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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is There Anything in Your Retirement Account?

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Sometimes I check on the stock market to see how my retirement is doing. Its a meaningless activity. I can't change what is happening. Why should I look? It isn't my treasure anyway. I also don't want to retire. I would rather be able to preach until I am too old to drive than to retire and do nothing for the last years of my life. Yet, for some reason I want to know that I can retire on what I have in stocks. Does that make sense? I guess its the world creeping in on me. It is so easy for it to become my treasure.

The world is very deceptive. It tells us that our riches lie here. Therefore, we should get all we can, can all we get and sit on the can. This world tells us that this is what life is all about. It tells us to grab the good life, take as much ease as possible and work only when you have to.

And its hard not to agree with the world at times. After all, it is hard to watch others taking their ease while you work. It is hard to continue to sacrifice for the Lord while others make no sacrifices. Many of them come to church. Many of them have bought into the thinking and actions of the world. They give little, serve little and expect that their lives are not any different from anyone else's. They never know what an intimate relationship with the Lord is. They are better acquainted with religion than a walk with the Lord. Religion lets them leave their god at the church.

The tragedy is that these people do not know the joy of the Lord either. I have to remind myself of that as I watch them ride by in their new cars on their way to their huge houses. Would I rather have their vacations and retirement accounts and leave my relationship with the Lord behind? Too many times my actions will reveal that I might. So, I look at what I have right now. I have a God whom I know. I have a Savior who has provided peace between me and God. I have a Holy Spirit who speaks to me and gives me wisdom. I have Someone who fills my life. I have a treasure that is being built in heaven. And heaven is forever. Everything I have on this earth will end up falling down. Everything I have in heaven is mine forever.

And what will my treasure in heaven be?

The relationship that I have with my Lord will be a treasure in heaven. I will know Him when I see Him because I know Him now. The love He has given me will be completed then. The lives I have changed will go with me. Those whom I have led to the Lord and discipled will be a treasure to me. The gifts I have given to spread the gospel will bring some of those to heaven with me. Those whom I have discipled will bring even more. My treasure will be multiplied and I will have no regrets if I am faithful to the Lord.

But what about those whose treasure is on this earth?

Maybe they will die without any regrets. Maybe their names will be on the wings of hospitals and endowments at universities. Maybe their children's children will never have to want because of what they have made in this life. But if this is their treasure then their regrets will begin very soon after death. They may or may not walk into heaven but they will certainly walk into eternity. They may have had much on earth but they will be empty in this eternity. This regret cannot be changed. There will be no time to correct it.

I must admit, it is easier to motivate people to work toward treasures on earth than to work toward treasures in heaven. It is easier to get them to give to a building project which will have their names placed on plaques outside than to make them realize that their names will be associated with the souls that will be saved in the building. It is easier to get them to read their Bibles when they are being checked than to get them to have a daily time with God in which only God knows. It is easier to have the display righteousness than to become righteous.

Maybe people need to check their retirement accounts. No, not their IRAs or pension funds but their accounts when they retire from this world. Maybe we all need to see if there is anything in them.


Anthony Chia said...

I agree with your entry, but I still struggle with it. I struggle with giving up a secular job to be an independent or itinerant healing minister of the Lord. I ask where will the money come from. There seems to be an “inner witness” to do that – to go and give of myself to the healing ministry (NOT just physical healing), yet I am in the world, and the world uses money, and I need money, alright, to fund the ministry, for myself and my children, too. It is so easy for me, to tell people what the Word says, but to live it out myself, is still a challenge, in many areas and situations. For a such cross-road, it is like I know the answer, and at the same time, I don’t know.

Do I know my God? Yes, but most definitely NOT well enough.

I tell people He is unchanging, and so, predictable; and so, I should know what He will or will NOT do, yet, in particular (situation), I can still struggle, like “Will He steps in, when I need Him, to provide the money?” How can I ever get in-sync with Him, like Jesus was able to, or at least come close to it?! Jesus needed to pay tax; in Scripture, we read Jesus got Peter to fish up a fish, and got the right fish (the 1st fish), and Peter took the coin out of the fish mouth and paid the tax! If I am NOT in-sync with Him, then what will happen? Scripture gives the assurance that the righteous will NOT be forsaken and their children will NOT go a-begging; oh why I cannot just take it and run with it!

God has shown me in the past, such a picture in a dream: I moved to handle a bag (a rectangular luggage bag) on a cabinet in a glassed-walled room. Somehow, as I reached for the bag, I ended up pushing it with both my hands, with my centre of gravity following, and guess-what; the bag and I fell right through the glass wall behind the cabinet. Because the wall was glassed-up all round, it did NOT occur to me that the glass was missing from this wall that the cabinet was parked against (perhaps, there was a window, and the glass panel was slided away, but I did NOT notice). I fell after the bag. And boy, it was a long, long drop. Only while in the drop, did I realise I was falling from a very tall building, and perhaps, I was in one of the rooms of a tall hotel building. It was scary; I was falling, upside down, head downwards! I did NOT know if I was about the hit the ground or NOT, but suddenly, a sash flew to me, and it coiled itself from one hand across my body to the other hand, and I got flipped right-side up (in standing position), and then with the sash in position (same position), I rose up (right-side up), and up and up, until I got back into the room I fell from. When I touched down on the floor of the room, I hung the sash on a cloth-hanger (a pole-type of cloth hanger).

Oh! Anthony, having received such a wonderful picture, why are you still doubting the Lord is NOT near enough to come for you when you are in danger or in dire straits?! Oh, perhaps, I am NOT willing to bear the sufferings and sacrifices along the way; maybe I don’t want to leave my comfort zone; oh, I struggle still. My soul, my soul, would you NOT do for the Lord? Do you think the Lord NOT take care of the “feelings” of your children, that they inevitably would be impacted by your decisions at such a cross-road? Oh, where is my faith, where is my faith. Oh, if you will NOT turn back, will NOT the Lord meet you, and lead you by another path if the one you take is NOT quite it? If you will die, die follow Him, what do you need to fear? Oh, how I have NOT got it!

Case NOT closed – go, no go?; half-swing, full-swing?; pray and intercede for me, Ps Prentis. I know we have to fill up that account up there, but it is hard NOT to be concerned with the one down here. Will I live up to what I commonly say, “When something is hard to do, it does NOT necessarily mean we don’t do it”?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

I wouldn't get too despondent about it. We still have responsibilities to attend to, mouths to feed while here on earth.

And who's to say that you can't 'retire' by the world's standards, yet carry on the Lord's work at the same time?

Just because I'm not a paid church worker doesn't stop me from doing His work!