Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Temporary Temptation

In this world it is easy to be tempted to focus on what will not and cannot last. Like a child I often live in the moment rather than taking the long-view of things. It has produced only anxiety, anger, desperation, and destructive attitudes and reactions. With that kind of result you would think that the temptation of temporary things would be easily avoided, but the Lord's sanctifying work is in process in me and I’m still learning. Thankfully, God’s not finished with me yet.

Writing to his missionary daughter, Jack Miller once said,
There is nothing that can clear the vision faster than the discovery that all things are temporary and so am I. So what I do with my life should center on working with matters that will remain unshaken at the return of the Lord Jesus. Get a good view of the temporaries of life and – believe it or not – you will enjoy it more. When we get our footsies so mired down in time that we think it is eternal, we become subject to all the ups and downs, the vagaries, of time. Our loves are so easily disturbed because we are loving only what is changing and finally will be replaced altogether.

My prayer: Father, allow me to see my life from your perspective and to do anything I do for your glory. The temptation of self and the lie that it will please is a constant pit that I fall into regularly. Allow me to escape this foolish finite mindset and be free to live in your grace and honor the name of the One that has saved me and called me to His victorious service.
Let me be as Paul called Timothy to live: 1 Timothy 6:11–12 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

John MacArthur Rocked My Mind

I have heard the story of the "widow's mite" preached plenty of times. I have referenced it on many occasions to speak of generosity and stewardship. Last night the idea that this story is about financial stewardship and giving was debunked by Dr. John MacArthur.

Here is the text.
Mark 12:38–13:2 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” 1 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

I cannot quote it word for word, but Dr. MacArthur said that this is a denouncement of the religious leaders that devour widows. He said that those that lead widows to give all they have and to go home and die will see the structures they worship in be trampled and thrown down. Dr. MacAruthur said that if that text teaches us what we should do then we should all sale everything we have, empty our accounts, give it to the church, and go home and die. That is not God's calling.

God demands faithfulness to His Kingdom work and good stewardship in our lives. His Word is clear on that. But God's desire is that we trust Him and give to Him out of love and not because we have to or because we are trying to make a deal with Him.

My prayer: Father, thank you for the blessings you give me. My family is fed and slept in a home last night. For that I praise you. Thank you for the joy that is mine to give as a starting place 10% of my income and for the opportunities to give more to help people hear the Gospel, to care for people in need, and to encourage the faithful. Thank you that I do not have to give to convince you to care for me and my family. Thank you for blessing us in your grace. I pray that you will bless your people and allow the poor to be resourced and for the resourced to give to the poor and in the process that your name would be praised and your Kingdom expanded.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This World Is Not My Home

John 14:1–4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of this world,” as J.R.R Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is higher up and further back…Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final. It’s wonderful, but not final. It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us keeps saying “not this” or “still beyond”…What Augustine knew is that human beings want God…God has made us for himself. Our sense of God runs in us like a stream, even though, because of sin, we divert it toward other objects. We human beings want God even when we think that what we really want is a green valley, or a good time from our past, or a loved one. Of course we do want these things and persons, but we also want what’s behind them. Our inconsolable secret, says C.S. Lewis, is that we are full of yearnings, sometimes shy and sometimes passionate, that point us beyond the things of earth to the ultimate reality of God. -Cornelius Plantinga

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home! -Will L. Thompson