Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 13 February 2019

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV).

I prefer to stay on the positive side of this verse.   Those who know me well will find this surprising.   In fact, my wife calls me “Eeyore” because I usually look on the downside of things.   For Everyday Dave, this verse would be a great place to stop.  It’s a lighthouse, warning of rocks just up ahead near the shore.  We’ll probably mess it up anyway.

But that’s an outlook I want to change.  The verse IS a lighthouse, and it’s one that calls us safely home.   Lately, I’ve been daily contemplating Galatians 5, specifically the verses about the fruits of the Spirit.  I read the verses and then look for ways to put them into practice each day, one per month while compounding them.   January was love month; February is love and joy; March will be love, joy, and peace.   You get the idea.  If you haven’t ever really contemplated them, check out Galatians 5:22-23.

Then put them into action because they are the opposite of what Paul describes in verse 9.   And if you think about it, they are the things Paul could say ARE worthy of our attention instead of desire for money, or running into the traps and temptations that lead to ruin and destruction.   How many of us could avoid pitfalls of sin if we would simply find better things on which to focus?   Let’s keep our eyes on the ways Jesus acts, then watch how things begin to improve.

If we are always looking for ways to get ahead, we probably will miss some of the signs around us that point us to ways we can get involved in what Jesus is doing.   Just prior to this verse, Paul had reminded Timothy to be content with only what God provides for our most basic needs.   Anything more than contentment can run the risk of walking the proud walk down the yellow brick road of temptation.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Man, those are things worth showing off to the world.   They’re the antidote to swallowing too much desire to get rich.   When we talk about focusing on Jesus, a great way to start doing that is by focusing on ways we can let His Spirit remake us around these behaviors He exhibits.  If we do that, when temptations come, it becomes easier to turn from them.   That’s a wealth worth having.

Eeyore might just agree.

For further reading:   Galatians 5:22-23, Proverbs 15:27, Proverbs 28:20, 1 Timothy 6:10.

Magnificent Lord, I’m not always a good follower.   I’ve turned my attention away from You.   Thank You for not turning away from Me, and I ask You to remake me in the ways of Your Spirit today. 

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Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 11 February 2019

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:7 (NIV).

Donald Trump will die with nothing.   Nancy Pelosi will die with nothing.   Warren Buffet, George Soros, Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and every other billionaire and millionaire on the planet (as well as every politician, factory worker, and blogger) will die with nothing.   You will die with nothing; me too.  When we die, we will return to God as He sent us:  with nothing of this world in our hands or hearts.

Go ahead and have a happy Monday, now.   Especially if the weather is gloomy and cold.   Have fun with that.

No, really.   Have a lot of fun with that.   If you re-read Paul’s statement, you’ll find it’s liberating, maybe the most freedom-loving thing you’ll read all week.

If you love to have every surface in your house gilded in 24 carat gold, you’re in for a surprise because heaven will be full of golden beauty.   If you love being able to use every resource at your disposal for the betterment of society, you’ll be thrilled with heaven because that’ll be one of our primary jobs there.  If you want to hobnob with real power, you’re going to love heaven because you get one on one time with the ultimate power in the universe, God Almighty in His three persons.

All for being buck naked.

Yep.  We are usually buried in some kind of clothing, and who knows if we wear those same outfits when we meet God in the hereafter.   But we are each born naked, without knowledge or possessions or history, and we will each exit this world going back to God who made us without possessions.   Our history will get us to that moment, but it won’t matter when we’re with Jesus.   Our knowledge will culminate in our deaths, but it won’t matter when we meet Jesus, the source of all knowledge.  That’s a good thing because there are things here – like sickness and anger and war and pain – that have no place in heaven.   The things of this world, the stuff, won’t matter either.

All we have here will be for nothing.   Your prized bird’s-eye maple furniture:  can’t take it.   The books you’ve published, written or read:  can take them.   Land you pay for:  it stays.  The car in your garage, duds on your back, bling on your bod:   they all stay here.

We take nothing with us to the afterlife just as we brought no possessions into this world.   And that’s a good thing because the only thing that will matter then is Jesus.   Everything that comes after meeting Him will be extra, will be a blessing, just as it is here, will be a gift from Him.   Thank God we go there with nothing.   THAT is true freedom.

For further reading:   Job 1:21, Psalm 49:17, Ecclesiastes 5:15, 1 Timothy 6:8.

Thank You Lord Jesus for taking me home without anything from here!

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 7 November 2017

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13, verse 5.

Love your neighbors.   Be hospitable.  Visit those in prison.   Stay faithful in your marriage.  Next on the list of exhortation is to keep our lives free from envy.   Yes, it says “love of money” and don’t downplay that.   But then it says “be content with what you have.”   THAT is the key.   It’s a heart-thing again; in the Bible, would it ever really be anything else?

One of my favorite day dreams is of winning the lottery.   When things have been tight – and that has been so much of my life – I dream of not having to worry about money.   I dream about owning a big house, maybe another one in the country, and building a bar there where my family and friends can come to let down their hair.   I dream of building another cross by the pond, like we did at the farm we’re now leaving, and of having a place for my grandchildren to come and have fun.

