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Entries in Future (3)

Tuesday
Oct132015

Jesus Reveals the Future II

Luke 21:8-11-  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 11, 2015.

As we look at this prophetic section, we should do so with the knowledge that revealing the future is a signature characteristic of God.  He is not like some giant computer that can crunch an infinite amount of data in order to predict what will happen.  Rather, as the Creator of the space-time continuum, all of time (past, present, and future) is laid out before Him.  Thus the things in the Bible are not mere educated guesses.  But, instead they are God letting us know what He already sees.  When God does reveal the future, He does so in a way that sheds light and yet still requires us to trust Him.  He never reveals in order to remove any need for faith.

The common attempt by scholars to fit all that is revealed into a timeline often relies on human reasoning that goes beyond what we are told.  Thus it should be expected that they will have areas that will be found to be in error.  I believe it is more important for believers to pay attention to the main points that such revelations emphasize rather than attempting to map out the future in great detail.  We need to heed those warnings and commands that our Lord gives to his disciples. 

In our passage today Jesus begins his answer to the questions his disciples asked him:  when will the temple be destroyed, and what will be the sign that it is about to happen and that you are going to come back and begin the new age of the Kingdom of God.  These questions clearly jumble together several important events that we now know would not be happening at the same time.  Jesus does not separate the questions or berate them.  Instead, he gives them a look at the future ahead along with certain warnings and commands.

The Things That Must Come To Pass First

In verses 8-11 Jesus describes many different things that must come to pass before the End of the Age.  Now in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 we have the parallel accounts of this same discussion.  They describes these very same things as being The Beginning of Sorrows.  This phrase, and the list that Jesus gives, makes it clear to his disciples that they are not entering into a time of peace.  The time ahead will be a time of sorrows.  Although the sorrows are not defined, two other places use this word of sorrow.  Acts 2:24 is a passage regarding the sorrows of death or dying.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Paul reveals that the last days will come upon the world like the sorrows of labor coming upon a woman.  Thus this time ahead would be filled with things that involve physical and emotional sorrows.  Notice that Jesus makes it clear that he is not giving us a list of signs of the end.  Rather, that these things must come to pass first.  You could say that they are a sign of the times that we live in rather than a sign that the end of this age is at hand.  So what are these signs of the age?

False Christs.  Jesus first warns his disciples that many people will come in His name, which means they are claiming to be him.  He also reveals another claim they will make, the time (of the end) has drawn near.  It makes sense that in a time of sorrow deluded and deceiving men would step forward and claim to be able to bring it to an end.  Something that is implicit in this is to notice that in order for this to happen Jesus must be gone.  He had told his disciples that he was leaving.  This is why they were seeking a sign for when he would come back.  Thus the Beginning of Sorrows would start with the ascension of Jesus into heaven.  We could say that there has been an increase in people claiming to be Jesus in the last century compared to the centuries before.  However, our ability to hear about and catalog such claims is greatly increased.  Suffice it to say that Jesus doesn’t claim it will get worse.  He simply warns that this age of sorrows will be characterized by people claiming to be him. 

Now there is something flattering about the idea that Jesus has not only come back, but is also talking with me.  But Jesus clearly warns his followers, don’t be deceived.  Whether the person is deceived themselves, or they are intentionally trying to delude people is immaterial.  No matter how sincere they are we are not to believe them.  Imagine the situation the disciples were in.  They had lived with Jesus for over three years.  When they had questions they could ask him and receive a concrete answer.  But in the future they would have to learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit.  Jesus would not physically be there.  They would be susceptible to an inward pressure to leave the more difficult situation of discerning the will of God through His Word and Spirit, in order to go towards the easier situation of having a person tell us what it is.

This leads to the second imperative regarding false Christs.  Don’t follow them.  Deception starts in the mind, but them moves into our life.  We are supposed to follow Jesus alone.  But when someone comes claiming to be Jesus we might be conflicted.  Jesus has already given us the right way we are to live and believe.  If another comes in his name he is false and only trying to lead us away from the path of Truth and onto the many paths of deception.  Christians need to stay the course that Jesus has put us on rather than being led off on side roads that promise an end of the age, but, in the end, lead to wickedness and a perversion of the truth.  Notice in verse 27 that Jesus helps us to understand why we should believe it.  Jesus says that when he does come back it will be on the clouds in power and great glory.  Matthew adds to this that it will be as visible to the whole world as lightening that flashes from the east to the west.  Jesus is basically telling us that when he comes back it will be seen by the whole world.  No one will have to tell you.  Jesus is not hiding on a mountain in Tibet waiting for the world to be open to his coming.  So don’t be deceived and follow those charlatans that make the claim he has come.

