Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Treasuring Christ in Catastrophic Situations Part II
Yesterday I hope I primed the pump and piqued your interest. Let me say first of all, that I know Joel Olsteen is not the only false teacher and more importantly, he was not the first false teacher to propagate the fact that God wills all people well. What breaks my heart is that the enemy can take what he knows to be in the heart of every sinful nature and put it together in such a way that makes it sound doable, sound desirable and sound delectable. Let me share a staggering proposition with you! The proposition is simple and it goes like this, God is not concerned about our happiness as much as He is concerned about our holiness! As a matter of fact, He states this proposition in I Thess 4:3 - For this is the will of God, your sanctification …” God’s will, or in other words, His determined purpose is that we, his children, be holy. In this context, the determined purpose of God for our holiness includes sexual purity. God has repeatedly, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, commanded us to be holy. Search the scripture and you will not find a command to be healthy, wealthy, or comfortable. Salvation takes us from death and wicked disobedience to holiness. We come to Christ in all of our sin, and we receive cleansing by His atoning death. Then, day by day we become more and more what God designs us to be. We increasingly experience the reality of being set apart for Him in holiness. Sanctification is the name given to this process. Paul is reminding the Thessalonians of the implication of their having been purchased by the blood of Christ. The implication is this, they belong to Christ and their lives must reflect that, just as your life and my life must reflect that. Sanctification is the process by which your moral condition is brought into conformity with your legal status before God. A second place that we see this truth is in Ephesians 1:4: “just as He chose us in him … that we should be holy and without blame …” God is our Father who “has loved us with an everlasting love” Therefore, God uses many methods in the process of our sanctification, including trials, tribulations and testings. We will examine this method in detail in the next few posts. Once we have been redeemed we cannot continue to sin as a habit or as a pattern (I Jn 3:9). A careful examination of scripture reveals that God is at work developing at least five attitudes in our life. Let’s take a look at these five attitudes that God develops in the lives of his redeemed children. After establishing these five attitudes I then hope to share how God uses things like trials, tribulations, and testings to develop them in our lives. The first attitude that God develops is that… 1. You are to love the Lord with all your heart De 6:5 - “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Jos 23:11 - “Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.” Ps 31:23 - “Love the LORD, all you his saints!” Mt 22:37 - “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” God is at work in your live through various means to bring you to where you love Him with all your heart. Yes, I know that none of us while living in these bodies, this side of heaven will love the Lord our God with all of our heart perfectly. There is no room for God nor is there opportunity to love God when we love the things of this world. When we love things like power, prominence, position, possessions, or pennies, we don’t love God. “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” (I John 2:15 ESV) It is such an unfortunate and almost unthinkable concept that we who have redeemed by the grace of God and the blood of Christ could be so much in love with so many things that we are unable to love God. However, it is a reality. God is not taken by surprise. He knows us all to well. So God designs trials, tribulations or testings to drive us to him and to drive out the “leaks, garlic, and onions” of Egypt that have lodged themselves in our hearts. Among all the reasons that God has in his design for your trial or tribulation is this – God is working to drive out the love of the things of this world from your heart and to develop a greater love for him. The crime, yes the treason lies in this, that more often than not we desire the gifts rather than the giver; we desire the things of God rather than God himself. Listen, God does determine to give to his children the best that he has to give. What is that? It is himself. If God determined to give us anything else, anything less than himself, God would be an idolater. We have the best now, we have God. Joel, I don’t need the favor of man – I have the favor of God. I don’t need Mercedes, Mansions, or Millions. The bitter trials I have experienced have taught me that I am guilty of loving them more than I love God. So… “…let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…” (Jere 9:24 ESV) We will look at the other four attitudes tomorrow, Lord willing.