I just returned from a trip to Israel. It was my second trip but my first time to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount is the in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem and is now covered by a Muslim mosque. It is at the top of Mount Moriah where Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac before God intervened. It is also the site of the Holy of Holies, where both Temples were built and God chose to make His holy dwelling place on the earth during Old Testament times. The Orthodox Jews prefer to pray at the Wailing Wall instead of venturing to the site which is considered by them to be too holy for human visitation.
I stood there looking at the Muslim mosque, several Christian churches built nearby and the Jewish synagogues in the same vicinity. I realized, more than ever, that Jerusalem is the center of a major clash of religious idealogy. It also reminded me to pray for the good news of the Gospel to spread, both in Jerusalem, and around the world. I was reminded that Jesus came to give us a new covenant of grace and a relationship with God that did not depend on human works or merit. He does not require us to build elaborate temples or to construct ornate shrines. He just asks that we believe. I walked away from my visit a thankful man. The Temple Mount is a sacred place, but the most sacred place that God desires is to rule our hearts and I am grateful that my eyes have been opened to this wonderful truth.
Matthew 7:24-27 NIV
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Panic and fear are horrible houseguests and lousy motivators. With the current unease in the financial markets and the uncertain political future in our country, even mature believers are finding it difficult not to panic or make decisions based on fear. I believe these times are meant to shake everything that can be shaken and to reveal those things that have been established on biblical principles. Jesus told us this would happen. This is the hour to put the teachings of Jesus to the test. It does seem like the rain is coming down in buckets and the wind is blowing with hurricane force. These storms will reveal what is established on Christ. The only reason we should be afraid is if we have not established our families, our finances and our faith on the proven principles of Scripture. I am convinced this is the finest hour for the local church.
Remember, without faith, it is impossible to please God. Now is the time to pray fervently, give generously, serve willingly, love always and stand firm. The testing of our faith will produce a pure and spotless bride, free from the corruption of our world. Make no decisions that are based on fear and refuse to panic. The Rock has never been swept out to sea or destroyed by the winds of chaos. While institutions and governments may crash, God is faithful to provide and defend His church and His bride.
Living for heaven is a great idea. Difficult to execute, but still a good idea. Most of us are not wired to wait. We want instant gratification and an immediate return on investments. Heaven seems like a long way off and way too mysterious. For me, this is the foundational principle that governs the way I save, the way I give, and the way I purchase. Living with an eternal mindset helps me to travel light here on earth. I am a pilgrim. I am a sojourner. I am citizen of a better place. This all bogs down when we become possessed by our possessions. I have made a decision to live by some very simple principles.
1. Spend less than I make.
2. Live with as little debt as possible.
3. Save and manage wisely.
4. Give generously at every opportunity.
These are my goals. While there are plenty of examples that point to my failures in these areas, I hope these principles spill over into more and more of my heart. At the end of my life, I want to have great memories of the earth and its blessings. I just don’t want earth to be difficult to leave. Jesus said my heart would be in the place where my treasures are stored. I hope that place is heaven.
When should we give more to the local church? Acts 4 says people brought the proceeds from the sale of land and and homes and gave it to the church to distribute to anyone who had a need. This requires two things. This requires that the local church be committed to helping needy people and it also requires that those who have available resources give generously. It sounds a little like spiritual socialism. But in the first century, this type of giving was the very reason the first church survived. I am committed to the original recipe of church. Love one another, serve another, pray for one another, and rally around one another in the hour of greatest need. I believe the local church is poised for its finest hour during this time of economic upheaval. This is when we can truly demonstrate the greatest commandment – love God and love one another. God will provide. We will survive. We will testify of God’s goodness to a generation starving for authenticity and truth.