How To Escape The Snares Of Money Love and Fear

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

The writer of Hebrews tells us we should be content with what we have.

He says this will keep our lives free from the love of money, which is the root of all sorts of evil and brings multitudes of miseries into people’s lives: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

Contentment helps us escape this powerful temptation: “Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have.” But how can we be content with what we have if we don’t have much?

Here’s the secret of contentment: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

We don’t need money or possessions to satisfy us because we will always have Jesus, the fountain of life and beauty and joy and satisfaction. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us.

Here is how to find contentment – by praying, “Jesus, satisfy me with your love in the morning.  Jesus, whom have I in heaven besides you and on earth there is nothing I desire besides you.  You are my portion. You are my treasure. You are my inheritance.”

We should not only look to Jesus for contentment, but for all our needs and fears.  That’s why the writer of Hebrews goes on: “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'”

Not only will Jesus never leave us nor forsake us, but he is our Helper. We need not fear anything – the future, enemies – nothing.  What can man do to me?  The Lord – the King of kings who is sovereign over all things, the Creator of the universe, the One who sustains all things – is my personal Helper.

In other words, all we need is Jesus!  Turn to him.  Ask him for contentment.  Ask him to deliver you from fear of man.  Jesus is our escape from the snares of money love and fear.

 

The Best Way To Spend Your Life

Complete 1 Thessalonians 1:9:

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to…

  1. Have your best life now
  2. Become the person you were intended to be
  3. Be fulfilled
  4. Develop yourself to your full potential
  5. Make a name for yourself
  6. Find the love of your life
  7. Make a difference in the world
  8. Get your act together
  9. Do great things
  10. Serve the living and true God

If you chose number 10 you were correct.

Let me put the whole verse together:

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… 1 Thessalonians 1:9

This is what the Christian life is all about – serving the living and true God. It doesn’t matter how we serve him. We may serve him in large ways or small ways. That’s up to him. But the point is is we are to live to serve God. Whether our lives improve or not. Whether we find success in this world or not. It’s not about success. It’s not about personal fulfillment. It’s about serving the living and true God.

In fact at times our lives will not “improve”. They will get harder. We will be persecuted. We’ll suffer trials of various kinds. But that doesn’t matter as long as we are serving the living and true God.

At times it won’t seem worth it in this life (though it always is). But it will definitely be worth it in the next life.

Years ago I heard someone preach a message on this passage:

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep… Acts 13:36

The preacher said this is what it’s all about – to serve God’s purpose in our generation. Not our own purposes, not our own selfish ambitions, but God’s purpose. This really affected me as a young believer and I wanted to do this. And I wrote a song about it– the music is kind of corny now but the words are still true:

I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation
I want to serve the purpose of God while I am alive
I want to live my life for something that will last forever
Oh I delight, I delight to do your will.

Do you want to live your life for something that last forever? If we live for anything else we are living for things that will pass away.

David served the purpose of God in his own generation and fell asleep. Wouldn’t it be great if people said that about you at your funeral? “She served the purpose of God in her generation.” Wouldn’t that be great to have on your tombstone? “He served the purpose of God in his generation.”

Lord Jesus, help us live to serve the living and true God. Let us serve your purpose in our generation.

Because I’m Good Enough, Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me

Is it important that we feel good about ourselves? Is it crucial to our success or well-being that we have high self esteem?

If it is important that we feel good about ourselves, then you’d think the Bible would tell us and encourage us to pursue self-esteem, to make it our meditation and prayer.  But nowhere does the Bible say we’re to pursue feeling happy about ourselves.

The Bible does talk about joy and gladness. However, it doesn’t say these originate in us.

The Bible locates joy in the Lord. It says that in his presence there is fullness of joy.  Joy is a gift from him, and a result of salvation, a byproduct of knowing and serving him.  There’s joy in worshiping and thanking him.  But nowhere does the Bible tell us we’ll find joy in ourselves.

Scripture commands us to rejoice and be glad in the Lord – all that he is and all that he has done, not in our own accomplishments. Not to us, not to us, but to your name give glory.  Jesus said when we’ve done everything he commands, we’re to say we’re unprofitable servants who only did what we were commanded.  Like God when he created, we can look at what we’ve done and see that it is good, but we should thank God for any talents or abilities that he gave us to create.

When the Psalmist asks himself “Why are you cast down on my soul?” he doesn’t encourage himself to feel good about himself. No, he says, “Why are you cast down oh my soul? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him.”

When Paul describes the secret of contentment he’s learned, it’s not I have learned how to be happy with myself.  Instead he says I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me.  Paul never says I need to keep feeling better and better about myself, but says I want to know HIM and the power of his resurrection.

We are not to continually say to ourselves I’m good enough smart enough, and doggone it people like me. I deserve good things. I am a great person.  If anything, we should say I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior. Paul claimed the title the worst of sinners – talk about poor self esteem – yet this sinner was one of the most joyful people around because he focused on Christ and his mercy toward him.  Paul didn’t dwell on his own worth, but on Christ’s worth.

Neither did Paul dwell morosely on all his sins and failures, despite mentioning that he considered himself the chief of sinners. Paul dwelt on Christ’s mercy and grace.  He focused on the fact that despite all his sins and failures, God justified him in Christ, and thus he was filled with joy.

We must ask the right questions.

Do I feel good about myself is not really even a biblical question. The right biblical questions are: Am I condemned for my sins or accepted in the Beloved? Am I guilty or am I justified? Am I conformed to the old man – my old sinful nature – or am I being conformed to the likeness of Christ? Am I rejected by God or welcomed by him through Jesus? Am I ungrateful for the place in life God has assigned me or do I believe he is working all things for my good? Do I fail to see and appreciate God’s mercies and blessings in my life or do thank him for them? Am I hoping in myself or my hoping in God?

Actually, we are most happy when we are not aware of ourselves. The happiest times in life are when we’re caught up in someone else – God.  Caught up in doing something like playing an instrument or reading a book or painting a painting and not even aware of ourselves.  When we’re caught up in serving God and others.

Let’s take our focus off ourselves today and focus on Christ.  He’ll make sure we feel good about the right things.

How To Motivate Others To Bear Fruit

How do we motivate others to bear fruit?

How can a parent motivate their children to be holy or care for others?  How can pastors motivate their flocks to worship God and serve others?  How can we stir others to love and good deeds?  By telling them to just do it?  By telling them to go out and put your nose to the grindstone and bear some fruit?  Come on, get your hundred pound Christian backpack on and start grinding out that hundred mile hike to heaven.

The best way to motivate others is to display Christ’s glory to them. Show them his mighty power to save and transform.  Show them his sympathy and compassion to help them in their struggles and suffering.  I love this quote by T. David Gordon in Why Johnny Can’t Preach:

I believe that as people’s confidence in Christ grows, they do, ordinarily and inevitably, bear fruit that accords with faith. Thus, there is no need for some trade-off here, or some alleged dichotomy suggesting that we need to preach morality if we are to have morality. No; preach Christ, and you will have morality. Fill the sails of your hearers’ souls with the wind of confidence in the Redeemer, and they will trust him as their Sanctifier, and long to see his fruit in their lives. Fill their minds and imaginations with a vision of the loveliness and perfection of Christ in his person, and the flock will long to be like him. Impress upon their weak and wavering hearts the utter competence of the mediation of the One who ever lives to make intercession for them, and they will long to serve and comfort others, even as Christ has served and comforted them.

I read somewhere that the best way to motivate our teens is to dazzle them with Christ.  The best way to defeat the allure of the world is to show folks something more alluring, more beautiful, more delightful – Jesus Christ in all his glory.

Not only does the glory of Christ motivate others to bear fruit – it motivates and stirs us us as well!

A Far More Glorious Song

“In Greek mythology, the Sirens would sing enchanting songs, drawing sailors irresistibly toward the rocks and certain shipwreck. Odysseus filled his crew’s ears with wax and had them tie him to the mast. This is like the approach of legalism. We bind ourselves up with laws and disciplines in a vain attempt to resist temptation. Orpheus, on the other hand, played such beautiful music on his harp that his sailors ignored the seductions of the Sirens’ song. This is the way of faith. The grace of the gospel sings a far more glorious song than the enticements of sin, if only we have the faith to hear its music.” –Tim Chester, You Can Change

This is certainly the way to conquer sin and temptation – by having a sweeter delight, a deeper joy, a richer satisfaction than the promised pleasures of sin.  This is the way to avoid the seduction of the empty cisterns of the world – by drinking deeply from the Fountain of Delights.  Lord Jesus, help us fix our eyes on your infinite beauty.