Wars and Turmoil.  Of course the world’s history is a series of wars with relatively few times of peace.  Jesus tells them that there are wars and commotions ahead.  Nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom makes it clear that this is about more than just Israel and Rome.  The age of sorrows will be characterized by political turmoil.  This revelation is not meant to wow us.  Sure anyone could guess that there would be wars ahead because mankind has always been warring.  Yet, Jesus is not trying to wow us with this prediction.  Rather, he is trying to prepare us.  The times will not be peaceful religiously, spiritually, and politically.  This leads to the command to not be terrified.  This word has in its meaning “crying out and wailing.”  Many people throughout the world know what it is like to live in a war zone.  It is many things including terrifying.  The despair that comes from such fearful experiences can easily take over.  The chaotic effects of war and political turmoil threaten those who find themselves in such times.  Yet, Jesus lets us know that these are to be expected.  They are not catching God by surprise.  When the believer feels terror and mourning surging up within them, they must be quick to turn to God’s Word and to fellow believers for encouragement and strength.  Christians are called to be emotionally strong, and yet not in themselves.  Jesus is not telling us to never have an emotion.  Rather he is telling us not to let those emotions overwhelm us and define our life.

Great Earthquakes.   The next thing Jesus reveals is great earthquakes.  Earthquakes are always happening and can be very terrifying when they do.  Great earthquakes often have high death tolls and heavy destruction of buildings.  Just like war becomes a threat to our ability to follow Jesus, so natural disasters can paralyze us from following Christ, or can cause us to let self preservation become the rule that we live by.  This is not following Christ.  His disciples would need to experience many kinds of sorrow and yet continue to believe and follow Him alone.

Famines & Pestilences.  These two are often listed like partners in crime throughout the Bible.  Jesus warns that famines and pestilence would characterize the days ahead.  A famine is literally a scarcity of food for any reason.  Thus lack of rain, war, and devastation could all be a cause of famine.  Often following on the heels of famine are pests, plagues, and diseases that rule in the wake of these things.  We have seen the effects of war, famine and plagues upon the whole continent of Africa as well as elsewhere.

Fearful Sights & Great Heavenly Signs.  Lastly, for today, Jesus warns of fearful sights.  This is a very general phrase that can cover the eruptions of volcanoes (like Vesuvius) or horrible and destructive storms.  Along with this would come great, heavenly signs.  They would have understood this to be things like comets, solar eclipses, and lunar eclipses.  Great comets that are visible even in the day are not as common and were seen as a heavenly body that has left its orbit and threatens earth.  Thus comets are a symbol of Satan and those fallen angels who reject the path God has given them.

So, did all these things happen in the first century leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD?  The short answer is yes.  The first century believers over the next 40 years saw these kinds of things happening.  It was important for them to keep their heads and obey the commands of Christ.  They had to beware spiritual deception and they had to guard their hearts from giving into terror and fear.  In fact the Jewish historian Josephus (who was not a Christian and had no reason to support these things) recorded many different things that happened in Jerusalem and in the skies that were seen as evil portends for Jerusalem and its people.  However, the Christians who headed the words of Jesus were prepared for the events of 70AD and for everything after it.

So I ask you a question.  Did these things stop in 70 AD?  Did we leave behind an age of sorrows at that time and enter into something that cannot be described as sorrows?  I would say that we are still in the time of sorrows.  Jesus has not come back yet and the end of the age has not occurred.  Yes, Jerusalem and Israel as a nation were destroyed.  But the followers of Jesus have still needed these instructions for the last 2,000 years.  We must beware deceivers who come claiming to be Jesus.  We need to guard our hearts from being tossed to and fro from terror and fear.  Let us take these things to heart today as we experience them in our own day.  God has not been caught by surprise and He has revealed these things to us in advance so that we may not be either.

Jesus Reveals Future II audio

Friday
Oct092015

Jesus Reveals The Future

Luke 21:5-7.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 4, 2015.

