Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Treasuring Christ in Catastrophic Situations Part III

In the last post we looked briefly at the fact that God is at work developing at least five attitudes in each of his dear children. Rather than being a God for our convenience and supplying all of our carnal wants and wishes, God has a far greater purpose as he works in our lives. It seems so incongruous to us that God would use such painful things like trials, tribulations, and testings to burn away the dross that is in our lives, but he does. The first attitude that we looked at was; we are to love our God with all of our heart. This is a tough task since this world has so many things to offer to us to love. Through various means God is ever at work wresting these things from our hearts drawing us nearer to him. He is ever at work showing us his worth and beauty, giving us ample reason to love him and him alone. Like Pilgrim, when he looked on the one hanging on the tree and his burden dropped from him, he loved him, so we too, love him. We are not to love the things of this world. However, it seems we can; on page 5 of Olsteen’s book, you will come across this line which by the way is the main basis for his book. There he says, “God wants to pour out his favor and beyond favor. God wants this to be the best time of your life.” He encourages the reader of his book to dream the following on page 5: “Someday, I’ll earn more money, and I won’t have to worry about how to pay the bills.” Again, on the same page Olsteen writes, “God wants to increase you financially.” On page 9 he says, “Even if you come from an extremely successful family, God still wants you to go further.” On Page 11, he writes, “Get rid of that small-minded thinking and start thinking as God thinks. Think Big. Think increase. Think abundance. Think more than enough.” And on page 23 he writes, “Many people settle for too little. I’ve gone as far in my career as I can go. I’ve hit the peak. I’ll never make any more money than I’m making right now.” But that is not what God wants for you, says Olsteen. What does God say? God is at work in our lives to instill important attitudes in each of his children, and that is … 2. To make Him your greatest treasure Mt 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Mt 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. Why? So that he can have that treasure that he discovered! Is God your greatest treasure? Most of the time He is not our greatest treasure. You must ask yourself what is your greatest treasure? 3. To live as a pilgrim passing thru this life Heb 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: 1Pe 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 4. To set your affections on things above not on things below Col 3:1-3 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Why are we to set our affections on things which are above? The answer is actually rather simple. In a spiritual sense, we have left this life and the loves of this life. We have been moved to a new domain where Jesus Christ lives. This brings a new understanding to us. Among several things that Paul is calling the Colossian believers to, is to have a proper mind about themselves. It is just more than a way of living, but it includes the ideas of values and our loves or our affections. So Paul commands (thru an imperative) that these believers, it applies to you and me as well, that they focus on things or matters that relate to the rule of Christ in the world. God’s concerns should occupy each Christian. Why is that? Creation and everything in this world will pass away; the things of God will remain. So we have the responsibility of having values and loves that are focused on Christ and our energies are to be devoted to making the things of Christ a reality on this earth until the earth passes away. So, get this, please don’t miss it, the task of the church is to call people to Christ and away from earthly things. Now here is what is important. Paul is not calling us to abandon the things that God has created in this world, but when our spiritual devotion is properly focused on Christ, we will be able to see, value, and use the things on this earth with God’s perspective rather than a perspective that merely satisfies, comforts, or pleases us carnally. Do you see that? God has created beautiful lakes, rivers, mountains, and valleys. We have material and the know how to build houses, cars, trains, and beautiful things. We have been given children and friends. God has graciously given us so many wonderful things in this world – not to love and use for our own selfish or self-centered pleasure, but to use them to further the gospel, expand His kingdom, demonstrate His Lordship and sovereignty, and to magnify His glorious nature. There is nothing wrong with having a house, but why do you want or have that house? Wow, God is at work cultivating or developing our love for Him, bringing us to a point where we treasure Him above all things, enabling us to live as pilgrims or strangers in a foreign country; and to think in terms of God in relation to all that is on this earth. 5. Live in the light of eternity not the temporal II Cor 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. Did you see what he said? Our light affliction; what was this light affliction he was talking about? We see this in verses 7-15 · Hard presses on every side · He is perplexed · Struck down · Carrying in his body the death of Jesus Christ · He faces death regularly These are just some things that both you and I know that the apostle Paul experienced in His ministry for Jesus Christ. But he considers it light, what is light? Why would he consider trials, tribulations, afflictions, trouble, anguish, and even persecution as light or almost noticeable? Vs 17 – these things he says, “… is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What these things produce in the life of a believer is almost unnoticeable in comparison to what they are working in the believer as far as eternity is concerned. Let me ask you: what do you consider your trials, tribulations, or temptations to be? Do you consider them to be nuisances, or a major bother, an interruption to your life? Or do you see them as God working in your life to make you love Him with all your heart, to treasure Him above all things, to wean you from the love and desire of the things of this life and world, to cause you to live as a pilgrim or stranger and not as a citizen, and to live in the light of eternity rather than the here and now? So the proposition stated is simply this; no Joel, God’s best for us in this life is not necessarily wealth, health, financial success, or a freedom from pain, suffering, trials, tribulations, or temptations. God’s best is our sanctification, our progress in holiness.

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