A relatively unknown New Testament character by the very uncommon name of Onesiphorus, played a much more important part in the ministry of the Apostle Paul than most people may imagine. You may ask: "What did he do?" Well, his visits to Paul in prison obviously encouraged the apostle. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: “May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.” (2 Tim. 1:16)
That may not sound like that big a deal to many, but consider this: Paul, after experiencing beatings, the rejection of his people, and the abandonment of ministry assistants, was now alone, cold, hungry and forgotten in prison. And though the bible makes no mention of it, it is not that hard to imagine then how Paul was later able to, even as a prisoner, encourage others. Could that be one reason he later wrote this in his second letter to the Corinthian church?: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4) Paul gave God the glory for his comfort and rightfully so because in the end, all good things come from Him. Nevertheless, some of the that refreshing uplift came by way of Onesiphorus.
If you’ve ever experienced loneliness, you know what just the sight of a dear friend or loved one can do. And if you’re not at all lonely right now, perhaps the Lord may remind you of someone who may be. Need I say anything else?Encourage someone today. Not only may it make someone’s day, it will it make you feel good as well, and honor God in the process. Know anyone who needs a lift?
God’s word for today: (Matthew 25:36) “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
One thing old people are known for is that they tell the same old stories over and over again. That being said, if I have bored you before with this goofy joke, please forgive me: Two men were fishing in a boat under a bridge. One looked up and saw a funeral procession starting across the bridge. He stood up, took off his cap, and bowed his head. When the procession had crossed the bridge, the man put on his cap, picked up his rod and reel, and continued fishing. After a few moments of silence, the other guy said, "Wow, that was touching. I didn't know you had it in you." The first man responded, "Well, I guess it was the right thing to do, after all, I was married to her for 40 years."
Although today’s goofy story is probably stretching the point just a bit, the reason I am using it today is to focus on the many people we know that claim to live by the "do-the-right-thing" motto. On the surface, it would appear that living our lives by that principle must be pretty good, and I suppose that could be the case in many situations. On the other hand, there is a much better reason for doing things. I am referring to love. There is no greater motivational factor than love. Paul wrote: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) Can you see that the best inner driving force when it comes to serving God and others is the love of Christ in our hearts?
Suppose a man one day decides to buy his wife a dozen roses and take her out to a romantic dinner. When she asks "why are you doing this?" he replies "I just thought it was the right thing to do." Would it not have been better if he would have said "I did it because I love you"? Of all the reasons for doing things, love is the best. In fact, the greatest thing that ever happened to this world (Christ) was motivated by the greatest love of all. (God’s) Lets let the love of God lead us. Now, that, is the right thing to do! Done any great things lately?
God’s word for today: (Ephesians 5:2 NLT) “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
A man came to a wide river one day wishing to pass to the other side. He lifted up a prayer to God saying:“Lord, give me the strength to cross this river.” In an instant, he felt unusual strength in his arms and legs. In a matter of minutes, he swam across. A few days later another man came up to the river’s edge wishing to cross over. He too, lifted up a prayer to God saying: “Lord, give me the strength, intelligence, and wisdom to cross this river. God quickly gave him what he prayed for and the man proceeded to cut down a tree, made himself a raft, and crossed over to the other side. The next day, another man came to the river’s edge with the same dilemma. In his case, he scratched his head, looked up to Heaven and said: “Dear Lord, can you please help me cross this river?” In a moment, he heard a noise that sounded like a tree snapping. As he drew closer to investigate, he saw a bridge nearby and walked over to the other side.
So what was my point in that goofy story? Too often, when we pray to God, we don't only ask for His help, we tell Him exactly how to answer. And sometimes He answers our prayer just like we asked Him so we must always be careful what we pray for. We must never forget that God doesn’t need our advice when it concerns how and when He will answer. A simple, sincere plea for help is all we need to concern ourselves with when we present our petitions to Him. After all, He knows and understands our situation better than we do. Then, we can say as confidently as David, who wrote: Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our help and our shield. (Ps 33:20) Moral of the story: Keep it simple when you pray to God. When it comes from the heart, sometimes all we need is this three-word prayer: “Lord, help me!”
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 50:15) “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
Are you afraid of dying? If you are, you are not alone so don’t feel bad. I know a lot of good people who, even though they love and belong to the Lord, are afraid of dying. The apostle Paul addressed the issue of life and death in his letter to the Philippians, saying he was hard pressed to choose between two of his wishes as a Christian. On the one hand, he wanted to remain alive so that he could continue his work in spreading the gospel, but on the other hand he knew it would be far better to leave this world and be with Christ. (See Philippians 1:21-23) I believe that the moment we all set foot in Heaven, we will ask ourselves “Why couldn’t I have come here sooner?”
How many people do we know who are anxiously looking forward to dying? Generally speaking, not only do people not want to die, they live in fear of it every day and many don’t even want to talk or hear about it. A preacher once said that death is like a scarecrow. Foolish birds stay away from it, seeing it is a man that wants to harm them, but the smart ones know that the presence of that scarecrow only means there is some mighty good eating down there. He concluded, "Faith is a bird that loves to perch on scarecrows." Death is as harmless to Christians as scarecrows to the birds. It has no power over God’s children and it is no wonder then that Paul also wrote: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
God’s word for today: (Psalms 116:15) “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
Pastor Ysidro’s recent bible study in the 10th Chapter of Acts about the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, stirred up this thought within me: Though Cornelius was a devout, generous, and seemingly religious man, that alone did not guarantee him automatic entry into Heaven. He, as well as the rest of his family, had to hear the gospel message of salvation, had to believe in Christ, recognize his sinful nature, and receive Him in his heart. That sounds a bit complicated but the bottom line is simple: All that is required to be saved is to believe in Christ. You see, Cornelius and all his family were saved when they believed in Jesus. They did all the other steps not to get saved but because, by believing in Christ, they were already saved.
Unlike Cornelius, many religious people mistakenly believe that their good works and devotion to God alone are enough to save them. No, Romans 3:23 tells us: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”and since we are all sinners, we all need a Savior. John 1:12 says that only those who receive Christ (in their heart) can call themselves His children, which destroys the erroneous belief of many that everyone automatically is a child of God. Every human being in the world is God’s creation but only they who have received Christ in their heart are His children. These are the only ones who lawfully have the right to start their prayer by saying: “Our Father, who art in Heaven.”
God’s word for today: (Galatians 6:14) “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
Yesterday, I wrote about the danger of making money when it becomes more important to us than God. I also added that it is not a sin as long as it remains in it’s proper place. If we are honest and objective, many bible heroes were extremely wealthy. We must keep this in mind, however: God prospered them because of other things in their lives, not because they strove to be rich. Such was the case with a dentist and Methodist minister by the name of Thomas Welch.
Over a hundred and fifty years ago, Dr. Welch, developed a non-alcoholic grape drink in the kitchen of his own home. He did so because he was opposed to the idea of using fermented wine in the church communion service. He named his invention "Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine." He approached church officials seeking approval to use his grape drink instead of the fermented wine for all communion services. They turned him down at first but later granted their approval. His son Charles, also a dentist, changed the name of his dad's product to "Welch's Grape Juice" and produced it in a barn behind his home. The rest is History! Today, Welch's Grape Juice is the best-known and biggest seller worldwide, and is used in most church communion services today as the representation of Jesus' Blood.
But consider the following: Dr. Welch did not make his grape drink to make money but rather to honor God. In fact, he advised his son only to start producing and selling the grape juice as a means to “make ends meet.” Apart from being a dentist and a minister, Dr. Welch was an active prohibitionist since he was fiercely opposed to the liquor industry and was also active in the Underground Railroad that transported escaped slaves from the south into Canada. I believe that the Lord therefore prospered his son and family later, not because they wanted to get rich but because of their desire to honor Him as well as help their fellow man.
God’s promise for today: (Proverbs 22:4 NLT) “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.”
My wife and I were listening to the radio while on the road yesterday and we heard a commercial ad that started something like this: “Who said we have to be content with what we have?” In an instant I blurted out loud, “the bible!” Now, we realized that the ad was from an investment group, but whether it is they or somebody else, the world’s ideas are often the opposite to the teachings of God’s Word. Many in the world actually believe that money is the most important thing in life. It is not. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10that the love of it is the root of all evil. However, the scripture that first came to my mind when the man in the radio ad asked his foolish question was Hebrews 13:5 which reads: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Nevertheless, There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that it is wrong to want to make a better life for ourselves and our loved ones. If that includes looking for ways to make more money, it is perfectly okay as long as it does not become an obsession with us. Even if we leave the Bible out of this conversation, life itself should have taught us already that people can have all the money in the world and still not be happy, healthy, loved, or satisfied. Money can’t buy these four and many other things. Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, surprised many in a luncheon in New York two years ago when he told them he was happier when he was making 12 dollars a month. Thank God for honest people.
Whoever came up with the phrase, “the best things in life are free” knew what he or she was talking about, especially if that includes God’s free gift of salvation by way of His Son. Christ himself said in Matthew 16:26: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Let me repeat that it is not a sin to be rich nor is it wrong to make money, as long as it does not become more important to us than God. In fact, that includes any person or thing. Nothing can be more important in our lives than God, and apart from Him there can be no true contentment.
God’s word for today: (Matthew 6:24) “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Has this ever happened to you in church?: You sensed, perhaps even felt convinced, that the preacher was singling you out in his message, trying to embarrass you before the congregation. Consider the following: There is now a major penalty in football, from middle school all the way up to the pros, referred to as “targeting.” It can result in a 15 yard infraction or even ejection and is generally committed by players who use the top of their helmets to strike an opponent, mostly the ball carrier. However, the targeting penalty can be enforced on any player who intentionally tries to hurt a defenseless opponent. Having said that, pastors and teachers can be guilty of “targeting” as well. In this case, it is the attempt of the minister to attack a specific person or persons while behind the pulpit or lectern.
It is not uncommon to hear certain folks claim they left their previous church because the pastor used his time behind the pulpit to publicly scold, slander, or embarrass them. There is also a possibility that the pastor did not willfully intend to demean anybody. Nevertheless, whether intentional or not, much damage can be inflicted when that happens. The pulpit was never intended for doing anything other than preach and teach the Word of God and any true minister of the gospel will never attack, slander, or embarrass any person or church. Just like a football player who targets his opponent can be penalized appropriately by the referee, so can a targeting minister be appropriately penalized by our “Great Referee” even to the point of being disqualified.
To be fair and objective, most of the time when God’s “genuine” pastors and teachers are accused of “targeting”, the accusation is groundless. In most of these cases, it was the Word of God that offended, not the preacher. Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” If we are honest, we will all confess that, at one time or another, we have all felt like the preacher was singling us out and that someone told him something about us. I know that is true because I’ve been falsely accused on many occasions of doing just that. Please bear this in mind: Game officials in all sports and levels have a higher authority that monitors their performance as well as their conduct. In other words, if they are biased or inept, eventually they will lose their job. It is no different with those who preach and teach the gospel. If they are not fulfilling their duties in a manner pleasing to God, He can depose and replace them if and when He sees fit. He needs no help to do it either. One more thing: Just like every child of God, all God’s servants will one day have to stand before the Lord to give an account of their conduct in their Christian life here on earth as well as their service to Him. Nevertheless, lets take comfort in the fact that, whatever issue may be troubling us, God is fully in control.
God’s word for today: (2 Timothy 2:24) “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.”
Psalm 51 is among David’s best known psalms and is, without a doubt, a confession of sin and a plea for forgiveness. Concerning the specific sin for the which he was seeking God’s pardon, the one involving Bathsheba and her husband, many bible scholars agree that David broke every one of the Ten Commandments just in that incident alone. That God forgave Him should be a reminder to all that although sin is evil and capable of killing people and dooming them eternally, God’s grace is greater. In no way should this imply, however, that we have more leeway when it comes to sin. Paul asked this question in his letter to the Romans: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (Rom 6:1) In the following verse, he answers the question by saying: “By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” If we were released from prison, why should we possibly want to go back to it? Sin will always have it’s consequences. In fact, although David was forgiven, he paid a very heavy price for it throughout his lifetime.
Expounding God’s grace can be a dilemma because it is one bible truth that gets twisted often by those who oppose it as well as those who don’t understand it. We all know how much damage and harm is caused by “extremists” of all kinds on a daily basis, right? Well, the gospel message has its extremists too. One extreme side says that we can live as we please and do whatever we want anyway God’s grace covers it all and we have nothing to worry about. Those who hold this view are in for a horrible shock. The other extreme side, which expounds God’s holiness and justice, has people thinking that every little slip-up or ungodly thought causes them to lose their salvation on a continual basis. Those who hold this view will be robbed of the peace of Christ in their heart and fall short of the abundant life He promised. Constantly looking behind your shoulder is no way to live. Lets make the proper use of God’s grace in our lives. When we stumble and fall, lets rely on it to get forgiven, cleansed, and restored. Better still, lets rely on it to help us to overcome temptation and stay away from trouble. In conclusion, lets always be thankful to God for His amazing grace.
God’s promise for today: (1 Peter 5:10) “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
It is widely accepted that Proverbs, Chapter 3, is the specific advice that David wrote for his son, Solomon. Most bible readers are familiar with the advice in this chapter to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not lean on our own understanding (vs. 5) but the entire chapter is a storehouse of advice for living a meaningful and blessed life. Here are two examples: (verse 3) Advice: “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you.” Result: You will find favor both with God and people and earn a good reputation. Do you have any relationship issues in your life? Perhaps you should consider if you have been a loyal friend yourself and treated others with kindness. (verse 7) Advice: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” Result: You will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
The one thing that most caught my attention while reading this chapter earlier today, however, was verse 21 which reads: “My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion.” Wisdom begins with fearing and honoring God and staying as close to Him as possible. Among the many benefits for doing just that is a sound and restful sleep. Verse 24 says: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
The manufacturers of drugs and over the counter medications formulated especially for helping people sleep are probably making billions of dollars on a yearly basis. Most of us have turned to these meds at one time or another. In fact, there are many folks who take them on a daily basis. I was reminded today, by the truth of God’s Word, that the surest way of enjoying a sound sleep is by staying in close communion with our God. We all know that God is love but we should also know that He is wisdom. Therefore, verse 21 could also be read this way: “My son, do not let the Lord out of your sight.” If you are they type that has trouble sleeping at night, perhaps you have been focusing more on your situation than on God. If that’s the case, keep your eyes on Him and sleep well.
God’s word for today: (Psalm 127:2) “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
Reading in Isaiah 30 recently, I came across a situation we can all relate to. Hearing that the Assyrian army was marching to Jerusalem, most of its residents made plans to flee to Egypt for help. In verse 15, the Lord revealed to them their only reliable option: “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” To put it simply, God told them that by turning back to Him from their idolatrous ways and by staying put and trusting in Him, they would be saved. They did not and chose to go seek help in Egypt anyway. Result: they paid a very heavy price for it. Today, this scenario is repeated when Christians are either in the midst of or facing an impending storm. We often want to jump ahead of God and seek help from another source, but the only reliable option for God’s people then is the one we have today. We must wait and trust Him, especially in important decisions. He knows our cares, worries, and fears and will act on our behalf at the right time and save us.
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 40:31) “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Note: I have been pressed for time these last few days so today I offered you a meditation I wrote for our church bulletin in 2006. I hope it blessed you nonetheless.
These words which Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians should provoke in us much thought and meditation: “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2) Paul clearly stated with these words that He was determined to keep his message to the Corinthians as simple as he could and that he would not focus on anything else other than the cross and crucifixion of Christ. He was not going to embellish his message with flowery words of expression. As Jesus Himself would do, Paul wanted the message of Christ’s salvation by way of the cross to be simple enough so that even children would understand it. The truth is that, because the message is simple, children are usually quicker to grasp and understand it than adults.
