"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 12, 2009
Matthew 16:26 says, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Our pastor preached from this verse of scripture recently, and it's been on my mind ever since that time.
In our society and in this particular day and age, we are consistently hearing about failing economy and rising prices. We hear of individuals who have lost their jobs and families who are struggling to survive. We also have heard about the bailouts of banks and car manufacturers. Then there are those reports about the trillions of dollars of debt that our country has. From all media reports, you would think that everyone is in dire straits and our country is on the edge of collapse.
Then you turn around and read reports or see TV specials about multi-millionaires and billionaires. We recently saw a TV ad for a new show called, "How'd You Get So Rich?" Joan Rivers finds individuals of great wealth and asks them how they got all their money. Out of curiosity, Jon and I watched part of the first episode. You see people who have worked hard and had the right connections, or happened onto an idea that sold big, and now they're worth millions. They now own huge estates and own multiple expensive vehicles and are living extravagant lifestyles.
One evening there really was nothing on TV and we were channel surfing. We happened to catch a new series called "Shark Tank". There are four men and one woman who are self-made millionaires, and are willing to invest their own personal finances, if they are presented with the right opportunities. They are sitting in this room behind this huge table, and individuals who have business propositions come in and make their pitch, trying to get one or more of these millionaires to invest money into their business venture. They ask for a certain dollar amount and offer an investment return in exchange.
One particular gentleman came into the room, thinking that he had the perfect product that someone would jump at the chance to invest in. Come to find out, he had spent the last several years pouring all of his time and resources into this particular product. He had a wife and two kids to support and care for. Yet, he had two mortgages on his home and had spent all his kids college funds, and was now basically living hand to mouth. The panel of millionaires were a little brutal, but were also quite blunt and honest in telling him that his primary responsibility was to care for his family, and he hadn't been doing that; therefore, they wanted no part of his business venture. The product wasn't that great or inventive either.
Over and over again, you can read or hear of folks who will pour their lives into something; thinking that their idea or invention will gain them much wealth. They are so focused on notoriety and fame and wealth, that they neglect their own families. Their justification is that once they find the right outlet for their product, they will make their money back plus some, then they will be able to properly care for the needs of their family and all their worries will be over.
There are times when I'd like to have more money than what we have, but when I look at the rich and famous, I'm not convinced that their lives are satisfying and peaceful. They seem to always need to buy just one more thing, or upgrade to bigger and better homes and cars, or throw one lavish party after another, etc. It's as if they are never satisfied, and are always looking for that "one" thing that is going to make them feel fulfilled.
A while back, I heard a partial interview with a Hollywood star. She bought a million dollar estate well over a year ago, and has yet to move in. Ever since the purchase, she has continuously had on-going remodeling projects. Apparently, she will have work done, then change her mind and have things changed. I'm sure that she has more than likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for all the work and changes being done. All this money is wrapped up in something that she is not even living in and enjoying. My thought is, why would you invest over a million dollars into a home that you weren't happy with and wanted to completely redo before moving in?
It's easy to sit back and criticize those who needlessly and flippantly throw money away, because I've never been in that position, and more than likely never will be. Yet there are ways in which those without great wealth can be constantly focused on money or prestige.
For those of us who have struggled financially from time to time, it's easy to sit back and whine because of our empty bank account, when we're going through those periods of hardship. We consistently focus on our lack of money and try to figure out how we can get more. We seem to think if we only had more money that all our problems would magically disappear.
Sadly, there are way too many people who are more interested in making money and having wealth, than they are in their own souls. They put more time and attention into work and trying to juggle finances and buying "things" than they do in caring for their own spiritual welfare.
Jesus was speaking in Matthew and asked the question, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
We've all heard the saying, "You can't take it [your money] with you." So why are we so focused on it? Why is money so important to us? We can answer that money makes our life easier and more comfortable. But once we die, it's not going to do us any good. We can't buy our way into heaven. God isn't impressed with how much we own or how big our bank account is.
When you're gone, do you want people to remember you only for how much financial worth you had? People aren't going to walk by your casket and say, "Not there lies a rich man or woman!" At that time, it doesn't matter if you were the wealthiest person in the world. What matters is your soul. Our soul never dies, but will live for eternally. And it's how we live our life upon earth, if we honored God and accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, that will then matter.
Jesus also asked, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
In Genesis 25 we read the story of Esau and Jacob. Jacob cooked a pot of stew, and Esau came in from the field after a day's work, and he was weary. He asked Jacob for a bowl of stew. Jacob told Esau that he'd give him some if he'd sell his birthright to him. Esau said, "Look, I'm about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" So he sold his birthright to Jacob for some bread and stew.
Being the eldest son, he was entitled to inherit all that belonged to his father, Isaac, who was a wealthy man. Yet he sold it all to his brother for one meal.
