Psalm 39:12 “hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.”
A particular passage of scripture has been on my heart, which relates such an incredible truth, that it leaves one at a loss for words as they consider it’s significance. I’ll get to it later in the post, however, it involves an aspect of the age to come. A place where all of the prophecies have been fulfilled, all of the dramas have run their course, and time has nothing more to say. When each of us who are presently here, have been positioned in our eternal situation and this present creation has fled away into non-existence. When all of the issues that we currently devote considerable amount of time and resource to, have been reduced to faint echoes of a time that was, in a place that no longer is.
Colossians 3:1-3 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
The conversations of this world are becoming colder and more distant. The endless dialogue about this happening, this event, that breaking story, the goings on over there, “how about this weather,” and what have you is becoming difficult more difficult to engage in. Even issues that are worthy of thought provoking dialogue; if there is no eternal significance to the issue, my attention span quickly seeks an exit. For example, the fallout from……lets say…..Obamacare. This legislative event has profound ramifications and is in need of serious public debate. And yet, one hundred years from now, it will be a non-issue. It’s composers, the implementers, those subjected to it’s policies, the debaters; all will be in the realm of the everlasting with their lot being determined, not by the issues of this world, but by whether or not they met Jesus during their lifetime.
This “withdrawing” isn’t restricted to the secular. Increasing theaters of “Christian dialogue,” which revolves around temporal goings on, is losing it’s ability to grab my attention. From preaching which panders to the three lusts in order to fill a building to Christian broadcasts which seem like little more than news reports, the focus on side issues and non-issues seems to be gathering momentum while serious preaching of the word of God is taking a back seat (if it’s even allowed into the vehicle at all) Recently, I listened to a reading of the famous Jonathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the hand of an Angry God.” Today, 273 after it was preached, multitudes continue to shake their fist at God while hanging over hell by a thread. And yet, preaching of this magnitude is seemingly nowhere to be found.
The frustration leads one to is self-examination. “Am I growing cold to the things of God, because most of what I hear being discussed and preached on doesn’t move me?” One begins to review the road traveled as they inquire “Lord, where did I go astray?” Whenever such cogitation takes the stage, one must watch out for spiritual pride. The enemy begins to plant thoughts along the lines of “you have grown beyond the status quo Christians” which, if left unchecked, can lead to shipwreck. “I die daily” is how the apostle Paul dealt with his old nature; providing an example for us all. (We all wrestle with this to one degree or another) The answer to this particular inquiry came forth in an unexpected fashion.
That unexpected fashion was a revisiting of the times of solitude. Whenever the distractions of the world are temporarily at bay and all of the contemporaries are in other places, our thoughts will run toward those things that are dear to us. Unimpeded by chatter and theatrics, my thoughts race toward the presence of Jesus. Prayer; instead of being something that is a struggle, becomes the natural outflow of dialogue with our Savior. It’s where I “want to be.” Our private moments tell much more about us than the public show that we put on. For example, when we at work, we have to think about the various aspects of the task for which we are employed and give diligence to perform those tasks in an honest manner. But when we are alone, our true affections are given the priority, which should, in turn, directly affect our public life. (Matthew 10:27)
If we are to endure until the end, our affections must be 100% set on Jesus and things above. Any harboring of the things of this world and, we have already laid the groundwork to eventually prepare a calculated plan of compromise. (This is how a well known bible teacher was recently able to tell an audience that a person could be saved after receiving the mark of the beast) Several times in the past few days, the words of Revelation 9:20 have been brought to the forefront; “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.” Equally pressing has been:
Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness?”
The hangups of this world have filled the ranks of hell to the brim as people cling to the temporal and give no thought to their eternal situation enough to make a sincere inquiry to know, and line up with, the truth. A quick glance at an oftentimes misunderstood passage provides further clarification:
Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
Our love for Jesus must be at this level; where, if it were necessary, it would bring separation between us and everyone for whom we have natural affection. (Naturally we do not “hate” other people as doing so would violate scripture.) There is incredible liberty when we let go of the things of this world and set our affections firmly on things above. And yet, it goes deeper. It also enables us to “truly” love the people around us, as we see them, not as contemporaries with whom we varying degrees of association, but as eternal souls for whom Jesus shed his blood. Just as we need to be heavenly minded for our own benefit, we need to be heavenly minded for the benefit of those around us who know not the Lord Jesus and are speeding toward an unthinkable conclusion. In order to be a complete “city set on a hill,” we must abandon our own agenda.
Another aspect of having our affections on things above is victory over sin and temptation. Everyone stumbles on occasion and, when we do so, quick repentance is a must. But as we draw increasingly close to Jesus and our love for him grows, the old desires; the attachments which once dominated our lives and the sins which drove us to all manner of wickedness, lose their grip. The desire just goes away. This is not to say there will not be temptation as the flesh still harbors the old nature. But if we walk in the Spirit, and abide close to Jesus, we’ll not find ourselves struggling to overcome things that we know to be contrary. (Galatians 5:16 and James 1:14 come to mind)
And now, to steer this post into the direction originally intended.
I Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” “
“And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” When one considers the age to come, a number of aspects come to mind. Of all the benefits that one inherits when they are born of the Spirit, this is the most significant. We shall be forever with Jesus. If we are truly longing for this, we’ll find ourselves diligently seeking to be in his presence now. We should be running to the prayer closet; not forcing ourselves to pray out of perceved obligation. My moments of complete fulfillment are found primarily in two places. the first is during prayer.. regardless of the setting, be it the truck, at home, walking down the street, or behind the manufacturing facility during break in the middle of a snowstorm. The presence of the Lord is beyond incredible and, sometimes it even becomes an honest utterance: “Lord Jesus; being with you in this snowstorm with a temperature of -14 degrees and standing between storage racks to semi-escape the howling wind, is far better than anywhere else on earth.”
The second place is being about our Fathers business. There is no greater joy than being engaged in that which the Lord has placed on our heart. And this is where the error is found in the old cliche of “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” That is not even possible. A person who truly loves Jesus and has an eternal perspective will be of incredible earthly good as they strive to further the kingdom of God. Such a person will love their neighbor as themselves and seek the well being of others over their own agenda. The joy of being in the will of God is indescribable; not because we are doing some supposed great thing, but because we are in fellowship with Jesus and his joy is shed abroad in our heart. There is more joy in passing out tracts in the most dangerous part of the city on a rainy afternoon than spending an entire month on a beach in the Bahamas while being pampered by employees of the resort industry.
If the presence of the Lord is this incredible when we are abiding in this fallen world in a body that has a different law working in it’s members, imagine what it will be like when we “see him as he is.” When this corruption puts on incorruption, all of the battles of this world are ended, and we are forever in the presence of the Lord along with the overcomers from every tribe and generation. An eternal abode without ailment, sorrow, frustration, anger, or any of the aspects that are associated with a contaminated world. We are going to be in a city made without hands, in the company of millions…..and yet….our relationship with Jesus will be more initmate, more one-on-one, than we have ever known in this present setting. This brings us to the passage of scripture that was the thrust behind this post. A cogitation so incredible that I’m continually inquiring “Lord Jesus; am I reading this correctly?”
Revelation 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone, and in the stone a new name written which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
This verse reveals a promise so incredible that it’s beyond defining with words. Each of us are going to be given a new name and only two parties will know that name. Only the Lord Jesus will know our new name. He will call us by this name. and even though we will be in the company of a multitude that none of us can ever hope to number, in the presence of God who inhabits all of eternity, we are each going to be on a first name basis with Jesus. If we are born again, we are already on that kind of basis, however, we have yet to be given a name that is ours alone. A name that is not shared by any other person, angel, or entity, in all of creation. If I’m reading this right, this is beyond incredible and, even now, finding words to write this is proving to be a challenge.
Truly “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” and the sought after aspects of this world cannot even come close to those of the age to come. The mansions promised the overcomers, the streets of gold so pure that it is transparent, the melodies which we long to hear and join in with, the fruit from the tree of life, the leaves which are for the healing of the nations, the river of water of life, clear as crystal which procedes from the throne of God and of the Lamb. All of these aspects cause us to desire to be there now. But add to all of this, a private identity which is for us alone and the Lord is the only other one who knows this name…….WOW! I don’t know if this will resonate with any other. For me, however, it has taken prayer time, along with a desiring to be with Jesus, to an entirely new level.
Well I have to go. Lord willing, I can begin adding to this blog on a more regular basis. This place has always been a sort of “cyber-sanctuary” where a blank page is before me and it can be taken in any direction. Things have been hectic as of late, however, this is not an insurmountable obstacle. Until the next time, “blessings in Jesus name.”