Archive for the ‘The Kingdom Of Heaven’ Category

Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.  I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.’ The godly people in the land are my true heroes!  I take pleasure in them!  Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.  I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.  Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine.  The land you have given me is a pleasant land.  What a wonderful inheritance!  I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I know the Lord is always with me.  I will not be shaken for he is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16)

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.  He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Many people hold the viewpoint that suffering and death on earth are the worst things that can happen.  They even argue that if an all-powerful God of love existed, he would never allow these things to happen, and since they do happen, he must either be cruel and unworthy of our worship or he must not exist at all.

But Scriptures show us the truth, that we are spirits, simply living on earth for a short time in bodies designed to die and decay and return to dust. Every single human being that was ever born has died and everyone knows that they will die, regardless of the manner or method.  Whether in our sleep, in a tragic circumstance, by a slow cancer or at the hands of another, we will die.

And we also know from Scripture that death is part of the human journey, leading to the next mysterious phase of our life.  Death is the springboard into what is, for many, the unknown; a frightful place for many.  But our loving God, through His Living Word, has given us many glimpses into what is next in our journey when we physically die.

And believing Him, we approach our lives and circumstances on earth with confidence that suffering and death cannot hurt us.  Suffering on earth may certainly lead to physical death, but physical death is guaranteed anyway.  It’s just part of life.

For the Christian, suffering on earth, especially for our faith, is simply drinking from the same cup as our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered for all.  This is a heavy truth and one that those who belong to this world cannot understand.  We must be made able to understand spiritual truths like this by our Heavenly Father who gives us spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see.  We ask the Lord to be the refuge for our eternal SPIRIT.  We ask the Lord to keep our SPIRIT safe, to guard us and grant us the joy of His presence and the pleasures of living with Him forever.  Knowing our physical body will die, we understand that it is our eternal spirit which hangs in the balance. It is our eternal spirit for which the great spiritual war in heaven is fought. 

It is our eternal spirit that our Lord Jesus Christ died for and was raised from the dead to save, thereby conquering the power of death over us who believe.  O death, where is your sting?

So, as we hear of suffering and death across this planet in turmoil, we must not be dismayed.  Such is life on earth because of sin. Our Lord predicted all of this.  He spoke of evil, wickedness and death and told us who is responsible for it all; our enemy Satan.  He warned us that wickedness would increase quickly in the last days leading to His return.  And He promised to always be with us, right beside us, never leaving us.  Believing this, we can be glad and rejoice; experiencing God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand, no matter how badly the earth and its occupants rumble.  Father, may your Kingdom come!

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The people in this video are gathered in a room where suitcases full of Bibles have just arrived.  How remarkable, their excitement, vocal displays of joy, the way they step into their own little space in the room to have their moment holding the precious Living Word of God, how they press their faces to it trying to get as close as they can.  They’ve dreamed of this moment; the moment they receive their very own Bible.  The woman who speaks says, “This is what we needed the most. This is what we needed,” as her breath catches in her chest.  The video ends with reverent silence as everyone sits in awe.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.  The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.  Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.  The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.  They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.  They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.”  (Psalm 19:7-11)

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field.  In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.  Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls.  When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21)

If you would like to help get Bibles to people in persecuted countries, who have ACTUALLY ASKED FOR THEIR OWN BIBLE and are waiting expectantly for it, go here: www.biblesunbound.com.

No devoted thing, that a man devotes to the Lord of all he has, whether of man or beast, or of the field of his possession, can be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:28)

“Jesus sat near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money.  Many rich people put in large amounts.  Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.  Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.  For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:41-44)

“Jesus told this story to his disciples: ‘There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs.  One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money.  So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’  The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me.  I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg.  Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’  So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation.  He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’  So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’ ‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply.  ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’ The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd.  And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.  Here’s the lesson:  Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends.  Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.  If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.’  The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him.  Then he said to them, ‘You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts.  What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.'”(Luke 16:1-15)

“Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested.  ‘Teacher,” they said, ‘we know how honest you are.  You are impartial and don’t play favorites.  You teach the way of God truthfully.  Now tell us — is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?  Should we pay them or shouldn’t we?’  Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, ‘Why are you trying to trap me?  Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.’ When they handed it to him, he asked, ‘Whose picture and title are stamped on it?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.  ‘Well, then,’ Jesus said, ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.’ His reply completely amazed them. (Mark 12: 13-17)

Jesus often addressed the topic of money.  He made it clear that money is of this world and not of God.