We read that and think, "How stupid is that?!" Yet we do similar things with our soul. We don't take our spiritual life seriously, and play around with our relationship with God. We think, "God is loving and merciful, so He won't really send me to hell. As long as I do my best and try to be a good person, then He'll understand and let me into heaven." But the only time we really even consider our spiritual condition is if we have a health crisis, or something happens that scares us into thinking we could have died. When it really comes down to it, none of us wants to go to hell. But we also neglect keeping our heart right with God and living a life that is pleasing to Him. We want to do what pleases us, and think we'll have time before we actually die to take inventory of our soul and make sure it's ready to come face to face with God.
My Grandpa Horton died when I was ten years old. He was 75 at the time of his death. My aunt had taken my grandparents to the doctor and they had just arrived back home. I believe my aunt and Grandma were carrying some groceries into the house. Grandpa sat down on an old wooden church pew that they had sitting out in their front yard under a tree. More than likely, he was getting ready to roll some Prince Albert tobacco into a cigarette and smoke before going into the house. He fell over and was gone. When my aunt and grandma came out of the house, they found him. I don't know if he had any warning that something was happening, or if death came suddenly. He didn't have time to call our for help or give warning that something was wrong. In the blink of an eye, his eternity was right there.
What's really unique and special about this story is what had happened only a few months previous. Grandpa was a good, gentle man and attended church. He was soft-spoken and was very kind-hearted. He was a genuinely good person and was willing to do what he could to help others. He and Grandma would come up and help Mama and Daddy butcher chickens in the fall. He'd walk up to our house and visit my mom during the day. There was a man who lived between our houses who was a drunk and had some mental issues. But Grandpa would stop by and visit him regularly. My grandparents didn't own a car and either walked wherever they needed to go, or relied on someone to drive them. Grandpa was well liked and respected by all those who knew him.
As I said earlier, Grandpa would go to church. But he had never accepted Jesus into his heart and got saved. He was attending a revival at one of the community churches, only a few months prior to his death. During the invitation, the evangelist came back to where my grandpa was sitting and talked to him about his soul, and prayed with him and led him to the Lord. If Grandpa had never prayed that prayer and made that commitment to God, no matter how good a man he was, he wouldn't be in heaven today. That's not just my "religion" or point of view. That's very clearly what the Word of God declares.
You cannot exchange all the good works in the world for a pure soul.
May we all be made more aware of the value that our soul has. It has eternal value!! There is nothing in this world with that much worth. What an extraordinary thought! Our soul is the most valuable possession we have. What we do with it, and how we care for it, and prepare it for eternity is our own individual choice. Care for your soul and prepare it for eternity -- for it's the only thing that will truly last forever and ever and ever.......
I've often wondered what we will think of our lives looking back from eternity. How many of us would look back and wish we had taken the time to paint the church when it needed it, or cleaned the bathroom when we saw it was dirty? How many of us will see that we should have worked harder providing for our families and how many will see that we shouldn't have spent so much time at work?
I hope that I can look back at most of my life (at least the part since I gave my life over to God) and know that I invested that time wisely. And the best way to know this from this side of eternity, is to follow God's guidance. He's given me dreams to pursue, talents to follow those dreams, and family and friends who support me. I need to combine those and find the right path. I believe that if I put my energy into the dreams God has given me, it will be the right kind of profit.
1 can crescent rolls -- unroll and pat down in bottom of a baking pan for the crust
shredded hashbrowns (uncooked)
pork sausage (brown and drain the grease off)
mushrooms -- sliced
Any other toppings you desire: bacon, green peppers, etc.
In a bowl, whip up 5-6 eggs with 1-2 Tbsp. milk; pour over toppings. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with shredded cheese (I use cheddar).
Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until eggs are set and crust is browned.
I've heard of falling head over heels, but my sister recently took that saying literally. She and her husband were in Orlando, FL attending the General Council of the Assemblies of God. She was working as a sign language interpreter, and on Thursday had to attend a special service that honored ministers who had passed away in the past two years. Afterwards, she and another interpreter had to go to the conference center where the General Council was being held. A man who was with them paid for the two women to ride in a pedi-taxi, which is basically a bicycle that pulls a cart in which you sit.
My sister and the other woman were riding, and could feel the bicycle going faster and faster. They were going down the sidewalk, and the "driver" sped up as they got to an intersection. Next thing my sister knew, they had hit the side of an SUV and were flying through the air, end over end. My sister's only thought was, "I hope I don't land on top of the other woman!"
The pedi-taxi driver told someone that his bicycle brakes failed, but told the police that he had the light and the SUV went in front of him. The police said they would look at the video, from the camera at that intersection, to see what really happened. My response to that was, "So that means everyone at the Orlando PD can view the video of you flipping end over end through the air?!"
Now this wouldn't be funny if anyone was hurt; but other than a little stiffness, everyone was fine. My sister would really like to see the tape. And Jon and I would really like a copy to send to America's Funniest Home Videos or to post on You Tube! Actually, we probably wouldn't really do that -- would we?!
Happy is the man who is always reverent. But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:14
We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon