"Finding the Gold"
Proverbs 3:13-18, John 8:31-32,36, Romans 12:9-21
Pastor Tom Millner
November 1, 2009
"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding – for it is more precious than silver or gold… more than rubies, even, and nothing we desire can compare to it… If you hold to the teachings of Jesus – you are His true disciples – who will know the truth that will set you free – and if He sets you free, you shall be free indeed." (Loosely translated – Proverbs 3:13-18 and John 8:31-32,36)
Human nature is so very interesting, don't you think? For those who believe that God is who he says he is we've received the greatest gift that we could ever receive – the gift of an everlasting kinship to the creator of the universe – and a position of living with His bounty eternally. Yet that fact we relegate to some obscure position as we cling to the snub we got this morning from this, that, or the other person. Isn't it odd that we would let another's preoccupation with themselves and their duties or obligations (about which we have no clue) cloud our whole demeanor to the point of giving up the joy of our worship experience here this morning? That doesn't describe you? Well, maybe it was the argument you had this morning with your significant other – how about the person who cut you off in traffic? Could it be too much month left at the end of the money – or concern over the illness you or a loved one is battling? I'm not trying to minimize true loss or grief – just getting your attention to the fact that He has your back covered! These are the shadow lands, folks – what is to come is the full light of His kingdom where all is clear to us! (Amen?) Grief, shame, and sorrow at our own self-destructive bent are good for our souls as they turn us toward Him who forgives and wipes those transgressions away. What is destructive is to continue to live as though nothing has changed! Satan has a field day with that! What can be just as destructive is to expect that GOD is going to change every event in our lives without our having to make a single effort to see the world through redeemed eyes.
There was once a woman who testified to the transformation that had taken place in her after her acceptance of Christ in her life. "I'm so glad I got religion!" she declared; "I have an uncle I used to hate so much I vowed I'd never go to his funeral! But now – why, I'd be happy to go to it ANY TIME!" (From Greg Cooper)
Research tells us that it takes three to five positives to counteract one negative! No wonder we have to keep hearing the Good News over and over again! So many of us have the victim mentality, as though we're just waiting for the next shoe to drop! I'm reminded of Poo's friend Eeyore… "If it's going to happen, it'll happen to me!"
2 Corinthians 12:10 states: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong."
As gold is being refined, the cauldron is heated to a temperature high enough to melt the ore. The impurities float to the top where they can be skimmed away, ever enhancing the gold that remains. Once refined, the gold does not need further refining… it's ready to shine for its owner. The next time you feel like something burns the hell out of you – rejoice – you're being refined to shine for your Master! Only YOU can let go of the impurities – that's a choice you can make, even in the HEAT of the moment! After all, you know the outcome! Romans 8:37-39 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
A Sunday school teacher was finishing up her lesson on all things being possible with God. She asked the rhetorical question; "Is there anything God can't do?" Little Timmy, the Pastor's son raised his hand. The teacher knew he must have misunderstood the question, but indulgently she asked for his response. "Well," said Timmy, "my Daddy says even God can't make everybody in this church happy."
Even in the face of death there can be reason found to rejoice! John 15:13 states; "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." This week our Sister Carol Watson lost her God-brother to a senseless war In Afghanistan. He and another UN guard from Africa held off Taliban intruders to a "safe house" in Kabul. We're told that Jay Maxwell (Jay as the family knows him) literally threw himself on a suicide bomber, saving the lives of 17 others in the area. Twenty seven year old Jay lost his life – 17 others regained theirs. Jay knew the Lord and is now rejoicing with the Savior who gave His life for all mankind. The family will miss and mourn Jay's passing. The Kingdom rejoices that this man was obedient unto death to lay down his life for his brothers … no greater love has any man than that!
Are you willing to lay down your old life… the one that sees only the darkness and not the light?
Are you willing to see the joy that comes after the sorrow? Are you willing to look for the gold beneath the sludge that always seems to rise to the top? After the storm comes the rainbow. How often are you looking for it? Not to shame you here, but rather to remind you that God provides the positives to outweigh the negative – if only we look up to see them! That's our choice! AND…His grace is always sufficient!