Today we begin looking at a passage that is often called the Olivet Discourse because it takes place on the Mt. of Olives, east of Jerusalem.  It is famous because Jesus prophesizes the destruction of Jerusalem and His Second Coming with a lot of details.  Since prophecy is speaking on behalf of God to men, it is not always prediction of things in the future.  However, in this passage we have a mother-lode of predictions about the future.  Now when I use the word prediction, I do not use it as it is used in our society today.  Fortune tellers, hedge-fund managers, politicians, or even scientists do their best to make predictions about the future.  However, it is important for us to recognize that it is the hallmark of God that He alone can accurately foretell the future.  God is not merely making a guess based upon his great knowledge.  Instead, all of space-time is His creation, and as such, it is all before Him at once.  Thus He sees the past, present, and future all at the same time.  Jesus predicted in that he spoke about events that would be before they happened.  He predicted his death, burial, and resurrection.  Here he adds to this his prediction that Jerusalem would be destroyed.  Such prophecies are intended to help us to know that He really was the Son of God.

The Temple Will Be Destroyed

It is important to recognize that Matthew and Mark both wrote down some of the discussions that occurred on the Mt. of Olives.  When Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are compared you come to realized that they each recorded some of the same things and yet did not give everything that was said.  It is in Matthew and Mark that we are told where this discussion takes place.  As they are leaving the temple, one of the disciples comments on the amazing beauty of the buildings at the temple.  Thus this does not seem to be a public declaration of the coming devastation.

The response of Jesus makes one thing clear: we often admire things that God does not.  The First Century AD Temple is not listed as one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.  However, it was often noted to be an object of wonder for those who saw it for the first time.  Thus it would be no surprise for the disciples who were mostly from Galilee to be impressed with the temple.  The disciples couldn’t help but be impressed.  Yet, they were only seeing the surface and they were only seeing with the eyes of flesh.  It was the existence of the first temple that caused the Israelites before the Babylonian Exile to scoff at the notion that God would destroy Jerusalem.  It had become a kind of “lucky rabbit’s foot” to them.  They felt it was too important to God and too precious to destroy.  God is not enamored with things like we are.  He is not impressed with large stones, beautiful bronze, and Gold.  It is all easily replaced for Him.  Beauty often gets in the way of the purposes of God.  Thus the Temple and its sacrifices had become an ugly thing to God; a continual reminder that they fall short of covering the sins of men.

Jesus had mentioned a destruction of Jerusalem earlier that week as he approached Jerusalem in the “Triumphal Entry.”  Luke 19:41-44 says, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.  They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”  The following days only emphasized the rejection of Jesus as God’s offer of peace to Israel.  Thus Jesus reminds them that the temple is doomed to be torn completely apart; not one stone will be left on another.  Of course this was done by the Roman legions in 70 AD.

In Matthew and Mark we learn that Jesus and his disciples go on to the Mt. of Olives which is across the Kidron Valley from the Temple.  Mark tells us that it was Peter, James, John, and Andrew who come to Jesus and quiz him further about his prediction of destruction.

They Question Jesus About The Future

Many of us would like to know the future.  In June of this year (2015) a woman claimed that Jesus spoke to her about major catastrophes coming to America, including economic collapse, rioting, famine, war, natural disasters, and martial law.  She said that trouble would begin in September of 2015.  Of course that month has come and gone.  Though many people suspect these things are on the horizon, she clearly was not talking with Jesus.  Yes, she may be whacky.  But all of us have a desire to hear about the future from Jesus.  What would you ask Jesus if he were here today?  Knowing the future is not all it is cracked up to be.  God tends to give us revelations that focus on the big picture with few details.  It leaves much to question.  What we find is that God gives us enough to encourage our faith, but not enough to relieve us of having to have faith.  There are just enough details so that we can confirm events as they happen or at least after the fact.  But not so much that it reads as a screen play.

Thus their first question is this: When will these things be?  The first question is exactly the same in each of the 3 gospels that record this event.  Though some time has transpired, Luke clearly ties this discussion to the earlier statement of Jerusalem’s destruction.  Thus “these things” is pointing back to the prediction of the temple’s destruction.  We should also bear in mind that some other discussions have most likely occurred as well.  Luke does not give the full context, but most likely, neither do Matthew and Mark.  So when will the temple be destroyed?  We will come back to this question.

The second question in Luke appears to ask about a sign that would warn them of the coming destruction of the temple.  However when we compare this to Matthew we find that the second question is a about more than the destruction of the temple.  So either Luke is simplifying the question, or he is only writing about that part.  We will talk more about this as we look at the answers Jesus gave (as Luke records).  Here is the second question in each gospel.

