A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Living As An Alien In The Land of Promise

On Sunday morning we had testimony time.  If you took all the testimonies that were given, lumped them all together and outlined them, they would all say one thing.  DO NOT BE WORLDLY!  I love being in a congregation where the majority of the congregants are in tune with the Spirit.  And it never ceases to amaze me at how God can relay the same message to so many in such a variety of ways.  

I shared about how the Lord had shown me that there are only two really important things in this life, because there are only two things in life that are eternal.  GOD and the souls of people.  Nothing else really matters because it will all burn away when God renovates the earth.  

To further get this point across to me, God led me to Hebrews 11 this morning, AGAIN.  I've been done reading Hebrews for a while now, but God keeps taking me back there when I'm reading His Word.  Today I found this little tidbit.

Hebrews 11:8-10"By faith Abraham, when was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
Now lets think about this a minute.  God made a promise to Abraham.  God took Abraham to that promise.  But Abraham lived in the promise of God as an alien.  Dwelling in tents implies that at any moment, Abraham could pick up stakes and move somewhere else as God directed.  Tent dwelling is a sign that you do not intend for this residence to be permanent.  It's how Israel lived in the desert until they reached "the promised land."   

So here is Abraham.  He's arrived at the promised land!!!  But still he chooses to live without any permanent roots, as a foreigner lives in a strange country, because he's looking for "a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."  So even in the land of promise, Abraham does not put down any roots because he is looking forward to an even greater promise, the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven, the city of the Messiah. Eternity!

If you read on in Hebrews you will find that ALL those listed in what is commonly known as the Faith Hall of Fame also lived as Abraham, without any roots in this world.  It says all these died without receiving the promises (the promise of citizenship in Heaven), and chose to live as "strangers and exiles on the earth." (v. 13) "But as it is, they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."  (v. 16)

Abraham saw eternity and desired it above every promise and blessing God had given him on earth, including his only son, Issac. Moses chose the promise of God over the riches of Egypt.
"And what more shall I say?  For time will fail me  if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets who by faith conquered...performed acts....obtained promises...shut mouths of lions...quenched powers..escaped the edge of the sword...were made strong...became mighty..raised the dead...and endured terrible sufferings, not accepting their release"......WHY?  "In order that they might obtain a better resurrection:" (v. 32-25)

Now as we look at scripture we have to first ask ourselves "What did this mean to the ones to whom it was written?"  Then we have to ask ourselves "What does this mean to me?"  It cannot mean something different to us than what it meant to them or it is out of context, therefore invalid.  In fact that is where a lot of Christian weirdness comes from!

As I thought about this two words just popped into my head.  ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.  They lived within the perspective of eternity.  Everything they did in faith, everything they did with the promises and blessings of God all focused forward on eternity.  Perhaps that is why they are in the famous Hall of Faith line-up.  Not a single one was attached to this earth.  

Were some famous?  Yes!  Were some mighty? Yes!  Did they have a name to be revered, respected and even feared on this earth?  Yes!  Were some rich?  Yes!  But there were also the cowards, the whores, and the weak ones listed there too.  ALL were looking to the greater promise....the promise that superseded every miracle, every blessing, every temporal experience of earth.  The eternal kingdom of God.  That is what it means to not be worldly.  

I had to ask myself.  Am I a tent dweller?  Do I live as if I could just pull up the tent stakes of what I call "life" and move on to something better?  Do I live as if I look at eternity as something better and more desirable than all the abundance and blessing I have on this earth?  Does everything I do, every decision that I make in life (both big and the little daily decisions) reflect the fact that my eyes are focused on what is to come?  

Or have my blessings become a curse in my life?  Have they grabbed my heart to the point that I no longer hold the "Blesser" in highest regard in my life because I have become too attached to the blessings that He gave me?  Do I live as a foreigner on this earth, just never feeling quite comfortable enough to call it home?  Is heaven a reality in my life?  

And what if God decided to take back some of those blessings?  Would He have to pry them out of my fingers or would I willingly hold them out to Him and say "here, take them.  I've got something much better waiting for me in eternity and I'm willing to give up ANYTHING on this earth to have it?"

Could I give up my nice house, my lucrative job, my status at work or in the community, my schedule, my way of life, this great country that I live in, the comforts that have become normal to me, the proximity to my family members, my health insurance, my life insurance, my security to obtain something that cannot be seen, touched, heard, tasted or felt as I live on this earth?

Am I willing to do as Hebrews 13:13-14 says:

"Hence, let us to out to Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  (And as implied in the verse previous to this, in a sacrificial way, sacrificing ourselves.  Only as a living sacrifice this time and not as a dead one as referenced in this passage.)  For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (italics my own comments)

Jesus is calling us to simplistic, sacrificial, intentional living!  It's so easy to become worldly.  We must watch for it!  Just as varied as the content of the testimonies were on Sunday are the ways in which worldliness will try to invade and take over our hearts, our minds and our lives.  We must keep our eyes on the prize! We must value the prize above all other things!  My prayer every morning is two-fold.  I pray that God would order my day and that everything I do that day I would do with an eternal perspective.  Every place I choose to go, every word I choose to say, every though I choose to dwell on, that they would all be in light of the promise that God made to ALL his children-that we will dwell FOREVER with Him in the city with eternal foundations that cannot be shaken or moved!

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