Oh What We Don't Know
by David Brenneman
We often blame things or people when something breaks or someone fails either us or what was done or not done for or to us. We often point fingers at the evil that men and women do. We often have called it bad luck.
But what does the Bible say? Really, our reactions, very much my reaction at times isn't really the greatest.
We read in Ephesians 2:10 NASB "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.". We are going to be the product that Jesus is producing in us. Some aspects of our lives will stay, some will go. Our willingness along the way determines much in regards to how that plays out. 2 Thessalonians 4:3a NASB "For this is God's will, your sanctification...".
Sanctification is our becoming more like Christ and less like who we were when we came to Christ for salvation.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB. Your understanding is going to get in the way. You're likely not to get it. You're likely not going to understanding it.
People throughout January were on social media, popular Churches had themes, etc on goals and plans to set for 2023. How about instead looking for what God's doing instead and joining Him? Our lives aren't ours in the first place. In Christ we live for Jesus because of what He's done for us.
This train of thought left the station for me a bit over a month ago. When I had concerns about keeping a certification that I have. It really does not matter in light of eternity. I could have gone after a degree, or even something higher. Could have went left instead of right in life and achieved more by the world's standards. For what? Why would impressing the world be if value in my walk with Jesus?
Could have, would have, should have, died with the rest of what amounts to my will being done on Earth. To deny myself and take up my own cross and following Jesus means that what He wants is what's important.
But there's much more than that. We quite often miss what's more than that. We are looking for our own happiness and peace and miss out on the happiness and peace that's only found in Christ Jesus.
We miss out and don't see the magnitude of grace, the unmerited favor, that's been bestowed upon us. We miss seeing everything that we have been spared. We barely acknowledge Him for what's gone right in 2022. Will we do the same at the end of 2023?
We indeed have had innumerable blessings in 2023. We likewise have had an innumerable amount that we're unaware of. When sickness or illnesses strike we are at our weakest. God's right there with us. It didn't catch Him unawares. We don't know the why's behind the timing of those things. Consider this: maybe He chose you because He knew that in Christ you could handle it while someone else could not.
You're discomfort spared someone else.
That time your car broke down and you were inconvenienced. You had to take time to get it fixed. You're very aware of your annoyance, but did you thank God for it? It very well, because of it happening when it did, could have spared your life or the life of someone else.
That time when the major appliance died and you had to replace it, did you thank Jesus for that happening?
What I am pointing out is we are told to give thanks in everything. We are never aware of what we have been spared from in spite of how bad things might be. We should never run from our calling in Christ Jesus because of situations or circumstances. We should always strive to be in the center of God's will for you and I.
I used to look up other's who have had my name. To see where life took them.
I used to cry out to God to heal my eyes so that I could see like most people do. It honestly didn't hit me until the fall of last year that in my dreams I DO see with two good eyes.
Two passages have stood out to me in life.
"And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB and "The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" Exodus 4:11 NASB.
What I had to understand is that what God had in mind for me wasn't what I had in mind for me. To be who I am in Christ means to be different in ways that others might not understand. To go down roads that others might not go down in order to further the Gospel of Christ to others in this world. It was years ago that I saw something of what I was doing today and indeed as yesterday's picture depicted I did. I wasn't trusting in God holding onto my hand to get me through what life would bring but me holding onto His, and I got away from His plans for me. It just took around 20 or so years in the wilderness to get back around to it.
We miss oh so much in our life because we're so focused on what the world says is important. We miss out on helping others as the examples of what Jesus said to those on His right were told that they did right in His Name. We who are in Christ HAVE work to be done in His Name thats for US to be doing. The Spirit wrote by the hand of Paul that our calling in Christ Jesus is irrevocable. We were placed in the body by the Spirit for a specific purpose in this place in this here, in this now in human history. We aren't to let the world's ideas of success get to our heads and convince ourselves that what we're doing is what God wanted us to be doing when we never really asked Him if our calling has been altered. Jesus said that we would know people by their fruits. There's good fruit and bad fruit. Good fruit smells wonderful. Bad fruit always stinks.
What kind of fruit did you produce last year? Was it you pursuing success as the world sees it or were you seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness?
Were you really doing your own thing and saying you were doing it for God? Been there done that. Not a good path to go down.
Sometimes WE are the one's who see something in that valley of the shadow of death and run after it and we were never meant to go there. We ended up drawing people away from where they too were meant to be in Christ.
When you have the time, stop and look at 2022 with the eye towards being thankful for both what you have seen and have not seen in your life. When you indeed are looking at the rest of 2023, look at it with the eye towards obedience in Christ rather than you necessarily pursuing what it is you think you want out of life.
If you've been blessed, bless others. I saw a video last night of someone telling of how a church or church function was robbed of nearly $1,000. They determined to replace that money themselves. But what they further determined was to bless others with that same amount. God in turn blessed them and started something wonderful for others. They had determined that God wanted to bless someone in their community going through stage 3 cancer. A person in the church was handed the check for $500 to give to this woman. That was on a Sunday. Monday mail had another check for $500 in it being given to the church. They determined to give that away again as well. They saw it for what it was, they had determined that God had blessed their intentions and provided a means to keep that blessing going. To not spend it on themselves or something else but do keep it up.
We often are blessed in weird ways...but do we see it as God sees it? Malachi is a good place to go regarding this. We should not live life in such a way that we spend spend spend on us and neglect God. God didn't bless us because we deserved it. His blessings begin at the cross. His grace, which means unmerited favor, is upon us every day. In the seen and the unseen. As I have often heard in my life, we cannot out-give God. Don't get something in return? Don't worry about it. That's been my motto behind my computer ministry. If I get something I do, if I don't then I don't. What I do is for Jesus with what He's enabled me to learn concerning computers and electronics.
When you look back over 2022, be thankful for what you see and what you don't see. Look at 2023 with eyes towards moving your life to be what God wants it to be for YOU in Christ Jesus. YOU were called out of this world but remain in this world for His glory and His purpose. You have a job to do that's for YOU to be doing. As Paul taught about the parts of the body...one part shouldn't think it's nothing because it's not like another part. One part shouldn't be jealous of another because of what it's doing.
Honestly I have come to that place in my life when the worlds accolades mean nothing to me. I look to hear "Well done!" from Jesus and nothing more. I do not care if I ever get another certificate or diploma. I don't consider degrees worth pursuing. My calling in Christ Jesus is more important. My goals for 2023 are only to be doing what I've been called to do to the best of my ability.
What are yours? Are you at all aware of just how blessed you have been in spite of your hardships? We read from Jesus that those who are in Christ Jesus will indeed suffer by association with Him. Satan cares not who goes to Hell but doesn't want another single person to find salvation in Christ Jesus. When we aren't trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, when we are leaning on our own understanding...we will inevitably mess things up. Not beyond God's ability to repair and redirect, but it CAN mean days, months, and years in the wilderness until we come back around again. When we who are in Christ are not doing what we were called to be doing, we cause that to fall upon someone else. God's plans will not be thwarted. The timetable between now and the Rapture will not be changed because of a single person place or thing. The Father set the date and time.
When you pursue things this 2023...keep an eye on your motivations...and seek out to hear "Well done!" from Jesus. All that we do in the body for Christ is what matters. Not what we did for ourselves. Colossians 3:23-24 isn't a suggestion. Nowhere in the instructions from the Spirit are included the words "if you feel like it...if it's ok with you...".
Oh the things in our lives that we have been spared from that we won't know until Jesus shows us later on. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness...
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