Wealth and Christ

Matthew 8:28-34 tells a story of two demon possessed men and of their freedom from that possession and the towns reaction.  This version of the story comes from The Voice Bible which is written in such a way as to tell it as a story.

28Eventually Jesus came to the other side of sea, to the region of the Gadarenes.  There, two men who lived near the tombs and were possessed by demons came out to the seaside and met Jesus.  They were flailing about, so violent that they obstructed the path of anyone who came their way.

Demons (screaming at Jesus): 29Why are You here? Have you come to torture us even before the judgment day, O Son of God?

30A ways off, though still visible, was a large herd of pigs.

Demons: 31If You cast us out of the bodies of these two men, do send us into that heard of pigs!

Jesus: 32Very well then, go!

And the demons flew out of the bodies of the two flailing men, they set upon the pigs, and every last pig rushed over a steep bank into the sea and drowned. 33The pig herders (totally undone, as you can imagine) took off; they headed straight for town, where they told everyone what they’d just seen – even about the demon-possessed men.  34And so the whole town came out to see Jesus for themselves.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their area.

When confronted with Christ and the miracle He had done for the demon-possessed men, they didn’t welcome Him they did the exact opposite.

The herd of pigs signified wealth.  Often we are asked by God what are we going to do with our finances.  For some this can be a difficult thing.  Possibly you have come about difficult times financially, still setting some aside for the work of God is Biblical.  How much is between your heart and God, the Holy Spirit.  Maybe God has blessed you despite these difficult times and you find it easy to give, praise the Lord.

Perhaps you have great wealth and have been sensing that it was time to share that wealth with others but it has been difficult for you to let go of it.  May I encourage you that there are greater treasures in heaven than you could ever amount for yourself here on earth.  Please listen to that voice prodding you to be generous with what you have.

God has blessed you with the amount of income that He has chosen.  Yes you may be an entrepreneur but it is God who has blessed your business as He has seen fit.  And it is God who will either continue to bless that income or take it away.  His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.  So whether rich or poor be grateful for what you have because God promises to supply all your needs if you seek Him.

Unfortunately this town never got to learn that blessed promise and wonderful joy.  Because when they were faced with the face of the Savior they chose wealth over salvation.  How sad that a whole town could be more concerned with their wealth and all that encompasses than learning about the man that can free men from demon-possession.  One would hope such a miracle would have people asking for more miracles of healing in their lives rather than looking at their pocketbooks and being fearful of what more money this Man might take from them.

This town is the perfect example of how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

This town is also a reminder to us who follow Christ to keep our priorities in order.  It is just as easy for us to allow wealth to cause an area of a hardened heart and that gives the enemy a foothold in our life that we don’t want to happen.  We must listen to the Holy Spirit and obey it’s voice when It calls us to action in our giving.

We must only have one Master at all times.  So check yourself and ask God if you are in line with His will in this area.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Who Is Your Identity?

Who are you?  Are you identifying yourself by your profession?  Perhaps you are identifying yourself as a husband or wife and putting everything you have into that relationship.  Perhaps your a mom and you are identifying yourself as a mom or in how your children behave or have matured and grown up?  Are you a student and identify yourself as such? Do you allow your grades to speak for who you are?  If you are identifying yourself in any of these ways or any other way other than in respect to Christ that is not your true identity.

I have mistakenly looked for my identity in nearly all of these except for mom, since God never blessed me with children.  When I was put on disability and lost my identity of a professional and it was very difficult when asked what I do to answer the question.  You see here I was (if I remember correctly) in my early 30’s and out of the workforce.  What was to be my identity?

I have had and continue to have the identity of daughter and sister but that never seemed enough.

When I went into early retirement as was suggested to call it by some, I became a student and although I love learning and am fairly good at it.  This too was not enough.

Actually being put on disability was a blessing because I had been so busy with work that I hadn’t realized how empty I was.  It was sometime after that and not without heartache and dealing with my pride that I came to realize that my identity comes from Christ and being in Christ.

Galatians 3:26-29 says this about our identity;

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior your identity belongs to Christ.  As you can see in Galatians 3:26-29 we who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.  It is Christ in us that the world must see and who we must identify ourselves with.

As the scripture says there is no distinguishing among us. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”  In today’s terms: Their is neither Baptist nor Methodist nor Lutheran nor Evangelical nor Charismatic nor Catholic, poor nor rich, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  There also isn’t doctor nor plumber, teacher nor homemaker, wife nor aunt, student nor retired.  There are followers of Christ which have clothed themselves in Christ Jesus.

The above list of denominations and non-denominational churches is incomplete I just listed what came to mind and am sure given time I could think of a number of other to add to this list.  Most importantly, instead of the different denominations and non-demominationals waring of non-fundamentals of the faith, let us do as the Bible teaches us and find our common ground and be united in that.  We are letting these insignificant things (in comparison to the fundamentals of our faith) to be used by the enemy to pull the Church (followers of Jesus) apart rather than being unified.  This is exactly what he wants because it destroys our witness to the world.  Church wake up!  It is time we take back what the enemy has cunningly got us to let go of.  There should be unity in love of the Church this is what will attract unbelievers to us.

When you find your true identity – either a follower of Christ or not.  One of three things will happen.

