Making Retirement Plans

RetirementThe Bible tells of a farmer whose crops exceeded his expectations: greatly!   Abundantly producing to the maximum, this farmer was overjoyed.   In his year of plenty, he eagerly considered what to do with his newfound wealth.   The Gospel of Luke chapter 12 records the story.   A certain rich man found his crop would not fit into his barns!  He came up with the idea that he would tear down his old small barns and build newer bigger barns to store his grain.   Would you like to hear what his big plans were?

 Retirement Fund

‘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. 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.” Luke 12:18-19

 Did you notice all the “my’s” and “I’s” regarding his wealth?   This man had a problem with greed and giving God credit for his good fortune.  Jesus was telling the story to a crowd of people.  There were probably some in the crowd who might have felt “that could be me”!  Not to leave them hanging, Jesus told them what God thought about the farmer’s big plans.

 “But God said to him, “You fool! This night your life will be required of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Luke 12:20

Let’s be perfectly clear—when God calls you a fool—you’re a fool!   Don’t be a fool. Everything on this earth belongs to God: always has, always will!   Think about this.   Why do you save money?  To retire?   To buy more expensive cars or toys?   To be secure?  Jesus challenges us to think beyond earthbound goals and to use what we have been given for God’s kingdom. Faith, service, and obedience are the way to become rich toward God.  So how can we learn to be content?   Strive to live with less rather than desiring more; give away out of your abundance rather than accumulating more; relish what you have rather than resent what you’re missing.   See God’s love expressed in what he has provided, and remember that money and possessions will all pass away.   We become content when we realize God’s sufficiency for our needs.  When you make your big plans for the future: please include God.

©MET 2012

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No Gnome cure

You’re sick; you go to a respected doctor, you’re examined, a diagnosis is made; the prognosis is not good; you await a formal announcement.   The doctor informs you that he can prescribe some medications to help with the pain and suffering, but even with the best medical care—there’s no cure.   You take a deep breath and get a second opinion, and a third, and a fourth.  Your faith is stretched but you don’t lose hope.   You’ve heard of others that were told the same thing and some overcame, and some didn’t.   You’re concerned and worried, but not desperate.   You keep all your options open.

You hear about a traveling preacher is preaching about the saving and healing power of Jesus Christ from the little town of Nazareth in Palestine.   You carefully consider the circumstances; it’s not idol worship, so you give it some consideration.   You can’t get to the traveling preacher, he’s too important, too busy, and he’s not coming to you.   Could there possibly be another way?  A friend of yours takes a simple handkerchief to the preacher, he touches it, your friend brings the handkerchief back to you, and ‘you’re cured’!  Impossible?  It happened!The apostle Paul was on his third missionary journey.   Making a stop in Ephesus, a seaport in what is now modern-day Turkey, Paul preformed numerous miracles in the city.  Including touching handkerchiefs, which were then delivered to people in need; curing their sicknesses.  We need to clarify an important point—it wasn’t a magical cloth that healed anyone, it wasn’t the power of Paul’s touch, it was a miracle-working God that did the curing.

“God did extraordinary things through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”      Acts 19:11-12

When someone is told there’s no known cure—that may be true.  But God isn’t restricted to the same limitations we face.

Wired For Success

Wired

Wire Head

Almost everybody respects a successful general in battle tested conditions.  Admiration is higher if the general is on “your” side.  It’s usually not until the war is over that battle plans and strategy can be analyzed and evaluated.  Generals George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall all displayed a knack for planning, strategy, heroism, determination and execution.  But then several for the other side did likewise.  British Bernard Montgomery was brilliant and Germany’s Erwin Rommel was so respected they nicknamed him, the ‘desert Fox’.  Campaigns can be military, economic, territorial or personal.

The New Testament records the very personal campaign of one man who is known for his planning, strategy, and execution of his plan to “Git R Dun”.  Exactly what was this man’s obsession?  Why was he so fanatical about its execution?  The Bible is full of strong personalities and men of action, but this man was so focused on his task, God intervened and stopped him cold.

His name was Saul of Tarsus.  His training as a Pharisee was the finest available, his zeal was unparalleled, his intensity was unmatched, his belief that the newfounded Christian movement was a deadly threat to Judaism was intensely sincere, and his efforts to do what he thought was right changed his life!  In an instant.  Saul was wired for success and determined to “round up” all these newly minted “Christians” and return them to Jerusalem for questioning or worst!  Saul not only was good at his job, he was very effective.  He was the number one enemy of the state.  Saul was arrogant and God was going to humble him.  This man was making so much progress thwarting this new movement that Jesus literally stopped him in “his tracks” on the Damascus road, and had a heart-to-heart talk with this headstrong individual.  Saul’s meeting with Jesus, and his subsequent ‘conversation’ is found in the Book of Acts chapter 9.  The entire life of Saul is found in Acts chapter 7 through 28, and his letters.

No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul.  Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus changed his life forever.  He never lost his fierce intensity, but from then on it was channeled for the gospel.  God did not waste any part of Paul—his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses.  God does not waste our time either—he will use our past and present so we may serve him with our future.

It doesn’t end there, it begins there!  Saul’s name was later changed to Paul.  His personal campaign to stop this new movement of people following Jesus Christ was turned on its head.  Once he reconciled the Lord of the Old Testament was intertwined with Jesus of Nazareth, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul wasn’t wired for success; he was wired to pull millions, perhaps billions, into heaven.

Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.”  Philippians 1:21

The Good news is that forgiveness and eternal life are a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Jesus Christ and available to all people.