time. If you've fallen or strayed, or are feeling helpless over some problem in your life, now is the time to come to the Lord. He's waiting right now to meet you. It's not too soon to come to Him. And it's never too late.

Well, it's almost never too late. There is a time when it is too late. After death, all that's left is judgment. We reap the consequences of all the decisions we've made in life. If we reject Christ in life, when we die, there's no second chance. As long as you're alive, it's never too late to come to Christ.

But, you think, I'm going to live a long time. I'm young. I don't have to decide now. How do you know? Many of my friends and relatives have died very young. I had friends in college who went home for summer vacation, and never came back. I've spoken to a friend only to discover that the next day they had died only moments later.

How do you know if you can afford to wait? Come now. Right now. Right where you are. Kneel before the Lord who loves you, confess your sin, and ask Him into your heart and life. Come now to Jesus.

And Christian, if you're feeling worthless, burdened by a problem, unloved by God, come now. God is waiting with open, loving arms. He wants to restore you. he wants to encourage you. He wants you to know and experience His forgiveness and mercy. Come now to Jesus.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

A Cup of Comfort Devotional Daily Reminders of God's Love and Grace.

 

 
     
   
     
     
 

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