The human brain has an amazing capability to store millions of bits of information. This information/data is kept in perfect order and ready to recall when needed. Back in my primary school years, I remember once memorising a big chunk of my notebook and recalling it in my mind during an examination. I was able to pick out exactly what I needed from that note in mind so to answer all the exam questions perfectly. Our God-given ability to memorise is something to be marvelled at. But also, the human brain is very capable (whether deliberately or involuntarily) of forgetting. Consciously or unconsciously, we forget things. That’s the way the human mind works.
It is often the case that whenever something is too unpleasant, too shameful for us to entertain, we erase it from our memories. But perhaps, the imprint is always there. Nevertheless, we all remember what is important to us. Having dealt with the Israelites, God knows how fickle our memories can be and how we tend to forget things that can be very important to Him. I think this is Probably, why one of the most repeated words throughout the scripture is the word, – “Remember!” God wants us to remember what is important to him. Again and again, Scripture reminds us not to get so comfortable in man’s city that we lose sight of our eternal destination.
I’ve never seen anyone go into a train station and camp there for the rest of their natural life or get on a train for the sole purpose of living on it. But so many Christians are doing just that, camping at a train station not realising that there is a destination. Where a person is going to spend his or her eternity is far more important than where they are going to spend their next few years of life. As believers, we may be in this world, but we are not of it. Our citizenship truly is in heaven. The train bound for glory should be the destination most sought after, and not the long black train, its only destination is the middle of nowhere. We as Christians are a pilgrim, we are travelling, on a journey. And along our way as we travel this treacherous road called life, many of us are:
- Exhausted and needs God’s grace and rest
- Grieving over our nation and needs God’s sovereign intervention
- Suffering physically and needs God’s healing touch
- Puzzled by our circumstances in which we find ourselves and needs God’s direction.
- Anxious about the future and desperately needs God’s assurance.
- Fearful of what is around the corner and needs God’s guiding hand.
- Poor and needy, and in need of God’s provision
- Broken and sorrowful, and in need of God’s comfort.
- In torn marriages and homes, and need God’s healing hand
God never promised us a smooth sailing in the sea of life. On the journey to Heaven, we were never promised row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Not at all! But, He did promise to work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Without a shadow of a doubt, this good that Paul is talking about will be worked out only for those (the believers) who truly love God.
Someone once said that there are only two types of Christians, there are those who are travelling with the will of God, and there are those who are travelling against the very will of God. If you study the life of Abraham very carefully, you are going to find that whenever he was at the centre of the will of God, he did two things: Firstly, he pitched his tent and secondly, he built an altar.
The altar Abraham built was made from stone, symbolising the durability of his friendship and fellowship with God. The altar indicated the permanence of his relationship with Yahweh. In the Bible, there are mainly three purposes of which an altar is built. Firstly, an altar was built to serve as a place where a person meets God, and God meets with that person. Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Jacob and so many others built an altar to serve as a place for meeting with God. Secondly, an altar was built to serve as a place of sacrifice. And lastly, an altar was built to serve as a place of prayer. Question – Where is your altar?
Significantly to Abraham, a tent was a symbol of being vulnerable to the will of God. A tent was a symbol that he was ready for the Lord’s call anytime. A tent was a symbol of the fact that he was a sojourner on a pilgrimage. Abraham’s tent indicated the temporary nature of his life and living, his temporary dwelling, his tent to him was a symbol of not being consumed by material possession.
When Jesus said (in Matt 6:21), “Where your treasure is, there you will find your heart.” To elaborate, He is saying that there is nothing wrong with material possession or wealth, but the very source of worry and anxiety in life is the desire for accumulation of material and worldly possession. The source of worry is the focus of – how can I get what I want out of life? But the source of contentment is the focus of – how can I use the resources I have (whether small or great) to the service of God?
Jesus made it clear at the sermon on the mount (Matt. 6:24) that “No one can serve two masters, either you will hate one and love the other, you cannot serve both God and mammon.” One of the two will dominate you, as the two masters cannot coexist. One is going to help you walk by faith, the other is going to make you live in fear or by sight. One will supply you with peace and joy in the midst of tough times, the other will make your life miserable even in the midst of prosperity. One will tell you to send it on ahead for eternity, your eternal home, and the other will say hoard it and worry about it.
The question worth asking is – which of the two masters dominates your life? It is the most important question you can ask yourself next to that of salvation. Why? Because the answer to this question will determine whether you will live in peace and joy and real prosperity, or whether you going to live in worry and anxiety and fear for the rest of your life. The answer to being set free from the enslavement of mammon is to ruthlessly give away of yourself, your resources, and your life wholeheartedly to the service of God.
There are some people who are just daredevils when it comes to physical risk, they love to take on all sort of stunts, and we all admire them. And there are people who take financial risks, they invest in non-proofing business and we all admire them, and we say he/or she began with borrowed money, look where they are now. But you know what, when it comes to spiritual risks there are very few precious takers. Until you are willing to risk everything in trust of God’s provision you have not learnt how it is to live by faith. If everything in your life is calculated and comfortable you have not learnt what it is to live by faith.
The apostle Paul said we’ve been bought with a price, which means God has 100% ownership of our lives. And thus, when we are making a decision, or in whatever we do, we should be completely conscious of God and of his word and of his spirit, and we should completely conscious of making that decision or whatever we do with one thing in mind – the glory of God.
Paul also tells us in Romans 13:8 that we are to owe nothing to anyone. This does not mean that you can never borrow, of course not. Why? Because both the old and the new testament justifies borrowing whether it is for business or for necessities. But borrowing when I know I could never pay is wrong. Living a lifestyle that is way beyond my means in not honouring to God. Someone once said that the biblical definition of debt is the inability to meet obligations we have agreed to pay. Borrowing is not the problem, but debt is.
It really is sad that the church of Jesus Christ is living just like the rest of the world. Today, so many Christians (especially in the Western world) are living in luxury, yet their giving is low, and their debts are high for one reason or the other. We often give God nothing but the leftovers. We make our plans for the few years we live here, and we don’t really make plans for eternity. We make business and financial plans as if we are going to live forever on this earth. In the end, we are going to leave it all behind anyway, and we have no guarantee of what the next generation will do with it. Solomon learnt that lesson. One of the great puritans of yesteryears said the following words:
“Build not your nest in any earthly tree, for the whole forest is doomed to destruction.”
Above all else, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing, shelter) shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). The scriptures tells us that “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:32. God did not guarantee to give us everything we desire or want, but He guarantees to give us everything we need. Paul did not tell the Philippians that my God shall supply everything that you name and claim, No! But he said to them, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19. Another question worth asking – what are you sending ahead?