Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part 5

We continue the series to encourage us to look ahead to our glorious future, yet to not overlook what we already have … what we have, in Christ, right now. Yes, we should always keep our “eye on the prize” of eternal life, but also remember that it is what we do during our journey to “get there” that establishes what reward we may receive once we arrive. To a certain degree, we are all “waiting” to go to Heaven, to spend eternity with Jesus, in the very presence of God forever. Yet, God has given us all certain tasks to accomplish along the way, while we are “waiting.” And … just as in Paul’s day … some of those tasks may not be “pleasant,” the road may not be as smooth as we’d like, others will disappoint and hurt us (and we’ll disappoint others, too!), and we may not be what the world considers as “successful.” God has promised that He will meet all of our needs, and there will be times of “great need” along the way.

If God gave us everything we want … when we wanted it … where would the need for faith be? By the way, there is a big difference between what we want … and, what we need. Remember that in Philippians 4:19, God “shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” That does not promise that He will give you everything you want. God, as a loving Father, knows more about what we need than we do!

We should look more at what we have … than look at what other people have … that we wish we had … Hebrews 13:5 sums up this matter of jealousy this way: “Let your conversation (conduct) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have …” As you know, the word “covetousness” is a form of “covetous,” which means “feeling or showing a very strong desire for something that you do not have and especially for something that belongs to someone else; marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another’s possessions.” That’s a pretty good description of what our life’s goals shouldn’t be.

I think a pretty good description of a “happy, successful life” would be one that is characterized by an attitude of contentment. Plainly put, to be content with what we have. This means to be content with what we already have … not driving ourselves crazy trying to obtain what we don’t have. And (God knows better than us), chasing after things we shouldn’t have. I have heard many testimonies to the effect that “if God had given me what I was asking for, what I was begging for, what I was pleading for … it would have ruined me.”

So, let’s begin by just being content with what we already have. What God has allowed us to have, thus far. One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:11: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” This is one of my favorite Bible verses to write in a card, or inside the front of a Bible, to give to someone who is moving away. I have signed this verse with “state” endings, following up the “state I am” with something like, “… even Florida.” I just recently signed a copy of my book with this verse as part of the inscription, using “even the state of retirement.” Please, very carefully note that Paul wrote that “I have learned.” This means that he didn’t learn this lesson from school, or a book … but, this lesson had been learned over time, through many, many circumstances of life.

I’m thinking, “What advice would Paul give us, or give his children, if he were here right now?” Then, I stop and think how ridiculous a question that is … because Paul left us letter after letter after letter to instruct us. In fact, Biblical instruction was the whole idea and reason for the letters to begin with! And, not just to “run the church,” but to run our daily lives, every aspect of our thoughts and actions. Many scholars believe that Paul may have had a son, perhaps even a wife, at some point before his conversion to Christ. When I think of Paul’s “children,” the first person who comes to mind is Paul’s “son in the faith,” Timothy. I’ll pull just two passages from one of two letters addressed to Timothy: “And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content. But they that will be (desire to be) rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful (harmful) lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition (ruin and destruction). For the love of money is the root of all (all kinds of) evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called …” (1 Timothy 6:8-12).

Wow! That sums up exactly the points which I believe God wanted me to share to begin this installment. I had no idea I would include the whole passage, but it fits so well into what we are trying to convey. Note that it is not “money” as the focus of “evil” here … it is the ambition to be rich … to covet riches above all else in life. We are to “flee” from this mind-set, and we must … if we want to be truly, deeply content. And, if we want to escape the “evils” of such covetous ambition. It really doesn’t seem to be “about the money,” but what we will expose ourselves to, in the pursuit of it.

