Calvinism TULIP

https://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm

There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism. Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500’s at the time of Martin Luther who sparked the Reformation.

The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples’ sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation).

Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.

Total Depravity:

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.

The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”

Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

Unconditional Election:
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

Limited Atonement:
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

Irresistible Grace:
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy“; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.
鄭ll that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” (John 6:37).

Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.

Who loves them more?

NiallR from Reddit writes:

When I became a Christian I was in a similar position, in that none of my family were Christians. So I did all the things you’ve suggested – I prayed, I talked at every opportunity, I left tracts around the house and so on. And nothing happened.

So I start giving God grief, “Heh! I love my family. I’m praying, witnessing, doing all I can. Why haven’t You saved them.” Those weren’t the exact words, but that was certainly the gist of it: “God, I’m doing my bit, You don’t seem to be doing Yours.”

The Lord stopped me with a simple sentence. It was a sentence that gave me both peace and reassurance. And, as so often in the ministry of Jesus, the sentence was a question. He said, “Who loves them more?” Well that certainly stopped me in my tracks and put it into perspective. Yes, I love my family; but God sent Jesus to die for my family. Who loves them more? He does.

So I carried on with the praying and the witnessing, but without the pressure that, “I’ve got to get them converted or they’ll go to hell.” Which is very common – and understandable – amongst new Christians. One by one, over many years, my immediate family came to Christ.

My suggestion is to do whatever seems right to you, but without any pressure on you or them, without any sense of panic about them dying before they convert and so on; and always remembering, especially in the face of little apparent progress, “Who loves them more?”

God bless you

Let us Rejoice in Sufferings! The Gospel of Suffering

[Romans 8:17] – “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Suffering on Earth (especially for Jesus namesake) has a direct affect on our glorification! The more suffering, the higher degree of glorification!

[Romans 5:3-10] – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

[James 1:2-4] – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

[Romans 8:18] – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

[1 Peter 4:12-19] – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/suffering

https://web.archive.org/web/20170918191811/https://www.openbible.info/topics/suffering

https://archive.is/mkyOA

The Gospel

John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Step 1. Recognize yourself as a sinner

Have you ever….

  1.      Put anything above God?
  2.      Taken the Lord’s name in vain?
  3.      Dishonored your father or mother?
  4.      Murdered someone?

[1 John 3:15] – Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

  1.      Committed adultery?

[Matthew 5:28] – But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  1.      Stolen? No matter how small.
  2.      Lied?
  3.      Covet your neighbor’s things?

If you are guilty of any of the above, then you are a sinner!

Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

Step 2. Realize that your sin separates you from God

Romans 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord

Isaiah 59:2, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

Because God is a Holy God, sin stains our soul and separates us from God. God cannot allow sin to enter into heaven. In order for us to be able to enter into heaven, our sin must be paid for.

Step 3. Jesus paid the price for our sin

If we make Jesus our Lord, then he paid for your sin on the cross. All you have to do is believe that he did it for you, and that you are his treasured purchased possession. There is no work you can do to earn heaven, only faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection saves.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

Romans 6:23, “But the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

Romans 5:6-8 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

When you become a Christ believer, your sin is put to death on the cross, and remembered by God no more.

Micah 7:19, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

If we accept what Jesus has done for us, than our sin is put to death on the cross, and we are free to enter heaven! Jesus paid the price and made us his own.

What if you don’t accept what Jesus has done for you?

Then you will pay for your own sins for all eternity, in hell.

Hebrews 10:31: It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Romans 1-20: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

How do you accept what Jesus has done for you?

Repeat this prayer, and believe it.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.”

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Then what?

I encourage you to find a local bible believing Church that feels like home to you. I would encourage you to talk to the Pastor as a new believer and he should be able to guide you on the right path.

If you accepted Jesus as Lord, you’re on your way to an incredible adventure that never ends!

Don’t worry about money

[Matthew 6:33] – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

God wants our hearts, and to not have idols. In the modern western world, money is THE IDOL in the hearts of men, whether they be rich or poor, or somewhere in the middle.

