What are you discussing?

Good Morning Bible Journal family, I  hope your day has started well or I’m getting the opportunity to tell you it is going to, just because you are intentionally taking the time to be in the word today!  I love the opportunity to read God’s word and take in valuable insights and nuggets of information to reflect and apply into my own life.  Enjoy reading through Luke 24 today.  The last chapter of Luke, a timeless reminder of the promise Jesus made and kept when he said he would be defeat the grave and rise again 3 days later. The story of man who were first hand witnesses.

In focusing on Jesus’s word throughout our scripture reading I’m reminded about the  art of face-to face conversations.  The opportunity to listen, reflect, support, and encourage. Two people are walking together after finding out about the death of Jesus. Jesus the comes alongside them and In the NIV translation, Jesus says, ” What are you discussing?”  the ESV or King James says, “What things?”    For me it can be, my kids behaviors, the health of my wife, the daily situations of my job, the overwhelming feeling of writing for classes, my kids sports, or at times my faith. It can be politics (timely), weather, money for bills, baby clothes…the list goes on.  These are all topics that I can and have found myself discussing the last couple weeks.  I’m reminded how fast our mind can forget, shift, and/or be lead by our circumstances or pressures of the world.  In Luke 24, why are so many surprised? He had been telling everyone along the way.

Paul is an excellent example  of character of not being swayed by his circumstance.  Paul faced persecution, torture, and told he would get killed.  Paul’s response was Philippians 1:21 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

These four words, “What are you discussing? ” spoke to me as I read through today’s reading.  I reflected on my conversations and thought about, ” What I had been discussing with others and why? Was it about a closer relationship with God?  Do I remind myself and others? about these priceless which can bring pure joy, yet the pressures I put on myself and lean towards the world can have me discussing my lack of superficial happiness based on circumstances where true joy comes through Him.  Out of all my conversations are the ones about how Jesus has changed my life present? Honestly, not as much as I like, not as much as they should be.  I’m sorry Lord for my lack of belief in all things are through you.  I pray for my words, thoughts, and discussions to have a focus that includes you.  Whether alone, with my family, friends, at work, or with strangers.  Will I discuss you? what would it look like if I did more?

Just like the promise that Jesus made to us that He would rise again three days later.  Jesus says he is coming back to take us back to His Kingdom forever.  Are you ready? Are we having conversations to let others know about this promise? I pray that we are having more of these conversations. Instead of the nervousness that come with these conversations… think of the joy and opportunity for an eternal difference you can make through your discussion.

So I reflect and ask again, what are you discussing?

Acts 4:20  Peter and John said to the religious leaders, For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. What amazing things has Jesus done in your life. Use this as a platform to share with others.

Have great discussions today!

Blessings , DL

God Won’t Contradict Himself

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you a specific direction or sign?

Or maybe deep down you knew what the right decision was, but you were hoping and praying God would show you a different (easier) way? I mean, maybe God will just give you a “feeling” to go off script for a bit. Or maybe we just want Him to tell us (again) what He’s already told us.

I find myself praying for wisdom and direction A LOT. And then I find myself praying for wisdom on when I need to pray more, or when I need to move forward with what I know from the Word or what the Holy Spirit is pressing upon me.

Here’s something cool about God: He doesn’t contradict Himself. He’s not trying to confuse us, or make His will a mystery. Salvation isn’t some puzzle or choose-your-own-adventure book. God desires us to know Him – all of Him. The more we know Him, the more we will understand His ways and the best path.

Knowing Him includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all acting as one. And John 1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. So the Word (the Scriptures in the Bible) is in lockstep with God.

My third grader has been studying math properties the past few weeks. You know, commutative, distributive, associative, etc. 2×3=3×2, (2×3)x4 = 2x(3×4), and 2x(3+4)=(2×3)+(2×4).

I don’t know what this property would be called, but here goes:

God = Word (from John 1)

God = Jesus = Holy Spirit (from the trinity, 1 John 5:8)

Holy Spirit = Word

So what does this mean? This means that God doesn’t contradict Himself. And the Holy Spirit will not direct us in a way that is contrary to what the Bible says. He doesn’t go “off script”.

The Holy Spirit won’t give you a peace to continue in sin. The world tries to manufacture peace in all sorts of ways – but true peace only comes from God.

As we pray for direction, approval, wisdom for an area of our life, let’s also simultaneously seek the Word. Let’s pray for God to direct us to scripture to help us find the answer. Let’s pray for understanding of the Word. Let’s pray for boldness and obedience to follow the Word, without looking for an excuse or contrary direction.

