Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unconditional love

To a young Christian who kept agonizing over his many failures and lack of spiritual growth, and wondering how God could possibly still love him, a more mature believer responded:

"When I leave here and return to my home I will pick up my baby girl and put her on my knee. And even as tired as I am, I will rock her and, somehow, looking into that sweet face and pretty brown eyes, I will soon feel rested and refreshed.
"This is strange, in a way, because she doesn't love me. She doesn't even know what love is. "She doesn't appreciate my problems and has no sympathy for me. My heart can be filled with anxiety or overwhelmed with grief, and my mind troubled over difficult problems, but she doesn't even know or care. She just keeps gurgling and giggling at the attention I heap upon her.

"She doesn't contribute one penny toward our family's needs; in fact, she costs me a great deal of money and will for many years to come. And yet I love that child more than I can say. There is no sacrifice I wouldn't make for her; no good thing I wouldn't gladly give her."

God's grace toward us is like this. It doesn't depend upon our faithfulness to Him or our appreciation of His love to us. He loves us with an incalculable love and keeps pouring upon us "the riches of His grace" simply because we are His children in Christ. And strangely, isn't it precisely this fact that becomes our greatest incentive to give ourselves to Him in loving service and sacrifice as we grow in grace?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hey I know you!

We often hear that, in heaven, we will recognize those believers we have known on earth.  Well the good new is — that's true!  We WILL recognize our husbands and wives, and families and friends in eternity.

In Paul's epistle to the Philippians, the apostle reveals to these dear believers, some of whom were suffering persecution, that their "citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (Phil 3:20-21a).  Our earthly bodies will be "transformed into conformity with the body of His glory."  In other words, what was true of our Lord's glorified resurrected body will be true of ours as well.  We know, of course, that the disciples recognized the resurrected Christ when He appeared to them in the upper room.

Then He said to Thomas, Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:27-28).  There was no question whatsoever in Thomas' mind that the One standing before him was the Lord.  He clearly recognized Him.  In like manner, we will also be known in heaven even as we are presently known — as members of the Body of Christ.

Other passages which speak of people recognizing each other in eternity can be found in Matthew, Luke, and John:

I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 8:11).

“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Lk 16:19-31)

Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:21-26)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Doesn't anybody care?

Years ago our family had gotten together to play a game called Nerts. No one was talking, but everybody's hands were flying all over the table trying to get their cards onto the right pile before someone else beat them to it. Then, out of the quiet my mother forlornly said, "I'm stuck. Doesn't anybody care?" Well she had broken everyone's concentration. The game abruptly stopped and everybody laughed uproariously. And if I remember correctly, she had gone on to win, too. (Nice ploy, Mom.) My mother has always been good at playing Nerts. (If you've never played before, it's a bit like everybody playing the game of Solitaire all at the same time.)

Whatever our mood—happy or sad—the most comforting thing is to have someone who really tries to understand and who cares. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

It's a wonderful verse on Christian sympathy.

We've all been there. We feel completely down. Life just hasn't been going how we want it to go. But when a friend notices we're depressed and asks what's wrong and shows real concern, all of a sudden our load seems a little lighter. But if that friend instead comes back with that always-helpful response, "Cheer up!", it doesn't help very much at all.

Or how about when we're really excited about something—like we've just gotten a big promotion or one of our children is getting married. We're riding high and loving life. And when we spot a friend, give them the big news, and they're just as excited as we are, we feel even better yet. But if that friend says instead, "Oh, that's nice. What do you think of my new shoes?", all our excitement goes down the drain, right?

We do not comfort others by merely being up-beat, nor celebrate with someone in happy circumstances by being "a wet blanket." Sympathy is a sharing, an understanding, of another's feelings. In fact, Rom 12:15 is the outworking of what we find in I Cor 12:26 regarding the Body of Christ:

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

And when we go on to Rom 12:16, we see it naturally follows:

Be of the same mind toward one another...

In other words, let love and trust and sympathy and interest be mutual.

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil 2:4).

This is most important because we tend to be self-centered, taking little interest, if any, in the things that concern others. In one sense, it is easier to weep with those that weep than to rejoice with those that rejoice because it is natural to sympathize with pain. However, it requires much more of us to rejoice in the joy of others.

Verse 16 of Romans 12 continues on, saying:

Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

"Haughty in mind" is pride and conceit. And "Do not be wise in your own estimation" is the climax to the preceding exhortations. In fact, being wise in our own estimation is one of the greatest hindrances to unity among believers.

But even if everybody else does desert us, the Lord is always faithful. He always cares! His comfort is always available to us through the Holy Spirit and through Scripture.

We can see from Ps 23:3a that David knew encouragement from the Lord:

He restores my soul.

And Paul certainly knew this same comfort:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

And I can tell you about this comfort and peace, too. Over the past couple of years I have struggled with family, health, and life-in-general difficulties that are common to everybody. At times I have gotten so frustrated that in desperation I have cried out, "Lord, "I'm so completely overwhelmed, I just don't know what to do or where to go from here."

It's almost as if He waits for us to come to the end of ourselves and to depend totally on Him before He makes His presence known, because it is at those times I have felt the Holy Spirit's peace within me. And it's so real that I can only describe it as a wave of comfort engulfing me. I still didn't have the answers to any of my problems, but at those moments I knew—really knew—that I wasn't facing my struggles alone. I had been restored with a peace I certainly didn't understand. Since then, some of the pieces have fallen into place, and at the same time my faith has grown stronger. In fact, these experiences have confirmed in my mind even more that His Word is true and His care, constant.

Why in the world did I think I could
Only get to know you when my life was good
When everything just falls in place
The easiest thing is to give You praise

Now it all seems upside down

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel You now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to know You more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find You when I fall apart

Blessed are the ones who understand
We’ve got nothing to bring but empty hands
Nothing to hide and nothing to prove
Our heartbreak brings us back to You

And it all seems upside down

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel You now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to know You more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find You when I fall apart

I don’t know how long this will last
I’m praying for the pain to pass
But maybe this is the best thing that
Has ever happened to me

My whole world is caving in
But I feel You now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to know You more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find You when
You will find me when I fall apart

by Josh Wilson

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interesting tidbit - 14 (Matthew 15:24)

Q:  What did Christ mean when He said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 15:24)?  How are we to reconcile John 3:16 with Matthew 15:24, that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life"

A:  Some have explained this seeming contradiction by saying that the Holy Spirit led John to write John 3:16 years after Paul had said, in Romans 10:12, there is no difference between Israel and the rest of the nations concerning God’s offer of salvation: "for whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom 10:13).

This is true, but to me the following explains it even more fully:

The OT abounds with prophecies that salvation would go to the ends of the earth through Israel. This is why our Lord confined His earthly ministry exclusively to the house of Israel. This is why Peter said to the people of Israel, "Unto you first..."

And yet it was no secret that salvation would go to all the world, but, it was to go through the covenant people. In fact, John 3:16 was spoken to "A RULER OF THE JEWS." This makes the words of our Lord doubly significant. It would not be at all amiss to paraphrase them thus: "For God so loved the world, Nicodemus — not only Israel, but the world — that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Even several years after the death of Christ, Peter declared that it was not lawful for the Lord’s messengers to go to Gentiles (Acts 10:28). Many have thought that the great commissions of Matthew 28:19 and 20 and Mark 16:14-16 made it lawful. But the Lord gave the apostle Peter the ‘sheet’ vision and sent him to the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:9, 18). Then by a vision He sent Paul. (Acts 22:21).

Cornelius was a Gentile different from the general run of Gentiles to whom Paul was sent. Cornelius was a devout man — he feared God, prayed always, and gave alms to God’s people (Acts 10:2, 22). Cornelius feared God and did what was right (Acts 10:35). To Cornelius, Peter preached Christ, saying, “but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

Remember this was several years after Pentecost, when Peter was instructed to preach a "whoever" message to Jews gathered at Jerusalem, and to "all who are far off" (Acts 2:39). The words "far off" are found several times in the Bible, having two meanings, "far off from God" (Eph 2:13, 17) and "far off" from Jerusalem' (Dan 9:7). Paul was sent by Christ to the Gentiles "far off from God" and "far off from Jerusalem" (Acts 22:17-21; Rom 15:16-21).

