building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “The rich young man”

Buy the Field

On Sunday, the Pastor brought a great message. I even told him so after one of the gatherings. Since I was serving on Sunday, I heard the message three times. But I confess today, I don’t really remember the whole message. I remember a couple of things though that leaves me feeling a bit convicted.

One thing he said, and I have heard it before, the statistics of us sharing our faith or leading others to Jesus is shameful. Less than ten percent share their faith with others outside of our faith and less than one percent has led others to Jesus Christ. I do share my faith – much more on the web than I do in person, but I have in person as well. But I have failed to lead anyone to Christ. Planted seeds, yes. Harvested, no.

The other thing I recall from Sunday is a story he shared about his brother-in-law. It was a story about transformation. His brother-in-law had a casual relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t until he lost everything and hit rock bottom before he looked up and truly found Jesus. He had risen in his company and was making great money, but then the stress caused him to turn to drugs and drugs never lead anywhere good. He lost his job, lost his wealth and almost cost him his life. But in rehab, everything changed. He came out a different man.

I think one of the reasons we don’t share our faith or lead others to Jesus is that we aren’t convinced that Jesus is everything we need. My story isn’t like the Pastor’s brother-in-law. I grew up in church. I have known about Jesus all my life. Yes, there was a time when I walked into a dark valley of my own free will. But I recall that time as being very painful and lonely. I discovered a few years later, that I would rather have Jesus as my Lord than me as my lord. My story is one of slowly turning everything over to His control. One part of my heart at a time. As I was led throughout the years, every part was revealed to me and I submitted it to His Lordship. It has taken years to get to where I am today.

When I hear of others say they don’t need Jesus, I get it. I mean, my life has been easy. I had a good home life growing up. I have had good jobs over the years. I had everything I needed. A little bit of Jesus maybe good enough for that kind of life. But I know there can be so much more. I read stories in the Bible that tell me there is so much more to this surrendered life. However, I want that kind of story without the hardship!

I listened to an interview yesterday between Jonathan Otto and Dani Johnson. Dani shared her story of deliverance and healing. But there was a statement that was said by one of them, not sure which one, that has hung in the air ever since. “The poor know Him more.”

It reminds me of the story that Jesus shared about a rich young man (Matthew 19) who asked Him what he should do to enter heaven. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, then come follow him. The young man left very sad because he had great wealth. Jesus said that it was difficult for the rich to enter heaven and that floored the disciples. They assumed richness was a sign of God’s favor on a person’s life. But if the possessions possess us, what good is to have the richness of the world and have nothing of Jesus? Emptiness. Loneliness. Spiritually bankrupt. Maybe that’s okay for some if they don’t know anything different. They just don’t know all that they could have.

We are told in Matthew 13 that heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When we find the treasure, we will sell everything in order to buy the field. How many of us would sell everything for that kind of possession of heaven? Maybe that’s why most Christians only have a little bit of Jesus. Maybe we’re so afraid Jesus is going to ask us to sell it all and give it all to the poor that we fail to have the best treasure of all. If we bought that field, we would rejoice and share the news with everyone. It’s a matter of conviction that we would know we have just bought the greatest thing ever.

People were (and are) willing to die for that richness of heaven. Every disciple laid his life down to share the Good News of Jesus. They were convinced because they knew Jesus in the flesh; watched Him die a painful death. But what changed for them was when they saw Him resurrected. They touched the wounds. They ate with Him. They were empowered by His Spirit. The same Spirit we have in us when we believe in this Jesus. We can have a deeper conviction too. Maybe we need a different encounter that would change everything for us.

Are you willing to risk everything to follow Him? Or will you walk away sad because of your great wealth? Don’t let possessions possess you. It’s not worth it. Go, buy the field. It’s worth every penny!

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:28-30 (MSG)

Growing through the Motions

I was at the gym yesterday doing my normal thing – working out and watching others do their thing. I was a bit envious of a couple of people who seemed to easily lift heavy weights. There was no strain involved; just easy, smooth reps. A few young women were there lifting heavier weights than anything I have ever attempted. I realized I was trying to compare my weights with theirs. The weights are irrelevant. We all have a level we are trying to achieve in order to grow (or maintain, as the case may be). We are all in a process of growth as we go through the motions.

About a year ago while lifting weights, an older lady walked by and told me I was very strong because I was lifting such heavy weights. The weights I was lifting then was nothing in comparison to the weights the young women were lifting yesterday. But the older woman could not do what I was doing because it was far beyond her capacity at that point in her life. Just like I cannot do what I see the young women do because it is beyond my capacity at this point in my life.

As I was contemplating the comparison game, it brought to mind my pastor’s message from Sunday. The message was on generosity. Jesus spoke about money quite often. The pastor reminded us, Jesus isn’t after our money; He’s after our hearts. There can be only one Ruler of our hearts, and we have to determine who we will follow. God said He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9) – He wants no competition for our hearts.

Jesus sat in the temple courts one day observing the crowds. He saw a widow putting in two small copper coins in the offering basket (the temple treasure), and told His disciples she put in more than anyone else. She put in all she had (story in Luke 21). On another occasion, a rich young man came to Jesus to ask how he could get into heaven. Jesus looked into this young man’s heart and found the stronghold that would keep him out of the pearly gates. Jesus told the young man, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” The young man walked away because he was a man of great wealth (story in Luke 18:18-30). The problem wasn’t the amount of money he had, but that the money had him.

We always like to compare ourselves with a better model: one who can lift heavier weights or one who has more money than we do. We compare up and not down. We compare richness with one who has more than we do; not the other way around. If we live in the United States, we can consider ourselves rich in comparison to the rest of the world; no matter what we have in our bank accounts. The widow put in all she had, and the rich young man walked away because Jesus asked him to give it all up for the sake of the Kingdom.

My pastor said we are all at different levels of generosity. Some are at the base level; giving spontaneously based on our emotional responses. The next level is giving intentionally – with a set amount for a set time period. God commands a certain level of giving. It’s in obedience when we move to the next level and give a percentage of our income back to God. This is the “first fruit offering” required in the Law to fulfill the work of God. I know, we’re under grace not Law. My pastor made the comment, “we shouldn’t give less under grace than what is required under Law.” Good point. My pastor went on to explain the last level of giving; it’s the generosity level of fearlessness.

When God speaks into our hearts, He asks us to give all we have for the sake of the Kingdom. We are to hold our resources loosely. This is just HARD to do. We work hard for the money we receive! However, God is the one who has provided for us in the first place. It’s His money in the beginning. We can be good stewards with what He gives us. We can be the “widow lady” putting in all we have or we can be the “rich young man.” Will we walk away when God asks too much from us?

Fearlessness is a reflection of growth. We are not owners, but stewards of the resources God has given to us. For those of us who call Jesus our Lord and Master, our real treasure is stored in heaven. Growth comes with the amount of trust we place in the One who gives generously to His children. He is a good, good Father who gives generously. We are all at different levels in the growth process. We work in the capacity we have right now, and grow to a new level with practice. Keep lifting higher! It’s hard, but over time we will see it becomes easier and smoother with repetition. One day, we will all be fearless!

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:28-30

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