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Keep Your Priorities Straight

Luke 12:20- But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

We all like riches. It would not be a stretch I think to say that some love them. People all over the world seek to attain wealth for a number of reasons. The two that first come to mind are the possessions we can build up and security for our future. Did you notice something about these two perks? They are selfish. Most who attain wealth, even if they did not start out that way, wind up becoming very self centered. Not only that, but we forget one very important thing, our need for God.

Riches, though not wrong in and of themselves, can be a dangerous possession for the Christian. Jesus said in Mark 10:25 that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven”. Why is that? It is because riches can lead us to do terrible things. In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul warns Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” If a person loves money, he will do whatever he can to get it. Look at Achan in Joshua 7. Due to his love of money he stole what rightly belonged to God, causing all Israel to suffer as a result. It led to his own death as well as his family’s. Let us also not forget Judas. He desired money so much he not only stole from the money bag (John 12:6), but he betrayed Jesus for just 30 pieces of silver. At the realization of the latter, it led him to kill himself. Money can lead us down a dark path we never wanted to go down in the first place.

As mentioned above, riches also cause us to forget God. Nebuchadnezzar is the first that comes to my mind here. In Daniel 4:28-33, the king of Babylon bragged about how he had achieved his great empire, insinuating that he had need no help in doing it. He had forgotten God. Of course God punished him for it and Nebuchadnezzar learned his place. We must remember that what we have is a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 2:4).

Many who are rich also reject God. Going back to Mark 10, the rich young ruler came to Jesus seeking eternal life. From his youth he had kept the law and was eager to know what else was needed. However, when Jesus told him to sell what he had and give to the poor he went away sorrowful. As far as we know, he never came back to the Lord but clung to his possessions. Many are that way today. Though they could be great help to the cause of Christ, the fear of either losing their possessions or the reluctance to stop their sinful practices to attain wealth keeps them back. Remember, God is more important than riches.

It is not just God that our money takes us from but also our friends. If we focus so much on work that we don’t have time for others, we lose all the friends who mean anything (Ecclesiastes 4:7, 8). Even if we have friends, the majority of them are “fair weather” friends. As long as we have money, they stay with us but once things get hard, they turn their backs on us. A true friend who loves us is more valuable than all the riches this world has to offer.

One final shortcoming of riches is their temporary nature. None of us are guaranteed to have our money and possessions the next day. Money shows no loyalty and goes from one person to the next and there are those that forcefully take it from us. We need to remember the eternal nature of God and that He is always near us. He never forsakes us even in our darkest hours and even delivers us from them. Why put our faith and give our love to something that feels nothing and cares for nothing when there is someone much more powerful that gives us everything, including wealth, and actually cares for us?

As Christians, we must keep our priorities in the proper place. Yes, money has its uses and it is not wrong to have it but in comparison to God and even the love of other people, money means nothing. It is temporary and fleeting. Let us all strive to put God first and give Him thanks for the blessings we do have.

An Unshakable Hope

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

There is only one thing that can get us through the difficult times. Something that people all throughout time have clung to and that kept them going. It is something that brings only happiness if it is met. Of course I mean hope. When we are torn down and emotionally beaten, hope can renew in us the will to go on. It reminds us that things can get better. With hope, we persevere through the hard times and do what we can to make our situations the way we want them.

For the Christian, this is doubly true. While here on this earth, the Christian suffers things of the flesh as well as the mind. During our whole sojourn we are surrounded by those who want to see us succumb to despair and fall from our faith. It is a bleak existence we live. However, hope is what gets us through it. In fact, while hope is something that all men everywhere feel, the Christian’s hope has certain qualities about it that make it so much better.

First off, we serve a God of hope (Romans 15:13). He does not leave his people on this earth to suffer needlessly but provides the hope to strengthen them. He makes promises that are so wondrous that it makes suffering worthwhile. Our treasures will not be destroyed (Matthew 6:20), we have been freed from sin (Romans 8:2), salvation is a free gift to all (Ephesians 2:8) and we could go on with the things God has promised. This is what Paul strove for and what allowed him to be joyous despite his sufferings.

This hope is not a false hope either. God has always kept His promises all throughout time. All three of the promises given to Abraham came to pass, the Israelites conquered the land, David became king and so on and so forth. If He was willing to keep these physical promises, how much more so would He keep the spiritual ones.

However, in order for the hope to be fulfilled, we must trust in what God has said. We cannot live a life that does not follow God’s commandments or is afraid to stand up for what is right. If that is our attitude, all of these things we hope for will not be ours. Remember Matthew 7:21-23. Not every person who believes themselves to be Christians will obtain heaven but only those who do the will of the Father. We must allow this hope to fuel us and keep us on the straight and narrow path, doing as God would have us to do.

The Unstoppable Man

Romans 8:31-
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Fear is the worst emotion for a Christian to have. Because of fear, we either do those things we should not or fail to do what we must. A fearful man becomes angry, a fearful man kills needlessly, a fearful man runs from responsibility and is a reproach upon himself. However, many will overlook the sin of cowardice. We justify it within ourselves and often “coddle” others who struggle with it. What the Christian forgets in these instances is what God truly thinks of the coward. In Revelation 21:8, what is the very first sin mentioned in the list? It is cowardice. God has no use for a coward in His kingdom. Those who shirk from duty and hide from the world instead of standing for what is right will be cast into hell with the liars, murderers and sexually immoral.

This does not mean that fear does not have its proper place. There are things we should fear, such as sin and the spiritual harm of others. In fact, it is perfectly natural to have the fear of facing death, even if it is for God. However, it is when we allow that fear to control us that we fail to do what we must is when it becomes sinful. We must take courage and face whatever we fear with complete confidence in God. However, we do not do this without any assurance. God has given us many reasons to take courage and do the work He has called us to do.

  1. God is for us: If we stay true to God and fully submit ourselves to Him, He will stand with us. Our introductory passage in Romans reminds us that if God is for us, nothing can stand against us. The greatest proof of that is found in the book of Joshua. As the children of Israel conquered the land, they faced many people mightier than they. However, we see that they defeated everyone that they faced. The only time they lost was because they had sinned and God had left them. We can have this same confidence today. God is truly all powerful and the devices of man and Satan can do nothing to permanently harm the child of God.
  2. They can only kill the body: Jesus addressed this very thing during His ministry. In Matthew 10:28, he tells us to not fear the one who can kill the body but not the soul. What we must take from this is that even if death is our earthly reward for serving Christ, our soul will be taken care of. The Christians of the 1st century realized this. Stephan when he was stoned with his dying breath asked God to forgive his murderers (Acts 7:60). Paul at the end of his life faced death courageously (2 Timothy 4:6-8). A Christian has nothing to fear from death.
  3. The reward is great: In Matthew 5, Jesus again encourages His listeners by promising a reward to those who suffer. Again in 2 Timothy 4, Paul was looking to the reward that comes after death. Peter and James each made remarks in this regard as well (1 Peter 4:12-19; James 1:12). The Bible permeates with the promise of a reward for the faithful. However, the only way to achieve it is to live a life faithful to Him and to leave the physical world. We must remember that the reward is not physical but spiritual and worth more than anything this world has to offer.

So we see that the Christian has nothing to fear. For these three reasons alone we should stand firm in our faith. With God on our side we can do anything, as long as it is in accordance with His will. We are truly unstoppable and nothing but our own fear and selfishness can change that. Let all Christians who read this gain the strength and courage to do as God would have them to.