Christ was born "King of the Jews" (Matt 2:2; Jn 1:49) and He died "King of the Jews" (Lk 23:3, 38). Christ was born to deliver Israel from sin, from the law, and from Caesar (Lk 1:67-77; Gal 4:4).  He was raised from the dead to be Israel’s Saviour and Prince, and to give to Israel "the sure blessings of David" (Acts 5:31; 13:34). Christ was born to take David’s throne and to reign over the house of Israel for ever (Lk 1:27-33). He was raised from the dead for the same purpose (Acts 2:27-33). He will come to earth again, for the same purpose.

Christ said, when He was Jesus of Nazareth in the land of the Jews, "it is not good to take Israel’s bread and give it to Gentiles" (Mk 7:27). He specifically instructed His messengers, "go not into the way of the Gentiles" (Matt 10:5-8).

Christ was Minister of the Jews with a "confirmation" ministry; that is, fulfilling prophecy (Matt 5:17-18; Acts 13:29; Rom 15:8).  He came "only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 15:24).

There is no record that He pursued Gentiles.  A Gentile had to become a Jew (a proselyte) in order to approach God.  More than 12 years after Christ died He directed the apostle Paul to say to the Jews, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46).  The glorious message of John 3:16 would never have reached the Gentiles if God had waited for Israel to proclaim it. As a nation they had rejected God's Son.  Later the truth of Romans 11:30, Romans 11:11 and Romans 11:15 was made known; that the Gentiles obtained Divine mercy, when and because of Israel’s unbelief; when and because of Israel’s FALL; when and because Israel was cast away

After this came the mystery of Romans 11:25, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (the period we are living in now), during which time we "have shared in their spiritual things" (Rom 15:27).  So now, though Israel, through whom the nations should have been blessed, gropes in darkness and staggers in unbelief, anybody, whether Jew or Gentile, may rejoice that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life!"

Then what? "Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26-29; Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10, 12).

After the Church is raptured, Christ will come in the clouds and to the earth as the Son of man.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"A lack of interest in the Word never made for a closer walk with God."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dayna and Nate

Just got this from Holly, one of my good friends from church.  Listen to her daughter Dayna Anderson and her boyfriend Nate Heplar play "O Come All Ye Faithful."  Beautiful! :)


My daughter Bethany (L) with Dayna (R) at High School Prom

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Strengthened with all power

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Col 1:9-12)

"Commenting on the words 'according to' (kata), Expositors says; 'The equipment with power is proportioned not simply to the recipient's need, but to the divine supply.'  This being strengthened by God results in 'all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.'  'Patience' is hypomone, 'longsuffering,' makrothumia.  Trench's note on these words is valuable: 'Makrothumia will be found to express patience in respect of persons, hypomone, in respect of things.  The man makrothumei, who having to do with injurious persons, does not suffer himself easily to be provoked by them, or to blaze up in anger (2 Tim 4:2).  The man hupomone, who under a great siege of trials, bears up, and does not lose heart or courage (Rom 5:3; 2 Cor 1:6).'  In another place, commenting on the word makrothumia, the same authority defines it as 'a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or passion — generally to passion.  'Forbearing one another in love' (Eph 4:2) beautifully expounds the meaning which attaches to the word.  Anger usually, but not universally, is the passion thus held aloof...  Still, it is not necessarily anger which is excluded or set at a distance, for when the historian of the Maccabees describes how the Romans had won the world 'by their policy and their patience,' makrothumia expresses there that Roman persistency which would never make peace under defeat.'  Commenting upon hypomone, Trench says; 'It does not mark merely endurance, or even patience, but the perseverance, the brave patience with which the Christian contends against the various hindrances, persecutions, and temptations that befall him in his conflict with the inward and outward world.'  In brief, makrothumia is patience exhibited under ill-treatment by person, hypomone, patience shown under trials, difficulties, hardships.

