Archive for the “Finances/money” Category

Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart
In our last blog in the Living God’s Heart series, we looked at how very generous God is to us while we are here on earth. We focused on 2 Peter 1:3 –

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. (NLT)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (NLT)
2 Peter 1:3a (NLT)

There’s more to that verse and we’ll look at it in a future blog, but today I want to look more at the generous nature of our God.

He has given us everything we need to live lives that honor and glorify Him while we are here on this earth. What a gift!

But He didn’t stop giving there. His giving is not just for this life, but for all eternity.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Literally, God has brought us to “where we now stand” – He has given us the undeserved privilege of living in His presence, of receiving everything we need to live godly lives, of receiving His kingdom here on earth. “And” we will one day share in God’s glory.

There is not a word or series of words large and grand enough to convey the depths, the heights and the breadths of God’s giving. He will share His glory with us for all eternity. And we’ve done nothing to earn or deserve. It is an undeserved privilege for those who love the Lord.

God doesn’t hoard anything – not His love, not His Kingdom, and not His glory.

When we’re living God’s heart, our lives reflect His generous nature. When we’re living God’s heart we’re:

  • Giving to those that don’t deserve it.
  • Giving above and beyond.
  • Taking pleasure or joy in giving.

The Sacrifice of Giving
It would seem that there is no question that giving is a sacrifice. When I give, I must give up something. Even so, it is a sacrifice that reflects God’s heart. Hebrews tells us that it is a sacrifice that pleases Him:

And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)

Giving is a joyful sacrifice – one that brings joy to the Father, joy to the giver and joy to the one who receives.

In this way, giving is truly not a sacrifice – it brings us joy. It might be seen more appropriately as a trade – I will trade this thing that I am giving away for the joy I will receive! How wonderful for God to consider that a sacrifice! How wonderful that He rewards that sacrifice:

Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
Deuteronomy 15:10 (NLT)

The Old Testament teaches that when we give generously and God will bless everything you do.

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:38 (NLT)

Jesus taught us that when we give generously, we will receive generously.

God’s very nature is to give generously. He gives for this life and for the life to come, going so far as to giving us the privilege of sharing in His glory! Whew! Honestly, I can’t imagine that.

I can’t imagine it, but I trust it! So I choose to give generously in this life. Sacrificially…because I know that any sacrificial giving – no, all sacrificial giving – is simply a downpayment on the joy I will bring to the Father, the recipient of my gifts, my family and myself.

Give and it will be given to you.

Give and you will receive.

Live God’s heart in your world today.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

Being conformed to the image of Christ means thinking as He thinks and acting as He acts. In the previous blog, we learned that it God “has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, NIV) In the New Living Translation, it’s worded just a little differently:

“…it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”
Luke 12:32 (NLT)

It brings God joy to give. And I’m thinking the more He gives, the more joy it brings. After all, He’s not just giving us an enjoyable evening or basic provisions. He gives abundantly. He gives us the kingdom. He gives us salvation. He gives us “everything we need for living a Godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT) That’s over-the-top giving.

He’s given us the Holy Spirit. He’s given us gifts to use in fulfilling the calling that He’s given us – the purpose He’s given us for our lives.

All this and heaven, too.

He’s given us a family (Psalm 68:6). He’s given us freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1). He gives us the power to be transformed (Romans 12:1). He’s given us His love. Whew! That’s the most precious gift. That the God who created the universe has given me His love, His heart.

All this and heaven, too.

Why? Because “it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

Does giving bring you joy? It will if you allow it, because you are made in the image of God. You carry His DNA, and His DNA derives joy from giving.

But sometimes it’s a joy that you have to learn because in our sinful nature, it is counter-intuitive to us. In our sinful nature, I think I will have more joy if I get more stuff. But God has never hoarded His stuff. He lavishes it upon us. In our sinful nature, I think I will have more joy if I am more powerful. But God has never hoarded His power – He gives us free will – the absolute antithesis of hoarding power. He also has given us power and authority beyond our ability to comprehend and often beyond our ability to use wisely. Still, He trusts us with it.

