“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
II Corinthians 5:1-8 NKJV
Some days are better than others. My earthly house is faltering. I am not speaking of an immanent failure, but of the day to day aches and pains that are a part of my life. Each morning, I rise and power through the day, seeking to accomplish the Lord’s will. Doing what I do in the service of Jesus consumes most of my days and little is spent on worthless things.
I am no longer driven by my own ambitions, for those have been done way with, wiped away by my diminishing capacity. What does drive me, is the guarantee I have from the Lord: the presence of the Holy Spirit who reminds me that there is something better coming, that I cannot now begin to comprehend.
I needed to read II Corinthians chapter five this morning. I awoke with a bit more pain than usual, as my body is overwhelmingly capricious in regard of how it greets me upon rising. As a follower of Jesus, I know that my growing now will eventually give way to a tent that is not filled with pain.
I can tolerate this tent, though I certainly long for a new one, because the promise affirmed by God by the presence of the Helper is far more glorious that reality I can conjure up in my flesh enfeebled mind. I press on, though painfully.
When I think of Paul, I have to consider the things that gave him great grief. He had been blinded by the sight of Jesus on the road to Damascus and had endured much suffering in service to the Lord.
“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—”
II Corinthians 11:24-27 NKJV
Paul endured great pain, yet he pressed on for he knew that something far far better was coming. The things that I endure hav e not come as consequence from my ministry, but from my own indiscretion, as I have not cared for my tent as I should.
As I write this, there are brothers and sisters in the world, in the global church, who are bearing the same wounding that Paul endured. There are people who go into the baptismal waters one day and into the grave the next.
Though the suffer, they press on for they know that something better is coming, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. In light of this, those that serve Jesus should live with the understanding that doing so places one in close proximity to the judgement seat of Christ.
Paul and all those like Him who have felt the sting of persecution, live with a sense of immanence, knowing that eternity awaits. We in this country, America, have become separated from that reality, because we have not felt the persecution. The American church is effectively dead, and not a threat to the gates of Hell.
I suspect that will change fairly soon.
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”
II Corinthians 5:9-11 NKJV
The world is becoming smaller, and the tide is turning against those who call upon the name of the Lord. Regardless of whether one is hot or lukewarm, persecution is coming to household of God.
Brothers and sisters, let us have the same aim that Paul had, that we be well pleasing to the Lord. We will all stand before the Lord at some time, as we who are born again will stand before the judgement seats of Christ.
Let us consider the terror of the Lord, and use every moment that we have to go and tell others of the Gospel. Let us take our testimonies to highways and the byways, telling of how the Lord Jesus saved us from our sins. Let us take them to the word of God and show them.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 NKJV
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”
I Corinthians 15:1-4 NKJV
Let us press on as if each day we serve could be our last. May we be fearless servants of the Most High, redeemed saints bringing a message of hope to a sick and dying world.
Though the work may become perilous, we have a guarantee from the Father, for He has given us His word, and His presence in the Holy Spirit. We are never alone, and our hearts can cry out to Him even in the darkest of times. Let us be led by the Spirit of God, affirming for us that we are His even when the world is against us.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Romans 8:14-17 NKJV
We will see His face, we will know like we never knew before, and all that is unknown will be known. All the pain that we have endured will be gone. All the saints from old and all the saints new will gather for the wedding feast of the Lamb after all the trouble is through of these times are through.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.””
Revelation 21:1-5 NKJV
Have a Fabulous Friday!