The Pursuit of Pleasure

chocolate-devotional

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Pleasure’s benefits are brief and never as sweet as the lasting pleasure seeking God brings.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 1:1-2

“How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.”

Mmmm. The silky smooth milk chocolate glides through my mouth as I bask in the enjoyment of all its flavor. Unless, of course, it is cheap, generic chocolate, wrapped prettily but lacking in substance.

Ah, yes, I am a connoisseur of all things chocolate. Ok. * Sigh *  I am a recovering chocoholic.

But what drove me to this fascination with chocolate? The taste buds that God gave me, and the pursuit of the pleasure I feel when indulging in the sweet bliss of all things chocolate. This pleasure, however, is somewhat fleeting, as the scale reminds me the next day of the cost of that pleasure.

So why did God create tastes buds in the first place? Maybe if we did not have them, we would not delight in food. It seems the senses, in general, can get us into trouble.

Funny things is, God wants us to delight – He wants us to enjoy and experience – even pursue pleasure. The object of our delight often falls so very far of what He has for us, though. Everything around us was not meant to satisfy our deepest need, only our Creator could do that.

We hunger for this satisfaction of the soul and try to fulfill it with the outward senses, but when the temporary fix wears off, we are left wondering why it did not last and what will please us next. Like the Israelites, we hunger for the wrong thing and sometimes blame God when we don’t get what we want.

Then there’s this battle with gratitude. God gives us just what we need and blesses us so abundantly, but we tend to not know our limits. We like His blessing so much we want more and more and sometimes are not content with His provision and can complain when it is removed, as if we deserved it.

I am preaching to the choir here, people. Me, too. I confess that chocolate and I are close – perhaps a little too close, sometimes. But when I realize how I have allowed the creation to become my delight rather than the Creator, it brings me to a place of humble worship.

He alone is my soul’s delight. I have an inner thrill when I consider His incredible care and sovereignty. Wow. Instead of finding delight in things, we can ask God to help us delight in obeying Him and meditating on His Word. It is in this pursuit that we find lasting pleasure that the world can never take away.

Lord, You are our treasure, the delight of our souls. May we never search for satisfaction for our souls from an unspiritual world, but only find our complete joy in God.

Thoughtful Thursday: Treasured Treasure

treasure

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Something might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially.

Scriptures of the Day:

Proverb 2:1-5

“My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment – raise your voice for understanding –if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, 8 to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity – every good way. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you. 11 Discretion will protect you, understanding will guard you, 12 to deliver you from the way of the wicked, from those speaking perversity.”

The thrill of the hunt is the height of our pursuit, until we find that precious treasure we were hunting for. Once we have found what our hearts longed for, we have peace and satisfaction – until another treasure calls our name.

When we lose something dear to us or something we needed to function in this life, everything else suddenly pales until we find that thing. It might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially. It is in this moment of revelation that we are grateful and realize we took for granted the treasure we had.

With each each quest for treasure is a burning need for what we are searching for and at the same time a sense of our status of being unworthy of receiving the gift of the treasure in the first place.

If life is about going on one treasure hunt after another and never being fully satisfied with that treasure once we find it, then it is in vain that we pursue such a temporary pleasure, yet an inward craving for something more urges us on.

But there is a lasting treasure that calls out to those who will listen. It’s jewels never fade and the treasure hunter never ceases to discover new beauty within the treasure trove. It is the treasury of wisdom.

For me there is a delight in learning. The discovery of knowledge that was before hidden from my understanding is a delight to my soul. But it does not compare to the sheer ecstatic joy I feel when reading God’s word and the inward burning in my soul imparting truth deep in my heart.

Some walk right past wisdom and don’t recognize its value. Walking in His wisdom, we understand our purpose on this earth and don’t waste our days with temporary treasures. When we don’t understand, wisdom teaches us the value of fearing God so we live in a way that pleases Him. Everything is suddenly viewed through the lens of God’s perspective. When this crazy world tries to distract us, wisdom guides us to God’s deeper purposes and sets our hearts at ease.

