I am rich

Wealth in Wisdom

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge [and] discretion.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

Riches and honor [are] with me, Enduring riches and righteousness.

My fruit [is] better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver.

I traverse the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice,

That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.”

~Proverbs 8:12, 17-21, NKJV

How do I define rich?

I have head knowledge enough to know that it shouldn’t be money or stuff. But in practical, everyday life, I’m going to have to own that the barometer of wealth usually is the number in my account. Or the stuff that I get to buy. Or the toys I’ve accumulated. It’s almost cliché to say that I am rich in Christ—something that’s easily said, but not as simple to digest.

Proverbs eight is a soliloquy of wisdom. She calls out in the streets, inviting the prudent to inherit her wealth. And what is that wealth, exactly? Truth. Righteousness. Knowledge. Understanding. Discretion. Where did she get this treasury? Proverbs 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” From God Himself.

How does God define rich? Wisdom. And it is available, He invites us to seek it.

When you think ‘I am rich,’ what comes to mind—and does that idea extend beyond materials and circumstances?

 

I am rich

Persecuted and Rich

To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The First and the Last, the One who was dead and came to life, says: I know your tribulation and poverty, yet you are rich. … Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have tribulation for 10 days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.  The victor will never be harmed by the second death.” Rev. 2:8-11

In China, Christians are often arrested, thrown into prison and sometimes tortured.  In the Middle East, they are disowned by their families, sometimes killed. In West Africa, they can be ostracized from their communal society. In Nigeria, their churches are targets.

Most believers in the West have never tasted tribulation like these verses describe.  For now.  Will our faith hold, if one day we are held to the fire like so many of our siblings across the sea?

Jesus himself spoke these words to people who faced imprisonment, torture and death.  He reminded them that even if the government stole their houses and lands, even if it tore them from their children and families, they were rich.  It takes a mighty faith to believe that when one is homeless and sick, when one is lying on the slimy floor of a dungeon.  “I am wealthy beyond imagination.”

For those who endure to the end, Jesus promises the crown of life.  Imagine, stepping out of a prison cell into Heaven itself, trading the grey walls for golden streets.  Imagine a woman at the end of a whip, bleeding on the dusty ground of her village, arriving into the blinding light of God’s throne room and hearing the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

Then, truly, those persecuted and poverty stricken will see the riches they have longed for and trusted in – the riches of God’s presence and rest, a home with Him where they will weep no more.

I’ve not faced the suffering that persecuted believers endure, but that doesn’t mean I won’t.  And even if I don’t, these verses apply to me, too, to anyone who has given his or her life to Christ unreservedly, who is seeking His kingdom instead of worldly success.  Those of us who follow Jesus heart and soul have treasure in Heaven that no one can steal.

I am a wealthy woman, and no man can take that from me.

I am rich

I am Rich: A Joint Post

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9

From Susan

I’ve seen the outside of Buckingham Palace.  It’s dazzling. If the seat of such an earthly kingdom is so opulent, imagine the throne room of Heaven. That’s where Jesus belongs, enthroned above the heavens, rich beyond comprehension.  And yet, he left all that to step into human clothes, to be born in a stable and to walk the dusty roads of Earth without so much as a simple frame house to call his own.

Talk about culture shock. I mean, I thought moving from the United States to a third-world country was difficult.  What about moving from Heaven to Earth? Jesus became poor so that we, too, could enjoy the riches of heaven.   He died a criminal’s death on this sin-wracked planet so that I could become fabulously wealthy, a daughter of the King.

Paul penned these words  in an effort to persuade a wealthy church to share with a financially struggling one.  Why would he find it necessary to remind Christians with money about the poverty Jesus endured for them?

From Jen

Perhaps because earthly wealth is never enough. Never.

I was thinking this over on Sunday morning as I watched the Compassion promo video play. Running through my mind were the receipts of some recent purchases . . .

Clothing at Gordman’s – $82.00 (Like we need them. Our closets are packed.)

Lunch with my sister – $39.00

Easter gifts/shoes for my kids – $137.00

Plants for my gardening addiction – $62.00

Nothing wrong with spending a little. Nothing wrong with stuff, per se. But, although this all makes me look wealthy—which by 99% of the world’s standards, I am—it’s not what makes me rich.

Jesus became poor so that I would have an eternal inheritance. He also said that where ever my treasure is, my heart will be there with it. So, when it comes to opportunities to give, such as supporting a child in poverty for a mere $32.00 a month, I hear Paul reminding me, “Jesus gave everything so that you would be eternally rich. Can you not lay a little down to follow his example?”

What opportunities do you have right now to share your eternal inheritance? Is Jesus asking you to lay something down for someone else?

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

I Will Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. Psalm 23:5-6

Jen and I are both aspiring authors.  We’d love to write novels and see them published, and we’ve both done quite a bit of research as to what it takes to make that happen.  The most crucial element?  A great story.  And most literary agents will tell you that readers don’t want a downer of an ending. They want your characters to live “happily ever after.” 

