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James 5:1-6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James describes the woes for the wealthy. God doesn’t offer any redeeming words to rich people who obtain their money by taking advantage of the poor. Neither does he condone persons who use all their wealth for self-indulgence. I have occasionally heard wealthy Christians wrestle with what the Bible says about wealth. As I understand the scriptures, both here and elsewhere in the Bible, the bottom line is whether the wealthy hoard for themselves, or hold their riches with open hands asking God to lead them to be good stewards of their wealth in service to his kingdom.

This question may put money in its proper perspective: Does your money own you or do you own your money? If you are consumed in worrying about your money (even your lack of it) that you can’t joyfully serve the Lord with it, then your money owns you.

I find it interesting that this passage isn’t one of the familiar passages we hear frequently in the pulpit or even in our Sunday school literature. James 5 was the passage for last Sunday’s lesson, but the writer of our literature ignored it completely and began with verse 7 to build his lesson. Read the passage again. James doesn’t mince words to avoid offending the wealthy.

Father God, Help us to hold our finances and possessions with open hands that we may serve you with our whole hearts. Give us the courage to make the changes in our hearts and lives that would be pleasing to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Matthew 6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

As I read this chapter the same message seemed to come to me over and over…  It isn’t about me – it is all about Jesus Christ.  We must not fast and pray to be seen by men because it isn’t about us, and we will never steal Jesus’ glory.  Our possessions shouldn’t be hoarded for our own benefit here on earth – they are meant to be used to glorify Christ and to draw others to him.  If our hearts are in our earthly treasures we will waste away with nothing to show for our life on earth.  If we hold our treasures with open hands and allow God to work through us, then he will supply our every need, clothing us like the flowers in the fields and providing for us like the birds of the air.

Now if I can just remember this until tomorrow.  How easy it is to get our eyes off Christ and onto ourselves and our own circumstances.

Father, help us to embed these verses firmly into our hearts and our thoughts. Help us hold your blessings with open hands and a spirit of sharing.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Matthew 6:19-21  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What do you value most in life? What is it in your life that compels you into action? What would you go to great lengths to protect or preserve? Do you invest time in something or someone to see it develop and grow? What occupies your mind and/or keeps you awake at night?

If we ask ourselves questions like these we should discover where our treasure is. How does your treasure measure up to the passage in Matthew 6:19-21? Does your treasure have eternal value, or is it simply something that will make life easier for yourself? Are you working for your families needs or are you spoiling them by trying to satisfy all their wants? 

I’m so near retirement age that it scares me. Then I remember this passage. It makes me stop and think about where my treasure is. If I am overly wrapped up in meeting my own unforeseen needs I may be overlooking opportunities that are right in my path for laying up treasures in heaven. And those are the only treasures that are truly ours to keep.

Father, help me to value the things that you value. Help me to keep a check on the desires of my heart that they may be alligned with your purpose and will. Help me to focus my eyes on your treasures and not on self-centered treasures that have no eternal value.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”      16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’      18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘      20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’      21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:15-21 (NIV)   What do we do with our abundance? The man in this parable was so thrilled with his good crop. He knew he had more than enough to last for a long time so he made up his mind to build bigger barns to store the excess so he could take life easy from that time on. Little did he know that God had other plans and he would not live to see the next morning. But what do we do with our excess possessions? Build bigger barns in the form of bigger closets, bigger storage buildings, bigger homes, second homes? Before I appear to be anti-rich people, let me turn on myself. My house is small in typical American standards (though fantastic in the eyes of the third world standards). We are always running out of space for the things we want at our fingertips. So what do we do? Enclose the carport and add another storage area behind our home. Are we not guilty of the same thing that Jesus faulted the rich farmer of doing? We waste money on hoarding things that might benefit others, but they are things we can’t bear to part with. They are things that weigh us down rather than lift our eyes to Jesus. I pity our children and grandchildren who may have to sort it all out one day if we don’t get around to it. Dear Heavenly Father, bless this mess by helping us to rise above it. Help us to trim it down to a size that blesses and honors you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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    32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 32-34 (NIV)

 

 

     Referring to us as sheep, Jesus reminds us that we don’t need to be afraid. He understands our fears and our limitations, yet he reassures us that it pleases God to give us his kingdom. He wants to bless us.

 

     Then Jesus encourages us to sell our possessions and give to the poor. Wow! That can feel like a punch in the stomach if our eyes are focused on the things we have worked so hard to get or the things we are still striving to obtain. But while struggling to regain our composure, Jesus gently assures us by encouraging us to provide for ourselves purses that will not wear out. The things we give away in this world are the treasures we are storing up for ourselves in heaven. 

 

     When we store up treasures for ourselves on earth, we are always at risk of having them stolen or otherwise taken from us. When we give them to others who need them, we are placing our treasures in heaven where they will never be destroyed.

 

     We so much need the courage to step out in faith on this teaching. Here in America where we have so much, especially in comparison to what people have in the impoverished nations of the world, yet we cringe to consider giving up what we have and settling for less. Lord, help us to focus our eyes on you so much that we will be willing to let you replace these earthly treasures that keep us down with heavenly treasures that will lift us up.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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