Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seek first his Kingdom: the Treasure of a Good Foundation

It’s been interesting to watch the “Occupy Movement.”  I have been fascinated by how quickly it has spread, as well as their passion and the organization they have for the simple tasks of living:  cooking, trash removal, and . . . protesting!  The Occupy Movement is highlighting an inequity that exists between the wealthy and the poor, as we slowly watch the middle class disappear.

Jesus spoke to crowds who also experienced the vast difference between the wealthy and the poor. . .no middle class existed in his day.  The wealthy had power; the poor were powerless.  Jesus was brilliant in his ability turn things upside down….and money and power were one of his favorite topics as he revealed how shallow they truly are in comparison to his kingdom come.
Remember, in his message about priorities Jesus told us to “seek first God’s kingdom and to set things right, and then everything else would fall into place.”  The apostle Paul heard Jesus right.  He wrote a moving letter to his disciple Timothy where he concludes the letter with a passage about priorities in finances:

1st Tim 6:17-19:  “As for those who in this present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”
Think about it.  How many times a day do we receive the message that if we “get a better job,” we will have a better life?  Or, if we buy the latest car, outfit, cell phone or computer, we will have a better life?  We have these messages coming at us over and over all day long, especially now when we are so connected to technology.

Paul tells us not to focus on the uncertainty of riches.  It’s a great message for today as we watch the stock market jump all around and the selling price of our homes continue to plunge.  Paul encourages us to “set out hopes on God who richly provides everything for our enjoyment.”

I guess I wonder if we really believe that God wants to provide things for our enjoyment.   I find that when I dig with people, we often have a mindset which believes God wants us to take less, to be less content in life, that suffering is where he wants us to focus.  God is teaching me, however, that he does like to surprise his children with gifts….just as we like to do for our own children.

Today we are signing the loan papers on our new house.  It’s a big faith leap for us in trusting God’s provision to do this before our own house is sold.  My prayer for weeks has been for us to have a contract in hand before we signed the papers.  Last week not one person looked at our house….so the circumstances didn’t point towards getting a contract.  But, God is the God of surprises, and last night our realtor called with news of a contract for our house.   God is a God of “just in time” because today we signed the offer papers in our kitchen with our realtor and immediately walked into our living room to sign our loan papers for our new home in California!
While I was writing this reflection, Brad called me.  He has been out of work for awhile…and in his time of reflection, he realized that he was no longer content to continue to the status quo; he knew he wanted to give his life to something greater.  He is pursuing a position with World Vision where he would help retail stores carry their message of provision to a hurting world.  He told me, “I’ve made a conscious decision to give my life to a cause where I am helping serve people, making a difference in the world.”
Brad is listening to Jesus’ priorities.  He has discovered that when he aligns his life to “seek first God’s kingdom, and his righteousness, the all things comes into place.”  I read him the 1st Timothy passage which ends with “taking hold of the life that really is life.”  Brad agreed with it; saying his time of unemployment had helped to clarify his true heart.

Retreat does that. When we take steps away from our regular life and listen, being quiet and in solitude, we hear God’s heart more clearly.  His desire is for us “to live the life that really is life.” I love that.
From the beginning of time, our enemy has lied to us that God is holding out on us.  He twists the truth to make us think that the fruit on another tree is better for us, when in reality, the Tree of Life stands before us, beckoning us to eat from it each and every day.

When we remove ourselves from the tempting messages, we begin to get clarity on what’s truly important.  Jesus tells us “to love God and others, and then to go and multiply God’s message to others”, resulting in disciples who go and do the same.  Paul tells us in 1st Timothy when we set our hopes on God who richly provides everything for our enjoyment, we are able to “do good, be rich in good works, generous and ready to share.” 
When we move in rhythm with how we were created, to follow after God’s ways, we are building a foundation of the hidden treasure which enables us to take hold of the life that really is life.

So, how about you? 
Where are you tempted to follow the way of the world?
Where are you misaligned in your priorities? 
Where do you find yourselves frustrated and iscontent?
The answers to these questions will start you on the journey of discovery on how to build your life on the foundation of the life which is truly life:  a life spent pursuing seeking God’s kingdom, his righteousness and trusting him for the “all things” to fall into place.

I encourage you to find some space for some retreat, a time of solitude.  Sit down and journal your answers to the questions above, and meditate on Paul’s words to Timothy; his clues for a life worth living!

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