Friday, January 12, 2018

Spies or Citizens?

1Pe 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Peter’s first epistle is written the Christians to encourage them to be patient when they aren’t being treated fairly through persecution and also to persevere through the everyday trials of life.  He uses the term “elect exiles” which immediately points out that we are to see our purpose in this life differently than the lost around us.  We are in a sense alien life forms.  We look like the average human being but our true home is up above and our loyalty is not to this world but to our Supreme Leader who sent us here for his purposes and there is a day of reckoning coming in which we will have to give an account to our time spent in this “foreign world”.  We are in the world but not of the world because we live for a different cause than the lost; we live for a God that this world rejects.

I think Christianity can also be compared to being a spy sent by a government to infiltrate a country they are at war with.  A spy participates in the activities of the country he is in but not for the same reason the normal citizens do.  He is there to undermine and compromise the country he is in for the good of his homeland.  What he cannot do is to forget why he is there and get a job and start living for the good of that country and become a loyal citizen and fail to send back reports to his government.  Everything he does is to be with his homeland in mind and if he gets so caught up in his “cover story” that he doesn’t have time to his undercover work, he basically becomes a traitor to those that sent him.

So it is also a little like an undercover cop sent into deep cover to infiltrate a criminal organization.  The whole organization is illegal and it is just a matter of time before it is all going to be brought to justice.  He is there to help this along, and it would be against his whole reason for being undercover if he actually started helping the organization in its criminal activity and failed to report back and follow orders from his boss.

The point I am trying to illustrate is that very often Christians forget who sent them into the world and why they are here and they start to act like all the rebels around them.  We get so caught up in life that we don’t work for our homeland and our King.  Of course, one big difference between my illustrations and being a Christian is that we aren’t undercover spies.  We are here to tell everyone that they are in a rebellious kingdom that is going to be destroyed.  We are to tell them that this whole crime family is about to be arrested and condemned and that they had better get right with the Law Giver before it is too late.

Peter, Paul and Jesus all make the point that this will turn most citizens of this present world into our enemies but don’t worry this is all part of the plan.

Joh 15:18  "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. Joh 15:19  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Joh 16:1  "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. Joh 16:2  They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. Joh 16:3  And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.

1Th 2:14  For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 1Th 2:15  who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 1Th 2:16  by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

It is our duty to think and act like we are citizens of heaven and not of this world or we undermine our message that this world is going to be judged.  How can we who are dead to sin continue to live in it?  If we tell the lost that this world is passing away and we live like there is nothing or no one more important then why should they believe what we are saying?  

1Jn 2:15  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1Jn 2:16  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1Jn 2:17  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Unable and Unworthy

2Sa 9:3  And the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet."

Tucked away in the OT is an account of the kindness David showed to Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s sons.  Every time I go through this passage I see something of the grace that God shows sinners that I can identify with and reminds me why I must love the Lord with all of my heart.

This time I noticed that there were two things about Mephibosheth that removed any chance of him doing anything for David to earn his favor.  He was from a cursed family and he was crippled in both feet.  Without doubt these two things are mentioned in this passage to point to the fact that I also was from the wrong family and enslaved to sin and unable to do anything that pleased God.

Mephibosheth’s grandfather was Saul who had been rejected by the Lord and eventually killed in battle.  It was typical for a new king who had disposed the previous one to kill his relatives lest they lead a rebellion to take back the kingdom.  Mephibosheth realized this as is seen in the humble, fearful way he approached the king, 2Sa 9:6  And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant."

We are all born into a cursed family line as well.  Our “grandfather” dared rebel against the King and brought condemnation upon us all.  The Bible says that the sentence of death hangs over everyone born from the first Adam.  But like Mephibosheth, we are also born of one who has a special relationship to the king, 2Sa 9:1  And David said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"  Jonathan was also born of Saul but he had entered into a previous covenant with David which promised life to all his descendants.  So while condemned by the first Adam, Saul, he gained pardon by being from the second Adam, Jonathan.  What a marvelous picture of Jesus born in the line of Adam but also being God pleased the Father in a way that no sinner ever could.

That took care of Mephibosheth’s first problem, wrong family, but what about his inability to please the king; his lameness meant he had nothing to offer King David.  We read that he was given a powerful servant that was commissioned to take all of Mephibosheth’s possessions and bear fruit for David, 2Sa 9:9  Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 2Sa 9:10  And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat.

So God gives us his Spirit to work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  He takes what we were born with and empowers us to use it for the Lord and no longer for sinful purposes.

