February 28 – Today’s Readings – Luke 5-6 and Psalms 58-60
As you read in the Gospels, have you noticed how many times Jesus went off by himself to pray? Prayer really does require time ALONE or SHUT IN with God. It’s very difficult to focus spiritually when people, work, and responsibilities all clamor for our time and attention. Somehow we need to carve out some intimate prayer time with Jesus! Aside from going to Sunday morning church my very best prayer and times take place when when I get a an hour or two of uninterrupted time with the Lord in a prayer service. These moments give me opportunity to really talk to the Lord about everything and listen as He speaks to my heart.
Today I was thinking about verses 24-26 of Chapter 6. It seems, on the surface, that Jesus was pronouncing doom and gloom on anyone who had money, ate a good diet, enjoyed life, and had a good reputation. Wait a minute – that’s me! Maybe He was actually talking about those who were rich in themselves, having no regard for the poor or the Church and for not surrendering any wealth to God for His purposes. Could it be that He was referring to those who perceive themselves as having no need, having no thirst for the things of God and not wanting to partake fully in Jesus?
I believe that those who want to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” are completely different from those who have been forgiven, have the joy of the Lord and live every day in His goodness. Jesus was obviously referring to those who seek worldly popularity – the life of the drunken party – the shallow “movie star” – but – have not made peace with God and have not been “born again”. Outsiders should be able to observe our lives then glorify God because of our good works and lifestyle. They should acknowledge the good reputation of an upright Christian. Will they always speak well of us? Of course not – some people just plain hate Jesus.
Scripture says “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8) – sing, shout, dance for joy in the Lord – seek to live such good lives so that sinners would see you as a living gospel. There is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves as saints of God. Do we really believe that heaven will be a sad place? The Lord’s admonition and rebuke in this passage has nothing to do with our joy – joy is a fruit of God’s presence. It has nothing to do with wealth – God distributes wealth without measure. It is also not about people speaking well of us because if the Spirit of God is drawing them, they will be very attracted to us. No, Jesus’ harsh words has everything to do with whether we have received the forgiveness of God and whether we have been made new in the power of the Holy Spirit. Once we belong to Christ we will have ups and downs in this world but life abundant is our mainstay in the Lord.
1. Have you ever felt wrongly condemned just because you had more “abundance” than some other person you know?
2. Is there any instance where we should be concerned about our “abundance”?