Luke 21:7, “what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”

Mark 13:4, “what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

Matthew 24:3, “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Clearly they all agree that the second question sought a sign that they could look for.  But here we can see that they are thinking about more than the destruction of Jerusalem.  They are also thinking about the Coming of Jesus and the End of the Age.  Jesus had told them before that he would be leaving them for a while and then coming back.  So it makes sense they would wonder about this.  Also, the end of the age from the Jewish mindset simply meant the end of their current state of affairs; i.e. under the rule of the Gentile powers.  They looked forward to a Messianic Age in which the Gentile powers would be judged and the Messiah would rule over Israel and the world.

As Jesus came closer and closer to the cross, he revealed more and more regarding the coming Kingdom.  In fact, he taught that it would come in two phases.  Phase one is seen in Luke 17:20-37.  Here Jesus explains that it would not be a visible kingdom with borders, capitals, and armies.  In fact, Jesus as its king would actually be ruling by the Spirit from Heaven in the hearts of his followers.  This invisible phase would be obvious to those who were born again.  Phase 2, is the awaited revelation of the Son of Man.  We call this the Second Coming.  It refers to a time when Jesus will return visibly and physically to the earth as King of Kings in order to judge the nations and take up political rule.  A visible Kingdom will be set up at that time.  This was not all clear to the disciples.  Thus they most likely thought they were asking one simple question and that all of these things would be happening at the same time.  The Temple would be destroyed by the Gentiles, Christ would return and destroy the Gentile powers (thus ending the age of their dominion), and set up the Messianic Kingdom.  Of course now we know that they did not correctly understand.  So though Luke’s question seems to only focus on the Temple’s destruction, it is clear that the context includes more to this.

So, is the answer that Jesus gives only about 70 AD?  Some approach this passage as if it can only be about 70 AD.  To them the prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled in the past.  Others see all or part of this prophecy as pointing to things that are still future.  I won’t get into the terminology regarding these views, but suffice it to say, every prophecy that is given in the Bible begs the questions: What is this talking about, and did it happen already?  The answers to those questions generally put people into two camps: those who believe it has been fulfilled and those who think it has not (Past vs. Future).  In the next several weeks we are going to walk through this passage and talk about prophetic things.  In order to do so well, we need to look at two issues in the area of biblical prophecy.

Conflation in Prophecy

Any study of prophecy in the Old Testament that pointed to the coming of the Messiah, will show that the first coming and the second coming of Jesus are often put together in the same passage without a clear distinction made between them.  Thus they are conflated.  Let’s look at an example in Isaiah 9:6-7.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.”

Here we are told that a child will be born who will bear some amazing titles and who shall sit upon the throne of David with an increasing kingdom of justice and judgment forever.  It is clearly a messianic prophecy that points to the birth of Jesus.  Yet, there is no concept of a gap between his birth and his reigning forever on the throne of David.  Some deal with this by taking the wording as symbolic.  Christ would not literally sit on the throne of David, but he would symbolically rule in David’s place.  The problem with this is that passages in the New Testament call for a visible, physical return of Christ to a literal throne (especially Acts 1:11).  Thus it was not important for Old Testament believers to know all the details.  But rather, it was enough for them to know the purpose of God regardless of how it played out.  It should not be surprising to us that the Lord of prophecy who inspired the prophets in the Old Testament would prophesy similarly in the New Testament.  We should expect that some of the things Jesus reveals will not flow seamlessly.

Near and Far Fulfillment

This Isaiah passage brings up another issue.  Often things predicted by the prophets pointed to something that was going on in their day, but also at a later time.  It is sometimes called a double fulfillment of a prophecy, but this is misleading.  In Isaiah chapters 7-9 clearly portray Isaiah as telling King Ahaz that a son will be born and before that son can understand the difference between good and evil, the King of Syria (who had allied with the Northern Tribes to attack Jerusalem) would be gone.  The threat Ahaz feared would be neutralized.  Chapter 8 actually describes this child being born to the wife of Isaiah.  Within a matter of years the King of Assyria overwhelms the King of Syria and the threat is no more.  Yet, as you read the prophecies and fulfillments in Isaiah 7-9, you see much that doesn’t quite fit the events of those days.  Something else is being conflated with the child of Isaiah’s day.  The amazing titles were not used of Isaiah’s son.  In fact he is not called Immanuel, but rather Maher-Shalal-Chash-Baz, which means quick to the spoil and quick to the prey.  It would be easy to say that Isaiah “missed” on his prophecy.  But the truth is he is talking about something that is bigger than the things of his day.  The son of that day becomes a type or symbol of an even greater son who will be Immanuel, God with us.  Thus the prophecy has a fulfillment that is near in time and yet an even greater fulfillment that is far away in time.  Thus we will see some of these same elements in the Mt. of Olives Discussion.

