Life–from God’s Point of View. 2 Cor. 4:13-5:10 24th Oct 04
Chapters 5 & 6 of Purpose Driven Life 1:
I opted for “A” level Biology at school and our teacher seemed to want us to spend hours drawing what we could see under a microscope. 2 :Like these slides of stained plant tissue, animal tissue, and small plants and animals. Being unable to remember spending much time at school, to that point, actually doing anything relaxing I enjoyed these tasks. I was also amazed at how beautiful many things looked, especially the patterns in plant tissues.
3 : Human tissue is so complex, even at the relatively low magnification of a school microscope.
The sketching made me think about God, and life. We sometimes think of ourselves as insignificant in the eyes of God.
4: Look how big the universe is. Yet God, has eyes better than a school microscope. He deliberately made beautiful plant and animal tissue, so that he can enjoy looking at it, in minute detail, at any time.
Since my school days, what we human’s have been allowed to see, by God, of life, has increased in detail with the electron microscope, ultra sound images and other technical advances. Again not only is it beautiful but complex. 5: See the complexity of a human foetus.
Each cell in our body, has a tiny central nucleus 6: which is made up of 23 different pairs of chromosomes. These can only be seen with an electron microscope. Yet God cares enough, for detail, to even design each gene on those chromosomes.
God has made it all. 6a:He owns the earth, the universe, and he is allowing us, in more and more ways, to share in his enjoyment of it. But we must remember it is His world; - including our lives. We don’t own our lives. Life here on earth isn’t a right.
The way you SEE your life SHAPES your life.
What is your life for? 7:
7a: Do you want fun out of life?
8 : Do you want to get as much, and as many things done as possible?
9 : Do you want to see the world?
9a: Are you a “I am, so I shop person?
10: Do you sometimes feel you just want to get through it?
10a :Or do you see life as a way to please God?
A Christian should be asking, “What does God want me to be doing in this “life experience” he has given me?”
11: (Like interview exercises, for your suitability for, various positions in God’s Kingdom).
The testing times in this life, can be enjoyable experiences or struggles. God is seeing how you cope in both. Observing, whether you consult him in the good, and bad times or not. He may seem far, far away but it is all part of the test. For the exact home you will have in the Kingdom of heaven?
The Good News, is that God helps us to pass the tests, by giving us His grace and His Holy Spirit.
As the Bible says (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT) 11a:
But remember, that the temptations that come into your life, are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
Character is both revealed and developed by tests, and all of life is a test. – God wants you to overcome temptation, to get through each test with him at your side! There is no final pass mark, but you must endure to the end and not give up on God.
12: You don’t get to heaven “your way” only God’s way.
13: As (Rev 2.7) puts it, “Everyone who is victorious will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
14: May be one of the major test for all of us, is what we do with what he has given to us, in TRUST, to look after. Money, family, friends, our church, and the environment.
There are two harvest festival mentioned in the book of Exodus; First Harvest and Final Harvest. Our “Harvest Festival” is equivalent to the Final Harvest.
14a: Consider the Festival of First Harvest :-
Exodus 23:16,19 You must celebrate the Festival of Harvest, when you bring me the first crops of your harvest. When you harvest each of your crops, bring me a choice sample of the first day's harvest. It must be offered to the LORD your God.
God asks for the best, the first fruits of your labour. Do you ensure, he always gets, the first and the best?
15: Money, time and things are both a test and a trust given by God. God watches how we use money, and time to see how trustworthy we are.
If you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches of heaven? (Luke 16.11)
God asks for his tithe out of our income and time, before we allocate it in other ways. He also, sometimes, asks for our only or last possession as a test of how much we love him.
Remember the widow in 1 Kings 17 who was asked by Elijah for a meal. She only had enough oil and bread left to make herself, and her son a meal. But she past the test, given by God, and gave Elijah a meal before feeding her son and herself. She trusted God.
The oil and flour containers miraculously then didn’t run out until after she had harvested the following years crops.
Also remember the little boy in John’s gospel, who gave away all his huge lunch of fives loaves and two fish to try to feed 5000 people? We call it the feeding of the 5000.
How well do you show love to God, his people and his creation?
1 Do you keep in constant touch with God and listen obediently to what he has to say?
2 Do you care for, and love his people, his church, and all his creation?
Life is a Gift from God. He has entrusted it to us to use well in looking after his property.
17: Those who are trusted with something valuable must show they are worthy of that trust. (1Cor 4.2)
When we left the house we had designed and build, “Sandstones”, we entrusted it to a family who were having a house built nearby. They didn’t take care of it, as they would their own. Some equipment stopped working because of lack of attention. Dirt! Cleaning was all that was necessary.
How do you treat others property? How do you treat your own? Remember all things are ultimately God’s. How do you treat God’s creation? Are you trustworthy with what he has given you?
(Could have some car exhaust pollution photos, and pictures of parks, wars, food relief, here)
Remember the parable of the three servants in Matthew’s (23.21) gospel. To the one who was given the most-
18: His master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things”.
But the one who was given the smallest amount, did nothing with it, and so, even that small amount was taken away from him.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is unfaithful with very little will also be unfaithful with much. Jesus (Luke 16.10)
The more God gives you the more responsible he expects you to be. . . . . . .
Compared with eternity life here on earth is - brief, - a temporary assignment, so don’t get too attached to it!
