Actually, God Does Own Your Stuff!

How Much Do We Have To Give?

The “tithing” question almost always revolves around “how much do we have to give?” Do we still have to give 10%? Isn’t that just in the Old Testament? I’ve heard people argue that it’s their money and they’ll give to causes or projects that they believe in; while, others claim they don’t give because churches & pastors have misused church offerings and can’t be trusted! Some have told me that they can’t tithe because they can’t afford it— “There’s always too much month left at the end of our money,” they say. Others say that they’re afraid to tithe— “What happens if we fall on hard times & we’ve given all that money to the church?”

It’s All About Your Heart

In counseling people about their finances, I’ve found that it’s ultimately not a “tithing” question; but, a “heart” issue! Where is your heart? God addresses money matters so frequently—it’s estimated there are over 2000 verses speaking on money—because our financial interests have a way of stealing our heart more than anything else in life! I’ll just admit right now that I probably won’t satisfy your curiosity about tithing in this post. If we just focus on whether to tithe or not to tithe it can quickly turn into legalism and a fulfilling of the letter of the law. I’ll just say this much: I believe there is Scriptural support that if O.T. giving was a tenth under law, that nothing less than that would be the starting point under grace!

Are You A Steward Or An Owner?

In Luke 16, Jesus unpacks some financial principles in His parable about the unjust steward. I’ll only deal with one of those principles here—Jesus teaches us to think like a steward of our stuff; not an owner! God is like the rich man in the story & we’re the steward! The reason the steward was unjust? Because he handled his master’s money as though it were his own! The psalmist wrote:  “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him” Psalm 24:1. See also Psalm 50:10 & 1 Corinthians 4:7. This is bigger than a tithing question! God says it’s not 10% His and 90 % ours! It’s ALL HIS! ALL of it! We’re just managing God’s stuff? Are you acting like a steward over your stuff or an owner?

Faithful In Little; Faithful In Much

Take a look at v.10 in that Luke 16 passage—Jesus teaches us to also be content with the stuff He’s given us to manage, not covetous!Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful in much.” I’ve heard people say they can’t tithe because they don’t make enough money. That’s backward thinking! The tithe comes 1st— “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops” Prov. 3:9. Jesus is ultimately saying here that if you don’t tithe with your current income you wouldn’t if you made twice as much— if you’re unrighteous in little you’ll be unrighteous in much! And, I’ve seen that played out way too often!

 

Advertisements

What Happens After We Die?

That Question Has Some Anxiety Attached To It

I’m convinced that even the most devout follower, of Jesus Christ, approaches death with some anxiety. You can be secure in your faith & in your relationship with Jesus! You can totally believe that you’re going to spend eternity with Him; but, still have a certain fear because of the “unknown”! There’s always some anxiety when we’re forced into something new; what does it feel like to die? In part we fear death because it’s beyond our control, isn’t it?

Don’t Fear The Reaper

It’s that image of the Grim Reaper lurking around the corner; stalking us; and, we never know “when” he’s gonna show up, do we? John 14:1-6 begins with Jesus words to His disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled…”; and, He tells them why in v.6: “…because I am the way, the truth & the life.” If you’ve placed your trust in Jesus’ atonement work on the cross than you don’t have to fear death because Jesus IS your life! The fear of death can paralyze you; but, knowing you have eternal life in Christ sets you free from that fear! And, in that text, Jesus tells the disciples that they don’t have to fear death because after they die, they get out of here! “I will come again,” Jesus says in v.3, “and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Death Benefits

That’s one of the benefits of death—we get out of here! No more heartaches & betrayals; no more worries & anxieties! Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble.” And, don’t we know it! Jesus shared another benefit in v.2—after we die, we get a room in God’s Big House! “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told that I go to prepare a place for you?” God has a house! Not a hotel! Not an Inn; but, a big house! He’s not going to run out of space; and, if you have life in Christ, there’s a room reserved for you, with your name on it! We’re not going to be guests in a lodge! We’re His CHILDREN! We’ll live in His house with Him! In v.3 Jesus said: “I will take you to myself!” That’s the best part of death! We “inherit” Jesus! He’s the real “treasure” that we seek; and, we’ll have Him—ALL of Him—when He takes us to Himself!

We Don’t Mourn Like An Unbeliever

I have watched many friends & loved ones die; and, I mourn! But, not for them! I don’t wish that they could come back to me! I would never wish that upon them! I would never wish for them to come back to this place! I mourn for ME! That I remain behind! While I suffer & mourn the temporary loss of their friendship, I rejoice for them! I’m jealous for them; and, I long for the day when we’ll be reunited in a better place; but, NOT HERE! Oh, there’s some tension there, isn’t there—we still have Jesus’ Kingdom work to do while we remain! But, we don’t hold too tightly to anything here!

