Treasuring & being treasured by God

Treasure

Sunday 04/18/21

Series: Maintaining this hope

Message – Treasuring & being treasured by God

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Treasuring & being treasured by God

Last week I re-introduced a word to you…

Epignosis – The word gnosis – simply means knowledge. The prefix epi- in this case most probably takes on the more relational tone of “near” or “before”….

So taken together epígnōsis means knowledge, obtained by a thorough participation in or with Jesus. 

It is the result of grace or influence of the Holy Spirit. 

This is a knowledge which is gained by direct influence though coming to know someone relationally. Thus the idea of intimacy.

That is sort of the theme for today. Knowing Him and treasuring Him even as He knows and treasures us.

This past week I had an encounter with God that left me uncomfortable yet feeling nestled and protected, humbled yet, the object of eternal attention and devotion. It was an unexpected answer to a question I had presented to God.

I had lost my temper rather badly, which opened the door for a few hours of self-centered…self-focused thoughts and actions. The result was deep heart contrition and soul searching. I felt unwilling to repent – NOT because I did not want to, but because I wanted my change of heart (or rather my heart catching up to me) to be once for all, and quite honestly I didn’t trust that this unexpected mistemper wouldn’t show up again. It isn’t something I’m particularly prone to, which is why it was such a surprise and why it took me a while to regain my footing.

So when I turned my heart to seek the Lord – it wasn’t so much for forgiveness, because I knew the contrition of my heart was the work of the Spirit and I knew I was in good standing with Him, but I was having a hard time giving words to what I had done and owning it in a face to face with God – so as to put it behind me.

The progression of my time went something loosely like this:

  • Began with remorse
  • Seeking Him – “How can I say I repent (changed my mind) when I have no confidence I will not act that way again?”
  • My seeking an answer somehow turned into seeking Him
  • God’s answer was found more in a revelation of Himself than in one of myself
    • He caused me to “see” or gain what I am certain has to ahve been a very juvenille understanding of God’s eternal nature. What it means that They have existed from infinity past with no beginning. 
  • It reminded me a little of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s “Total Perspective Vortex”. [The Total Perspective Vortex is a small, featureless steel box, barely big enough for one man to stand in.The hopeless victims stand in the Vortex, and are suddenly shown, for the merest instant, themselves in relation to the whole of the Universe: the whole infinity of creation, spanning over several trillion light years, and countless millennia.The victim is totally demoralised by their experience, and often fall dead or into madness from the exposure.
    • It may sound like I had some bad tacos, but it was quite real in my heart and while it did not demorilise me it did humble me. I realized in an instant how utterly helpless I am, how childlike in power and understanding and that furthermore such is not a surprise to God. He alone IS my strength and my standing before Him. I do not stand before Him on legs of flesh, but rather on the shoulders of Christ Who holds all of creation past, present and future in the palm of His hand and has, since before it even existed.
  • Quite honestly, the experience left me feeling as if I might loose my sanity, but I also felt enveloped by something which protected me from that happening.
  • It reminded me of Abraham who in probably a much more potent experience had all of God’s goodness pass before him, while being shielded or protected from harm by the hand of God. – Ex. 33:12–18
  • When this happened He asked me, “What if I am exactly like I’ve said I am?”
  • It was like up until now I had been looking at God in a picture which I’d been hold up before my face. Then to have His hand pull it down so my gaze for a moment fell upon Him. It was like going from a 2D caricature of God to a 3D reality of Him.

A couple of days later was yesterday and I was seeking him about the passage we are looking at today. I found myself all of the sudden uncertain about things I had always assumed I understood. I started pressing Him on what do these things mean?

  • “Seek things ABOVE” – what does that mean?
  • “He IS your Life” – What does that mean?
  • “Put off old man” – put on new man – What does that mean?

I had my “religious” understanding of this but I didn’t want to artificially make a square peg fit into a round hole… so I asked.

As we begin our trek through this chapter we will see elements of what we’ve been covering for weeks now and which I want you to watch for and make the subject of very careful reflection this next week.