We know from Scripture that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil; things that draw us away from God and into temptation and death.  (1 Timothy 6:9-10)  Whether it is Caesar’s denarius or America’s dollar, it is, in and of itself, of the world. But with money being the essence of our every day lives, how do we sanctify that which is of the world into a holy use for God’s treasury house on earth and the purposes of His kingdom?  How do we, in all practicality, take away something from Satan that belongs to his wicked kingdom and claim it instead for God’s glory? How do we infiltrate and plunder Satan’s territory, namely his world realm of finance, and bring the spoils home to our Father?

Scripture teaches us that, in order for something to be made sanctified for the Lord, it must be destroyed as far as the giver is concerned.  Destroying a thing for the Lord leaves no opportunity for us to reclaim that thing and re-use it later; we cannot redeem it, give it, or sell it again to be used.  That is why it is a sacrifice.  Only the Lord receives it.

Applying the concept of sacrifice and sanctification to money is the same as to any other thing we would sacrifice: GIVE IT TO THE LORD, thereby destroying it; destroying our ability to use it for anything else in the world.  Give, not randomly, but out of habit, in proportion to what we have, earnestly and with purpose.  Paul wrote the Corinthians, saying “Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving.  Give in proportion to what you have.  Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.  And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves.  I only mean that there should be some equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:11-13)

This habit of giving in proportion to what we have and eagerly is pleasing to the Lord.  It is a sacrifice that helps others and brings glory to the Lord’s name.  Do not be intimidated by the amount, as it doesn’t matter.  Jesus sat and watched rich people donate lots of their money to the Temple, but it was the two little otherwise worthless coins that the poor widow gave that impressed him so.  Why? She was making a sacrifice.  Jesus’ statement about the others’ giving from their surplus was not meant to discount their giving, but only to highlight the fact that God cares not about the amount we give, but the condition of our heart in our deliberations to give and in the act of giving.

Unlike the “prosperity gospel” which is false teaching, giving to the Lord, His purposes and Kingdom, is not a platform for positioning ourselves to get rich.  It is Scriptural that those who can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much and will be given much, but the context of that meaning has been perverted by the “prosperity gospel” so that those who preach it can get rich at the expense of their followers.  That money stays in Satan’s kingdom because it is not sanctified and made holy.  The whole premise of the false prosperity gospel of giving money is to see it returned as-many-fold as is possible.  That is greed and is exactly what Jesus warns us about when he says we cannot serve two masters.

No, give as a sacrifice, expecting to never see it again. Let it be “consumed by the Lord.” Give to the Lord, converting worldly money into heavenly purpose.  Let your money feed and clothe the poor, widows and orphans. Make it buy Bibles for those who cannot buy their own.  Make it benefit your local church and people who attend it. Make it strengthen your community.  Let it take care of the families of Christian martyrs around the world who are suffering.  Let it build water wells and houses and churches abroad for others who cannot afford these things.  Make it aid your family members who need legitimate help. Let it send others out to spread the Good News of Christ.  Use it to help others and lift them up, all in proportion to what you have.

We are God’s Treasury House on Earth.  We are His army and His stewards. His Kingdom spreads through our right living, praying and giving, all of which are sacrifices which greatly please Him.  What an opportunity and privilege it is to use the things of this world to honor the Name of the Lord.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our evil nature.  We were born with an evil nature and we were under God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.  (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.  God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)

One of the great mysteries of God and spirituality is the notion that we are all born dead because of sin.  It’s difficult to fathom that people can be physically alive, hearts beating, minds thinking, walking, doing, working, but dead.  Without Christ, we are spiritually dead.  Without Christ, we naturally and of our own free-will obey the devil, the commander of the powers of the unseen world and the spirit at work in our dead hearts.

