Christianity 201

March 25, 2022

Chasing Achieving the Wrong Things

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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NIV.Matt.7.21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

CSB.Mark.6.36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life?

Today we have a new author’s writing to highlight. Rachel doesn’t have an “about” page so far, but her blog, In Rachel’s Words is very well-written. In this devotional she talks about the secondary doctrines that often block our focus from the things that matter.

Clicking the header which follows will take you to read this directly where we found it, and then check out some of her other writing.

Does It Matter?

Does “X” Matter?

I had a conversation with a friend, and I said, “X doesn’t really matter. It’s not a requirement for salvation.” I don’t know if offended her when I said that, and at the same time, I wasn’t sure I should have made that statement. “X” is something that really matters to a lot of people. It’s something that matters to me.

What “X” represents in the statement above is not critical for this dialogue. In fact, you can insert whatever it is that you value most in this life as the substitute for “X.” The only substitute you cannot use is God (i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ) because that would be heresy.

So, “X” could be not being poor, never getting sick with a life-altering disease, starting your own business, having a good education, buying a house, having a family, or traveling to as many countries as possible.

Do these things matter? Certainly. Arguably, we might say some of these things matter more than the others. But, what if none of these is greater than the other? What if none of these things matters the most?

I am not confident that it ultimately matters that we are able to achieve or receive what we most value in life, whether it be not to be poor, to be self-sufficient, or have the most epic family. I think what matters is what we did with the life that we were given.

For example, you have a life in which you were born into poverty, and for whatever reason(s), you were unable to escape poverty, your socioeconomic status is not held against you when you stand before the Judgement Seat. What really matters is what you did with the life you had.

Will the Lord say He knows you (Matthew 7:21–23)? That’s what matters.

The answer to that question depends on what you did with the life He selected for you. You can’t pick the family you are born into, nor do you have authority over a lot of other things that do or do not happen to you. But, you can control how you respond to and navigate the life that you have.

How did you treat the other people the Lord placed in your life? How did you treat your spouse and your kids? How did you treat your siblings and your parents? Were you a witness in your spheres of influence? Did you stand for what was true and right when no one else did? Did you suffer for Christ? Did you lay down your life and follow Him (John 13:8)? Was your life a testimony?

Did you say, “Not my will, but your will be done?” (Luke 22:42).

Or, did you go out into the world, dissatisfied with the life you have and manipulate people and finagle situations to get what you want? Did your lack of “X,” even if it severely impacts your quality of life, such as having a terrible cancer, transform you into someone bitter and ungrateful and hateful? I think that attitude of dissatisfaction, disgust and hate for what Lord intended, and/or intentional manipulation of life to get what you want matter far more than “X.”

How did you spend the life you have? How did you use what the Lord has given you—even if it’s difficult or not what you want—for His glory?

What is the point of achieving “X” if, in some cases, you gain the world and lose your soul (Mark 8:36)? One day, both the world and you and “X” will disappear, and only one thing will matter.

Did He know you?


Second Helping: By the same author, here’s a piece where although she didn’t actually use the word, “Deconstruction,” it’s a word making the rounds currently in many of our church discussions, and the first thing I thought of while reading. Check out Demolition or Renovation?.

January 26, 2019

The Treasure in your Eternal Bank Account

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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We’ve often highlighted devotionals from Charles Price, Minister at Large for The Peoples Church in Toronto. Today’s is the first of three articles on the subject of treasure but I encourage you to click this link if you wish to follow these teachings and see what follows. Click the title below to read this one at source, and then links to the following two appear at the end.

Storing up Treasure

Exodus 9-11

Matthew 15:21-39

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   —Matthew 6:21

Everyone is storing up treasure in some way. For some, this is the range of their assets or size of their bank balance. For others, like the hypocrites who give, pray and fast publicly, it is their reputation before others. Whatever the case, we all have something in our lives that gives us reason to get out of bed in the morning.

What controls the heart is our treasure, which can be either earthly or heavenly.

The challenge is we straddle both spheres. No matter how heavenly our interests may be, we live on earth and are subject to its demands, pressures and values. The reason this is so important is shown in the progression of thought Jesus gives in Matthew 6:19-24. He starts with the heart but then goes on to say, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). The thrust of this is that our vision, the goals that motivate us in the present, are either good and bring light or bad and bring darkness.

Jesus then moves from vision to master: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money(Matthew 6:24).

The subtlety of treasure is we assume it will serve us, but when our heart is set on something, that thing begins to captivate. In our pursuit of it, what began as our treasure and grew into our vision becomes our master. Instead of it serving us, we serve it.

To ask the questions, “What is your treasure?”; “What is your vision?”; and “What is your master?” is essentially asking the same thing. Our treasure, vision and master are one. It is true God created us free to make choices, but our freedom of choice is limited to one fundamental option—we choose our master. From then on, everything we do, value and hope for are simply the logical expression of the mastering principle of our lives.

Our treasure can be either earthly or heavenly, temporary or permanent, self-centred or God-centred, but it cannot be both. The world tells us that status and success are tied to our riches, but the world has it backwards.

Though we live in the temporal, a mature Christian has the eternal at heart. We either serve God or ourselves, and which we choose determines where we store up our treasures.

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, bring my heart into alignment with Yours so that I prioritize the right kind of treasures. You are my master, and You will never lead me wrong. Thank You, God.


Read more in this series:

When accumulation of wealth is motivated by selfishness rather than service, there is fault. Material things are neutral, but it is when they play too great a role within our value system that they become dangerous and destructive.

Whether we realize it or not, to emphasize earthly treasures is to derive our satisfaction from what we represent before people. Conversely, to lay up treasures in heaven is to derive satisfaction from pleasing God. Both are investments, but we are wise to invest in that which money cannot buy, that death cannot destroy and that holds its currency beyond this life.


“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  —Matthew 6:20

 

March 7, 2011

Seeing Illness as a Blessing

Yesterday’s and today’s items here don’t have any specific scripture references.  I wrote this three years ago at an obvious low point, and thought it might be applicable to someone reading it today; maybe you are that person.  Readers may want to add a scripture verse in the comments that references one or all of the points here…

  • Illness forces us to slow down, and that forces us to do the things that really matter, and that forces us to decide what really matters
  • Illness forces us to ask God for help on behalf of ourselves, which seems selfish at times, so first we have to apologize for asking
  • Illness causes us to ask other believers to join in prayer for us, which can be rather humbling
  • Illness helps us remember others who are suffering, it helps us to identify and empathize with their situation
  • Illness – while not necessarily caused by sin -brings us to a wonderful season of self examination and determination to aim for greater holiness
  • Illness reminds us of our mortality; our material culture has forced us to cling to everything including life itself, but our lives have an expiry date
  • Illness has a mellowing, sobering effect on us – some things can become potentially more irritating, but some other things no longer matter as much
  • Illness forces us to ask bigger questions; Is God in control? Does He care about the details of my life? Will he intervene in a special way?
  • Illness brings into clarity other times we were ill, and reminds us that God brought us through that time
  • Illness helps us hear Christian songs differently; “I thank God for the mountains, and I thank him for the valleys…” Can I do that right now?

I’m sure there are other things, too. Most of the prayer requests in our churches are for issues people are dealing with in their physical bodies. Pray specifically for one another. If you are the person for whom this was for today, listen for God’s voice in the middle of all you’re going through.