The topics I can teach, preach, or write about are endless but this declaration of Paul serves as a reminder to all true ministers of the gospel that we can’t stray too far from it’s central theme, the cross of Christ. It is not mere coincidence that the cross is indeed the center of the gospel message. Without the cross of Christ, there would be no salvation, our lives would be meaningless, and we would have no hope. It is ironic that the cross, a symbol of cruelty, torture, and pain, has become, to countless of God’s children around the world, the thing they cherish the most. Knowing that to be true, George Bennard included this line in one of the most beloved hymns the world has ever known: [So I'll cherish the old rugged cross / Till my trophies at last I lay down / I will cling to the old rugged cross / And exchange it some day for a crown.]
Ever since Christ came into my life, “The Old Rugged Cross” has meant so much to me and I confess that even today, almost fifty years later, I have a hard time trying to sing it. Remember the movie line “you had me at hello”? Well, the Old Rugged Cross does the same to me. I break up as soon as I hear: “On a hill far away.” Every day, we see people wear crosses on a necklace or in their apparel. Every time I do, I am aware that not everybody wears them for the same reason. Even so, and God knows who they are, many wear them because they indeed cherish the cross of Christ. What does the cross mean to you?
God’s word for today: (Galatians 6:14) “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
A well known pastor was flying home after attending a conference. Right before the plane took off, he noticed this lady who was rushing in and just happened to take the seat next to him. She was wearing sunglasses, a baggy cap which was pulled down low, a baggy sweater, and a bright orange sweat suit. He was tired, so as soon she sat down next to him, he decided to take a snooze. When he woke up and noticed the lady sitting next to him, he was shocked at what he saw. Under the frumpy attire was this amazingly beautiful young woman. As it turned out, she was an actress who was traveling incognito.
The gospel is like that. It is a beautiful thing but we can either adorn it or make it unattractive to others. In his letter to Titus, Paul gave him this instruction: “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. (Titus 2:9-10) The NIV says it this way: “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” The point is that is that we can adorn our life in Christ or make it unattractive to others by the way we conduct ourselves.
As in the case of the pretty young lady in the plane, we can do the same by the way we dress. To be sure, our salvation does not depend on the way we dress but the bible does say that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and according to I Corinthians 6:20, we are to glorify God in our body as well as in our spirit. We often go to great lengths to pretty up our cars, homes, lawns, etc. Why, then, can’t we make that kind of effort to make ourselves look as good as we can? The lady in the plane had a reason for “dressing down.” She obviously wanted to avoid making a scene. If she had been on an awards show walking the red carpet, on the other hand, you can bet she would do the opposite. Do God’s children have a good reason to “dress down?” I repeat: we can adorn the gospel by the way we dress. I am not suggesting we over dress but I am saying that if we are the children of God, the better we look, the better the gospel looks to others. I can’t speak for everybody, but as far as “dressing up” is concerned, some of us need all the help we can get. Perfume, soap, shaving lotion, deodorant, hair products, toothpaste, and mouthwash can be a great help too. Don’t hide the better looking you.
God’s word for today: (Isaiah 61:10) “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Reading today’s title, some of you may have thought I’ll be writing about sharing the gospel, something I try to do from time to time. No, today I want to encourage you to get into the habit of sharing the good things that happen in your lives. I heard this story/joke many years ago on several occasions. Perhaps, some of you have heard it too. It is the story of the vendor who was selling his live shrimp in a village market. He had five or six canisters of shrimp from different parts of the world and each was covered with a heavy linen cloth, except one. When someone asked him why one of the canisters was open, he replied: “Oh, those are the Mexican shrimp. I don’t need to cover them. You see, when one of them tries to climb to the top, the rest of them pull it back down.” The joke was an attempt to portray people in our culture as envious of one another, never wanting for any of our own to climb the ladder of success. Nevertheless, we’ve all come to know that people everywhere are basically the same. They all have good folks and bad ones.
