Posts Tagged ‘The Kingdom of God’

“When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”  But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home.  Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.  I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers.  I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come.  And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed.  Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!  And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world-from east and west-and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites-those for whom the Kingdom was prepared-will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, ‘Go back home.  Because you believed, it has happened.”  And the young servant was healed that same hour.” (Matthew 8:5-13)

“Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom.  And he healed every kind of disease and illness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14).

According to research done by The Joshua Project, there are over 6,550 people groups on earth who have not heard the Good News about eternal life through our Savior and Messiah Jesus Christ.  Want to know who they are and where they are?  Click here (But first count the cost of having access to this knowledge, as you will instantly realize your responsibility to intercede for these people through continuous prayer): http://public.imb.org/globalresearch/Pages/ResearchData.aspx

Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his fields to share the truth of eternal life through Jesus Christ to the remaining people who have never even heard of Him.  Like the Roman officer, let our faith put events into motion in the heavens.  When we pray for the Lord to send workers into these fields, we must understand the power behind our prayers.  We know the will of God on this issue (that ALL would hear), so we know our prayers match His will.  And we know that our prayers are the vehicles through which He accomplishes his purposes on earth.  We are called upon by the Most High God to use our voice on behalf of the lost, to lift them up in faith, that God would reveal himself to them so that they may be saved.

Scrolling through the list of the unreached, we see that many of these people groups have less than 100 people; they are completely remote and tribal.  They live on remote islands, at the top of unchartered mountains, in unexplored parts of jungles, and wild habitats.  God loves them all and wants them in His family.

These are our future brothers and sisters; our future family.  We cannot let them down by failing to pray for them while they are lost.  We see that hundreds of thousands of these people are lost because they are physically deaf and cannot hear the Word of God.  Most are also illiterate, so how can they be reached?  God will reach them through our prayers.  In response to our prayers, God will say ‘Go,’ and His workers will GO!  God will say ‘Do this,’ and his servants will do it.  The Roman officer in God’s Word understood very clearly how it works.  Do we?

Here is an example of how we can pray for them:

Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for the gift of life and for saving me and bringing me into your family through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  Somehow you made sure that I heard about Christ and you prepared my heart to believe in Him.  Lord, I know that it is your will that all would hear of the free gift you offer through your royal Son Jesus Christ and that none would perish.  In response to your love and for saving me, I long for all to experience what I have with you.  Today I lift up these unreached people groups [HERE, SPECIFICALLY NAME PEOPLE GROUPS IN THE LIST], that you would send your workers into their fields to proclaim the Good News about the Kingdom and Jesus Christ to them.  I pray for their salvation, that they may live in the House of the Lord forever.  May they praise your Holy Name and bring your Name great honor and glory through their praise and by living holy lives in honor of Christ Jesus.  May they acknowledge their sins, confess them to you, repent of them wholeheartedly, and follow Christ Jesus’s example in every way.  May they fellowship with each other to grow in their faith, pray for each other, and may they have access to the Word of God.  Lord, I also ask for your protection over them as they grow with you, that the enemy cannot come to kill, steal, and destroy the relationship they have with you.  Give their hearts good soil which receives your Word and causes it to grow deep roots that can never be uprooted by any force contrary to your will.  May your Holy Spirit do His work in their lives wherever they are and may your Kingdom come!

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all peoples will hear it, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

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“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect.  They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.  For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?  And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?  And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?  That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!'” (Romans 10:9-15)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.  Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

The Voice of The Martyrs is a ministry dedicated to serving our persecuted Christian family throughout the world.  In all nations, the most common two requests VOM receives is “Please pray for us” and “Please send Bibles!” 

Voice of The Martyrs uses their resources to print Bibles in hostile and restricted nations where persecuted Christians desperately need God’s Living Word, both for the renewing of their own mind and so that they can share His word with others.