This insight from God’s word is not just knowledge stuck on a shelf. It is our very life and a constant companion in all of life. Understanding the God of this universe is the highest treasure we could ever receive – even if it is only in part, for His vastness is far superior to any learning we could ever obtain and there is no end to the limitless wisdom of God.

Lord, thank You for the treasure of You. Help us to chase after You and never tire of seeking You. You are beautiful and our heart’s desire.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Generous God

God is generous

1 Corinthians 1:5-7

For you were made rich in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge– 6 just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you– 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 25:14

“The LORD’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

We worry about provision in a world system that requires payment for everything. Yet God says that if he takes care of the grass, flowers and a small sparrow, He will provide for us, too. Trouble is, flowers don’t spend well in our economical system and sometimes we don’t know how God is going to do it, but He always comes through.

His provision is vastly more than we could ever imagine and lasts for all eternity. What kind of God is that? The richest person in the world according to the world’s riches could not compare with the riches God has for those Who would call upon His name and be saved.

We were (past tense) made rich in EVERY way – but it might not always appear to be the case. Man looks at the outward, but inwardly God is at work in amazing ways. We received everything we needed when we were saved, but sometimes we do not perceive it.

When my kids were little, I wanted to instill in them a love of learning.  I wanted them to treasure knowledge and wisdom, for wisdom opens our eyes to see the truth, and knowing God and His truth is the greatest gift of all.  When other kids were getting electronics, my kids got books. When I would come back from Homeschooling convention, they would run up to me and wonder what devotion or new journal I got them.  I pray that sticks with them their whole lives through.  Knowing God is our greatest treasure.

When we don’t understand, we can come to Him and He will generously give us wisdom without finding fault. When we lack faith, we can run to His Word and to Him and He will give us hope.  When we are weak, we can cry out to Him and He will strengthen us. When we are depressed, He gives us the gift of joy.  When we are hurt, He comfort us. Once again we come back to the word, “relationship”.  Access to these precious gifts He has bestowed is given when we come to Him and He does not withhold.

Lord, thank You for giving us everything we need, and most importantly – the gift of Yourself and Your only Son.  Help us to be a grateful people, recognizing your generous provision for your children.

Thoughtful Thursday: True Prosperity

True Propserity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Reconciliation with the Almighty God of this universe is the greatest wealth we can have.

Scripture:

Job 22:21-28

21 “Reconcile yourself with God, and be at peace with him; in this way your prosperity will be good. 22 Accept instruction from his mouth and store up his words in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent, 24 and throw your gold in the dust–your gold of Ophir among the rocks in the ravines– 25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold, and the choicest silver for you. 26 Surely then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face toward God. 27 You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28 Whatever you decide on a matter, it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.” 

I’ve heard of people longing to win the lottery – even going to great lengths on strategies to hopefully help them land the winning number – and end their woes.  Thing is, the people who do win often end up destroying their lives.  What happened?  Wasn’t prosperity the solution to all of their troubles?

Some preachers have taught that world wealth is a given for those who are in Christ. People who are poor by the world’s standards must just not have enough faith to obtain the wealth God planned for them.  I don’t buy it and I have never played the lottery, either.

Like Paul, I have known what it is to be in need and to have an abundance.  In both times, I praised God.  I did not want to forget God when He blessed us, nor did I want to blame Him when we were unemployed and sued into financial woe.  God was faithful through it all. Both circumstances were not easy.

In times of prosperity, materialism, comfort and apathy threatened to woo us into a backslidden, religious state.  In times of financial hardship, we had to adapt and go without. We cried out to God and gained things of value that wealth could never give us.  A deeper walk with Him, a deeper trust in Him as He provided in creative ways, and learning contentment – precious treasure earned in challenging financial ordeals.

