Faith, with Benefits

I struggled financially most of my life. I worked very hard, but success was always out of my reach. I based my prosperity on my own self absorbed delusion that money makes us happy and being poor was a horrible way to live. What financial gains I did receive was all invested into “me.” In November of 1997 that all changed when I surrendered my life, my will, my emotions, and my possessions to Jesus Christ. The funny thing is I really didn’t have anything. I had spent most of my income frivolously on things that have no lasting value.  I remember sitting in church one day and when the offering plate came around all I had was some change in my pocket. When I put the last money to my name in the plate I said, “This is it, I have given everything.” Jesus Christ did the exact opposite for us. He gave up incomprehensible riches to come here and sacrifice His life for us.   For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV

Sadly, many today have sacrificed their relationship with God, family, and friends to gain wealth.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26 NKJV It isn’t easy walking away from a life you created for yourself. Leaving friends, and habits, behind can be very difficult. Loneliness, at first, is your greatest enemy, so it is best to stay in your Bible all you can. There are certain Bible verses that gave me courage as I transitioned my life into a follower of Christ. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[ ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7 NKJV For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalms 84:11 NKJV  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 NKJV

There is a big difference in believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and surrendering your “goods” to unreserved stewardship. Even though we take that mighty step toward God, surrendering our daily lives is a must. It hasn’t come to me all at once. I have good days and bad. I try to focus on the life of Christ and His sufferings.  When you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. 1 Peter 2:20-21 NKJV  As we focus on Christ we find we are focusing on the needs of others, and not ourselves. The things that are gain for ourselves we count as loss for Christ. I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. Philippians 3:8-9 NKJV

It wasn’t long after I changed my walk in life that things improved for me. The fact that my personal decisions are now Christ led, and my financial decisions are Biblically based led me out of the red and into the black. It did, however, take a couple of years to right all the wrongs from my previous life.  Thanks be to Christ that He became poor to bear our sins on the cross. The riches I enjoy now are His riches, ours through grace, because of the sacrifice He paid. Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours… or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come – all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 NKJV All things are ours through Christ. He has blessed me beyond my own belief. I still have struggles, but they are nothing compared to the struggles I had in my previous life. Things just seem to work out for me, not of myself, but for others, because my Savior takes care of me.

When we live for Christ, He shares His glory with us, and the riches we enjoy from day to day, the riches we will enjoy throughout eternity are His. Jesus said to our heavenly Father, I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23 NKJV  We are told to love one anther just as Jesus Christ loved us, the church. We are to grow in Christ through the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit through Bible study and prayer. Jesus said,  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:21, 26-34 NKJV

We are here on this earth for one reason only, and that is to decide if we are for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground. This is the time and place to prepare ourselves for eternity. Our real life begins then. Now is the time for servitude.  We must prepare ourselves for heaven, because no one will enter by chance. We can’t think we are good enough as we are, because we are not capable of saving ourselves.  We have to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith through daily Bible study and prayer. Have you ever asked yourself why God wants to save us?  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NKJV  He did it for His Son’s sake, because Jesus asked Him to. Isn’t it enough that He stepped in on our behalf? That he left paradise to walk among us as an example to follow? That He sacrificed His life on the cross so that we could be reunited in fellowship with our Heavenly Father? Isn’t it enough that He is in heaven making intercession for us to the Father that we may have everlasting life? I say, “It is more than enough. It is the least I can do for so great a salvation.” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV

 

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