So we have to learn to give. We have to write that first check or give away that favorite possession. We learn to experience joy through the joy of the recipient. And when that isn’t expressed, we learn that God is smiling at our generosity. Scripture says that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) and “will bless you in everything you do” when you give generously to the poor (Deuteronomy 15:1).

God gives to us when we give to others. Let’s look at the 2 Corinthians passage:

7You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT)

God will generously provide all our needs – so much that we will have plenty left over to share with others. Which sounds to me like viciously wonderful cycle – we give generously which pleases God and he then generously provides for our needs so that we have plenty left over so we can give generously so He can bless generously so we can…

But check out the verse in the NIV:

7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NIV)

I LOVE verse 8. It’s actually our company’s verse. “And God is ABLE to make ALL GRACE abound to you, so that in ALL things, at ALL times, having ALL that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (Emphasis mine, of course.)

God gives all we need – not just physically, but also emotionally, relationally, and spiritually – He is able to make ALL GRACE ABOUND to you so that you have ALL that you need. And when will he do it? ALL the time. Why? So that we can be successful – abounding in every good work.

God’s heart is to give.

When we live from God’s heart, we also give. We give our time, our talent, our money and possessions and our heart.

Who are you giving to today? My new sister-in-law told me that she doesn’t ever go to bed without doing something nice for someone. If she hasn’t done something nice by bedtime, she goes to the local store to find someone in need. Perhaps it’s just helping someone reach something. Perhaps it’s helping someone pay their bill. Perhaps it’s providing an encouragement to someone who just needs to know that someone cares. There are lots of ways to give.

Do you think she always feels like it? I doubt that she does. But she’s learned the joy of giving. She’s learned that it changes who we are from the inside out. And it brings God joy.

Who are you giving to today? Challenge yourself to give above and beyond joyfully.

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9bOur Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.

10May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done here on earth,
just as it is in heaven.

11Give us our food for today,
12and forgive us our sins,
just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

13And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:9b-13 (NLT)

As I read Matthew 6 recently, the Holy Spirit whispered into my spirit “Do your prayers reflect Jesus’ Instructions?” I am sorry to admit that often my daily prayers do not reflect the same priorities as Jesus’ prayer. I so easily fall into the pattern of praying needs – my needs, the needs of family members and friends, and needs that touch my heart from around the world. Jesus includes a pray for God to meet our needs, but it’s almost incidental compared to the other elements of the prayer.

I am reading through the Bible in the New Living Translation this year. While I have a favorite translation, I like to read other translations because the different phraseology sometimes draws my attention in a new way. That can be especially true when I am reading well known passages like the Lord’s prayer. It’s easy for my eyes to skim over the words that I’ve heard and read so often. When I read the Lord’s prayer in the New Living Translation, it came to life in a new way.

Before looking at the prayer in more detail, however, let’s look at how the prayer was introduced in Luke’s gospel:

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1 (NLT)

Luke tells us that it was after the disciplines saw Jesus praying that they asked Him to teach them to pray. What’s interesting is that the disciplines presumably knew how to pray. They had been raised in Jewish homes and were regular attendees at their local synagogue. Prayer was not something they were unfamiliar with. The disciples recognized something different about Jesus’ prayers, however. They saw prayers that were more vital than any they had seen before. They saw lives changed as people were healed – physically, emotionally and spiritually. They were stirred in their spirits when Jesus prayed. They recognized that their prayers didn’t carry the authority and power that Jesus’ prayers did…so they asked Him to teach them.

And the prayer He prayed in response to their request is surprising in its simplicity and power. Let’s look at it a bit more closely.

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.
Matthew 6:9

Jesus begins by exalting His Father in heaven. The New Living Translation says “may your name be honored.” The New International Version has a better translation: “Hallowed be your name.” The word translated “hallowed” or “honored” means holy, consecrated and sanctified and is derived from a word meaning “sacred.” In that single phrase, Jesus recognizes and declares God as above all things and completely holy.

I frequently begin my prayers with the simple statement “God, you are so good.” Somehow that beginning centers me – it’s like breathing in a breath of fresh peace and it pulls me from the chaos around me into the center of God’s presence. The beginning of my prayer isn’t meant to get God’s attention, it’s meant to place my full attention on God and His goodness. Jesus’ prayer goes a step further. It exalts the Lord beyond His goodness to His perfect holiness. “Oh, Father in heaven – hallowed be Your name.” The phrase itself steps me into worship.

