Are You Looking for a Welfare God?

December 2, 2016

Philippians 3:12-21

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 

17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Are You Looking for a Welfare God?

God’s kingdom is not a welfare state.  It is a state of well being.  It is a state that even in the midst of trials, tribulations, temptations and persecution we find His peace that passes understanding.  We can have a state of well being, because His being inhabits us and is present with us in all that we endure.  

Often we don’t quite understand why God doesn’t release all of the resources of His kingdom upon us, after all we are God’s kids and joint heirs with Christ, so why does God often seem to make it so hard for us?  

One thing we can observe from the structure and paradigm that has been developed from our own welfare system and it recipients is this.  Instead of a system that temporarily assists people to get them back into being productive in society, in so many cases it becomes the end in itself.  People draw from it on a permanent basis with a feeling of entitlement that the government owes this to them.  That paradigm is then passed on to the children who grow up with that same sense dependence and entitlement.  If God gave us everything at our whim, we would soon adapt this same attitude of entitlement, as if God really owes us anything.  It is us who owes Him everything.  God gives many blessings and gifts out of His great goodness and generosity, but truly He owes us nothing.  It is His very nature of love that compels Him to love us and provide for us not only the way of salvation, but also His exceeding great and wonderful promises.  If God operated from our every will and desire, it would be us who would the gods and He would simply be our servant.  We can readily see that this is a child mentality.  The child wants to rule the parent and in some cases they do, but that is not God’s design.  The parents will provide for the child what they think is best, not only for the short term, but also for the long term and there won’t always be a meeting of the minds between the child and the parent.  

In Hebrews 5:7-10 we learn something about Jesus as the son of man.  “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”  When Jesus went to the cross it wasn’t the will of His flesh that Jesus followed and obeyed, it was the will of the Father.  He was made perfect through what He suffered.  He is our pattern.  Are we above the master?  Perfection wasn’t an acquisition given by right because he was a Son; it is what He entered into through obedience to the way of suffering and sacrifice.  We are being made perfect, not simply because Christ indwells us, but because of His grace and presence in us, we also are learning the walk of obedience often through the things that we suffer.  It is this reverent submission on our parts that is bringing us into the spiritual maturity as fathers and instructing us in the ways of perfection.  In Matthew 5:48 where Jesus says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  He is instructing us to come into maturity of the spirit by reverent obedience and submission to the Holy Spirit.  We are not children gathered around God’s Christmas tree, we are His sons and daughters being trained up to possess the divine nature and to walk in the love and servant nature of our Most High Father.  Because He loves us so, He trains us through His discipline that may not seem pleasant for the moment, but will work in us the peaceable fruits of righteousness.  

Our lives are not always going to be easy and without trials and adversities, but it is in the hard places that we learn to excel in our faith and dependence in the Lord.  It is there that He proves our hearts and perfects us in His righteousness. 

If you are in the hard place then rejoice, because God is preparing you for greater things.  In the days to come many will be totally unprepared for what will come, but those who have been trained and exercised in their faith will know their God and His faithfulness.  They won’t be offended when everything doesn’t go according to their will or thinking.  They will know how to trust and depend upon Him to lead them and provide for them in the days of desolation.  Thank God that He loves you so much, that He does discipline you, correct you and teach you His highest ways.  Be willing to learn obedience through the things that you suffer.  James 1:4 exhorts us, “But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  Christ in us is our perfection and completion, but it is a work in progress even as it was in Jesus. 

Blessings,

#kent

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