In back-to-back parables in the 15th Chapter of Luke, Jesus told two stories which were practically the same in nature. One involved a man who lost one of his sheep and the other about a woman who lost one of her valuable silver coins. When they were found, both of them called their friends and neighbors to come and rejoice with them. The parables rightfully imply that those who are near and dear to us will rejoice with us any time we are met with good fortune. It is not in line with the character of God’s children to be jealous or envious of one another. In describing genuine love, Paul wrote that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) On the other hand, James wrote: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16) Paul reminded the Corinthians that God is not the author of confusion, clearly implying the He is a God of order. (See 1 Cor. 14:33) Therefore, since envy and selfish ambition are a sign of disorder, God can’t be in it. Any child of God who still has a tendency to be jealous or envious, is either out of the will of God or else has not matured in the Lord. Paul asserted that God’s children are members of the same body. When one suffers, every other member suffers and when one is honored, every other member rejoices with it. (See I Cor. 12:26)
If you have met with good fortune, or God has done something marvelous in your life, or He has answered one of your special petitions, or met your most pressing need, I urge you to share the good news with those who are near and dear to you so they can rejoice with you. If you don’t, you will be robbing them of the blessing.
God’s word for today (Romans 12:15) “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
I want to share with you today the thoughts the Lord gave me as I read these verses in the 30th Chapter of Proverbs this morning: [Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.] (7-9) Besides me, I think that many of you have the same mindset as the writer of this proverb, Agur, at least as it relates to money. We don’t want to have it all, just enough of it to supply the needs for ourselves and our families.
Agur knew that those who are full (or rich) are going to think they don’t need God, at least while they are full. I suspect many of you know people just like that, those who, because they have everything they want, don’t see or feel a need for God in their lives. That is why Agur thought, “I don’t ever want to get to that place.” On the other side of the picture, he felt that if he was poor and needy, he could have been tempted to steal, dishonoring his God in the process.
Money, like so many other things in life, can either help or harm people. Just as it can be used to help many who are in need, it can also be the reason someone kills or dies for it. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said: “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22) Simply put, The Word of God has little effect on anybody who places more value and importance on money and wealth.
The bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10 that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The question then is “How do I know if I’m in danger of loving money more than I should.” This is my opinion, so you don’t have to agree with me: I love money more than I should when I have to check every receipt, argue with others or lose friends over it, have my relationship with others strained because of it, and never forget when somebody owes me money. On the other hand, I don’t love money if I give a lot of it away, or find it easy to buy things for others, or pay someone’s restaurant tab, or never worry about the price of something I just bought for myself or someone else, just to name a few. How about you?
One more thing: I don’t know whose idea it was but I sure am glad that these words appear on all US currency: “In God we trust.” To me, it is like the coin or bill itself is reminding us of who and what is really more important in our lives.
God’s word for today: (Matthew 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 than food, and the body more than clothes?”
Many years ago, my wife and I used to see the programs of a well known TV preacher. Without a doubt, he was one of our favorites and we would watch his shows every time. In time, I began to notice a difference in his preaching. He began to be overly judgmental and demonstrated more intolerance with each new show. Shortly thereafter, I stopped seeing his programs altogether and remember remarking to my wife: “I sincerely believe that _________ is headed for an ugly fall. As we suspected, he suffered a terrible fall not too long afterwards and we found out later that other ministers had unsuccessfully written to him warning him to be careful. It seemed pretty apparent to us that this well known man of God, even in his preaching, had begun to venture out into dangerous and unfamiliar territory, ignoring the pleas of many of his friends to come back.
I was amused recently when I read an article concerning a debate about the moral of the children’s story of Humpty Dumpty. To begin with, I always thought it was just intended to be a riddle or maybe a poem for children and didn't agree with any of the goofy opinions given. However, as I pondered about their many answers, for whatever reason, my thoughts went back to the preacher I just mentioned. I thought that if Humpty Dumpty was really an egg, as most people believe, he had no reason whatsoever to climb up and sit on a wall. In other words, he shouldn’t have gone there. Likewise, any child of God, including His servants, has no business venturing into places where he or she doesn’t belong.
I John 1:7 says: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” As long as we stay close to Jesus, we will be safe but once we start straying into places where we don’t belong, we’ll lose the safety and fellowship of being in the light. Lets not forget who we are. I Thessalonians 5:5 says: “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” As far as the darkness is concerned, the Lord is telling us today, “Don’t go there!”
God’s word for today: (Ephesians 5:8) “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”