An aside: I began this blog a couple of days ago. It got interrupted and I am now returning to finish it. It’s early in the morning and quiet in the house. The day hasn’t gone crazy yet. As I whispered the words I wrote – “Oh, Father in heaven – hallowed by Your name” – tremendous worship filled my heart. I am so glad we serve a holy God. It is His holiness that makes His goodness possible. If He were not perfectly holy, He would not be perfectly good. “Oh, Father in heaven – hallowed be Your name.” Wow!

May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done here on earth,
just as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

After declaring God’s holiness, Jesus speaks into the spiritual realm and asks God to bring His Kingdom to earth – here and now. He asks for God’s will to be accomplished on the earth. Jesus knew two things as He prayed this prayer: That God’s will is good – it is His will that all be saved; and that God’s will meant great personal sacrifice for Jesus. Jesus knew He was praying into His journey to the cross and He knew He was praying into His journey of making it possible for all to be saved. When I pray God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven,” I don’t know what that means for my future. What I do know is that I serve a perfectly holy, just and good God. I can trust Him with my future.

So let’s step back from the immediacy of our lives and pray into the future. “Lord, I want Your will to be done.” Praying into that future affects the immediate. Lord, if You don’t want me to have this job, I don’t want it. If You don’t want me to have this ministry, I don’t want to have it. If You don’t want me to have this spouse, I don’t want him or her.

I know. Those things are easier to write than to live when we really want the job, the ministry or the spouse. What I really want more, though, is Jesus and His life for me. “Father, Your will, not mine.”

I think it’s very easy to make this portion of Jesus’ prayer over spiritual and not apply it to our own lives. When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are praying two aspects of the prayer. There will come a day when God’s Kingdom will be on earth so we’re praying “come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Until that time, however, it’s important to recognize that we’re praying for His will to be done through us. God isn’t just going to superimpose His great and glorious Kingdom here on earth (at least not yet) – he’s going to work it out in our lives. And that’s a good thing – what a glorious opportunity God gives us to live the life He (in all His holiness) has purposed for us!

Give us our food for today,
Matthew 6:11

God cares about our physical needs. In this simple phrase, Jesus’ prayer tells me two things: (1) ask God for what you need today, and (2) don’t worry about tomorrow’s needs. If we always trust for God to meet our needs today, is there any reason to worry about tomorrow’s needs? No. Yet we are very good at turning tomorrow’s needs into today’s worry, aren’t we? Just a few verses later Jesus encourages the disciples to trust God for everyday things:

25“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 
Matthew 6:25-26 (NLT)

As Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He included one phrase “Give us our food for today.” Implied in that sentence is our trust that God will provided the food we need – every day. “Lord, give us the food we need for today and I will be satisfied.”

and forgive us our sins,
just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.
Matthew 6:12

The phraseology in the New Living Translation is a little different from the more traditional phrasing of this verse. It puts our forgiveness of others in the past tense – “Lord, forgive my sins just as I have (already) forgiven others.” There is a relationship between God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others. Unforgiveness hinders our relationship with God.

In Matthew 18 and Luke 19 Scripture records one of Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness and reinforces this point. A King had a servant who owed him a great debt but could not pay. The King forgave the servant’s debt. The servant then went to those who owed him money and insisted on payment. Even though they begged for more time to pay, the servant showed no forgiveness and had them thrown into prison. The King was not pleased:

32Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.
Matthew 18, 32-34 (NLT)

Christ died so that our sins (and they are many) could be forgiven. Shouldn’t we have mercy on our fellow servants as well?

Remember that previous line in Jesus’ prayer – “May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven”? Forgiving one another is part of the working out of God’s Kingdom on earth.

And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:13 (NLT)

I like this translation of Matthew 6:13. It reinforces that I have a responsibility here – to resist temptation. James tells us to resist the devil and the devil will flee from us (James 4:7b). I like that verse!

God will deliver us from the evil one, but we must resist him. Satan tempted Jesus in the desert. Jesus had to resist the temptation. He battled it with the Word of God and satan fled.

As we walk purposefully through life, honoring God’s name and making His will our highest priority, yielding to temptation becomes less and less desirable. We will battle our fleshly nature as long as we are in the flesh, but the closer we draw to God, the less tempting those sinful natures become. The passage in James 4 continues with a key verse:

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.
James 4:8 (NLT)

Draw close to God today – through the prayer His Son taught us to pray. Make it your own.

“Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. May Your kingdom come on earth, may Your will be done on earth – as it is done in heaven. I trust You today for the food, clothing and shelter I need. Forgive my sins, Lord. I forgive those who have sinned against me. Help me to resist the temptation to sin today – deliver me from satan’s snares.”

“For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

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One of Jesus’ primary teaching tools was asking questions. In Mark chapter 8, he asks the disciples this question:

5“How many loaves of bread do you have?” [Jesus] asked.
Mark 8:5

It’s a simple question, and with that question, Jesus is redirecting the disciples’ attention away from the enormity of the need. He’s saying “don’t look at the need, look at me!”

It’s the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand men, along with unnumbered women and children, with only seven loaves and two fish. Jesus first brings the need to the attention of his disciples by calling them together and saying:

2“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
Mark 8:2-3 (NIV)

Their response isn’t their finest moment:

“How are we supposed to find enough food for them here in the wilderness?”
Mark 8:5 (NLT)

I hear it as “Are you crazy? How in the world are we…?” And since I know the end of the story, it occurs to me that any time I have that reaction, there ought to be a check in my spirit…because God is setting me up for a miracle! Instead of “I can’t possibly…” or “Are you crazy? How can I…?” I want to be the person that shouts “Yeehaw! A miracle’s about to happen!” OK, not so cowboy, but you get the idea.

I’m not that person yet, but the Holy Spirit & I are working on it. We’re getting closer.

The apostles looked at the crowd and said “we can’t possibly feed these people.” Jesus didn’t look at the crowd, He looked at the resources, knowing that when the resources were fully given to God, God would multiply them to meet the need.

Picture it, 32AD: Four thousand men, in addition to the women and children, were in need of food. The apostles had seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Looks to me like recipe for a personal meltdown!

But God…He gently took the disciples by the hand (metaphorically), turned them from the crowed to look into His face, and redirected their thinking from “How are we supposed to…” to “take a deep breath and look at me. Now tell me, what do you have?” No meltdown. Instead a miracle!

I’m going to go back to that, but first I want to ask my own questions. Update the picture: Think about what you’d like to do for God. Go ahead. Pause here for a minute or two here and answer the question: What would you like to do for God? OK, now answer this question: what are your four thousand people? In other words, what is keeping you from accomplishing it. Is it lack of money? Lack of time? Lack of energy?

Jesus wants to uncomplicated things. He simply asks “what do you have?” Quit looking at all the reasons you can’t do what you’d like to do for God. Start telling God what have and ask what you should do with it. He’ll give instructions, and you’ll be on your way to being part of a miracle.

When we give it to Him, God takes what we have in our hands and He uses it to bless others.

That’s the original covenant of the Old Testament – that Abraham would be a blessing to many nations,
and the awesome privilege and responsibility of the New Testament
“go ye into all the world…”

So God wants to take my resources and your resources and use them not to meet the needs of just our families, but to reach out to others. But if we look at the opportunities, at the enormity of the needs, we become paralyzed because our resources seem so puny. That’s when Jesus asks the simple question “what’s that in your hand?” “What do you have?”

Let’s look at that question a bit more: “What do you have?” We don’t know how Jesus actually asked the question, but one method of studying a verse or phrase in the Bible is to work our way through it by emphasizing each word individually. I found that approach to be instructive in this case:

WHAT do you have? – Tell the Lord. Answer the question. In Resting at the River’s Edge we’ve just started the book of Jeremiah. In this book God is regularly asking Jeremiah “what do you see?” And then a prophetic message comes to him after describing to God what he sees. I’ve found that often God doesn’t begin to give me ideas for serving Him until I’ve started describing the situation to Him.

