Monday, January 24, 2011

Thank God it's Monday (each day is a gift)

1/24/11 Monday
Thank God it’s Monday! Many say “Thank God it’s Friday” because it is the end of their week and time for the weekend to begin. For some it’s a time of partying, for some it’s catch up on work around the house, and for some it’s a much needed period of relaxation. In my mind I see Monday as the exciting start of another week in the adventure that our life is. For me, every day is a gift, a gift of life that I didn’t deserve, a life that far exceeds the expectations of many. The medical experts thought I would be a vegetable in a nursing home, having to be fed and bathed, suffering the consequences of paths I had chosen. A worthless waste of societies resources as taxpayers monies were spent caring for me till I would finally pass away. But the Mercies of God intervened, and the wonder of life was restored to me, the most undeserving of all. So “Thank God it’s Monday”!!! I am grateful for every day I am given and intend to always maintain that attitude, to always remember the grace of God and His loving hand on our lives.

So does that mean our lives are easy? No, not even close. There are many difficulties we face, many hardships and obstacles to overcome. Having God’s hand on your life doesn’t mean that everything is coming up roses, for even beautiful roses have thorns. Some preach that being a Christian means you will have all kinds of financial wealth, but they do so sometimes for selfish reasons. They often are selling books on how to get rich based on a few bible verses, often taken out of context. Jesus was pretty clear on this subject, as He usually is.

Jesus said, in Mathew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Does this mean that all Christians are to be poor? Oh no, it doesn’t mean that at all. We must always look at everything the bible says and seek the true balance that is always there. It’s when we get out of balance that error comes in. That’s why one of the most dangerous ways to study the bible, or develop doctrine, is to pick out sentences from their context and put them together any way you see fit. By doing this I can make the bible say anything I want. “I want” is the central problem, when it comes to our study of the bible. We all have our own personal desires and ideas of how life is, what we like, and what we don’t like, and those personal desires often are at odds with what God says is good and is not good.

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

There is a world of people who have discovered that religion is a great way to access other peoples money. I remember well the man I met in Toledo, who told me “There’s good money in the god business”. He is a con man who was scamming all the churches he could get into to support his street mission. When I researched him I discovered he had been doing this all over the country. We know people locally who also have become adept at fooling others with their spirituality and thus gain financial rewards. One of them seems to be unaware of their own deception, so perhaps has even fooled themselves. Meantime they leave a wake of destruction behind them, though often hard to see behind the smokescreen of godliness.

Paul went on, in his letter to Timothy, to expound more clearly on the subject of riches.
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I remember with sadness a brother who fell into this trap. He had even one time quoted the portion of this scripture we are probably the most familiar with “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” to correct me when I had erroneously quoted it off the top of my head as saying “the source of all evil”. This brother flung himself headlong into a Ponzi scam, ignoring my warnings about it, and come to find out had been sucked into many schemes over his life.

Again comes the question, “Does God want us to be poor?”. No, He doesn’t. Listen to this quote from the prophet Jeremiah, as he speaks for God.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

“Plans to prosper” is a central part of this. When we look at the life of Abraham, Jacob, Job, Solomon, and many other great people of God found in the bible, we often find they were people of great wealth, who had been blessed tremendously by God. The key, the balance in this is our relationship with God, what is important to us and what is not, what our priorities are. Ultimately God wants us to place Him at number one and the principle is that anything that is more important to us than God becomes our god.

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Greed, which includes but is not limited to the love of money, is identified here in Colossians, as idolatry. That’s another way of saying it can be your god, that which you bow down too and worship. That which leads you away from the true and living God.

We started this out with the words of Jesus as found in Mathew 6. It’s always wise to include everything said in a statement, to see the complete thought, so here is the rest of Jesus’ words

Mathew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The key to this all is found in verse 33. “Seek first His kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. There it is, straight out of the mouth of Jesus. It’s all about priorities, what’s important to you first. If we seek God and His kingdom, God will bless us tremendously. Of course getting out and working hard is a vital ingredient to this all, another part of the balance we seek to achieve. God judges the hearts and motives (1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. It’s not what you do, but why you do it that is important. If you try to be Godly in order to gain wealth, you have just defeated yourself.

The 700 club is on TV this morning. They are doing their fundraising telethon thing and frankly it can be frustrating so I often turn the sound off. I enjoy listening to the news they give at the start of the program, for it is often news that mainstream media chooses not to tell us, and sometimes flatly reveals lies we are told. It is refreshing to hear positive things and of how God changes lives. Something inside me says that I may one day be on that show, given a chance to tell of the power of God in our life.
(Click to enlarge)

There’s work to do and I’ve spent more time on this than I planned. But I suppose that someone somewhere needed to read this so will trust it was God inspired. Let me know what you think.

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