by Angie Thomas

Did you know you are filthy rich?!  Before you roll your eyes and start listing off to me your debt versus income and why you most certainly are not rich, hear me out.  Perhaps righteously rich would be a better description.  This wealth is eternal, never-ending, and directly linked to God’s love for us in Christ.  In the words of Lacrae, “It’s everlasting, infinite, it goes on and on, you can’t measure it” (Lyrics from “Tell the World”).

So why do we mope around like Eeyore and run around like Chicken Little proclaiming the “sky is falling” when we have been given so much?  I believe it is because we don’t rightly understand Christ’s love for us and the wealth we possess in Him.  We are so accustomed to letting our bank accounts or the lucrativeness of our job dictate our worth that we have forgotten as disciples of Christ our true value is found in Christ and His deep, rich love for us.

Here me out, girls.  This is so much more than religious rhetoric.  It is our reality HERE and NOW as followers of Christ, and not simply something we will experience in heaven.  Yes, the true fullness of our inheritance in Christ will be realized after Christ’s return and once sin and death have been abolished forever, but so much is already a reality.  The veil is torn and we are reconciled to Him.  Consider the Apostle Paul.  When you read his writings throughout the New Testament, the deep, descriptive language he uses repeatedly when describing the wealth that is ours in Christ is powerful!  Only someone who had personally experienced this richness could write about it in such a commanding and clear manner!

I pray these words would not glide over our hearts and minds as simply Bible verses we have heard multiple times, but that the Holy Spirit would reveal to us in a deep and authentic way our riches in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight… ~Ephesians 1:3-10 

…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being… ~Ephesians 3:16

 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:19

 …the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” ~Colossians 1:26-27 

I believe these truths are what empowered Paul to leave what was most likely a comfortable, predictable life of power and worldly wealth as a Pharisee and spend the rest of his life proclaiming the Gospel despite hardships, beatings, and lack of material wealth.  This understanding of Christ’s riches is undoubtedly what compelled Laurie and Kevin to leave the corporate world and status and possessions to follow Christ, as Laurie so powerfully shared with us the other week.  May we be challenged and encouraged by these examples and those of so many others who have left what the world deems valuable to find true riches.  In the words of the missionary Jim Elliot, who died in martyrdom in Ecuador, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

by Susan Sampson

“You cannot serve both God and money” (Mat. 7:24).

Who is the One true God?  Our strength, security, comfort, peace, provider, Savior, Redeemer, deliverer, healer, joy, power, and we could go on and on!  What stood out to me most powerfully from the lecture is when Laurie then said, “and money promises all these things, but cannot fulfill them.”  What is money?  How deceptively it has become a false god in my life of craving comfort and ease.  An idol in my heart.

So what do I do now?  I think there are two choices, two paths to choose.  Either darkness or light, fear or faith, hiding or confession.  My flesh craves the darkness, wants to run and hide in fear.  This is the easy way that leads to destruction.  The way that leads to life is the way of Christ, the way of the cross.  This is the “how”.

And you who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:13-14)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Money can pay for some earthly things.  Money can buy things.  Money can purchase things.  Money can pay a ransom.  Money provides an inheritance.

But money is not even close to the blood of the Son of God!

You were bought with a price… (1 Cor. 7:23)

…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ… (1 Pet. 1:18-19)

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you… (1 Pet. 1:3-4)

Lord, turn our eyes away from worthless things.  Thank you, Jesus, for taking all my sin and in the greatest exchange in the history of the world, giving me your righteousness, your very life.  Thank you for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for forgiving our sin.  Lord, grant me repentance that I would treasure Jesus and His gospel more than any earthly thing.  Help me to use your money for your kingdom and not my own.

“Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone and live so all might see.  The strength to follow Your commands could never come from me.  Oh Father, use my ransomed life in any way you choose.  And let my song forever be, my only boast is You.”  ~”All I Have Is Christ” by Jordan Kauflin

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

by Angie Thomas

Exposed.  I came home after Bible study and started crying as I shared with my husband how broken I was over my sin.  During the week, the light of the Word had shone brightly on several areas of remaining darkness in my heart and I felt a bit like the adulterous women brought before Jesus in John 8…overwhelmed, terrified, embarrassed.  I was forced to come to grips yet again with the reality that I am not exactly the girl I think I am in my mind.  I want to believe that because I can check off a list of boxes that measure my external “Christian” performance, this is somehow an accurate reflection of my heart.  But Jesus has been lovingly showing me areas of pride, jealousy, and a critical spirit that continue to frequently dominate my thoughts.

Have you struggled with any similar feelings or thoughts?  Jesus’ commands in the Sermon on the Mount often address our “heart” sins, those not readily seen by others: lust, anger, selfishness, hatred.

We want to believe that if we aren’t outwardly or overtly acting on these thoughts that these “heart” sins are not as harmful, so we tolerate them or justify them as things all Christian’s do.  But Jesus is not calling us to live like other Christians, He is calling us to live like He did while He walked on this earth.  He clearly said in Matthew 5:38, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I think my tendency in the past was to write off this command from Jesus as an unattainable ideal and give myself permission to keep on sinning.  This is simply evidence of immature faith.  We can actually be greatly comforted by this command.  The growth toward perfection in Christ will take a lifetime, so as the Lord lovingly continues to reveal areas of our lives where we are stilling following our flesh and not the Spirit, we should rejoice!  As the Lord reveals an area of weakness and as we remain near to Him so that He can heal the wound, our weak knees are being strengthened and we are being equipped to live a more effective and powerful life for the Kingdom.

So, as the Lord continues to reveal areas where our hearts our not lining up with Christ’s and we are turned “inside out” or our flesh is exposed, I challenge you to actually model the courage and faith of the adulterous woman I mentioned from John 8.   She is dragged before Jesus after being caught in the act of adultery.  There is no denying her sin.  However, instead of condemning her, Jesus challenges the pious and arrogant religious leaders who were ready to stone her, revealing their hypocrisy and they are forced to drop their rocks as they realize they are not  worthy to cast a stone.  The saddest part…NOT A SINGLE ONE of them turn to Jesus to confess their sin or seek to be reconciled to Him.  Instead they walk away in shame, still incredibly lost. Their pride has been wounded but their hearts remain hard and unchanged.

But the woman, SHE stays and waits to hear what Jesus will speak to her.  He says, “‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10b-11).  Do you catch the power of His words?  No condemnation…go and sin no more.  And He still speaks the same message to us, “Stay near to me, don’t run and hide, there is no condemnation, stop sinning and living like your old girl, trust me to change your heart and continue to change you from the inside out!”  May He give us much grace to remain near and be forever changed.