I can hear people lament, “If only I had money for this or for that.” Yes, it’s nice to be not poor, but even the poor get a special blessing from God by promising the Kingdom!

[Luke 6:20] – Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Furthermore, the more wealth you acquire, the more God expects you to use it wisely and for beneficial purposes.

[Luke 24:48] NLT – But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

There were 2 rich men in the bible, one who was saved, and one who wasn’t. The one who was saved was willing to be more financially honest and not depend on his wealth, giving a great sum of it away. As an extreme example, there was the Rich Man who didn’t care about anyone but himself, and therefore earned hell.

[Luke 19:6-9] –

So Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Him joyfully. And all who saw this began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinful man!”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Yes, God doesn’t want us to worry about money! In fact, he doesn’t want us to worry about anything, at all!

[Matthew 6:25-34]

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So don’t make your goal in life serving money, saying to yourself, “How rich can I make myself!” For you cannot serve both money and God. If your blessings from God overflow, instead use that money for the poor, or a good cause, and get imperishable treasures in heaven!
Recommended book: The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn

Don’t worry about money

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-60-how-solve-worries-about-money-luke-1222-34

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith observed, “Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man’s greatest source of joy—and with death as his greatest source of anxiety” (Reader’s Digest [4/84], p. 93).

Most of us are prone to worry about money. If we don’t have enough, we worry about how to get it; if we have plenty, we worry about whether we really have enough and about how to hang on to what we have. Worry has been described as “a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained” (Arthur Somers Roche, in Reader’s Digest [6/88], p. 64). Worries about money can easily become that kind of deep channel.

Jesus wants His followers to be free from worries about money. He has just been speaking to the crowd about the dangers of greed and living for this world without a view to eternity. Now, He speaks to His disciples, who were perhaps feeling anxious about whether they would have enough to live on. He shows them that anxiety is opposed to trust in God, who lovingly cares for His own. He also shows that to go to the other extreme and pursue riches is at odds with seeking God’s kingdom. He is teaching us that …

To solve worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us and seek His kingdom above our own needs.

The world sings, “Don’t worry, be happy,” but it has no basis for such advice other than blind optimism. But the Christian can and should sing, “Don’t worry, trust God.” This is far from blind optimism, because it is based solidly on the nature and character of God and His many promises to us. Thus Jesus tells us,

1. To solve our worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us (12:22-28).

The old King James Version translated Jesus’ command in verse 22, “Take no thought,” which some have mistakenly taken to mean that we should not devote any mental effort or time or energy into providing for our future needs. These people would say that we should not store up any savings for the future, we should not buy insurance, we should not concern ourselves at all with money matters. Just trust God and He will provide.

But in 1611 when the King James Bible was translated, the phrase, “take no thought,” meant, “don’t worry” or be anxious. The Lord was not encouraging a lazy, who-cares attitude about money. In fact, Scripture enjoins us to pay attention to financial matters (Prov. 27:23-24). While God provides for the birds, He doesn’t plop the worms in their mouths as they sit in their nests! They have to exert some effort to obtain the worms that God has provided. So here Jesus was speaking against inordinate, consuming, distracting worry. The Greek word has the basic meaning of being divided. It is the word used when Jesus rebuked Martha, “You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one” (Luke 10:41-42). Here, Jesus gives us four reasons why we should not worry about money:

A. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE THE CORE OF LIFE CONCERNS THE SOUL, NOT THE BODY (12:22-23).

“Life is more than food, and the body than clothing.” Jesus is saying that the key thing in life is not things. And, Jesus is not just talking about trinkets and non-essentials, but rather, about necessary food and clothing. But even these things are not the key thing in life. The key thing in life is being rightly related to God. If your soul is rightly related to God, then He will take care of your body, as Jesus goes on to point out. But if you have a well-fed and nicely clothed body, but you are alienated from God, you are missing the main thing in life.

