Tuesday, November 08, 2011

There is a better life

There is a better life…Matthew 7:7-11 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Of if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” 

This morning, I am going to speak on the life God has for us – if we are willing to seek it.

Karol often says to me when people are hurting or angry, “there is a better life for them if they would only reach out to God for it.  God has a better life and can help us find a better life.”

In his book, Let Me Illustrate, by Donald Grey Barnhouse, he writes the following illustration titled, “The Poor Millionaire”:

“Several years ago, I preached in a church in the southwestern United States.  When I went into the pulpit on Sunday morning, the pastor whispered to me, “Notice that woman on the front row who is badly dressed and who wears a broken shoe.”

I saw a miserable, pitiful figure of a woman, probably in her late sixties; one foot stretched out to reveal a large hole in the sole of the shoe, the edge of which was so worn that the leather stood away from the sole. 

Her dress was patched and dowdy, and her old hat looked like something out of a rag barrel.  A wave of pity came over me, and my first thought was to give her a few dollars to help her in her misery.

Later, the pastor told me that this woman and her husband had been sheep ranchers, pasturing a large herd on ground that was almost desert.  Their miserable cabin’s toilet facilities were fifty yards away in one direction, a hand-pumped well fifty yards in the other. 

They drove a jalopy of ancient vintage and lived most simply.  Then oil was discovered on their property, and they became very rich.  After a time, the husband died, leaving everything to the wife. 

She was extremely frightened and refused to sign the papers the lawyers brought her.  Her royalties began to pile up.  Drilling continued until there were a hundred wells on her ranch.  Within a few years, she was worth several million dollars, but she spent hardly a cent. 

She still lived in the old cabin, used outdoor facilities, and pumped water by hand.  She still drove the old jalopy.  Possessing enormous wealth, she lived in abject misery.

I pointed out to my preacher friend that her manner of life exemplified the spiritual life of multitudes of believers.  We have been told that we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ, that all things are ours, that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ, and that God has given us all things richly to enjoy. 

God tells us that we have not because we ask not, and ask and do not receive because we ask in the wrong spirit.  The riches are there, the supply is unlimited, but many simply do not avail themselves of all that God has promised, or of even a small fraction.”

How many of us can say now, that our lives are so much more, so much better than they were before we became followers of Christ?   God has a better life for each of us planned; we just had to reach out and ask for that better life. 

This better life in and through Christ is a journey, a process, which is still in progress yet today for each of us.   God is never done with any of us with regards to giving us that better life he has for us.

We often speak about God being our father.  But, not all of us had wonderful biological fathers.  We all had imperfect fathers who struggled with their own baggage and issues.  So, none of us has the right picture of what a perfect father is like in our own minds.  God is a perfect father because his wish for us is right relationship with him, and with each other. 

God loves each and every one of us as though we are his only child.  He wants the best possible life for each and every one of us.  We must just ask for him to help us follow him and what he has for us to attain that better life.

When Katie was little, she was not shy about asking for our help.  Any time things became the slightest bit difficult, she would look to one or both of us, her mother and father, and say, “A little help here….”

God is there for each and every one of us when we reach out to him asking for him to help us find that better life he has for each and every one of us.  We also need to be able to say to God, our perfect father, “A little help here…”

And here is the key.  Although this is the charter of prayer, it lays certain obligations upon us. In Greek there are two kinds of imperative; there is the aorist imperative which issues one definite command. "Shut the door behind you," would be an aorist imperative.

There is the present imperative which issues a command that a person should always do something or should go on doing something. "Always shut doors behind you," would be a present imperative.

The imperatives here are present imperatives; therefore Jesus is saying, "Go on asking; go on seeking; go on knocking." He is telling us to persist in prayer; he is telling us never to be discouraged in prayer. Therein lies the test of our sincerity.

As a pastor, I don’t want to see anyone living below their potential or without this better life; I want everyone to have the best possible life that God has for them. 

However, I do see too many Christians who have gotten stuck and aren’t moving forward in walking that road of that better life.  Sometimes, the journey towards that better life is slow and painful, other times we just breeze right through.

As many of you know, Karol went into early menopause over 4 years ago.  What most of you don't know is that for the past five years until literally May, she hasn't really felt the presence of God in her life. 

She continued in her faith, she continued to worship and believe, but she told me that she felt like she was locked in a bank vault with thick steel between her and God.

She read on the Internet that some women go through a “spiritual crisis” for no reason during this time.  This actually relieved her.  She decided that it was one of the things she was going through and she just had to wait it out. 

She knew how God had intervened in her life, her families' lives, our lives, friends' lives, and even the lives of people she didn't know very well.  She had seen it, felt it, and lived it, but during the past five years, she felt the road she was walking was hard and dry.

Just since mid-May have things really changed for her.  We are having the parties like we have always had during our marriage until the past few years.  She tells me now that her communication with God has come back with a vengeance – vengeance in a good way.

Many of you may go through dry, hard times in your journey to that better life that God has for us both here on earth and eternally in heaven with him.  Hold onto those things in the past in which you know that God was at work or was speaking to you.  God's promises are true; God is ever-faithful to us. 

In difficult times, hold onto what you know and have experienced about God in the past.  Hold onto it tight, "Go on asking; go on seeking; go on knocking."

I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me or any of you, so I will say this, No matter what happens, our hope of a better life is in the Lord. 

We were at a minister's BBQ on Friday night and Merrillyn Emery said that she had just read this in the past week somewhere, “When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.”

If our hope was in our government or our politicians, then God help us!  If we trust in the wrong things, we have a 100% chance of being disappointed.  In fact, about our politicians, I would say the opposite, “When they are up to something, we are down to nothing.” 

Everyone has these times of not feeling God's presence, but Psalm 145:13-14 remind us to persevere step by step day by day no matter how we are feeling,

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.  The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  14 The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

When Paula Williams was the children's director here, she and I had a conversation about how we should live our lives and she said something to the effect, we can't let our feelings determine our actions because feelings lie.

In difficult or dry times, it is so easy to become discouraged, to lose hope, but our feelings can lie to us, telling us to believe things which are not true.

When my mother was dying of cancer, I remember Karol saying, our hope isn’t in modern medicine, our hope isn’t in any doctor or any treatment, our hope isn’t even in a miracle or even in our very lives here on earth, our hope is in the Lord.

At that point in time, I was feeling hopeless and my feelings were lying to me.  But, thankfully, my wife reminded me that our hope isn't in this present life, our hope is in the Lord.

Today, I want to remind you of that hope and also to remind you that God is always there as our perfect father when we ask for “A little help here,” to assist each and every one of us in finding and living that better life he has in store for each and every one of us.

We have to continue and "Go on asking; go on seeking; go on knocking."

No comments: