Saturday, April 19, 2008
2 Cor 4:16-18 The Out pouring Of Glory Concludes With Revelation
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Have you ever seen an athlete lose heart? When you watch the last few minutes of a blowout football game, you can see the dejection and defeat in the body language of the players on the losing team. The same is often true in the last few minutes of a basketball game in which the losing team knows there not enough time on the board to mount a comeback.
Paul was much afflicted. He stood on the brink of death so often. He didn’t lose heart. He preserved onwards. How? Paul looks at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He looks ahead to the future of believers. He looks past death. His perspective takes in God’s perspective.
1 John 3:3 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is.
Col 3:4 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Titus 2:13 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Another reason it is good for us to contemplate heaven is because we need to be about the business of investing our time, energy and money in things that won't burn.
No one would spend time redecorating a room in a house that is on fire. Why waste the effort on something so temporary? Yet look around you. Everything you see will one day burn up, including many of those things we spend much time, money, and effort on. We need to be reminded to send some of our investments on ahead of us where they will have permanent value and reward.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1. You Must Value Spiritual Strength Above Physical Strength.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
This is so basic, but some people still miss it, so let me explain it. There is an outer you and an inner you. We can see the outer you. We can hear the outer you. We can touch the outer you. But the outer you is not all there is of you. The real you, the eternal you is on the inside. The outer you is "perishing;" it is falling apart slowly. The inner you, the real you, should be growing stronger as you "day by day" walk with the Lord.
Isaiah 40: 27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
The older Spurgeon once described his feelings about this in these words, "For my own part, I would have remained a young man if I could, for I fear I am by no means improved by keeping. Oh, that I could again possess the elasticity of spirit, the dash, the courage, the hopefulness of days gone by! My days of flying are changed to those of running, and my running is toning down to a yet steadier pace. It is somewhat cheering that the Scriptures seem to indicate that this is progress, for such is the order which it prescribes for saints: 'They shall mount up with wings as eagles;' away they go, out of sight. In your first sermons, - how you mounted up! Your first evangelistic efforts, - what flights they were! After that, you slackened and yet improved your pace; but it grew more steady, and perhaps more slow, as it is written: 'They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' God grant that we may not faint; and if our running days are over, may we walk with God as Enoch did, till the Lord shall take us home!" Spurgeon was conscious of the outward-inward dynamics of the Christian life.
When a person dies, the inner man leaves the outer man behind. In death we recognize that the physical body is but a "house" or "tent" that the inner man lives in. I like the story of the preacher who was trying to illustrate this point in a funeral sermon. He pointed to the lifeless form in the casket before him and with great enthusiasm declared, "Before us lies only the shell, the nut is gone!"
Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning 1954 says that the most ghastly moment in a concentration camp of camp life, was the awakening… The most depressing moment of the prisoners life was the moment that he awoke from sleep. The depth and vigour of the religious belief often moved a new arrival. In spite of all the enforced mental and physical primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen. Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain, but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom” 55 this intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence. As the inner life of the prisoner tended to become more intense, he also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never before. One evening when we were already resting on the floor of our hut, dead tired, soup bowls in hand, a fellow prisoner rushed in and asked us to run out th=o the assembly grounds and see the wonderful sunset. Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever changing shapes and colors from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast while the puddles on the nuddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another” How beautiful the world could be.” Another time we were at work in a trench. The dawn was grey around us; grey was the sky above; grey the snow in the pale light of dawn; grey the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clad, and grey their faces. I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying.. In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “YES!” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose.. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. “Et lux in tenebris lucet :and the light shineth in the darkness” p. 60 John 1: 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
The consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher more spiritual things and cannot be shaken by camp life. But how many free men., let alone prisoners possess it? Of the prisoners only7 a full kept their full inner liberty and obtained those values which their suffering afforded. .. a man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.
2. You Must Value The Future Over The Present.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Viktor Frankl.It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future.
The prisoner who had lost faith in the future – his future- was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.
One prisoner became convinced that the war would end on march 30th that year.
As they day arrived without any sort of culmination to things he became delirious, and on march 31st to all outward appearances he died of typhus. But the loss of faith in the future weakened his immune system.
His faith i9n the future and his will to live had become paralysed and his body fell victim to illness.
Any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength in the camp had first to succeed in showing his some future goal. Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
The troubles wean us from the world,
Tennessee Ernie Ford used to sing these words:
This ol’ house is getting shaky This ol’ house is getting old
This ol’ house lets in the rain This ol’ house lets in the cold
O my knees are getting achy But I feel no fear o’ pain
For I see an angel peaking Through a broken winder-pane!