What a rich, rich chapter this 1 Timothy, chapter 6 is! (Did you notice we used the word “rich” in a good way?) The remarkable thing is that these verses only scratch the surface of the instruction Paul gives to his young charge … and, to us. In fact, this passage really begins in verse 5, with Paul warning of the dangers of exposing one’s sound mind to men with “corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness.” In other words, Paul is warning Timothy, and us, to beware of those who equate “riches or wealth” with Godliness. That we shouldn’t take the fact that someone has been blessed with wealth or riches as proof of a Godly lifestyle. Paul’s instruction on how we should deal with these types of men? That we shouldn’t deal with them at all! “From such withdraw thyself” (verse 5). Wow! Remember how we began this whole series with the fact that God has stored up our wealth, to give us at a later time? Well … who do you think has this wealth in their possession now??? We’ll touch more on this later …

I can’t add anything to these words to Timothy, and to us. So, I’ll close with this verse, in the middle of this passage: “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Richard. Vincent. Rose.


Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part 4

We continue the series meant to encourage you to hang in there, to keep the faith … during those times when “others” are getting blessed … and, it seems you are not …

I hope that a common thread, woven throughout, is that we should, first and foremost, be thankful for what we already have. To realize what we, right now, have, because of our relationship with God through Jesus. And, it goes much deeper than the fact that if we are living in the United States (or any country considered to be “prosperous”), we are already better off than a large percentage of people around the world.

We must say again, confirmed through the headlines we see every day, that money can’t buy happiness, it can’t buy joy, it can’t buy peace, it can’t buy contentment, it can’t buy trust, it can’t, on its own, give us a purpose for our lives, and the list goes on and on. We have been taught that money means success. That having money or wealth means we are “prosperous.” I think true success doesn’t have anything to do with money … we must possess the qualities which make us “successful” or “prosperous” before we ever realize the financial end of the picture. It is the qualities we possess beforehand which will ensure our “success” once the “money” begins to arrive. Otherwise … the old, old saying proves why it is an old saying: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

Somewhere in here we should mention the Scriptural principle about God giving us a little … to see how we handle it … before He gives us a lot …

Allow me to share this true story:
A few years ago, I had applied for a particular job/position which would have meant a significant change in many areas … all of them “good” … It was an important position, and required additional college courses, specific state certification, “the works.” I had done all of the work, made all of the personal sacrifices to become qualified for the position … but, it was a job/position I had never held before … The position was such that there were many individuals who, on the surface, mainly relating to experience, were far more qualified than I. And, as a result, were certainly in a much better position to apply for such a job. Which, they had done.
What chance did I have?

The fact that I had applied for this position was “common knowledge,” so I would be asked about “how it was going” along the way. Please understand that it is how you handle your attitude/inner emotions during this “waiting period” (there’s that phrase again) that will feed your faith-or your discouragement … Remember that “It is what you do, while you are waiting, which will determine the results of your waiting.” Also please note this: Everyone you work with, everyone who knows you … and, yes, everyone who “knows about you” … even if it’s something they’ve only “heard” … will, at the least, at least feel confident that they know about your attitude … your attitude about yourself … and, most importantly, your attitude toward others … how you handle yourself, and others … day-by-day …

So, anyway, I was approached by someone I worked with, who had been with this particular company/entity for several years, and I had gotten to know her pretty well. So, she felt comfortable with asking me about “how it’s going” as far as the “new job” journey was going. By the way, any promotion is a journey … sometimes a long journey … there’s that “how I act while I’m waiting” again … It seemed clear to me that she was asking just to “feel me out,” and that she didn’t really think that I had a chance to get the job … I’m not being negative, but boy was she trying to get me to be negative right then! Let’s bring in again the fact of how important a personal relationship with Jesus is, that you know Him, and He knows you. That your whole day, from beginning to end, should be a constant “conversation of sorts” with Him, as you go along from event to event. That way, you’re always talking with Him, so it’s no big deal when you just mutter the word “Help!” in the middle of something. I know He’s always there … but .., it seems so much better when I don’t leave Him …

So, back to the story: This person was really asking me what I thought qualified me for the position, in light of so many other people who had applied. Here’s what God gave me to say:
“Abraham Lincoln is considered, by many, to be the greatest President who ever lived. But, when Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States, he had never been President before. It was the qualities he had, the qualities he already possessed before he became President, which enabled him to be a great President.”
It just came out … and, the fact that I was speaking to a history teacher never entered into my mind …

That’s the point: The qualities you already possess qualify you for the job, and ensure that you’ll be able to do the job. I hope this helps. I know so many people who are “out looking” right now, and I felt led to share this story. It is what you already have, as a child of God, which should pave the way for your future. Time? Of course, God will provide you with ample “training opportunities” for the job He wants you to have for the future. Remember, what you are going through right now is a training ground for where He wants you to “end up.” So, don’t get discouraged! Remember, yes, “It is what you do, while you are waiting, which will determine the results of your waiting.”

