Hope In These Troubled Financial Times: Part 4

Uncertainty prevails.  Many of us have lost much of our retirement.  Many of us are unsure of our jobs. The war rages on.  The government is putting our country into crushing debt, with deficit spending.  Countries are calling for the creation of a global currency to replace the dollar.  Our future is dark.

Darkness is the illusion.  When we look at the world we are looking at the illusion.  We have convinced ourselves that the world is light and the spirit cannot be seen. The Apostle John disagrees in his Gospel (1:4,5). “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

We are still living in the curse and the world is hard.  We can be living in Christ’s light where we would not worry about “what we shall eat and what we shall wear”.  Which takes us back to where we started.

The journey I have laid out for you is the journey out of this world into the light of Christ’s promises:

In Part One, I shared with you Christ’s command, from Matthew 6:25-34, to not worry about the troubles of this world (”what we shall eat and what we shall wear”) but to seek first His Kingdom.  That is achingly simple yet seemingly impossible.

In Part Two, I discussed how the curse God placed on us through Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-19) focuses our attention on worldly matters and distracts us from His Kingdom.

In Part Three, I claimed that too many us Believers live our lives as slaves to the curse of Man because we overlook Jesus’s triumph over the curse in Luke 4: 1-14.

Virtually all of us live our lives fighting the Curse.  We are thrilled to accept grace, salvation and redemption as the promises of God. But we miss some of the true promises of Jesus: to discover Him, to walk with Him, to build a relationship with Him, to spend our life on Earth seeing the world though his eyes.  Instead, we spend our lives struggling for safety, security and love.

Why?  Because look outward through our eyes, rather than inward to the Holy Spirit.  Christ sent the Holy
Spirit to be with us until His return.  The Holy Spirit enters our soul when we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour and dwells within us for our days on this earth.  It is the Holy Spirit within us that shines light on the spiritual world and enables us to transcend the difficulties and uncertainty of the physical world.

In order for us to overcome the pull of the physical world we see with our eyes and to experience the peace of the spiritual world we must embark on a journey.  We are called to a pilgrimage to the light of the world.  Ours is not to a place, but to within, where we can gaze upon the light of the world and see the true beauty of creation.  Our pilgrimage is never ending but redemptive. Our pilgrimage is not made up of steps but of disciplines.

To see the “light of men’ (John 1:5) you must first “seek His Kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).  Seeking is an active verb and you and I must actively search out the Holy Spirit within us.  Many authors have provided great guidance on the disciplines involved in this seeking pilgrimage we are called to.  One of the most highly respected of the modern works on the disciplines of the pilgrimage is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.  In the book he discusses 13 inward, outward and corporate disciplines.

Until the books arrive from Amazon, I suggest that you immediately begin practicing these five:

  1. Prayer- set aside an amount of time each day to pray in a quiet place.  Pray for God’s will, pray for healing, pray for insight, pray for others, pray for yourself and listen.  Then pray throughout your day.  Pray thankfully about good things that happen during the day, pray for peace during period of times of stress, pray for those sitting with you in the boring meetings.
  2. Study- set aside time each day to study God’s word.  Set aside time each week to discuss God’s word with other believers.  Remember that all of your disciplines are steps to a redemptive relationship with Christ so don’t think of this a school work.  Spend time in the Word not to determine propositional truth.  That is folly.  Study God’s Word quietly, seeking his guidance for you.  Hear Him speak to you through his words.  The Bible is not so much the world’s answer book, but the map of your pilgrimage.
  3. Submission- Now we hit a hard one.  This means giving up yourself to Him.  Step one is to submit to the first two activities described above.  Through prayer and study God will reveal other areas of your life, at first small and then more and more, that you must give over to Him.  Remember Matthew 6?  The whole “do not worry but first seek His Kingdom”.  That is this.
  4. Service- Reach out to others.  Start with those closest to you.  Serve them.  Do something for them that they will know is just for them.  Don’t expect them to return the favor.  It will feel good.  Then do something small for an acquaintance or even a stranger.  Eventually you will desire to commit time to serving strangers and when you do, you will see the face of God.
  5. Worship (in a Corporate setting)- Revelation 5:13 paints a beautiful picture of worship as seen from heaven: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, all that is in them, singing…”  Visit a Church or a conference with really cool worship and let yourself go.

The trick is to not let the disciplines become discipline.  Keep your head up a smile.  Don’t think of these as tasks to complete.  Enjoy the pilgrimage. You will find that as you use these activities to “seek first His Kingdom” the dread and worry of the world will fade away, regardless of the stock market. You will see all of this is just the illusion.

To learn more about the disciplines check out the books at Amazon

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster

The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard

This is the end of this series.  I don’t know when we will post another series like this.  I hope you remember this:

We were once subject to God’s curse on Man, but today we are only fooled by the curse.  Christ created a path for us to follow on our pilgrimage that enables us to look beyond the horrors of this world to the beauty of the spiritual world all around us.  In order to see that path and stay on that path for our pilgrimage, we must first seek His Kingdom and the best way I know how to seek is to utilize the spiritual disciplines.

My hope for you is peace, so do not worry about what you shall eat or what you shall wear.  Just simply take the first step on your pilgrimage, pilgrim.

Comments

  1. Angie Thier says:

    Thank you, Chuck, for these posts. They’ve really had me and Chuck thinking and talking.

    I found it interesting that you brought up the “Celebration of Discipline” book. I tried to read that about a year ago and just gave up on it because it had such great mystical and almost New Age undertones that I couldn’t quite discern what was worth heeding… Maybe I’ll have to give it a second chance.

  2. chuck says:

    Stick with “Celebration of the Disciplines”. We have seen Richard Foster speak and he is a bit of a Christian mystic but his foundation is solid. Debbie taught a small group study of Celebration of the Disciplines. Take them one at a time. You already engage in many of the these practices, but add the others one at a time. As you know, there is much more to experience in the Christian walk than most churches explore.

    Just remember, each one of these disciplines is a tool to develop a deeper relationship with Christ. None of them are the goal and none of them are requirements for being a Christian.

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