Laying up Treasure in Heaven

Money, Thoughts
We closed last time with the idea that adopting a "send it on ahead" investment strategy for our finances is a matter of faith.  But is it safe to say it may be a matter of faith, but it is not necessarily a matter of obedience?  After all, isn't this revolutionary approach to financial planning just one of the choices among many that we are free to consider? Recall Jesus' summary statement regarding His Sermon on the Mount teaching about money, “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys" (Lk 12:33).  Later in the same gospel, Luke records this observation from our Master, “And [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich…
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“Send it on Ahead” Investing

Money, Thoughts
I am always a little nervous about books that identify Jesus' management style or put Jesus in the CEO chair.  While we should always run our companies by godly principles, Jesus did not come to earth to start a business.  He came to launch a kingdom.  But He did promote a financial investment strategy for His kingdom citizens.  I call "send it on ahead" investing.  And I asked last post why we don't see this strategy advertised, particularly in the Christian community, as much as traditional financial instruments. First, we are uncomfortable with the "send it on ahead" approach because the results are intangible.  We can't measure the rate of return on using money to "make friends that will welcome us into the eternal dwellings." (Lk 16:9).  At least, not in…
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A Revolutionary Investment Strategy

Money, Thoughts
Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mt 6:19-21).  Is there a specific way to “lay up treasure in heaven”? Jesus addressed this question a little later in His ministry with this story, “Now He was also saying to the disciples, ‘There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions.  And he called him and said to him, “What is this I hear about you?  Give an account of your stewardship, for you…
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Wealth with Wings

Money, Thoughts
The recent financial news in this country brings to mind these Proverbs, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.  When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.  For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens” (Pr 23:4-5).  Have you ever had a financial planner tell you that your wealth may sprout wings and fly away? OK, maybe that is covered in the disclaimer about risk.  But seriously, putting our trust in our money not only places an idol in God’s rightful place in our hearts, but it also is labeled as foolish throughout the Proverbs.  While it may not be our conscious motive, many of us plan our finances such that if God goes out of…
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Theological Systems

Apologetics, Holidays, Thoughts
I am a big fan of systematic theology.  God's story of redemption is epic in its sweep and fitting His words and works into that epic is both intellectually satisfying as well as pertinent to how we live.  Proper theology casts a long shadow in our lives, especially as we understand all that came to us through Christ in the new covenant.  But I am not a fan of theological systems. Our work, as theologians, is to prayerfully investigate the mysteries of God and explain such in an accessible format to our readers.  Accessible does not mean diminishing the grandeur.  It is more like being a bridge.  Just as many pastors are a bridge on Sunday morning taking the Word of God, recorded primarily in Greek, and making it accessible…
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Spiritual Amnesia

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Peter concludes his introduction to his second letter by commending the qualities of faith, virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love as of great value in leading a fruitful Christian life.  He then makes an interesting observation in verse 9 regarding those who lack these qualities.  What does Peter conclude?  Are they not working hard enough?  Do the slackers need more teaching, more education, more knowledge in regard to what God expects in the fruit department? Peter attributes their lack to spiritual amnesia.  Look with me at II Peter 1:9, "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins."  Our number one problem with sin is not the power of the flesh, not the still resident but mortally wounded…
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Faith, Love, and the Watching World

Faith is ..., Love is ..., Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
In II Peter chapter 1, the apostle highlights some of the qualities of the fruitful life with the bookends of faith and love.  We wrote about faith last time.  Today, we want to concentrate on love.  Some writers see the list of II Peter 1:5-7 as a progression, starting with faith and continuing step-by-step through virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  In this view, love is the ultimate goal.  Whether this list represents increasing maturity in the Christian life or not, we do know from the rest of the New Testament that love indeed is our highest goal. Jesus taught it in the two great commandments.  Paul taught it throughout his letters.  In the book of I Corinthians, Paul elevates love as the final answer to…
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Lacking Nothing

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
The apostle Peter introduces his second letter in the New Testament with these words of encouragement, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature." (II Pet 1:2-4). What does life look like for a "partaker (i.e. sharer) of the divine nature?"  Peter goes on in verses 5 through 7 to list the evident qualities of our spiritual life - faith, virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness,…
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The Kingdom Treasure

The Parables, Thoughts
Jesus spoke many other parables, the study of which leads to a rich understanding of His secret kingdom.  We will close with a short one.  “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.” (Mt 13:44).  Jesus presents the kingdom of heaven as something of great value and our positive response to His offer brings tremendous joy to both us and the king.  In fact, the treasure of citizenship in His kingdom is so valuable that we “sell all that we have” to join in.  What does it mean to “sell all that we have?”  It means to consider the cost of joining…
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