A Year of Daily Devotionals: A Journal by Bill Berry … August, 2011
Blogger’s Note: As my wife and I cruise through the Mediterranean seas as I write this, we are surrounded by providential blessings and material well being; and it’s tempting to think that this is what life is all about. But having read ahead in John MacArthur’s convicting work in Strength for Today, I’m going to be (and you’ll be) kept under the watch care of Gods’ reminders about Whose it all is and that He’s in control of all of those things we often seek to have and hold on to. If you come along with me this month as I journal through August, you’ll get the same truth-filled lessons about money, things, and God’s providence in our lives. I know it’s going to be convicting and edifying for me; and maybe it will for you as well.
Passage of the Day: Matthew 6: 19 – 21 [focus on verse 21 – in bold and underlined below] … 19 [Jesus] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
My Journal for Today: I’ve been using John MacArthur’s Strength for Today as my devotional guide for several different years now; and I can recall the first three years going through and journaling my August entries, which focus on the “stuff” of life, … those things which can impede a deep and abiding relationship with Christ – “stuff” like money, materialism, and anything which we choose as idols in our life to replace God. So, if you’re reading my journal entries for these August devotionals, get ready to be stung by some tough teachings from Jesus and other New Testament authors, with John MacArthur and Bill Berry in the background. This may be challenging; but I can assure you, having gone through this venture more than once, these devotionals will help us all prioritize those elements of life which are important to God. So, let me get started.
The biblical teachings on materialism and money-handling can be very convicting for a Christian in a consumer-driven and wealth-based culture such as ours. And we begin today with THE Master’s teaching about Kingdom values from the Sermon on the Mount [and more specifically from the section in Matt. 6: 19 – 24], where Jesus refers, in context, to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees with regard to their dealings with money.
Jesus hits at the very core of the issue I’ll be dealing with this month in the highlighted (i.e., bold) verse above [Matt. 6: 21]; and that is the attitude of the heart when we’re dealing with earthly matters like money. Each time I read Jesus’ teaching in this verse, I’m reflexively drawn to Proverbs 23: 7 (in the NKJV), which reads, “As a man thinks, in his heart, so is he.” Both Jesus and Solomon are teaching what Paul taught in Rom. 12: 1 – 2, … that we must have a heart that is in a “living sacrifice” mode; and Paul, in Rom. 12: 2, clearly says what Solomon is saying in Prov. 23: 7 … that we must transform our hearts/minds to keep God as priority #1 [also read Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 6: 33].
Some have said that you can get the best picture of a man’s heart by looking at two things, … his calendar and his check book. Such an inventory would allow us to see how a man or woman prioritizes time and money; and these priorities reflect the priorities of his heart. Does the man, in question, have God’s kingdom values, or does he prioritize worldly/fleshly values? Take a look at your time/money priorities for the last 30 days. In doing so, how does God stack up this last month? Did the Lord get the first fruits of His providence [see Prov. 3: 9]?
We’ll be looking more at that and other life choices this month. So, together, let’s do inventory and see where God stands in our lives.
My Prayer Today: Lord, show me, more clearly than ever, how I should handle the stuff of life. Amen