First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

How would you finish this statement? "For me to live is _____________."

How we finish that statement reveals much about us; our priorities and general practices in life. Many might finish that sentence with 'work', lending the appearance, at least on the surface that work is the sum of life. Most days are consumed by it. Although less today than in years past, human beings work because work is one way to support and satisfy other needs or wants in life. Nothing wrong with work, mind you or any other productive exercise that God uses to help us live and enjoy life. However, if my health fails and I am no longer able to work, or play, or enjoy the many number of possibilities that are earthly and temporal, what then? If I make choices daily that are centered in and on the pressures of the present world without any regard for what is coming, then am I really living? I may be alive bodily but how am I not living for the wrong world with that pattern?

A paraphrase of Philippians 4:12-13 might read this way-- "I have been humbled through times of poverty and I have experienced happiness in times of prosperity. In all things, I have learned to be full and hungry, both to soar and suffer need. I can do all through Christ who strengthens me."

It is certain that life on this earth will be filled with both hard times and happy times. The constant in both is one's contentment in Christ. According to one of the greatest men who ever lived for Jesus, contentment is a learned behavior which requires constant discipline. Paul learned that. Question is, have you? More importantly, are you?

The only thing that is certain in this life for a child of God, whether I live for 10 years or 100, is Christ. He alone is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, in Christ it is possible to approach the day of poverty with the same, if not greater joy than I experience personally in times of prosperity. He provides for all my needs according to all His riches in glory regardless of what I am experiencing in this stage of the journey. As I bring my body and mind under subjection of His word and His will, then my life will be centered on Christ and not on this world that is daily trying to squeeze me into its mold. As I live in Christ, what this world offers will appeal less and less to me because I realize that it will soon fade away. As I live in His presence, then everything I face, fear and even would like to flee from occasionally gets filtered through His enduring promises, and I am both helped and satisfied.

Truthfully, that doesn't describe very many in this world and fewer than you might realize within the church. And it's that way because most have not yet 'faithed' out the principle that Jesus will not be second to anything or anyone in this life. Jesus is not 'plan b' and will not play along as a participant in some back-up plan of our own design just in case my thing didn't work out as I intended. So long as my desires (and yours) are not centered in His design, I will easily be overwhelmed with discouragement and discontent. The adversary will make sure of it!

Have you been on the roller coaster ride of the world system long? Have you been on it long enough? Are you sick of the 'ups' and 'downs' of promises made and not kept by those whose agendas are based and built on a world system that promotes independence from God? At the next stop; you can exit that circus ride of going around and round, hoping for a different result. Truth is, the only way off that merry-go-round of insanity is by being willing to confess from your heart, "For me to live is Christ." Only then will you and I recognize that to die is gain. And all of life was worth it! With Jesus, it is certain that we can't lose. However, without Him, it is just as certain that no one can win!

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-27--"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."

God will provide for His own richly and reward accordingly. That is certain.

Question is, what kind of wealth will you enjoy as a result of your work here on earth?

Will there be anything of worth, any gain whatsoever when your life is lived, and death comes?

Or will it 'all' have been spent on the circus rides that produce a short-term thrill and leaves you sick in your soul?

I come full circle and conclude where I began; not just with a question but THE question of life. How will you finish this statement going forward? "For me to live is __________."

You have a lot to say about that today. You can rest assured it will say much about you through all your tomorrows.

Proverbs 27:21 says, "the refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, and a man is valued by what others say of him."

I pray you find the real value of life, in life and for life.

For His glory and our good,

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36