My children and I look fondly on the times when we craved food that we could not purchase due to a limited budget, then the LORD impressed on other people’s hearts to bring us that very food.  It was very specific and amazing to see God’s faithfulness in even the smallest of things.

The greatest riches we can ever achieve were given freely to us and can never be lost. Eternal treasures purchased for us by the blood of Christ, the cost for our reconciliation to God.  Nothing compares to this prosperity.

Lord, thank You for giving us Yourself, the most precious gift ever.  Please help us to be a grateful people and to share what You have given to us with the world.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 12 – Our Wise Counselor

Photo Credits: www/pixabay.com

Photo Credits:
www/pixabay.com

Ecclesiastes 7:10-12

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” for it is not wise to ask that.  11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing; it benefits those who see the light of day. 12 For wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection. But the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.

James 1:5

“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.”

When I am tempted to give in to emotion or make a rash decision, it is to God that I run.  What a precious gift that we can come to Him and seek His wisdom in all things.

Recently I was reminded of this privilege when I was trying to understand the best course of action in a situation.  “Why are you trying to figure it out on your own?” ran through my head.  I guess that is my natural disposition – to try and come up with my own solution, but the foundation of that decision should be to seek wisdom from God above all else.

Wisdom, likened to an inheritance, can only be given by God.  Man can hand out down insight and knowledge, but any wisdom he has was given to him and comes from above.

Wisdom from God looks markedly different from the wisdom of this world.  It is not self-glorifying, it does not boast. It serves and glorifies God as the giver of it all.  The wisdom God gives is pure and peaceful, opposite what our flesh would offer as a solution.

Contained within all 66 books of the Bible are page after page of wisdom and folly fleshed out.  Few have truly found wisdom and to those who have found it, it is a never-ceasing pursuit.  Wisdom is not a once and done possession.  It is part of the beauty of being in relationship with the most amazing genius in all the world, our God.  He gives it freely, to those who ask . . . again and again.

Solomon pleased God by asking for wisdom above all else, yet He did not utilize that wisdom in one area of his life, in particular.  Did he know better?  I think so.  His heart was turned away by his unwise decisions regarding women, and I daresay that the brief satisfaction from choosing folly instead of the wisdom he had at his disposal could not compare to the joy he could have had from walking in wisdom.

This priceless gift of wisdom is continually given to those who would humble themselves and see their need of godly wisdom.  Available to all.  That’s the all-wise God we serve – generous and perfect in all He does; available to give us counsel when we need it.

Lord, thank You for never leaving or forsaking us.  You provide wisdom when we need it and are faithful to give us grace to seek You for it in the first place.  We praise Your Name, Sovereign King!

 

A Season of Thankfulness, Day one – An Unopened Gift

2 Peter 1:3

“I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.”

Hopping on the thankfulness bandwagon a day late.  Figures.  So this is yesterday’s post.  🙂  Thanksgiving is one cultural holiday worth celebrating!  November is an opportunity to cultivate a heart of gratitude.  For the month of November, I hope to inspire thoughts of sincere gratitude for what we have in Christ.

This scripture makes me think of how silly it would be to be given a gift and have it sit right in front of us, but to doubt that it exists.  Its presence would be undeniable, because it is tangible to us and we would see it with our own eyes.  Denying the gift would be ridiculous, and yet spiritual gifts are often neglected and unseen.  Why?

Surrounding the gift are trials distracting us and people offering different answers that appear to hold promise, yet these other paths do not give us the same peace.

Our enemy is busy trying to undo the greatest gift of all.  Filling our mind with doubts and casting stumbling blocks haphazardly across our paths, the physical seems greater than the spiritual.  Sometimes it seems insurmountable and hopeless.  The answer we long for tarries and we wonder what God’s purpose could be in it all.

Still the gift still sits there, untapped, until we reach for it and apply it to our circumstances and life.  The Holy Spirit within us urges us on to open the gift!  Reaching for God’s promises and crying out to our ever-present God who sees and knows all, He is our strength, our hope, our answer in all situations.  He might not remove the pain or trouble, but He and His Word truly are the answer to everything we face in this life.

