Sunday, December 17, 2023

Not What We Thought

Not What We Thought 
by David Brenneman 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many." ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3‭-‬11‬.

"Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’" Matthew 25:37-40.

Life, according to the wisdom of the world, is about what you can get out of it.  It's about your achievements, your money, your possessions. It's about where you go, where you have been, who you've known or have been known by.

Life in Christ Jesus is about being in Him, the Vine.  Of being about the Father’s business.  Of denying self and taking up our own cross and following Jesus.  It's putting off the old self and it's practices and putting on the new in Christ.  

Hardly complimentary of each other.  Pretty much oil and water.  Jesus, in the sermon on the Good Samaritan, pointed out how words need to follow up with actions.  Pharisees, Sadducees, Levites and priests, by outward appearance have it all together in serving God.  Yet in His example in the Good Samaritan, it was the ordinary man who was a doer of the Word.  It was the ordinary day-to-day guy who saw someone in need and regardless of how it looked to others, jumped in to help. 

In Christ we have learning to do and it's coupled with applications.  The Spirit teaches by thoughts, by the Word of God and by application.  

It's the example of the Disciples that sets people who are true Christians from those who like the idea of Christianity.  True Christians will inevitably get their fingers dirty in the applications through the Spirit. 

Quite often a Believer will be lead to run into the fire rather than run the other way.  

A life in Christ is to be a reflection of Christ.  We only get a glimpse of it in the Gospels but it's there enough to show us the way.   Jesus said of Himself that He is the Way.   Not just the Way to Heaven but the way to live.  The Disciples were being taught to see the world differently.  Were taught to let go of the importance of impressing people.  Were taught to let go of the craving for possessions.  Were taught that indeed that living in Christ Jesus was going to bring sufferings.  

Thing is sufferings happen to those who are Believers and to those who aren't.  A sin cursed world shows zero partiality.  It's an equal opportunity ruiner of lives.  The Believer has the ability in Christ to overcome the world.  The unbelieving have to deal with the fact that they aren't able to...calling it things like fate.  

There's but one fate that befalls all men and women...that on a day set by the Father...all will stand before Jesus either willingly or not they will confess Him to be Lord.  All will give an account of their lives to Jesus. The Believers will show what they did in their lives for Christ and see that turned into a crown to give back to Jesus. The unbelieving will see just how their lives weren't enough to enter into His rest, into Heaven.  Lastly they will be shown that their names were not written in His Book of Life.  Sealing their fate that eternal separation from God is their eternal painful torment. 

We should be ready both to suffer for living for Jesus as well as be ready to bless others, showing the love of Christ to others. 

"You came from heaven to earth to show the way. From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky. Lord I lift Your name on high!" 

Life was meant to be a growing relationship with Jesus. From the Garden of Eden it is seen that Adam and Eve were created for a life yet to be seen in its entirety.  A life in unhindered fellowship with Jesus.  Coming to Christ begins us all on that road back to that. There's much to unload to get there.  Personal thoughts and feelings. Emotions and emotional attachments.  Perception of life.  Perceptions of death. Perceptions of God and of His Christ.  There's things to let go of.  Things to agree with Jesus on that are true because He said so.  Things that are what He says they are. 

The world wants us lulled into their false sense of security.  Wants us so into compromise that we fail to believe or admit that it's happening to us.  Do a word study in the Bible on idolatry and it's impact on your relationship with Jesus.  Do a word study on what selfishness is about and how it ruins your ability to add to those things which might become that crown you might have given to Jesus.

Giving indeed is a part of this time of year.  Receiving is actually the lesser of the two.  Jesus said it is better to give than to receive.  

Contentment is never to be sought after from anyone or anything in this world...not in the lives of those who are called in Christ Jesus.  

I am blessed in many ways physically. Am blessed in many ways by way of possessions.  Take a good look at all cemeteries...there's no place for your U-Haul to park for your possessions.  

If my life were to end today, my destination is going to be Heaven with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Living for Jesus is what my heart is set on doing.  Whatever the Spirit puts at my hands to do, that's what it is.  If someone is in need, and the Spirit says to go and do, then go and do it is.  I make it a point every day to ask for forgiveness from Jesus for those things that I didn't do and should have, both the known and the unknown because I wasn't looking.  The world doesn't want us to have the time to be looking.  Our sin nature doesn't want us to have the time, energy, to be looking. 

If you died today, would you be anxious about where you are going?  If you can point to a time when you came to Christ for salvation, there's nothing to worry about.  If you cannot, then, my Dear Reader why put it off?  Settle that score today.  Lay it to rest.  The world will always tell you what you might lose by coming to Christ, but it can NEVER tell you what you will gain...because it has no understanding of it.

Jesus came as a baby, lived a sinless life among many who tried to kill Him.  Showed us He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Died a horrible death on a cross for all mankind and arose 3 days later defeating sin death and the grave.  All that remains for you is to receive His free gift of salvation.  

"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13.

Christmas is much more than we thought.
Jesus is much more than we thought. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

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