This has been an often revisited topic on this site. I’m putting this page up just to make it interesting.
Thank you, Jesus: I think that we take for granted too many of the gifts that God gives us. Have you ever thought that when God takes something away from you, though many times he takes things that hurt us, or takes things to test our faith, but that there may be times when God is saying, ‘I have given you a gift, but you did not make any use of it whatsoever for my glory. Therefore I am disciplining you by taking it away’?Here is a list of glorious things that God has given to me, that I might take for granted. I often fail to remember that life is short.
Time: I think we will all recognize this one. Time with other believers. Time with our non believer friends. and our time by ourselves. Le’ me just give you a quick example of a time with another believer that I wasted. I was helping a friend of ours, Mr Lanny, move to his new home. He is in his sixties, and has been a Christian much longer than I have been alive, and is one of the wisest men of have ever met. During that time, I had several opportunities of speaking with for long periods, as we drove back and forth to his house. But in stead of taking the time to fellowship with him, for the most part I simply sat back and took a lazy nap. Later, when I thought about it, I felt immensely guilty for my foolish disregard for the privilege I had. It was as if Christ had said to me, ‘you should have taken advantage of that time. You may never have such a chance again.’ you can imagine how this felt. A little afterwards, I wrote this down in my journal: “O, that life were a little longer, a thousand years perhaps, for if I spent my entire earthly life striving towards holiness, in the end I would be little better than the lowest saint.” I have wasted to many years of my life. I cannot afford to lose any more. But I will expound no more on this point, except to remind you “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.”
The nearness of God: this is something we seriously take for granted. I used to think that if you were a Christian, you would live continually live in the prescence of God. But over the last few months, I have come to see that this, like faith, comes in many different volumes. God can at any moment take his nearness from us, not completely, for that would be a terrible thing indeed, but to the extent that we no longer feel that nearness. Gives it out of extreme grace, that we may use it to learn to follow him even more, but when we get to comfortable, and begin to take that grace for granted, or when we look to sin, he takes it away, in order to discipline us, andor to depend more wholly on himself.
sermons, studies, books, ect: have you ever sat in on a sermon, or bookbible study, or in your private studyworship, and no matter how hard you think you’ve tried, You just can’t get anything out of it? ‘I can’t get a thing out of this’ you say. ‘There has got to be something wrong.’ well, something is wrong. It’s you. ‘But even when I try to get back on focus,’ you protest. ‘I just cant seem to keep my thoughts from wandering.’ the problem is still you. There are one of two reasons why this is so: either you weren’t adequately prepared in the first place, or you are trying to focus on what you are hearing, instead of on Christ. I know about these things. I’ve been there.
I also know this: if you can’t become focused, you say, ‘might as well just make note of it. I will do better next week. Besides, there are lots of sermons to hear. If I get the CD, and study all afternoon, and do better next week, this one doesn’t matter, does it?’ Yes, it does. One sermon once lost is lost forever. You may have just missed the last good sermon you could ever hear, though it is highly improbable. You may think, ‘well, in the long term view of things, one time doesn’t matter, does it?’ Yes, it does. There may be something glorious that the spirit will teach us if we just listen, while the lesson we will learn if we don’t listen is likely to be much harder. In the long term view of things, we have got to remember that every sermon, every chapter read, every book study, is a gift from God. We can’t take them for granted, and pass them by, just because we think we have a good excuse.
talking back to God: this list could go on for pages and pages [posts and posts], but I think I will leave off here, and add a thought about the way we feel about things that God may take away.
Oftentimes, when God removes a blessing, or even if it is something that is our fault, such as missing a sermon, we often like to try to blame God, or to badger him into giving us what we want. We forget that we really didn’t deserve it in the first place. We feel that God isn’t letting us have the right thing at the right time. We should remember that if God isn’t giving what we need, well, we don’t really need it after all. We just think we do.
