Monday, March 29, 2010

Getting a True Picture of Treasure

Oh, Lord, help me to have a true picture of what truly counts in this world. So much seems so important, but in the end it all turns to dust and is no more. Lord, grant to me the wisdom and discernment to see eternity when temporality is swirling around me like a vortex. Lord, this is my prayer today.

How much did he leave?

(J. R. Miller, "Counsel and Help" 1907)

"Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." Proverbs 23:5

People are badly cheated in this world. They imagine that the things they can see are the real things--that the gold, lands, and stocks are the true treasures. So they toil for those things and gather them into their possession, piling up what they suppose to be wealth. Thus they live in pomp, with their fine houses, and all their brilliant show. But one day their supposed riches sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Or they may keep their wealth, perchance, and die at last in the midst of it, and have a great funeral; but they find that they cannot carry a penny of it with them. "How much did he leave?" was asked about a rich man who had died. "All of it!" was the answer.

If only people knew that there are things which will never fly away--they would no longer live for fleeting worldly wealth. They would pass by the glittering unrealities, to lay hold of the true riches. He who is rich toward God--is the truly wealthy man.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

He Has Done All Things Well

There is a statement made about Jesus in Mark 7, and this statement is astounding to me. This is one of those statements that encompasses a great deal; it is an extensive and comprehensive assessment. It can be applied to Jesus in any way possible, and one will see that is true in every respect. He has done all things well.”

The context of this statement is described both historically and humanly. The historical context is healing. Jesus had healed a deaf man who spoke with a great impediment. The text specifically references in Mark 7:37 the fact that Jesus healed the deaf and the mute. But the text also says that the obvious power and supernatural ability that was evidenced here in this healing caused the people to be “utterly astonished.” The people saw this unbelievable miracle, they were utterly astonished at what they saw, and they responded and said of Jesus, “He has done all things well.” But I would suggest that when all is said and done, when all has come to an end, everyone would testify that Jesus has done all things well.

1. This is the testimony of those who knew Jesus and observed His life.

2. This is the testimony of those who opposed Him.

3. This is the testimony of Pilate.

4. This is the testimony of the Heavenly Father.

5. This is the testimony of the sinner saved by grace.

6. This is the testimony of God’s pilgrims in eternal glory.

· “There were times when I sinned…”

· “There were times when I hated myself…”

· “There were times when I was confused…”

· “There were times when I was disappointed with life…”

· “There were times when I was burdened and overwhelmed…”

· “There were times when I was worried…”

· “There were times when I was sorrowful…”

· “There were times when I was sick…”

· “There was a time when I came to death…”

But no matter what happened, what I felt, and what was going on around me, in the end I have come to know that JESUS DID ALL THINGS WELL.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God Speaking in Life's Whirlwinds

Job 38:1 NASB “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…”

Job 38:1 NCV “Then the Lord answered Job from the storm.”

Storms and the Scripture

Storms, like mountains, are copiously used in the Scriptures. Elijah experienced a storm before the Lord spoke to him in a still, small voice in the cave. Jesus calmed the storm, and thus, demonstrated who He was and the power with which He manifested His divine glory. In this case in the Book of Job, the Lord is speaking to Job out of a storm in order to address the questions and issues that have confronted Job in the storms of his life.

Life’s Troubles are Storms

Life’s troubles are like storms. They sometimes come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly. They sweep down upon us with terrible ferocity and great power. Life’s storms of trouble can sweep us away; they can take the very lifeblood of hope out of our hearts. They are both awesome and awful. God’s people are not immune from life’s problems and hardships. They are not exempt from life’s great tragedies. These storms, though not inherent within the material universe, which God created, are now normal and natural because of the sin-broken nature of the world in which we live.

Job’s Storms

Job had been living in a storm for a long time. Job’s life had been decimated by the tragic and painful events of his journey. He had, quite literally, lost everything except God. God in the days and weeks of pain’s shadow, Job could not see or find God. He would cry out, “Oh, that I might find Him.” Eventually Job’s perception of everything became warped: he had a warped perception of himself (thinking he was righteous), he had a warped perception of life (he thought life was not worth living), and most of all he had a warped perception of God (he thought God was angry with him, and thus God abandoned him). But Job was wrong on all accounts. When we are hurting we become horrible philosophers. In pain our spiritual vision is clouded, and our mind is dulled to the truth. In moments of hopelessness apparitions of horror will fill us with a terrible dread.

God Speaking from the Whirlwind

God begins speaking to Job in Job 38 and He speaks through chapter 41. What does God say? What does God not say? What is God doing for Job in this section? What does Job really need from God?

· God does not answer Job’s questions.

· God does, by asking His own questions to Job, re-orientate Job to life, reality, and God.

· By doing this, God awakens Job to a deeper understanding of God, life, and even Job’s experiences, and by doing this God gives Job the greatest gift ever – illumination to the truth with eternal application for living.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Comforted by God

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

First, I want us to think about the true assertions made about life in these verses. These assertions deal with suffering and comfort in suffering:
  1. It is normal and even expected for Christians to suffer in this world of sin.
  2. God is the God of all comfort. All comfort comes from Him.
  3. God wants Christians to be comforted by Him.
  4. God also wants to pass comfort along to others through the ones whom He comforts, so that the comforted Christian becomes the conduit through whom divine comfort flows to others. However, this is processed and accomplished in such a way so that the hurting person receiving comfort from a comforted Christian turns to the Lord for more comfort. All true comfort comes from God Himself!
Second, I think it is vital that we understand that this passage is not teaching that we should turn to people for comfort when we hurt. This is the common mistake made by many people when they hurt. Many people unfortunately turn to other people when they turn. Why do we do this?
  • Because it is easy to do.
  • Because we falsely think that is where real comfort is found.
  • Because when we turn to people for comfort it is an attempt (perhaps inadvertent and unintentional) to pass off to others the responsibility that we bear for our own decisions and comfort. Turning to others takes the pressure off of us.
If we turn to people for comfort when we hurt rather than to the Lord, then we will never grow in our understanding of life's depths. The richness of spiritual truth that could have been learned in the vortex of suffering, will never be perceived if we turn to people instead of the Lord. If we turn to people for comfort instead of the Lord, we will never truly experience comfort, and we will never be able to comfort others with the comfort God gives to us.

Does God want to comfort His hurting people? Sure. Does God want comforted Christians to pass that comfort along to others who hurt? Again, absolutely right. But let's remember that if by sharing God's comfort we turn people to ourselves rather than to God, then we do them a disservice, and they will not have learned to be comforted by God.