Read the story of Joseph, from Genesis.
Read the story of Joseph, from Genesis.
Read the story of Joseph, from Genesis.


Outside of the story of Jesus, and I love the story of Paul, my favorite story in all the Bible is the story of Joseph, and it is the one story that has meant the most, personally, to me. A constant theme of my writing is that “The thing I thought was the worst thing to ever happen to me turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.”

So much of that has to do with what you do “while you are waiting.”

Please read the story of Joseph from Genesis. Here’s just a couple of verses that go with this lesson. That people are always looking. Always noticing what you do. What you say. Whether they are a believer or not … they will know if you are … or, if you are not. If God is with you, they will know. This includes times of great gladness or great sorrow … they will know.
Here’s a glimpse from Genesis 39:2-3:
“And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous (successful) man … And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:2-3).

By the way, “his master” means that Joseph’s boss, his employer, also knew that God was with Joseph. Oh No!!!! Oh No!!! Oh No!!! Does this mean that I have to tell my boss that I’m a Christian? Let me put it this way: If you are, or if you’re not … your boss will already know. And, so will those you come in contact with every day. Especially those people you work with. And, especially those people you work the most closely with.

By the way … Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, was in prison when this was written, after being wrongly accused of a crime by his bosses’ wife …

Please read the story of Joseph, from Genesis.

Richard. Vincent. Rose.


Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part 3

We’re writing to encourage you to hang in there, to have faith … during those times when “others” are getting blessed … and, it seems you are not …

When you see someone else succeed, be thankful that, yes, God is still in the “blessing” business. That your time will come. Be careful of how you react to someone else’s success: Don’t you want others to be happy for you, when you prosper? Think about that. In our relationship with other people (which the world is always watching), it is important how we respond to others during times of sadness, grief, or tough times (both ours and theirs). We would all agree with that. We are thankful when people come to us when they are going through trials and troubles. But … isn’t it also important how we respond to others after they win? After they’ve had a great victory or success?

When you see someone else succeed, be glad for them, and let them know it! Inside, see their present success as your future success.

Always remember that what we are going through right now is meant to shape us, prepare us, for what God has planned for our future. And, especially, if it seems like it is taking a long time to come to pass, God is using this time to build our faith … our patience … our perseverance. While you are waiting, try to find specific Scriptures which will build your faith and perseverance. I know from personal experience that holding on to these precious promises from God makes all the difference in getting through the toughest of times.

Allow me to share with you a couple of verses that I’ve clung to, in the past, while I was going through a tough, tough, time of waiting:
Perhaps my favorite is this one, from Hebrews. This verse has meant so much to me that it is this verse we have printed on our personal mailing labels. It is also, along with Genesis 12:3, the one we write on personal signings the most: “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15). In my personal study Bible, this verse begins on one page, and continues on the next page. I have written, underneath the beginning of the verse, “It’s time to turn the page!” It is true: Through faith and patience, we inherit the promises of God. We must not give up! Trust in the power which patience and perseverance brings.

While you’re waiting, don’t be lazy! Keep praying, keep reading, keep believing … and, keep thinking about those in Scripture-and, those around you now-which have seen God’s promises come to pass. Hebrews 6: 12 puts it this way: “That ye be not slothful (sluggish), but followers (imitators) of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Staying in Hebrews, how about this, from Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast the profession (confession) of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” Amen!

