08 August 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Setting My Mind

Set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things."
~ Colossians 3:1,2 ~

I've been reading the book Heaven, (Randy Alcorn) this summer, slowly "cud-munching" my way through this challenging and encouraging look at Jesus-followers' eternal future in Heaven and a "resurrected, renewed and restored universe." In recent days, I've particularly been meditating on these paragraphs, these verses:
Asaph says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you" (Psalm 73:25) This may seem an overstatement - there's nothing on Earth this man desires but God? But he's affirming that the central desires of our heart are for God. Yes, we desire many other things -- but in the desiring them, it is really God we desire. Augustine called God "the end of our desires." He prayed, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
Suppose you are sick. Your friend brings a meal. What meets your needs -- the meal or the friend? Both. Of course, without your friend, there would be no meal; but even without a meal, you would still treasure your friendship. Hence your friend is both your higher pleasure and the source of your secondary pleasure (the meal). Likewise, god is the source of all lesser goods, so that when they satisfy us, it's God himself who satisfies us. (In fact, it's God who satisfies you by giving you the friend who gives you the meal.)

When I speak... of the multifaceted joys of the resurrected life in the new universe, some readers may think, But our eyes should be on the giver, no the gift; we must focus on God, not on Heaven. This approach sounds spiritual, but it erroneouslydivorces our experience of God from life, relationships, and the world -- all of which God graciously gives us. It sees the material realm and other people as God's competitors rather than instruments that communicate his love and character. It fails to recognize that because God is the ultimate source of joy, and all secondary joys emanate from him, to love secondary joys on Earth can be -- and in Heaven always will be -- to love God, their source....

All secondary joys are derivative in nature. They cannot be separated from God. Flowers are beautiful for one reason -- God is beautiful. Rainbows are stunning because God is stunning. Puppies are delightful because God is delightful. Sportsa re fun because God is fun. Study is rewarding because God is rewarding. Work is fulfilling because God is fulfilling.

Ironically, some people who are the most determined to avoid the sacrilege of putting things before God miss a thousand daily opportunities to thank him, praise him, and draw near to him, because they imagine they shouldn't enjoy the very things he made to help us know him and love him.

God is a lavish giver. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). The God who gave us his Son delights to graciously give us "all things." These "all things" are in addition to Christ, but they are never instead of him -- they come, Scripture tells us, "along with him." If we didn't have Christ, we would have nothing. But because we have Christ, we have everything. Hence we can enjoy the people and things God has made, and in the process enjoy the God who designed and provided them for his pleasure and ours.

God welcomes prayers of thanksgiving for meals, warm fires, games books, relationships, and every other good thing. When we fail to acknowledge God as the source of all good things, we fail to give him the recognition and glory he deserves. We separate joy from God, which is like trying to separate heat from fire or wetness from rain....

Every day we should see God in his creation: in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the friendships we enjoy, and the pleasures of family, work, adn hobbies. Yes, we must sometimes forego secondary pleasures, and we should never let them eclipse God. And we should avoid opulence and waste when others are needy. But we should thank God for all of life's joys, large and small, adn allow them to draw us to him.

That's exactly what we'll do in Heaven . . . so why not start now?

God doesn't want to be replaced or depreciated. He wants to be recognized as the source of all our joys, and he wants us to draw closer to him through partaking of his creation. My taking pleasure in a good meal or a good book is taking pleasure in God. It's not a substitute for God, nor is it a diestraction from himn. In the words of the Wesminster Shorter Catechism, it's what I was made for: "Man's chief end is to glorfy God, and to enjoy him forever."
this week's gratitude list:
(#s 1390 - 1430)

sadness because her visit is over and she's gone

looking forward to finding a routine again

snuggly babies at naptime

singing songs I love

listening to girls singing songs I love

meditating on Moses

blooming trees

onion rings

hearing her laughter in the midst of frustration... "kala suru"

walking for exercise

dreaming of the future

aloneness and quietness

picking friends up at the airport

little hands learning to wash dishes

pony tails on the top of the head

bargaining at the market

shopping after a rainstorm

organized bookselves

icy breezes after a stifling hot nigh

playing word games

gusty wind one night while walking

having my girl asking to walk with me

watching him singing songs, reading the words from the overhead for the first time

questions about baptism

his first celebration of the Lord's Table... and his excitement to be a part of it

several cooler days

imagining Heaven

wondering what this week will bring

a cup of hot tea, sweetened with honey, and a favorite friend

lessons learned from failure

questions but no answers teaching me to trust

loneliness when I let it drive me to the most important One

summer school coming to an end

puppies learning

our cat regaining her health

hoping to be in our house by the end of the month, maybe...

little girls starting school last week - and doing so well with it

lots of tanties oohing and aahhing over my sweet ones

going to see Safana... it had been too long... I must go visit again, soon

sharing with my friends that "Thru the Bible" really is on the air, every week night, here in Niamey

homemade cough medicine

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading your list of blessings! Thanks for sharing. "Through the Bible" ...learned so much from just listening in to that while my Dad did the official listening. You never know what the little ears are picking up in the background!


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