When we lose our focus a sermon, we like to say ‘O, God! Send your spirit down, quicken me, that I may hear your words.’ Here we like to add that sometimes abused sentence ‘for your names sake,’ that is so convenient for such times. “Hold it, Jacob!” you say. “your taking this to far. You are saying that we shouldn’t look to God when we do wrong?”
No, I am saying that we like to use what seem like nice prayers to say, ‘Now, God, I want you to help me not to feel guilty. I am distracted, and that makes me uncomfortable. So, if you don’t do anything about it, it is now officially your fault.’
I think the more fitting prayer for such occasions is really something more like, ‘Now God, I know that I have not done as I should. My heart has not been focused on you, and I have missed a would be blessing. I am a weak human, and sometimes it is easy to lose focus. But you are faithful even when I am not. If you are punishing me, I pray you give me the strength to bear it with patience. I pray that you do not deal with me according to my shortcomings, but according to your mercy. In Christ name. amen.’ we need to learn to be humble, and to make the best of every sermon, every time in God’s presence, every book study, every blog post that we write, every moment with ourselves, with non-believers, with believers, and every chapter in every good book that we read. We only have one chance to go through life. We have to stop taking things for granted.
Obviously, over the past week, a lot of things have been on our mind. With Thanksgiving, there came thoughts of food, what we were thankful for, food, fellowship with friends and family, food, etc.; with Black Friday and the upcoming Christmas, there came, well, materialism. (and lights. And really great songs on the radio). I choose to zoom in on just one of these: namely thankfulness, or the lack thereof.
On Thanksgiving, as per our tradition, we went around the table, (us and the fifty odd people that were there) and said exactly what we were thankful for. I usually participate in this blessed time, but I guess I was too laid back this year. My dad asked me if I wanted to say anything, but I kinda brushed it off. But a brother of mine, who was sitting across from me, asked a simple question that shook me to the core. “Do you think you should?” it sounds simple enough, but it started me thinking. When he asked that question, I saw that one of the things I am, or should be, thankful for most, is having Brothers and Sisters around me at home and at Church who love Christ and who I can expect to held me accountable. But I sometimes miss that.
If someone were to ask me what people influenced me most by there life and testimony, and their love of Christ to the last, I would say: George Muller, A.W. Tozer, Jim Elliot, and Amber Mathenia. Of these four, I had the immense blessing of knowing one personally.
But, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know her well enough. It still amazes me of how little value we put on the time we have with people. This issue has been burdening my heart for a while, but I’m not posting because I finally started to score points on it. Quite the opposite. I slip up as much as anyone else, and more than most, on how well I value people and the time I have with them. Our life is but a vapour. We have only so long to share the love of Christ. But then, the same could be said of those around us. We have only a short time to share the love of Jesus with each of them, before they are gone from before us, whether the Lord has taken them home, or they’ve just, well, moved. Gone to college. Transferred to another Job. Whatever it may be. And I am not just talking about having deep, theological discussion with people. I mean just knowing them. Loving them. Being there for them, if they need you, before it’s too late.
That’s one of the things that still amazes about Ms. Amber’s life. She was dear to everyone that knew her. And she wasn’t the sort who tries to start a conversation, but you feel awkward. When you were talking to her, you almost sense that she really cared. Or, that she cared for you because she cared for Christ. I was amazed when I went to Ethiopia, and found what fond memories of her many still treasure. And I understood from my own experience. She was one of the first to speak to me about the things of Christ after I had given my testimony. That was how I knew her, till the Lord saw fit to take her home.
Not enough people know the value of every second they have around their fellow pilgrims. I know I don’t. we need to see its important, especially in a Church or family, to make sure we know people. We need to get past being content to have our little knot of friends, and never going beyond them. I think having certain people whom you like and enjoy being around is a natural thing. But you aren’t always with them. If there is someone that you are around a lot, you can’t be content to say, “I didn’t know them very well.”