Later in the chapter, we read this: “For ye have need of patience (endurance), that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). The first question this verse raises is, “Am I, right now, following God’s will for my life?” When you can answer that question with a “Yes,” I promise that things will begin to change. God loves it when you show Him that you believe Him, that you believe His Word. And, He loves it when you “pray the Word.” He loves it when He hears the fact that you take Him at His Word. That you do have faith in Him. You must have faith! And, keep it! For, after all, “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

I encourage you to read Deuteronomy, chapter 28. In fact, I encourage you to read the entire book. I always say that I believe the book of Deuteronomy is the most “underrated” book in the Bible, if I may say that in proper context. It is just so full, so rich, so full of promises. Just read chapter 28. Remember that part about doing God’s will? And, diligently seeking Him? In Deuteronomy, we read much about the subject of chapter 28: The blessings of obedience, and the consequences of disobedience. We all want God to “do His part,” but we are unwilling to do “our part” to make it happen. The bottom line is, that “all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 28:2).

Here goes: It is what you do, while you are waiting, which will determine the results of your waiting.

While you are waiting, keep doing the things you know you should do. Maybe even more! Remember that part about being obedient to God’s Word? You can’t do this unless you know what God’s Word says! You must read your Bible every day, pray every day … This way … every day … you hear from God … and, God hears from you! Jesus said this in Matthew 7:24: “Therefore whosoever (that’s us!) heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them (faith is an action word!), I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a (the) rock.” We know the story of what happens next. This wise man’s house, when the storms came, “fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:25). What about the man who “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (verse 26)? Plain and simple: “it fell: and great was the fall of it” (verse 27). I can’t help but think that these two men, one considered wise, and one foolish: I imagine they were doing different things during the time of waiting (for the storm), weren’t they? So, while you are waiting … keep doing things you know to do, which will determine what happens when the waiting is over!

So, while you are waiting, be thankful for what you already have:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth … who healeth … who redeemeth thy life … who crowneth thee …” (Psalm 103:2-4). You have God’s Word, you have His promises, and you have His Spirit!

Richard. Vincent. Rose.



Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part 2

Last time, we spoke of those who, while living ungodly lives, seem to be “rewarded” by everything they do. All they do seems to prosper … while here we are, born-again Christians, serving God, doing His will … yet, we just can’t seem to “make ends meet.”

My first response to that thinking is, yet again, worry about your relationship with God, not someone else’s. It’s just not “your time” yet. Will “your time” ever come? Yes … it will. God is using every circumstance in your life (both good and bad) to further your training … to conform you into His image … not your neighbors’ image. Please allow me to be completely honest:
Would you rather receive your reward now … or later?
Is the “underlying” (there’s that phrase again) question really about your faith? Do you really believe that God will help you … that He can help you … Do you really believe that God will “get you out of this?” I know, I know … you do believe that God can … but … do you believe that He will? Do you really believe that God will work this out, and things will be better-especially you will get better?

The rewards of a Christian life far, far, far outweigh the rewards of a non-Christian life. It’s just that we really don’t get our reward until later. Sometimes, much later. Look where we end up … and look where they end up. I’m not being mean or unloving by saying this, but, let’s face the facts: Would you rather receive your “reward” now, on earth … or receive your reward … personally, from Jesus … in Heaven? I know that there are people who must know that they aren’t going to Heaven … so they grab all they can, while they can … That may seem a terrible thing to say, but we know it’s true. I can remember when the standard answer to this question, “Hey! Where ‘ya going?” was, “To Hell if I don’t change my ways …” I know people toss phrases like this around, just like they toss the name of Jesus around, in a joking way, but I think people who talk like that are just giving evidence of what they lack … or just don’t want. Yes, we must pray, pray, pray for these people, just like someone (or a lot of someones) prayed for us when we talked and acted that way …

Here’s what Jesus said:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
Later in the book of Matthew, Jesus would say this about worldly treasure: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44).
Sadly … many of us just are willing to give up “our stuff” in order to “buy that field.”
One of my favorite verses about this fact that our reward will come, howbeit later, is this:
“But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30; also found in Mark 10:31).

Funny, when our children want something (birthday, Christmas, etc.), we have no problem at all extolling (praising, glorifying) the virtues of having to wait … to wait until “the time” … with a strong finish of “good things come to those who wait” (another phrase I’ll have to look into) or another saying we so strongly agree with … yet … when we have to wait for God … when we have to wait … it’s quite a different story, isn’t it?

