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Archive for August, 2010

The Love of Money

August 31st, 2010

“Keep your (life) free from the love of money . . content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

“Money is important because every day you trade a part of your life for it.”

My thoughts today are about “the love of money.”

Do you ever consider how money occupies your time, thought, and efforts? Money is important; there is no doubt about that. Money is important because every day you trade a part of your life for it and for the things it can provide, both necessities and luxuries. It is just not as all-important as you can easily allow it to become.

I have heard a Bible verse badly misquoted by people who say “Money is the root of all evil.” That is not what the Bible says or teaches. Money is just a commodity, neither good nor bad, neither noble nor evil, except for how it is gained and used. You are not a better person for having more of it, nor inferior for having less; your bank balance does not define you. Jesus warned of the “deceitfulness of riches,” because money promises a lot of things it can’t deliver. There will never be enough money, because people expect money to do things it was never meant to do. You can’t fill emptiness with money; you can’t cure loneliness; you won’t find security in it; you can’t buy happiness or peace of mind.

Here is what the Bible does teach about money, “The love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil . . keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” 1 Timothy 6:6-11 NLT/ Hebrews 13:5 NIV.

Money is not the problem; the inordinate love of money is the problem, and the very real danger of elevating money beyond its place and priority. Money and the things it can supply can become a god that holds an importance and place it cannot be trusted to occupy. Reserve your love for God, other people, and yourself (Mark 12:30-31); don’t waste and misdirect your love on money.

Mistakenly, you might assume that the goal of work is to get enough money so you can afford to quit working. Productive work has a value beyond money. The Bible principle is clear, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work . . on the seventh day you shall do no work.” See Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Work is how you serve God and others in practical, meaningful ways, as well as the means through which God meets your needs and supplies your resource for generosity.

I have heard well meaning people assume that work was the result of the curse, after Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Not so. Meaningful labor preceded their foolish disobedience. See Genesis 2:8/15 NIV. However, the curse of their sin caused the struggle and toil associated with their work. “Cursed is the ground because of you . . through painful toil you will eat of it . . it will produce thorns and thistles for you . . by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food . .” Genesis 3:17-19 NIV.

Here is the sum of this: money is not what your life is to be about. There is a responsibility that comes with wealth – the greater the wealth, the greater the responsibilities. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48 NIV.

Enjoy thankfully all that God provides for you, but do not let money be wrongly trusted as your source of happiness and security. God alone is your Source. “Every good and perfect gift is from above . . from the Father . . my God will supply all your need . .“ James 1:17 NIV/Philippians 4:19 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to be content with what you have.

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The Satisfying Life

August 30th, 2010

“Those . . called according to (God’s) purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

“Purpose combines the fullest measure of personal satisfaction with the highest level of success.”

My thoughts today are about “the satisfying life.”

At some point, everyone must choose a direction for their life. The direction itself is not so much the real question, as is how and why you chose that direction. Ultimately, the most satisfying life is not of your own making; it is the product of a true, inner sense of purpose and meaning, committing to something much bigger and far reaching than yourself – something beyond your own desires and plans – the calling and will of God for your life. If you are occupied primarily with charting your own satisfying happiness without God at its center, you will fall short of your goal.

The choices affecting the direction of one’s life are usually decided by what you perceive your destination to be, but won’t your efforts be misdirected if the destination you desire is less worthy than it could have been? Allow me an oversimplification, but a necessary one – if God’s will and purpose are not your first and foremost consideration, anything else will likely be a wrong direction that leads eventually to an inadequate, unsatisfying objective. You can successfully get what you went after in life and still find that’s not what you thought it would be. Too many people settle for a life too small; don’t be one of those.

Jesus set a very high, but authentic standard with these words, “I always do those things that are pleasing to (the Father) . . I brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.” John 8:29 NLT/17:4 NIV. To the degree you will govern your life with those goals, you will achieve the highest level of true success with the fullest measure of personal satisfaction. Read Psalm 16:11 NIV/1 Thessalonians 4:1 NIV. You can choose your destination; only God can set your destiny.

When I have spoken with groups of young collegians, I often ask these life-questions: “When you get where you’re going, where will you be? When you’ve done it your way, what will the results be? When you get what you want, what will you have?” Before you do the hard work to set a clear goal for your life and spend an irreplaceable lifetime achieving it, be sure it is the right goal – a life lived “according to God’s purpose,” fulfilling His calling and assignment. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” (William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar). The purpose of God, to which you are called, is such “a tide in the affairs of men.” Don’t live life in the shallows!

Ultimate success is not found in the hollow applause or elusive approval of others, but rather in your hearing God say when you stand before Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . come and share your Master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you choose the path He has chosen for you.

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Forever

August 27th, 2010

“I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Ps 23:6 NLT

“There is a discomfort of disconnection when a person lives apart from God, and knows it.”

My thoughts today are about “forever.”

We are such slaves of time that we cannot really envision forever. Forever seems an exaggeration, an impossibility. Everything that we know has an end. The clock and calendar rule our daily lives, but the Bible encourages awareness of the limits of time. “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.” Psalm 90:12 Living Bible. That is the case for now; everything has a life span – “a time to be born and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3:2 NIV. But that will not always be your reality. God has so much more for you, and what He has will be forever!

Have you read about the American Monarch Butterfly, maybe one of the most beautiful of its kind? Because they cannot survive the cold, they migrate up to 2,500 miles each year, south or west for their warm, winter hibernation. From east of the Rocky Mountains, they migrate south to Mexico. From west of the Rockies, they migrate every year to Pacific Grove, CA. When they migrate, oddly enough they return to the same California Eucalyptus trees each and every year, even though they are the fourth generation of the previous year’s Monarchs.

God has put a “permanent, eternal address” inside you to guide you home as well. You and I were born for eternity not for time, for fellowship not separation from God. Solomon understood this when he wrote, “God has planted eternity in the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT. That is why there is a discomfort of disconnection when a person is apart from God and knows it. Can you even imagine what it would be like apart from the Source of life forever?

There is a “permanent, eternal address” that God placed in every human spirit, drawing the soul homeward, just as the Monarch Butterflies instinctively return to Pacific Grove, or geese migrate south each winter, or salmon swim upstream to spawn where they were hatched, or swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, CA, each March from Argentina, returning in October.

The Bible contrasts two kinds of people – those who know the Lord and those who do not – “All (some) think about is this life here on earth. But we are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same mighty power that He will use to conquer everything everywhere.” Philippians 3:19-21 NLT. Which do you want to describe you?

I love this quote; “The greatest calamity is not to feel far from home when you are, but to feel right at home when you’re not.” In the human spirit is a God-placed, spiritual knowledge that this world is not your final home. Stop acting like it is, settling in and making plans as though it were. Home is where you will truly experience what forever is all about!

David said, “The Lord is my Shepherd . . I will live in the house of the Lord forever!” David did not think of “the house of the Lord” so much as a specific place; he longingly spoke of that as a special presence – “In My Father’s house . . I go to prepare a place for you . . and I will receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3. See Psalm 27:3-4 NIV. You will be forever with God!

My prayer for you today is that you value what is forever more than what is for now.

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Love’s Pursuit

August 26th, 2010

“Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me . . all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6 NLT

“God pursues you with hands full of goodness and heart overflowing with unfailing love.”

My thoughts today consider “love’s pursuit.”

Have you ever felt pursued? Like someone or something was right on your heels, getting closer with every step? Usually, that feeling comes when a person is running from their memories of past mistakes, or the repercussions of poor judgment, or the consequences of wrong behavior. David had made plenty of those. David, perfect? Far from it! Read Psalm 32:1-4 NLT. As a teen, I remember the sobering warning of this Bible verse, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out!” Numbers 32:23 NIV. The sin that plagues you, also relentlessly pursues you. David however wrote of a far different and more benevolent pursuit.