In the second half of Luke 16, Jesus shares the story of The Rich Man & Lazarus with his disciples and the Pharisees. There are so many fascinating pieces to this story, and the very end is what challenged me to leverage the Living Word for direction in a bigger way. Don’t wait for some sign or God to send someone to me from Heaven… but use the Living Word today.

Take a moment and read through this chapter – the Rich Man finds himself miserable in hell (his Jewish lineage didn’t save him) and begs for Lazarus (in heaven) to raise from the dead and be sent to go warn his family that hell is real and to repent of their sin.  Jesus tells them that the answer is no – his family has Moses + the Prophets (representing the Word of God) and that should be more convincing than a dead man telling them or giving them a sign. They’re either going to read the true Word and follow God, or they’re not.

OUCH – that was a zinger for me and really made me look back and wonder how often I ask God for a sign or direction on something He has already told me in His Living Word. Or maybe a time I was hoping for a looser interpretation or a loophole to something in the Bible. God’s just got to be up there laughing at me! “Ummm… Holly-Rae, quit asking me for directions when they’re sitting on that shelf five feet from you!”

What a waste when I:

  • Pray for direction that isn’t aligned with the Word
  • Look for a sign when I have the red letters in front of my face

Jesus tells us very clearly in this text that no sign (dead man – back to life – warning) will be given. We have the Living Word! Let’s use it, learn it, and allow it to guide us. The Holy Spirit is here to help us and aligns with the Word – let’s not confuse His voice for any other voices in the world!

Up next – Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally – KIDDING

Continual Prayer

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Today’s Reading: Luke 12

Our last few posts have included the importance of prayer.  How have these chapters engaged and enhanced your focus on prayer? While I have reflected on prayer, I think about how my daily prayers can include praying for growing in a relationship with our Lord personally, for family, friends, and those still lost.  Many times these prayers can have a focus on current circumstances I’m going through or ones that have been shared.  One of my continual prayers is found at the beginning of todays reading. Speaking to me, really, convicting me, is the first couple verses of Luke. Enjoy reading through Luke 12 as it is filled with so many warnings and encouragements.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

We have written on hypocrisy many times throughout bible journal the last few years. If you would like to read some more look up hypocrisy in the search box. One of the last ones I wrote about I reflected on was, ” Do as I say, not as I do. “

Today, my heart reminded me of the Pharisees, wanting to appear to look good on the outside, yet on the inside their hearts were far from God.  Their selfishness was growing like yeast.  It’s scary when I think how selfish I can be at times, the continual private prayer I have is to have this awareness when my selfishness can creep in and avoid the temptation.  So when I looked back at one of my study bibles on this topic it reminded me about these possible signs to avoid.  Hypocrisy is knowing the truth but not obeying it.  People can say they follow Him, yet not obey.  My simple prayer is to obey.  Hypocrisy can include a self-serving life.  Leading should be not about control or position, but serving others. Hypocrisy can include an outward conformity without an inner reality.  Saying one thing…and doing another.  Honestly, I’ve fallen short many times. It’s hard to admit.  Thankfully Romans 5:8 reminds me that Jesus loved us so much, that he died for us, while we were still sinners.  That daily we can ask God to search us, see if there is anything offensive in us, and lead us closer to Him. Psalm 139:24.

Dear God,

I pray to help us live rightly.  To simply obey. Lord help us to be aware of all the ways the world can pull us away from you. Help us to focus on your words of truth that can will keep our paths straight, in your light, and away from hypocrisy.  God we know that there is nothing we do or say that you don’t already know or see. Help us to take up our cross daily and submit to you.  We love you Lord and thank you for your words today that will be implanted in our hearts and minds today.  Amen

 

Recognize, Realize and Get Ready

Waiting For The Word/creativecommons.org

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 5

Good morning Bible Journal readers! Today we are studying Luke 5 in our journey through the words of Jesus. I’m loving this scripture today because I feel like we can all find ourselves in these three miracle moments. The first miracle is one that’s familiar. Jesus takes Simon’s boat out into the water while preaching and then casually tells Simon to throw the nets out. Simon sort of rolls his eyes and says “I suppose, because you said so but it probably won’t work because we’ve been throwin’ nets all night and ain’t no fish comin’ up!” Simon shows his obedience to Jesus but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the outcome will change. Can you see yourself in this moment? Do you sort of use faith as a last resort rather than a first strategy? I feel like I fall into this habit almost daily. We know how this story ends, the nets come up with so many fish that boats nearly sink under the weight of them. Simon is awestruck at this miracle and immediately feels shame:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5: 8

