“What is God’s View of My Life?”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Throughout the years many people have said things like, “If I were God I would _______,” and then they fill in the blank with an answer. Well, maybe we have all had some thoughts as to what we would like to see happen in this world, or in our own life. Maybe if we were in charge we would do things much differently. Have we given much thought, though, to what God is really up to in this world? How does He look on the events that take place every day? What is His view about various people? Oh, we may never know the answers to those questions, but some day it will make more sense. Now, certainly I am in no position to know or understand what God is up to or why things work in this world as they do. In fact, I am really glad I'm not in that position. I do want to give us some things to think about today in our lesson on “Key to the Kingdom.” We will look at some Bible verses that might give us some insight as to how God views life on earth. As we do, it might help us understand how we can better adjust to what is happening in the world around us. I hope you will stay tuned as we consider 3 ways to view life on earth.
Sometimes, what happens in this world makes us ask the question, where is God? Sometimes we feel as if God has abandoned us. We don't know where He is and we wonder if He really cares what is going on in our lives today. Yes, lots of things happen in this world that really do not make much sense. We don’t understand why there is so much pain in our lives and so many problems in the lives of other people. And yet, the better question might be, what am I supposed to learn from it all? Well, some lessons are obvious while others require much more effort. And when we begin to learn some of those lessons, and try to observe the way things are in this world from a different viewpoint, we ask even more questions. Questions like, what is the purpose of my life? Why am I here? How am I supposed to live upon the earth? When we think about questions like that, when we think about the meaning and the purpose of life, I find myself going back to the Bible and to some words that were written by man named James, who just happened to be the brother of Jesus Christ. Listen to what James writes; it's found in James chapter 4 beginning in verse 13. – Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. – When I think about that passage of Scripture I think about my purpose of life, and I realize it is nothing more than to live one day at a time; to understand I am not promised any more days than what I have right now. And I am not to live with some kind of grand plan to boast or to brag about, realizing that that may never come. Yet, I am to make the most of every single day God entrusts to me. Oh, it is true we all want some answers to the questions we have in life, and often times those answers do not come. The reality of life, however, is that it is a learning process. We learn at school. We learn on the job. We learn through our relationships. All of our joys and successes teach us something, the defeats and the failures that we encounter. Yes, all of life’s experiences provide a learning opportunity, and we learn what the Lord wants to teach us through them all. If we are not careful we might waste lots of time trying to figure out things from the wrong perspective. And what I mean by that is, the wrong perspective is from our perspective, how we might view life, how we observe things going on in our world. Life becomes much clearer, however, when we see it from God's viewpoint, understanding that His viewpoint, or His perspective, is always much clearer and always much more accurate than ours. We know, from several passages of Scripture in the Bible, that God's thoughts and His ways are far beyond our comprehension. We don't understand God, as we read in Isaiah 55. We also read passages like 1st Corinthians 2:9 – No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. Oh, certainly we can never know everything God sees, and knows, and wants to accomplish here upon this earth. But yet at the same time, it seems that we can understand a few things, maybe from God's perspective. We know from Ephesians 3:20, that He is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. As we think about the meaning, the purpose, of life, our view and God's view of it, I want us to think for a few minutes today about what is God's view of life? How does He present it to us? I want to offer 3 things for our consideration today. They all begin with the letter T, and perhaps they will be easy for us to remember. Number 1, God presents life as a test. He presents life as a test. Unlike some teachers or professors we have had in the past, who really don't care whether or not we learn the material or pass the test, God does. He wants us to pass the test of life. He doesn't want us to fail. He wants us to take all of the tests that come our way, and He wants us to pass and move on to the next level. He even provides a way of escape for those who are overtaken by the temptations of this world. He wants us to succeed. Now the question is, why? Why would God want us to pass, or to succeed, in this test taking process? Well again, we go back to James. He perhaps provides the answer in chapter 1 and verse 12. – Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test he will receive the victors crown; the life God has promised to those who love Him. – The Lord wants us to pass the test so that we can receive the crown. When we pass that test we receive a victors crown, an eternal reward with God in heaven. Now, let me pause right here, and hopefully we can understand something. I want us to understand there is a big difference between a temptation and a test, or a trial. God does not tempt people. Temptations have to do with evil in God doesn't have anything to do with evil, that belongs to Satan. Instead of tempting us God tests us, or He presents various trials to us in order to refine us, and purify us, and to prove that our faith is genuine. And these tests that come our way come so that we can determine how we stand with God, in the midst of those testing times. And again the point is, God wants us to pass the test of life. Throughout the Bible we read of several people who were tested by God. Many of them failed those tests, others however passed. I think about Abraham, in the Old Testament. He is called the ‘Father of our Faith.’ Time and time again his faith was tested by God, especially with his son Isaac. Time and time again, Abraham passed those tests and proved faithful. Or I think about Job in the Old Testament, he had all kinds of wealth and prosperity but God allowed him to be tested and all of that was taken away. Yet Job always held fast to God and he passed the test, and was blessed with even more at the end. We think about the various tests we take in school. Often times we don't like to take those tests because they bring about some anxiety and stress upon our lives. But yet, what is the purpose of those tests? Is it not simply to evaluate where we stand and how well we are learning what is being taught? Likewise, the tests we encounter in life allow us to evaluate where we stand and how we are learning what God is seeking to teach us. And so, as we think about life, as we think about God's view of life, perhaps we can say number 1, that God presents life as a test that He wants us to pass. Secondly, God presents life as a trust. Contrary to popular belief, we never really own anything here upon this earth. Oh, we may think we do because we have purchased it and it belongs to us, part of our possessions, or the bank says that we own it because we are making payments on something, but in fact those things are really loaned to us for a period of time. In fact, God even loans people to us. And it all started way back in the garden, with the creation. It started with Adam and Eve. As God made that creation, that wonderful world, He placed Adam and Eve in that garden. And He said, “I want you to take care of it, to watch over everything I've created here. Take care of the animals. Give them some names.” They were entrusted with a great responsibility. I think about the words of Psalm 24:1 – The earth and everyone who dwells in it belong to the Lord. – Even today we are still entrusted with the earth, and with that comes some privileges as well as some responsibilities. Oh, we have the privilege to enjoy God's wonderful creation, to share in all the wonderful blessings He has in store for us. And yet, we also have the responsibility to take care of the earth. And that calls for some accountability, doesn't it? God calls us to be faithful in what He has entrusted to us, just like He did with Adam and Eve. I think about the words of the apostle Paul from 1st Corinthians 4:2 – It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. – I hope we understand something today. It really doesn't matter if we win a popularity contest, or a beauty contest. It doesn't matter how much wealth, or power, or authority we might be able to accumulate here upon this earth. What matters is that we are faithful and trustworthy servants of the Lord, of what He has entrusted to us. What matters is that we are accountable to Him for what He puts into our life. Jesus teaches us that very principle, in Luke 16:10-11 – “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true riches?” – Whether we have a great amount or very little, God calls upon us to be trustworthy in what He gives to us. And if we prove ourselves trustworthy in those things then true and greater riches will await. So as we think about these things, we recognize very simply that a follower of Jesus Christ gives faithful attention to every day tasks, no matter how small or insignificant they might appear to us. For these are some small opportunities that might turn into something much bigger. And so, no matter who, or even what, God entrusts to us we are to prove ourselves faithful. Think about it this way. When God entrusts certain things, or certain people to us, He is basically saying, I believe in you. I believe in your ability to be faithful to what I'm presenting to you. I believe that you will be a good steward of these things, or of the people, that I put into your life. Yes, God thinks enough of us to put us in situations where we can demonstrate our faithfulness and we can prove that we take seriously the responsibilities that He gives to us. There is another teaching from Jesus, which is also found in the Gospel of Luke. This time chapter 12 and verse 48. – From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. – Let us know today that you and I have a great responsibility to be faithful to whatever God entrusts to us, and if we are then He will entrust to us much more. When I think about these statements from Jesus, and the teaching that we find in the Bible, I'm reminded of one particular story that is retold for us in Matthew chapter 25, it comes from Jesus. It's a parable. It's a story about 3 men who were given certain amounts of money by their master. The master said, “I'm going to go away on a far journey and when I come back I want an accounting of what you did with those funds.” Well, one man took his money and buried it, did absolutely nothing. The other 2 men traded that money, invested it, and doubled that original amount. Well, sure enough the master came back and he asked for that accounting. And the 1st man came and said I was afraid of you and so here is this money back, the same amount you gave to me. The words of the master were, “Depart from me I don't want to have anything to do with you because you were not faithful in what I gave to you.” But then, the other 2 said here's the amount that you gave to us and we have invested and traded, and now it is doubled. And do you remember the words of the master? He told both of them, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Now, that story illustrates a very important truth for us to consider today. Whatever God entrusts to us we are to prove ourselves faithful. And hopefully someday, we