They are:

  • The resurrection/rapture and the effect on our lives the hope of it inspires
  • The passion of God
  • Our response of passion toward and in reponse back to Him

Col. 3:1-25,

“(1) If however you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, enthroned at God’s right hand.  (2)  Give your minds to the things that are above, not to the things that are on the earth.  (3)  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  (4)  When Christ appears–He is our true Life–then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

As I was thinking on these things, Jesus’ words came to mind which are found in Matt. 6:19-25,  

“(19) Do not lay up stores of wealth for yourselves on earth, where the moth and wear-and-tear destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  (20)  But amass wealth for yourselves in Heaven, where neither the moth nor wear-and-tear destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  (21)  For where your wealth is, there also will your heart be.  (22)  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eyesight is good, your whole body will be well lighted;  (23)  but if your eyesight is bad, your whole body will be dark. If however the very light within you is darkness, how dense must the darkness be!  (24)  “No man can be the bondservant of two masters; for either he will dislike one and like the other, or he will attach himself to one and think slightingly of the other. You cannot be the bondservants both of God and of gold.”

“(25)  For this reason I charge you not to be over-anxious about your lives, inquiring what you are to eat or what you are to drink, nor yet about your bodies, inquiring what clothes you are to put on. Is not the life more precious than its food, and the body than its clothing?”

Luke’s account I believe is probably more complete and in the order in which the teaching Jesus did that day occurred…

Luke 12:13-40, 

“(13) Just then a man in the crowd appealed to Him. “Rabbi,” he said, “tell my brother to give me a share of the inheritance.”  (14)  “Man,” He replied, “who has constituted me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 

(15)  And to the people He said, “Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for no one’s life consists in the superabundance of his possessions.”  

(16)  And He spoke a parable to them. “A certain rich man’s lands,” He said, “yielded abundant crops,  (17)  and he debated within himself, saying, “‘What am I to do? for I have no place in which to store my crops.’  (18)  “And he said to himself, “‘This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and in them I will store up all my harvest and my wealth;  (19)  and I will say to my life, “‘Life, you have ample possessions laid up for many years to come: take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.’  (20)  “But God said to him, “‘Foolish man, this night your life is demanded from you; and these preparations–for whom shall they be?’  (21)  “So is it with him who amasses treasure for himself, but has no riches in God.”  (22)  Then turning to His disciples He said, “For this reason I say to you, ‘Dismiss all anxious care for your lives, inquiring what you are to eat, and for your bodies, what you are to put on.’  (23)  For life is a greater gift than food, and the body is a greater gift than clothing.  (24)  Observe the ravens. They neither sow nor reap, and have neither store-chamber nor barn. And yet God feeds them. How far more precious are you than the birds!  (25)  And which of you is able by anxious thought to add a moment to his life?  (26)  If then you are unable to do even a very little thing, why be over-anxious about other matters?  (27)  Observe the lilies, how they grow. They neither labour nor spin. And yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was as beautifully dressed as one of these.  (28)  But if God so clothes the vegetation in the fields, that blooms to-day and to-morrow will be thrown into the oven, how much more certainly will He clothe you, you men of feeble faith!  (29)  “Therefore, do not be asking what you are to eat nor what you are to drink; and do not waver between hope and fear.  (30)  For though the nations of the world pursue these things, as for you, your Father knows that you need them.  (31)  But make His Kingdom the object of your pursuit, and these things shall be given you in addition.  (32)  “Dismiss your fears, little flock: your Father finds a pleasure in giving you the Kingdom.  (33)  Sell your possessions and give alms. Provide yourselves with purses that will never wear out, a treasure inexhaustible in Heaven, where no thief can come nor moth consume.  (34)  For where your wealth is stored, there also will your heart be.  (35)  “Have your girdles on, and let your lamps be alight;  (36)  and be yourselves like men waiting for their master–on the look-out till he shall return from the wedding feast–that, when he comes and knocks, they may open the door instantly.  (37)  Blessed are those servants, whom their Master when He comes shall find on the watch. I tell you in solemn truth, that He will tie an apron round Him, and will bid them recline at table while He comes and waits on them.  (38)  And whether it be in the second watch or in the third that He comes and finds them so, blessed are they.  (39)  Of this be sure, that if the master of the house had known what time the robber was coming, he would have kept awake and not have allowed his house to be broken into.  (40)  Be you also ready, for at an hour when you are not expecting Him the Son of Man will come.”

