Monday, October 12, 2015

Treasure Chest

No matter who you are, where you live or how carefully you plan, life gets upended sometimes. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you have fantasies that every problem you face will be understood and repaired in the two hours or so that it takes to watch a good movie. The truth, though, is far more serious that your dreams.
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One of the wisest things we can do in life is to invest our time, energy and money in things that count and that can prepare us for the inevitable trouble ahead.  The problem is that our culture teaches a concept of investment that is mostly upside-down to what God says in the Bible.  A few examples:
  • The culture says that we should party now since we might not be able to party tomorrow.  God says that we should seek His kingdom above all else.
  • The culture says that it’s a sign of maturity to prepare for our own problems. God says that He cares for those who put Him first.
  • The culture says that getting everything we can for ourselves is the way to be successful in life. God says that real life is found in what we give, rather than what we get.  

Examples abound in which someone chooses God’s way of living versus the way “everyone” around us seems to live.  I was intrigued by the story which Pastor Randy Scroggins told about His daughter Lacey. Lacey, a student at Umpqua Community College, went through the horror of classmates and a teacher being gunned down around her.  One of her classmates, a boy whom she had known in high school, seemed to intentionally land on top of her when he was shot.  It was his blood on her that made the shooter consider her dead, and this spared her life. While Scroggins told the press about the heroism of the boy, he is quoted as going more in-depth with his church: "Moms and dads, you can take your kids to soccer games, you can take them to baseball games, you can keep 'em out of church, but I am telling you, there is nothing going to take the place of teaching your children how to pray.”  It was her prayer life, he said, that sustained her during her ordeal.  I can almost hear the skepticism in response to that statement, but let’s be real for a moment: Lacey’s life got upended and she knew how to face it.

I love to remember the season of my sister Cabby’s death in 1976, not because of the pain of the loss, but because of the provision to pay the cost.  My parents were without health insurance and my mom had already gone through major surgery that year.  Cabby developed a heart infection that Thanksgiving, which landed her in a coronary care unit in an Albuquerque hospital. A few days later, she died.  Suddenly, my parents were facing not only the loss of a daughter, but the huge costs associated with hospital and burial expenses. God’s promise, "'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,' says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, 'I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!’” (Malachi 3:10 New Living Translation) stands just as true today as when He spoke it to the prophet long ago. My parents lifestyle put God to the test and money arrived in surprising ways.  Every cost was quickly covered.

Cathy and I often tell about the time when we needed a larger vehicle for our growing family. After much prayer, we purchased one, both of us confident that we were following God’s plan and not our own. Within a few days, our oven, our refrigerator and our washing machine went out. It all happened so fast that it became humorous. “You have a problem, Lord,” we prayed as we handed it all to Him.  Life gets upended sometimes.

We have seen the principle which Jesus described, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need," (Matthew 6:33 New Living Translation) lived out over and over again.  We have seen the opposite, too.  When Jesus is at the center of our lives, He is there to see us through the crises.  When we supplant Him, we will ultimately find ourselves bankrupt in the face of overwhelming need.  

This is a serious topic for many who read it, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to talk about God’s generosity.  He loves for His kids to get this one right and learn to live so generously that we are simply a reflection of His goodness to the world around us.  He also loves to pour out His blessings upon us, supplying everything we need. Living Generously is our topic this week as we continue “40 Days of Community” at Stone Ridge Church. God has given us a way to live that promises to meet every need every time. I encourage you to join us and find out more.  In fact, it would be a great weekend to invite a friend.

Can’t be there?  Catch the podcast!

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