Yesterday we looked at the statement, seeing is believing. My son-in-law wrote to say that the reverse of that statement is the real truth. Believing is seeing. And it certainly is. When we begin to see life through the eyes of faith things start to make sense. We don’t have all the answers, but we believe in a God, our God, who truly cares about us. We believe in our God who has come among us to share all parts of human life. We believe that God’s Son has given His life to redeem our lives from the power of sin. We believe in the depth of His love that has a purpose for all that happens. Because we believe we see our life as one piece of a very large picture the Lord is putting together, a picture that will be gloriously beautiful. Because we believe we can look to Him in hope. Believing is seeing the hand of God near and active in all the events of our days. Let us bow before Him in worship.
We like to think that we are capable of doing what needs to be done, and for the most part we are. We have talents and abilities. We solve many problems as they come along in our days. However, as smoothly as things go along for a while, something always seems to crop up reminding us that we are not always in control. Be it a computer glitch, a sudden illness that puts one in the hospital, or even an unexpected death, things happen that we can’t change. The Lord, in His grace, uses these times to remind us to look beyond ourselves, check our priorities, set aside our pride, or a variety of other lessons aimed at focusing our attention upon Him for strength, wisdom, and guidance. No, we do not have the ultimate control of our lives. There is One far greater than we who does. And His nature is pure love and grace. We continually look in trust to Him.
I have said a number of time in the past that I am not an economist. I don’t understand many economic terms, and I really don’t like even having to manage my own money – strange guy that I am. But I do read the Business page in our local paper which does give some food for thought. You see, I’m in the habit of contrasting values, those of natural life compared to those the Lord seeks for our good. Too much of what we have accepted as good, right, normal, standard practice, and so forth is not at all what our Lord desires for us. I realize that I cannot and should not expect the world to follow God’s values, but where we see the contrast it should make us think. Perhaps it will draw us closer to what God established for our good. Now back to the Business page. Under the title “Shell-shocked investors worry when, where next the next bomb will drop”. Many speculative investors are seeing a number of markets drop simultaneously. “In the global nervous system connecting modern markets, the synapses are misfiring.” The speculative investment market is not where most of us live. I can leave it to you to think about some of the parallel verse that tell us not to worry or be anxious about material things. I only draw the contrast for us to think about where we do live. How we are called to trust our gracious Lord, not being anxious about God’s provision for tomorrow?
Americans are well grounded in their concept of freedom and rights. We cherish the freedoms granted in the Bill of Right in our Constitution, and rightly so. But I think this makes it a bit hard for us to think in Scriptural terms about our right relationship with the Lord. All of our Lord’s Apostles referred to themselves as slaves of Christ. We declare that we are free to do what we want, but the Lord’s Word says “you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.”(I Corinthians 6:20) That price was the very blood of Jesus Christ. Both Testaments declare that God is our Maker. We were created by Him for His good purpose. Paul writing to the Philippian Church said, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”(2:10) Yes, we are thankful for our political freedoms, but we find our true freedom when we submit ourselves to the will of our Lord.
A few years ago we had a small boat. Out on an excursion we would pull into a cove, throw the anchor over, enjoy the scenery, and have lunch. The anchor would keep us from drifting or running aground. Anchors are very important, especially in foul weather. We have anchors for our faith, also. What we believe about our Lord is firmly held in the truth that has been delivered to us. Peter wrote, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”(IIP.1:16) These eye witness accounts have been given to us in God’s Word. We have the promises of God given in both the Old and New Testaments, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and witnessed to us by the lives of saints and martyrs over many generations. We have the truth confirmed in the grace of our own baptism, and we have seen the hand of God in many situations of our own lives. Life can be a choppy sea, but as the writer of Hebrews says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”(6:19)
We have a lot of squirrels around our neighborhood. The Lord has built into them instincts that guide their behavior. Squirrels do what squirrels are supposed to do. It is not so with us. When God breathed into man the breath of life He gave them a spirit making them different from all others of the animal kingdom. Our spirit can only be satisfied when it is in communion with God’s Spirit. That makes us different and higher than all other created beings. It also gives us the responsibility of seeking God, of desiring to grow closer to this One who created us. Though, as Paul said “he is not far from any of us.”(Acts 17:27) We seek to do, to acquire, to achieve all kinds of other earthly things. Like the squirrels we often find ourselves running from here to their, when what is truly satisfying is near at hand in quietness, trust, and a growing life in Jesus Christ.
Christians are people who are living in two worlds. One world is the visible realm we occupy. The other is the, no less real, spiritual realm of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom is mentioned over 125 times in the four Gospels. The preaching of John, Jesus, and all the Apostles began, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” With the incarnation of Almighty God in Jesus Christ, the heavenly spiritual realm of God Kingdom broke into this visible physical realm. With the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we have the assurance that these two realms cannot be separated. Each day we go about our normal routine, doing, to the best of our ability, all the earthly things the day requires. But our strength, our endurance, our desire to live and serve, our very life, comes from the unseen and spiritual realm of God’s Kingdom. We are citizens of that Kingdom now, each day and every day.(Philippians 3:20) That is who you are, dear Christian. Know that your are walking in the light of Christ’s Kingdom today.
The next new thing has a real appeal. A new gadget comes out and people line up at the stores to get theirs. Even the next big entertainer draws massive crowds and is in the tabloid papers. But something we learn fairly quickly is that the new grows old. It has been surpassed, replaced by a better model. That once fantastic item gets put aside and forgotten. (How many old cell phones do you have sitting on a shelf somewhere?) When Israel came out of Egypt they were given manna to eat during their desert wanderings. It was renewed every morning. They couldn’t hoard it for another day. They had to trust God for each day’s provision, and they were always filled. In the midst of one of Israel’s most difficult times the Prophet Jeremiah writes, “The LORD’S lovingkindness indeed never ceases, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Oh, we will continue to look for the new stuff that the world puts out, but what we really need never fails, never wears out, never grows old. God’s grace and loving kindness is there for free every morning.
Why do we continue writing, speaking, teaching, and preaching about Jesus? Psalm 100 expresses it this way, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”(vs.5) We desire to extend that good to all people. Our Lord is the source of life. We want all to find life in Him. Jesus is not just a nice add-on to an already good life. He is life itself. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”(John 14:6) He is not just the back up plan if all else fails. He is the plan and purpose for life, the one who gives life its meaning. “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”(100:2) As we come to Him with worship and praise we find strength, life, and peace.
Jesus always does things backwards! He talked to the Pharisees, respected scholars of their day, and called them hypocrites, and empty tombs. He said if your want to be a leader, you need to be the servant of all. To be first you have to be last. He just didn’t get it. And the disciples He chose. Not an important, well educated man among them. He didn’t understand about power and prominence in this world. Or maybe He did. Maybe He really saw how hollow and superficial all the things we hold up as goals to strive for really are. Maybe that is why He spent His time with the tax collectors and sinners. There was no pretense in them. They knew they were weak and needed His help. And they received it. The ones who come to Him empty are sure to be filled with His living water.