In fact Ziba played a big part in bringing Mephibosheth to David to begin with, 2Sa 9:4  The king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar." 2Sa 9:5  Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.  Ziba was sent and brought Mephibosheth to David.  As with our salvation this story is all about what David did for Mephibosheth, not what Mephibosheth did for David.  

I praise and thank the Lord that when I was both helpless and cursed, unable and unworthy, he sent his Son to bring peace and his Spirit bring me back so I can now eat at the King’s table and serve him with a new heart.  All glory to God!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Love and the Local Church

Joh 13:1  Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …Rom 8:38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, Rom 8:39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is something about biblical love seen in the way that the Lord loves us that helps us understand how we are to love one another.  In turn this should help us realize when someone does not love us when perhaps they say they do. 

We see in the above verses that God has set his love on us and has determined to do us good and he will never stop seeking our good.  So true love comes with commitment.  It is not merely a feeling but a decision to seek the good of its object no matter what the personal cost.  Anything less does not reflect God’s love; any love that is only good as long as the object maintains some level of performance or attraction is a defective love.

So girls, if that boy won’t put a ring on your finger and soon afterward say “I do”, they do not love you.  They might be strongly attracted to you but attraction comes and goes.  They might like you and want to spend time with you but only if the conditions are right.  If they are unwilling to commit to you for life, to live with you, to support you, to care for you, to commit to the children they have with you, then they are in essence saying that they love themselves more than you and will keep you around only as long as they can get what they want out of you.  True, godly love commits and then sees it through until death as Jesus demonstrates in John 13 above. 

There are a lot of Christians who would fully agree with my application of true love in marriage but then balk when we start to try and be consistent and love the church in the same manner.  Just like the man who holds his girlfriend at arm’s length and won’t join her in marriage so that he can keep his options open, so many saints treat other Christians in the local church with the same cavalier attitude.

We don’t want to be held accountable for the way we live; we don’t want to get involved in what is often messy relationships with God’s people.  We just want to walk in on Sunday morning, hear an “inspiring” message that meets my needs and then not see anyone until the next week.  So there is no way we are going to join the local church and be under the leadership and accountability of others.  It isn’t surprising that a lot of guys have the same attitude towards the “ole ball and chain”.  Commitment is a four-letter word today because we think we are losing our freedom when in fact we are losing things far worse such as a deep, satisfying relationship that only comes in life-long commitment and that is only the beginning.

It is funny that we are happy to have Jesus commit to us and enjoy all the benefits we get from him, but we don’t want to commit to his body, the church.  The problem is that the Bible doesn’t let us off the hook, 1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1Jn 4:20  If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1Jn 4:21  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother

We might think that we can love the saints but not commit to them; we think we can love them from afar as in Sundays only, etc.  But again, the Bible says we have to sacrifice for them, 1Jn 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  Can I really say I love someone when I refuse to even join the church and commit myself to them; especially when God defines love as being willing to lay down my life for the object?  If I won’t even lay down my life to the extent of joining the church because I am afraid of commitment and accountability there is no way I am going to lay down my life in death for you.

Jesus Christ demonstrated his love and committment for us by going through the worse experience it is possible to be in, the cross and the separation from the Father, and if our love and commitments don’t look the same by at least committing ourselves to the care of other Christians in the local church then there is a problem.  If I love you, I will commit myself to you and sacrifice myself for you.

Notice this commitment in the early church,

Act 2:42  And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Act 2:43  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Act 2:44  And all who believed were together and had all things in common. Act 2:45  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Act 2:46  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, Act 2:47  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. 

It was this type of joining together that brought about the salvation of souls, vs. 47.  May God take away our fierce love for self that must remain independent, in control, and uncommitted and work in us a spirit that gives of oneself to each other.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Making Our Calling and Election Sure

2Pe 1:10  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

It is amazing how many Christians have been deluded into thinking that in order to make it to Heaven all one has to do is believe some facts about Jesus Christ.  It comes from a misunderstanding of being saved through faith.  Salvation is a process by which we are legally justified but also we are transformed within when the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart; we become new creations.  For many the transformation passages are ignored and the “by faith” passages are taken with little thought about what else is taught in the Bible.  This is called “Easy Beliefism”.  It is the idea that all I have to do in order to be saved is to trust in Jesus’s death for me.  The problem is that even lost people can believe facts about Jesus.  This is where the doctrine of Total Depravity comes in.  Only those regenerated by the Spirit can exercise faith that saves and once he does this the individual is never the same.

