The theme verse underlying the purpose of the Renovate movement is Matthew 10: 39, “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.” (NASB) These words were spoken by Jesus in reference to Himself and are the very capstone of authentic living. This week I would like to first consider a passage of scripture taken from the October 27th reading found in 1 Timothy 5: 5-6, “Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God, and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.” (NASB) These verses correspond remarkably with the words of Jesus above.  The Apostle Paul is instructing his young apprentice, Timothy that as he leads God’s people, in the context of the church caring for widows; the true widow, one who has learned well by way of suffering in the school of God’s providence; recognizes her only hope rests in God and not in her self-centered desire for personal preservation. Her dependence, her life, is rooted solely in her relationship to her Provider and Sustainer. She is not like the woman bent only on self-indulgence and self enrichment.  The former woman is alive because she has lost herself in her Savior. The latter is dead because she thinks protection and provision lie within her own ability and manipulation; thus, in the groping to find herself, she has already lost herself.

In this instance, the “true widow” is marked by a life rooted in the faith of a Loving Provider; forged in the intense fires of trial. Naturally, most people long to avoid suffering; yet, in a strange and beautiful way, suffering becomes an incredible platform for faith and an astounding catalyst for the joys of heaven. Hardships experienced in this existence, bringing about tears (of which God “stores in a bottle” according to Ps. 56: 8), will ultimately render heaven a place of greater joy for the one who endures them; the one who trusts in the God of purpose exercising sovereignty over them (Rom. 8: 28).

Pushing this theme a bit further, I want to explore the October 28th reading from Psalm 119: 71-72.  The Psalmist states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes. The law of Thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” (NASB) To read and digest scripture is to come to grips with the fact that this universe, in consequence of mankind’s sin, is fallen. Within this present state of affairs, the existence of evil, under the sovereign power of a Holy God, produces trials and suffering of every kind. In the words of Jesus, “… for He (God) causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45, NASB)

I must submit that one of the most atrocious, damnable heresies contaminating the modern church is the concept of a “health, wealth, and prosperity” gospel. Proponents of such teaching reduce the unimaginable work of Christ, His cross and resurrection, to the futile pleasures of this limited fallen world. They cause men to “seek treasures here, where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal;” rather than in heaven where things exist incorruptible. Consequently, individuals under such teaching diminish God to a cosmic genie that jumps at the beckon call of those who possess enough “faith.”  I assure you, even a cursory reading of the Bible does not present such a God!  Consider the passages of scripture in focus today. While no one is pretending that suffering is pleasant or completely understandable; within the universe God has placed us it would seem to be purposeful, even necessary.

Don’t fall prey to the liars who would seek to lead you astray for their own ill-gotten gain. Such teachers will focus the hearts of many on the glossy trappings of this world and drive their hearers away from the truth of the gospel directly into the pit of hell at their own destruction.  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Remember that in Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, one of the key snares before the Savior was to wear His crown without going through the cross (Matt. 4: 1-11, Luke 4: 1-13). How sinister the evil one to infiltrate the church with the very same enticement robed in the language of the gospel.

Be diligent to study the scriptures and know the truth.

In Christ,

Pastor Rob