This patience and longsuffering is to be accompanied with joyfulness.  Expositors says; 'It (joyfulness) forms a very necessary addition, for the peculiar danger of the exercise of those qualities is that it tends to produce a certain gloominess or sourness of disposition.  The remedy is that the Christian should be so filled with joy that he is able to meet all his trials with a buoyant sense of mastery.'"  (K. Wuest)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Romans 8:18

I am reposting this post, which I wrote a couple of months ago, in memory of a dear friend who went home to be with our Lord early this morning.  He was such a caring man and always very concerned that people hear the good news that Jesus Christ died and rose again on our behalf.  We will surely miss you, Dr. Hamblin!

Have you ever felt helpless or had waves of terror completely overwhelm you?  I'm not sure where these feelings come from, but I started having them about 6 or 7 years ago.  For me, they're usually fleeting, here one moment, gone the next.  Maybe I'm experiencing them now because I'm older and know how quickly things can change for the worst.  This world is often not a kind place.

Our oldest daughter had major surgery last month. I stayed in Kansas City for a week afterwards to help her out. She's doing fine; the surgery was successful, and she is recovering nicely. But it makes me very sad that some of my friends, who have also undergone surgeries and treatments, can't say the same. This world is often not a kind place.

Recently several of my close friends lost their jobs because of this shaky economy.  They're understandably worried.  Will they be able to send their children to college next year?  Will they lose everything they own before they find work?  I feel for them.  This world is often not a kind place.

Two weeks ago my MIL celebrated her 90th birthday.  It's rather hard to believe, especially when I look at pictures of her as a child and as a young adult on our hallway wall.  Our lives go by so quickly.  James 4:14 says we're all just vapors that appear for a little while and then vanish away.

So little time.  In the big scheme of things, my life on this earth is but a speck on the timeline of eternity.  But praise God for the glorious eternity that awaits me!  No more fears, sickness or tears. And I get to be with all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and live forever with the One who loves us so much that He died in our place.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom 8:18).

So little time.  Just a fleeting vapor.  Here one minute, gone the next ...

Where will you spend eternity?

This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 Jn 4:10 NLT).

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against ANYONE who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son (Jn 3:16-18 NLT).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hold Me

(I love, I love, I love, I love the way you hold me)
I've had a long day I just wanna relax
Don't have time for my friends, no time to chit-chat
Problems at my job, wonderin' what to do
I know I should be working but I'm thinking of You and
Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That's when Your smile comes around
Oo, I love the way You hold me, by my side You'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love the way you hold me, in Your arms I'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love You more than the words in my brain can express
I can't imagine even loving You less
Lord, I love the way You hold me
Whoa whoa
Oh whoa, I love the way You hold me
Whoa whoa
Well Ya, took my day and You flipped it around
Calmed the title wave and put my feet on the ground
Forever in my heart, always on my mind
It's crazy how I think about You all of the time
And just when I think I'm bout to figure You out
You make me wanna sing and shout
Oo, I love the way You hold me, by my side You'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love the way You hold me, in Your arms i'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love You more than the words in my brain can express
I can't imagine even loving You less
Lord, I love the way You hold me
Whoa whoa
Oh whoa, I love the way You hold me
Whoa whoa
I'm so grateful and thankful for all You've done
Wish I could tell You in a short story or poem
But, all I have is my voice and this guitar
And You have my heart
Oo, I love the way You hold me, by my side You'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
Oh, I love the way You hold me, in Your arms i'll always be
You take each and everyday...
Oo, I love the way You hold me, by my side You'll always be
You make each and everyday, oh so special
Oh, I love the way You hold me, in Your arms I'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love You more than the words in my brain can express
I can't imagine even loving You less
Lord, I love the way You hold me
Whoa whoa
Oh whoa, I love the way You hold me
Whoa whoa
Oh, I love
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)

by Jamie Grace (with tobyMac)


Monday, January 2, 2012

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Have you ever considered the contrasts in these two verses?  For example, look at this list:

1. "Affliction" versus "Glory"
2. "Light affliction" versus "Weight of glory"
3. "Momentary" versus "Eternal"
4. "But" (merely) versus "Far more exceeding"
5. "The things which are seen" versus "The things which are not seen"
6. "We look not" versus "We look"

Looking at the first one — affliction versus glory — no one but our Lord fully understands verse 17 because only He left the glories of heaven to experience the rebellion of this sin-cursed world.  But in the ages to come we, as redeemed sinners, will share His glory as He shared our shame.  That's why Paul could say, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom 8:18).

