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"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income." - Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NLT)
Let’s begin this week’s devos with a question. How would you finish this sentence? “I think I’d be happier or more satisfied if I _________________.”
I would guess, if we’re honest, that most of us would fill in the blank with some kind of material or personal objective.
Solomon, arguably the wisest man who ever lived, would disagree. In fact, at the end of his life, he called all those things “meaningless.” It’s not that they weren’t important; just that they weren’t most important. He had everything on his “wish I had” list, but they left him unfulfilled. He called them a chasing after the wind. (Ecc. 1:14) In other words, they were temporary. He came to realize that the things that are eternal matter most.
You know what our problem is? We don’t believe him. We think it’d be different for us. We wouldn’t be unfulfilled; we’d be insanely happy. What makes you so sure?
Are most Hollywood celebrities happy? How about most professional athletes? Why is it that people who seem to “have it all” are often caught up in drugs, alcohol, depression, unhappy marriages, and addictions? The inescapable conclusion is that having stuff can’t fulfill us; only God can. Solomon got it right, but only after he’d gotten it all wrong.
We need to learn to live vertically, not horizontally. Look up, not around. God wants what’s best for us, and what’s best for us is Him! John Piper once said, “The American Dream loses its appeal because it offers less life, liberty, and happiness than we find in Jesus.”
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." - James 4:14 (NLT)
Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. observed that our society is marked by “inextinguishable discontent.” Our quest is for better, and what’s next. We want a better job, better pay, and a better boss. We want better relationships, a better car, a better backhand in tennis, a longer drive in golf, or a better kitchen. Schlesinger said, “We have a propensity to live endlessly for the next thing--the next weekend, vacation, purchase, or experience. We’re never satisfied, never content, always envious of those who have what we have not attained or accumulated.”
Last weekend I suggested that if we’re always going to be looking ahead, we might want to play it forward all the way to our final days. Instead of spending a lifetime preparing to live, we might want to give some thought to preparing to die. We will die, you know, it’s inevitable.
Ever been with someone who’s dying? I have, many times, and I’ve yet to hear someone on their deathbed say, “Bring out my resume so I can read it one last time,” or, “bring a copy of my portfolio,” or, “let’s chat about my accomplishments.” People don’t talk about stuff like that when they’re dying because those things no longer matter. You know what does? Love. What we want around us in our final moments is always the same: the people we loved, and those who’ve loved us. Nothing else. In those moments, we’re fixated on love. I haven’t seen an exception.
Karen Watson, was one of four humanitarian aid workers who volunteered to serve poor and war-displaced people in Iraq. Before she left America, she wrote a letter to her pastor to be opened in the event of her death. She ended the letter by saying, “His glory is my reward.”
"For we do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves…" - 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)
Everyone knows there are some hot-button topics that can make a conversation go nuclear, like religion, health, politics, and death. But when it comes to the most difficult conversation, a new survey from Wells Fargo Bank found one clear winner--money. Yep, it topped the list. “We didn’t expect that,” said one of the managers in the home office in Charlotte, NC. “In fact, 44% listed it as #1 on the list of challenging topics. Death came in second, then politics, then religion.” (1)
Maybe we don’t like talking about money because we’ve made so many mistakes earning and managing it. I’ve known the feeling of having too much month at the end of the money. Have you? And who of us hasn’t wished for more? “If only I were rich, I’d do this or that.”
Speaking of wealth, in a survey of 1,000 millionaires (average net worth, 3 million), the question was asked, “How many of you think of yourselves as rich?” Only 41 percent answered affirmatively. Second question: How much more would it take for you to feel rich? Answer? 7 ½ million dollars. Not seven million, but 7 ½ million. Don’t ask me why. But if there were a group of 1,000 people with 7 ½ million dollars, my guess is that a fairly large percentage of them wouldn’t consider themselves rich. The reason is simple: comparisons. It’s all about who’s the most important in our Facebook world of status seeking. T.S Eliot wrote that “half the harm in the world is done by people who want to feel important.” Smart man, that Eliot guy.
