The Hearse and the U-Haul

17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them. Psalm 49:17

You will never see the title of this devotional in real life. It’s an amusing image, but nobody takes anything larger than what fits in a box to the grave when they pass away. The wealthy and the poor are buried the same way: six feet under in a box that may or not be elaborately decorated. That’s it.

You can’t take it with you when you go” is as real today as it was when it was first spoken.

So then, why do the wealthy accumulate more and more, and even more puzzling, why do some of us seek to envy what they have? Both of those questions are impossible to answer because each person is different and has different motivations.

Since we can’t take it with us when we go, why then don’t we give ever spare nickel to feed the poor, provide for our missionary Brothers and Sisters, to the local church, and to causes greater than ourselves?

Again, only each of us can answer that individually. The question is, will we be willing to answer it honestly?

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A Prison?

16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases; Psalm 49:16

This verse could have been written today and for this generation. It’s quite easy in “middle class America” to envy those who acquire vast amounts of wealth. Forbes publishes lists of the world’s wealthiest every year. As economies grow, the number of millionaires also grow.

Consider this though:

  • do you have to worry about hackers targeting your accounts because of who you are
  • unscrupulous accountants siphoning off money from your accounts
  • state-of-the-art burglar alarms around your properties
  • hiring expensive body guards
  • “relatives” you’ve never met showing up at your doorstep
  • receiving loads of hate mail
  • an occasional random pie in the face
  • and never being able to enjoy a dinner out on the town because of being recognized?

Many – but not all – live in veritable prisons because of their wealth and fame.

I don’t write that to demean the wealthy but to ask us to take a look at what we have.

Are you satisfied with what you have? Do you crave more?

Instead of envying the wealthy, we really should be grateful for what we have and who we have to share it with. The United States is a very wealthy nation, where even the middle class are considered wealthy by the world’s standards.

Stop.

Appreciate what you have.

Learn to bless others with what you have even more than you are now.

Continue Reading A Prison?

Redemption Story

15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

The first verse of a hymn by Fanny Crosby assists us with this verse.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

We are, in fact, redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. I don’t think we fully understand what that means. Right now they are just words that we sing and say. Of course we know the theology behind it – and it is a glorious story of love and compassion of a merciful God, but what does it mean?

It means that man was full of sin. God had mercy on man by sending His Son to rescue him from his pathetic state. Nobody really knows why man was worthy of being saved or redeemed, but it obviously speaks more to God’s grace than man’s worthiness. The perfect Son spent 33 years on Earth as man but voluntarily gave it up for man’s behalf.

  • For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14:9
  • But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24
  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” Galatians 3:13
  • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

It’s still not clear why He redeemed us, but He did. It’s a gift from God to us. How do you get this gift?

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” Romans 10:9-10

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My Way

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions. Psalm 49:13-14

Many reading this will recognize the lyrics to the song below made popular by Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. The lyrics can be understood from a “self-made” man point of view or from an arrogant, conceited man viewpoint.

My Way.

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say – not in a shy way,
“Oh no, oh no not me,
I did it my way”.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows –
And did it my way!

Those words are powerful because they tell a story about a man who had it rough but worked his way to become successful. While nothing is said about what he accomplished, you get the feeling that, as the words say, “I planned each charted course; Each careful step along the byway.” He had purpose. He had resolve.

Of course it’s only a song. We know that. And yet millions could sing that song about themselves.

Or can they?

None of us live and work in a vacuum. None of us have accomplished anything on our own. There are the teachers, professors, fathers, mothers, uncles, friends, mentors, coaches and many others who encouraged us along the way. Many of them challenged our imaginations and helped us dream. Many of them could have seriously discouraged us in certain areas, which had a similar effect on us.

In the end, though, it was God who opened the doors, closed the doors, brought someone along, took someone out of the way, encouraged us with the Word of God and with kind loving friends who would chastise us when we strayed.

The older I get and the longer I walk with God, the more I see His hand in many phases of my life. I see his handiwork in my life and in those I’ve helped along the way.

Did I do it my way? Well, sort of, with a lot of help along the way.

Continue Reading My Way

We All Die

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish. Psalm 49:12

Yesterday the title of the Devotional was “They All Die.” Admittedly I realized the harshness of the title. It makes it an us/them scenario. Point of fact, we all die.

We’re a little sad when the rich and famous die. Why? Because of their fame and fortune. We feel we know them a bit, even though we really don’t. But the reality of it is, there are millions of people who make great contributions to society who will never become rich and famous. They will die too. Yes, we all die.

These are obvious statements that deserve our attention? Why? Because death affects all of us regardless of our differences.

I spoke with someone recently about what happens when we die. Her answer was that we just die and rot away. No soul. No heaven. No hell. Nothing. We just cease to exist.

You and I know that is utterly sad because it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Continue Reading We All Die