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Wednesday, February 5, 2020


"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.  For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'"  
Matthew 16:24-26

It seems to me there is a plague among us.  This plague is long-lasting as well as very contagious.  Everyone wants to have it all so it seems normal.  The recovery is slow and very few ever recover.  What is this plague?   It is extravagant, cute, popular, and frilly Christianity!

We must never forget that Jesus lived a very plain, simple and humble life without frills and luxury by the standards of men.  His goal and purpose was not to gain earthly possessions, but rather spiritual things.  He taught us to pursue righteousness, not material gain, or riches.  He lived every day with the purpose of carrying out God's plan.  He was not popular.  In fact, He challenged the traditions of men that were contrary to God's will. Unfortunately, He lived in a culture where men loved the traditions of men more than they loved and obeyed God.  Our culture is very similar today.  
"And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil"  (John 3:19).
"And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God"  (Matthew 19:23-24).

The Lord Jesus is our best example of humility.   He was a humble carpenter who worked hard with His hands, yet He possessed the greatest riches the world has ever known.  He was the Son of God, the Savior of this world, the greatest King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
"But from now on the Son of Man will ve seated at the right hand of the power of God" (Luke 23:69). 

When He died, He took no earthly possessions with Him.

Often we go to church, we worship, we partake of the Lord's Supper, we sing songs of praise, we pray... We wear our best attire, our nicest, and most fashionable...  We sit in comfortable pews or chairs.  We have the nicest buildings to worship in; the nicest and latest technology available in our churches; outstanding preachers and streaming videos... We feel good about ourselves as Christians.  Perhaps after church, we go eat out at the best restaurants.  Sadly, there are those members who are humble, who cannot afford nice attire, dine at nice restaurants or don't have the nicest and latest cars and fancy homes or perhaps some kind of educational achievement...  These may be the cast-offs of society.  

My question is:  Do we make the slightest effort to get to know them better? Or do we scoff at them for being insignificant?  Do we only reach out to those who have the best, who are the best, the ones we feel the safest around us, and ultimately the ones we think are not "overly religious."  Whom do we fear, man or God?   Do we only go to church to hang out with the "crowd," those whom we think are the coolest?  Those who possess it all?

I think we deceive ourselves if we think we have done our duty before God just by going to church and worshiping Him. Have we truly done our duty? Are we truly worshiping God in our hearts and mind? Do we have "idols" that are above Him in our life? Do we do His will here on earth? Do we only go to worship Him the first day of the week just because it is comfortable and easy? Do we forget that God must be worshiped every day of our life to have fellowship with Him? What good does it do to have a home full of wall decals or plaques that say God is love, God is peace, God is whatever if our faith is empty and vain?

We are so mistaken if we think that Christianity is to be served to us on a silver platter. It is not supposed to be frilly, silly, and cute. Let's not get too comfortable! Let’s step outside the box. The foolish says in his heart, "I don't need to change my life on account of Christianity." "I don't want to appear too religious to others." "Oh sure, I obeyed the gospel when I was baptized, and that's it, God's Grace will take care of my salvation." "I don’t want to look different"  "I'll make mainstream choices" "Everyone is doing it!"

I see a big problem among Christians.  They want to be popular and have the approval of man more than that of God. We are getting it wrong if we think this way!   We are not going to win our crown when we try to please others by conforming to this world’s fascinations. We must think beyond popularity contests!  This is not Christianity!  We must see ourselves as nothing but unprofitable servants.

Often in history and in many places in the world, it has been a crime to be a Christian. Consider that Paul was probably beheaded. Peter, according to tradition, was crucified.  James was put to death by the sword. Tradition also holds that James, the brother of Jesus, was beaten to death by a crowd of enemies.   All of these had to suffer severe persecution and, ultimately, death. They never thought for a minute that following Jesus was going to give them luxury or a comfortable lifestyle. They were not popular or admired. They ONLY followed Jesus. They followed God.  They did what was asked of them: they proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They furthered God's kingdom, the church.

They have laid up and gathered riches that are beyond what any of us can fathom. Their real treasures have not rotted or rusted! They have received the crown of righteousness and are now with our Lord Jesus. They are indeed living now in the most luxurious palaces this world can never even imagine: the Kingdom of heaven where Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God with all the celestial hosts.  This is where our treasures must be, in heaven!  Their eyes were fixed on heaven and not on earth.  They set their minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.  They knew they were aliens and strangers here on earth who needed to behave in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. They knew their citizenship was in heaven.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Where our treasure is... there will our heart be also.  When we become aware of where our treasure must be, we know the truth of where our heart is.  So my question is:  Is your heart set on frilly luxury, and vain, empty Christianity?  Is it set on a “perfect” and comfortable life?  Are these your treasures: popularity, a comfortable and fancy home, a nice bank account, a nice retirement plan, nice places to go on vacation, or a “World Cruise”?

With all this empty and vain way of thinking about Christianity, let us never forget that our heart, mind, and soul must be with God and GOD ALONE.   We must purpose in our hearts to have a pure heart free of all these layers of empty and vain thinking about Christianity, God's kingdom.   This will be the only way we can truly see God.  Our Lord Jesus saw God this way.  He knew very few earthly comforts because He was not concerned about earthly treasures.  Yet He knew the comfort of God, His Father.  He obviously knew where His treasure was and whom He was following.  Are we ready to start laying treasures up in heaven and not on earth?   What do you think?

May our Lord help us to be content with the simplicity of our life and His service.


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