So, in effect, Jesus is saying, “If you want to worry, worry about the most important matter in life.” Food and clothing should not be your main worry. Your eternal soul should be your main concern. If someone says, “Yes, but I’m going to starve to death,” Jesus replies, “But where will your soul spend eternity?” “But I’ll freeze to death because I don’t have proper clothing!” “Yes, but then you’ll be too hot, if you’re not rightly related to God!” Don’t worry about money, because the core of life concerns the soul, not the body.

B. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE GOD CARES FOR US MORE THAN HE CARES FOR THE RAVENS, WHOSE NEEDS HE MEETS (12:24).

This is the only New Testament reference to ravens. Some think that Jesus mentions them because they were unclean birds, so that His argument is, “If God cares for these lowest of scavengers, won’t He meet your needs?” When Jesus mentions that the ravens neither sow nor reap, nor store up their food, He does not mean that men should not labor for their food or that they should not store up necessary provisions. God’s Word clearly establishes labor as the means by which we provide for our families and ourselves. Rather, He is contrasting the lowly raven with the rich fool in the parable just before. This man was wrongly focused on storing up plenty for the future, but he stupidly ignored God. By way of contrast, the raven gets along just fine without all of the rich fool’s anxiety about the future, because God cares for the ravens.

Then Jesus uses understatement to say, “How much more valuable you are than the birds!” Human beings are the apex of God’s creation, made in His image and likeness. Is it not reasonable to assume that if God cares for the lowly raven, then He will care for people, especially for those who are His own little flock (12:32)? The next time you see a raven, think about God’s care for those birds. You’ve never seen a starving raven! Even in the barren desert, they find plenty to eat. Then, banish your worries about money as you realize that God cares far more about you than He does about ravens. You can trust Him to provide.

C. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE WORRY DOESN’T DO ANY GOOD ANYWAY (12:25-26).

Jesus points out the futility of worry. It never changes reality. If you worry, the outcome is the same as if you don’t worry. Actually, the outcome is worse because worry takes a toll on your health. But Jesus says that worrying won’t add any years to your life. Commentators are divided over whether He meant adding height to your bodily stature or years to your life. The cubit was a unit of linear measure, which supports the view that Jesus meant that you can’t grow physically by worrying about it. But, the cubit was about 18 inches, which isn’t a little thing when it comes to bodily height (12:26)! Since Jesus just talked about the rich fool whose life span was not his to determine, He probably meant here, “You can’t add any time to your life by worrying about it.”

It has been estimated that 40 percent of our worries are about things that never happen; 30 percent of our worries concern things that are past that can’t be changed; 12 percent of our worries are needless worries about our health; 10 percent are petty, miscellaneous worries; and, only 8 percent deal with legitimate issues. It’s not wrong to think about things that we can do something to change, but it is futile to consume our thoughts with matters that we can’t change. Someone has observed that we need to distinguish between problems and facts of life. Problems are matters that we can do something about. Facts of life are matters that we can’t change and so we have to live with them. But in either case, worry isn’t productive and it runs counter to faith in God.

D. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE WE SHOULD TRUST IN GOD WHO CARES FOR US MORE THAN HE DOES THE FLOWERS OF THE FIELD (12:27-28).

“Lilies” probably refers to different kinds of wildflowers, not to what we think of as “lilies.” Consider the beauty and delicacy of a wildflower! Last week Marla and I hiked down to Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon. In that harsh desert environment there was a cactus with a beautiful bright reddish purple flower. It was spectacular! Not even Solomon in all his glory could match the beauty of a single wildflower! If God clothes the insignificant grass of the field with beautiful flowers, grass that was bundled up when dead and used to fuel a furnace, then shouldn’t we trust Him to provide the clothing that we need?

Jesus’ rebuke, “O men of little faith,” hits the heart of worry: our little faith in God. It is safe to say, is it not, that all worry stems from our lack of faith in God? When we worry, we are doubting that God truly cares for us. Keep in mind that Jesus here was addressing the disciples. He was talking to believers. And yet, believers who have trusted God with their eternal destiny can easily fall into a state of unbelief when it comes to the immediate problems they face, especially with regard to basic provisions. We all need to keep in mind Paul’s words, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). In other words, if God did the greatest thing in saving us, can’t we trust Him to take care of comparatively lesser matters on our behalf?

