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Category: Idolatry

A Most Prized Possession…

 

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Many people have something that they prize more than anything else they have. Some have horses, some have cars, houses, or some other item of grandeur. Some have smaller things, like books, gifts, pictures, or other sentimental items. Myself? I fall into the sentimental category. Here is what I would consider one of my most prized possessions:

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Yes, a stack of envelopes with dates on them. They start in early June and go through sometime in early August. The year isn’t on there, because they were for just a specific span of time in the summer of 2007. My wife and I, then newly minted engaged couple, were going on summer missions trips, two months, on opposite sides of the world. I in New Zealand and Australia, she in Peru. And it was a long two months. But, wife back then had a surprise for me, something super special. She would tease me regularly when we spoke on the phone (I lived in Florida, she in Kansas). And, it wasn’t until right before we began the training for our missionary endeavors that she gave me her gift. A card for each day of the trip. A card for me to open and read, along with bits of Bible trivia, for each and every day.

Here is a picture from my 26th birthday:

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I enjoyed these cards. And I still do. I don’t know if my wife realizes it, but, some nights, when I cannot sleep, I pull these out and look through some of them, trying to remember what I was doing or where I was going while traveling on the other side of the planet.

Now, years have passed, we’ve been married since the end of 2007, and we have four children. We’ve moved several times and worked and grown a lot together. And I’ve matured a lot. There is one thing that I wish I had done differently when I was on that trip some nine years ago along with those cards. I wish that I would have been as eager to read the Word of God as much as I was eager to open the next day’s card. I never cheated. Not once. (It even became a team obsession, kind of, as I was a team leader and my missionaries loved the cuteness of the cards, thinking that it was so amazing!).

I am not writing to lessen the value of the cards that my wife wrote for me, spending countless hours of her time, allowing the unsecure me to feel secure in the love that she had for me. What I am writing about is that, as a Christian, my most prized physical and tangible possession needs to be (and is) the Word of God. Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, ESV). God’s Word, the Good News of Jesus the Christ, is the power unto Salvation! My most prized possession isn’t really a possession, but it is that great salvation that God has wrought in my life.

When I wake in the morning, I need to dig into God’s Word like some people need their coffee. Badly. I believe that not only does God command it for the Christian (Psalm 119:145-148; John 21:1-14), I know for me that it really helps set the pace and tone for my day. God knows infinitely better that I what I need. And often the Words I read from the Bible directly impact my day, sometimes without my realizing it in that moment.

So, the next time you go to pull out that prized possession, or take it for a spin, or a ride, flight, read, or whatever…ask yourself this: is my time with God as important? As breathtaking? Or am I committing idolatry in some way?

Now, I will still continue to pull out these cards from time to time, however, the daily eager expectancy to read something will be for the Word of God.img_2371

He Who Dies With The Most Toys…Still Dies

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:6–10, ESV)

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He who dies with the most toys….still dies. Yup, I had this poster when I was a teenager, hanging up on my wall to the left as you walked into my room. Next to my bed. 

However, recently, being underemployed, I have learned much about b) and various aspects of it.

First, I have realized that I need to be conent with what I have, especially now, as I, and my family, face the blessing of financial hardships. Currently, and take this in no way as a complaint, I have only a part time job at our church, North Fort Myers First Baptist Church. There, I am the Director of Family Ministry and Outreach, a position that I love. I pray that my position will become full time sometimg in the coming years, however, I am seeking a full-time job.

Secondly, I need to make sure I am content with what I have next time I do have money. Thus, I need to remember 1 Timothy 6:7, “…for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anyhting out of the world.”(ESV). When I was born, I was naked and had nothing with me. When I die and arrive in Heaven with my Lord Jesus, I will have nothing. It will be just me. For many, it is a hard pill to swollow and an even harder lesson to teach younger generations. My daughter asks for us to buy her something everywhere we go, eve at places that don’t sell things(like when we are at church or at home). And, we let her know that the more she constantly asks for stuff, the less she is going to get from us. And, albeit slowly, she is learning the lesson. 

I have come to expect materialistic behaviors from unregenerate people, those without Christ.

However, the materialisitc attitudes that I constantly see among professing evangelical Christians is so rampant, that sometimes disgusts me. And I am not even talking about the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy, either. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus spoke about the cost of being a disciple. He said:

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23–25, ESV)



What does it mean to deny oneself? To deny ones desires and wants and put Jesus and God’s will in front. To follow Jesus is to give everything to Him. For Jesus to be Lord of one’s life means to surrender all of one’s life to Jesus’ control. Not some. Not most. Not almost all. ALL of it. Keeping nothing for oneself. And yet, that is our struggle. We struggle with it every day, with ever decision. I struggle with it. You struggle with it. Your pastor struggles with it. Your spouse struggles with it. Your children struggle with it.

However, what happens, is people put their desire for stuff before God, and it becomes an idol, and they are breaking commandments. They aren’t loving God with all they have. They have an idol, stuff, that is before God. They are(probably) coveting other peoples’ stuff.

Now, in no way am I saying that having stuff is wrong or anything. I have plenty of stuff, and there is plenty of stuff that I wouldn’t mind having. However, I don’t make it my life-long pursuit to get that stuff as so many other people have and continually do.

Later on, Jesus spoke again of the cost of discpleship:

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25–33, ESV)

This is really summed up in the last verse of this passage, Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” This means so much to the life of a true Christian. We must give everything to Jesus and be willing to sacrifice everything. We aren’t supposed to hate our families, our spouses, our children. However, compared to our love of Christ and our desire to follow Him, our love for our families would not, no…COULD NOT compare. Ever. Not. Even. Close.

So, when Jesus gave us The Great Commission, it was a command, not a suggestion. Not a passing thought. Not an idea. A command. Something we must do. We shall do. There are many ways in which people can and do participate in this(which we won’t be discussing here).

Now, let me leave you with this:

“And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” (Luke 18:18–27, ESV)



Now, remember, it is not a sin to have stuff. It is not a sin to want more stuff. It’s not even a sin to have enough money to buy the stuff you want. It becomes a sin when your desire for your stuff takes front seat in the car. It becomes a sin when you aren’t willing to give up your stuff for God and His calling on your life. Remember that. Remember that well.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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