February 15, 2011

True Wealth

God is always fascinating and ever-loving. It’s interesting that He will sometimes convey the same core messages but in slightly different ways to separate people who are connected as friends, who He knows will talk with one another. The “uncanny coincidence” that each person is getting similar themes from God confirms both His paternal, nurturing love as well as healthy guidance for our lives. He knows how our patterns of behavior, no matter how much we love Him and want to follow Him, need to be adjusted so we live an even more abundant life in Him for ourselves and for others.

The message recently coming through to not only myself but others I know is the simple message of living more like Jesus and not like the world. Stop focusing your energies on tomorrow but do what needs to be done today, follow God today, and enjoy today. Also, be content with what you have so you experience the fullness of a restful life of peace and true contentment. And, finally, that the things you own may have worth to the world, but not worth to God, thus there is a great tension and conflict between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdoms on this earth. The world values your stuff and your achievements. God values that you are eternally His and in His family. His boundless, flowing love for you puts extraordinary value on you. He values caring relationships, you with Him and you with others.

Today vs. Tomorrow

Most of my friends, myself included, were raised as achievers. They have skills and responsibilities and are always preparing for tomorrow, thinking about tomorrow and applying themselves in working for tomorrow. A tomorrow-focused heart robs you of the pleasure of Jesus’ easy and light yoke today. I love the translation of The Message Bible, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matt 11:27-30 (MSG) Unforced rhythms of grace. Living freely and lightly. A Christian Shangri-la!! Don’t we all crave rhythms of grace and living freely and lightly? I do, in the depths of my being.


And God has been drawing my attention to contentment. Paul said godliness with contentment is great gain and true wealth indeed. “They think religion is a way to make a fast buck. A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough.” 1 Tim 6:5-8 (MSG) And, “men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Tim 6:5-8 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but since early 2010 I have always had just enough. Not overflowing, but enough. I should maybe call 2010 and 2011 the Manna Years because I wake up each morning with just enough money in the bank to pay my expenses for a short time period, but no “rainy day fund.” So money as either a fanciful crutch that everything will be ok and paid for or as a pathetic prop for my ego has been kicked out from under me. A loving God knows we need to be reminded that He alone sits on the throne lest we trust in uncertain riches or ourselves. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Tim 6:17 (NKJV) And one has just to read the book of Job, if not the whole Bible, to know it’s the Lord alone who blesses and allows us to earn. We may work and work and work and apply all our talents and have worn out, empty hands. But then He has Manna sweetly waiting for us when we come to the end of our emotional and physical rope.

I am guessing many of us are experiencing a year(s) where the ways we used to live our Christian lives are no longer working quite as smoothly as it used to. And thank God for that, that He’s bringing us into a more rarified place. That place of even more utter reliance on Him and less self-reliance. That place of more today, and less tomorrow. That place of more contentment, and less concern and worry. That place where we are the sheep of His pasture and peacefully graze under His watchful care.

True Wealth

Finally the Lord has focused not only me but many of my friends on true wealth. The recession seems to have hurt the already hurting more than the financially rich. I have felt the pain and worries. But I, like Job, see an extraordinarily loving God who loved me too much to leave me the way I was. What a testimony we have when we can describe how the Lord provided over and over just enough to meet our needs. Or we cut the wasteful or fat expenses in our lives and realize we don’t miss those things. And that God, after we’ve made a personal sacrifice, replenishes our soul with a different source of happiness.

The things you own have worth to the world, but not worth to God. The world values your stuff and your achievements. God values that you are eternally His own. And He values caring relationships: you with Him and you with others. Our relationship with God is like a golden ribbon that encircles us with our Creator, Father and Savior. No one has shears strong enough to cut a tiny filament in that supernaturally indestructible ribbon. And I realize that if its money versus ribbons, I would rather have other supernatural gold ribbons that tie me in a bond of love and caring and smiles with others. The world says, he with the most toys wins. God says, he with the most supernatural gold ribbons win. He has opened my eyes to see and fully appreciate the many dear friends in my life and those people I may help. I don’t think I have ever been richer in my life. In fact, the Lord said plainly the other day, “You’ve never had it so good as now.” May we participate in the creation of each day by reaching out to one another and appreciating each other. Then, despite short-term pains and trials, each day we can truly say we are enormously wealthy beyond measurement. We have never had it so good as now.

Update as of February 15, 2011 8pm: A friend with whom I was discussing the above ideas yesterday strongly encouraged me to watch the movie Nicholas Nickelby. I started it last night and completed it tonight. It’s an anointed and even Rhema movie, if you will. Here is the line at the end Jesus might say, “Family need not be defined, merely, as those with whom they share blood, but those for whom they would give their blood.”