Key Word:- FOCUS
Title:- Warped Factor 7 Scotty, Warped factor 7!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The context of our verse today lies in the strengthening of the Christian by Christ our Master, to provide us with the ability to be abased and to be abounding in every place and in every circumstance and situation. “It's no problem” says Paul in our text for today, “I have learned how to do this.” Now I do believe the reception of this truth must first be advanced by clearly seeing three important points.
First, that it is not a sign of Christ's desertion or judgement, indifference or aggression, when Paul is hungry, abased and abandoned.
Secondly, and subsequently then, it was also not necessarily a sign of Christ's faithfulness and pleasure, attentiveness and gentle care, when Paul had more than enough for himself and others.
Now these first two points are fascinating, for they produce imprints onto the spirit of a person, like convex and concave mirrors imprint images of the self onto the mind. In other words, that which we judge when we see, may give a very false representation of what is in fact true. In other words then, don’t believe everything you see! Indeed, Paul appears to be saying here that the presence or absence of either ‘much or need’ may have direct effect on his bodily and social condition, but actually has no affect whatsoever on his position in, or relationship with Christ and when we believe they do, then we are in fact staring into warped mirrors. So never judge your true stature in Jesus by your present circumstance alone! Doesn't Paul say in another place, “Mostly the Holy Spirit has bad news for me anyway so I expect it. It is my calling. None of these things move me.” Tell me, do your circumstances move you?
Thirdly now friend, think on this. Would you consider someone struggling to keep a roof over his head, on the Dole, Medicaid, Social Security; someone derided by his neighbours and near kin and scourged with various illness and misfortune, as someone blessed by God? Of course you wouldn't! However, we may well be wrong! Maybe our judgement according to Paul is not so much like seeing through a glass darkly, but more like looking into a mirror warpedly! (I may have just invented a new word there!). Bottom line is this: we might appear to see right but we rarely judge right and if we don’t judge right then maybe we don’t see right after all?
The challenge may lay in our understanding of blessing. For example, if we want to bless someone, then usually we want to see them prosper, and that prosperity we wish upon them, is for us inevitably within a material context. We at the very least want to bring them up to our level in material benefits. After all, these material things are evident signs to us of God's favor. Aren't they? Well of course they are! Every tele-evangelist tells us so in glorious Technicolor, so it's got to be true. I mean, look at the social fabric of our post Christian society! It may be collapsing in on itself and all around us whilst the chasm of secular humanism is opening it's jaws so wide, that like some great snake it is about to swallow up the people of God whole and alive down into it's torturous and confined, politically correct little belly, yet we still cry out for all the world to hear, that we are truly blessed by God and I mean, just look at all the 'stuff'' we have to prove it! Yes, the slithering is getting louder and the dead scales of the great serpent, cover our feet but we are truly blessed indeed, honest we are! Hmmm? Evidently, we are using the wrong measuring stick. How can we be blessed, possessing so much stuff as evidence of those blessings, whilst Zion-like Atlantis seems to be slipping below the waves of the secular world, forever?
How can we be blessed, sitting rich and happy at the Gates of Sodom and Gomorrah, whilst the smell of unleashed sulphur lingers in the late morning air?
How can we be blessed, when we are cocooned and cosseted into spiritual immaturity, immobility and inactivity by petty little messages from post modern, post Christian pulpits?
How can we be blessed, when our eyes are on bulls and bears and stocks and shares, instead of firmly fixed upon the coming King?
It makes you think doesn't it? Let me ask you this then, if, and God forbid this happens dear friend, but if you were to find yourself destitute, would your heavenly focus and your eternal investment be of such strength and consequence to you that you too could say with Paul, “none of these hardships move me.” Would you shout to your aghast and on-looking family friends and peers, “Hey listen, I said none of these hardships move me!”
It makes you think dear friends, it makes you think. Tell me today, what kind of glass are you looking into? To what factor is your vision warped dear Scotty?
Listen:- “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:18-24.
Pray: - Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches — Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9