 

Can We Lose Our Salvation?

Can I Lose My Salvation?

As a 13-year old, new follower of Jesus, that was a question that haunted me! Was I strong enough to keep it? Or, was I capable of doing something to lose it? It’s a question that just won’t go away.

But, They Said The “Sinners Prayer”

Usually, someone is asking because they know a person who professed faith in Jesus Christ, only to leave it and go back to a life of sin. Surely they must have “lost” their salvation because they said the “Sinners Prayer”—a “prayer”, by the way, that I’ve never found in Scripture.

Jesus: “I Know Them!”

What I have read in Scripture, that addresses this concern, are the words of Jesus in John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Notice the intimacy? “I KNOW them!” Jesus says. There is a “personal” relationship!

Jesus: “I Never Knew Them”

By contrast, look at what Jesus said about another group of people: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, I never knew you! Depart from Me” Matthew 7:21-23. To this group Jesus will say, “I NEVER knew you!” It’s possible, according to Jesus, to do all kinds of “churchy” things & to have never been saved! (See also 1 John 2:19; 2 Peter 2:22)

Where Is Our Security?

Look again at the John passage. Jesus describes a genuine believer—they hear His voice; they follow Him; He gives them eternal life; and, they’ll never perish! No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand! Do you hear what Jesus is saying? He’s saying that for someone to lose eternal life, they’d have to be more powerful than God to wrestle a soul away from Him! Bottom Line:  “The security of our salvation rests not in our power to stay saved; but, in God’s power to keep us saved

Speaking Of A Pseudo-Faith

Peter said: “It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud” 1 Peter 2:22 You can dress them up & show them at the county fair; but, bring them back to the farm & where do they go? The hog goes back to the slop & the dog eats his own vomit! Because that’s who they are! That’s their nature! Place an unbeliever in an environment of believers for a time & they may appear to be a believer! But, given the opportunity, they return to the slop & vomit of the world! Why? Because that’s who they are! That’s their nature!

Should A Believer Practice Political Correctness?

“PC” Defined:

“Political Correctness” or “PC” has been defined as “A term that describes language, ideas, policies and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious believe, disability and age-related contexts.” Taken at face value it almost seems like something we should support as followers of Jesus!

“Political Correctness” Is A Moving Target

In the “Politically Correct” world no individual or group is ever to be offended; but, it’s that word “offense” that becomes problematic because an “offense” can be very subjective. It’s based on the opinion of each individual; so, it becomes a moving target! What’s “offensive” to one person is not to another. So, the “offended” party makes all the rules in a Politically Correct world.

In the “PC World” everyone’s beliefs must be tolerated. Everyone’s faith or religion is to be equally validated. So, there can be no “absolute truth” in a Politically Correct World. Truth becomes “subjective”! But, Jesus said: “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through ME” (John 14:6) That means Jesus is “exclusive”—He claims to be the ONLY way to God; the ONLY truth! That’s repulsive in the Politically Correct World because it “offends” every other system of faith!

Prepare Yourself

My purpose in writing this article is to prepare you for the inevitable! Taken to it’s extreme, Political Correctness will effectively censor the Church’s attempts to make disciples because that’s an “offensive” activity to some. When that happens, followers of Christ will be left with a choice—who will we offend? If our country continues the course we’re on, persecution will be the fall out; and, we need to brace ourselves! Choose you this day whom you will offend! I’ve already made my decision—when faced with the choice to offend God or man, I will choose to offend man every time!

The Anti-Political Correctness Movement

However, let me add some caution-don’t join the Anti-Political Correctness movement! I’ve noticed there’s been an “over reaction” to the philosophy of Political Correctness that is rude, crass, demeaning & not at all like Jesus! Paul wrote the believers in Ephesus to, “Speak the TRUTH in LOVE.” Don’t YOU, personally, be the “offense”! Jesus was the “friend of sinners” because He was full of “Grace AND Truth”! A casual reading of Scripture says to “guard your tongue”, “set a guard on my mouth”, “slander no one”, “avoid fighting” (Prov 15:1; 15:4; 21:23; Psalm 141:3; Titus 3:2; Colossians 4:6)

Don’t Forget Who You Are

We need to remember our “identity”—who we are! I am 1st a “citizen” of heaven; and, 2nd a “resident” of America! Our higher calling is our identity in Christ!