“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13) “Remember Lot’s wife! If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Mark 8:34-38, Luke 17:32) “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man exchange for his soul?”
We have all seen it; someone who has sold himself/herself for fame and fortune, only to find themselves on the front cover of an obscure magazine bankrupt and alone. We push our carts forward, focusing on checking out, never contemplating that could have been me? Do you store for yourselves a palace, full of riches that will either rust or moths can destroy? Your mind may say, “I won’t have that life Nicole; that’s not the life I lead.” Our hearts and minds are so deceived. We pity the ones splashed on the sleek covers of those check-out stand magazines, never really thinking we could be in the same situation given the opportunity. We all have “Lot’s wife” in us.
The Lord told Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
How I wish we could all experience the devastating affects of “having it all” then losing it. It sounds harsh for me to say, but having gone through the disastrous consequences of not saving, living paycheck to paycheck, and using credit for gain, it was a valuable learning experience. I too hoarded myself treasures of “stuff”. I enjoyed the feel of soft silk on my skin. I longed for the wind whipping my hair as rode the speed boat through the Florida inner-coastal. I relished in purchasing First Class so I too could relax after a long, stressful vacation. Yes, rust and moths knew no bounds in my life.
When our million dollar home was foreclosed on, our family filed for bankruptcy and moved out of the state of Florida, it was challenging to say the least. I too as Mrs. Lot wanted to look back and grab the world, my stuff, my life, and my pride. God has used the last five years as a teaching tool of what is important and what is not. With a bank account of -$19 dollars, it was impossible to eat out or shop for those frivolous things. Having sold Rolex watches to make our monthly bills, jewelry as an advance on moving back to Florida and cashing in change from an old water jug to pay our grocery bill, the Lord has humbled Tommy and me to appreciate the simple, necessities in life.
Today, we tithe our money; we bless others with the things we have and opened a savings account for those “just in case” moments. During those last few years, watching others on their vacations, buying clothes and toys for their kids, wishing we too could experience a weekend of pleasure was breaking the spirit of covet-ness, jealousy and anger. Tommy at times felt as if he did not measure up to the man he once was and I embarrassed, for I could not compete with a well-to-do “SoFlo” (South Florida) mom.
These are “wilderness” situations where we as Christians draw very close to the Lord. These are the “dry deserts” where we cry out seeking answers, fist angrily commanding justice as to why this is happening to me. When our throats are dry and parched, demands crumble to the floor into tears and hearts cry out, “I can’t do this!” This is when God will gently answer.
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13). When our ranting subsides, our screams of frustrations of losing it all, usually from our own folly, and our cries and sadness still, the voice of the Lord will speak.
Having to rely on the Lord to pay our bills, pay for the kids to attend school, gas, and grocery bills, God becomes very real, personal, and needed. If I had not gone through those years, even today aware of what we are using our money for, I am not sure how close I would be to the Lord. He provided in ways Tommy and I never imagined and through people who we never thought could be used. Tommy is conscious of the ones who can not make ends meet, offering to pay mortgages or bills to those who struggle in this economy; for it was not long ago where our family accepted money from a dear friend who has always been there for us.
Lot’s wife appeared to have it all: status, monetary treasure, and a prominent position in the community. Immersing herself in a depraved culture, she sold herself for pleasure. So extreme and entrenched was her love for her life, as the destruction engulfed her belongings, her status, her treasure, and her position, worldly longing takes one last look for goodbye. Sadly this look was her last.
God in His great mercy had given her every opportunity to change: heavenly angels offered a chance escape, she witnessed the ungodly supernaturally blinded, God’s mercy to save her daughters from disgrace, hearing the horrifying devastation of screams, fire and destruction. Amazingly, this woman’s heart, so saturated with the world, had to take one last look. Deception can not hear warning, nor receive the mercy God gives daily. Our society is no different now.
God’s mercy is alive a well in the world. We have more Christian television, Christian radio, books, devotions, churches, revivals, and outreaches with many who want nothing to do with the Lord. Their heart is blindly saturated and hard hearted. Woman, we need to ask our selves some questions. Am I entrenched in the world? Could I give up anything God asked me to? Could I give up television? Would I give my priced possessions to those in need if the Lord prompted my heart to? If you looked around your house, your backyard, your closet, your bank account, where does your heart lie? Could you obediently let it go if God asked you? If not, then ask yourself why?
Let’s be honest; transparent. Would you respond with, “I like my money.” “I like my ‘toys’”. “I like to sit on my comfy couch, in my comfy house, with comfy nightly shows.” “I like these clothes and receive, soak in, embed in my brain all the wonderful comments I get when I wear them.” “I like my jewelry and wear it as a tell tale sign of my status of money.” “I like do drive my nice, expensive car as I watch others look with longing, wishing they could have what I have.” Are we being honest? If you can not give up whatever the Lord asks you to give up, then there is a problem.
When Jesus looked at the rich young man who asked what he needed to do to follow him, Christ said, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)
Sadly this young man was unable to do it. I love our Lord who does not care if we are offended, can look in to our hearts, and see where we lack. Do you lack in hoarding your stuff, all for your little lonesome self or do you generously give to others? Selling all of the young man’s possession never meant the Lord would not bless his life again with riches; maybe the Lord would bless him when he would be able to handle it, as in let all of the treasure go when ever called to do so. This is how we know when our hearts are “set free”! Can you ask yourself these questions and are truthful with your answers?
Ten years ago, if I had asked myself these questions, I would have been as the young ruler unable to let go, head hung low, walking away. Today I can say, Lord, whatever is mine, is yours; your will be done. I never want to perish for lack of knowledge.
Let us pray out loud and CONFESS the Word of the Living God; a prayer to let go of worldly possessions and give what we have to the Lord
Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord is Conqueror,
Jesus of Nazareth said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13) I do not want to serve two masters, but one. Help me to pick up my cross daily and follow you, not the world’s desires or things my flesh may covet.
I want to desire the things of the Lord, filled with the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. My heart does not want to saturate my life or my family’s life with the ways of the world. “Show me your ways Lord, teach me your paths; guide my in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me for you are good, Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs the sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant.” (Psalm 25:4-10) I desire Truth in my inner being, help me to not desire money for I know as the Apostle Paul exhorted, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) “But you man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteous, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
I do not want to be as Lot’s wife, unable to let go of the world, but instead a disciple of Christ, listening for my Shepherd, His still small voice in green pastures and living waters (Psalm 23:1) Thank you Lord for mercy, your love and your forgiveness. Wash me clean and I will be whiter than snow, create in me a pure heart, a steadfast spirit, not a hard, deceptive heart in tuned to the world (Psalm 51:10). In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, amen.