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    July 30, 2019


    "I Can Only Imagine" is a song by MercyMe. Lyrically, it imagines the experience of appearing before God in heaven. In the refrain, the singer ponders, "Surrounded by your glory / What will my heart feel / Will I dance for you Jesus / Or in awe of You be still / Will I stand in your presence / Or to my knees will I fall / Will I sing hallelujah / Will I be able to speak at all / I can only imagine."

    What will God say when you enter heaven? The Bible assures the believer that if we do with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength all that God has established, the Lord will certainly declare, “‘Well done, good and faithful slave” (Matt 25:21). By contrast, a person who is self-absorbed will not put his or her “hand to the plow” with much intensity (cf. Luke 9:62). Peter demonstrated the attitude of complete surrender to the Lord: “‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You’” (Mark 10:28). Romans 12:1 exhorts the believer “by the mercies of God” to present ourselves as “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

    God provides transformation through a life of complete surrender to his Son, Jesus Christ. The filling of the Holy Spirit is greater when more aspects of a person’s life are surrendered to God (Eph 5:18). When filled with the Holy Spirit, the believer exhibits traits of his character (Gal 5:22). The more a person surrenders to God, the more the old self-absorbed nature is replaced with the one that resembles Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17).

    Ecclesiastes 5:13 reveals the heart of many: “There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.” Sin keeps one focused upon this life only, not recognizing that every sin is “a grievous evil.” The sphere of sin’s enactment is the world (as it is and as we know it). Focus upon this life - with neglect of an eternal perspective - leads to the negligence of Christian virtues because one is compelled by vanity in the things passing away (cf. 1 John 2:17).

    Beware of placing security in what is not eternal. First Timothy 6:7 reminds us, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Ecclesiastes solemnly asks, “So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?” (5:16b). The wind is transitional and transitory; its uncertainty is similar to the world’s fleeting values. Wisdom is recognizing, “Unless the Lordbuilds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps 127:1a).

    How does one transition from vanity to strength? Scripture provides us with the answer: “fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl 12:13-14). Every person is eternally accountable to God for a relationship with the living Word, Jesus Christ, and submission to the written Word, the Holy Bible. Heeding the will of the Lord is not burdensome (cf. Matt 11:28-30; 1 John 5:3); it is the purest of joy. One’s most extravagant dreams will never surpass the tremendous experience of being in the will of God, and certainly nothing is better.

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