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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Photo of cloud with Scripture verse (Photo by Doris High)

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"The Loose Grip"
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So 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" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Football grip
In football a tight grip is vitally important to an eventual victory and the same is true regarding our hold on the spiritual things in life.  But there is also a very important application to maintaining a loose grip
in life!  Let me explain.

Several years ago I went to a meeting where Larry Burkett was the main speaker. Larry had a longstanding, fruitful ministry concerning a Biblical view of financial stewardship that many of us benefited from. He was very ill at the meeting and speaking was a major effort for him in his physically compromised condition.  He shared the interesting perspective of having a terminal illness and how it had changed his life. Eight years earlier he had been diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer that is virtually incurable. He shared that of the 73 people who had been diagnosed with the cancer, and were in a medical study with him, 72 had already died.  Larry passed on about 6 months after this meeting in July of 2003.
We are all terminal as far as our physical bodies are concerned. Most of us are indefinitely terminal; that is, we have no idea of when we will die and generally assume that our death is far off; that we will live to a ripe old age.  But a diagnosis of a terminal disease places a definite finality on our physical existence. This is what Larry meant when he shared how his disease had changed his life, living with this perspective each day.
Of course in reality this is the perspective we should always live with. Not in a morbid, negative sense but it should motivate us to keep a loose grip on the perishable and a tight hold on the imperishable. As we feed on the Word faithfully our spiritual appetite will be growing and our affections for heaven will be increasing as we anticipate our face to face meeting with Jesus when we finally behold Him in His full glory. Just keeping a vision of that glorious moment in our hearts will deeply impact our attitude in all that we process on this day.  Paul writes, "Our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).
In the daily text the Apostle Paul shares of the perspective we should be living with. I would sure like to give an exposition of these three verses phrase by phrase but then this devotional would be really long! Essentially he's describing a loose grip by contrasting the seen (physical) which is temporary with the unseen (spiritual) which is eternal.
I am particularly intrigued by the phrase "so we fix our eyes."  This translates a Greek word that is in the present active meaning "to fix one's gaze upon, to concentrate one's attention upon." That is sure the outlook in which we want to live our lives and when we do so we experience the inner peace that is our inheritance in Christ. But when we focus on the things pertaining only to this life our inner peace quickly diminishes. Frankly we would be driven to deep despair if we were placing much hope in seeing this world's problems solved politically!
There's a wonderful description of this outlook in the Faith Chapter in Hebrews, initially written to encourage persecuted believers, that is so illustrative of this "loose grip" outlook that we want to conclude with.
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Today's Prayer:  Father, with great anticipation I am looking for a city with an eternally strong foundation, a home in the heavens not made by human hands. Help me to live as an alien here on earth since the benefits of my citizenship in heaven is of far greater worth than the benefits of my citizenship here in this country below.  Keep me tightly holding onto Your promise of the heaven yet to come so that I will loosely grip the temporal that is only for the here and now. I cling to this great promise repeated throughout the Bible so that it gives me a proper perspective in the way I am to live as a stranger here on earth.  Amen.

Yesterday I shared a photo of a mountain stream I took in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park along with a Scripture verse. I had prepared a larger photo suitable for use as a desktop background but had it coded wrong in the link so it opened to a dead page. Here it is again!

Today's Suggested Music

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"
(Audio)  I used this song Monday but it fits so well with today's message as well. This is a beautiful version.

"Open The Eyes Of My Heart"  (Audio)

"We Shall Behold Him"  (Video)

Here's a perspective of having a tight grip!
"Hold tight to everything that is good."  (Romans 12:9)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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