- May I suggest a better approach? “Put your hope in God.” (Psalm 42:11) Money doesn’t love you. It can’t hug you, kiss your cheek, or put an arm around your shoulder. It’ll never hang on a Cross for you, and when you die, it can do nothing to save you. You know something? If we know God, perhaps we're richer than we’ve realized. A lot richer.
"But if we have food and clothing, let us be content with that." - 1 Timothy 6:8 (NLT)
I suggested last weekend that living a “Jesus-kind-of-life” is the best possible life on this planet. I’m convinced of that and many others are too, but it’s easy to get blindsided by our world system, isn’t it?
A man in the midst of a financial collapse went to a Christian counselor. “I’ve lost everything,” he bemoaned.
“I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost your faith,” the counselor said.
“No, I haven’t lost my faith.”
“Well then, I’m sad to hear you’ve lost your character.”
“I didn’t say that,” he corrected. “I still have my character.”
“I'm sorry to hear you’ve lost your salvation.”
“I didn’t say that either. I haven’t lost my salvation.”
“Let’s see,” the counselor said, “You’ve still got your faith, your character, and your salvation. Seems to me that you've lost none of the things that really matter."
By the way, we haven’t either. We can pray like the Puritan who sat down to a meal of bread and water, bowed his head and said, “All this and Jesus too!"
I like that prayer. I’ve found that Jesus changes everything. Question: Do you really know Him, or are you playing the religion game? Are you trusting Him to give you what you need, or are you trying to do it all on your own? True faith means putting your life in His hands. It’s surrendering absolute control of your life to Jesus.
The Psalmist said, I am always with you, you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Psalm 73:23-25
- Have you given Him total control? Let me ask it another way. What do you need to surrender one last time? Get my drift? Do it today, friend, and don’t look back.
- James Russell Lowell said, “Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide.” Why not you? Why not now? Why not… let go.
"Godliness, with contentment, is itself, great wealth." - 1 Timothy 6:6 (NLT)
A short-term missionary to the island of Tobago learned contentment from a woman in a leper colony. On the last night there, he was leading worship, and asked if anyone had a favorite song. A woman turned toward him to request her favorite, and when she did, he saw the most disfigured face he’d ever seen. She had no ears, nose, or lips, yet she raised a fingerless hand and said, “Could we please sing, ‘Count Your Many Blessings?”
The missionary started the song, but couldn’t finish. Someone later commented, “I suppose you’ll never be able to sing that song again.” He replied, “Oh, I’ll sing it again, but never the same way.”
Gratitude. It changes us, doesn’t it?
A king was so discontented that he couldn’t sleep, rest, or think. He called his advisors and asked what to do. They said, “Find a man in your kingdom who is content, then wear his shirt for a day and night, and you’ll be content.”
It sounded like a good idea, so he ordered them to find such a person. Weeks passed before they returned.
“Well,” said the king, “did you find a contented man?”
“Yes, sire, we did.”
“Well, where’s his shirt?”
“Your majesty, he didn’t have one.” (1)
- As we conclude our devos this week, I thought I’d jot down some things I’m grateful for, in no particular order. Ready?
Cars that start. Clean water. Electricity. Sunrises. Sunsets. Fresh air. Full stomachs. Antibiotics. Woods. Full moons. Beaches. Hugs. Work. Freshly mowed grass. Hearing. Good roads. Refrigerators. Hot showers. Rain. Flowers. Grocery stores. Walking. Running. School Teachers. Books. Diversity. Sight. Smiles. Silence. Hot coffee. Memory. Sleep. Music. Kites. Ice Cream. Bicycles. Seasons. Butterflies. Gender differences. Creativity. Rainbows. Dark Chocolate. A child’s giggle. Courage. Generosity. Touch. Teamwork. Family. Friends. God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit… and today.
You know what I’m feeling right now? Contentment. It seems to happen when what we have overshadows what we want.
Happy weekend everyone!Share Tweet