The thing is, I’ve never really had to worry about money.   My wife is a great accountant and she has always done a great job of making our dollars go farther than I ever thought they would.   Even when we weren’t really making much money, she always did things to make sure we enjoyed life.  For awhile, I thought she worshipped money, but over time I came to see that she simply enjoyed accounting and liked knowing where our dollars went.  Through lean times and plentiful ones, we’ve always done alright.

Even that truth still misses the big picture.

The big picture is that love of worldly wealth, whether it’s money or possessions or the status they bring, displaces our love for God.   God gives us all things in both paucity and plenty.  He provides for both atheists and believers, for every living thing that has breath.  If you have food, air, water, shelter, and anything at all, you have it because God gave it.  The key to happiness here on the Third Rock is to be thankful for it, whatever “it” is.   Waking up in the morning:   thank God.   Good workout at the gym:   thank God.   Date night with your honey:   thank God.  Rough day at work:  thank God.   Lose your job:   thank God.   Fall asleep in the evening:   thank God.  Drawing your last breath:   thank God.  In all this thankfulness, be content.   Being honestly contented with being thankful is knowing the heart of Jesus, who has promised to always be with us.

And when we forget to do that, then we open ourselves to loving anything but Him.   Put simply, that’s idolatry, and when you boil it down, the writer of Hebrews is exhorting us to reject idolatry.   In his day and ours, one of the easiest idols to worship is wealth.  Then as now, the founder of a wealthy feast is the founder of all feasts:   God Almighty.   And only Him.   The writer exhorts us to not only reject this idolatry but, in doing so, to pivot to the better way that is embracing God.   God is already embracing us, abiding with us, providing for us, not forsaking us even when we have forsook Him.

My wife tells the story of how, when she and her sister were children, they would play “rich days and poor days.”   Her sister jokes that they always played poor days so they would be ready for adulthood.   “Couldn’t we have played rich days more?” they joke, and it’s only half joking.  We’ve known tough times and easy ones, and right now things are hard.   Yet I know, I fundamentally believe, that God is still with me.   That He’s still providing what we need, and that even when things are tough they will turn out ok in the end.   God promises us Himself, meaning that we are already wealthy beyond anything the wealthiest person could imagine.  Everything we get along the way is extra, it’s biscuits & gravy.  Sure, I still have my lottery dreams; who wouldn’t dream of living in a beautiful home with everything you’ve ever wanted?   The better truth is that, when my days are over, I’ll be going to wealth far better than some nice pile of sticks and bricks.

For further reading:  1 Timothy 3:3, Philippians 4:11,Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Joshua 1:5.

My Lord, thank You for always providing what You know I need.   Thank You for always being with me, for never letting go of me.

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 31 August 2015

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10, verses 21-23.

Let’s face it: there’s good reason to be stumped over what Jesus said here.   Remember, he’s addressing what had just happened on the road to Jerusalem.   The rich man had puffed himself up and was questioning Jesus, who responded kindly and threw the poor soul a few lifelines, each of which was ignored.   So Jesus then comments: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

If we were the Disciples, we might react by saying, “well, that’s it.   We’re just toast.”   Or something like that.   Yet before going down that depressing path, let’s step back and look at a few other things.

One, Jesus wasn’t ASKING them how hard it was to live in God’s presence:   He was telling them.   It was a statement of fact, meant to point out, once again, that man in his sinful state couldn’t possibly hope to stand in front of a just God and live. Man, in his sinful state, couldn’t possibly hope to atone for all the wrongs he had done no matter how many doves, lambs and sacrifices he offered at the Temple.   Man, in his sinful state needed something more. Jesus then proceeds to back this up with the outrageous comparison between the camel and the eye of a needle.

Then, Jesus helps to assuage His disciples’ obvious angst over “who then can be saved.”   It seems that we, too, have this same angst, always puffing up ourselves with our own greatness while always surrendering to the magnitude of our pressing problems by declaring that they are too big to solve. It simply isn’t true.   It simply isn’t true because Jesus Christ led across the quantum leap of logic we’re missing by declaring “with man this is impossible but all things are possible with God.”   This simple yet astounding declaration puts to rest all doubt we may ever have.   Is it a supernatural cop-out?   My friend, the truth is never a cop-out.

Finally, what kind of wealth was Jesus addressing when He talked about “the rich?”   Was He talking about those with great material wealth (and, thus, worldly attachment), or was He talking about a wealth of pride?   Was Jesus cautioning us on an attitude of the heart?   You know the answer.   After all, it is sinful pride of the heart that keeps us from truly coming to God with what matters most to us.   All the money in the world can’t buy happiness but God’s peace does.   When Jesus was imploring the wealthy road traveler beside Him to sell everything and follow Him, He was being both figurative and literal.   The underlying commonality that bridged both methods was simple, however:   submit your heart to God and follow.

If you don’t think you need God, count yourself as worldly rich. If you think you have enough, you need much more than simple provision.

Lord, let me be poor in the eyes of the world as long as I’m rich in Your peace and love.

Read Mark 10, verses 17-31.