Wednesday, February 8, 2017

God Made Your Grandma

My wife, Casey, has begun writing a bit more, and those that help with this blog have okayed for some of that writing to be published here. I think you'll be blessed. 
-Pastor Ben

We all know that suffering is designed by God to sanctify us and to teach us that all we have is Christ.  But what about enjoying God’s good gifts that He gives us? Are these meant to sanctify us and teach us that all we have is Christ? In Joe Rigney’s book Things of Earth, we learn that, yes, even God’s blessings are designed to cause us to become more like Jesus as we enjoy them the way God intended. Have you ever felt just a little guilty for enjoying a vacation by the beach, or maybe a big slice of your grandma’s homemade apple pie, or maybe you’re not sure how excited to be when your child takes first place in his/her activity? We know that it is all too easy to worship the created instead of the creator, so we don’t want to find our joy and identity in earthly things (Romans 1:25).  But after all God did create the beach, and He did create apple trees, and He did give your child the ability to do whatever he/she is good at. Oftentimes our successes and material blessings can help reveal idols in our heart as we find ourselves worshiping these things instead of God.  The seasons of suffering in our lives should cause us to depend on God because our circumstances are difficult.  Likewise, the seasons of prosperity should cause us to depend on God because we know that all is from Him.  These good gifts reveal His character and should cause us to worship (James 1:17). We learn to treasure God by enjoying His gifts. Rigney writes, “Receive God’s gifts gladly, give thanks for them, and then be as generous with others as God has been with you.” He goes on to write, “Gratitude demands humility, since only those who acknowledge their dependence, their need, and their delight in the goodness and kindness of another can be grateful.” We know from the apostle Paul that we are to give thanks in all things (I Thes. 5:18). It is obviously easier to give thanks in all things when those things are enjoyable gifts.  It is therefore sometimes easier to become prideful and self-reliant when enjoying God’s earthly blessings. We must by God’s grace enjoy His good gifts as He intended them to be enjoyed. Seasons of suffering and blessing are both meant to point us toward Christ.  In both our tragedies and our triumphs, God gives us Christ, and that is enough. Rigney closes his book with these words:
“All you have is Christ,
--whether you have him in all the good gifts that he lavishes on you;
--whether you have him in all the gifts that you gladly receive and then freely give away in the cause of love;
--or whether you only have him in the loss of everything else that is precious to you.”

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