When God saves a person they become new creations and are being transformed into the image of Christ, Rom 8:8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:9  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Rom 8:29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers

We see in 2 Peter 1:10 that it is this transforming work that gives us evidence that we are indeed saved from our sins, not just in our sins.  To miss this point has caused many to presume that they are saved and has no doubt led many to Hell.   When I was younger I remember hearing preachers like Curtis Hudson say that if you want to have assurance you need to write down the date you were saved in the front of your Bible and you could look at that and know you are saved.

This is fundamentally absurd.  It is like saying that if you want to know if you are alive then you need to look at your birth certificate!  I think it is safe to say that if you have to look at your birth certificate to know if you are alive or not, you are probably dead.  How about looking to see if you are breathing or if your heart is pumping?  Notice that Peter says that if you are practicing these qualities you will never fall; you will prove your calling and election.  Therefore, if you don’t see evidence of these qualities in your life the assumption is that you are not called and elected. 

I recently heard of a church bragging that David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam murderer, had walked the aisle at their church when he was eight so they knew that he was saved.  A pet monkey can walk a church aisle!  Our spiritual birth certificate is being sealed with the Holy Spirit, and he doesn’t lead us to murder people.  Proof of life is doing living things.  If my life is dominated by sin and not by Christ, if there is no spiritual “wiggling and struggling” going on, no signs of spiritual warfare, no battle against sin, no driving love for Christ then I am much better off assuming I am lost than spiritual sleepwalking until I am cast into Hell.

Some tell us to look to the cross and not your life for assurance but Peter says look at both.  Election is what God did apart from us; calling is what God does in us.  Both are two sides of the same coin of assurance; one side is security and the other is evidence.  One alone is presumption and there is no hint in the Bible that it is okay for saints to presume they are saved without evidence.

Let us strive to hear the “Well done good and faithful servant”.  Christ is talking to saints, not to himself.  Jesus heard the well done while he was on earth, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.  That is my security.  At the judgment true saints will be told that there was enough evidence in their lives that proves they are sheep and not goats.  That is my assurance.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Forgetful God

2Pe 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 2Pe 1:6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 2Pe 1:7  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2Pe 1:8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.2Pe 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

In the above verse Peter is telling us that Christians who are not progressing in the Christian life, who are not making an effort to be conformed to the image of Christ by supplementing their lives with the qualities found in verses 5-7, have forgotten why they were saved.  They are acting like they have not been cleansed from their sins by the death of Jesus Christ.  This condition makes one ineffective and unfruitful as vs. 8 states. 

The Bible teaches that Christians must be able to forget the sins committed before we were saved and move forward.  Their guilt is covered by the blood of the cross so that we are free to enjoy and serve the Lord, Php 3:13  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, Php 3:14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  How could Paul who had murdered Christians ever get over that and serve the Lord?  By understanding that those sins have been forgiven and are no longer being held against him.

So obviously at the same time we must never forget what the Lord did for us in saving us by grace.  Had God not stepped into his creation and provided righteousness and atonement for us, we would be lost.  This creates in us a humble heart of love and thankfulness that recognizes that all we are, have and will have is found in the cross work of Jesus.

The Bible also speaks of God forgetting and remembering things.  We know that God never forgets anything so therefore he never has to remember anything because all knowledge is ever present in his mind.  But this is worded in the Bible for us so that we can relate to how he thinks about us and cares for us.  Let me give a couple of examples.

We can forget our sins because God has forgiven them in the cross and sometimes this is referred to as God forgetting our sins, Isa 43:25  "I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.  Jer_31:34  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."  This is quoted in Hebrews 10:17 so we know he is referring to the New Covenant.  Mic 7:19  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  In Micah the idea is that they are so far removed that they are no longer remembered by the Lord.  The idea in these verses is that God no longer holds them against us so that for all practical purposes they have been forgotten.

But there is an interesting passage in Isaiah that connects the Lord’s forgetting with his remembering.  The context of Isaiah 49 is looking forward to the Gospel Age when the Lord sets up his kingdom through Gospel preaching.  But in Isaiah’s day things look rather bleak and they wondered if God would ever send the Messiah and set up the kingdom.  We see this in vs. 14, But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me."  But Yahweh answers in an interesting way, Isa 49:15  "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isa 49:16  Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

How is it that we can be assured that God will never forget his children, that he will always love us and keep us with him forever?  Because he has something to look at for all eternity that will not allow him to forget.  Jesus will always bear the marks of the cross in his hands as a reminder to God and to us that our sins have been paid for and can no longer separate us from the love of God!  Of course, the Father doesn’t need a reminder but he is illustrating how there is no way he will forget the sacrifice his Son made for us.