It strikes me now, how so many of us save, invest “for our future,” for our retirement, save all we can, now, to have more later … yet … we don’t understand this concept of “laying up/storing up treasures in Heaven.”

At some point, I must mention that God knows what He is doing, and if He gave us everything we wanted … especially something that someone else already has … it would ruin us … certainly ruin our testimony, and, probably our lives.

I promised I wouldn’t look at the current or recent news headlines to make the point that money can’t buy happiness and fulfillment … regardless of how rich, or famous, you may be … so, I won’t. Why not? Because I need to spend more time looking at me and what I am doing with my money, or stuff, or things, rather than looking at someone else’s. One thing for certain: Money, or fame, can’t buy happiness. Or, love. Or, forgiveness. I do know this: People who have more seem to always want more. And, they seem to live in fear that they’ll lose what they have.

I only need to look at the story we are all familiar with. How the wealthy young man came to Jesus, asking what he needed to do to gain eternal life. He even called Jesus, “Master.” Here’s what Jesus told him, and his resulting answer: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22). This same story is also told in Mark, chapter 20.

I am reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw: “Let go. Let God.”

We’ll close with highlights from this parable, found in Luke 12:16-32:
“The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully … But God said unto him, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on … your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things … But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Richard. Vincent. Rose.


Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part One

I was recently doing a Bible study, and the fact that “God is storing up wealth for the righteous” came up. This got me to thinking … and thinking … that I should look into this fact, and to discover what God wanted me to learn about it. And then, to write about it. So … here goes …

Remember that, as a hearer of the Word, we have a responsibility. Yes, to respond to it, no doubt. But, we should, as diligent students of God’s Word, “find out for ourselves” if what we have heard is true … if the Bible does, in fact, “really say that.” Please note that I am not discounting in any way the God-inspired preaching of God’s Word … it’s just that you can’t “cover it all” in a sermon … the sermon or Bible study should do what it is meant to do: Make you want to go home … open the Bible for yourself … and, “see for yourself.” Oh … by the way … this only works when you take notes during the preaching or Bible study … which you should do … so that you can then go home and study further into the Word!!! If the preacher is being led by God, then God will give the preacher exactly what is needed for the congregation that particular day … and this also means a visiting preacher.

So … this idea that wealth is being stored up for the righteous …
First of all … where does it say that?
Proverbs 13:22: “… the wealth of the sinner is laid up (stored up) for the just (righteous).”
The Bible says it.
I believe it. Because it’s true.
The book of Proverbs … what a wonderful, profound, instructional book! By the way, just before this verse, it says, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be returned” (verse 21).

Let’s face it. We are all human, and, whether we want to or not … we act and feel human sometimes. What I am getting at here is something that came up during the Bible study, and I think we may all feel this way sometimes: Here we are, living Godly lives as best we can, yet struggling to make ends meet (I’ll have to find out where that phrase came from), really having a hard time. But, we are living Christian lives, centered on Christ and what He wants for us, doing all we can to follow Him. We see others, whether friends, associates, or family, not living Godly lives, yet they seem to “have everything,” no financial or other worries, everything they touch seems to turn to gold. If we are not careful, we can become discouraged. Which is exactly the reason I think God wants me to write about this. To encourage you, and us. 

Be careful not to fall into this trap! It is a great weapon of the enemy to get us to look at others … and, not ourselves. The old statement is so true: If we spent half the time looking at ourselves, examining ourselves, worrying about ourselves, that we spend looking at, examining, worrying about others, our lives would be much better-and, happier. Ouch! It is so important to pray and study God’s Word. The most important relationship in your life-and the most “rewarding”-will always be your relationship with Jesus. We’ll say it again: How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t know? And, how can you know someone unless you spend time with them?
I know I am writing this on a “social network” platform … but … here goes … if we spent half the time in prayer and Bible study that we spend on “social networks” … Ouch!

If things aren’t going well … what a great opportunity … to “seek God!” I mentioned in the last paragraph that the most “rewarding” relationship you will ever have is with Jesus. Remember that God is a “Rewarder!” Hebrews 11: 6 says that God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Make no mistake: It does take effort to live a Christian life. Here in Hebrews, we see the key words “diligently” and “seek.” Both are action words! Let me say that again: It takes effort … diligent effort … If we look at the definition of “diligent,” it means, “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort; painstaking effort.” If we look at the word “seek,” we find this to mean “to search for (someone or something); to try to find (someone or something); to ask for (help, advice, etc.).” Haven’t we all known people whom we can say about, or to, “I hope you find what you are looking for” or “You seem to be looking for something you haven’t found.” I think we just discovered what all are looking for … they just don’t know it: They are seeking to find what God placed inside of them … a genuine desire to know Him … someone just hasn’t led them to “what they are seeking.” Peace, success, happiness, it all resides, dwells within a close relationship to God. That’s what everyone, really deep-down inside, is looking for. And … let’s face it … until they find what God has placed inside of them to find … desires for them to find … they will never, ever be happy.

By the way, Hebrews 11:6 … the first part of that verse is “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believer that he is …” and then, the part about God being a rewarder comes in … So, to please God, we must, first, have faith in Him … I find that I want to please God, to be pleasing to Him … this is so important to me … yet, I find myself letting Him down so often … Yet, He never leaves me … because I always get back up, and seek Him again.

By the way … “faith” is an action word, too! Here’s another action word: “Walk.” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 7 that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” I like the definition of “sight,” which means “to move with; to go with (someone).” I like to say that “When I act on faith, I’m not acting.” It’s because I have seen, experienced God do so many wonderful things in my life, and in the lives of others.  

We must be careful to not become discouraged, as this may actually underlie (that’s another interesting word) a lack of faith in God … thinking that God has forgotten or forsaken you … that He doesn’t care … Nothing could be farther from the truth! God loves you, and there is nothing He wants more than to have a close, personal relationship with you. Jesus said, simply, in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” Think about this, from Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” That’s right, it’s not over yet. We’ll talk about patience along the way. But, let’s not forget what we already have … what God has already given us.

There are just so many Scriptures which detail what we already have, what God has already blessed us with … As if He, Himself, actually living inside of us isn’t enough, coupled with eternal life … There are so many things God has given us, which He wants us to be thankful for … like this: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). That’s a lot!

It seems like, underneath (between the lines), I am really saying that it should be God we are trying to please … not our neighbors … it is Jesus we should be trying to copy … not that person in the newspapers or magazines at checkout … I’m serious when I say that I saw this first written on a shower curtain somewhere: “When a man is right, his world will be right.” 

An amazing thought about having to write this today: As I searched my favorite online source for word definitions, which is, I see that here is the “Word of the Day.”
And, I’m not making this up:
The Word of the Day is
“having unlimited authority or influence” 

That’s Who we have living inside of us!

I think God wants us to get to know Him more … and to be thankful for what we already have.

Richard. Vincent. Rose.


Shared E-Mail Classics: Buzzard, Bat, and Bumblebee

Buzzard, Bat, and Bumblebee

If you put a buzzard in a pen six or eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of his ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat and the bee. They are struggling about with all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is right there above them.


Before You Get Success, You Must Get This-Part Two

Maybe it was the start of a new school year … or being in the middle of a major home improvement project which is testing not only my strength and endurance, but my ability to learn new “do it yourself” skills … I felt led to begin, next, a study of the book of Proverbs. However … there is never a time in my life … any day … in which I don’t need more wisdom and understanding.
Wisdom and understanding.

If you think about it, what better way to start your day (there’s that rhyme again!) than by consulting the book of Proverbs. But then, there’s not a day that goes by, when I don’t need more wisdom and understanding. When I need all the help I can get to “think right, do right.” I was watching the Thursday Night Football pregame show, and of course, much of the discussion was not about football, but players’ actions off of the field. I found it interesting that host James Brown, in addressing recent news events, challenged all men to take the lead in their “thoughts, words, and deeds.” Almost like he’d been reading our cards.

We’ve written much about how impossible it is to control our thoughts, words, and deeds without the Word of God, and prayer. Every day. And, how important it is to get your day started
right, with both.
Wisdom and understanding. God’s Word and prayer. To get both, you need both.
I have written much about the importance of wisdom and understanding, using not just the book of Proverbs, but all of Scripture.

