úterý, srpna 28, 2007

[Morning by Morning] Romans 8:18

Romans 8:18

Dear friends,

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Good morning! How do you get through suffering? Here's a tiny example, one that is quite easy to get through:

You just wince up a bit, and when you feel the prick you know it will be over soon and that later in the day the band-aid will fall off.

Part of the management of suffering is your capacity to slot the experience into the probably time the pain will last and imagine the time coming soon when it will stop.

Kids can't do this, so they howl when they see the syringe. But as we get older and more used to time, we can manage minor sufferings really well.

Listen to this:

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Paul, and the persecuted Christians in Rome had huge suffering imposed on them, suffering they could have ended by leaving the faith. They dealt with that suffering by remembering that "this present time" isn't going to last. And they had a thrilling understanding of "the glory that is to be revealed."

By "this present time" Paul, following Jesus and agreeing with all the other New Testament writers, refers to the whole dispensation between the arrival of the Messiah and His Second Coming to establish God's Kingdom. They were far clearer than we are about all this, and therefore they had the power to withstand suffering, a power we can scarcely imagine. This understanding of our time is something for us to recover, and to recover through Scripture. We live in the season of harvest, during which there is a great conflict between the rule of this world and the rightful Kingdom of God. One of the great strategies of God's enemy is to completely obscure from our view the nature of the conflict and the great hope God wants us to have in His Kingdom. That hope is not about floating around so disembodied we can't sink through a cloud, each of us separated from one another, singing songs we don't like to a God we still can't see. Who would discount present suffering to get to that?

(Of course, if you're a secular person, you use the suffering of the present time as proof there isn't a personal God at all. When suffering comes there's nothing to do but just take it, until you are annihilated by death. That's why they're so sad, just below their success.)

Scripture actually reveals a great deal about Heaven, but our worldview just filters out all this information God wants us to have. I discover more about heaven on every page of the New Testament. It's a little like the experience of discovering evangelism in there, or the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We're blinded by the ruler of this age from seeing what lies on almost every page. The hope is about a resurrected Jesus coming to His resurrected people on a resurrected earth. A groaning earth will rejoice -- trees clapping their great arms and mountains skipping like rams -- when the sons and daughters of God are revealed at last and begin living the life God speaks into being, treasuring the garden He intends us to love.

Our capacity to endure the sufferings of this current mess is directly related to the clarity of our vision of the world to come. Explains a lot about current whining, doesn't it?


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úterý, srpna 21, 2007

Forgive Your Enemies

In his Sunday sermon, the minister used "Forgive Your Enemies" as his subject. After the sermon, he asked how many were willing to forgive their enemies. About half held up their hands.

Not satisfied, he harangued the congregation for another twenty minutes and repeated his question. This received a response of eighty percent. Still unsatisfied, he lectured for fifteen more minutes and repeated his question. All responded except one elderly gentleman in the rear.

"Mr. Jones, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"

"I don't have any."

"Mr. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?"

"One hundred and one."

"Mr. Jones, please come down in front and tell the congregation how a man can live to be one hundred and one and not have an enemy in the world."

The old man teetered down the aisle, slowly turned to face the congregation, smiled and said, "I outlived every one of them!"

čtvrtek, srpna 02, 2007