Are any of us lonely?  Hurting?  Desperate for a touch of God’s grace and faith?  We have all we need in Christ – for everything we face in this life!  What promise and encouragement we find in God’s word.  Even when our feelings betray us, God’s Word does not.  Open the gift today – get into His Word and let Him speak to You and your situation.  He is able and He loves you!

Lord, help us to access all that You have for us in Your Word.  Knowing You is the greatest treasure we could ever have. Thank You for giving us Your Word.  You are forever faithful!

Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Teaches Us

Psalm 25:1, 4-5, 8-9, 12, 14

1 “O Lord, I come before you in prayer. 4 Make me understand your ways, O LordTeach me your paths! 5 Guide me into your truth and teach me.  For you are the God who delivers me; on you I rely all day long8 The Lord is both kind and fair; that is why he teaches sinners the right way to live9 May he show the humble what is right!  May he teach the humble his way!  12 The Lord shows his faithful followers the way they should live. 14 The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

We have all had teachers we have admired and ones we could have done without.  Some inspired us and some discouraged us.  Although teaching is not always a lucrative career, teaching is valued highly by God and near to His heart. David knew where to get wisdom on how to live.  He cried out.  Those who want to know more of God or how to live in order to please him just need to ask Him.  He is willing to teach us!  To be tutored by the Most High God is no small thing. Today, I worship our Almighty God and Shepherd, the best teacher of all, Who will personally guide each of us and instruct us through his Holy Spirit.  His rebuke is life-giving, but only the humble can receive it.

As a homeschool mom for 18 years, teaching brings an inner delight to me.  God called me to home educate the children He gave me before my first child was born.  I chose to home educate out of obedience and also because more than anything, I cared deeply about my children’s character and knowledge of God.  To be able to convey a truth to my children and have them perceive and comprehend it on deeper and deeper levels over the years has never ceased to amaze me. The first time my oldest was reading at age three was thrilling!  A door had just been opened to her – though it could be for knowledge of good or bad – she was most importantly able to gain insight into her Creator and into life.

I vividly recall when we were doing a bible study out of the book of Romans and the look on my oldest daughter’s face at age four conveyed her understanding for the first time that “no one was good, no not one”.  She wept and realized that she needed a Savior.  Wow.  God instructed her through His living word.  Over the years, all of my children have had crowning moments of academic success as well as difficult moments of realizing they still had so much to learn.  So do we all.

The paucity of knowledge is not to be lamented, however, when we have a God Who has all knowledge and He wants to give it to us. Even knowledge that appears unimportant can become a treasure.  Each station in life offers opportunities to learn something new.  When the subject or trial we are in appears mundane and inapplicable to life (like some school subjects my kids tell me are not important), God uses it all.  Education equips us for future endeavors or callings on our lives that He wants to use to enable us for that season and for His glory.

I have always loved to learn new things, so it is difficult for me to comprehend someone not being fascinated with the opportunity of obtaining more knowledge.  Knowledge is a doorway to wisdom, when correctly applied, and to be able to understand more of God is the highest privilege.

Sometimes, though, teaching is not a delight.  Burnout can occur, of course, but when the pupil is lazy, not teachable or not desiring to learn, teaching can become a daunting task.  I imagine that our lack of zeal to instruct as a teacher or to search for more insight and understanding from God as a student hurts His heart.  He is ready to teach us, to show us more of Him, and we often do not even arise to knock on His door.

As a teacher, our children might not be crying out for wisdom, but we can also ask God, Who is the wisest teacher, to help us to provoke them to want to learn.  When I consider how good God is, that He would not just command, but would show us how to obey by walking among us as a fragile human, I am completely undone.  We have no excuse – we have a God Who is alive and Who has not left us without instruction.  He was also willing to live it out before us.  Ignorance kept us in sin – but God did not leave us in that place.  Our flesh may often tire, but we can still cry out for God to give me a hunger to learn more of Him.  If we feel discouraged or unmotivated to continue educating others or to to be inspired to learn, God can meet us at that place and ignite our hearts again with deeper truths worth exploring – we just need to ask Him.  His knowledge knows no end and He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him.