Since all creatures eventually physically die, the only hope anything has is that its spirit will live on when its body succumbs to death.

Christians understand that sin makes this impossible.  Sin is the great divide between a creature and its Creator, Who knows no sin and Who, by His very nature, cannot abide it.  The price that must be paid to cancel the debt of sin is death.  Physical death and Spiritual death.  No list of our good deeds can be long enough or adequate enough to pay the debt of sin and save us from death.  There is nothing we can do to avoid meeting our doom.  We are tainted; born that way.  We had no control in our birth into this world and we are absolutely helpless in our efforts to live on when our time is up.

But God loved us so much that He had a plan to save us from our doom; an answer that conquered death.  Since only one who is not tainted by sin can help those who are perishing from sin and since the price of sin is death, only God could pay the price to cancel our debt and redeem us from the grave.

And His plan all along was to do just that, which He did through Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up as a sacrifice in our place, the ultimate price of death paid in full.

But that’s only part of the beautiful mystery that converts us from dead men walking to living heirs of the Eternal Kingdom of God.

The second part of the mystery is that Jesus Christ was physically raised from the dead after 3 days and He walked out of His tomb in His new resurrected body.  He lived in the community for 40 days after this and was plainly seen by hundreds of people, not as an apparition, but in His body which bore the wounds and evidence of His death.

Those who saw him were willing to die for their testimony that He was alive and many of them were killed over this.  But they understood that their life was sealed in eternity because of Jesus, and physical death could not take it away from them.

Lastly, Scripture says that those who believe this story of God’s plan of redemption are saved from death.  We are believers, not dead men walking.  We are the light of Jesus Christ on this earth and have eternal life through Christ, forever.

To this day, believers are being persecuted and killed all over the world because they will not renounce their belief in the eternal salvation they have in Christ Jesus.  Physical death is being forced upon them by the powers of evil in this world, but their physical death is a 100% guarantee anyway.  They lose nothing.  They gain everything.

 

 

No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.  That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  And why worry about your clothing?  Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?  So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  (Matthew 6:24-34)

Jesus does not mince words when He describes how the Father takes care of those who live in His Kingdom.  When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and the Lord of our life, He becomes our King.  We live in His Kingdom.  We are His subjects; His servants.  We belong to Him.  The responsibility is His to provide for our needs and He very clearly states that He will give us everything we need each day.  This truth is so important for Christ’s followers to know that Jesus even made sure it was part of our template for prayer, saying “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

Jesus is not announcing the so-called “prosperity gospel”, telling us to hold our hands out and claim that “money cometh!”, as several popular wolves in sheep’s clothing tell their flocks to do.  That twisting of our Savior’s words is the classic subtle perversion of truth, the trademark stamp of Satan.

However, it is a righteous act to expect our needs to be provided for. We act in faith when we greet each day thanking God for His provision and go about our daily activities confidently knowing He will meet our needs.

Approaching the day (and life) this way separates Christ’s followers from the world.  The world’s kingdom is money and those who belong to the world worry about whether they have enough money to meet their needs.  They place their trust in their money or lack thereof.  They fret, scheme, plot, and strategize how they will get more money and the result is that money becomes their king and master.

But the world’s economy does not affect God’s economy and what a relief it is to know that.  Those who live in the Kingdom of Heaven have the Most High God as their Master; their Provider.  Putting God’s Purpose first and living righteously shows that we live in His Kingdom and His response is a promise to take care of us.

So it is not fitting at all for believing Christians to worry about our needs.  We set ourselves apart from the world and its master when we approach each day in confident, even childlike, expectation and thankfulness that our needs are met by our Father in Heaven.  This is praise by behavior and it greatly pleases our God Almighty.

