Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking for Christ or Selfish Gain?

I heard a great sermon a couple weeks ago, two in fact.  The first prompted me to ponder the thought of desiring Christ far above all of his benefits.  To ponder, to deeply consider the Person of Christ over and above the manifold benefits of Christ.  The text was Philippians 3:20-21

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

but the sticking point to me was this phrase, “from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What struck me was the word eagerly and what I was waiting for, what I was anticipating.

How often do we as Christian people long for Christ to return, to usher us into the glories of heaven?  What is our typical thought pattern?  Where does it lead?  Usually we dwell on the truth that there will be no sin.  Can you imagine?  No sin, zero.  Or we dwell upon the truth that there will be no sickness, perfect health.  What a day!  No tears, for there will be no reason to be sad.  These are all good and true for it is part of what eternity holds.  Yet this kind of thinking is entirely self-centered and all about me, what I get.  It’s an errant focus.

How often do we soak up the thought that when our Lord returns we get Him?!  No longer the One we know intimately through His abiding Word but face to face.  

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

No longer the One who has walked us through the valleys, through the darkness.  

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...You are with me. ~ Psalm 23:4

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” ~ Acts

The veil will be gone.  Our faith will be sight.  We will SEE Him, are you kidding me?  He who has been the object of our faith for years, for decades.  He who we have sought in times of trouble, doubt and fear.  He who we have sung in earnest with all of our hearts as we cried out with great tears of joy.  He who redeemed us, who bought us, who transformed us into His very image. This Christ, the risen glorified Lamb of God slain for me.  Slain for you.  Brethren, grasp that thought!

The picture of a happy dog was also presented to us.  I enjoyed the illustration.   I thought of my own dog and then I returned home and experienced my dog.  As his habit, he shook every bit of his 15 pounds as he wriggled and writhed and danced and squealed.  He licked my face, well he tried as he might as I kept him at length.  I then satisfied his desire and rubbed him and hugged him.  He wanted no more.  No treats.  No walks.  No toys.  He got me.  Everything else was secondary.  So guess what?  I tossed him his squeaky toy and he was in doggy heaven.   He got a benefit but he wasn’t even looking for it because all he wanted was me, my love.

The question is, do you look to heaven as that great place where you get to kick back?  Where you escape the corruption that is the world through sin?  Where you have no financial worries?  Where you have no health worries? Where you get away from the wickedness that is increasing upon this land? Is heaven simply your ticket outta here?  Are you anxious for the stuff but not the Substance?

Or is heaven that grand, anticipated place where there is no need for the sun to shine?

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. ~ Revelation 21:23

The tabernacle of God will be among men!

He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them. ~ Revelation 21:3

So what we to do with all this?  How are we to look for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior as 2013 passes into oblivion and a New Year dawns?  

Me?  I want to be like my dog.  I want to purely and simply be so excited, so uncontained in my joy, so focused on one thing; seeing my Master.  

Perhaps you've read this far but you are on the outside looking in. Thinking that your goodness is enough to get you in when the time comes.  Oh do not trust that your filthy rags will grant you entrance into the heavenly realm of Christ!  The very Christ you denied all your life, the Christ who you told "later", the Christ who you believed would allow you in when you trampled His name in the mud. He will not allow you in but will say, Depart from Me into everlasting destruction, everlasting darkness, for I never knew you!  You cannot choose to reject Him all your life on earth and then expect Him to welcome you in.  

You must recognize you are a sinner. 

There is none righteous, no not one. ~ Romans 3:10

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:23

You must confess you sin.

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. ~ Romans 10:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9 

and you must follow Him.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. ~ Luke 9:23–24 

For you see dear friend, you cannot gain heaven while clinging to this world. You must let go of the trappings and comforts of this world and embrace Christ and all he offers.  Then, and only then, will you discover that His riches far outweigh all you hold now.  

So I ask, unbeliever, will you come to Him now and look for Him as this year unfolds?  I ask, believer, will you look for Him over and above all His benefits?

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