Lord, thank You for teaching us daily and in Your mercy showing us our faults and sins, that we could become more like You.  Helps us to be teachable and to yearn your correction, for it brings life – and that abundantly.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Purpose of Wealth

Photo Credits livingjourney.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
livingjourney.wordpress.com

Ecclesiastes 5:10-15, 18-20

10 The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money, he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income. This also is futile. 11 When someone’s prosperity increases, those who consume it also increase; so what does its owner gain, except that he gets to see it with his eyes? 12 The sleep of the laborer is pleasant – whether he eats little or much – but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.  13 Here is a misfortune on earth that I have seen: Wealth hoarded by its owner to his own misery14 Then that wealth was lost through bad luck; although he fathered a son, he has nothing left to give him. 15 Just as he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked will he return as he came, and he will take nothing in his hand that he may carry away from his toil.  18 I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward. 19 To every man whom God has given wealth, and possessions, he has also given him the ability to eat from them, to receive his reward and to find enjoyment in his toil; these things are the gift of God.  20 For he does not think much about the fleeting days of his life because God keeps him preoccupied with the joy he derives from his activity.

Proverbs 17:16

“Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?” 

Ecclesiastes 7:12
“Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.”  
Luke 16:13-15
“No servant 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.”  The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.  He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” 
1 Timothy 6:10
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 

Luke 12:33
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

I hate money.  We never have enough of it and it can make life stressful.  Advertisements promise joy to those who pursue financial wealth and the belongings that wealth provides.  Ironically, materialism thwarts the enjoyment of life.  We think we will be happy with the more we own, but it ends up being entrapment.  The more we own, the more we have to take care of.  The saying, “the one who dies with the most toys wins” is clearly not the case – the stress of paying for such lavishness might be what drives one to the grave.  But money is not all bad . . .

Why do we have to have money in this society?  Silly question, I know.  Money is the currency with which we are able to buy goods needed to live.  God knows we need money – so how can it be evil?  Money is not evil in and of itself and is a necessary commodity for life, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Why?  Is it possible for one to have money and not get sidetracked?  Looking into God’s word we see that loving money is the problem.  Not loving the dollar bills, but what money can do for us, or putting our hope in money.

We do not have to feel guilty for enjoying the things God has given us – Scripture says that is God’s blessing for us.  It is when the things own us or we rely on our paycheck instead of God that our hearts begin to falter.  This is surely tested when one loses their source of income.  My husband and I have walked through job loss twice in the past four years and seen God provide in miraculous ways.  It was an amazing time of learning to trust in Him.  It hurts to be in need, but it also makes us depend upon our Father more.  We gain perspective when their is an absence of money – it forces us to contemplate more carefully what we spend God’s money on.  So what should we do with money?  Buy wisdom.

Ultimately, like everything else God gives us, the Christian needs to surrender this practical aspect of our lives to God, too, and ask what His will is for the finances with which he has been entrusted.  God has not left us without instructions regarding money.  He knows how weak our flesh is.  The first thing we do is acknowledge God with the money He gave and tithe.  It is all His, anyway.  After that, we need to care of the poor, provide for our needs and get wisdom.  I had not thought of getting wisdom with money before, but this principle is repeated in Scripture many times.  How do you get wisdom with money?  Invest in things that grow us in Christ or in knowledge, which translates to skills and serving others. Paying for counsel might be another means.  Though it cost all you have, get wisdom.  A fool has no desire to get wisdom with his finances and wastes his money, but a wise person sees more than just their physical needs.

