Thursday, September 19, 2013

Living at the Intersection

The death of a loved one is a dramatic way to demonstrate the tension we experience between the things of heaven and the things of earth. If the loved one has placed his or her life into the hands of God and trusted in His Son for their salvation, then death for that person is actually a fulfillment of their greatest expectation. Yet the time leading up to it can be filled with pain and suffering, with anticipation of the future mixed with a desire to remain with those in the present. There is no greater dividing line between heaven and earth than the body of life surrounding us now. We live as Paul said with divided attentions. Though the context is about end times and whether it is better to marry or not marry, knowing that we are free to do either without sinning, Paul wrote about a core issue which all of us contend with, and that is our divided attentions.

 “But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:32–34, NASB95)

Marriage and relationships are good things. God designed us that way. But with those relationships come bonds which pull us in different directions and bring upon us varying demands. While these demands are ones we often would not trade for the blessing of the bonds, they do set us in a place of tension. It is even here, though, that we are called to give our undivided attention to God, and to entrust every one of our relationships and our needs to Him and trust Him to meet them.

These pressing issues can become monstrous tyrants when they are seen apart from God and His power over every single one of them. These demands can give us cause to lose hope when we lose sight that even the best of things here is only temporary and pales in comparison to our awaiting glorification and enjoyment of God forever in His presence. I do not know what heaven holds for me, but I know that God has intended me to spend eternity with Him in a relationship for which man was created but which was broken by sin. Returning man to that kind of a relationship was even the joy which was set before our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ when He laid down His life for us. In just three verses of Hebrews 12 we see both those who have gone before and us who are still waiting brought together because Jesus went to the cross.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1–3, NASB95)

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the battle we are engaged in for our minds and included some Scripture from Ephesians 6. If you were to read on from there in Ephesians you would find that it is Jesus who also equips us for that battle so that we might live victoriously. And as we close our eyes and think about our loved ones who have gone before and their opportunity now to fully be in God’s presence, we can get a taste of the joy that moved God to send us His Son and the joy which the Son has as we are presented back to Him as His bride. The last chapters of Revelation talk about a glorious time when all of this will come to a culmination and we will be given a new and permanent home.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (9/19)

There is a mighty battle going in for control of your mind. Heaven and earth intersect in your mind; the tugs of both spheres influence your thinking. I created you with the capacity to experience foretastes of heaven. When you shut out the world and focus on My Presence, you can enjoy sitting with Me in heavenly realms. This is an incredible privilege reserved for precious ones who belong to Me and seek My Face. Your greatest strength is your desire to spend time communing with Me. As you concentrate on Me, My Spirit fills your mind with Life and Peace.

The world exerts a downward pull on your thoughts. Media bombard you with greed, lust, and cynicism. When you face these things, pray for protection and discernment. Stay in continual communication with Me whenever you walk through the wastelands of this world. Refuse to worry, because this form of worldliness will weigh you down and block awareness of My Presence. Stay alert, recognizing the battle being waged against your mind. Look forward to an eternity of strife-free living, reserved for you in heaven.

“When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”” (Psalm 27:8, NASB95)

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” (Romans 8:6, NASB95)

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15–17, NASB95)

No comments: