In the Fog with Eternal Fuel

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Matthew 6:31-34:

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

All of us are driven by future orientedness in someway or another. People are fueled by hope, it’s an innate desire which God has provided us to be applied to a relationship with Jesus.

We all struggle with future orientedness because it is much easier to apply hope to physical things. The problem: physical things don’t last and we have to work harder each time to find something physical to hope in since we realize at the end of our hope that what we’ve put our hope in is unfulfilling. It’s like a tunnel at the end of the light when we get to it, and a light at the end of the tunnel when we pursue it. After all, we are only fulfilled in the pursuit of things.

2 Cor 4:18: “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Think about the end of school when you were a kid, everyone gets on the bandwagon of hope: “Once school’s over, life will be great!” It’s interesting how no one remembers how the past 10 summers were unfulfilling when they got to the start of summer.

Everyone puts their hope in something worldly and pulls fuel from that hope. It’s easier to hope in something you can see. But what’s the benefit of putting your hope in something that you can’t see? Like 2 Cor 4:18 says, it’s eternal, therefore, you can hope in it for your entire life. The hope that is given to us when we admit we are sinners, repent from our sins, accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and follow Him-praying to Him and hanging out with Him, is an immense one that can only be provided by Him.

One scripture in particular sticks out to me:

Ecclesiastes 7:14

14 When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.

See, God doesn’t want us to know about the future, He want’s us to live in the moment and see how to live with Jesus right now, today. God keeps a fog in front of us so that we can take meaningful steps today. After all, how can you see the fire under your feet unless you look down? If you are looking too far ahead, you’ll automatically step on that fire, but like the picture above, you can always see the cross above all the fog-the hope of eternal life through Jesus alone that keeps us going.

The only way to live for today is to shift our hope in physical happenings in this world to the eternal joy that can only be found in Him. After all, happiness is based on happenings. If your house burned down today or your laptop got stolen, would you still be joyful?

Things to pray for:

-Pray for God to reveal to your family, friends, and enemies the unfulfillingness of the things that are seen and that God will draw them to Him and into a relationship with Jesus-the eternal hope. (2 Cor 4:18, John 6:44)

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From the Car to the Restaurant

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I pulled up to the restaurant, starved. The lights weren’t on so it took us awhile to find it. I walked out of the car. It was freezing, so I threw on a nice warm jacket. I could see the warmth at the end of the cold and knew it was coming, soon. I reached the restaurant glad to be out of the car and in a larger community of people. We usually are fine not being uncomfortable for a short amount of time, knowing that we will reach warmth very soon.

The very same thing is happening to we who are following Jesus right now, making Him Lord of our lives. We are to deny our own flesh, which makes us uncomfortable, cold.

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Cooped up in the Car

The car is our old lives, cooped up in our own fleshly desires, only comfortable in a little zone. We can only sit in the car so long before we get irritated and want things to change. There’s nowhere to go but to the backseat. We often get so cooped up in our ‘car’ (our lives) that we try and upgrade it: leather seats, a sunroof, more gadgets, a little bigger. But a car can only get so big before you feel limited by it. The hope people in the world have in their lives are in the upgrades that they will apply to it. After awhile though, you can only upgrade your car so much before it starts breaking and you have to repair it to have it back to where it was at its best. Additionally, you can only squeeze so many people in it. (Matthew 19:21)

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Putting on the Jacket to Face the Cold

When we accept Jesus into our lives, that’s when we step out of the car and leave our old desires behind. We clothe ourselves with Jesus: the jacket (Romans 13:13-14). He keeps us warm, it’s only Jesus who keeps us warm through the Holy Spirit, and it’s knowing, through the Spirit, that the restaurant is so close and being able to see it. The hardest thing to do is get our friends out of the car to walk with us, but when we do, it’s a very special thing. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

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Keeping the Restaurant in Sight

When we get out of the car fully, we see the restaurant, Heaven, in sight. Thus, we become kingdom oriented, focused on the things from above, not the things in the world (our little car). The warmth that is provided from seeing that is powerful. That hope is immense, and would hardly make combating the cold worth it if there wasn’t anything to look forward to. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

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Walking with Jesus

The path to Heaven is a narrow one (Matthew 7:13-14), not very many people have been blessed with the opportunity to see the restaurant (Matthew 13:14-17), and let alone, desire to deny everything they have built up in their car and tread the path set before them. Most people try and do it without a relationship with Jesus and thus, resort to going back into the car because it’s warm, or assuming they are good enough people on their own. I think of a bouncer at the restaurant door. When you get there, He says, “Where is your jacket?” You say, “I didn’t need it, I just beat the cold and made it through without one.” He says, “It’s too bad, we don’t accept people prideful, impractical people into our restaurant.” (Matthew 7:21-23 & 22:12-14) Your dad goes into the restaurant with the car keys and you are left in the cold, without a jacket, because you thought you could make it without your jacket (Jesus).

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Verses 

Matthew 7:21-23 (The Message): 21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

Matthew 19:21: 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The Value of Trash

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J:

Why do you cast away your trash but not your wallet? Is not your trash of more value than your wallet? Which when used often causes sin to fall upon you? Or to have previously fallen upon Him who died? 

C:

If Jesus said to cast a limb from ourselves if it keeps us from Heaven, much more should we take into account ‘casting away’ material things.(Matt 18:8-9)

J:

For the wallet is more than often used to distract from God and His will (Matt 7:21-23). It is an object that causes greed, which causes death (Proverbs 1:19).

Most assuredly, your wallet will not enter the kingdom of God, and since it will not enter, it will not want you to enter either lest its only companion is lost. (Matt 5:29-30)

C:

The solution? As a daily practice, we must use our wallet both cautiously and sparingly in order to glorify God and seek God’s will in how to use it. We must pray and seek God’s will, through His Word and Fellowship, upon how He wants us to use it, it is a difficult task, I can see why the group of disciples Jesus sent out were instructed to not carry a money bag. (Luke 10:4)

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Verses

2 Corinthians 4:18: “…we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10: He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.

Proverbs 1:19: So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.”

More on $ ( https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/if-i-had-a-million-dollars-i-wouldnt-be-satisfied/ )

If I had a million dollars, I wouldn’t be satisfied.

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Is it good for people to fulfill their desires of hope?

When I make a backing track on Youtube for someone to record vocals over ‘You and I’ or make a video promoting the purchase of the top Electric Upright Bass on the market, it is making the chance slightly better that someone will pursue God. Why? Let’s consider a story first:

1. Story

“A little boy has decided to go out and get some baseball cards. Once he figures out that there is one that is the best, he makes the decision that he won’t stop until he gets Babe Ruth. So he keeps buying cards every weekend, spending all his allowance on it.” Now let’s stop and think, what if the little boy never got the card? He would think that when he got that card, he would be fulfilled. So his hope would still be in that card. If he got it, however, then he would quickly realize that he was putting his energy and getting his life/hope from something useless and unfulfilling. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)

2. Biblical relations

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Think about the story of Solomon in the Bible. He got everything he could from this world, riches, knowledge, wisdom, food, a big house, tons of wives, and lots of other stuff. He states, “all was vanity and grasping for the wind.”  (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Think about where you have treasure. Nearly everyone has treasure on earth; but we must, rather, shift to the mindset that we are merely passing through this world.

In John 18:36, Jesus reminds us He is not of this world; otherwise, his servants would defend Him. Often, we defend something other than ourselves: our stuff, which is of way less value than ourselves.

Hebrews 2:7 reminds us of this saying God has made us “a little lower than the angels”, crowned us with glory and honor, and set us over the works of His hands.

3. The sooner, the better.

Many people think that once they get a lot of likes or thumbs ups on youtube for a singing video, then they will be filled up; not so. The sooner they can find that out, the better; it’s something they can cross off of their ‘fulfillment list’(maybe ‘bucket’ list). Some people also think that once they buy the next thing, an Electric Upright Bass(the best one), then they will be satisfied; not so. The sooner they can find that out, the better. In this sense, it would be better for people (specifically non-believers) to experience all the possibilities of things that could fill them up so that they could see it wasn’t fulfilling.

Regrettably, people go through their whole lives in hope thinking they never were fulfilled because they didn’t get that one house, when they don’t realize they wouldn’t have gotten filled up in the first place, when only Jesus can quench that thirst in being satisfied in the constant pursuing of us to know Him more. (John 4) Jesus even did this in John 3:30. I may be treading on rough theological grounds to argue He was going through a process His whole life even though He was perfect.

The Smiths

A song that comes to mind: Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths. I love this song because it is so true of everybody’s worldly state without a hope in Jesus Christ.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoxTVonejwg

Wouldn’t it be better for someone to get everything they wanted; just so they weren’t driven by something like the hope of getting a big house at the end of their life, or a fancy car? It can even be dangerous in the aspect of children. I hear this all the time: “Once I have some grandchildren, then I will be satisfied.”

As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “he who increases knowledge increases sorrow”; because the more someone gets of anything, besides Jesus Christ, the more of a reason that person has to realize it’s unfulfilling.

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I know someone who has a package in the mail about 3 times a week. He is always getting something that will make life easier for him. It’s gotten so bad and out of hand that he even bought another skateboard just so he could leave one at school and one at home-so he could save 15 seconds unlocking his bike; when will it end? I’ll tell you when: once he gets the most convenient lifestyle and realizes it isn’t fulfilling. In reality, I sincerely hope 20 packages a week come so that it hits him sooner rather than later.

4. Conclusion

This isn’t meant to be a downer post at all, rather, it is intended for us to make less of everything else we put hope in so that Jesus Christ stands higher above material things, knowledge, wisdom, and anything else we ‘get’ in this world; to realize that these things will never fulfill.

Climbing the tree of life

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Have you ever looked at a Christmas tree and wondered why there was a star at the top? One reason could be representative of the star that the wise men followed; I’d like to offer up another one.

1. The tree of life

What if that’s God at the top and we start out our Christian lives following Him from the bottom of the tree? It’s pretty hard to climb a tree isn’t it? You have to step on branches and work against gravity to get up the tree. Compare gravity to the advice the world gives us and what it tells us to do (ie fulfill our fleshly desires, follow our hearts) and branches as events, people, passions, hobbies, and objects placed in our lives.

As we go along, God gives us branches to step on momentarily while we pursue Him to know Him more. But then we stop and think in our foolish minds: “It’s quite a bit easier just to step out on a branch and walk along it for awhile”. Here’s the problem, once you walk out even a little bit on that branch, you can’t look up and see God as well as before; there are other branches blocking your view; you might be able to see part of Him-until you get even farther along that branch. Additionally, it makes it nearly impossible to progress towards God if you aren’t climbing towards Him-it’s dangerous and difficult to jump from one branch to the other. Doing such a jump as this can cause us to fall off the tree completely. Additionally, it’s very dangerous to go out on a branch too far, otherwise, the branch will break under your weight and you will fall.

When we are in following Christ to know Him more, we are given branches as steps to get closer to Him. We need to recognize and appreciate these branches God has placed in our lives, but He never intends us to step out and actually walk on the branch he has intended for us to step on with one foot, maybe two.

2. The tree of life in our lives

New age belief and moralistic thematic deism assume that we will be able to get closer to God in different ways, but these ways require jumping from branches. Think of these branches as excuses and easy ways out of not pursuing God. They can seem inherently good but can ultimately lead to death.

Here’s a classic example: health and well-being. Inherently, this is an excellent thing to apply to your life, but don’t let it become a branch. If you tread too far out on the branch, you will keep striving for the next step to reach perfection in human form and will never reach it; also, you won’t be growing closer to God. Often we can’t see that the branch has an end so we keep walking it. Also, branches are pretty hard to walk on alone aren’t they? Think about trying to keep your balance-it’s nearly impossible unless you go on your hands and knees and give everything you’ve got. We may not have gravity against us, but that ends up being harder, because we don’t have the trunk to hold on to.

The biggest problem is all of us want progress. So we make this branch even more of our life, afraid to step back to the trunk of the tree, not realizing that the greatest progress we can make in our life is to make Him increase and us decrease (John 3:30-It seems like I’m putting this verse in every blog post…)

3. Biblical relations

This analogy of a tree helped me better understand the narrow gate leading to heaven that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 13-14. Truly, it is much easier to go off on a branch and focus on that than on something we can’t physically see. Just look at all of the instances in the Old Testament where people make statues their gods just so they can see them. Every Christian faces branches; in fact, we all have had a skewed view of God at some point because of going too far on a branch and not being able to see God (the star at the top of the tree) through the other branches.

If we are climbing towards God, He will give us branches to step on and support us as we climb closer to Him. We should appreciate and acknowledge these branches He gives us! Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things” (the Gentiles seek) “shall be added to you.”

In Ecclesiastes, we are told even more directly to appreciate these things.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20: 18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.

The things that distract us from God are innumerable. It could be argued that anything in this world other than God is a branch, only meant to be stepped on with one foot-two feet at the most. It’s no wonder Jesus said to enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14). It’s difficult to climb against gravity, keeping are focus on God even when we step on branches that are so easy to step off on and take the easy way out. Thankfully, God gives us a plan laid out in The Bible so that we can focus on Him alone; it’s not easy to climb a tree.

Matthew 7:13-14: 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

4. Navigating the tree

So how do we navigate this tree trunk with branches you ask? Read the Word that God has given us through Jesus Christ and follow Him. The surefire way to navigate this path is to read The Bible, given to us by God Himself. Following other things, even if you are focusing on a famous pastoral figure, will be tainted by sin, which is why it’s good to keep our gaze heavenward. (1 Corinthians 4:18)