Toil, Trouble, Trials and Tribulation Four
The answer to the question often asked-“Why me, Lord?
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)
This is a good portion of scripture to read slowly and consider carefully each individual idea expressed. I think each one of these ideas has a several paragraphs in this teaching series. I wasn’t trying to sneak up on you like that but this teaching series is really all about Jesus. Just saying so you know: it really is all about Jesus.
Jesus stated; “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30 (ESV) “My way of carrying a load is easy and My load is not heavy.” (NLV) "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 ( Message)
There is joy in all of this. There is understanding about who and what you are as well as purpose for your life. There is family in the truest sense of the word because you come into right relationship with your Creator, your Father, and learn stuff from the absolute coolest Elder Brother ever. Some of your brothers and sisters may be a little sketchy but we are all growing up together and it will all work out for the best in the end. That is another thing: No matter what happens it will all work out for good when you love God and your fellow human beings with all you’ve got. That thought makes it easier to get up and face the day. This is peace.
All we have to do is pay attention: simply look. The Bible says “ Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” 1 John 3:2 (NLT)
The idea I would like to extract from this scripture is that as we see Jesus as he is we will become more like him. That is why it is so important to understand God’s nature and character which is grace and truth. That is why you must know his name. That is why you must understand God’s plan for the ages. When you accept this knowledge as true it becomes the prism through which all circumstance is viewed and considered. It becomes the way you see yourself. You become wise. The Kingdom of God becomes your worldview. This is righteousness.
“To know God is perfect justice.” Book of Wisdom 15:3
(This is the time that you pause, exhale, take a deep breath and say “Yes, Lord, make it like that for me-I believe and want to be on Team Jesus. Make this the realest thing in my life.)
This view of yourself and the world comes through welcoming the Holy Spirit into your whole being to set you apart for service in the Kingdom of God and to further God’s purpose which is now your purpose as well. If you simply look for God in your circumstance and learn the lessons that come from overcoming the unpleasant things you will do well. You may have to learn to fight negative influences but you will be stronger and wiser for it. Oh, study your Bible, don’t just read it, then live it.
Brother James writes in James chapter 1 verses 22-27: Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. (Message)
There is a book, one of my favorites, entitled “The Three Questions” written by John Muth and based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy. In this book a boy named Nikolai poses three questions to his companions, a dog, a monkey and a bird. The questions are what is the best time to do things, who is the most important one, and what is the right thing to do? After experiencing a number of trials and receiving a lot of questionable advice from his companions Nikolai meets a wise old turtle named Leo whose questions and direction lead him to the answers to his three questions and enable Nikolai to save a baby panda bear. Nikolai learns that the best time to do things is now because being fully present in the moment is all we truly posses of time. Now is the place in our mind where we may encounter God. If you are distracted from the moment you are in by ghosts of the past or the hopes and fears of the future it is impossible to participate fully in the now which is the only real thing happening. The way to be fully involved in your now is to simply be quite and pay attention to it. Simply look at it and listen.
Who is the most important one? The one beside you is. They are sharing your now.
What is the right thing to do? Help the one beside you. Providence has put them there. There will be a blessing for both of you if you intentionally love the one who is closest to you now.
What Brother James wrote made me think of the lessons in “The Three Questions.” He wrote: Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”
It is very important that you keep your way of thinking from becoming corrupted by the influences of this age which are artfully designed to keep you distracted from the present reality of the Kingdom of God. James mentioned the practice of religion which talks a good game but fails to express the love of God as an example of one of these artful deceptions. This kind of religion is usually pretty easy to spot because it looks more like the people who say they believe in it than a God who has fashioned a beautiful plan for the ages that culminates with nothing but peace, love, and good happiness stuff going on. This type of thing is referenced in Psalm 50:16-21: to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent;
you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face. (NIV1984)
Jesus puts it this way:"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Matthew 6:30-33 (MSG)
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (ESV)
I have a lot more to say, I realized that after I scrolled through this installment and discovered about 15 pages more than any reasonable blog post should be. Well, I always planned on writing a book and it seems these blogs will be a good foundation. I plan on structuring it around the title of these teachings and I think it will be a positive contribution to the conversation about the revolution of spiritual evolution which continues gaining momentum daily.
Two last thoughts and I will be done for today.
This is easy. One of the only difficult things about the process of sanctification and the increase of the Kingdom of God is that we can’t figure out how it grows just what does make it grow.
And (Jesus) said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. Mark 4:26-27 (ESV)
Simply practice the presence of God and study the Scriptures like they contain the mystery of the Divine Plan of the Ages as well as the secret to possessing the very mind of Christ because they do. Don’t forget there is one who devises artful deceptions to keep your vision on lesser goals.
Lo, I -- I have prepared an artizan, Blowing on a fire of coals, And bringing out an instrument for his work, And I have prepared a destroyer to destroy. Isaiah 54:16(YLT)
Lastly, don’t get caught up in the winds of doctrine that blow about and encourage you to lay a newspaper and calendar beside your Bible while looking to the east. God’s purpose is to fashion a new earth and a new heaven after construction on this one is complete. Look forward to a better resurrection. Jesus will return in physical form to live with us at the time for the restoration of all things when all our enemies have been defeated. In the same way he ascended from the earth he will descend back to the earth that we may rule and reign together as a priestly order governing in righteousness and establishing justice.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)
(Those irreverent, silly myths will get ya "Left Behind," just saying.)