Cherish or Perish
Abraham loved God more than Isaac and became the source of blessing for ‘all nations’ while Judas Iscariot cherished the riches of the world more than His Savior and received eternal damnation.

Cherish or Perish

        In addition to the future coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Lord Jesus transferred His own peace to us. And after resurrection, when the disciples were hiding behind closed doors for ‘fear of the Jews’ the Risen Lord appeared ‘in their midst’ and greeted them with ‘Shalom – His peace’. Lord Jesus is well aware that we are always troubled for what we do not have rather than be satisfied with what is already given by God. And in this state of perpetual craving for more we are unable to be satisfied and fully enjoy the gifts.

       Enjoying what we have – God created man in His own image and then He blessed them to be ‘fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be food’ (Genesis 1:27-29). The Garden of Eden had everything that man needed, river to provide water, gold and precious stones and every possible comfort and authority to rule and control all that. And after all these things,  a free will was given to live the way he wanted. God put only one restriction, ‘Of all the trees of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat’. And then God gave clear reason for this restriction, ‘for in the day you shall eat of it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2:7-17). After receiving all these things, the question that we had and still remains with many, ‘How dare God refuse us this tree? And if He wanted to deny this, why did He put it there in the first place’?

        Cain brought an offering to God but he became angry that God preferred Abel’s offering and was then told by God, ‘sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it’ (Genesis 4:7). God did not seek an offering then and not now either, for God says, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ (Hosea 6:6). We want to please God and we would rather bribe Him through our offerings or our good deeds rather than get to know Him. Despite repeated warnings from the angels who had come to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, ‘Lot lingered, the men (angels) took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him outside the city’. Lot was then warned by the angels, to flee and ‘do not look behind you’ lest you be destroyed (Genesis 19:15-17). We look back in remembrance of our life but God wants us to rejoice in what we have and ‘Lot’s wife looked back behind him and she became a pillar of salt’.  God did not change her but ‘she became a pillar of salt’ for she betrayed her secret longing for that way of life and proved herself to be unworthy to be saved (Genesis 19:26).

         David was a teenager when he killed Goliath and since the people praised David for his courage, Saul was afraid of David and became David’s enemy (1 Samuel 18-24). Saul was chosen by God as Israel’s first king and David saved the king and the Israelite army from the humiliation of defeat. But Saul could not enjoy the gift of victory from God and be thankfully obedient to Him but resented David’s popularity and went hunting for him to kill him. His hatred made Saul lose sight of God’s command and he was finally rejected by God, though he continued to remain as king till his death. Prophet Nathan relayed God’s anger for King David’s sin with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband Uriah, saying, ‘I (the LORD God of Israel) gave your master’s (King Saul) house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more’ (2 Samuel 12:7-9). David’s sin was forgiven but he suffered the death of his child with Bathsheba.

         Judas Iscariot was chosen by Lord Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples, he was the only non-Galilean and was entrusted with the custody of the disciples’ funds as a trusted member of the team. Lord Jesus was well aware of the evil in Judas yet He washed his feet also (John 6:70). Judas Iscariot allowed his greed to rule and like Cain, when sin knocked at the door, he allowed Satan to enter and control him. Judas Iscariot never knew the Savior Lord and His love well and committed suicide after betraying the Lord (Luke 22:3-4).

        The righteous requirement of the law of the Old Testament was fulfilled in Lord Jesus, for before this no one could come near God for fear of death (Romans 8:3-4). Holiness of God was seen by prophet Isaiah, who cried out in despair for having seen God (Isaiah 6:3-5). It was only after the Holy Spirit was given that man could understand the love of God as revealed in His Son and boldly approach His throne. Apostle Peter had seen that love in Lord Jesus’ eyes after denying Him thrice (Luke 22:61) and instead of hiding in shame, he jumped into the water to reach the Lord on the sea-shore (John 21:7). We can only learn fully about God and His blessings if we cherish what we have and thank Him for that rather than complaining for what is not there.

         Why do we murmur and complain to God? – The Israelites asked Prophet Samuel to give them a ‘king to judge us like all the nations’ while the basic reason of their being given the Promised Land was for them to be different from others as God’s chosen people. God commanded Samuel to do so ‘for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me (God), that I should not reign over them’ (1 Samuel 8:6-7). The Israelites demand meant that God doing miracles for us and giving us victory everywhere is fine but we want a visible King.

        Knowledge of good and evil is, to be ruled by the five senses and not by the knowledge of God. Solomon had asked for and received wisdom from God but his yearning for more made him try ‘to gratify my flesh with wine, while guarding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good’ for man to do in his life (Ecclesiastes 2:3). God warned Cain, ‘sin lies at your door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it’ and do not listen to the devil but rejoice in God’s love. Sinful living is being led by the five senses and Apostle Peter warned us about the same fact of evil prowling at the door like a hungry lion, ‘resist him, steadfast in the faith’ and you will overpower the desires of the flesh (1 Peter 5:8-9). Cherish what you have and do not crave for what you desire though asking God prayerfully for more is a godly desire. 

        Grace teaches us that may be God has given my enemies power over my liberty and condition but shall they have power over my soul and spirit also? A Christian is never subdued till his spirit is not subdued. Job prevailed over Satan and all his troubles, and the devil who was troubling him was more troubled than Job. King David complained of himself to himself and not to God, ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God’ (Psalm 42:5). A godly person complains to God but not of God but of himself whereas a worldly man is ready to justify himself and lay the blame on God for everything.