The worst thing about worry is not that it makes us miserable, although it always does. The worst thing about worry is that it dishonors our loving Heavenly Father. Suppose that you saw my kids and they had worry written all over their faces. You asked, “What’s wrong?” They responded, “We’re not sure whether our dad is going to feed us tonight.” What would that say about my love for my children? You’d probably turn me in for child abuse. My kids certainly would not be a good advertisement for any orphans who were thinking about coming to live in our home! And yet so many of the Lord’s children live as if their Father in heaven either isn’t concerned or isn’t able to take care of their needs!

Thus Jesus’ first point is that to solve our worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us. His second point concerns a needed shift of focus on our part:

2. To solve our worries about money, we must seek for God’s kingdom above our own needs (12:29-34).

This section falls into two parts. First Jesus tells us what we should not seek (12:29-30); then, He tells us what we should seek (12:31-34).

A. WE SHOULD STOP WORRYING ABOUT OUR BASIC NEEDS, BECAUSE TO WORRY IS TO MIMIC THE WORLD AND GOD KNOWS THAT WE NEED THESE THINGS (12:29-30).

When Jesus says not to seek after what you shall eat and drink, He does not mean that we are not to expend any effort or energy in working for a living! Rather, He means, “Don’t be all-consumed with these things. Don’t make these things your main aim in life.” He’s talking about where our primary focus should be. He commands us, “Do not keep worrying,” using a different word than in verse 22. The word here means to be lifted up and so some take it to mean, “Do not be arrogant or haughty,” in the sense of thinking that you can provide these things without God’s help. But the earliest versions of the New Testament and the context argue for the meaning, “Don’t be lifted up or tossed about, like a ship on the water.” In other words, “Don’t be unsettled and insecure; stop worrying about these things, since God will take care of you.”

Jesus says that when we’re consumed with making a living, we’re mimicking the world. The world lives in a constant frenzy of activity to get more and more. This should not be our focus.

I recently read that illustrates the world’s ways of seeking after more and more. An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said that he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play my guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then to L.A. and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

The American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce a stock offer, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings, where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Jesus says, “Don’t seek for the same things the nations eagerly seek.” There should be a distinct difference between us and the world regarding our pursuit of material gain. While hard work is a Christian virtue, anxiety about money is not! To get caught up with the world’s attitudes toward money is to forget that we have a Father who knows that we need all these things. So, what should we seek?

B. WE SHOULD SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF OUR BASIC NEEDS (12:31-34).

Jesus gives a command (v. 31a), an assurance (vv. 31a-32), an application (v. 33), and an explanation (v. 34).

         Command: Seek God’s kingdom (12:31a).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed it, “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). What does it mean in practical terms to seek God’s kingdom? Does it mean that everyone has to become a missionary or full-time Christian worker? Obviously, not! God’s kingdom is where He rules. To seek His kingdom means to put God first as Lord of everything in our lives and to aim each day at furthering His rule over us and over others. The day is soon coming when Jesus will return and rule the nations with a rod of iron. But until then, we are to live under His lordship in every area of our lives. And we are to seek to further His rightful rule over others as they come to faith in Christ and then live under His lordship.

In other words, God is not just to be a slice of life on Sundays or whenever we find Him useful to further our agendas. Rather, He is to be the center of all we think, say, and do every day. He is Lord over every facet of our lives, including our money. We live as His servants or stewards, seeking to glorify Him. That’s what it means to seek His kingdom.

         Assurance: The Father will provide for all our needs if we focus on His kingdom (12:31a-32).

“These things” refers to the things the nations seek, namely, food, clothing, and other material needs. The thought of not seeking after these things, but rather of seeking God’s kingdom, causes some anxiety, even among God’s people. Thus Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” A little flock sounds pretty vulnerable in the midst of a dog-eat-dog world. But Jesus wants us to feel assured that none other than a loving Heavenly Father is watching out for us if we are committed to seek His kingdom. The full measure of kingdom blessings awaits us in the future, but even in the difficulties of this evil world, we can trust that the Father’s abundant mercies are on us because of His gracious choice of us.

