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In This Fleeting Life
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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God tells us in His Word what to seek. The trouble with many Christians, however, is that their intentions are compromised. What they seek are not always the things God wants them to be running after.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the basics, that we are to:
But many who profess to follow Jesus follow a self-indulgent route as well. Double-mindedness is not a trait of the Spirit. It is a weakness of the flesh. God is vehemently angry against those who give way to selfish desires when they know better. Notice:
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (Jas 4:4.)
The holy Spirit yearns jealously! (Jas 4:5.) He wants your loyalty to holiness. But as long as you seek to satisfy yourself only by the things of the world, or allow worldly things to steal the prime place that should be reserved for God, your prayers will not be answered.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear (Ps 66:18).
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded (Jas 4:8.)
A Very Subtle Delusion
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES the will of My Father in heaven (Matt 7:21).
Many Christians think that they are headed for heaven just because they have accepted Jesus. They have heard His sayings; they know what He said, but they have become deceived by a very subtle delusion. Because it’s in their heads, they are deluded that they are living the life He commanded.
The illusion is widespread. ‘Easy-believism’ has trapped many! But it’s not the hearers of the law who are justified; only the doers (Rom 2:13).
Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (Jas 1:22).
Unfortunately, many prefer to be misguided!
Today’s Self-Orientated Ones
Tragically, the majority of Christians are living a lifestyle which is not much different from the godless world around them. They seek the same things the world seeks. They don’t love God with all their hearts, and so they don’t have the faith that comes from Him to be able to trust Him and believe in His unwavering faithfulness to us.
They are selfish, self-orientated and physically-minded. Consequently, they are suffering difficulties and lacks which trouble them greatly. Jesus doesn’t want us being troubled (Jn 14:1). He wants you to have implicit faith in Him! But He won’t force you. You have to choose which way is for you.
Some while ago, God gave me this lengthy dream. It portrays a widespread problem of pursuing wrong priorities.
11th May 2006. M. The Secretary.
I was in a room with two other people. A secretary came in. She was dressed for the job. She was smart and 'looked the part' (clearly she was worldly in that respect). Some things were said about the work of God and money in relation to that work. The secretary commented that the wealth was with the western churches (this secretary was in an African country – Kenya, in fact). She said that all these other churches which didn't preach the fulness of God's truth had plenty of money, but that God doesn't give money to 'us'. By 'us' she meant those who subscribe to keeping the Sabbaths and holy days, etc.
I immediately started to correct her. She was not right. God DOES provide for those who are in His will! I was vehement in my response, because she was speaking doubt and unbelief. She didn't have true faith in God. Her trust was in the physical, in the flesh, in money. She was merely looking at things from a human perspective, and didn't know God. That was because her reliance was upon the things of the flesh; she sought to BE someone, hence the way she dressed to look good in the eyes of others. She wanted to APPEAR 'with it' to them. That is seeking the approbation of others. It's not seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33) upon which God's promise of provision is predicated. But she couldn't see what is wrong with her approach, and that evil which is still in her heart.
I started to tell her about Elijah, how God separated him. God told him to take his servant and dog (I'm not sure that Elijah had a servant or a dog, but they were in the dream, so it can apply to others today whose situations are different from Elijah's) and go to the place He told him. There God provided for him, because Elijah just listened to God. He didn't listen to others. He did the will of God. He was not out to gain the approbation of others.
I had barely started this discourse, when the woman tidied up her things to go home. It was the end of her shift, and so she was off home. She didn't stay to listen to what I had to say, so clearly she didn't care. Her comment about not having money (that SHE thought 'we' needed to do God's work in that part of the world) was obviously not one that came from a heart genuinely seeking the mind of God. It was more a gripe. It was from unbelief. Her deeply rooted belief was that God DOESN'T provide, and that the churches who preach falsity have money. So, from her limited viewpoint, she drew the conclusion that God's promise of provision in the Bible is false, and that money comes to those who preach 'smooth things, who prophesy deceits' (Is 30:10).
So, many such people reject God's message of pure truth; they rely upon oppression and depend on deceit (see Is 30:12, NIV).
After she had gone out, I carried on speaking. The words were pouring out of my mouth. They were from God and were a blistering attack on the churches who pander to people, so that they can get money from them, which gives them power and influence.
There was so much vehemence in the words that came from the Spirit! They were a blistering attack on people who compromise, who accept worldly (physical) standards and norms, but whose heart is not on the purity of God and His truth.
As I woke up, I wanted to retain all that there was in the Spirit to be received, but there was so much, I couldn't. In the state of semi-sleep, coming out of the Spirit realm and back into the physical realm, it was not a welcome transition! In the spirit realm, it was so easy to comprehend and to express all that is truth, all that is right and good. But, as soon as you come into the physical realm again, you just cannot take all that with you. After this dream I was longing to be in the Spirit realm again. [The last part is a longing that is partly because of all the aggravation that physically minded people in Kenya have given me!]
Vanity Of Vanities!
It’s astonishing that people can be so stupid as to think that seeking reward in this life is OK for a Christian! God doesn’t deny us anything that is good for us, IF we do sincerely and genuinely put our trust in Him. But where something other than God can steal our hearts and ruin our spiritual purpose, He will simply not let us have it.
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for His soul? (Matt 16:26.)
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes about the futility of thinking that we should seek after the things of this life. He called it all vanity. And the vanity of vanities is to desire something more than God.