        ‘God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone’ (James 1:13). Satan has no power over us except what we willingly concede to him and he works on our affections, and this then works on our will. ‘The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him’ and this happened only after Saul allowed his spirit of envy to surface (1 Samuel 16:14). Satan entered Judas Iscariot only after his covetous heart made way for him (Luke 22:3).  It is a dangerous thing to pass from God’s control into the devil’s hands and Apostle Paul warns that rash and lasting anger opens the way to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27). Like King David we should first blame ourselves, be ashamed of ourselves and judge ourselves more severely but self love teaches us the opposite. The sunrise lights up the nearest places first and then the more remote, likewise where there is true light, it discovers what is amiss within first and then helps in correcting that.

       To bring the Ark of the LORD into Jerusalem, David wore a linen ephod, the dress of a servant of God, a priest, and then danced with abandon before the Ark. This was resented by Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, and David replied to her, ‘I will play music before the LORD. And I will be even more undignified than this and will be humble in my own sight… And Michal had no children to the day of her death’ (2 Samuel 6:14-16 & 22-23). David humbled himself before the LORD God, recognizing Him to be the source of every blessing while Michal did not.

       King Solomon tried everything to satisfy his soul but eventually declared, ‘Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Solomon sinned under the influence of pagan women for he failed to cherish what God had given him (Nehemiah 12:26). Apostle Paul never forgot his past and he called himself least of the Apostles ((1 Corinthians 15:9). And then he called himself least of the saints (Ephesians 3:8) and finally he called himself the chief sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). The more the depth of the knowledge of God and success in his ministry, the more he realized his lack of self worth and all his work being through the grace of God. To avoid laying the blame on others, humility is the key for it is a privilege to serve God and others and not a matter of right.

      Holding on to truth amidst pervasive fear – Faith is more active in the midst of storms and trials, for it is not about certainty but about uncertainty. In Philippi Apostle Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and thrown into the inner prison with their feet in stocks, but at midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God, with the prisoners listening (Acts 16:23-26). How could they overcome the pain of beating with rods and the discomfort of being chained? Probably they were singing this, ‘I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications’. In this love and hearing by God are both in present tense and trust of God is for His trustworthiness, ‘Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore, I will call upon Him as long as I live’. Again the present faith is based on God’s faithfulness in the past. The Psalmist reiterates his past experiences of being saved to finally say to himself, ‘Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you’ (Psalm 116:1-7). This is the way to ‘cast all your anxiety on God’ by remembering God’s blessings of before and trusting in His faithfulness.

        Identify all the problems facing you, whatever these be, about finances, health, fear of job loss or about your family and then remember the days when such worries were met by God’s grace. Then hand over your present fears to the Father in heaven who ‘will not leave nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6). This is where the devil steps in to cast doubts and like Lord Jesus in the wilderness we have to counter these evil thoughts by God’s word. Apostle Paul says, ‘cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light’ (Romans 13:12). Darkness hides but light exposes and we are exhorted to repent of our sins that provide a door to the devil and step into God’s light. Apostle John declares about Lord Jesus ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men’ (John1:4). The Savior Lord is the light and coming to Him is to be ready for everything.

         Seventeen years old Joni Eareckson Tada dove into shallow water and severed her spinal cord and now after more than 50 years in the wheel-chair is a bestselling author, renowned speaker and painter, though she cannot move her lower limbs or hands and holds the brush in her mouth to paint. She says, ‘In the worst of times Christians can and should be at their best’ for we are the salt of the earth and light of the world. She further explained, ‘We are at our best when we remain hopeful, confident in God and His hold on the future, and also prayerful and expectant’. About her own condition, she stated ‘that God permits what He hates to accomplish, things that He loves, and that has been my mantra for almost fifty-three years in this wheelchair’. That ‘God permits what He hates, this difficult, paralyzing injury, to accomplish something that He loves, and that is, of course, in  me, a changed heart and a closer walk with my God’.

        God commanded Moses and Aaron not to cut off the tribe of the families of Kohathites from among the Levites that they may live and not die, when they approach the most holy things (Numbers 4:17-19). God had pre-ordained the role of each tribe of the Israelites with adequate resources for their comfortable living. We fail to give glory to God and cherish what we have for we try and find our value in our own selves or in our surroundings. C. S. Lewis said that God created man to receive value, for his value is not in himself but in Lord Jesus and this is transferred through his union with the Lord. The dedicated place was crated first and then the man was created to fill that and man can never be himself till he is there in that allotted place.

       Man’s quest for fulfillment outside God can never succeed for life is there in the Son and He gives us life and meaning to it. Kingdom of God is like a pearl of great value but many are unable to fathom its real value and fail to receive it. The one who realized its real value, to acquire it, went and sold everything and also surrendered his mind, heart, soul and strength to the One who has the ‘valued pearl’. Lord Jesus has given this to us without any effort on our part and probably we tend to ascribe least value to something received without cost and keep on trying to add value with our efforts. God desires us to just rest in His finished work and value that gift.

        To relish anything it is essential that its intrinsic value is recognized and then receive the same thankfully for without this attitude one can never rejoice. Apostle Paul could thank God in every situation, even when locked up in shackles in a dark dungeon, for he cherished the gift of salvation and the blessing of preaching the Gospel to others. What better gift other than the Son of God can be there for us, for He exercises authority and power over everything in heaven, on  and below the earth. Receiving Lord Jesus as the Savior makes us joint heirs with Him over the Kingdom of Heaven. What is required of us is to cherish and rejoice in this!

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