Ask God to help you pray as David prayed, 19:
“Lord, help me to realise how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know I am here for but a moment more”. (Psalm 39.4)
A few years ago, I worked out that the average age of death, of the people on our church funerals database, was 70 years. You may find that surprising; and it is true many were in their 80s and older. But many people died at 54 and less, and this decreased the average.
So if the trend of the last seven years continues some of us may not be here for much longer!
How many of those dying young, I wonder, thought to themselves,
“I wish I had spent more time at work.” Or
“I wish I had spent more time cleaning and decorating the house”. . . .
Or may be some thought, “I wish I had spent more time, being with, and thinking about God”. . . 20:
May be you think life is too short. If so consider other animals.
Look in the garden and you may see Robins and other small birds (have picture), but the fact is that 50% of the birds you see now will be dead before this time next year.
Small dogs (Have picture) and cats usually live to their early teens.
I am pleased that the average life span of a mosquito (20a: have picture) is only two weeks!
A few Malaysian mosquitoes, had me covering myself up from head to toe, despite the heat, and sleeping with a noisy fan blowing. ‘They don’t like drafts’, I was told.
Having met these ambassador mosquitoes for their species, I no longer ignore them, anywhere!
Two weeks life! On second thoughts, being very allergic to their bites, I think that is far too long.
Considering other animal life expectancy, is God mean when people die before reaching 70?!
I called Malaysian mosquitoes ambassadors. How effective an ambassador for Christ are you? Are other people attracted to Jesus through you?
21: The Bible often compares our experience here on earth to living in a foreign country.
Peter says, “If you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth” (1 Peter 1.17)
Our British friends living Germany have three children, all born and educated mainly in Germany. One, Chris, is nearing the age when he must decide if he wants British or German citizenship.
Germany still has a form of national service for twelve months, for men. If he chooses to be a German, he will have an obligation, to his country, to partake in national service.
People who choose to be Christians, and have citizenship in heaven, must not forget where their loyalties, and obligations lie. They must remember there is more to life than the few years on this planet.
If Chris chooses German nationality he will be free to work and visit England. When here, he will have to obey English law, but won’t be free to ignore his duty, and the law of his home country to return for national service.
Christians living on earth must obey the law of the land but are not free adopt the values, lifestyle, and priorities of the world around them, that aren’t God’s.
The Bible says, “You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get. You end up enemies of God and his way”. (James 4.4)
Christians, don’t make your self too much at home, here in the relative luxury, and comfort, of present day England.
22: For the Bible says, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves to cosy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” (1 Peter 2.11)
Many people here today have brought up children, who have now left home. Or you are those grown up children who are free from parent’s expectations and not yet tied down by your own children.
You have the money to spend and time for evenings out, weekends away, home improvements, mobile phone calls, the odd take-away with a bottle of wine, or the many things, which the present affluent west, believe is their right. 23: It is easy to forget eternity in pursuit of happiness and our present privileges which we consider, “rights”. (Cartoon happiness)
Remember life is a test, a trust and a temporary assignment. We are preparing for something much better. “The things we see now are ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. But the things we can’t see now, will last forever” (2 Cor 4.18b)
It isn’t that God doesn’t care. Don’t forget the lilies
Matthew 6:30 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers (lilies) that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!
God does care about your life here on earth, and he also cares about your eternal life. Do you?
Are there things about this life that you don’t like? Worry, stress, physical pain, a feeling of helplessness in some situations? Do you grow weary in your present body? (2 Cor 5.2)
We can’t be completely happy here because this is not our home. It is just a temporary residence. This thought made me think of a Holiday chalet like this one (25: picture).
Would you like to stay there? It really is for hire!
I don’t know what the surrounding of eternal life will look like. 26: I’m not even sure where, for most of the time that will be. May be in heaven. Or maybe on a completely new earth, that looks nothing like this one, which one day will also be God’s new home. But God does assure us it will be good.
26a: 1 Peter 1:4 For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
This earth isn’t a Christian’s final home. For those who “overcome” something much better is waiting.
A number of years ago I was really worried about money, or rather lack of it.
God said to me, “OK what will happen if you don’t get more money?”
“We won’t have enough FOOD”, I answered.
“OK, then what?” “I’ll starve to death”.
“OK, then what”. I’ll join you in heaven. At that time it did really help.
Ever since, when worried, I have tried asking myself, “What is the worst last thing that can happen”. And answering myself, “I’ll go to heaven”. The pains of this life won’t last - life on earth is only temporary.
Sometimes I find comfort in that thought, but I admit, at other times, I just want the problem to go!
The Apostle Paul was close to God, but he spent many years in prison. Physically and materially things looked bad for him, but mentally and emotionally he was content. He was able to say –
27: 2 Corinthians 12:10 Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
28: Philippians 4:12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
Paul wasn’t the only one to suffer on this earth whilst looking forward to the future. 29: In his letter to Hebrews, Paul says of them.
29a: But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them. (Hebrews 11:16 NLT)
In the words of Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven Life book –
When life gets tough, when you’re overwhelmed with doubt, or when you wonder if living for Christ is worth the effort, remember that you are not at home yet. At death you won’t leave home – you will go home.
You will not be in heaven two seconds before you cry out, ”Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time, energy and concern on what wasn’t going to last?”
Then Christian, you will look down on your new heavenly body and smile.
NB :refers to the power point slide number.