The troubles work the glory of God deep into our lives as our chief end and goal.
The troubles actually served to achieve the eternal glory. Now let's be very careful here. Our sole entitlement to the glories of heaven is through the finished work of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The dying thief went to the glory of paradise the day he died only because of the redeeming love and substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God. He paid the full price for the thief's sin, and bought his place at the great marriage feast above. Nothing the thief could do needed to be added to Christ's redemption payment. So our sufferings make no contribution at all to the entry price to glory because they have been mixed with such sins as our frustration and our self-pity. Our very troubles need to be redeemed. They have no purgatorial power. But there is this - hear these words of the Lord: "Where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will the Father honour" (John 12:26). The glory before us is in part the Father honouring us who have been his faithful servants. Who suffered as the apostle did for his Saviour? And Jesus says to him and to all who have endured troubles bravely and meekly for the Lord, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven" (Matt. 5:12).
Helen Roseveare Dr. Helen Roseveare was an English Christian missionary to the Congo from 1953 to 1973. Helen Roseveare went to the Congo through WEC International and practised medicine and also trained others in medical work. She stayed through the hostile and dangerous political instability in the early 1960s. In 1964 she was taken prisoner of rebel forces and she remained a prisoner for five months, enduring beatings and being raped. She left the Congo and headed back to England after her release but quickly returned to the Congo in 1966 to assist in the rebuilding of the nation. She helped establish a new medical school and hospital (the other hospitals that she built were destroyed) and served there until she left in 1973.
On August 7, 1964 Congo rebels captured Stanleyville (now known as Kisangani). In the four years since Congo's independence from Belgium, most white people had fled from the nation or been captured or killed. Because Helen Roseveare was a doctor, her life was spared, although not without many serious incidents. For example, someone tried to poison her, but her dog ate the food intended for her and died instead.
Helen was well aware of her danger. Many mission women had been raped by the marauding rebel armies. She stayed on, believing that "If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him." That was her mission's motto. She reasoned that if an earlier generation of missionaries to Africa had died of malaria and other jungle diseases for the sake of God and his glory, then God might well demand a different kind of sacrifice of her as he already had of other women missionaries.
On this day, Saturday, August 15, 1964, a truck-load of soldiers took over the hospital compound at Nobobongo. They occupied it for five months. "They were brutal and coarse, rough and domineering. Their language was threatening and obscene. All of us were cowed. We did exactly what they demanded, mostly without argument." Tension was terrific.
"We heard that the local chief had been caught, bound and beaten; then he was taken to the people's tribunal at Wamba, found guilty, flayed alive and eaten. No wonder we did not sleep well. No wonder we were not hungry."
Then Helen and others were taken away. "...We were put off at a house in the jungle--nineteen defenceless women and children surrounded by some seventy-five men, soldiers and others, all filled with hatred and evil intentions toward us...And in my heart was an amazing peace, a realization that I was being highly privileged to be identified with [Christ] in a new way, in the way of Calvary."
Although raped and humiliated by the rebels, Helen found that God gave her an even deeper love for the Congo people. In 1965 she returned to pick up her medical mission work. She had learned through her painful experience that participation in Christ's suffering is necessary to each of us if we are to fulfill his will in this world.
But when she spoke of her experiences in the Congo, a provocative question repeatedly surfaced: "Why did God let you suffer?"
The reality of a missionary, who laid out her life to serve God only to be rewarded with cruelty and suffering, seemed incongruous. Routinely people in search of answers unburdened their hearts to Roseveare: a young mother whose baby drowned, a girl who was raped --- people who lived in angst, unable to connect the dissonance of life's experiences to the God of the Bible. Her answer became simply to share with them how God had given her faith and strength to overcome her own heart-wrenching trials.
"I don't think I was praying; I was numb with horror, dread, fear. If I had prayed, I think I would have prayed, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" I felt He'd left me. I didn't doubt God. I never doubted God. But I felt, for that moment, that He'd left me to handle the situation by myself.
As these thoughts poured into her mind, Roseveare became aware of a holy presence near her. "I knew with every fiber in my being that God, the almighty Creator, was there," she pronounces with quiet certainty, insisting that God never gives us evil, but takes what is intended for evil and makes it good.