On to number 2 — lightness versus weight.  In Galatians 6:2 and 5 we are instructed to "bear one another’s burdens" while we "each one will bear his own load."  The two Greek words for "burden," here, are slightly different in their meanings.  In verse 2 the word is baros, which means "heavy pressure," while in verse 5 the word is phortion, which means "an allotted load, whether heavy or light."  That's why our Lord said: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  But 2 Corinthians 4:17 has to do with a "weight" (baros) of glory" which weighs heavily against the "light affliction" we presently bear.

Regarding the third contrast — momentariness versus eternity — a "moment" is the briefest period of time.  It's not a minute, or even a second, but an instant.  In the Greek, parautika is an adjective, not a noun, but the phrase, "but for a moment," expresses the sense beautifully.  Our afflictions, which now seem so endless, are only momentary when compared to eternity.  But where our present experience is concerned, this is also true, because God has graciously provided that our afflictions come to us only one moment at a time; one moment after another.  We are not asked to bear this moment's suffering for more than this one moment.  The passing of time is a wonderful provision if we look to Him moment by moment.  Remember the words to that old hymn?  I've always liked it.

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I’m under His care.

Never a heartache, and never a groan,
Never a teardrop and never a moan;
Never a danger but there on the throne,
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.

Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus my Savior, abides with me still.

When we have attained the glory to come, we will see our former afflictions in the proper perspective — as only "for a moment," or an instant.  And yet these momentary afflictions produce for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison!

Now number 4 — insignificance versus that which is far beyond all comparison.  The word "but" here is not a conjunction (as in, "not this but that").  Rather it means "merely," like in, "but a child," or "but one step."  By using this word, Paul presents afflictions as hardly worth considering.  They are "but for a moment," or "merely momentary."  Yet, in an amazing contrast he says that these afflictions, which last "but for a moment," produce for us "an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison."

This brings us to number 5 — the visible versus the invisible.  It seems weird to say we are not to look at the things that are seen, but rather at the things which are not seen, doesn't it?  In fact, the word "seen" indicates that we do look at them, right?  What Paul is saying here is that "the things which are seen are temporal."  All we see and feel and touch will eventually pass away.  "But the things which are not seen are eternal!"  Love, sincerity, honesty, faithfulness, are all qualities which are unseen (except indirectly) that are eternal.  Long after material things have passed away, they will endure.  (Evil qualities are not included in Paul's discussion.)  Of course other "things" (including persons) we can't yet see are our Lord, first and foremost, but also all those who have gone before us, myriads of angels, the glories of heaven — and a thousand blessings which await us in Christ.  When we are finally with Him, we will be gloriously repaid for simply having been left here on earth when our Lord, Who loved us, so wanted us to be with Him.  In that day we will rejoice that we were left in this sad scene for a while to witness to others about our wonderful Savior Who loved and died for them!

Lastly number 6 — not looking versus looking.  Paul does not say, "We see the things which are not seen"; he says, "We look at the things which are not seen."  This is important.  The Greek root skopeo means "to consider or keep in view."  Paul did not fix his attention upon "the things which are seen" because he knew they would soon pass away.  He "looked," rather, "at the things which are not seen," and rightly so.  Concerning "the things above" Paul says in Colossians 3:1-3: "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

So on what are we to "set our minds?"  This is what makes all the difference in the Christian life.  Occupation with "the things which are seen," with "things that are on earth," is bound to result in spiritual defeat, while occupation with "the things which are not seen," with "the things above" will result in spiritual victory.

Our light affliction, which is but for a moment (but an instant when compared with eternity!) "is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison."  Oh that we could see that this is what the Apostle Paul — who suffered more than any of us — teaches here, for the encouragement and joy of all of us who are suffering.  In sickness or trouble, we can confidently say: "It is all a valuable investment in the glory to come!"