VOM offers two opportunities to be part of this work:

1) Bibles To Captive Nations — through this opportunity, you can be involved from time to time as a “One-Time” contributor and VOM will use your contribution to print Bibles and distribute them where they are most needed.   https://secure.persecution.com/p-418-bibles-to-captive-nations.aspx

2) Bibles Unbound — this opportunity is more detail oriented, as you set up your Bibles Unbound homepage, which begins as a blank world map.  You choose which country/operation you wish to contribute to and set up an Ongoing Contribution that VOM can rely upon as a recurring contribution to their Bible Distribution efforts.  Each restricted/hostile country you send Bibles to will be marked on your map.  You have control over which projects you’re funding.  Once you have your homepage set up, you also have the opportunity to make additional One-Time contributions as you want to.  http://www.biblesunbound.com/qry/mc_home.taf

We live in unprecedented times, with resources and opportunities no generation before us has had.  We have the power to literally reach the whole world with the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ.  There are many ways to use our life to fulfill the Great Commission our Lord has entrusted to us and the two opportunities VOM offers are an amazing way to be involved and fruitful in God’s Kingdom, if you have been looking for new ways to help.

“Listen to this, all you people!  Pay attention, everyone in the world!  High and low, rich and poor — listen!  For my words are wise, and my thoughts are filled with insight.  I listen carefully to many proverbs and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.  Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me?  They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches.  Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God.  Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.  Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever.  They may name their estates after themselves, but their fame will not last.  They will die, just like animals.  This is the fate of fools, though they are remembered as being wise.  Like sheep, they are led to the grave, where death will be their shepherd.  In the morning the godly will rule over them. Their bodies will rot in the grave, far from their grand estates.  But as for me, God will redeem my life.  He will snatch me from the power of the grave.  So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid.  For when they die, they take nothing with them.  Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.  In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success.  But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day.  People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals. (Psalm 49)

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon.  May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all people will hear it; and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24:14)

Everything moves into its proper place when our first priority in our day is the Kingdom of God.  The Living Word of God says that where our treasure is, there our heart also is.

And we know by simple observation of human behavior that the things we treasure in our hearts, the things we hold dear and cherish are the things we think about the most, that we cannot help but talk about, that we worry about.

For some, this treasure is our family.  For others, it is our work, dreams, reputation and status, money, power, leaving a legacy behind, fighting for a cause we believe in, and the list can go on.  These things in and of themselves can be great treasures and worthy of pursuit, if pursued with the right attitude.  But we have to be discerning and wise about the place of these things in our lives.

We are to seek the Kingdom of God FIRST.  All other worthy causes should fall neatly under our pursuit of the Kingdom of God in our day-to-day lives.

Christ gave us one job: to get the Good News about the Kingdom of God to the whole world, so that all people will hear it.  Yes, God is Almighty and could do this all by himself and just get it done, but He chose His children to do it.  He gave us this honor and entrusted his Kingdom to us.

If we are seeking first our own kingdom, then God’s Kingdom is not our priority.  And there are so many things within our own kingdom that dominate our time and thoughts that days can turn into weeks, which turn into months, which become years that go by without us achieving the one thing that was delegated to us for our life on earth by God.

Paul tells us candidly in 1 Corinthians 3:13 that on Judgment Day, the refining fires of God will reveal what kind of work each person did in their life.  If our life’s work was of and for our own kingdom or the world’s kingdom, we will watch it burn up before our eyes.  We ourselves will escape the fire because of our faith in Christ Jesus, but we will have little or nothing to show for our life on earth.  Paul warns that we will suffer great loss if our work does not withstand the purifying fires.  We do well to think this over on a regular basis and apply it to our lives while there is time.

Many of us have nothing to give except our prayers, but we do not realize that our prayers are the most effective work we can offer the Kingdom of God.  God does not just go ahead and fulfill his will on the earth whenever He wants to.  He fulfills his will through the prayers of the followers of Christ Jesus.  Know this truth and pray.  Each one of us is the vessel by which the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.

Lord Jesus, may we have a clear understanding of the precious treasure you have given us, the trust you have placed in us to fulfill your will on earth.  May we firmly grasp the power we hold in our prayers and understand how we fulfill your will by praying.  Let us not fall into the trap of a life of fruitless pursuit of things that we must leave behind when we die, leaving this world as naked as the day we came into it.  But let us store up for ourselves eternal treasure in heaven by obeying what you have asked us to do.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear; give us wisdom and discernment and burden us with a deep desire to pray.  May your Kingdom come soon!

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7)

“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”  (Matthew 18:18-19)

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19)

“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.  Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:2)

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

What if we discovered that God will not act independently to implement His will on Earth?  What if we found out that when God gave his children dominion over all the Earth, that truly included ALL things?  What if it was revealed to us that, although we cannot manipulate God to do anything against His will, we as his children, hold the keys to that which IS His will on Earth?  What would we do if we realized that NOT praying actually does hinder God’s work on Earth?

