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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter VII

Posted by Jerry E Beuterbaugh Labels: ,

Chapter VII
And Go Seek
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” [Matthew 7:7-11 NIV]

It is quite natural to think of other things, but be assured that the greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has to offer at this time is a very close and personal relationship with Himself.  For it is written: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” [Matthew 6:19-34 NIV]

No, this is not to discount the immeasurable value of the gift of eternal spiritual life [Ephesians 2:8-10], but the point that keeps getting missed at best, and ignored at worst [1 Timothy 1:5-11], is the very close and personal relationship that we were all created to have with our Heavenly Father.  For it is written: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.  Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.  And this we will do, if God permits. [Hebrews 5:12-6:3 NAS]

Yes, it is true that what we can have in this world is just a foretaste of what it will be like in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven [1 Corinthians 13:9-10], but if it is indeed true that His Holy Spirit truly lives within the hearts and minds of His children by faith, how can we not have so much more than what most have been led to believe [2 Corinthians 1:21-22]?  For it is written: For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now, we know Him thus no longer.  Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:14-17 NAS]

Although it is really nothing new [Ecclesiastes 1:9-11], a lot has been made of seekers lately.  In fact, many churches now advertise that they are seeker friendly.

Oh yes, it sounds oh so very exciting—especially to those who hope to see a great revival sweep across this troubled land [2 Chronicles 7:14], but the trouble with far too many seekers is that this is who they are.  For it is written: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. [James 1:5-8 NIV]

In other words, seekers seek, and far too many of them do not have any expectation of ever finding anything.  For if they did, they would no longer be seekers, and it is in this respect that they are actually nothing more than doubters.

Alas, that sounded so very harsh and unrighteous [James 2:12-13], but it still needed to be said.  For it is written: First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.  Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. [2 Peter 3:3-18 NIV]

Yes, it would be different if our Heavenly Father really is rather hard to find, but He is not.  For it is written: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me.  To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’  All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations.” [Isaiah 65:1-2 NIV]

Be assured that 2 Peter 3:3-18 applies as much to the other side of the seeker coin as it does to those who refuse to “find” our Heavenly Father.  For far too many in the Christian community are quite content with what they think they already have [1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13].

Furthermore, many “Christian” leaders have made a very good living out of encouraging the members of their congregations to be quite content with what they have.  For it is written: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.  For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [2 Timothy 3:1-7 NAS]

No, this is not to deny that when you have Christ Jesus, you have it all.  MAY IT NEVER BE!  For as it was with the Apostle Paul, so is it also with me—even now in this day and age of post-modern sophistication.  For it is written: My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. [Colossians 2:2-4 NIV]

It is just that far too many in the Christian community do not have any idea what it really means to truly be in Christ.  Do you [Hebrews 12:6]?


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