What DO you have? – This encourages us to look at our resources, not just the need. The apostles were stuck looking at the need and it was so great it paralyzed them. Jesus redirected them by saying, “OK, so you can’t go buy food for everyone, what DO you have.” If we look at the need we become discouraged. If we look at the need, it crushes our faith and we don’t take the first step.

What do YOU have? – Jesus asks us to use our resources. We have to give them before he can multiply them. When we hold on to our resources, there is no miracle of multiplication of those resources.

What do you HAVE? – This is an interesting emphasis. At first glance, I wanted to answer that it’s very much like “DO” – what DO you have? OK, I have this, this and this. Then God asks again “what do you HAVE?” In other words, take another look – what do those things put together make. Perhaps bread and fish make a meal. It’s the synergy part of the sentence. It’s the whole thing being greater than the sum of its individual parts.

It’s also the point where we step back, perhaps acknowledge – Lord, we got nothing…so we stare a little longer (hopefully praying while we stare at what we have) and God’s miracle begins to become apparent. OK, I get it! It’s not just bread and fish, it’s a meal. And perhaps it’s not just bread but it becomes the bread of Life as we give it in Jesus’ name. This could be good… Let’s have the people sit down and start feeding them and see what happens!

And what happens is God’s miracle because we’ve looked away from despair, given our resources to the awesome ministry He’s given us and voila! it’s time for His miracle!

Jesus is a master at asking simple questions. We tend to complicate life by moving to the complex when the simple will suffice. Jesus asks “what do you have?” When life crowds in and your need seems to overshadow your resources, Jesus asks: “what do you have?” We would do well to learn from the Master.

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42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-27

As I’ve been reading the first couple of chapters of Acts, three things have impressed me greatly. This passage from Acts 2 gives us a glimpse of each of them.

1.   Devoted
Notice in verse 42 that it says the new believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. During Lent, I studied a bit about its history. In the early church, new believers were baptized only once a year on Easter morning. For several weeks before their baptism, the believers went through a period of preparation. Every resource I read described the new believers as “devoting” themselves to prayer, repentance, fasting and giving. I have been so taken with this word. Am I devoted to studying Scripture? Am I devoted to giving? Am I devoted to fellowship with other believers? I am hard-pressed to answer those questions affirmatively. Which ultimately leads to the question “Am I devoted to the Lord?” I have been working on my devotion to the Lord over the past month.

2.   Giving
Verses 44 and 45 present a common theme in the early chapters of Acts. The believers provided for those among them who could not provide for themselves. “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Notice it doesn’t say that their tithes provided for the needs of everyone. It says that when there were needs, they sold something to meet that need. That’s much different from me giving my tithe or an offering from my paycheck. There is both a difference in the attitude toward possessions and a willingness to sacrifice that goes beyond the perspective most of us have about giving. Giving an offering which makes me unable to purchase something I want is one thing; selling something I already own (and therefore have some degree of emotional attachment to) is something else altogether. This attitude is further described in Acts 4:

32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.… 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
Acts 4:32, 34-35

I am challenged to truly view all I own as belonging to the Lord. I might say that everything I have is God’s, but when was the last time I sold something purely to give the proceeds to someone in need? The closest I’ve come is having a garage sale with the proceeds going to a missions trip I was taking. Selling items in a garage sale, which was part of my preparation for moving to a new home anyway, is an example of selling things I no longer needed or wanted. It’s not an example of me selling something of value solely to give the proceeds to someone in need. How about you? Have you asked God lately what He might want you to sell so that you can give to someone in need?

3.   Talking about Jesus – Everywhere
Verses 46 and 47 give us a hint at something we see throughout the early chapters of Acts – that the people were constantly talking about and praising God. Do you freely talk about the Lord and praise Him? I’ve found that the more devoted I am to studying His Word the more I see Him at work all around me. And the more I see Him at work all around me, the more thankful I am to know Him. And all that leads to me talking about Him more. Many of us have allowed society to convince us that talking about our faith and the object of our faith is taboo. The early Christians talked about Jesus everywhere they went. I’m becoming convinced that being devoted to Jesus has little meaning if my devotion isn’t obvious – not just by the way I live, but also because I talk about it and about Him. If faith is the most important thing in my life, how can I not?

