Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Turn Your Eyes
Matt.6:24-34 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. With this exhortation from our Lord about earthly priorities compared with the eternal kingdom of Almighty God, which do we seem to be devoted to? What consumes us, and what worries us, and what does the media compel us to dwell upon? And what do many western churches devote their teachings to? There are the endless “how to” sermons and the earthly success messages that imprison the listeners to that which perishes and give tacit acknowledgement to that which is eternal. The church has lost the walk of eternity. Eternity is a modest doctrine usually described as “heaven” and pointed to as a coming event and place in the distant future, but with little if any significance in the daily lives of those who believe in such a place. Grandma is there along with Moses and the saints, but that place is detached from the here and now. Eternity is a doctrinal curiosity, and like a zoo animal it is brought forth and paraded around at appropriate times in order to affirm our theology, but never without the cage which protects our lives from the dangers that might bring about sacrifice if indeed eternity was let loose. It is a pitiful spectacle. The average believer saves up money in order to secure a life of retirement and travel while still professing that he believes God will provide and that souls without Christ are lost forever. The western churches spend literally billions of interest dollars on buildings where affluent believers can gather and worship in comfortable surroundings and automated climate control. And while people around the world starve and are in distress, and while brothers and sisters are in dire need of help, we manipulate our emotions with musical sound effects and wonderful sound systems and three dimensional presentations of the new building program. And then we have the audacity to call forbidden vows and usury a “faith pledge” which will be presented to the secular banks so they can lend God the money He doesn’t have and then use the interest to fund all sorts of immoral ventures around the community. And like Samson we do not even realize something is missing and something has gone terribly wrong. The western church is in desperate need of a massive revival that shakes all of us to our very foundations. This is not the time to “tweak” our theology, this is the time to rend open our hearts and realize that our theology has become wind and paper, and that our lives have been assimilated into the very culture we were supposed to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I suppose that the Spirit would have to be careful in what dose He revealed our rebellion to us since we probably would not believe Him, but definitely could not handle it all at once. But where is the thirst and hunger for more? Why have complacency and contentment immobilized us and relegated us to an unremarkable lifestyle within a dark and sinful world? Our children are no longer taught about the great revivals of times past where believers were so broken and then filled that entire towns felt the spiritual tremors. Those stories seem like fairy tales that warm our emotions but render our hearts untouched and our lives unaltered. But what can change the status quo? What can awaken our souls in a way that openly demonstrates a dramatic elevation in commitment? It is simple and yet profound. I suggest, no I insist, that only through a time consuming desire to seek and visit the glory of the Risen Christ through the prism of His sufferings can any believer genuinely find a repentance laden awakening that lasts more than a one hour church service. In fact, that kind of awakening must be sought in spite of the tenor of the church rather than in concert with the same. The seeking saint who finds this world vacuous, finds the church unfulfilling, and most of all finds his own mirror extremely disappointing and in need of a significant overhaul, will most likely find little encouragement within the church. It is a lonely journey filled with all sorts of pitfalls, the most dangerous being his own self righteousness. It is most difficult to make spiritual headway and find a deeper relationship with Christ and remain humble and without judgment of others. The same can be true for those of us who speak correction to the church. I stand in dire need of a penetrating revival of my own heart and a clearer devotion to the crucified and risen Lord. So here we are, collectively and personally. But with the weight of the cares of this world upon our shoulders, how in God’s dear name can we even begin to move toward the cross and empty tomb, and the One whose fragrance permeates those eternal landmarks? I suggest that we return to the time of our conversion and reignite that spark without the confusion and interference from the numerous distractions both within and without the church. I suggest we ascend the metaphorical mountain and seek Him and Him alone. Surely we must do the things of this world of which we have been given responsibility. But we must reorganize our time priorities to not only accommodate spiritual disciplines, but we must avoid just a reorganization without a tangible spiritual passion. Does the Risen Christ rule and reign from His throne room? Is He going to return soon? And He is the Creator Lord of all that is? Is Jesus, Yeshua, worthy of all our praise and worship and sacrificial service? Has He purchased our eternity through His unspeakable sufferings upon the cross? And has He resurrected from the dead as the Victor over sin, death, and the grave? Oh it sounds like such an old story told upon a child’s flannel board, but it is just those things that must become dynamic life for us once again. Do not look for accolades from the intellectuals or the moralists or the nationalists. But close your ears to everything but His voice, and seek those things which are above. Rest your affections upon things not of this world, and let those affections be used by Christ to reach a lost and dying world. If the lost cannot see a dramatic difference in our affections and the way we live, then how can we expect them to see the Lord Jesus? Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace


Radiance said...

"It is a lonely journey filled with all sorts of pitfalls, the most dangerous being his own self righteousness. It is most difficult to make spiritual headway and find a deeper relationship with Christ and remain humble and without judgment of others."

A warning I must prayerfully and constantly keep in mind. Thank you for an excellent post Rick.

Radiance said...

I disagree that it's a lonely journey though...the LORD has His way of drawing believers of similar fervent spirit together. More and more believers' eyes have been opening to the deception that has long been posing as "Christianity" in this country and are eager to know and follow the real Jesus.