  1. Knowing your identity in Christ as a believer and follower that place in your heart that you were trying to fill with other identities will find peace and wholeness.
  2. If you are not a believer or follower of Christ but you heed the tugging in your heart that this could be the answer to that whole you feel – pray this simple prayer: Lord I see myself as the sinner I am and ask You to forgive me of all my sins.  I accept what Jesus did on the cross as a sacrifice for me so that I might have forgiveness of my sins and fellowship with you.  Lord help me to live the new life that I’ve just begun and bring believers around me to help me grow in You. Amen!
  3. If you are not a believer nor follower of Christ and you choose not to say the above pray and let Christ into your life, you can look through every profession, toy, relationship, or book other than the Bible and you will never fill that God shaped whole you feel.  You know the emptiness that nothing seems to fill.  It’s there for a reason.  God put it there so you would choose Him.  He also gave you free choice so you can run from Him all you want, He’s a gentleman He won’t force Himself on you.  But let me worn you the longer you run the harder your heart becomes.  The harder your heart becomes the less likely you are to turn to Him.  The reason I mention this is that hell is a very real place and if you don’t like things here on earth you have no idea what awaits you separated eternally from a loving and holy God.  It scares me to think that anyone I know would be sent to such a horrible place.  So please reconsider God’s gracious gift of forgiveness.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of what God in His righteousness requires which is perfection.  Only one man ever walked the earth and did not sin, and that man is our Lord and Savior  Jesus Christ.

So let’s stop looking in all the wrong places and seek out Christ in the Bible and learn about Him so that we have a better understanding of our true identity.

Joy – A Fellow  Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 3

Jack looked around the room and his gaze fell upon a women that appeared mostly toothless, with a weather beaten face and straggly matted grey hair. In his world this woman would have been one of the most unwanted and unaccepted or even unnoticed because until just recently he did his best to make these people invisible to him. With all of her grotesqueness she had something more that attracted her to him. First there was a sound. The harder he listened the more he realized that she was singing a happy song. Then it was that toothless smile that not only light up her face but radiated all around her. The last thing that drew him to her were her eyes. They shone as bright as the sun and twinkled like stars in the heavens and danced like a youth 1/10 her age. They drew him in to her in awe and wonderment. Never had he seen eyes like hers. He walked to her purposefully and quickly as not to miss her for fear she may leave before he could ask his questions. He introduced himself and asked her what her name was, she replied, “My name is Esther. Is there something on your mind Jack?” Well, that was easy he thought this fascinating woman seemed also able to see into his soul and know that there was something on his heart. “Yes there is something I want,” started Jack “I’ve been noticing how happy you are I might even use the word grateful, yet as near as I can tell you have nothing. How can that be? What is it that fills you with this joy that I so plainly see on you?” “Oh, Jack,” Esther replied, “this indeed is a worthy question. I would be most honored to tell you of the joy I’ve found. But first I must know are you pressed for time?” At this he wasn’t sure, he had no idea of his companions plans for there evening together. He looked quizzically at Gab and he smiled back and nodded. “No,” replied Jack, “I’m not pressed for time. I’m all yours Esther.” “I’m glad to know that,” said Esther, “it’s been a long path and it takes a while to tell.”

“You know I wasn’t always the woman that you see. I had a grand house with upstairs and downstairs servants. I had grounds men for the gardens and the pool and tennis courts and a chauffeur to drive me and one for my husband and they did all the upkeep on the many cars we had. With all of that Jack I lacked the most important thing I lacked gratitude for what I had and I had no joy. My heart was empty and cold. When my husband was jailed for embezzling from his own company I lost it all in a matter of days. When I lost my wealth I lost what friends I thought I had. They were there for the good times but when the bad times hit they were nowhere to be found. The hard heart that I had so cautiously crafted and built at first became even harder when I started blaming all of my losses on my husband. In an attempt to distance myself from him and the losses I listened to some ill advice and divorced him. While in prison and with nothing to look forward to since now I had turned my back on him and not stayed true to my vows of for better or worse he killed himself. The news of this was the beginning of my undoing and a massive change began to take place in my heart. I hurt for the first time at what I had done to my husband and how I had abandoned him. With no where to go and no friends I soon found myself on the streets. This was a truly humbling experience considering where I had come from and how far I had fallen. I had no one, nothing or so I thought. I soon learned that there was a community of hurting people feeling much the way I was feeling here. In the shelters I quickly learned the ones to ask questions of for help with survival skills. So I survived at first with a bitter heart at all I had lost. But as I began to look around me I noticed that there were those that were as equally as bad off as I was that were doing more than surviving. This made me very curious. How could anyone in our circumstances do anything other than merely survive? I wanted to know, as I suspect you want to know, how anyone could find joy in such a place? Am I right?” Jack nodded. Esther smiled her eyes dancing all the more, “This is a true mystery. One I’m honored to share with you. I finally asked my new friends how they could be what appeared to be joyful in such lowly circumstances. Their first answer was but one word – gratitude. All I could think as I left them is what do they have to be grateful for? What do any of us here have to be grateful for? This answer at first angered me more than comforted me. I walked away with an even harder heart than I had had before. I thought these people are truly nuts. I’ve wasted my breathe on a bunch of lunatics! I stayed away from them for a while and soon found myself in the company of some lost souls that really were truly out of their right mind. This got me thinking. If my former friends really were not lunatics they must have had something with this “gratitude” thing. But I was still at a loss as to how to possess it. So I eventually returned to my friends and they welcomed me back with open arms. Which made me realize that they had something more than gratitude they also had acceptance, what I would later discover was love. These were qualities that my friends of the grand old days didn’t truly possess. I became more and more attracted to them. But where was all this coming from in the midst of poverty and utter despair?