God has really impressed upon me the importance of Proverbs 4:5-9, leading to the title, “Before You Get Success-You Must Get This-First.” These early verses in Proverbs explain what real success is … and how to get it. And … perhaps even more important: How to keep it. It all begins with wisdom and understanding. It really struck me how critical these two words are to success in every area, every part of your life, every day. Often, when we think of success on the job, we think of the word “promotion.” Even that is included within this passage.

Here are the words, directly from Proverbs 4:5-9:
“Get wisdom and understanding: forget it not … Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”

To really get the picture, to really understand the words, I paraphrased this passage, and it really made the whole process so clear to me. It is amazing how clear the message is:
“Get wisdom and understanding:
Do not forget wisdom and understanding.
Do not forsake wisdom and understanding, and wisdom and understanding shall preserve you: Love wisdom and understanding, and wisdom and understanding shall keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding. Exalt wisdom and understanding, and wisdom and understanding shall promote you:
Wisdom and understanding shall bring you to honor, when you embrace wisdom and understanding.
Wisdom and understanding shall place on your head an ornament of grace:
Wisdom and understanding shall deliver to you a crown of glory.”

When you study Scripture, to fully understand the particular passage you are studying, you must always read what comes before, and after, the passage.
Before this passage, there are these words:
“Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live” (Proverbs 4:4).
And, after the passage, “Hear … and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Proverbs 4:10).


Barnes and Noble


Before You Get Success, You Must Get This-Part One

God’s Word is so wonderful, so awesome … and, so necessary. 

Every day.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a point to spend time every day, reading God’s Word, and praying/speaking to Him. For me, the best time is first thing in the morning. There is just no better way to start you day (hey, that’s a great rhyme!) than to read God’s Word and pray.

Young Christians often ask me what the first book in the Bible I would recommend for them to read. Usually, I will say the book of John, and then move on to the other Gospels. The reason why is simple: First, you must know Jesus. He is the only One who can save you, and keep you. Period. So, get to know Him first and foremost. Learn what you are in Him, through Him, and because of Him. I try to pray every day that I would see other people the way He does. And, that I would see myself the way that He does. But, first, you must know Him, and the best way to do that is to read His Word. Read about Him first … and, then, He will lead you into the next phase of your study.

Every book of the Bible has its own great reasons for spending time to study. For example, I would have never imagined that the book of Haggai was so deep in meaning for all of us today. I would have also never thought that I would get so many lessons from just those 2 chapters, but that is how God’s Word is. I had read the book of Haggai many times (as part of reading through the Bible), but, it was only when God directed me to study the book, next, that I discovered how rich the book is. It is because God revealed so much to me, and He wanted to reveal all these things to me, to help me in my own walk with Him.

It is so hard, if not impossible, to have a relationship with someone you don’t know. And, how can you possibly have a relationship with someone you don’t talk with? And, if you do all of the talking, how will you, how can you, know what is on the other person’s mind? And, if you don’t listen, how can the other person really know that you are interested in them?

God will reveal Himself to you through His Word, and then in the time which you spend talking, and listening to Him. How hard is it to have a good, meaningful conversation with someone, in the middle of a loud, busy restaurant, or other loud place, full of distractions? This is why it is so important for you to get somewhere alone, away from the crowd, away from distractions, and spend quiet time, alone, with God. Reading His Word, and listening. How many times have we seen a couple, maybe just getting to know each other, and they are in a crowded restaurant, or train station, or shopping mall …. and, one will say to the other, “Let’s go somewhere quiet where we can talk.” Jesus, who wants a personal, intimate relationship with you-more than anyone else-also wants to “go to a quiet place with you so that we can talk.” He speaks though His Word, and He speaks to us, gently, yes quietly, as we spend time with Him in prayer.

As you read and study God’s Word, He will direct you to “where you should go next.”