We can spend an inordinate amount of money on entertainment or having the best of things, but will we later regret those decisions?  My husband and I would one day love to drive a new car, maybe even from the same decade we live in, but God has not provided that for us.  Our vehicles have been mocked, but I am sure God smiles, too.  Saving money each month makes it uncomfortable to make it just to the next paycheck.  We have to do without some things now, but believe that setting aside for the future will be far more enjoyable in the long run.  Godliness with contentment is great gain – far more than worldly wealth could ever give.

We need to think now about where our finances are going before we regret what they could have accomplished for the kingdom of God.  The line at the end of Schindler’s movie still grips my heart.  Looking at the ring on his finger, Schindler asks himself why he did not sell it to save more of the precious lives slaughtered during World War II.  Reflecting on my financial decisions, good and bad, the radical decision to adopt a son instead of buying a luxury car has brought me far more joy than words could ever do justice.   Adoption was not without sacrifice and challenges, but I am so grateful the LORD led me to invest His money that way.  All aspects of our lives are for God’s glory.  Whether it is two mites we have or vast riches we own, all is by Him and for Him.

Lord, thank You for all You have given to us.  We want to be faithful stewards all for Your glory.  Please help us to invest for eternity and not just the here and now.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Heat is On!

Photo credits freeindeedtravel.blogspot.com

Photo credits
freeindeedtravel.blogspot.com

Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests the heart.”

Proverbs 25:4 “Remove the dross from the silver, and material for the Silversmith will emerge.”

Malachi 3:3 “He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the LORD a proper offering.

Romans 5:3 “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…”

Analogies can help us comprehend deeper spiritual application, but we no longer live in a time where the local silversmith is around the next corner.  Scriptures detailing the process of purifying silver might not seem as relatable to our microwave generation.  The process of purifying silver takes time and careful attention.  Standards can be lowered when impatience is allowed to reign over quality and purity.  But it is uncomfortable to remain in the heat and difficult to tarry when refining hurts.

Another analogy has proved helpful to me in understanding this process of refining that God does in the life of His children. If we had to undergo surgery for an infirmity but hopped off the surgical table every time there was pain, we would never be healed. But remaining in God and trusting His hand despite the perceived harm will produce a rare treasure.  If the uncomfortable shaking allowed into our lives was avoided or placated by running to alternative sources of comfort rather than God, then perhaps the refining would be extended – not out of cruelty, but out of love and a desire to rid us of dross in our lives.

The humanistic philosophies of the day would say we should tolerate and accept our dross and not judge one another for our shortcomings.  That is actually not kindness at all.  Neither should we judge when someone is going through a difficult season.  We cannot understand why, but loving accountability walks alongside and knows that we all have dross that must be purged.  To keep the cancer of sin in our lives or to make excuses for it instead of submitting to God to remove it is folly.  Who would choose to keep a disease if there was a known cure?

Sometimes we can think the refining process is pure evil – why do such difficult times have to be allowed in to produce beauty?  I remember foolishly asking the LORD why I had to go through such difficult trials until I understood they were the very source of inspiration for my music or writing.  I could wish that I would not have to undergo such dire circumstances, but then I would not trade the closeness to God in the midst or the character gained in that fire.

The bride of Christ is being made beautiful, one crucible at a time.  Through blurry, tear-filled eyes it can be difficult to see clearly the fruit that God is producing, but to rejoice in that moment of suffering at what it is achieving is truly seeing with eternal eyes.  The jewel in the rough is becoming a gem that will shine forever.

Lord, help us to yield to You when in the fire of life’s challenges.  Make us more like you!

The Secret Treasure Within

infinityconcepts.net

infinityconcepts.net

Ephesians 1:7-9, 3:1-6, 8-12

7 “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 that He lavished on us in all wisdom and insight.  9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of His will, according to his good pleasure that He set forth in Christ.

3:1 For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you gentiles 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you.  3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote about briefly.  4 When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ.  5 Now this secret was not disclosed to people in former generations as it now has been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit.  6 Namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.  8 To me – less than the least of all the saints – this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.  9 And to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan – a secret that has been hidden for ages in God Who has created all things.  10  The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms.  11  This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.  12  In whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness.