         Application: Give generously and you will have lasting treasure in heaven (12:33).

Jesus does not mean that we must literally sell everything we have and give away the proceeds. The Bible implies the right to private ownership of property in the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal.” Peter told Ananias that his property was his to do with as he saw fit (Acts 5:4). Ananias’ sin was not in holding back some of the proceeds, but in lying about giving all when he had not done so. Further, if Jesus meant that His followers must sell all their possessions, surely He would have rebuked those who owned homes, lands, etc., but He did not.

Rather, Jesus here is saying, “Have a loose grip on the things of this world, since they won’t last anyway. Instead, be generous in giving to those in need, and God will reward you with lasting riches in heaven.” The contrast is between storing up temporary treasure for yourself on earth (12:21) instead of laying up eternal treasures in heaven. If you struggle with greed and with living for this life only, give away your stuff. Giving generously frees us from greed and puts our focus on God and eternity. Verse 34 explains:

         Explanation: Your heart follows your treasure (12:34).

We usually get this backwards: we think that we will put our treasure where our hearts are. But Jesus says that if we put our treasure somewhere, our hearts will be there also. Store your treasure in heaven by giving generously to the Lord’s kingdom and your heart will be drawn to heaven. Hang on to your earthly possessions greedily and your heart will be on this earth.

I have seen this work with regard to prayer. If I give money to a missionary, it’s easier to pray for him. Why? Because my heart follows my treasure. If my treasure is with a missionary, my heart is there with him, too, and I find it easier to pray for him. So Jesus’ point is, if you want your heart in the things of God, put your treasure in the kingdom of God. It’s the only investment in this shaky world with guaranteed safety and a high rate of return.

Conclusion

Underlying the Lord’s teaching and central to a biblical concept of money is the principle of stewardship. We do not own what we have; God does! He entrusts a certain amount to each of us to use for His purposes. Some of it He graciously allows us to spend for our needs and for our enjoyment. But our main focus must be, “Lord, help me to use what You have given me to further Your kingdom.”

Stewardship frees us from worry. Once when I was in the Coast Guard, we put out a fire on Frank Sinatra’s yacht. I remember talking to the skipper and being surprised at how nonchalant he was about the great amount of damage done to the boat. He said, “It’s not my boat, it’s Mr. Sinatra’s boat.” Of course it was also insured. But he was somewhat detached from the loss because he didn’t view the boat as his own. Since then, when my car has gotten dented in a parking lot or when other things beyond my control happen to my money or possessions, I say, “Lord, it’s Your car, Your money, Your stuff.” I’m trying to be a good steward, but it doesn’t belong to me.

So Jesus is saying, “Don’t worry about money. Trust in the God who cares for you and seek His kingdom above your own needs.” The Father will be glorified and you will have unfailing treasure in heaven.

Coming back into God’s Grace

When we sin, sometimes God disciplines us by being farther away from us, letting us feel the pangs of depression and isolation as a punishment for a particular sin. We have 2 ways to respond to this (actually 3, but I don’t consider running away from God an option), 1) wait it out, or 2) run towards God. While you can wait it out and eventually you may feel better, I feel the better option is to run towards God, and he will run towards you! You can do this by a couple of ways

  1. Praising God through words or singing
  2. Reading the bible
  3. Be involved in Church related activities
  4. Connect to a Christian friend, reveal your sin to him and have him pray over you. If done with multiple friends, I found the effect is quicker, God lets go quicker and you are back into the feeling of his grace

God’s greatest gift to us is himself, the holy Spirit, and Jesus. I feel that we are either in or out of God’s grace, and personally I feel a difference. Without God’s grace, the depression runs deeper and I feel more isolated. In God’s grace, I feel the spirit of living water well within me. Of course, you can wait it out, because I believe God doesn’t hold long term grudges, but what he really wants if for you to run back toward him and repenting fully.

The good news is, God’s grace is unfathomably deep, there is plenty of it to go around for everyone.