I hate to get personal where the whole world can see, but I should apologize to those readers of this blog with whom I come into contact on a regular basis. I should make more use of the short time that I have. I’m the sort who feels awkward around people who aren’t the people I am magnetized to every time I see them. But I need to realize that every second I have with you is a gift from God. As is every second any of us have with any one.
We young people especially should see the value of our youth, and the time that God has given us with older believers. We are to learn from them. We should be able to listen to them as they tell of the goodness of Christ in their life. Because they won’t always be here, and whatever place they leave, we will, eventually, have to fill. Would it not be a shame if we weren’t prepared before-hand?
A modern catchphrase is, “Look to yourself for inspiration.” It’s pretty stupid, but it fits into the hierarchy of inspiration, being:
Look to yourself, (lowest)
Look to others
Look to the person of God. (highest)
Now what I’m about to write is inspired by reading something another person wrote about all the blessings we have that we do not even realize. I used to talk about this a lot (these three times, to be exact: one, two, three). It is still true: if we counted what we had with its true value, we might give God a little more of that “momentary praise” that He deserves.
What do I mean by that? I mean that if all the praise of all men and Angels from eternity were compressed into one moment of time, and that praise were given by me, that would still be not a fraction of the homage He deserved from that moment alone, from me alone. He has design to gain the utmost praise from His creation to all eternity, but that doesn’t mean the Infinite One is not still infinitely more worthy than anything that can ever be given. This is comforting, since we know that we can never praise Him too much. Now He does give us those moments of divine ecstasy in which we seem to overflow with praises, but even in these we still know nothing as we ought to know; indeed, He seems to train us to praise Him, for if He was to give any more “above what we could ask or think” than He does already, it seems we would be killed by the overwhelmingness of it. But, but, what of those times when our thoughts depart from His praises? not in the necessary offerings of work and such, but in the times when we are “free” to think? What of those lost moments? That we take for granted.
Obviously, we cannot while our time away lamenting what is lost; for one of the best ways to redeem moments is to remember what we’ve been given: this requires we remember what we truly deserve. Not “nothing.” But all the supreme negatives are what ought fall to our lot, if you consider just how worthy God is of everything we fail to give Him. Just think: Church, friends: blessed brothers and sisters in Christ; families, art, education, breath.
Think of the greatness of breath! Every time you take a breath, the foreknowledge and power of God is working. All the events in history, everything that has kept this world spinning, has been leading up towards that one breath. That breath was not the purpose of it all, but it was thought of before the world began. Every time you go out into the woods to get alone with God, He knew that when He created the first pine tree, its descendants would be sheltering you at that very time! Once begin contemplating everything that gets by us in day to day living, and it becomes vibrantly alive all our busyness.
And all these things I’ve listed are not necessary to our happiness: a shame when we think it so. Only Christ is: but God has given all these things to teach us more about Himself. Let’s not take them for granted.
How appropriate that verse which the aforementioned writer used: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…He does not treat us as our sins deserve…” Psalm 103:8, 10
This is one in the long string of “things we take for granted.” But it may be the gravest.
“David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Holy Spirit trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting manual labour. The figure is striking but does not overstate the facts. The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians, as an illuminated frontispiece and leather binding make a deluxe book. The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds.
“Without exhausting the list of things wrongly taken for granted I would mention one more: Millions take for granted that it is possible to live for Christ without first having died with Christ. This is a serious error and we dare not leave it unchallenged.
“The victorious Christian has known two lives. The first was his life in Adam which was motivated by the carnal mind and can never please God in any way. It can never be converted; it can only die (Romans 8:5-8). The second life of the Christian is His new life in Christ (6:1-14). To live a Christian life with the life of Adam is wholly impossible. Yet multitudes take for that it can be done and go on year after year in defeat. And worst of all the accept this half-dead condition as normal.
“For our own soul’s sake, let’s not take to much for granted.”
Young friends who read this site -dear, dear friends- I have in company failed you in every way. But take seriously what this man says, for the good of your souls. Christ has spilled His blood not for our leisure, but He’s means to show us the urgency of our position. Do not take anything for granted.