If you read my message from yesterday, I hope you noticed that I called it “Count The Cost!” That was with an explanation point (!), and not a question mark (?). There is because it was a directive, a command, and not a suggestion or a offhand recommendation. First, that is what Jesus said we must do, and secondly, it was intended to be a strong admonition for you do so! Also, it didn’t say, “Counting the Cost,” because I wasn’t addressing the process we need to be actively involved in, but rather the act we are to DO!
But I want you to understand that if you get more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or making your golf game, or spending time surfing the internet, instead of simply sitting alone with your God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, and with others who are also passionate about Him, then how in blue blazes are you going to handle Eternity in His presence with no TV, movies, or golf courses? You would be bored stiff in heaven, if you are not ecstatic about Him now!
Let’s be honest. How could He invite you to heaven, where the most exciting thing to do all day is gaze on His glorious face? Every time you are alone with Him, you should be experiencing heaven right here on earth! Do you really think that after you die, suddenly you will be in heaven and “presto!” all at once you are not going to like worldly things anymore? All of a sudden you will love more than anything else just to hang out with God, when you couldn’t stand being alone with Him even 20 minutes a day? As Tozer wrote, “True and absolute freedom is only found in the presence of God.” If you don’t spend time in His presence now, be honest, how you can even imagine spending Eternity with Him?
Paul understood this! That is why he was able to testify, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain . . . I do not know which to choose, but I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith . . .” (Philippians 1:21-25)
That is an absolutely amazing passage! Paul was saying that if he could just snap his fingers and be in heaven any time he chose to leave the planet, that would be cool! He was honest enough to say that he would prefer to depart this life and be with Christ in heaven, but he was willing to stay if he really had to! The churches still needed him!
I don’t know, his attitude about death is a whole lot different than ours. When we think of dying, we have the same fear and worry as unbelievers! Even worse, there are many believers who don’t want to “depart and be with Christ” any time too soon. When they think of going to be with the Lord, they hope it will be a l-o-o-n-g, l-o-o-o-o-n-g time in the future — in fact, going to heaven now would interrupt all of their plans (even “Christian” ones), cutting short a “long, productive life.”
Be honest, would you be thrilled for the Lord to come back right before you get that college degree, or if you had your choice would you prefer He wait until right after graduation day? Maybe you are engaged to be married or, you are already married and expecting your first baby! Ooh, how would you like to go to heaven the day before your scheduled due-date? See what I mean? Paul really desired more than anything else to go to be with the Lord. We desire long, fulfilling “Christian” lives on earth — but we’re willing to die and go to heaven . . . but only when we really have to!
Tell you what, our Lord is looking for a Church that is full of dead men and women. Dead to themselves, that is — and alive to their King! As Ravenhill observed, “I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again!” Hey! I have some homework for you: Go to the library or on Amazon, order “Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs.” You will read some astounding stories! Men and women who were tortured for a faith that seemed to the world (and the organized church of that day) to be foolishness — because they chose to die for what they believed rather than accept the false, temporary peace of the so-called “religion” of the times. Jim Elliot’s statement rings true:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Oh the riches of such an attitude! We need to evaluate our values and priorities, today! Not tomorrow.
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