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“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” [Jesus said]
Matthew 13:44

This is one of those passages we often use to teach about how valuable the Kingdom of Heaven is – it’s so wonderful that this man went out and sold all he had so that he could have it. I wonder how often we allow the passage to challenge us. If we have truly found the Kingdom of Heaven – that is, eternal life in Christ, do respond as this man did. There are two phrases in the passage that challenge me:

  • Notice that the passage says “in his joy” he went and sold his possessions so that he could buy the field. Are we joyful in our obedience when it requires sacrifice on our part? If not, perhaps our focus is on the wrong thing – our focus should never be on our sacrifice, but on the wonderful treasure that will be ours – Jesus.

I have been convicted lately about how self-focused my life is at times. Yes, I regularly serve the Lord in a number of ways, but the self-focus comes in when I become aware of the cost of serving – generally, a loss of personal time, energy or finances. Perhaps that’s an indication that I sometimes allow my focus to get fuzzy or even all out of whack. Lord, help me to continue “in joy,” not giving recognition to any loss I might experience along the way.

  • The passage also says that he sold “all he had” to purchase the field. Have I gone all in? (I can guarantee you that I have not.)

As pondered this passage in my mind, I was in an airport waiting for my flight. Not far from me there was a young couple with a little girl. She was perhaps about three years old – at the age where little girls love to walk on their tippy toes, almost bouncing from place to place. Her mom was standing next to several pieces of luggage while giving the little girl a bit of freedom before requiring her to sit quietly in an airplane for several hours. The little girl would get about fifteen feet away and her mom would call to her and tell her to come back. The little girl would obediently turn and bounce back to her mom. It occurred to me that at any second the child could choose to disobey (as children learning about freedom are want to do). I am fully confident that the mother wouldn’t hesitate to leave her belongings for a second to run after her child. I was standing there with my laptop bag between my legs, my arm resting on my purse with half an eye on my cell phone that was laid on the counter next to me charging while reading a book* and pondering this passage. I was ever aware that at any moment my treasured possessions could be pilfered if I wasn’t diligent in the crowded airport. Yet I’m certain this mom would gladly leave all her possessions behind (not even selling them as in the parable) if her most treasured possession began enjoying too much freedom.

In my heart, have I sold all my possessions to pursue the Kingdom of Heaven?  Am I willing to hear God say “give this away?” or “go here?” I want to believe that I am…

How about you? Is Jesus your most treasured possession and do you treat all your other possessions accordingly?

In my previous blog, I wrote about the disciplines practiced by early Christians before their baptism on Easter Sunday. They devoted themselves to prayer, repentance, fasting and giving. I have purposed in my heart to ask God to give me some person or organization to give financially to each week. We’re coming up on week three and God has been already identified where I am to give. It has been a joy to give, but in the back of my mind, I’m becoming aware that week four is coming up…And I’m starting to feel the financial pinch. I am excited about God using me…but it won’t be as easy in the coming weeks as it has been in the first couple of weeks. This is evidence that in my heart, I’m not “all in.”

I’m convinced that if I want to experience more of the Kingdom of Heaven, my heart needs to be predisposed to joyfully sell it all. Clearly Christ is worth the price.

How are you challenged to joyfully sell all you have? Share your story with me, as a comment below or on Facebook. As David Platt says in his book Radical, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, “For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing him.”


*This blog was inspired by the first chapter of David Platt’s book Radical, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, copyright 2010 by author, published by Multinomah Books ebooks, Colorado Springs, CO.

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“Almost none of us learns the most and deepest things about God in the rosiest of times but in the worst of time, and the knowledge of God is the most precious thing in the world. And therefore, it’s not obvious to me that an economic downturn is bad for our souls. It might be bad for our pocketbooks and bad for our stomachs and bad for our egos, but not necessarily bad for our souls.”  John Piper

For more from John Piper on the economic downturn, click here.

Trust me – the rest of the message is more encouraging than the above quote, but I found the above quote to be compelling.

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