You might think of a number of things you need to be happy, things either valuable or trivial. That list would likely vary with individuals, and, depending on their circumstance at the moment, could differ at times with even the same individual. I would suggest that two indispensable things every individual will need most are what David found in the Lord. Among the things David was extremely confident he “will not lack,” he was absolutely certain he would receive a sufficient and satisfactory supply of “goodness and mercy . . every day of my life.”

If you were sure of those every day, would you live more courageously and boldly? I think you would. I will only speak for myself, but I want goodness expressed over my life every day, the more the better. Who would want badness pursuing them every day? And I cannot forget that I will need much mercy shown to me most days of my life, if not every one of them.

Let me give you a simple, working definition of goodness that I learned a long time ago; “Goodness is shown you when you are given what you do not deserve.” Goodness is a gift, not a paycheck. If you worked for it – if you earned it – what you received may have been good, but it was not goodness. So many good things and good people have touched my life with favor and kindness, more than I could ever have deserved. God has been gracious and people have been generous. For both I thank God. “For God satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9 NKJV. My life has been full.

My definition of mercy is similarly simple, “Mercy is shown you when you are not given what you do deserve!” Mercy in this verse is variously translated as “love, lovingkindness, and unfailing love.” I am more grateful for what I was spared, as I am for what I have shared. Psalm 103:8 NKJV.

Don’t look now but Someone is following you, not your past to haunt you, nor your mistakes to taunt you. It’s the Shepherd, pursuing you with hands full of goodness and His heart overflowing with unfailing love. “The Lord God is merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is to have goodness and mercy behind you, and Heaven ahead.

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Overflowing Fullness

August 25th, 2010

“The Lord is my Shepherd . . my cup overflows with blessings.” Psalm 23:5 NLT

“Overflowing is the key to sharing; sharing is the key to overflowing even more!”

My thoughts today are about “overflowing fullness.”

How much is enough? That really depends, doesn’t it? That’s not an easy question to answer, actually. There are times in life when you will seem to have less than enough, and yet you will find God faithful and still manage to make do and get by. As a boy, I learned that from my Mom. Our family was of modest means, but never without. My Mom could do more with less than most people could do with more. I hope it’s a family trait.

More of the time you will have enough, not a lot to spare but nothing that you lack. Maybe those are the reasons that you will really enjoy the wonderful occasions when God gives you more than you earned and beyond what you need – a little extra to put away for the future, and a little bit to share. That sharing part is where you will find your greatest joy. Life at its best is not about what you get; it’s not about what you have; life in its fullness is about what you give.

If you never grow to that point, you will never have enough to enjoy, however much you have. Here’s what a wise King Solomon learned: “One man gives freely yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. What is in your overflowing cup? Indescribable joy! 1 Peter 1:18. Incredible peace! Philippians 4:7. Abounding grace! Romans 5:20 NKJV. Exceeding power! Ephesians 1:19-21/3:20. Abundant and eternal life! John 10:10. Overflowing with more than enough of everything!

The best lessons you will ever learn are the lessons that Jesus taught. Among them is the principle of giving and receiving. I think this principle is a life cycle that begins with receiving, but never ends as long as you perpetuate the cycle with your continuing liberality. Remember the cup that David describes as “overflowing with blessing?” If that overflow is not shared with intentionality and purpose, it becomes little more than extravagant and wasteful spillage, not doing you or anyone else any measurable good!

The blessings of God are for more than self-enrichment; you are equipped and entrusted with the means to supply what comes from God Who is the Source. The Bible says, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above . . He never changes or casts shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NLT.

Let’s be practical; you can’t give something that you don’t have. You have nothing to give except what you are given. Out of what you receive from God, usually through others, you are provided the means to share as God’s supply to others, as He directs. You plant in another’s life as someone planted into yours, and God honors such gifts with added increase.

Jesus promised, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV. Generosity continues a cycle of multiplication and harvest in your life, while beginning a cycle of blessing and giving in other lives.

My prayer for you is to have more than enough, and share that generously with others.

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