Pastor's Blog

August 2014

Rich God, Rich People

God encourages believers to find their hope in him because he richly provides all things for our enjoyment. From God comes all of his love; all of his forgiveness. From God comes Jesus Christ who has paid the price for sin. From God comes the guarantee of eternal life so that no person would ever have to be afraid of death. From God comes every good thing to provide for life and protect his people. This is the God who is a certainty, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, who doesn’t change. And God gives all these things for the believer’s enjoyment. Enjoyment comes when the stuff people have serves a purpose, it doesn’t just sit there. It does a person no good to buy a new article of clothing or a new gadget, if it just sits there never used. God wants believers to find enjoyment from the things he gives by using what he has given. And how has God given it? Richly. From God’s never ending storehouse of wealth he gives to people all that they need, and very often more than they need.

When believers reflect on God’s service to them, then it’s time for them to respond to that love. They can look on their possessions in life as a way to serve God and serve their neighbor. Paul says, “Do good, be rich in good deeds and generous and willing to share.” The word that comes to my mind is magnanimous. Magnanimous is that person who is generous, big-hearted, free with their things. They aren’t necessarily rich in this world, but they treat you as if their home is your home. Paul is encouraging a spirit among believers that says, “We are all God’s family. These people who share my faith are my brothers and sisters. What God has blessed me with, I can also use to bless others because I love God, and I love my family in Christ.”

Because God is rich, he has made us rich, too.

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Wealth - The Wonderful Truth

The truth about possessions and wealth is that they tend to pull us into ourselves. That can be a big problem in our life. If that’s happening then it’s putting you at odds with other people. How many spouses argue about money or stuff? How many families are hurt when it’s time to split up the inheritance?

But, the real problem is this is just one more way we rebel against God. Because that’s who we are on our own—rebels who deserve God’s anger and punishment.

Let’s turn things around. Wealth is a blessing when we remember who gives it. It’s God who gives it to us; God who gives us every thing for our enjoyment. It starts when he reminds you that he gave you the wealth of his grace. Through Christ he has forgiven your greed and foolish attitude about wealth. Through Christ it’s all been paid for by his blood. We were in debt to God up to our eyes—up to eternity! But God took care of that debt. He made you rich. You are kings and queens by his grace! You are the princes of his kingdom! You have the wealth of the creator and preserver of this whole universe at your disposal. And you shall reign with him forever in eternity. This world and all its stuff will one day pass away and in its place God will create, out of his love for us, a new heavens and a new earth that will never cease to be perfect in every way. Don’t you see how rich God has made you through Christ?

So take this spiritual wealth and spend it wildly and liberally in your life. Learn how to be a good manager of everything God has given you: time, abilities, treasures. How can you manage those things better? Go and be rich in good deeds by serving people with the blessings God has given to you. How can you use those things to share God’s love? When wealth is other-person focused, then you’ve discovered in a very small way the joy of giving yourself for the sake of other people, just like Christ gave himself for you and made you rich, rich for service.

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Spiritual Auto-Pilot?

I think it’s pretty easy to go through life on auto-pilot. Work—sleep—eat—work, and never think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When was the last time you sat down and really asked yourself, “Why do I go to work? Why do I come to church? Why do I have this or that thing?” St. Peter says, "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled..." (1 Peter 4:7). So let's be more mindful of why we live the way we do and then think about how that impacts the other people in our life and, especially, our life with God. We all need to be mindful of how we live our life—the end is near.

But bottom line, let's love each other. We can’t count on the unbelieving world to care about us as believers. But we can love each other with the love of Christ. So get to know the family of believers. At Good Shepherd's, let's stick around after worship and prove why we desperately need a larger narthex so we can have fellowship with each other and build each other up in the love of Christ. Then when you suffer or when you mess up, you’ll have a brother or sister in the faith right here to love you deeply with the love of Christ. We don’t have much time, so for the rest of your life…live. Live for the end.

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Today you Rest

“Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” The Israelites did harden their hearts. They heard God’s good promises and they let their sinfulness choke out their faith. But you and I don’t want to do that. Faith cries out in our souls to hold on to those words of promise right now, today. So as long as you have a “today” you have God’s promises. This is called our “time of grace.” We don’t know how long it is, but we do know that we have it today. So listen to God’s promises and do all you can to stay in that rest.

All that means is to be diligent. There is no great trick to staying in God’s rest. God does all the work of encouraging us. He gives us this desire to be at rest. So listen to that desire. Don’t resist it. Your heart craves the Word of God, so feed it with God’s Word each day. Your heart craves to gather with other believers, so feed that desire by gathering together for worship. Your heart craves to know more and more what that rest means, so feed it with the body and blood of Christ for your forgiveness. All you have to do is listen to your heart of faith and you will know God’s rest.

And let’s not delay. Today is today. There is no reason to delay, no reason to make excuses. Today is today. Today you hear his voice. Today is one day closer to Judgment Day, one day closer to eternity, one day closer to ‘shabbat’, one day closer to when you will rest forever.

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. ~ JOHN 3:16