THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY APPEAR TO BE
Today’s Bible readings are Isaiah 3:1-5:30, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, Psalm 53:1-6, & Proverbs 22:28-29
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Not every good thing is a God thing”? I have recently been thinking about this. I believe that we often get ourselves into unnecessary jams by going after good things. They aren’t necessarily bad things, but they definitely aren’t the things that God wants us to pursue.
How many people have veered from the plan of God for their lives in the pursuit of money? How many people do you know who stopped chasing after God so they could go to the lake on the weekends? Have you ever known somebody who was so wrapped up in sports activities that they had no time left to serve in the kingdom? Or how about the person who is so bent on a job promotion that they forfeit their heavenly promotion?
These kinds of things happen all the time. People get chasing after the wrong things. It is not that any of these things are bad or sinful in & of themselves; it is just that they often appear to be good, but if they take our focus away from Christ then they ALWAYS cost us in the end.
I had a friend who really wanted a better paying job. He had a job. It just didn’t pay as much as he thought he was worth. He talked to me about taking this new job. At the time, it didn’t seem right. This new job was going to take his weekends away from him. That meant he would miss church. His new job was going to be a second shift job, so this meant now church or small groups during the week. All of the things that had kept him strong & stable were going to be forfeited for a few more dollars each week.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out well for him. He ended up backsliding. What he thought was going to make his life better ended up costing dearly. When he finally made it back he was in worse shape financially than he was before. And now he was unemployed.
This is the craftiness of the enemy. He is a master of offering something that looks good to distract us & pull us away from what is God. We have to be determined to not let this happen in our lives.
I can remember a time in my own ministry where I got distract in a similar way. I use to think that the only way I was going to prove to be a successful pastor was to have 1000 people attend our church. There is nothing wrong with this. It is not a sinful thing to desire such a goal. Yet, the longing for this became greater than my longing for Christ. I wanted growth more than I wanted Jesus. I had to have focus shift. Thank God for the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Here is what I have learned to do to help keep me in God’s will & not just my own. I am learning to pray more like Jesus taught us to pray. In His teaching on prayer for the disciples He taught them:
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
So often, when we pray, we come to God with our list of things that we want Him to do for us. Many of these things are legitimate. They are not sinful, but they may not be His best for us. His best is not what looks the shiniest. His best is not always the thing that looks the most glamorous. In fact, God’s best usually looks the simplest.
Think about Jesus. There was nothing fancy about Him. There was nothing about His appearance that drew men to Him. He was pretty ordinary on the outside. He was not the most glamorous leader of the day, but He was God’s best. Listen to what the scripture says concerning Him:
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
This only reminds me that the things & desires of God are not nearly as grandiose as the church has made them out to be. When it came to the Savior of the world, HE was a pretty simple man on the level of appearance. That is why many missed His first coming. They were looking for something much more jazzy & flashy. My prayer is that you don’t miss His second coming while looking for & chasing after the same things.
Pastor Richard Schlotter