Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Momentary Troubles & Eternal Glory







John 8:12-24 (MSG) 12 Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

13 The Pharisees objected, “All we have is your word on this. We need more than this to go on.”

14-18 Jesus replied, “You’re right that you only have my word. But you can depend on it being true. I know where I’ve come from and where I go next. You don’t know where I’m from or where I’m headed. You decide according to what you can see and touch. I don’t make judgments like that. But even if I did, my judgment would be true because I wouldn’t make it out of the narrowness of my experience but in the largeness of the One who sent me, the Father. That fulfills the conditions set down in God’s Law: that you can count on the testimony of two witnesses. And that is what you have: You have my word and you have the word of the Father who sent me.”

19 They said, “Where is this so-called Father of yours?”

Jesus said, “You’re looking right at me and you don’t see me. How do you expect to see the Father? If you knew me, you would at the same time know the Father.”

20 He gave this speech in the Treasury while teaching in the Temple. No one arrested him because his time wasn’t yet up.

21 Then he went over the same ground again. “I’m leaving and you are going to look for me, but you’re missing God in this and are headed for a dead end. There is no way you can come with me.”

22 The Jews said, “So, is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by ‘You can’t come with me’?”

23-24 Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”

Spiritual principles are the truth of reality.  Materialism is the lie. 

Though I believe in Jesus Christ, and the God of the Bible, do I truly see the world by that view?  Do I truly realize that I'm a created being?  Do I truly understand the facts of a fallen world? 

Sometimes it's so hard to see the truth.  The world is after all quite in your face.  It's been in my face lately.  I've been struggling.  Your prayers are welcomed.  But the scriptures reassure me.  I listen to the Psalms at night before bed.  They reassure me that the man David, who had a heart after God's own heart, often called out on God, describing in beautiful details his desperate situations.

Psalm 12 (NIV)
Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbor deception in their hearts.
May the Lord silence all flattering lips
    and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
    “By our tongues we will prevail;
    our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord.
    “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
    like silver purified in a crucible,
    like gold[c] refined seven times.
You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
    and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
    when what is vile is honored by the human race.

I could write such things.  I could weep day and night for the lies that permeate this country.  For the lies that permeate even the most educated churches.  I could weep for the incredible corruption in the cities even in my area.  But there are no more tears.  They will not flow.

Psalm 22:1-2 (NIV)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]
 
 Perhaps the deepest and darkest nights of the soul must come first, instead of later, and why might I need to fight against such sadness?  I've survived through all hopelessness, for twelve years, drug addicted broken and lost.  I can and will survive now, because Jesus Christ is Lord.  

But to go from one isolation to another.  From the isolation of a drug addict, outcast, to the isolation of a Christian in a hostile culture.  Oh sweet irony.  I think God's speaking to me.  Here and now.  Very clearly, as I read these words:

2 Corinthians 4 (NIV) Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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