I love that God is pouring into me right now. I have become accustomed to learning to press into Him out of my neediness, and He has brought forth His Word and given me FOCUS. Let me share a little more about how to fix our eyes on the risen Christ and what God has explained to me (if you are like me, you might ask, what exactly does that mean to fix my eyes on the risen Christ?). I get from this sermon that it means to widen our telescope and trust that Christ has OVERCOME! We may see a small picture of reality…but God sees the big picture and there is beauty at the end! We can be sorrowful for a moment, but then we get up and we move on doing the work of the King. We MUST suffer well. Those that don’t know the Lord are watching to see the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. He HAS Risen and He has already overcome the dominion of Sin over us. Jesus has taken away the authority of sin over our lives. We are no longer slaves to it if we trust Jesus as our personal Savior. We have a choice now to choose not to sin and to choose to trust and obey Him. The victory is His and in the end it will be so beautiful. We must keep working everyday in all our trials or drudgery with that perspective in the midst of it all.
Here is a sermon that popped up in my inbox tonight called God’s grip is still Stronger by Pastor Matt Thomas from Waterstone Community Church:
(based off Daniel 8: 1-14)
(Pastor tells the story of Daniel in the above passage and how sad Daniel is after his vision of the tragedy that is to come to the Jews, gives a few stories from his childhood of tragedy)…
“So the challenge for us is to understand the lens through which we view everything. When tragedy happens, when things go bad, it is almost impossible not to find the character and nature of God based on what we are experiencing in the immediate. It is almost impossible, when you see total destruction, not to project what you are experiencing onto the character and nature of God. It is in all of us to do that. When Jonathan Edwards would talk about the sovereignty of God, he used a telescope to describe it, to give us a metaphor. He used a telescope with two lenses on it. So on this telescope, he would say, when God looks down on the world and sees the destruction and the suffering and the pain and the darkness, when He looks through that little telescope that is focused in, His heart breaks, and He weeps, but when He pulls back, and He looks through the big telescope, He sees what has happened, where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going, and He is pleased. So our goal is to use that telescope.
….We have to remember the risen Christ. This allows us to broaden our days. I think believers should be the best at entering into dark moments. I am talking about entering into a situation and understanding what is going on, and how to bring grace and mercy and hope into darkness. Believers should be the best at that, because we have a real hope. We should be able to step into a dark moment, and I am not saying that we always have the right thing to say. Often the best we can do is to just sit there and be present. That was the heart of Jesus. When He came up on Lazarus’ tomb, what did He do? He wept. He shed tears. He was present in that moment. We need to have a broader perspective on what God is doing, what He has done, and where He is going, and sometimes we have to cling to that perspective. The world watches us. We have to suffer well. When things not just don’t go our way, but when everything unravels, and your neighbors are watching you, your family member that doesn’t know Jesus has his or her eyes on you, you need to suffer well.
That doesn’t mean you buck up and pretend like everything is okay. I don’t know where that entered into our Americanized version of Christianity, but for whatever reason, we think we have to put on our best face for people. That isn’t suffering well. Suffering well is saying, “Everything feels like it is falling apart, this is hard, I am miserable, totally confused, but I trust that God’s grip is strong even now.” That is what it means to suffer well, and that message is what will change the world, and we know this. Unfortunately, our grandfathers are right. The world is going to get worse. It is going to continue to decay. In the midst of that, in the suffering, we have to do it well. We have to. It isn’t an option for us.
I love the end of the book of Daniel. He says, “I went to bed, I was a bit sorrowful, and then I got up and did the work of the king.” I love that, because while everything is decaying, things are falling apart, our mission is one of restoration. This is one of the most beautiful parts of Christianity; in the midst of suffering, in the midst of destruction, we get to work for restoration. We get to work for restoration at an individual level; souls that are broken, disenchanted souls. We get to work for that, and we get to work for restoration of all things, because ultimately that is what God is busy doing. He is restoring all things back unto Himself. He is reconciling the world back to Himself, and we get to play our part in that. So that means when fires happen, when the next natural disaster happens, when the next family member dies, in the middle of all that, in the middle of the suffering, in the middle of the confusion, in the middle of the darkness, we are still on mission. We are still a part of the mission of God, advancing the kingdom, playing our part well, because the world is watching us. We need to be authentic, go to bed sorrowful for sure, but we need to get up and do the work of the king, and He is about restoration. So let’s not wallow in the sadness.”
(Amen!–my words 🙂 )