Final Thoughts

God is more concerned that we understand Him and His overall purposes rather than every detail of prophecy.  In fact, the details that are given are not so that we can have everything figured out before it happens.  But rather, so that we can have our faith confirmed during events, or even after them.  They are meant to lock into place like a puzzle piece that didn’t seem to make sense until it was put in place.  This gives us the amazing joy of seeing God’s Word confirmed and our Faith encouraged.  Put your trust in the only One who knows what tomorrow holds, and that is Jesus.

Jesus Reveals Future Audio

Thursday
May072015

A Wise Or Foolish Manger?

Luke 16:1-13

Whether you own your own business or you work for someone else, we are all accountable to someone in some way.  The boss can fire me if I don’t do a good job.  My business can go bankrupt if I don’t do a good job.  The government may send me to jail if I try to avoid paying my taxes, etc…  The parable that we are looking at today is about an unjust steward.  Another way of saying that would be an unrighteous manager.  Normally Jesus tells a parable of something good that we are supposed to be like, or something bad that we are not supposed to be like.  Today’s parable causes many to scratch their head because it uses a bad thing to illustrate something good we are to do (or at least it seems that way).

The Day Of Accounting Is Looming

In this parable, the manager is given notice to gather his books and prepare to give an accounting to the master.  Thus this sets up a strange period of time in which a person is still the acting manager, but his time is limited because he is losing his position.  The picture here is meant to highlight our position within God’s world.  He is the Creator and we are the managers of His things within the life that He has given us.  All things that we own are not our possessions outright.   Rush Limbaugh, a syndicated, conservative, talk-radio host refers to having “talent on loan from God.”  Although this comes across rather arrogant, the truth is that all of us have talent on loan from God.  Nothing we have was made purely by ourselves, our bodies included.  We use God’s stuff to make more stuff for ourselves.  In this sense we are managing His stuff.

The next part of the parable is that an accusation has been made against the manager.  The term accusation here is from the same root word as the devil or diabolical.  It means to cast at another and implies an accusation.  Now the accusation can be a false one out of ignorance, or true one out of a desire to ruin or destroy.  So we see this same pattern in the book of Job.  The devil casts his accusations against us.  However, in the story of Abel we can see that our own sins can cry out to God with accusations against us.  Yet, at an even deeper level, Paul talks about how our own conscience can accuse us in the secret place of our mind.  Thus we are in the same place as the man in this story.  An accusation from several sources has come to God and He has established a day of accounting for us.  We will lose this life and give an accounting for how we lived it because of our sin.  This is dealt with in Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden.  God laid the decree that all men will die and surrender the life that they have been given.  In Hebrews 9:27 it says, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”  We are all in the situation that we have not been perfectly righteous in how we have managed the things that God has given us.  The key here is what are you going to do when you come to understand your situation?

We Need To Respond Wisely

In verses 3 through 8 we see the response of this unrighteous manager.  Now responding wisely to a bad situation is easier said than done.  We don’t always have a good example or good training to follow in those moments.    Now Jesus makes a strange statement, “the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”  When we think this through we will see the wisdom of what Jesus says.  Now the sons of this world are those who are not followers of God.  Within the context of their generation, they are much smarter than the followers of God (this is a general statement that allows exceptions).  The sons of this world don’t believe in a God or any accountability to Him.  They only believe in what they are smart enough to get for themselves on their own.  Because they believe this, they operate very shrewdly and cunningly within this world.   They are not wise in regard to their lack of understanding towards God.  But they are wise in that they act upon what they believe.  Now the sons of God say they believe in a God to whom they will be accountable and yet their actions and decision do not look as if they really believe that.  Jesus does not commend the man for being an unrighteous manager, but for recognizing the truth of his situation and working with what he had to improve it.  Many believers are wise enough to recognize the truth of God’s existence, but not wise enough to use their life now to prepare for the day of accounting.  This is not wise.