Rom 8:34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Rev 5:6  And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 

Jesus will always bear the marks of the cross as a reminder to us and to the Father of his perfect sacrifice.  They have been engraved in his hands as an eternal reminder.  What a God we serve!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Spiritual Random Access Memory

Rev 3:3  Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
2Pe 1:9  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Both of the verses above speak to the fact that sometimes we have a memory problem.  We have forgotten where we came from and what Christ had to do to save us from our sins.  The effect was that it led to failure in everyday living where Christ wasn’t the focus of their lives and they could not be fruitful in the Kingdom of God.  There are things that we must always be aware of in order to live a God-honoring life.

I kind of liken this to the RAM or random access memory in a computer.  A computer can have a massive storage drive full of information but it is only the information available at any given time that is beneficial.  Likewise, we may know a lot of truth but it is only as we can access that truth in the moment we need it that will keep us from falling into sin during times of testing. 

For example, it is important that when we get up in the morning that we are fully aware of our sinfulness, that the Devil is out there trying to tempt us to dishonor the Lord, that we must maintain an attitude of prayer and dependence on the Word, etc. and these things need to be in the forefront of our thinking.  What we cannot do is get up each day only thinking of our job and money or having fun or only thinking about our problems or what chores need to be done that day.  It isn’t that those things aren’t legitimate parts of our life but if we don’t keep the Word of God in our minds and if we don’t constantly remember that this life is one of spiritual warfare and we must get our marching orders from the Lord and not this world or our flesh, then we will misinterpret life and fail to deal with each new thing in a God-honoring way.

It is amazing how difficult it can be to always keep in our minds that God gave his life for us so that we might escape the wrath of God and instead live our lives in fellowship with him and find true fulfillment.  When we forget what the gospel did for us we become full of ourselves and put ourselves first instead of the Lord and others.  I heard the story of a newlywed man who after getting off work his first day back from his honeymoon drove back to his mother’s house.  He had forgotten that he had a new wife to go back to!  There are some things that we just can’t forget and expect there will be no ramifications.  Is Christ your bridegroom that forgettable?  Surely not, and it is deplorable when we forget him so easily during the day.

If I get up in the morning and I don’t remember that I am a husband and a pastor then I will soon find myself in all sorts of trouble and needless problems.  If I forget I am a man and walk to her closet to find something to wear I will fail to live up to the standards for which I was created.  Sometimes our spiritual memory is just as bad.  It seems James has this in mind in Jas 1:23  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. Jas 1:24  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  Our sin keeps accessing the faulty facts and leads us into sin.

In my mind, stored away in my subconscious, my hard drive as it were, are the facts that I am a human being with needs and desires that must be met to exist on earth and get along with people.  But there is also the reality the Bible has taught me; that I have been redeemed by the Lord to serve him and that there is great reward in making Christ the focus of my life and to love as he has loved me even if it means my physical life might suffer.  The problem we as sinners have to some degree is that it is the first set of facts that tend to be stored in our RAM and not the Gospel facts.  So instead of living each day soaked in Gospel thinking our default reality is putting our physical needs before anything else.

We are married to Christ but we tend to wake up as if we are bachelors and live our days as if we are the only person we love or be concerned for.  We are amazed that a newlywed can so easily forget he is married but we do the same thing throughout our lives when we give our love to things that dishonor the Lord.  We go out and pursue fleshly things instead of being in church where our Spouse is so we can get to know him better.  We give ourselves to temporal pleasures and securities when Christ is to be the love of our life.  We know better; the facts are stored away in our hard drives, but we must get into the habit of loading the gospel into the forefront of our minds so we can live in God’s reality and function properly.

For this to happen we must know much of the Bible to begin with and we must saturate ourselves with the Word and prayer so that it is readily available.  Too often we know so little of the Bible that we are unable to access it in the daily routines of life and we fall into destructive patterns with one another because of it.  Most problematic is that we have such a shallow relationship with Christ and are so full of ourselves that the love we should have for him has little effect on our words and actions.  When we get up in the morning fully aware that we are the children of God more than anything else we are starting to get the point. 

