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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Beauty" swan among reeds
"Beauty" the snow white swan on a friend's pond.

"The Man Who Went Away Sad"

Message Summary: I wonder what happened to the rich young man. For sure he got older! Did he maintain his temporal wealth or exchange it for his eternal soul? Upon his death, did he leave behind a great store of riches that moth, rust, and decay destroyed or did he receive the eternal treasures God has laid up in heaven for all who choose to follow Him.  What preparations have you made about your eternal future?

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"When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth" (Matthew 19:22).

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

The other day in the course of chaplain work I saw a young man walking away from the company during a break. I greeted him and asked where he was going. "I'm going to buy some lottery tickets so I can strike it rich", he informed me. I suppose to many I would be "moralizing", but I was forthright in telling him that he was making a poor choice.

The "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" intrigue many with stories of extravagance. Of course it's essentially a facade since we really don't know how happy the rich and famous really are and by many accounts for many it's not all it's hyped up to be. Apart from spiritual riches available to all who turn to Christ many of the best things in life are not dependent on wealth such as a satisfying marriage, children and grandchildren who bring you joy, a satisfying and productive job, as well as enduring friendships.

Still dies quote
I saw a t-shirt in church that read, "He who dies with the most toys, still dies" which counters the original popular slogan, "He who dies with the most toys, wins." Many of you have seen this bumper sticker which I've often seen on huge four-wheel drive pickups! Many live their lives as though this were true.

The daily verse is one of the most somber in the entire Bible and is a microcosm of the choices each of us make regarding our life's focus. Will our focus be directed to earth's immediate rewards such as wealth or to the Kingdom of God that promises future, eternal rewards that are incomparably better? In our text (context is Matthew 19:16-26) a rich young man had approached Jesus as a seeker, asking, "What good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  Jesus summed up discipleship when He called him to sell his possessions and follow Him.

Sad rich young ruler
But "he went away sad". Why? After all, he was young, successful and had great wealth. What's there to be sad about? Isn't that what many aspire to as the source of happiness?

It seems to me that in his heart he knew he was making the wrong choice, but the grip of wealth was so great that he was captivated by it and narrowed his choices to those dictated by purse strings. Money cannot mend a broken heart nor can it fill the spiritual void that each of us is born with.

It's interesting to me that the other two synoptic gospels also have this account, with each adding a significant detail. Mark's account (10:17-22) tells us that "Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him."  He loves each of us this day and evidence of this is seen in His steadfast love that never ceases. His manifold mercies are unending and renewed daily, for the believer as well as the unrighteous. 

Crying man
Luke's account (18:18-27) provides an interesting detail: "When he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich." Consider the contrasting adverbs that the rich young man became "very sad" because he was "exceedingly rich".

Let's go back to his initial question,
"What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus answered him, but he, unlike Moses, chose "the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25).

Still, today, for many there remains in one way or another a consideration of the economic impact of the decision to follow Christ. Although there is not a universal Biblical call for everyone to sell all their possessions, Christ clearly calls each of His followers to a life of commitment and sacrifice in following Him.

I wonder what happened to the rich young man. For sure he got older! Did he maintain his temporal wealth or exchange it for his eternal life? Upon his death, did he leave behind a great store of riches that moth, rust, and decay destroyed or did he receive the eternal treasures God has laid up in heaven for all who choose to follow Him.  What preparations have you made about your eternal future?

I'd rather have Jesus
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin's dread sway.
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, it's clear in Scripture that the attainment of worldly riches can narrow a person's vision to earth-sightedness. Their sight is fixed upon that which can be experienced only on this side of heaven. But You've called us to be farsighted in that we lay down anything that hinders our vision of that which is yet to come in the eternal realm. Our goals in this life reach beyond immediate reward and expand to treasures stored up in heaven. For those entrusted to riches on this side You've instructed to be good stewards and thereby further expanding the message of salvation to those far and near. All sacrifices made in this life will bring about abundant reward in the life to come. Help us to be faithful.  Amen.

"Beauty" swan with cygnets
 Gene and Doris Wenger are our friends who have the pond with the swan couple, Buford and Beauty. Here's a photo with Beauty and her baby swans. Baby swans are known as cygnets. Notice the large nest in the background. This pond is along Milton Grove Road north of Mount Joy.

Jeff with daughters at Marine Corps marathon 5/15/16
Jeff is a friend from one of the companies we visit as chaplains. He recently ran in a Marine Corp marathon and his daughters made these supportive signs. I don't think he won (in the sense of coming in first) but he is sure a winner as a Dad!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"  Video  Dallas Holm

"Farther Along"  Video  Gaither Homecoming

"Farther Along"  Video   The Grascals  Really country bluegrass!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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