During the pinnacle of her suffering, God spoke to Roseveare in a way that He knew she would understand and accept. "I believe the words that God spoke to me, although I didn't hear them as words, were, "Can you thank Me for trusting you with this, even if I never tell you why?" You know, that's shattering. You and I think of us trusting Him. But the thought that He wants to trust us, that was something very new to my thinking."
He gave her the strength to say yes and she prayed, "Yes, God. If somehow, somewhere this fits for purposes, I don't know how, but yes, thank You, God, for trusting me with this." God did not take away the wickedness, the cruelty, or the pain. It was still there. But He turned her fear into peace.
She was taken away by herself in the middle of the night. As dawn broke, they came to a village. The rebel soldiers had gathered nearly 800 local men into the village square. They had been told they would attend a people's court in which Roseveare would be tried for the things that had occurred the previous week. At the given signal they were instructed to shout, "She's a liar! She's a liar!" They would then be asked, "What will we do with her?" The mandated response was, "Modecco! Modecco!" which meant "Crucify her! Crucify her!" The defendant knew she would die, although she did not know how.
The trial scene began. "They wanted me to go through in detail in front of these 800 men what had happened the previous Thursday," Roseveare says, an audible quiver in her voice. "I wasn't going to speak up in front of all those men. They struck me over the face with the butt end of a gun; I couldn't stand the pain so I spoke up."
The moment of judgement came. Roseveare couldn't see her jury; her eyes had nearly closed with the swellings of the beatings. But she could hear. "I heard a sound I had never heard before and will probably never hear again. I heard 800 strong farming men break down and cry. They were weeping."
Now, instead of seeing her as the hated white foreigner, they saw her as their doctor.
"They have a word in Kibudu, which means "blood of our blood, bone of our bone," she says. "They rushed forward and said, "She's ours. She's ours."
They took me into their arms and pushed the rebel soldiers out of the way.
"In that moment the black/white division disappeared," she professes triumphantly.
"I can honestly say, right through till today, in that area there has never been a black/white division again. We're all one in Christ Jesus."
When she fervently sought the Lord so many years before, she had no idea that God would make her an instrument in bringing about racial harmony.
Why does a God of love allow suffering? For Roseveare that question is, in itself, a contradiction. Love and suffering are inextricably linked. "If you didn't love, you wouldn't hurt," she explains, pointing to her exemplar as evidence. God loves us so much that He gave His own son to the Cross. Because He loves, He suffered, giving us an example to follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)"
The glory far outweighs the troubles. There are these scales, and on one side has been tipped the entire weight of all Paul's troubles, but on the other is set eternal glory. There is simply no comparison between the two. When you pour onto these scales all the glory then that side falls like a lead weight, and the troubles vanish up up and away out of sight, as if that side of the scale were empty. All the tortures and dangers vanish! All the persecutions vanish! All the pain and loss vanish up and up as the eternal weight of glory is poured onto the scales.
Play write Edward Sheldon said it best, "God will look you over not for medals or degrees, but scars."
NO SCAR? BY AMY CARMICHAEL,
Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land; I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar? Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent, Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned. Hast thou no wound? No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, And pierced are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far Who hast no wound or scar?
3. You Must Value Eternal Things Above Temporary Things.
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
Why focus on the coming kingdom while many believers today in the present age are overwhelmed by the millions of people who are killed by civil warfare, AIDS, malaria, and famine? Why be concerned about the coming kingdom when 250,000 lives were lost in a single day in the tsunami of December 2004, when the world faces the threat of the pandemic Asian bird flu, when the lives of many people are lost in hurricanes, and people are dying in wars and terrorist attacks? True, the world has been beset by sin, wars, and disease ever since Adam‘s sin. This is man‘s day and Satan is the god of this age. The conclusion is obvious—this is not God‘s promised kingdom. Jesus is not now exercising absolute regal authority. However, someday the world will be blessed by the fulfillment of His Davidic inheritance. May that day come soon!
Nathan Brown Missionary to Burma, He had been a very successful man who sacrificed all to go to the mission field. People were critic al of him, so he wrote this apology in the form of a Poem
And when I come to stretch me for the last,
In unattended agony beneath coco shade
Or lift my dieing eyes from Africa’s burning sands
It will be sweet that I have toiled for other worlds than this
I know that I shall feel happier than to have died on a softer bed
And when I reach heaven If that one who has so deeply darkly sinned
If One for whom ruin and revolt have held with such fearful grasp
If One for whom Satan has struggled as he ahs for meme
If one should ever reach that shore
Oh how this heart will glow with gratitude and love
And through the ages of eternal years thus say
My spirit shall never repent that toil and suffering once were mine below.