Monthly Archives: August 2016

Just a Thought (about Treasure)

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he contrasts earthly and heavenly treasures (Matthew 6:19-24). Earthly treasure can be destroyed and stolen but heavenly treasure cannot.

We know what kind of treasure is destroyed and stolen on earth. But what kind of treasure is in heaven?

Jesus may have given us a hint about heavenly treasures early in his Sermon on the Mount. In the beatitudes he says that the meek will inherit the earth.

This creation is passing away. Physicists tell us that the universe is expanding at an increasingly rapid rate. It is literally blowing itself apart.

The Bible tells us that the sky will be rolled up like a scroll (Isaiah 34:4) or taken off and replaced like a worn out set of clothing (Psalm 102:25-26). But God has a new heaven and new earth planned for his people (Revelation 21-22).

The new heaven and new earth will have many of the same features as this present heaven and earth but without the sin, death, decay and sorrow. If there are good things in this creation that you like, then you will love the new creation.

More than that, in the New Jerusalem will be the throne of God. God will dwell with his people and we will see his face (Revelation 22:3-4). In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he says that the pure in heart will see God.

People who imagine that God is unimportant have not seen him yet. What if they realize upon seeing him that they want him more than anything else?

“For where your treasure is,” Jesus says, “there your heart will be.” Just a thought.

May the Lord turn our hearts toward heaven,

Brother Richard

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Jesus and His Golden Rule

Perhaps Jesus’ most famous saying is the Golden Rule: “So in all things, whatever you want others to do to you, you do likewise to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Unfortunately, this may also be the most misunderstood saying of Jesus.

It is unfair to take a person’s words out of context. If we ignore the setting of Jesus’ Golden Rule, we can be misled into thinking that Jesus is telling us how to be saved. But Jesus is talking to those who have already decided to follow him. Their decision to follow him is their salvation, not their efforts at living by the Golden Rule.

When God delivered his people Israel from cruel bondage in Egypt, he did not give them the 10 Commandments and promise to save them if they obeyed. No. To be saved they simply had to trust him enough to follow him.

God brought the children of Israel out of slavery first, then he gave them the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai. The commandments did not save them. The commandments taught them how to live as saved people.

Jesus teaches his followers how to live holy lives, not in order to be saved, but because they are saved. We do not follow the Golden Rule in order to qualify for salvation.

It is unfair to put words in a person’s mouth. Jesus makes no promises with the Golden Rule. He is not giving us the secret to winning friends and influencing people. The Golden Rule is not a tool for making others do the right thing.

Earlier in his Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that his followers are salt and light. We are to do good deeds so that people will see and give glory to God, not give glory to us.

If we expect the Golden Rule to be an effective way of motivating others to act right, we will be disappointed. As followers of Jesus, we live by the Golden Rule not to persuade others to treat us right. We live by the Golden Rule because it pleases our Lord and brings honor to him.

Some people say that Jesus’ Golden Rule shows that he is no different from the other great religious leaders. Every great world religion, they say, has a teaching similar to the Golden Rule, so treating others as we wish to be treated must be the essence of all religion. But they are wrong.

Jesus says that the Golden Rule is the Law and the Prophets. In other words, it is an accurate representation of the Old Testament. The Golden Rule is not meant to be the pinnacle of human religion. It is a summary of God’s revelation to man in the Bible. And there is more.

When asked which command is greatest, Jesus gave not one but two. First, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Second, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. You cannot have one without the other.

The Golden Rule is not just good advice. It is the word of God. We live by it not because it makes our lives better, but because it pleases our Lord.

May God give us hearts that love him and each another,

Brother Richard

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Jesus’ Cure for Anxiety

So much to worry about! What if I lose my job?  What if my car breaks down?  What if the doctor tells me I need surgery?  Will Hillary or Trump be our next president?  How many more times will we have leftovers for supper this week . . . ?

Jesus knows we tend to worry about things.  In his Sermon on the Mount, he tells us why we worry and what we should do about it (see Matthew 6:25-34).

First, Jesus points out that birds don’t plant, harvest or gather into barns yet God makes sure that they eat. Aren’t we more valuable than the birds?

Jesus is not forbidding us from planning for tomorrow.  He is helping us to work and be wise without worrying.  After all, worry is fruitless.  Jesus asks, “Who can add one hour to their life by worrying?”  The answer: nobody!  So why worry?

Jesus then urges his followers to consider the beauty of the wildflowers. If God adorns the grass of the field with such splendor, and the grass is here today and gone tomorrow, will he not do much more for his people?

He addresses his followers as “little-faiths.”  In the old King James version it is rendered like this: “O ye of little faith.”  The root of worry, Jesus says, is lack of faith in God.

So, how do we exercise faith in God so that our worries are eliminated?  Jesus tells us to get our priorities straight.  “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus says, “and all these things will be added to you.”

As followers of Jesus, our first priority is God’s kingdom and his righteousness.  God is king of all creation but many people want to reject his rule.  We seek God’s kingdom by serving him as our king and encouraging others to do the same.

God’s righteousness is expressed through his commands in Scripture.  We seek his righteousness by obeying him fully and teaching others to obey him.

By “all these things” Jesus means the things in life that God knows we need.  We may not get all that we want, but Jesus promises that God will provide for us.

So Jesus connects the world of faith and spirituality to the daily world of food and clothes.  We are tempted to trust God for ‘religious’ things and trust ourselves for daily, material ‘practical’ things.

In other words, Christians sometimes live as though God rules the church and the Devil rules all else.  We follow God’s ways in church and play by the Devil’s rules in the world.

Jesus recognizes the struggle.  In fact, he goes on to say that we should not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Our Lord is not denying the fact that life is filled with challenges.  He freely admits that any day can be a tough day.  But God is King.  He rules over every day.  He rules over time.

God’s way, his righteousness, is the right way. All other ways are dead ends.  When we walk in God’s ways we have no need to worry.  When we serve the King we need not be anxious.

Let’s not allow the Enemy to replace our joy with anxiety. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  True, but Jesus has come that we might have life more abundantly!

May God’s Holy Spirit inspire and empower us to support his church and share his victory,

Brother Richard

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