Psalms 143:10

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
Psalms 143:10 NLT
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2 Thessalonians 2:16‭-‬17

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Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.
2 Thessalonians 2:16‭-‬17 NLT

 

Guarding Against Greed this Christmas

Christmas is two months away and I’m already thinking about my budget – what I “need” to buy and how much I “need” to spend. My children have started to hint at what they want.

This is what Christmas is all about, right? A season of spending money on gifts, of which less than 1% will remain in use six months after the sale (Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff). I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give gifts at Christmas or that consumerism is intrinsically bad . . . but in today’s #DailyBibleReading in Luke 12, Jesus says I need to make sure my mind isn’t focused on collecting material goods. The focus of my mind should be on Him and I should be guarding against greed.

Then he said,“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 

On the surface, I love the idea of “Minimalism” and have tried living much more minimally over the past few years, but even that can be its own idol – just as much as money – if my focus is on “minimizing” my stuff rather than following Jesus.

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29-31

The debate isn’t Consumerism vs. Minimalism. The real struggle is where is my mind  – am I making my prayer life and time with Jesus my number one priority? Where is my security? Am I worrying or am I trusting in God? Am I generous and helping the poor, or am I greedy? Do I want more than I need?

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Luke 12:25 

What is Jesus calling me to do in Luke 12?

  • Keep my mind focused on Jesus
  • Guard against greed
  • Don’t worry
  • Give to those in need
  • Trust in God

“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:33-34 

Will I change anything this Christmas?

Hopefully, I shop less and celebrate Jesus’s birth more.

Hopefully, I will spend less time wrapping gifts and more time doing puzzles and playing games with my family.

Hopefully, I will spend less time worrying about my budget and more time celebrating the nativity.

Because isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The Hope of the world being born to a virgin and sleeping in a manger. Joy to the world isn’t about presents under a tree, but about a baby born to save us.

 

What Matters Most

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her,“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

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There is only one thing worth being concerned about: knowing and loving Jesus

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work hard and do my best in other areas of life – I should. But my #1 priority should be spending time with Jesus and getting to know Him better. Falling in love with Jesus. If I’m not spending time with him every day I need to re-prioritize.

This lesson took me 39 years to figure out.

Up until a few years ago, I’d try to read the Bible regularly, but I’d lose momentum or get distracted. I’d do Bible studies and try different devotional books, but I’d lose interest. My time reading the Bible and praying was very inconsistent. I was swamped with work and marriage and parenting . . . and Jesus got my leftover time and energy.

Then a perfect storm of things happened:

  1. My work-life had become unmanageable. I was working 60+ hours a week, traveling all the time and completely stressed out.
  2. I read the book The Divine Mentor and it was like a lightbulb went off: devotional books are fine, but the most important book – really the only book I need – is the Bible.
  3. I applied “S.O.A.P.” while reading the Bible. I don’t do it by the book, but I keep a journal with me and write done what I am learning in the Bible. This helps keep me focused and on track.
  4. My small group at church discussed the idea of reading through the Bible in a Year.

This perfect storm led to a breakthrough for me. I put my devotionals away. I opened my Bible. I signed up for a “Read through the Bible” in a year plan on Bible.com (I use the corresponding YouVersion app). I started going to bed earlier so I could get up an hour earlier and have an hour of peace and quiet to spend with Jesus before my family woke up. Eventually, I let all my clients go and made some major career changes.

The change has been amazing.

I’m far from perfect and realize I never will be on this earth, but Jesus is changing me. I still get stressed. I still lose it and yell at my kids (I did this morning when my daughter refused to get ready for school). But I don’t get nearly as stressed as I used to. I don’t get as angry as often. I feel peace. I feel love. I’m a better mom and wife. I know that God is in control. And I know that the time I invest in my relationship with Jesus is the most important investment I’ll ever make and it can never be taken from me.

Slowly but surely, by the grace of God, I’m being more like Mary.