Would we see the power that has been entrusted to us?  Would we embrace the responsibility of being those who PRAY?

If we are in right standing with God, obedient to Him, living our lives with a clear conscience, then rest assured that when we pray we are heard and our prayers accomplish much.

As Watchman Nee writes in his book Let Us Pray, Chapter One ‘What is Prayer?’, “The foremost question to be asked is, Why pray? What is the use of praying? Is not God omniscient as well as omnipotent? Why must He wait till we pray before He commences to work?  Since He knows, why must we tell Him everything (Philippians 4.6)? Being almighty, why does God not work directly?  Why should He need our prayers?  Why is it that only those who ask are given, only those who seek find, and only those who knock enter in (Matthew 7.7)?  Why does God say: ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not’ (James 4.2)?

Upon asking the above questions we must then continue to inquire as follows:  Is prayer contrary to the will of God?  What is the relationship between prayer and righteousness?

We know God never does anything against His own will.  If opening doors is God’s will, why should He wait until we knock before He opens?  Why does He not simply open for us according to His own will without requiring us to knock?  Being omniscient, God knows we need to have doors opened; why, then, must He wait for our knocking before He opens?  If the door is to be opened and if opening doors is in accordance with God’s will, and if furthermore He also knows that we need it to be opened, why does He wait for us to knock?  Why does He not just open the door?  What advantage does our knocking give to God?

Yet we must further ask these questions:  Since God’s will is to open the door and since opening the door is in accord with righteousness, will God nevertheless open the door if we do not knock?  Or would He rather have His will and righteousness delayed without accomplishment in order to wait for our prayers?  Will He really allow His will of opening doors to be restrained by our not knocking?  If so, will not the will of God be limited by us?  Is God really almighty?  If He is almighty, why can He not open the door all by himself–why instead must He wait till we knock?  Is God really able to accomplish His own will? But if He truly is able, then why is His opening of doors (God’s will) governed by our knocking (man’s prayer)?

By asking all these questions we come to realize that prayer is a great mystery. For here we see a principle of God’s working, which is, that God’s people must pray before God himself will rise up and work: His will is only to be realized through the prayers of those who belong to Him: the prayers of the believers are to accomplish His will: God will not fulfill His will alone — He will perform only after His people show their sympathy in prayers.

Such being the case, it can therefore be said that prayer is none other than an act of the believer working together with God.  Prayer is the union of the believer’s thought with the will of God.  The prayer which a believer utters on earth is but the voicing of the Lord’s will in heaven.  Prayer is not the expressing of our wish for God to yield to our petition and fill up our selfish desire.  It is not a forcing of the Lord to change His will and perform what He is unwilling to do.  No, prayer is simply speaking out the will of God through the mouth of the believer.  Before God, the believer asks in prayer for the Lord’s will to be done.

Prayer does not alter that which God has determined.  It never changes anything; it merely achieves what He has already foreordained.  Prayerlessness, though, does effect a change, because God will let many of His resolutions go suspended due to the lack from His people of prayerful cooperation with Him.”

If only the children of God understood the stakes here.  Our enemy Satan does all he can to distract us and discourage us from prayer because it is by prayer that his worldly kingdom is rebuked and forced to submit to the cross of Jesus Christ every day.  If the children of God are silent, Satan’s works abound and he does as he pleases.  It’s just that simple.

Let us ask our Father in heaven for wisdom and discernment concerning prayer.  Let us ask Him every day for guidance from his Holy Spirit, that He will place upon our hearts a burden to pray and that he will make known to us His will so that we can pray for it to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In light of the enormous responsibility we have been entrusted with by God our Father, let us be sensitive to ALL THINGS as Paul instructed the church in Philippians 4:6-7, “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.”

We approach the throne of God with praise and thanksgiving for Who He is and all he has done and will do.  This proclamation announces to all the heavens that there is one God who is worthy of praise and worship. This act shows all the heavens the rightful place God holds, and it puts Satan in his rightful place as well. We confess our sins with a repentant heart and mind and ask for forgiveness, as this puts us in our rightful place before God as his children and it shames our accusing enemy Satan, who accuses us day and night before our Father in heaven.  The blood of Jesus covers us and answers our enemy Satan.  We announce that we are covered by the blood of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus.  We get to work, interceding for all children of God, and all people everywhere, all political authorities, those who labor in the Gospel, we ask for more laborers to be sent into the fields of the world, we pray for all who are in adversity, for believers who have fallen into sin and for one another. (Ephesians 6:18, 1 Timothy 2:1, Ephesians 6:19-20, Colossians 4:3, Matthew 9:38, Hebrews 13:3, Galatians 6:1, James 5:16).  Then we petition God for our own needs, whatever burdens our heart, as we know he cares deeply for us and delights in the details of our lives.  We ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit in all things.

Know the truth about life in Christ Jesus and be set free.  Are you troubled about the condition of your country, the world, your leaders, your peers and friends, your family?  Does it hurt your heart to watch or hear the news?  Does the wickedness in the world discourage you?  Do the conditions of your own life and world discourage you?  Have you looked on, wondering why God doesn’t rise up and squash evil and wickedness in the land?  Align your will with the will of God and pray. You have no greater responsibility than this.

Our silence enables Satan and his kingdom to thrive and expand.  If he could cut our tongues from our mouths to prevent our prayers, he would.  But it’s just as well if he can silence us through other means, such as distraction, shame, guilt, feelings of unworthiness, discouragement, pride, ignorance or the lie that God will do what He wants anyway, so we need not pray. 

As ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, we fail God miserably and shamefully when we are silent.  Let it not be so. Let us demonstrate our faith by praying.

“And the Lord saw it…and wondered that there was no intercessor…” (Isaiah 59:15,16)

“…Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

The majority of the content of this post is from Watchman Nee’s “Let Us Pray” and from “The 2959 plan”.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?  She is more precious than rubies.  Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.  She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.  She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.  Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.  She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.  She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.  She makes her own bedspreads.  She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.  Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.  She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.  She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.  Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised Reward her for all she has done.  Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”  (Proverbs 31:10-31)

“And I want women to be modest in their appearance.  They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.  For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”  (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

According to the Holy Scriptures, there is nothing more precious than a Godly Woman.  So what characterizes a Godly Woman?

She is virtuous, possessing moral excellence.

She is capable; having the ability required for a specific task or accomplishment.

She is trustworthy, reliable.

She begins each day early and with purpose, planning the day’s work.

She is a hard worker, energetic, strong, passionate about her craft and spends her days perfecting it.

She suffers nothing from laziness.

She is intelligent and business-oriented, a co-provider for her family, making sure her work is profitable.

She is attentive to the worthy things in her life, carefully watching; she is not aloof.

She does not worry about her future or the future of her family; instead, she obeys God and trusts Him to provide their every need.

She cares about the poor and needy and helps them.

Her appearance is modest yet dignified, respectable.

When she speaks, her words are wise and kind.

If she is single, you will find her working hard at whatever craft(s) she is capable of.  She has a purpose that drives her; wakes her up early and keeps her occupied even into the night.  Her judgment is trusted by her family, employer, friends and even acquaintances. She is not known by flashy possessions or a flashy appearance, still people describe her as attractive because of her virtuous character.  Her friends confide in her with no worry that she would betray their trust.  She does not gossip.  When she speaks, she speaks intelligently and with kindness.  She cares about the poor and needy, thinks about them, helps them. Her solid relationship with God is evident in everything she does.  She is known by her virtues.

If she is married, her husband trusts her completely and he enjoys the confidence and freedom that comes with having a wife of noble character.  Her judgment is sound and trustworthy, especially in the areas of business and money.  She earns her own money and contributes to the family purse by her hard work.  She is a living example to her children on the matters of hard work and moral excellence.  She has the respect and praise of her family because she earns it every day; her husband is proud of her and he is highly respected by others because of her.  She and her husband are a power-couple the likes of which the secular world can only dream, because the foundation of their relationship is God, who blesses them. She greatly enriches his life, supporting him in anything he sets out to do.  Her husband and her children adore her as God adores her, and their relationship as a family glorifies God.

This woman may seem rather intimidating.  Is all this really possible?

Lest we get lost in the details or overwhelmed by what Scripture characterizes a Godly Woman as, reading the Scripture in the context of order and balance that reflects the perfect nature of God, she is NOT a workaholic, never stopping to relax.  But she is passionate; as evidenced by her laughter, she is balanced and free.  She laughs without fear of the future; she is not a worrier, but a woman of purpose and action, with a zeal for life.  She is quite simply a force to be reckoned with.