This is one reason why it is good to start each day with the Lord so we don’t forget who we are married to.  Let us keep the Gospel where it can be readily accessed and so it can permeate all that we do each day.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Proper Mid-Life Crisis

Heb 10:32  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,
Heb 10:33  sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
Heb 10:34  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
Heb 10:35  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
Heb 10:36  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Last Sunday I was speaking on being steadfast as Christians.  Part of this is to remain faithful while under testings and afflictions.  In the above passage these Christians exemplified steadfastness by willingly identifying with Christ and even when it brought persecution, they didn’t run or compromise but they remained faithful.  In that case the government came in and took everything they had away but it didn’t change their course.  In fact, the word that sticks out is in vs. 34 where they accepted the plundering of their property “joyfully”.  And they were able to do this because they had a firm faith in the revealed truth that their Lord would more than make up for it, not in this life, but in the one to come. 

Perhaps when we think of patience in suffering we tend to apply it to the big things like overt persecution or some big sickness or crisis and it is certainly important for us to be able to stand firm in such times.  But I fear that often when we hear a message on steadfastness and patience we forget that it applies the moment we get home from church and we face the everyday “trials” of life.  By that I mean the daily disappointments, the family squabbles, the nagging boss and just the routines of life. 

There is another time of life in which we need to be prepared and have our theology straight and our relationship with the Lord close and that is what we term the “mid-life crisis".  What goes through our mind when we reach a point in life when we realize that our life isn’t going to turn out the way we planned; or when we realize that our spouse isn’t going to live up to whatever ideals we had?  Often people fall into some serious sinful patterns because they haven’t learned to live for the right reasons.  At the heart of such mid-life crises is a heart that has made life all about what I want and not what God wants.

If I have my life planned out and things and people around me don’t live up to my expectations then how can I be happy and content and I certainly can’t joyfully accept the plundering of my life if God so wills.  We will never be like those saints in Hebrews 11 if our life centers on our will and plans and happiness alone. 

As I was preparing last week’s message I wondered if anyone ever had any kind of crisis in their life because they realized that they weren’t going to live up to their spouse’s ideals and needs.  I certainly have never heard of a husband admitting that he woke up one morning in a panic because life was passing him by and he felt he was failing to meet his wife’s needs; usually just the opposite; she isn’t meeting my needs.  No, it is always based on what we want and what we think we need, etc.  I have to admit that I am prone to view the value and success of my life based on what I am experiencing more than what my wife is experiencing and have had to admit a “mini crisis” this week as I realize just how sinful my heart still is.  It just shows why we find it difficult to hold up when things don’t go our way; because we only are concerned for our way and not what honors Christ and certainly not our neighbors and family’s good. 

At the heart of all this is that we can never be content in life if our life is never more than ourselves.  We reduce life to our little world and with nothing greater to live for how on earth can we endure?  If my goal is to serve well in the kingdom then if I have much or little isn’t nearly as important as what I do with what God gives me.  This is what 1 Timothy 6 is getting at; 1Ti 6:6  But godliness with contentment is great gain, 1Ti 6:7  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 1Ti 6:8  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1Ti 6:9  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  One of the snares he is referring to is being unable to deal with our life because we have pursued things that we can never keep very long.

But it is also knowing that Christ has put you in the spot you are in so that you can show others that having Christ is enough and in so doing reap eternal reward.  If we miss this; that we must be steadfast in the little things; then we will excuse our bad temper and ill-treatment of our loved ones.  If we think trials are only the big things and don’t realize that most of our trials are the everyday pain, disappointments, dealing with the ungodly pride in our life when those around us don’t bow to our every whim, then we will be defeated before we even get started.  We can please our Lord every day hundreds of times by placing our hope in him and being full of joy because our best days are ahead of us.

Not only would I like to see more mid-life crises about how we have or haven’t served others but it is always good to periodically take stock as to whether we are amounting to anything in the Kingdom of God.  And we don’t have to assume that we must be doing big, public, far-reaching things to be pleasing the Lord.  I love Matthew 25’s view of the judgment because the ones who were going to enjoy eternity with the Lord were those who just went about helping others when they could.  They made life about loving as they had been loved.  Mat 25:34  Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Mat 25:35  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, Mat 25:36  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Mat 25:37  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? Mat 25:38  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? Mat 25:39  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' Mat 25:40  And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 

We won’t be judged on whether every desire and success we planned for ourselves was fulfilled or not but whether we served well in the Kingdom of God.  If we are going to have a mid-life crisis let’s at least have the right goals in life.