“People know where to mine silver and how to refine gold.  They know where to dig iron from the earth and how to smelt copper from rock.  They know how to shine light in the darkness and explore the farthest regions of the earth as they search in the dark for ore.  They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives.  They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth.  Food is grown on the earth above, but down below, the earth is melted as by fire.  Here the rocks contain precious sapphires, and the dust contains gold.  These are the treasures no bird of prey can see, no falcon’s eye observes.  No wild animal has walked upon these treasures; no lion has ever set his paw there.  People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains.  They cut tunnels in the rocks and uncover precious stones.  They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures.  But do people know where to find wisdom?  Where can they find understanding?  No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean. ‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea.  It cannot be bought with gold.  It cannot be purchased with silver.  It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx or sapphires.  Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal.  It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.  Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it.  The price of wisdom is far above rubies.  Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it.  It’s worth more than the purest gold.  But do people know where to find wisdom?  Where can they find understanding?  It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity.  Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it.  Destruction and Death say, ‘We’ve heard only rumors of where wisdom can be found.’  God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth and sees everything under the heavens.  He decided how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall.  He made the laws for the rain and laid out a path for the lightning.  Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.  He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.  And this is what he says to all humanity:  ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’ (Job 28)

“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.  Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.  For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.  He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.  Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.  Wise choices will watch over you.  Understanding will keep you safe.  Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.  These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths.  They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil  Their actions are crooked and their ways are wrong.” (Proverbs 2:1-15)

“Wisdom shouts in the streets.  She cries out in the public square.  She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: ‘How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simple-minded?  How long will you mockers relish your mocking?  How long will you fools hate knowledge?  Come and listen to my counsel.  I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.’ (Proverbs 1:20-23)

For thousands of years, the inhabitants of earth have been dazzled by precious gemstones and metals and have done everything possible to possess them.  Worldwide, these precious commodities are acknowledged by all as things worthy of great searches and labor.  How many stories are there of expeditions, schemes, enslavement and murder in the countless quests to acquire these precious treasures?

But the One who created it all says there is treasure that far surpasses the beauty and worth of any precious thing on earth.  He says we should seek it and value it above all earthly treasures.

But there’s a catch.  Unlike gemstones and gold and silver treasures which yield themselves to the tenacity and means of the seeker, Wisdom is a Spirit who yields herself to those that she wants to and is completely evasive to others.  Try as hard as we might to find her, if Wisdom doesn’t want to be found, she will not be found.

And yet, the Scriptures tell us that she “shouts”, “cries” and “calls” out from the most visible and noticeable places possible, places everyone can see her from (roof tops, the main street, the city gate); she behaves how anyone would who is desperately trying to get someone’s attention.

We pass by.  We see her.  We hear her.  We even understand her.

But those who don’t come when she calls, who don’t pay attention, who ignore her counsel, who reject the corrections she offers, who mock her or hate the knowledge she tries to share; from those she eventually hides herself. (Proverbs 1:24-32)  Like the most precious and priceless gemstone embedded deep within a common-looking rock, she hides in plain sight.

Yes, she cloaks her beauty and reserves the possession of it for a select few: those who fear the Lord.opal

Photo: www.opalauctions.com

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“…For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10)

“The one thing I ask the Lord–the thing I seek most–is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.  For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary.  He will place me out of reach on a high rock.  Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me.” (Psalm 27:4-6)

“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you.  You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.  You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them.  You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.”  (Psalm 31:19-20)

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection.  I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.”  (Psalm 57:1)

To hide:  verb; to put or keep (oneself or an object) in a secret place; conceal from view or discovery.

If all the world is a battlefield for a war that only grows more intense and dreadful as time ticks along, where can Christians hide when we need a safe place to retreat and rest?  Where can we go to be concealed from the roving eyes of the devil?  Where can we go to escape the constant danger that threatens to hurt and destroy us?

We hang on through our circumstances as long as we can, but eventually we all wear out.  Eventually, the only thing that can quench our parched and cracked soul is the refreshing water found in the Fortress that is our Almighty God.  When we’re tired and just want to get out of sight, Scripture says we can ask God to hide us and He will.  Where can we find Him?  “In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

When we need to hide; when we need to get to safety, we will find God in His Word.  It’s alive in Him and He will hide us there.  This is a mystery, but for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the Word of God is the high rock where He places us so we are out of the reach of our enemy.  When we go there, we can rest in His safety and protection.

