Written by His Grace,

Kevin K. O’Connor 

Feb. 26, 2004

 

Main thought: to examine how easy it is to go for second best but how much we need to go for the very best!

Going for the Best!

1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (Whole Chapter: 1 Corinthians 9 In context: 1 Corinthians 9:26-28)

Have you ever fantasized about the good you could do given an opportunity of power and wealth after seeing many people that had those things and allowed them to go to waste? It seems so easy for those without the temptations of power and wealth to judge those that have them so quickly. But, those things are definitely not for the unprepared. Even Paul who was given many revelations into the heart of God was given a thorn in the flesh to help keep his heart in the proper perspective. Prior to God showing him that it was there for that purpose he asked the Lord to remove it, but once he realized that it was there to help keep his heart in its proper place, he learned to delight himself in that weakness.

 

Or how about those people on game shows that chose the curtain that had a somewhat nice prize in front of it compared to a curtain that had a lesser prize in front of it and ended up missing out on the grand prize that was actually behind the door with the lesser gift in front of it. It truly amazes me how very gullible we all are when it comes to physical appearances or talents. Beauty truly is only skin deep where eternal beauty is something that originates from the depth of our being that only God can develop and does. Just as fire is used to purify gold, so trials are many times used to develop the inner beauty of God’s Son in our lives. Unfortunately many times when we are placed within the fire of trials and tribulations we are immediately at the throne of our Loving Heavenly Father asking Him to remove us from those trials. And, because God is Love and does not force His work on those who do not want it, He gives them what they ask but many times to the leanness of their own souls. I like what our Lord tells us about these trials in the following scripture; James 1:2-42   (7) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter (8) various trials, 3   knowing that (9) the testing of your (10) faith produces (11) endurance. 4   And let (12) endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be (13) perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Another example of God’s people asking Him for a different way of life than the One He was choosing for them is annotated here in the Amplified Bible in 2 Chronicles 6:5 Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that My Name might be there, [God is plainly saying here that it was not His desire for Israel to have a king. To be sure, when to Samuel's attempt to dissuade them they replied, "No! We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations" (I Sam. 8:19-20), God said to Samuel, "They have rejected Me, that I should not be King over them... appoint them a king" (I Sam. 8:7, 22). But Saul was originally the people's choice, not God's choice. The Bible nowhere teaches that "the voice of the people is the voice of God." But it does teach that when people make demands of God that are not in harmony with His will, He may grant them to their sorrow, and send "leanness into their souls" (Ps. 106:15).] neither chose I any man to be a ruler over My people Israel; (Whole Chapter: 2 Chronicles 6 In context: 2 Chronicles 6:4-6) Note here that it is not wise to allow the lust of our eyes or the pride of this life to affect our hearts in what we seek God for. Here we see the Israelis who began looking at the other nations around them and began desiring to have a similar structure of government.

 

The difference between them and Paul is once God explained to Paul that the thorn sent to afflict him was to help keep his heart in its proper perspective, he learned to give thanks for that affliction. But, the people of Israel persisted in seeking after those things that appeared pleasing to the flesh and ended up having leanness in their souls. Thus God says in Psalm 106:15 And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls and [thinned their numbers by] disease and death.[Ps. 78:29-31.] (Whole Chapter: Psalm 106 In context: Psalm 106:14-16) So what was the difference between Paul and the nation of God that chose their own way to God’s? Paul learned to press in near to God’s heart and listen to His Word while Israel went about their own way so when God warned them both, the one that was pressing near to His heart heard and followed while the other got what they asked for and were left broken in the paths of their own destruction.

 

We would do well to realize that success in God’s kingdom is not whether we’re free from bodily discomforts or financial trials. But there are those who believe it is and so have sought God long and hard in having bodies that are free from pain and bank accounts that are overflowing and yet God has sent them leanness to their souls. My heart absolutely aches when I hear teachers of God’s Word on the radio or television preach or teach about how we are to be free from all those hardships. As far as I’m concerned you can have those rose gardens but give me the rose, thorns and all. Christ is the Rose of Sharon Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. (Whole Chapter: Song of Solomon 2 In context: Song of Solomon 2:1-2) Christ is the most fragrant of all of God’s roses and yet the One who saw the most sorrow and suffering.  The sayings, “you get what you pay for” or “you reap what you sow” are so very true in almost every avenue of life. And while our birth into eternal life is free, (just like our birth into this life), the growing process thereafter is not. Once we’re born into the physical realm, all we have to do is nothing and it won’t be long after that we would die. For there seems to be a never-ending supply of germs out there that seem like they’re there to destroy us. And how can our bodies fight those things that try and enter our system to bring us down?, through eating and growing stronger. In the same way, God tells us in the following scripture that the world is constantly trying to conform us (work from the outside in) into its image and the Lord tells us that we must overcome these efforts through being transformed (from the inside out) into His image. Romans 12:2 2   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Note here where he says “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

There are those of us who only hunger and thirst enough to be led down paths into the “good” or “acceptable” will of God. But then there are those who say to themselves and to God that their heart’s desire is not for God’s second best but his very best or “perfect” will. These are the ones who know how to go for the best and it’s to these I say God bless you and your passion to ever draw nearer and nearer to Him. These are the ones who are not crying out to God to make their lives comfortable at the cost of leanness to their soul, but are saying God whatever it takes to transform my heart into the image of Your Son! These are ones who will enter into the Kingdom of God with many shouts of praises to God for how their lives have brought Him much Glory, Honor, and Praise.

 

We here in America have grown so fat and lazy on the blessings of God that we’ve come to expect them not realizing that many sacrificed their all for our peace. Peace only comes through victory and victory is one through battling the enemy. Do you want more peace and joy?, then learn how to seek Him for His best and be prepared to be sent into the lion’s den where the gold of your faith may be refined ever finer unto His Glory, Honor, and Praise. Let’s not shrink back from the battle but may God help us to see the joy of those who give their all on behalf of others. We allow the ruts of complacency to lull us into sleep until those ruts become our coffins. God help us to choose to battle rather than to sleep. We can view God like ourselves looking at our children growing up. We hope that they learn that to be successful in this life takes effort and that the more they learn to exert, the more they are going to succeed. In the same way our Loving Heavenly Father hopes that we will learn to allow the trials He allows into our lives to change us from the inside out. Every single thing that God allows into our paths is there for a purpose; Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Whole Chapter: Romans 8 In context: Romans 8:27-29) Not some things, but ALL things. The movie that just came out yesterday the 25th of February called “The Passion of the Christ” is definitely not for everybody to see due to the extreme agony and pain that was afflicted upon Christ. I’m sure it was hard for the Heavenly Father to watch let alone for our weak hearts. We’re not all at the same stage of growth and need to be understanding of all those around us.

 

Heavenly Father, ever help us know that You are there with us through each and every trial that we are meant to face. Teach us how to allow those trials to produce in our lives the beauty of Your Son who went through the greatest trials and test of all eternity. And, ever teach us after You have spent years of developing us into the image of Your Son how to be tender hearted and understanding to those who have many miles to go ahead of them. And help us to learn that going for the best although means going through some of the greatest trials and tribulations, results in the most joys as we are ever transformed into the image of Christ our King. In the Everlasting, Glorious Name of Your Son, Our King, Jesus, Amen.

 

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