Desire can become devotion; and devotion is worship. How you channel your desires – or how you give in to them – determines whether you will live for ever with God, or whether your life will end like all the wicked, in ignominious oblivion!
Ironically, Solomon, who wrote about the vanity of this life’s pursuit, fell prey to the futility he spoke against. His wives stole away his heart (1 Kings 11). He forfeited eternal life.
The path that leads to oblivion is a very easy one to follow. It is natural, as the diagram below illustrates. Conversely, to go the narrow way which Jesus advised, you have to take deliberate steps in a course of action that counters the wrong route.
Only those who are willing to pay that price in personal discipline and effort will have victory and receive the reward.
As you make the effort to take those uphill steps, Jesus helps you through His indwelling Spirit.
THE WAY TO LIFE VERSUS THE WAY TO DEATH
What Is Important To You?
Do you have personal ambitions in this life? Do you want to succeed in terms of worldly wealth, fame or any physical desire? I wonder how many believers have their sights set on temporal goals for this life; goals which they consider very important to them? Many, I think!
The trendy ‘Prosperity Gospel’ appeals to that natural egocentric desire. It translates the promises of God into pecuniary or physical terms. Some heretics blatantly teach that God will give us riches in this life – which appeals to people’s greed – and every good thing, by which they mean physical things. Their physically-orientated ‘gospel’ is an affront to Jesus! (The fallacies of the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ are exposed in A Message To The ‘Charismatic Church’.) It is an insult also to all the faithful who have gone before us, of whom Paul wrote:
These all died in faith, NOT having received the promises... (Heb 11:13).
The promises of God for you as a Christian are NOT primarily to be realised in this temporal life.
The most popular false teachers in the Church today preach a message which strongly infers that you should be able to realise your physical goals in this present life and that God intends you to. They say that is evidence of true ‘faith’ in God.
What do you consider the realisation of things hoped for? A nice home? A good car and other material things? A good income and healthy bank balance? Successful position in your church or in society? Acceptance by business associates and friends? A nice wife (or husband) and good children?
It’s not necessarily wrong to have any of those, if God has given you them, but they are not the realisation of God’s primary promises in your life.
Do you know what is?
All those things are tangible or directly related to tangible reality. Faith is intangible, but that is the true realisation of the things of God for you. Christians should know that. Here are the inspired words:
Now faith is the substance [realisation – margin] of things hoped for... (Heb 11:1).
Faith is the important quality you need first.
For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
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 temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 4:18).
If you read of all the righteous souls mentioned in Hebrews 11, you see that they ALL did not receive the hoped for promises in this life.
These all died in faith, NOT having received the promises, but having seen them afar off [by faith] were assured of them, embraced them [by faith] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (Heb 11:13-16).
Sadly, many Christians are simply not interested in that city that He has prepared for them. They prefer the dirty physical city on earth where they want to realise their selfish ambitions. They want a ‘good’ life here and now, and only when they have had their fill of this life, are they willing to consider giving it up for the next.
The problem is, their desire for this life could well jeopardise their entry into the next! Because their priorities are misplaced.
...those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Cor 5:15).
To live for Jesus as He intends you to, you will forfeit some of this world’s convenience or pleasure. Only if you are willing to give up what most seek for themselves will Jesus consider you an applicant for His Kingdom.
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matt 16:24,25).
That is the irony to a human. But it is the truth, and it is a maxim that you may know well but not perceive its full depth or implications.
Seeking Reward In Ministry
The extent of pride is not perceived throughout the Church. Even where believers have moved on out of dead churches, where pomp and ceremony have replaced the moving of the Spirit, often the ‘Spirit-led’ alternative has its own problems of pride to contend with.
Pride seeks self-fulfilment in this life. Besides the pursuit of physical pleasure and satisfaction, self-fulfilment has a cover in ‘ministry’. You can see it – if you have spiritual discernment – in the drive of big evangelists who think that "might makes right" (Hitler’s old slogan). They think that the more ‘souls’ they can reach, the more successful is their work. It may seem so, physically, but it isn’t spiritually! That’s not what God is looking at. (Amplified in the article series The Church Is Missing The Mark.) The ambition to see numbers converted is actually based on pride. Very few see it.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians to address such misguided ambitions, where the church had lost its way through seeking reward in this life. We are all:
...weak human vessels. God’s strength displayed and made perfect through human weakness is the climactic theme of the epistle (cf 12:1-13:5). This is the very essence of the model of ministry Paul would promote, in stark contrast to the triumphalism or self-exaltation of the false teachers, as well as to some present-day ministerial models. God, in Paul’s day as well as in our own, is looking for suffering servants, not spectacular superstars! (Footnote on 2 Cor 4:7 in NKJV Believer’s Study Bible.)
Don’t expect reward in this life from ministry. Just do as God shows you. Serve Him, not yourself. And be content with NO reward in this life. Realise:
...when you have done all those things which are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have [only] done what was our duty to do.’ (Luke 17:10.) Malcolm B Heap
Bible quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise stated
Our Sabbath Rest (S)
The Controversy Concerning Law and Grace (LG)
The Faith Once Delivered To The Saints (£1)
The Missing Dimension In Christian Living (Mis)
A Message To The ‘Charismatic Church’ (MG6)
The Church Is Missing The Mark (Mrk)
Faith and Healing (£3)
The Secrets Underlying Happiness (Hap)
Revelations From God About The Judgement Of Britain (Jud)
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