“We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born.  We can’t take our riches with us.”  (Ecclesiastes 5 :15)

“Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen?  None of us can hold back our spirit from departing.  None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death.  There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle.  And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked.”  (Ecclesiastes 8: 7-8)

“The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing.  They have no further reward, nor are they remembered.  Whatever they did in their lifetime–loving, hating, envying–is all long gone.  They no longer play a part in anything here on earth.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6)

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.”  (Hebrews 11:24-26)

Riches. Treasures. Prizes. Splendor. Rewards.

Is there a single soul who ever lived who was not dazzled by the treasures and pleasures of this world?  The Holy Scriptures say that even Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan over these things: “…the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give to you, he said ‘if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)  If the appeal for these things was strong enough for Satan to try to use it as his trump card in the temptations of Christ, let our eyes be open to understand the threat of these things to our very souls.

Jesus said “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

Our Father in heaven knows how alluring riches and splendor are to us.  He knows how distracting and tempting these beautiful things are.  So he makes us a promise.  Scripture says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  (1 Corinthians 2:9) Christ himself is our treasure, our reward, our splendor.  Our minds cannot comprehend what this means, but Scripture is clear that nothing can even be compared.

Solomon, the wisest man to live, possessed everything he ever wanted. There was so much splendor in his kingdom that silver was considered almost worthless.  His household of hundreds of people ate their meals and drank their wine from dishware that was pure gold.  “The King made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones” (2 Chronicles 1:15) He was clothed in the finest garments on earth. He had thousands of the most beautiful women in the world.  He had palaces, land as far as the eye could see, and vineyards too many in number to even count.  Kings and queens traveled from all over the world, bringing him the finest gifts their kingdoms had to offer.  There was peace in his kingdom and he was deeply respected all of the days of his reign.  Yet, in the end, he called it all meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)  He bitterly reflected that it was all temporary; that it wasn’t ever really his.  He had it on loan and could only watch it slip through his fingers.  Solomon died and took none of it with him.

Moses also had all of these beautiful things at his fingertips.  He had all the grandeur of Egypt in the palm of his hand.  To this day, the world marvels at the treasures of Egypt, but Scripture says that when Moses was allowed a glimpse of the great reward ahead, he walked away from all of it and fixed his eyes on the true Prize.

Likewise, Paul, having been shown the heavens, spent the remainder of his days forsaking all this world has to offer.  He was completely and utterly uninterested; instead looking forward to the true Prize that was his reward in heaven. (2 Timothy 4:8)

We must live our lives knowing that all things are temporary and that we will die; this keeps everything in life in perspective.  Our enemy Satan places shiny, tempting, beautiful things before us to try to make us covet and lust after them.  Satan’s mission in this is to steal our rightful inheritance in Christ and destroy us.  We must keep our eyes on the true prize of Christ and not be distracted by the meaningless, temporary treasures and pleasures of this world.  By faith, we are to work in the Kingdom of God, storing up treasures in heaven, where our loving Father holds the key to our reward.

Our salvation is a free gift from God based solely on faith.  Our reward is earned by our good works in the Kingdom of God during our life on earth.  Remember, “on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.  The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”  (1 Corinthians 3: 13-15)

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver  to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.  The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.  The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.  But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.  After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.  The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’  The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!  The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’  The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.  I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’  But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.  To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.  Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  (Matthew 25: 14-30)

Every day we are given is an opportunity to fulfill The Great Commission of Christ in any way we can.  We each have different personalities and abilities and God has given us freedom to choose what we would like to do with what he’s entrusted to us. We come in every color, age, shape and size; introverts, extroverts, rich, poor, solitary, influential, physically able or disabled.  If we are professing Christians, we have work to do.

May none of us ever hear the dreaded words, “You wicked and lazy servant!” for having contributed nothing to His Kingdom after accepting the gift of His only Son’s blood as a ransom for our lives.

If we aren’t putting thought and energy into how we are shining the Light inside of us outward to this dark world, we’re failing Christ.  There are too many options for none of them to fit our circumstances, so we have no excuse.  We must seize any opportunities that we can to ensure that we get to hear the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” when our King returns home.  Be inspired by Jesus’ parable, embracing a healthy dose of the Fear of the Lord, and get to work while there is still time.  None of us knows when our time is up!