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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Investments Which Are Out of This World

The churches I have served have set up a retirement account for me. I have no idea what to do with it. I don't know whether to put it in a volatile stock market or put it in a safe interest bearing account. It isn't that I plan on needing it because I want to stop working. I need it so that someday I can stop taking money for my preaching. So, it still needs to be invested wisely.

I don't believe that this makes me someone who invests in this world. I am not looking for this retirement money to last forever. I just want enough to make it to the end of my and my wife's life when I can no longer preach with a little left over for my kids' inheritance. It has a relatively short shelf life.

Members of churches are often looking for investments which will continue after they live. They want something that continues to make money. Often church turn to endowment accounts in which the contributors' principle is never spent. The money made off this principle goes to further the gospel. The principle exists into perpetuity.

However, let's face it. Money is not going to last regardless of what financial vehicle it is placed in. I know the endowment account our church has lost money during the stock market fiasco of the a few years ago. In a sense, we were spending the principle even though none of it was going into the ministry.

There are only two things that are going to last forever: The word of God and people. You can't do anything to change or enhance the word of God. You can make an impact on reaching people for eternity. The only investment I know that will be safe is found in reaching people.

Some people think that this is a bad idea because they can never know who has been reached because of their investments. (Investments come in many forms. Money is certainly an investment but it is not the primary need for reaching most people with the gospel.) This simply isn't true. These people who are reached with the gospel will be seen in heaven. "Investors"  may even meet some of their "investments" in heaven for the first time. This is especially true if they gave to help a missionary who shared the gospel in another country.

For some reason, what I am saying here is unthought of to many Christians. They are concerned with the budget and buildings of the church but care very little about those who come to know Christ. They say things like, "Yea, we had a lot of baptisms but did our giving really increase?" Is that the point of reaching people with the gospel? Neither the budgets nor the buildings will make it to eternity. They are like Judas who kept his eyes on the budget when the woman broke the expensive perfume to anoint Jesus. He didn't get the point and neither do they.

Jesus said, "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." (John 15:8) He goes on to say, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." (John 15:16)  Let me see if I have this right: God is glorified when I bear much fruit. That fruit will remain. The obedience to this task puts me so completely in His will that I will ask and receive whatever is needed.

Some people will never see that true lasting investments must be made so that they will be seen out of this world.

Isaiah 51:6 (ESV) 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

1 Peter 1:24-25 (ESV) 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.


Anonymous said...

At times, I noted that Christians said that when we get to Heaven, we would be a "blank sheet" not remembering anyone, not even your earthly spouse! I believe this is just incorrect, and there are Scripture texts, pointing otherwise, meaning we would still know, even though we are no longer bonded in marriage, though.  I would know my late earthly father when I get to Heaven, or Carolyn Quek and Liz Mah, both of whom died of lung cancer and whom I have ministered to, over long stretch of time before their passing on; Liz, over the Internet, for she was from another country. And so, these people and many more would know me, and they would be welcoming me, when I get to Heaven.

There is a text in Scripture that exhorts us to use money to gain us friends in Heaven (Luke 16:9 NKJV). That text said that, so that there would be people who knows us, there to welcome us; so, what it is suggesting is that, people whom have helped, ministered to, interacted with, even through the proper use of money, they would recognize us, even after life or in Heaven.  

It is not our investment in people, be it through time and effort or through the use of money, yields unknown.  It may be unknown to us, in our earthly life (actually, in many cases, you know.  I know the two late lung cancer ladies above whom I ministered to, they appreciated and my faith tells me they are cheering me on, in Heaven, even now), but nothing escapes the eyes of God.  The point is, like I often bore in mind, and said or wrote about, "Are you doing it as unto the Lord?". If you are, your intent and the outcome are noted by God, and that is what matters; Our weakness is that we want to go by sight.

Of course, another weakness of us, is that we want recognition. If we search how many skeptics, view preachers or pastors of the church, in general,  on the Internet, we will find that, common is the saying that preachers and pastors of churches are a narcissistic lot; wanting to lap up applause,adoration and praise, even worship.  If we are not careful, we even take some of the glory of God for ourselves, and that, despite what the overly grace preachers are saying, God did NOT encourage in His Word; in fact, He said He would NOT share His glory with anyone (including man, in his/her earthly life).  We share in the glory of our Lord only after-life or in Heaven.

The "quiet" co-labourers of God, the "quiet" investments you made, not noted by men, they have the noting by God. Scripture pointed to  when you do good, do it with one hand not even knowing what the other hand has done; or don't clamor for men's applause or reward, for if you already got the reward you aimed for, what is there to look forward to, as reward, in Heaven (Matt 6:1-4).  

Cont. On next page

Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

There is a difference between "you want" and "God gives". Again, too often, people, even some preachers and pastors operate by sight; they see, and they form doctrines and even theology out of experiences. That is WRONG. All doctrines and theology are discerned from the Word; experiences only attest to such.  When we see some great preacher or pastor exalted by men, we cannot conclude that God wants us to work towards exalting ourselves.  That great preacher is exalted because God exalted him, because he has been humble.  

King Solomon was of great wealth and fame, not because He wanted it, it was God gave it to him; he, Solomon did not ask for it, he asked for wisdom to govern the people, but God gave the wealth and fame on top of the wisdom.  Of course, there are many fakes - preachers and pastors exalted by men, but NOT by God through men. 

We have to wise when we use sight, seeing only the outcome, like seeing a person being at the top; when our focus is only of the outcome - the person is having it - the exalted position at the top, we lose our perspective; how he gets there and stays there are equally important, if not, more important.  One can get there, the exalted position of recognition, through the favor of God, or he could get there by his fleshy effort. The difference is one, you get yourselves there by your fleshly "I want" and effort, the other, God exalted you, and God give you, because you have been after God's heart. And what God blesses, it makes us rich and it is without attending sorrow (Pro 10:22).  I am NOT saying we cannot make full use of our natural endowment, but having God's blessing for what we do, is more important.

It is not easy for the many "quiet" co-laborers of God; it is fight against the flesh.  Those not having a church behind them, those ministering to dying people, to the aged, to the marginalized people, so very often, receive very little recognition; I believe sometimes, they are even feeling lonely.  Yet they plough on, and their Lord notes it all, and in His time, He does encourage, does comfort, and does bless; but even if He does not, their hope and faith in the Lord keep them going; their investment will find its reward in Heaven.

This not necessarily means sight or recognition have no place at all in our faith, but we have to be always be humble, be of self-control, and so, be wise.  There is no greater investment, of time, effort and money, than the investment in loving our God.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions