Page 78 was a Sunday and the beginning of week 12 in this year’s writing adventure. Being a Sunday with no snow, I was able to sleep in beyond my normal waking up time and I suspect the extra sleep is helpful as I continue to keep a winter cold/sore throat combination from trying to take over. I’ve managed to come close to being free from the cold symptoms a few times this winter, but that freedom has seemed short-lived.
Our Sunday morning Bible class continued a study in 1 Thessalonians as we spent this morning in chapter 3. Evident in this study, as in all of his writings, is Paul’s intense love for the people who had accepted the message of the good news of Jesus. His love is really seen for all people, but he has a great concern that believers would understand the temporary nature of hardship compared to the eternal glory of life with Jesus. It is important that believers everywhere hold fast not only to the teachings of Jesus, but to Jesus Himself as the tempter works hard to draw us away from the faith that saves us.
As we gathered for worship this morning, David continued a sermon series from the gospel of Luke with a message about our life investments based on lessons from a “rich fool”. Perhaps you are familiar with the parable Jesus told of a man whose land produced such a good crop that he decided to tear down all of his barns and build bigger ones to store all that he had so he could sit back and “eat, drink, and be merry.” God is the one who calls this man a fool as he had saved up for himself without being “rich toward God.” This man’s life would be required of him that very night and all of his work to prepare for a life of ease on earth would count for nothing. As David pointed out, this man made three mistakes that we should pay attention to because they are not mistakes unique to this story — they’re also mistakes we are likely to make if we do not remain on guard.
These are three of the mistakes the “rich fool” made that we must remain aware of in order to remove them from our life.
- He allowed his possessions to possess him.
- While not something we would readily admit to, how often is our life direction determined by what we own or what we want to own? When we fail to recognize God as the provider of every good thing in our life, we begin to fall into the trap of becoming possessed by our things. Our “stuff” becomes the driving force behind all of our decisions and actions to the point that we believe what we have accumulated defines who we are. This is extremely tough because our society works hard to make us believe in a “self-made man” scenario that is completely false. The key to overcoming this mistake is to daily surrender everything to God and acknowledge Him as the giver of everything.
- He assumed there is only one kind of barn to store possessions in.
- Because “the ground” had produced such an abundance of crops, this man concluded that the only thing that could be done was to build larger physical barns to keep his grain in storage. How often do we experience the goodness of God and never think beyond who we can preserve it for our future enjoyment? Jesus taught that there is a better “barn” that the physical storage places we use for our things. He said we should store up for ourselves treasure in heaven. We do so by the way we use the things that we treasure on earth to care for people. When we are “rich toward God”, it is visible by the way we give of our time, our possessions, and our self.
- He thought he had all the time in the world.
- The man in the parable made a decision that by storing up his possessions and using them wisely, he could live a life of ease for many years. It never dawned on him, at least not until God showed up with judgment, that his life would not be long and prosperous. He made plans for the years ahead but didn’t make plans for the eternity ahead. Many people, perhaps you and I as well, put much greater effort into preparing for retirement than we do in preparing for eternity. It is easy to think we have all the time in the world, and satan is pleased to keep us thinking that there is no reason to believe the time on earth is short. God says that no one knows the day or hour of the return of Christ so we must be ready at all times.
After the worship gathering, it was time for lunch and then a little rest before heading out for a family walk. Today we headed down to the St Joseph River and found a variety of wildlife to photograph, including a number of wood ducks. Between the beauty of the ducks and the calm water which allowed for reflections in the photos, it was a great day for taking pictures. Sometimes when we consider the lessons God is teaching us, we need to stop and see what the reflection of our life looks like to the people around us. Our life ought to be a reflection of Jesus, so if people are seeing something different, we may need to spend some serious time with Him regarding changes we need to make.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Battles often weaken us even when we win. Win, lose, or draw, we need times of rest to renew our strength for the tasks God is calling us to.
- Studying God’s Word should always teach us something. If it doesn’t, we may need to examine who we’re listening to.
- Mistakes are easy to make. The key is to learn from our mistakes, and the mistakes of others, before they become deadly either physically or spiritually.
- Whatever we desire to own will often find a way of owning us.
- When we live as stewards in the kingdom of God, we recognize that God owns everything.
- Storing up treasure in heaven will have results that far outweigh and outlast any retirement plan on earth.
- God wants us to prepare wisely for tomorrow. That means being ready not only for the work He calls us to, but also being ready should He call us home.
- Our reflection says a lot about us. Do people see Jesus reflected in your life each day?