In today’s day and age where people have a McDonald’s mentality, I must apologize if the scripture reference is a bit lengthy – ok, I do not apologize – I really wanted you to see the key verses in context!  Take a deep breath and take 5 minutes to bask in His Word.

We’ve all been there – curious with wonder over a supposed secret being kept.  In our self-absorption, we contemplate that perhaps the secret is about us.  Or perhaps it will change our lives forever.  Some secrets break your heart but unbeknownst to you, deliver you in the same moment.  I don’t much care for secrets; it is much more peaceful to not hide things, rather than participate in the tantalizing glory of the image of secrecy – perfection – only to have your own folly exposed later.

When I was a child, (ok, as an adult, too), I loved watching movies that were about adventures various explorers were on, as they were uncovering some amazing secret.  Indiana Jones’ discovery of the lost ark was probably one of my favorites, with the National Treasure movie series close behind.  There was something about being the keeper of a secret – the privileged one to whom a secret was entrusted that made you feel special, chosen.  Rather than merely living a mundane existence, you were part of an amazing plan.

I remember when I was first told the greatest secret of my life.  I was 19.  The year before, God had sprinkled people across my path who were born again.  Odd people, I felt at the time.  Suddenly, my eyes were opened to the secret of God’s plan – and I was to be part of it!  Me – why me?  Usually a secret keeper is charged with keeping the coveted hidden treasure unknown to anyone else.  Sometimes the secret keeper serves as a safe place for someone to share their burdens, and sometimes a confidant serves a malicious purpose of sharing slander.  But the secret God shares with His people is completely pure and has now been made evident to mankind and all spiritual beings.

Just like Paul, it takes revelation by God for us to be able to see the treasure.  The treasure is laid out for all to see, but unless God opens our eyes, we cannot fathom, understand or see it at all.  The vessel for the secret?  The church.  Now I begin to understand why the enemy has attacked the church so very much.  She holds the most precious secret of all time, and if her character is in question, people will not be able to see.  If there is a legalistic mentality, or a denominational preference, people who do not fit into those categories will be left outside, wondering what is so special about the secret.  We, the church, share the greatest mystery of all – that God predestined from the beginning the Jewish people to be His and grafted the gentiles into His plan.  The entire world can know the living God

This secret was first hinted at in the garden of Eden, but the people could not fully comprehend God’s plan, nor did He reveal it completely to them.  Now, here we are, recipients of this amazing grace and I daresay we have grown so familiar with it that we do not see it for the treasure it is.  Perhaps our eyes need to be opened again, afresh, so we do not lose our zeal in being the secret sharers – not keepers – with any who will listen.  The revelation of this secret was set forth in Christ – a couple thousand years ago – but many tripped over that revelation, and many refused to believe it.

That is the second crucial piece to secret keeping and telling – belief.  We can errantly believe a secret that is a lie, but sometimes we can be blind to see the validity of a true secret, when it is right in front of our eyes.  To hear the secret is not enough, no, we must apprehend it, believe it, accept it and apply it to our lives.  How we live will display whether or not we have truly believed and understood the greatest secret of all time.  Not perfect vessels, God in His infinite wisdom chose broken pottery to display His beauty.  But it is in our recognition of this fact that His secret becomes all the more precious.  We, the recipients, are not worthy, will never be, but He lavishes His love and grace on us so we can lavish it on someone else.  What a loving God!

So, secret bearer – you have been grafted into the greatest club of all – the body of Christ!  You have been trusted with a secret that is life changing.  Don’t let the weight of this world keep you so preoccupied that you forget that this secret has been entrusted to you for the purpose of passing it on!

Lord, thank You for sharing Your secret plan of salvation with me and so many others.  Please open the eyes of all who read this blog and help us all to share Your most Holy, magnificent secret with all who have ears to hear.