How Lasting Are Your Investments?

 

I normally try to be original, to write my own blog, but honestly, I am so touched by the writing of John G Butler that it seems a good idea to let you benefit as well. Money is always a sensitive topic, we think we always need a bit more in case of bad days. And there is wisdom in that way of thinking; yet, we also have to look at life with an eternal view. Here is what Butler have to say about investment.

As an old man, Solomon agonized over the futility of his investments:

When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sunSo I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to meA chasing after the wind… ” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, 17)

Do your investments parallel Solomon’s? Or are you making the kind of investments that will outlive you, lasting for eternity? If you want:

A one year return on your investment, plant grain.

A ten year return on your investment, plant a tree.

An eternal return on your investment, plant people.

It is God’s intention to destroy everything physical, including your earthly investments:

The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass awayand the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)

Can we, therefore, grasp the fact that only God, His Word, and people are eternal?

God: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (2 Peter 3:8) (See Psalm 102:12; Ephesians 3:21)

His Word: “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89) (See Psalm 119:152, 160; Matthew 5:18; 24:34; 1 Peter 1:25)

People: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2) (See Matthew 25:46; Romans 2:7, 8; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-9)

Consequently, the only investments that will withstand the coming holocaust will be those made in the lives of people. Thus, God regularly places individuals in our path with whom He desires our investment: The person at the club. That neighbor across the street. A business associate. A relative. Someone in distress.

QUESTIONS: As you encounter these people, are you blithely brushing past them to fulfill your agenda? Or are you viewing each one as a divine appointment? Are you responding to the prompting of the Spirit by graciously and determinedly investing in their lives for the purpose of bringing Christ to them? Or building Christ in them? Even when it means altering your predetermined schedule?

I suppose the answers to these questions are determined by whether we are living for the temporal, or investing in the eternal.

Why people grow weary and lose heart?

The little Greek word egkakeo describes a person who no longer is living life in step with the Holy Spirit. Instead, he has grown selfish and self-contained, exhibiting little concern for others.

Seven reasons:

  1. A failure to maintain a vital life of prayer — “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1)
  2. A failure to keep in mind the privilege of our divine calling to minister — “Therefore, since through Gods mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1)
  3. A failure to keep in mind the fact that we will share in Christ’s triumphant resurrection — “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presenceTherefore we do not lose heart… ” (2 Corinthians 4:14, 16a)
  4. A failure to keep in mind the immediate task of promoting believers’ spiritual welfare and the glory of God — “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart… ” (2 Corinthians 4:15, 16a)
  5. A failure to take the long view in reaping the fruit of our efforts — “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  6. A failure to trust that God has a larger purpose when fellow believers suffer — “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” (Ephesians 3:13)
  7. A failure to press on in righteous living, even when you don’t feel like it — “And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

Questions:

  1. Do you still have that spring in your step?
  2. Do you still look forward to getting up in the morning and getting at it for God?
  3. Or did you allow a dry rot of self-centeredness set in?

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Inspire by John G Butler writing

Retirement

 

What a challenge? A person need a perspective that is larger than life. To have such motivation God must be in the picture.

Is there a time limit on losing our lives for the Gospel? I don’t think so. (Luke 9:23, 24; 14:33; 1 John 3:16)

When does one fold up his tent to go and play?

In my weariness, I dreamed of hitting that magical age of retirement and cruising a bit. You know, buy the big sedan, throw in the “sticks,” and meander across the country. Ease up. Back off. Slow down. In a word, “retire.”

Then I read of missions expert, Dr. Ralph Winter, who along with his wife, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His response? “I can see the finish line, and Ive decided to sprint for it.” Retirement? No way.

I thought of Billy Graham, who, in his late-80’s, with Parkinson’s disease, is still holding city-wide crusades and satellite conferences that affect millions… or more. Retirement? No way.

Or Bob Cockerel, who, in his 40’s took time away from business to make trips to Africa to teach in a Bible school. When in his 60’s he was diagnosed with cancer, he bought a one way ticket and disappeared into the bowels of that continent to finish what he had started. Retirement? No way.

Or Mother Teresa, who died at 87, with 3 garments to her name, and $100.00 in the bank. Herself feeble and ill, she continued feeding and loving the disenfranchised to the very end. Retirement? No way.

I am reminded of that farmer who made it big. Or rather God allowed him to make it big by blessing his land. So he dreamed of larger barns and “party time“. Wanted to cruise. And God’s answer? “No way!”

The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself… ‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goodsTake life easy; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.‘” (Luke 12:13-21)

QUESTION Tell me, is there a fire burning in your soul for the things that break the heart of God? Most everyone in the world knows about Coca Cola, but have yet to once hear the name “Jesus.” Yeah, let’s visit the grandkids, take the cruises, and play golf now and then. But retire? No way! Personally I have made a decision to sprint for the finish line, giving it 110% until I drop. How about you?

John G. Butler
Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals.

The Real Reason Most Of Us Fail To Spend Consistent Time With God

 

Another interesting reading from John G Butler done during my Quiet Time this morning. I hope it will be useful.

