November 25, 2015

The Best Portion

The correct answer is pecan pie. At least, that would be my answer if you asked me what portion of pie I would like to be served at my Thanksgiving Day meal. Because I am an adult, I will probably get some say-so in whatever portion of the food items get put on my plate. If you’re a kid you might have your portion chosen for you and handed to you on a plate. You might like your portion, or you might wish you had a better one.

Since this is Thanksgiving, I can’t think of a better time to consider some of the godly wisdom from our Puritan forefathers. The Pilgrims were Puritans after all. And although Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) lived about a century after the original Puritan settlers came to New England, I believe his words are especially appropriate for us as we consider what we are most thankful for.

Below are excerpts from Edwards’ wonderful sermon, “God the Best Portion of the Christian.” His main point is that of all the things we could ever want for our ‘portion’ in life, the best we could ever desire is God Himself. No other good thing, on earth—or even in heaven—compares to Him!
"Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." -- Psalm 73:25

. . . the psalmist takes notice how the saints are happy in God, both when they are in this world, and also when they are taken to another. They are blessed in God in this world, in that he guides them by his counsel. And when he takes them out of it, they are still happy, in that then he receives them to glory. This probably led him, in the text, to declare that he desired no other portion, either in this world or in that to come, either in heaven or upon earth. — Whence we learn, That it is the spirit of a truly godly man, to prefer God before all other things, either in heaven or on earth . . .

Now, the main reason why the godly man hath his heart thus to heaven is because God is there; that is the palace of the Most High. It is the place where God is gloriously present, where his love is gloriously manifested, where the godly may be with him, see him as he is, and love, serve, praise, and enjoy him perfectly. If God and Christ were not in heaven, he would not be so earnest in seeking it, nor would he take so much pains in a laborious travel through this wilderness, nor would the consideration that he is going to heaven when he dies, be such a comfort to him under toils and afflictions. The martyrs would not undergo cruel sufferings, from their persecutors, with a cheerful prospect of going to heaven, did they not expect to be with Christ, and to enjoy God there. They would not with that cheerfulness forsake all their earthly possessions, and all their earthly friends, as many thousands of them have done, and wander about in poverty and banishment, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, in hopes of exchanging their earthly for a heavenly inheritance, were it not that they hope to be with their glorious Redeemer and heavenly Father. — The believer’s heart is in heaven, because his treasure is there . . .

If God were not to be enjoyed in heaven, but only vast wealth, immense treasures of silver, and gold, great honor of such kind as men obtain in this world, and a fullness of the greatest sensual delights and pleasures; all these things would not make up for the want [lack] of God and Christ, and the enjoyment of them there . . .
Edwards also has some powerful questions in the “application” section at the end of the message.  Here are two to think about:
If you could avoid death, and might have your free choice, would you choose to live always in this world, without God, rather than in his time to leave the world, in order to be with him?
Were you to spend your eternity in this world, would you choose rather to live in mean and low circumstances with the gracious presence of God, than to live forever in earthly prosperity without him?
Finally, consider this beautiful application:
Application: First, hence we may learn, that whatever changes a godly man passes through, he is happy; because God, who is unchangeable, is his chosen portion. Though he meet with temporal losses, and be deprived of many, yea, of all his temporal enjoyments; yet God, whom he prefers before all, still remains, and cannot be lost. While he stays in this changeable, troublesome world, he is happy; because his chosen portion, on which he builds as his main foundation for happiness, is above the world, and above all changes. And when he goes into another world, still he is happy, because that portion yet remains.
May God give you a hunger and a desire for Him above all else. And may God feed your soul along with your body this Thanksgiving! 

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