Have you ever been blessed by God and felt unworthy? Do you hide from Him because you recognize your sin and don’t want to face judgement? I feel such a connection to Simon Peter in this moment. I remember a time in our life when our son was very sick and his hospital bills were so far beyond our meager capacity. We tried to work extra hours, we tried to negotiate with the hospital to lower the bill, we argued, we cried, but what we didn’t do was pray. Of course, we prayed for our son to get better but we never prayed to God to help us with the financial part of the problem. We were encouraged by some friends and mentors to pray for that specific need and our nets were filled! In fact, they were overflowing. We never even considered that Jesus could or would address that need in our life. If you’ve been a Bible Journal reader or writer for a long time, you know that we experienced that miracle through you.Our Bible Journal family made that happen through the love of Jesus Christ.

God has three requirements for coming to Him:

  • Recognize our own sinfulness
  • Realize we can’t save ourselves
  • Be Ready to leave everything behind and follow Him

In verse 31 Jesus tells the sinners at Matthew’s house:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sin. Until we examine our hearts and place ourselves in a posture of humility we can’t begin to accept His mercy. Next, we need to realize that we truly can’t save ourselves. Often, despite our best intentions we make errors in judgement or our pride gets in the way of asking for help. Finally, we need to be ready to leave everything else behind including the false God’s we rely upon for protection and follow Him. Levi the tax collector first encounters Jesus while sitting in his tax collecting booth. Jesus implores him to “follow me” and Levi is moved in that moment. He leaves the promise of money, status and power to follow Jesus by faith. I’m not sure that I’d have the strength to do that. If Jesus came to my work place tomorrow and said “follow me” I hope I’d be ready. Today’s scripture has so many examples of Jesus ministering to people in their day to day struggles. I hope that encourages you to pray this week for the little things. Pray for Him to intercede and truly move in your life.

Jesus is Tempted

In today’s scripture covering the words of Jesus, we look at Luke 4. This is a continuation from yesterday’s message in Luke 3, where John the Baptist taught about repentance, turning from sin, and being baptized. Luke 4 picks up after Jesus’ baptism and goes right into Jesus being tempted by Satan in the dessert. I love this picture of the human side of Jesus, and I’m going to look across the other gospels to show this full picture, because I love everything about this passage!

Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record different aspects of the temptation. Most bible scholars agree that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness for 40 days, during which time Satan was tempting him. At the end of the 40 days, Satan tempted him with three specific things that are recorded in detail (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-18).

The situation is intriguing from the very beginning. The Holy Spirit directs Jesus to go to the wilderness to be tempted. Jesus was sent there for a purpose! A lot of times I think we create and walk right into our own messes – we made choices that lead to the storm we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of… But there are other situations that truly pop up out of the blue, and we are left scratching our heads with questions like… Why am I here? How did this happen? What am I supposed to make of all of this? Just maybe we are led there for a reason. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into this temptation for a purpose. And we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to places that have tempting situations. Why? Why would He do that? God uses victory over temptation as an example for others. What example is God using in your life for others? Is there an area you need to take a more black and white stand, as an example for others? Are you tempted to stay silent when you need to speak truth into a situation?

Next, we look at how Jesus was tempted. Sounds pretty familiar to the same types of things we are tempted by… physical needs and desires (bread), power (the world), and lastly, He was tempted to test God (throw Himself off the mountain).  Jesus was tempted in the same ways that Satan tries to tempt us today. It’s pretty cool that Jesus walked before us and showed us exactly what to watch for!  When you think of these three areas of temptation, is there one you need to take hold of today and claim victory?

How? How can we overcome? BAM – Jesus shows us! He responds to each temptation by reciting scripture (we find it in Deuteronomy) back to Satan. What an awesome example for us to keep the Word of God in our hearts and overcome Satan. Do you have some go-to scriptures that you can use when you’re feeling tempted? Here are a few of mine:

Keep thy tongue from evil. Psalm 34:13

Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. Romans 12:19

Whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely, think on THOSE things. Phil 4:8

Fear not, I am with thee. Isaiah 41:10

Depart from evil and do good. Psalm 34:14

My God will supply all your needs. Phil 4:19

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Luke 6:27

As cheesy as it sounds, I like to say them out loud. There’s power in verbally declaring victory over the enemy!

The last piece of Jesus’ temptation is His Father’s care and compassion. After Jesus endured the temptation, God sent help (His angels) to comfort and minister to Jesus. I really don’t know exactly what this means (not much is explained), but I’ve always envisioned some sort of angel cheerleading situation. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, GOOOOOO JESUS! Oh, and I also picture them carrying lots of bread. All the bread. As a grain-a-holic myself, my version of this story is with a satchel full of naan, baguettes, bagels, all of it. I mean, Jesus was fasting for awhile!!  In all seriousness, when we are in the middle of a temptation, we can look forward to being replenished by our Father. God will restore our weary souls. Can you look back and see this provision in your life?

God is so gracious to give us this fully-man Jesus to walk before us and show us how to do life on earth. It’s no coincidence that this temptation by Satan occurred right after Jesus’ baptism.  The enemy doesn’t want us to gain any ground in our faith walk. When we declare our commitment and belief in God, the enemy will work to shake us. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and be ready, armed with the Word of God!

Show Me the Sign

Today’s Reading: Luke 11:29-36

Today’s reading from Luke follows Jesus on his preaching journey on the way to Jerusalem. Written in about 60 AD, Luke sets the scene:

“When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” Luke 11:29

So basically, not much has changed in the last nineteen hundred years. We are just as focused on the desire to be uniquely blessed. Everyone wants to have a special experience that sets them above others in terms of their salvation and closeness to God. We ask for signs and look for signs in order to confirm the validity of our faith in Jesus. Jesus points to the sign of Jonah as a foreshadowing of his death and resurrection. Just as the prophet Jonah was rescued after three days in the belly of a whale, Jesus will die and rise after three days. God had asked Jonah to preach the importance of repentance to the Gentiles. Jesus is now affirming Jonah’s message; salvation is not only for the Jews but for all people. This specific part of Jesus’ teaching got me thinking about how we too seek for signs in our modern everyday life. I loved the sermon we had last week at Eastview when Pastor Jordan Rice talked about turning to the “big G in the sky….Google!” Although I laughed out loud, his insight spoke to my heart. As a medical professional, I am so guilty of turning to science to solve a problem before turning to the big G: God.

In our generation we are always seeking proof. We want evidence of that which we cannot plainly see.  In Jesus’ day, the people demanded signs. When Jesus healed a blind man, his doubters demanded another sign, more proof that he was the Messiah. Are we perhaps demanding the same? Are we satisfied by the gifts he’s given us, the miracles he’s performed in our lives? Are we able to truly say, “Christ IS enough for me!”

Jesus goes on to teach about the light within us:

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” Luke 11: 34

 In this moment, Jesus is holding the light of the gospel for us all to see. Those that reject Him and his message have poor vision. That lack of clarity turn the light of Christ into darkness. In contrast those who receive Christ by faith are filled with light. The lamp is Christ and the eyes are representative of our spiritual relationship with him. Sin distorts our spiritual vision. It blinds us to the ability to see God at work in our lives. I challenge us as we focus on our own relationship with Him to work toward identifying sins that are blinding us to life with Him. Pray intentionally for eyes that are healthy and ask God to fill your body with light.

 

 

 

 

 

The Parable of the Wicked Farmers

Today’s Readings: Matthew 21:33-44, Mark 12:1-11, Luke 20:9-19, and Psalm 131

As we look at the Parable of the Wicked Farmers (Tenants) found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke I’m reminded of the meaningfulness used in all of the parables by Jesus.  These parables were used to tell a story to the listeners that would connect to their hearts and souls. This parable as well as the story of the two sons from yesterday connect when Jesus is being questioned.  A story that would connect with the crowds current lives as well as our present day.  The difference in this next parable is its direct pointedness to the priests, Pharisees, and religious leaders that had stopped him to question who he was and questioning his authority. This all came after Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy.

In Jesus’s last week of life on earth, Jesus had just entered the temple and had turned things upside-down. (literally)  He was upset and saddened by what they were doing. The high priests and religious leaders had just asked Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things?” After sharing one parable about the Two Sons, Jesus shares His second of three parables in this questioning of His authority.  Jesus paints a picture to those that have gathered to hear him preach.  One that they would all relate to at that time.  Verse 33 a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, dug the winepress, and built a watchtower.  This illustration in 33 shows the landowner taking care of self and others by building the vineyard, he protected the vineyard by hedging around it, then added a winepress that would turn their grapes into grape juice, then finally a tower which would have multiple purposes.  It would provide security, shelter, and a place for storage.    The stage is set for Jesus to tell about three servants sent by the landowner to receive his portions from the land given to the farmers. What happens to the three servants sent?…beaten, killed, and stoned. All dead. After each death the landowner showed grace that in sending his next servant the belief was they would repent and give back the fruits provided for them.  Lastly, the farmer sends his own son.  Sound familiar… His own son to collect the fruit.  What do they farmers do? They plot and murder him in hopes they would then be given the inheritance.  In verse 40 Jesus then asks those questioning his authority, “When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?” 

Their response and Jesus’s response varies.  The high priests respond with judgement and replacement, where Jesus asks first if they have ever read the scriptures. (ouch)

‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.’43 I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 44 Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.

The priests knew they were just called out and were upset.  In reality they would have been better to repent.  Their eyes and ears were not open to this parable.  The Psalm surely song a couple days earlier as Jesus entered the town. Psalm 118:22-23 says The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.

What does the parable mean for us?  I think of the vineyard is where we are at now.  If you have a chance read the connection to Isaiah 5 God’s people are His Vineyard. We are in a place where we hear Him, produce fruit for Him, and respond to Him when he calls on us.  How are we responding? How are we doing with the vineyard he has put us in to produce fruit? It’s amazing to think that one day God will be sending His son once again to see how we have done? Will we be ready to hand everything over or standing with those who have rejected Him? My prayer is for us all to be praising Him together standing with handfuls of fruit, giving Him everything we have.  That as we stand in our vineyard our and build cornerstone of the tower we call home is the foundation of Christ.

God has chosen us to be the living cornerstone’s for Christ, what an amazing blessing.

1 Peter 2:4 says 4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

Resources

Tysdale Life Application Bible

Grace To You –

 

 

 

Acrostic Poem

Good Tuesday Morning Bible Journal Family,

At first when I was looking over our reading for the day I was excited to read about the opportunity to read and reflect on the amazing invite to a great feast provided by our Lord in Luke 14:16-24.  After all, I love meals. There are a few messages being shared as we chew on these few verses.  First we can see that this invite is for us all.  Second, the meal provided will leave us permanently filled and never thirsty.

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Third, Jesus wants us to come now with no excuses. As a previous expert in excuses, I can think of times where I resist or delay this call by God with my own actions.  I can’t put this invite off for another day or make up another excuse.  These last couple weeks I have had personal friends who have lost loved ones and celebrated their life.  in addition, I’ve had a few former students lose their lives based on various situations.  In addition to children to others pass away. Reminding me that I need to be grateful for every breath, but keep faith that God has a plan for everything and everyone.

Our 2nd reading is called an acrostic poem, the longest psalm and longest chapter in the bible. Twenty-two sections containing eight verses a piece.   The acrostic part is that in each section of Psalm 119 a new letter to the Hebrew Alphabet is taught starting with Aleph and ending with Taw.  Various bible studies say that this Psalm would allow many to memorize with this type of formation.  To me I love the celebration of the word of the Lord, and a direction for us to follow.  A few of my highlighted words that provide me with hope, trust, guidance, and love include; who walk, who keep, seek Him,  praise, obey, rejoice, meditate, and delight.

Dear God,

Your words have opened my eyes (v.18), they have filled a longing in my heart for a Father and a unconditional love, they have taught me to turn my heart not from selfish gain (v.26,36), but to a promise of hope (v.41,49). Before I was afflicted I was astray, but now I try and pray to obey your commands (v. 67-68). I know His law are righteous and His Living Word is eternal, continuing through all generations(v.89-90).  Your commands are always with me and they provide a lamp to my feet and light to my path.  I pray my heart stays set on keeping your decrees until my very end(v105,112).  Let me live so I can praise you, and may Your laws sustain me. I have strayed like lost sheep. God please seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands, and I know you are the Good Shepherd(v.175-176).

Amen

Bread Winners

Today’s Reading: Matthew 13:33, Luke 13:20-21, and Psalm 107

Matthew 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Luke 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Influence. Have you ever really thought about the influence you have throughout the day? Your family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, community? These influences can come in the shape of a simple hug, smile, phone call, or word of encouragement.  All small gestures can have great influences.   You see we never know what may be going on that day with the other person you give this gesture to.   A Christ-like gesture can make a difference like Jesus’s parable about yeast to dough,  you can change a persons day.

As I look at this picture of making dough I’m reminded of how God is shaping us, kneading us, and watching as we rise to a closer and more intimate relationship with Him.  I think about small kingdom words or expressions I could use in my everyday moments.  Maybe the gesture of praying with someone, praising God in song, or maybe recognizing fruits of the spirit being acted out by others.  These positive moments that model our Father can influence like the yeast that starts out small in dough, but spreads throughout.

Our Father is building His Kingdom always.  We always have influence.  I was reminded by a friend this morning that we are called to influence.  That in Romans 8:12 we have an obligation not to the flesh, but to the spirit.

Yeast is used in both good and bad contexts in the bible.  Yeast can spread corruption as we are reminded in Galatians 5:9 or 1 Corinthians 5:6 or it can also be for building His Kingdom. The kingdom is promised to those rich in faith and who love Him. James 2:5,

What will you do with the yeast you provide today? 

Colossians 4-5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Dear Father,

Thank you for your parables that you speak into us through your living word.  Just like we have had others speak into us, help us today to be an ambassador for you.  Let our grace, kindness, encouragement, and love for others point back to you God.  We are grateful for each day we get to praise you and pray for us all to continue to draw closer to you each day.  Amen

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, His love endures forever.  Psalm 107:1

The Rich Fool

The Rich Fool

If you aren’t familiar with this parable, make sure to read these few verses.  Luke 12:16-21 and Psalms 99.

A farmer has an abundant harvest, more than he could store in his barns. So he tore down the existing barns, built bigger barns to store it and save for himself so he could relax. Specifically, he was looking forward to taking it easy, eating, drinking, and being merry, for the rest of his days.  Cue the voice of God: You Fool! Tonight you will lose your life, then who will have all of your stored up harvest?

Jesus wraps up the parable with the warning that the same will be for any of us, that store treasures and is not rich toward God.

I wonder where specifically this farmer went off track?  He is described in the beginning as rich (but not yet called foolish)…so maybe leading into the abundance he is a rich + wise farmer. Having a good harvest or abundance isn’t bad. I don’t even know that storing the harvest was all that awful. He had to put it somewhere, right?! Although I’m not sure why he had to tear down the small barns and build the bigger barns…couldn’t he have built an extra barn for the excess? Why tear town the existing barns? I’d really like to ask this farmer a few questions. 🙂

It seems like it went downhill with his heart + desire. We don’t hear anything about a grateful heart for the abundance, a tithe or offering back to the Lord, and we don’t read that he sought direction from God on how to use the abundance.  We don’t even hear any of his own plans to use the abundance to further the kingdom. He wants to relax and not have to worry about his future, keeping it in his own (perceived) control, relying on the abundance. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good sabbath – we are even commanded to rest. But not forever!

The farmer’s plans sure sound A LOT like modern era retirement goals!  Or lottery dreaming… “If I win the lottery, I am quitting my job tomorrow and living the good life”.  While retirement planning is a good way to show stewardship over what God has provided, doing it without the Lord will lead us down a path like this Rich Fool. It seems like a fine line!

How much of my financial planning and saving is to be a good steward and how much is me wanting to have control? It feels hard to discern. Are my conversations with God about money sincere? Is my heart and mind completely open to whatever He would ask of me? I love this picture of having our hands open – fully willing to use anything the Lord gives, however He directs. And it’s when our hands are fully open, we are also able to fully receive what He has for us.

Earlier this week I left a conversation with my jaw wide open and a tear in my eye.  Truly humbled by someone I really don’t know that well – but I crossed paths with Bob and wished him well in his upcoming “retirement”. I asked him what he had planned, to which he quickly replied “FIND A JOB”! What I know  about Bob is that he has a heart for the Lord and a heart for kids. His career has been in shaping children, and at home, he and his wife have fostered and adopted children. I really don’t know much more about his family or his story, other than he was at the point in his career where he either could retire or had to retire, and yet he wasn’t planning to truly retire. He shared that he needed to keep working to get these kids through college. I think about the choices he had to make when welcoming kids into his home, and knowing it would push back his time to retire. I wonder what else he and his wife have sacrificed for the kingdom. Would I have a heart like Bob, who likely sees his peers “retiring” and he is retiring from one career and actively looking for the next.

Lord, thank you for all the prosperity you have given me. Thank you for the talents and opportunities to prosper. Help me to surrender any control or fear about money, and have complete confidence in Your provision. Please put people in my path that have current needs, more than the future me might need. Give me wisdom in being a good steward and keep me from being a fool! Thank you for people like Bob that show me how to be rich toward you. Amen.