We need to think through our situation in light of the future.  Biblical thinking is a skill that we all need to work on.  We are all in the same situation as the man in this story.  Yes, I am a believer, and I have asked Jesus to cover my sins.  But, I am still going to have to give an account for what I did with God’s things in the life He has given me.  Also, we only have so much time to affect our situation.  We don’t have a specific deadline, and yet we know we don’t have forever.  Each day is a day that I can wake up and thank God for another opportunity to affect my future.

The second aspect to responding wisely is to make a plan to use what we have now in order to affect our future situation.  The man in this story takes advantage of the fact that he is still the manager.  He can use the authority that he still has to help those who buy from his master.  He plans to produce goodwill in their hearts towards him in hopes that they will help him later.  Now how can we use the things of our life within the time that we have left in order to please God?  This is the real question that Jesus expects us to think about.  What is your plan?  If it is to enjoy all the gifts God has given you for yourself, then you are in for a rude awakening when you stand before Him.

The third aspect to acting wisely is to diligently execute that plan throughout the time that you have left.  A plan is no good if we don’t start doing it and if we aren’t faithful to complete it.  It has been said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  We could say that in this case diligence is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  You have to start doing it and continue doing it.  Believers should pray, read the Word, and interact with one another with loving diligence because we know that these things are very real.  So Analyze your situation, Make a plan, and then do it.

The Instructions Of Our Lord

In verse 9-13 Jesus gives us some action items to work on.  So let’s look at them.  He first tells us to use our earthly possession to build eternal relationships.  Vs. 9 says, “make friends for yourselves.”  He is not just talking about friends for this life, but friends who will continue to be so in the life to come.  Eternal friends are those who are not just connected to our life, but also connected to our God.  Jesus says that if we were wise then we would use our earthly possessions to help others both in natural things and in spiritual things. 

Now we need to deal with the phrase “unrighteous mammon.”  Mammon is a term that means wealth and involves both possessions and money.  It is called unrighteous not because it is ill-gotten, but because of how it influences our heart and life.  Power has a corrupting influence on sinful hearts and don’t doubt that money and possessions are power.  In light of this directive of Jesus, we might ask the question, “How many people will rejoice when I enter heaven?”  We cannot fathom the age to come and how our relationships now might be important now.  However, I think the point of Jesus is not quite as pointed as that.  He is more focused on us acting wisely now and using the wealth we have to make eternal friends.

The second instruction our Lord gives us is to be faithful in the lesser things of this world.  In verse 10 Jesus calls the riches of this world, “the lesser things.”  People like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet may have great power because of the amount of money and wealth they have.  But no matter how much you have, it is still the lesser riches.  The true riches are those things that we receive from God that can never be taken away and destroyed.  The wealth of this world can be lost in a moment as the political and social tides storm their way over us.  But the brotherhood of believers is never lost even in the face of death.  Ours is a bond that cannot be taken by tyrants, criminals, nor devils.  The true riches starts with God’s love that we can share with Him and with one another.  Add to that the assurance we have of our salvation and future with God and His people.  On top of that we are promised a new glorified body that cannot be destroyed.  Such things cannot be taken away from us by this world.  Finally, in verse 12, Jesus promises that if we are faithful in the lesser things then we will be able to have “that which is our own.”  Simply put, Jesus looks ahead to the age to come and reveals that in that day God will give us things with which we can do anything we want.  But today we are in a relationship of managers and stewards.

The third instruction Jesus gives is to make sure your loyalties are with God and not your possessions.  Though we can think of selfish people as being their own master, in actuality they become a slave to their own flesh and its desires.  The truth is that those with great amounts of earthly possessions are often possessed by those very things.  When a person makes $12,000 a year they think to themselves, “If I only had $24,000.”  But when they make $24,000 they think, “If I only had $48,000.”  And the curse goes on.  It is never enough and we become more and more ruled by the fear of losing it.  This life is the proving ground of where our loyalties lie.  As much as God loves us, He will not bless rebels and fools at the Day of Judgment.  So how can I know if I am a slave to my possessions?  When I am always waiting until I have more to get serious about serving God with it, then I am a slave to it.  The widow put in her last coin because she was wise, not because she had money to spare.  She was not a slave to her money.  She mastered it because she was serving God with all her heart.  How am I using my money and possessions today to demonstrate that I serve God?  Don’t go away sad today.  Instead rejoice because you have received a great light that can deliver your soul from the corruption of the possessions of this world.

Wise or Foolish audio