6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.
— 1 Timothy 6:6 NLT
As more people in our society are finding out, we can be materially rich today and in poverty tomorrow. We need to learn to be content with just the basics; food, clothing, shelter. C H Spurgeon says that 95% of Christians fail the prosperity test and only 5% fail the poverty test. That is another way of saying what Paul is telling Timothy here. Money is neither good nor evil, that is determined by the use we make of the resources we have. While the world pursues monetary gain, we should be pursuing spiritual wisdom. It is important for us to remember that no matter who signs the paycheck, God is the source of all our wealth. He is the source of all of our blessings and provides every thing we need.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
3 This is the voice of one who calls out:“Prepare in the desert the way for the Lord.
Make a straight road in the dry lands for our God.
4 Every valley should be raised up, and every mountain and hill should be made flat. The rough ground should be made level, and the rugged ground should be made smooth.
5 Then the glory of the Lord will be shown, and all people together will see it. The Lord himself said these things.” — Isaiah 40:3-5 NCV
John the Baptist was chosen to be the “voice in the wilderness” calling out “prepare in the desert the way of the Lord”. John was the son of Zechairah, a priest who was chosen by lot to offer sacrifices at this particular time and Elizabeth, his wife, who was a cousin of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. To fulfill this prophecy, when John became an adult, he actually lived in the desert. He wore rough clothing and his diet consisted of locust and honey. God has not called all of us to subsist as John did. However, He has called all of us to “prepare in the desert the way for the Lord”. While John lived in an actual, natural, physical desert, we live in a spiritual desert which we call the world. John could only preach about repentance from sin and being baptized with water since the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent to stay on earth. He preached about the One coming that would change all of that, The One who could baptize with the Holy Spirit. Our message is that Jesus has come and that we must accept that truth along with the truth that He died for us so that we could be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Our message is that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord”. Whether you will do that or not is not a choice, you will do it. The choice is when will you do it? You can do it now and spend an eternity with Jesus in heaven or you can wait until the “the glory of the Lord is shown” and all the people still alive see it. But, if you wait until then, it will be too late and your eternity will be spent in hell, a place prepared for satan and his demons. Each day as we go about in this spiritual desert, are we daily calling out to others that “Jesus is coming back again, get ready by accepting Him as your Savior, let Him make your paths straight and your pathway smooth”
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.—Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV
Since we don’t actually see the angels and the demons surrounding us, it is hard for us to stay aware of the continuous battle going on around us everyday. But there are several examples of this in the Scriptures. The example in Daniel 10 involves at least two demonic princes and two angelic princes.
20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.–Daniel 10:20, 21 NIV
Just as Daniel was not physically involved in the battle, neither are we. Our battlefield is our mind. That is why our armor is not physical armor, it is invisible things that protect our thought patterns from being overwhelmed by evil. These weapons are truth, righteousness, readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. For us to be fully dressed in the armor God has provided for us takes time. It is not a piece of clothing that you can just throw in the corner and then grab when bad times come. It takes hours and hours of prayer, Bible study and meditation to get fully dressed. satan knows where the holes in our armor are. We must pray daily for the Holy Spirit to show us the holes and then spend whatever time it takes in prayer and Scripture study to mend those holes. While we reside in this old piece of decaying flesh, we will never be able to fill all the holes. That is why God has His angels encamped around us.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.—Psalm 34:7 NIV
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.–James 2:14-17 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
We know that we are saved “by grace through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast”. We also know that everything we receive while we are here on earth is a free gift from God. So, what is the purpose of “good works” and why are they important? Well, there are at least two good reasons and probably more it you want to break them down. The first is this; now, that we are Christians, Jesus is our example and He went about doing good works.
38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.–Acts 10:38 (NLT)
The second reason is this; doing good works here on earth is how we store our rewards or treasures in heaven.
20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.–Matt 6:20,21 (NLT)
If we do good works for these two reasons, it will keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus and our final reward of living an eternity with Him. If we focus on that, it will make the burdens lighter and we can walk the path with joy and thanksgiving in our hearts and a song of praise on our lips!
God is waiting to show you the Way.
1 My brothers and sisters, practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ by not favoring one person over another. 2 For example, two men come to your worship service. One man is wearing gold rings and fine clothes; the other man, who is poor, is wearing shabby clothes. 3 Suppose you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say to him, “Please have a seat.” But you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor at my feet.” 4 Aren’t you discriminating against people and using a corrupt standard to make judgments?
—James 2:1-4 (GW)
We must be careful not to make quick judgments and choices based on how someone looks or the price of the clothes they wear. God created each of us in His image and has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We must learn to look at people as God sees them.
7 But the Lord told Samuel, “Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart.”
–1 Samuel 16:7 (GW)
Of course, we can’t actually see into their hearts. So, what we must learn to do is withhold our opinions of them until we get to know them. Until then, we should not show favoritism to one person over another. We must also remember that whatever standards we use to judge and form our opinions of others are the same standards that will be used to judge us.
1 “Stop judging so that you will not be judged. 2 Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you.–Matt. 7:1,2 (GW)