I’ve struggled with that a bit, because it seems that more often than not, real life doesn’t hand out happy endings.  Too often, real people close their days with Alzheimer’s, cancer, tornados, and school shootings.  Too often, their last breaths are taken in the valley of the shadow of death.

But David didn’t end his psalm there.  He marched right out of that valley onto the hilltop of triumph. “God, you are going to give me a banquet right in front of my enemies, and they’ll have to watch me eat it.  You will give me so much good that my cup will run over.  I will live in your house forever – happily… ever… after.”

Surely, even in David’s day, the majority of folks didn’t party until the end of their lives.  I think David is looking further into the future than just this earthly life.  I think he was looking all the way into Heaven. There, finally, all believers will get their happy ending. There, quite literally, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

My parents recently moved into a retirement facility.  While they were trying to make the decision, they had to weigh their desire to stay in their own home against some health issues. My mom told my dad, “When I look down the road, I don’t see things getting better.”

My father smiled. “You aren’t looking far enough.”

May I be as far sighted as King David and my Daddy.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

The Comfort of Discipline

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You [are] with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4, NKJV

Many years ago a second cousin of mine sang ‘Daddy’s Hands’ to my great-grandfather at a family reunion. I’d never heard that song until that day, but after she sang it, the words stayed with me. Now, twenty-plus years later, I can still hear them—still sing them.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was crying.

Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.

Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle, but I’ve come to understand,

There was always love in Daddy’s hands. (Holly Dunn)

Walking through the valley doesn’t sound like fun, but the part that strikes me in this passage isn’t that dark place—it’s David’s source of comfort. God’s rod and staff. Instruments of discipline, but also instruments of protection.

This is such a powerful picture. Recently, my husband and I had to make a choice that affected our daughter. Her softball coach wanted to practice on Sunday afternoons. Now, we’re not legalists about the Sabbath, especially knowing that the Hebrew Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday, but there’s something sacred about that day. And when I sat down to really think about it, God’s command to take a Sabbath was, like so many of His other commands, a gift. Rest is a gift, not means of bondage.

God’s commands are like that rod and staff. Though often a source of discipline, they can be a means of protection, and as such, a source of comfort. And in either case, there’s always love in Daddy’s hands.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

He Leads Me ….

He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3, HCSB

I settled into the saddle, took up the reigns and held my breath.  My mule was about to step into the Grand Canyon, and the first bend we rounded caused me to cry out, “How beautiful!”  I couldn’t help myself.  The morning sun turned the red rock to fire, the depth was dizzying, the patterns amazing.  That canyon deserved praise.  To see it and not verbalize its beauty was unthinkable.

How much more does the creator of the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and Victoria Falls deserve our praise?  His name is worthy of anthems and orchestras and poetry.  And, just as I’d love to show you the splendor of the earthly places I’ve seen, God wants to display his own splendor to the people He created. He wants them to revel in His beauty and lift up His name.

And so, He does something that perhaps we don’t think about much when we read the 23rd Psalm.  He guides His sheep along paths that will glorify His name.

But sometimes, the sheep don’t like it much. We’d rather pick the paths that glorify our own names, or at least give us some comfort and luxury.  I mean, won’t a good shepherd want the best for fluffy little ‘ole bleating me?  He’ll guide me in the path of a nice, air-conditioned home, a lucrative job and excellent schools for my children, right?

Not necessarily.  Those aren’t His goals when he picks out my paths.  His goal is to bring glory to His own name. That means He may send this sheep to dirty, hot, hungry places to tell others about His love.  That means he may allow me to suffer in the short term so that my trust in His redemption so impresses those around me that they, too, glorify His name.

And, in the future, we will see that those sojourns on the difficult paths not only glorified God’s name, but also made us into stronger sheep.  And when we step into heaven, our reward awaits us – the reward of the Good Shepherd to his faithful flock.

So, choose my path, Faithful Father.  And guard me from complaining when it doesn’t suit my fancy.  Keep my eyes on You, not myself.  May Your name be glorified on every road my hooves walk.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

I Shall Not Want . . .

The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. ~Psalm 23:1-3a, NKJV

The aching of the soul is as real as it is undefined. Longing tugs hard, hunger rumbles long, and the void is ever felt. But when the good Shepherd adopts this hungry sheep, that starving little lamb is satisfied. He will not let my soul go forever unfulfilled. He will not leave me in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.

But what if I’m tired while in the hot, dry desert? Continue on, little sheep. There is a better place of rest. I will lead you there, I promise, and there you can lie in the lush quilt of green.

How about a drink here—I can smell the waters, hear them tumbling over boulders and down the mountain. Continue on, little sheep. It is not safe here.

But it’s water—it’s what I want. I know a better place. You will not go thirsty, and you will be safe.

The journey can be long and frustrating. Sometimes frightening. But the Good Shepherd, the one who adopted me, gave me a name, and guides my path, He will restore my soul. He did not call me only to leave me empty again. He shepherds me with love; I will follow Him all the days of my life.