will hear those very same words; well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master. And so secondly God presents life as a trust and He wants us to prove faithful. There is a 3rd way which God presents life to us, and that is; God presents life as temporary, so as we can prepare for eternity. The passage that tells me that, perhaps more than any other, is Psalm 39:4. – “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am.” – That passage of Scripture changes our values, doesn't it? It changes our perspective on life. The psalmist knew that his days were coming to an end, they were fleeting. His days were numbered. He did not know how many more he had left. And that is true for us today, that everybody and everything in this world is temporary and nothing lasts forever. And our life upon this earth, as we know it today, will someday come to an end. Let me put it this way. The riches and the wealth of this world is temporary, just like me and just like you, and no matter how long we think we can live, and no matter how solid and secure the stuff of this world appears to be, nothing is permanent. It's all temporary and it will someday end. Not long ago I was watching a sports show and the reporter was giving an update on the story of a famous athlete who was injured the night before, and he gave his health status update in these words. He said, “He is listed as day-to-day.” Then he added this comment, “But then again, aren't we all?” And that's a great perspective, isn't it, to realize that we are all day-to-day, in other words we are all temporary. Because of that great truth there is no room for any kind of boasting or bragging in our life. In the words of Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Yes, Job realized his days upon this earth were nothing more than a shadow; here one moment and gone the next. And isn't that the essence of what we read a few moments ago, from James chapter 4? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. We are to recognize the reality of our mortality. We are to understand that we are mortal and that life will not continue on as we know it. In other words, we are all temporary. And there are many other passages in the Bible that say the same thing. Psalm 119:19 – “I am a sojourner on the earth.” – Peter tells us in 1st Peter 2:11, we are to live as aliens and foreigners in this world. Paul writes in Philippians 3:20 – “Our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – And again in 2nd Corinthians 4:18 – “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – Since those passages are true, it is important, then, that we set our sights on eternity and not on the things that are temporary. We set our sights on that which lies ahead. And what is that? Well, it is a crown of life, according to Revelation 2:10. It is an imperishable wreath, 1st Corinthians 9:25. It is an unfading crown of glory, 1st Peter 5:4. When we think of how life is presented to us by God number 3 is this; God presents life as temporary and He wants us to prepare for eternity. Let us realize today, God has a different perspective on life than we do, and yet it is always better than ours. He wants us to see life from His viewpoint. He wants us to realize there is more to it than what meets the eye. Yes, God has something to teach us through 3 different ways of viewing life; as a test to pass, as a trust to prove faithful, and as temporary so that it prepares us for eternity. Perhaps the following video clip helps illustrate that very point.
If we are fortunate enough to go to school, we have at our disposal a great privilege and opportunity. For the more we go to school the more we learn. The more we learn the better capable we are of making it in this world, of making a good living for ourselves and of getting along with other people. Yes, going to school and getting an education is vitally important and necessary for each and every one of us, today. As we think about getting an education we also reflect upon our teachers and those instructors that impart to us, and share with us their wisdom, their insight, and their expertise; and many of those teachers become our mentors. They make a difference in the way we live. They make a difference in the way we think. And those mentors have a tremendous impact upon our lives, and we cherish our relationship with them. But there is one teacher who is greater than all the rest. His name is Jesus Christ. And I love the words that Jesus shares with us in Matthew 11:29. He says very simply, “Learn from Me.” That's what Jesus wants us to do, to learn from Him, to learn the way we are to live in this world, to learn all the many wonderful things that He teaches us through His Word; and oh, what a great difference it will make in our life. The people in Jesus’ day were amazed, and they were astonished at His ability to teach. When was the last time we stood in amazement at the words of Jesus and His teaching? I would encourage us to think very carefully about spending some time in the Word of God and learning something from Jesus each and every day, and allowing that to make a difference in the way we live our lives.
And so today, we cannot be caught up in the pursuit of life, in the midst of all of the things this world presents to us. And yet we are able to see from God's perspective the way life really is and learn what the Master Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, wants to teach us; and hopefully we are willing students. Hopefully we are willing to learn how to properly view and to understand the world in which we live. Oh, the experiences of life allow us to see it from God's perspective, and to learn from Him, and to know that He has the very best view of all. My encouragement to us today, as we think about some deep questions of life, is this: To think about it from God's perspective, to evaluate life as to how He might present it to us, and to make sure that our view of life matches God's view of life. I encourage you to do that, today.
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