So our passage tells us Col. 3:1-25,

“(1) If however you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, enthroned at God’s right hand.  (2)  Give your minds to the things that are above, not to the things that are on the earth.  (3)  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  

(4)  When Christ appearsHe is our true Life–then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

The word “Appear” here means – to show oneself openly in an absolute sense! So this is what we have been reading for months now at the beginning of many of our services in 1 Jn. 3:1-3,

“(1) Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. (2) Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. (3) And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.”

The difference in this passage is that here it is showing not only Jesus – but OUR revealing or “appearing” will take pace at the same time and to see one will be to see the other – they will both be GLORIOUS.

  • This will reveal a Jesus that is Glorious
  • This will reveal a YOU that is Glorious

Also, it says that what is being revealed in the person of Christ is what is now hidden from our sight and that is “OUR LIFE”.

“…your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appearsHe is our true Life–then you also will appear with Him in glory”

The life mentioned here is Zoe, but in this particular verse it is referring to our knowing (epignosis) of God and our union with Him is not fully understood and known right now. It is, at least in part, hidden – it is something which has to be progressively revealed!

Because of this…

“(5)  Therefore put to death your earthward inclinations–fornication, impurity [averice – extreme greed], sensual passion, unholy desire, and all greed, for that is a form of idolatry.  (6)  It is on account of these very sins that God’s anger [wrath] is coming,  (7)  and you also were once addicted to them, while you were living under their power.”

When I was meditating on this last night one thing seemed true on the surface, but I looked up the words of each to confirm and there it was in plain sight. ALL of these are expressions of passion FOR THINGS OTHER THAN GOD!

  • fornication
  • impurity (which means averice – extremem greed)
  • sensual PASSION
  • unholy DESIRE
  • and every expression of Greed.

Greed, as it is used here, is the longing of the creature which has forsaken God to fill itself with the lower objects of nature.

Now all of this was being connected with the revelation I had of God a few days prior…

That word wrath was the key – “What if I am exactly like I’ve said I am?”

You know there is no lost love between me and the “off the deep end” fringe groups of the Grace movement and regarding this topic even more so. Something I found odd was their turning God’s wrath into a good thing. They would say that wrath is God’s passion for us. I thought they had finally gone mentally out to lunch – perminently! However, in looking up this word I found where they had arrived at this mistaken idea. It is an example of not understanding lanuages and especially the Greek. It is also an example of TERRIBLE exegesis of God’s word.

The word wrath here COMES FROM a word which means to covet after or desire. It is NOT that word, but it COMES FROM that word. When that word become WRATH is is because it is passion or desire that has been rejected and scorned. Aristotle, who spoke and understood Koine Greek described this word as desire coupled with grief.

When used in regard to God, as it is here, it is an utter abhorrence to sin but longing mixed with grief for those who live in it. The meaning and it’s affect in the heart of God can be somewhat illustrated in the Proverb found in chapter 6 verses 32-35…

Proverbs 6:32-35,

“(32) The one who commits adultery lacks sense; whoever does so destroys himself. (33) He will get a beating and dishonor, and his disgrace will never be removed. (34) For jealousy enrages a husband, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. (35) He will not be appeased by anything or be persuaded by lavish gifts.”

So the wrath is not purely retributive it is also vindictive. “But Mark.” you might say…”This is God we are talking about. He IS love! So how could His wrath be an expression of either retribution OR vindication…much less both? Because it is not selfish or reactionary. The Father’s wrath is NOT because of a personally sustained indignacy or rejection. His wrath is against those who reject and spur the loving advances of His Son and taht of the Holy Spirit. This is one reason why the scriptures strongly warn us NOT to GRIEVE the Holy Spirit BY WHOM YOU HAVE BEEN SEALED, FOR the day of Redemption. Why warn? Why bring up that it is that same SPIRIT Who seals us – if it were not for the fact that the results might affect our sealing? Is it not God, to Whom BELONGS vengence? But notice, God’s vengence is not a reaction against a personally sustained offense – He tells us not to avenge ourselves, but that such vengence belongs to Him. We ARE HIS, and as such when we have been mistreated, the response belongs to Him. If we avenge ourselves our actions are self-focused and therefore devoid of love. If GOD avenges us, then it is an act of passion and deferrence towards us against those who were our abusers. So it is when ANYONE rejects and shuns Jesus of the inner work of the Holy Spirit. God the Father’s heart response is one of longing with deep grief.

We will pick back up here next week!

Blesings!

Video will be uploaded soon…

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!