In sharp contrast, what we often see in TV shows, Hollywood, on the internet, on the news and even in the church are as follows:  Women who dress in revealing clothing that draws attention to their sexuality; who have vulgar mouths and short tempers; who are lazy and greedy and do not want to work; who actively look for others to fund their lives and recreation; who enjoy and look forward to activities of debauchery, drunkenness, promiscuity; who gossip and even make up lies to hurt or manipulate others; who cannot be trusted to do their job or to follow through with their promises or to be faithful; who frivolously and carelessly spend every cent they have and then spend even what they don’t have by using credit; who are self-absorbed, selfish, emotionally cold, with no care for those in need; who have no worthy ambition or purpose in life.

When choosing female friends, a girlfriend, a wife, the world is pretty shallow in its choices which usually fall into the categories of physical attractiveness and popularity.  As such, a lot of trouble, strife and pain are experienced both by the women and the people in their lives.  But that is what can be expected of the world; of Satan’s kingdom.

In the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the woman is the companion of the man and together God has given them dominion of the whole world.  She is more precious than anything and she is a compliment to the lives of everyone she meets.  May God’s Kingdom come!

 

I said to myself, ‘Come on, let’s try pleasure.  Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.’ But I found that this, too, was meaningless.  So I said, ‘Laughter is silly.  What good does it do to seek pleasure?’  After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine.  And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness.  In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.  I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.  I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.  I built reservoirs to collect water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.  I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household.  I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.  I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces.  I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines.  I had everything a man could desire!  So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take.  I denied myself no pleasure.  I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors.  But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless — like chasing the wind.  There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

“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)

“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”  (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River.  He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.  Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.  Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”  But Jesus told him, ‘No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’ Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  ‘I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,’ the devil said, ‘because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it to you if you will worship me.’ Jesus replied, ‘The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Luke 4:1-8)

As Christians, we can count on our Lord to command us to behave exactly opposite of what comes naturally to us.  The ways of God are not our ways, since the ways of God are not tarnished by sin.  As long as we live on earth, we will experience the struggle between what naturally enters into our thoughts and desires and what is spiritually right.  It is ALL Spiritual Warfare.

The Holy Scriptures teach us that money and possessions are of this world and not to be desired by us, yet naturally, we want these things.  We think that the more we have, the happier we will be.  We think that the more we have, the higher up the status ladder we will ascend; when we have everything we’re dreaming of, then we will be important, respected, powerful, envied by others. We’re all the same in this way. We are so predictable.

We are so predictable, in fact, that our behavior and desires were addressed in the Scriptures thousands of years ago and the right way to live was also presented to us so that we can properly discern and make a choice.

The temptation for money, possessions, and power is so significant in the human story that if anything could have stopped our Lord Jesus Christ from fulfilling His purpose had He submitted to it, it would have been this.  After all, isn’t that what God is: Lord Supreme over all?  Satan knew this and presented our Savior with the ultimate temptation while He was hungry beyond measure and physically at His weakest.

But Christ rejected the offer and He set the example for His followers.  We are to store up treasure in heaven, not on earth.  We are to be servants of the Most High God, not slaves to Satan.

What possessions and money we have are to be used for God’s glory; helping others, spreading His Kingdom.

How can we do that when we are buying things we don’t actually have the money to pay for?  How can we do that when our thoughts and hearts are tied up with the cares of this world; wanting more, obtaining more, worrying about how to get it, how to pay it off, how to keep it?

We are slaves to Satan when we have debt.  The money we earn is obligated to debts for things we could not afford but bought anyway, thus cycling back into the world and not into the Kingdom of God.  How unfortunate.  Yet, this is reality for most of God’s children, especially in the West where it is easier than ever to consign ourselves into debt slavery, acquiring anything our hearts desire, but never having quite enough.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we know deep down that Solomon was right: it’s all meaningless, futile.

Let us take an honest look at our lives, our possessions.  Do we possess them or do they possess us?  Are we proper stewards of God’s Kingdom, free to make decisions and take action for the glory of God with our resources or are we helplessly obligated to this world and its things?

There is an amazing spiritual liberation to lightening the load and clearing the clutter from our lives.  But it is one of the hardest actions we will ever take.

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ ‘Why ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied.  ‘There is only One who is good. But to answer your question — if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ the man asked.  And Jesus replied: ‘You must not murder.  You must not commit adultery.  You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else must I do?’ Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!’ (Matthew 19:16-24)