Sunday, July 31, 2016

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Back in the late 1800’s there was a wrestler in Europe known as “Yusuf, the terrible Turk.” He weighed about 350 pounds and was the undisputed champ. In 1898 he sailed to America to take on it’s champ, a man named “Strangler” Lewis. Even though he only weighed 200 pounds he beat much larger opponents by putting them in a choke hold and then pinning them after they passed out.
That didn’t work with Yusuf. The way he was built he had no neck to speak of and the “Strangler” quickly lost. The Turk demanded his prize of $5,000 be paid in gold which he stuffed inside his big belt for safe keeping. On the way back to England the ship sank and Yusuf ended up in the water. The gold in his belt weighed him down and he sank like a rock before he could get into a life boat. His great riches destroyed him. Greed cost him his life. A fool and his money are soon parted.
God, in his Word, warns us against greed and the love of money over and over again. In Matthew Jesus condemns the Pharisees for it. He calls them hypocrites, clean on the outside but “full of greed….” on the inside. (Mt 23:25). In Mark Jesus sets greed right beside many other sins which he says are evil and defile a person. “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.
Jesus gives us a good example of this in the parable of the Rich Fool found in Luke 12:13-21. Jesus was approached by a man who had a dispute with his brother over an inheritance. He wanted Jesus to settle it for him. Instead, Jesus speaks to the real problem. It was greed.
In the parable a man is blessed with such a bountiful crop he knew his barns would not hold it. He decides to  build bigger barns and then he’d have it made. He says he will “take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.”
His problem was not in building bigger barns or planning for the future. It was his greed. His heart was set on his possessions and in them he trusted. They are what brought him joy and peace. God was not in the picture. That was his problem. He saw no need to plan for the life to come and standing before the judgment seat of God. He had much in this life but would spend eternity in hell.
One of the dangers we face today is secularism. It is the movement which strips all aspects of religion from one’s life. There is no room for worship, prayer, serving the Lord and others. There is no thought of what will happen when one dies and is judged by the Creator.

Slowly but surely secularism can creep into our heart and lives. The end result we will be lost. Every day, we need to keep our focus on the Lord. Thank him for his blessings. Pray often. Read the Bible and worship faithfully. Serve the Lord with all your heart. Keep your focus on the life to come. Only then will you be seen as wise in God’s eyes. Only then will you be prepared for the day your life ends here on this earth. 

What if you could have anything you wanted?

Once upon a time, a rich man threw a wild party. About midnight, he brought all his guests out to his pool, which he had filled with man-eating sharks, and said “If anyone can swim across the pool to the other side, you can have the pick of my ranch, a million dollars or my daughter’s hand in marriage. Your choice!” No sooner had he spoke these words when a young man began to frantically swim from one end to the other. He emerged from the other end of the pool all cut up but alive. The host, quite surprised that anyone would take him up on his offer, asked the man what he wanted – a million dollars, his ranch, or his daughter’s hand in marriage. The young man said he wanted none of them. “Well, what do you want,” he asked, “I will give it to you if I can?” To this, the young man replied, “I just want to know the name of the person who pushed me into the pool.”
What if the Lord came to you and said, “I will give you whatever you want and you don’t need to swim across a shark filled pool to get it? You can have anything your heart desires.” What would you wish for? That would be a tough decision, especially if we had to make it right away.
Many years ago, the Lord came to a man named Solomon and made him this very offer. God came to Solomon shortly after he had ascended to the throne of the nation of Israel. Solomon could have asked for riches, success over his enemies, a long life or the winning numbers for the lottery.  Solomon chose none of these things. Instead he asked for wisdom. Listen to what he said, “But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (I Kings 3:8-9)
Solomon asks for A DISCERNING HEART. In the Hebrew it is literally A HEART THAT HEARS. Not just hears the sounds of the words but listens to them, understands them and is then able to know how best to handle the situation. Solomon demonstrated this gift on many occasions. In fact, he became famous throughout the world for his wisdom. A great many of his proverbial sayings are recorded for us by God in Scripture.
What would you ask for if God made you an offer like the one he made to Solomon? If we had only one wish, it would be tough. Thank God we have no such limits. Jesus’ invitation is open ended. “Ask, and it will be given to you!” (Matthew 7:7) This invitation is offered only to God’s children, to believers. Believers know that when we pray, we submit our requests to God for review. We often add the words, “Thy will, not mine be done.” We should not pray selfishly, set our heart on worldly things such as money, power, or glory.

We learn from Solomon that we should ask the Lord for the gifts we need to do the work God has set before us. When we ask God for love, joy, peace, comfort, support, forgiveness, etc., we know God is pleased with such requests and will gladly answer them. Jesus says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mt 6:33)