Christianity 201

November 20, 2013

Spiritual Day-Trading

On Monday night at the small group Bible study we attend, we were talking about the “progress” we are making on our Christian pilgrimage, and the tendency to sense wild fluctuations in our spiritual “temperature” on an hour-by-hour, minute-to-minute basis. One of the guys in the group felt his spiritual life is subject to swings like the stock market, and then I compared this with our desire to gauge our spirituality in the micro-short-term as “spiritual day-traders.” Day-traders are people who buy stocks and often sell them within the hour (or less) for a quick profit.

While I think some of us are spiritual day-traders, I worry about using words like “progress” or spiritual “temperature” because this tends to quantify our spiritual life. True, it seems like some days are “one step forward, and two step backwards,” but we wouldn’t quantify a relationship with a parent or a spouse; we wouldn’t say, “Well, yesterday was definitely a 8.3, but today has been more like a 7.6” or people would just laugh!

As I considered some application to this, I noted that on Monday, Stephen and Brooksyne Weber had written on seeing “the big picture” in the light of tragedy and calamity such as befallen the people in The Philippines. I realized that in all areas of life, we need to get the “macro” view and see things as God sees them.  Click here to read “The Big Picture”

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“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18).

Today we consider the continued agony in the Philippines and more recently the tornadoes in the Midwest. These are large events that make the news. But we consider the accumulative burden of heartache scores of people are enduring today. Physical affliction, wayward children, broken marriages. Then we consider our brothers and sisters enduring persecution. We just read an article about Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned in Iran and his desperate situation. link

“For our light and momentary troubles.” What kind of light and momentary troubles are you dealing with today? In the daily text Paul is writing of troubles that would rival or surpass our most difficult experiences in life. He had written a few verses previous to this: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11).

The point he is making is a matter of perspective, of seeing the big picture. These troubles are “light and momentary” in comparison to the ultimate eternal glories of heaven. We might argue that they sure don’t seem light and momentary at the time we’re experiencing them! Some of these troubles are constant or recurring and weigh heavy on our hearts.

Yet we need to embed this truth deep in our hearts, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” These troubles are fulfilling a purpose ordained by God, achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. The three letter word, “all” encompasses the multiple “light and momentary troubles” we continually experience as trials on this side of eternity.

The “eternal glory” must be the ultimate guide by which we view all that happens to us personally or in the world about us. We must live for “there and then”, not just “here and now”.  It’s something I’ve learned theologically and know in my heart to be true but need to constantly remind myself. As a believer in Christ I must remember that my times are in His hands. With my eyes I see only the physical present, but in my spirit I must always contend for the future eternal reward.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The big picture is so powerfully expressed by the Apostle Paul in this passage.  I’ve memorized it and even now, through eyes of faith, rejoice in its truth.  But it only pertains to people of faith in Jesus Christ. People without faith are blind to the big picture. Understanding the bigger picture begins when we commit our lives to Christ. Have you done that?

Here’s a prayer of faith that essentially begins the journey of seeing beyond this immediate life to receiving the promised eternal life through God’s plan of salvation. If you have not done so already I urge you to pray this prayer from your heart today.  And if you have done so join me in reaffirming your commitment to Christ today.

“Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner.  I believe that You came to this earth and died on the cross as a substitute for me.  I place my faith in You and what You have done for me.  I receive You into my life and choose this day to follow and serve You.  Thank You for hearing my prayer.”

Daily prayer: Father, there is much that we can learn from our temporal problems here on earth that better prepares us for eternity.  As we work through these troubles, they enable us to have the mind of Christ so that attitudes reflecting the fruit of the Spirit become a spontaneous response to the difficulties that challenge us daily.  Just as light, soil, air and moisture are requirements for growth in vegetation so must faith, prayer, self-denial and persistence in obeying God’s Holy Word be requirements for growth in our Christian walk. Help us not to become so caught up in viewing our daily challenges from an earthly perspective that we lose the view of our future home in heaven following the storms we weather here below. We stand in the strength of the Lord Jesus and in the power of His might. Amen.

 

Stephen and Brooksyne also ask for prayer for their daughter Ester, who is recovering from open heart surgery to repair a previously installed pacemaker.

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