After the break out from Normandy, the Allies were faced with a fast retreating and demoralized and seemingly defeated German army. The enemy was retreating so far and so fast that the push on to Berlin became a race between Generals Montgomery and Patton. The Allies came to believe that the war was already won and would be over in 1944.
The difficulty lay in the ever lengthening lines of supply and the fact that the Allies did not hold ports capable of unloading large amounts of materiel.
The large port of Antwerp in Belgium was in Allied hands but they did not control the sea access through the Scheldt estuary.
This operation was given less importance than the attack on Arnhem and Operation Market garden. Many criticized the lack of priority given to the clearing access to Antwerp.
The operation was given mainly to the Canadian army with British and Polish elements.
It was fought in horrific conditions and abysmal weather. Overcoming terrible and determined resistance and by clearing of the sea of mines Antwerp was finally opened to cargo on November 29 1944.
Canadian vessel Fort Cataraqui is unloaded at the harbour of Antwerp
Our supply lines as Christians often seem stretched and ready to break. The daily help we need to live as Christians added to the exigencies of spiritual problems and emergencies make the source of divine supply appear very far away.
Sin can block the lines of communication and make our cries seem to fall on deaf ears.
Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died so that our forgiveness and Spiritual sustenance and strength could be supplied freely and fully.
However many and insurmountable the obstacles appear to be they are more in our lack of faith and prayerlessness than any supposed unwillingness on God’s part.
Indeed the Apostle Paul spoke from long experience of God’s grace when he said “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Phillipians 4:19 E.S.V.
Christ speaks to the Church!
Christ’s letters to the seven Churches in the first four chapters of Revelation should always have a salutary effect on those churches and individuals that study them and compare them with the state of the churches in their own day.
Christ is portrayed as the all seeing and ever vigilant observer and judge of the churches works and spiritual state and zeal. This is a cause for our constant sobriety, scrupulous obedience and faithfulness knowing we are always under scrutiny of our Master and Lord.
Of the seven churches dealt with only two avoid censure.
Despite earthy poverty, Smyrna receives Christ approbation and encouragement to endure the tribulation and forthcoming time of testing.
Philadelphia despite being in the midst of opposition remains faithful to the one who is always “True” Rev 3:7.
She is described as having “little strength” yet having kept Christ’s Word and not denied his Name.
The other churches addressed may to human view appear more successful and appear in need of nothing: they may have their commendable points but the searching gaze of Christ perceives flaws, sins and defections which spoil and endanger their witness and even continued existence.
Christ expects a great deal from the people and groups that bear His name. While He may bear with feebleness and weakness, He will never condone compromise with the World, deficiency in love, corruption, luke-warmness and deadness.
These churches were warned and counseled by Christ but subsequently had their lamps of witness forever snuffed out
If some of our churches today were placed under such direct and immediate notice and scrutiny today, how many would pass muster and continue in existence?
The only way to escape the condemnation which will befalls the erring and unfaithful church is to return to first love and first works.
The Christian Ministry.
Traditionally the gospel ministry was regarded as a calling in a very unique sense.
Spurgeon said of the ministries that “If you can do anything else do not become a minister”.
One often hears the complaint that the attitude of Christian ministers to their work today is the same as any other person following a particular profession, say a lawyer or dentist.
By this they mean that the minister is fulfilling a function and trying to achieve a measurable result and doing a job like anyone else.
Some would say that they are now merely the C.E.O. of their particular church congregation in much the same way as a business executive and have thus become time servers, only interested in the lifestyle and material gains resulting from a successful church organization.
The fact is many have no real idea what their ministers do during the week and wonder if they actually earn their stipends. While much of this criticism is unfair many Christian leaders today give ample concern about their reasons for entering Christian ministry and methods of operation.
The minister today has less to do with the direct shepherding of souls and more to do with organizing programs and increasing attendance.
Though they are still expected to preach for some it is a role limited to so many times a month and then punctuated by guest speakers or services where preaching as such does not occur.
The minister has it seems to me become a far more remote figure than he was in the past. While in the larger churches this is understandable, it is still a sorry side effect of numerical growth and may be an indictment of the lack of commensurate growth in spiritual graces, fruits and the decline from the Pauline and scriptural idea of Christian ministry.
To go into the ministry as a career and means to gain a comfortable life goes against the scriptural description of Christian ministry.
While no one expects a minister to live on air, it seems that an attractive salary and high standard of accommodation are essentials in getting the right sort of man to grow a large successful church.
The minister who is comfortable where he is can stay at the one church indefinitely and may be unwilling to uproot his family to answer another call. What does this say about the priorities that some ministers have to their work?
While it is easy to be over critical, the proclamation gospel is the important thing. It has always involved self sacrifice and personal inconvenience to those called to the ministry.
When Christ and his apostles suffered hardship and deprivation for the furtherance of the gospel cause and throughout history the faithful heralds of Christ’s message were treated as “the offscouring of all things”, it is shameful that the ministry should be regarded as a cozy billet a means to obtain a comfortable lifestyle by minimal effort.
Thank God there are still faithful minister who lead the way as examples of tireless effort and self denial. Let us pray that their numbers may be greatly increased.