It’s not lack of discipline. But lack of appetite. If we don’t have a hunger for God it is because our affections have been drawn away to other loves. To name a few:

Recently a young professional shared with me the dryness of his times alone with God. He said that the Scriptures seemed flat. Irrelevant. He then explained that in his job, he and a team of analysts routinely submit reports to their superiors that affect company policy. It is a common practice, he informed me, to shade the reports in a manner that will put the team members in a favorable light with their higher-ups. If he chooses not to go along, his career is put in jeopardy. So play along he does.

Is there any doubt as to why he has little appetite for the things of God?

Last night I dined with a businessman who, for the past 3 years I’ve unsuccessfully attempted to motivate to spend consistent time with God. We’ve had “quiet times” together, talked about priorities, personal discipline, how to meditate on the Word. You name it. All to no avail.

John,” I asked, “hows your time with God?” Embarrassment, fumbling. Then, “Dwight, I wont lie to you. Its not very good.” Yet this man spends 10 hours a day in his career, and untold hours in church work. But he will not carve out personal time with God.

Let’s be honest. We find time to do what we really want! So the issue is not discipline, but appetite.

If we cannot recognize the value of simply being alone with God, as the beloved, without doing anything, we gouge the heart out of Christianity.

QUESTION: How would you evaluate your appetite for spending time with Christ? Are you eager? Or is it obligatory? If your times with God are the blahs, what do you think is the root cause?

John G. Butler, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals.

Income Tax Season

On a tax forms there is a line for “other income.” Jesus said, ‘Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.’ Life’s best income is not tabulated on adding machines or kept in bank vaults. The good news is that tax collectors are unable to reach that “other income”. The real depressions are not the ones we read about when the stock market crashes. Most mortals live in depression all the time, bankrupt in spirit and destitute within. Most are unaware of their spiritual poverty. Even Christians and churches can, like Laodicea, be “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17), not knowing that they are poor, miserable, blind and naked.

A man really lives only in proportion to his “other income” of the spirit. Can you list any such non-taxable revenues? The goodness of God day by day, good health, the love of dear ones, liberty and life itself! But the best of all is the gift of God, eternal life through His Son and the earnest of the Spirit, the first down-payment of a heavenly income from then on, forever. Can you list that?

A man may draw a financial income for a while, but without revenue from above he will be a pauper in his soul. Do you have another income?

Extract from: Peace in the Valley, by Vance Havner

February Blues

Many of us spend our whole lives discontented with our everyday routine. We constantly are told to live ‘in the moment’; nevertheless it seems impossible, especially when this ache for more, for something that’s missing gnaws away at us. It’s a distraction, becoming nearly unbearable to ignore and live ordinarily. Our search for fulfillment isn’t to be found anywhere, not in alcohol or drugs or sex or impulse shopping or speed. And during these long months of winter, it becomes even worse; the ache cannot be forgotten, not even for a moment, driving some people mad. It seems that no cure can be found.

If you’ll allow a brief moment of ‘nerdiness’, we find this same longing in the dwarves, elves, hobbits, and men in Lord of the Rings. The dwarves sing a song of better days and glories past before the fall of their people. We see here their yearning hearts for something long lost, something missing. Yet even in their longing, the inhabitants of Middle-Earth have hope that a day is coming when what is missing will be restored.

We can certainly identify with their ‘yearning hearts’ and with the hope of regaining what was lost. C.S. Lewis explained: “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

So, as we can see, this discontentment is actually quite natural and I would go so far as to call it a gift, ingrained into us since the first sin. It is a reminder of the goodness we have never known but once existed and will someday be restored. This is the goodness of God that we rejected in our covetous appetite for rebellion. However, this rebellion will not always rule. Our world has been broken but it will not always be so. God’s goodness still rules and our hearts yearn for it. His goodness is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we allow Him to break the everyday routine, He makes that ache disappear and becomes the moment we live in.

Author Ruth Elizabeth Gaucher

Loving the Scriptures

An anonymous Christian said one day “When I was filled with the Spirit, I loved the Scriptures so much that if I could have gotten more of the Word of God inside of me by eating it, I would have eaten the Book. I literally would have taken and eaten it—leather and everything—if I could have gotten more of the Book inside my heart.”

Well, you don’t get it by eating it, but the Word of God is sweet to the Spirit-filled person because the Spirit wrote the Scriptures. The spirit of the world does not appreciate the Scriptures—it is the Spirit of God who gives appreciation of the Scriptures. One little flash of the Holy Spirit will give you more inward, divine illumination on the meaning of the text than all the commentators that ever commented.

It 1727 the Moravians who were quiet people, like you and me, but they waited and prepared their hearts, and one morning, suddenly, that which they called “a sense of the living nearness of the Savior, instantaneously bestowed,” came upon them.

Now, when the Holy Spirit is allowed to come with particular intimacy in a human soul, He never talks about Himself, but always about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Count Zinzendorf wrote that the small group of 75 German Christians arose and went out that building so happy and joyful that they did not know whether they were on earth or had gone on to heaven. The historian says that, as a result of that experience, within twenty short years those Spirit-filled Moravian Christians did more for world missions than the entire Church in all of its parts had done in 200 years. It made missionaries of them.

The New Testament speaks of the sense of “wonder” among the early Christians. The Church in our day seems to have lost this. I remember that Dr. R.R. Brown, of Omaha, once said to me, “God is so good to me that it frightens (amaze) me!”[1]

[1] A. W. Tozer, The Counselor: Straight Talk About the Holy Spirit from a 20th Century Prophet (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 1993), 149.