There are times in our lives, when we are going through the toughest times, when we’ll be directed to certain passages in the Bible. We’ve all been there. When I was going through the toughest part of my life, for reasons I can’t explain, God led me to 1st and 2nd Peter. Then, He led me to the book of Isaiah. To this day, when I read something in the book of Isaiah, I get a certain “feeling” which I can’t explain. It’s just that that book, Isaiah, meant so much to me. A book which I didn’t understand at all … until God led me to it, and revealed things to me as I read. Things which I would not have known, or understood, unless I had read this book. Most of all, things I learned about Him by reading the book. And, that is always the idea.

There are so many books in the Bible I’ve read, during study or preparation, which I have gone back and read-after God directed me to them again … this time, to go back and read for His purpose. Often, and you know this is true: You can study, in preparation, a passage or entire book of Scripture, and yes, God will reveal much to you. But, when He leads you back to that very same book-for His purpose, His preparation of you, it’s like you are reading the book for the very first time. And, the more you read and study, the more God will lead you to something else. And, that’s when you get so much more out of your study.

I also love the Psalms, which was my Mom’s favorite book. Like so many, who have followed the Lord for years, the book of Psalms holds such a special place for us, as we return again and again to those pages and verses which have helped us all during our toughest, most trying times.

Anyway, there are so many books, and, so many in the Old Testament, which I love so dearly, and each time I return, it’s like I’ve never read them. For instance, how often we may forget just how great a book Deuteronomy is. Or, how about the story of Joseph? Of Median?
Are there any better first chapters in the Bible than the first chapters of Daniel? Please understand my meaning … I’m not putting one book over the other. The four Gospels, I believe, stand alone. Yet, in their own way … all of the books in the Bible stand alone. That is one of the great things about the Bible. Each time you read something you haven’t read in a long time, it’s like reading it all over again.

Would you believe that I began this writing to speak about the book of Proverbs, and something which God revealed to me this morning? Once again, God took over, wanting me to share this with you. So, I’ll make this Part 1, and try to get to Proverbs next time.
God is so good.

So, to have a successful day, first read God’s Word, and then you pray.
Still like that rhyme!

Modern-Day Psalms available at Pastor Appreciation Gifts


Road Reflections: Part Three

As we were traveling through the Southland, I had the notion that I would just make a list, as we went, of things which I was seeing, and in many cases which I heard, which I don’t see or hear much of, north of the Line. Did I just mention a “Line?” Well … there must still be, because it was clearly marked with signage, and I’ve crossed it at least twice in the last few weeks.

Please note that this is not a “better than” or “worse than” type of recording. It had been years it seemed (even though we were in the Deep South just last Summer) since I had just taken it easy on a trip, taking the time to notice-and enjoy-my surroundings. The United States and its people are beautiful. I have written “Northern Songs” and “Southern Songs” with the same degree of love and devotion. I have written State songs and regional songs, each reflecting the individual characteristics of a particular region. Each state and region has such a remarkable part to play in the vast beauty of our Country. I love the entire United States, its people, and its countryside. I’ve had the opportunity to laud its people and places on many public occasions, including the publication of the new Anthem for American, “The Eagle Still Flies.” I don’t take sides … because I love both sides …

Yes, I’ve gotten it from “both sides” regarding the fact that I lived on one “side” or other. I’ve been made fun of, or ridiculed, from both sides. Mostly good-natured ribbing, but … sometimes I have my doubts …
Well … here goes … I have had well-meaning (I hope) people look me right in the eye … almost in a defensive stance of some kind … and, in speaking of the Civil War … they would, point-blank, ask me, “Which side you on?” Don’t laugh-I’ve had it happen more than once.
Here’s my answer … the only answer which I can give, because it’s the truth:
“Neither … I wasn’t in it.”
My only additional response is usually one of two thoughts, both from the heart:
“There were great men on both sides.”
Or, I will quote Robert E. Lee, who said, “We are all equal at the foot of the cross.”

… Something tells me I’m not going to get to that list …

One of the first things I noticed when I first moved to New England, from the Deep South, is that you just didn’t hear much about the Civil War. I say this honestly, and sincerely. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in the Deep South, where it was just part of your every day surroundings. You are literally surrounded by Civil War history, and its battlefields. In fact, the first real home I remember, and we lived there for several years, was very close to Chickamauga Battlefield, and we were surrounded, every day, by the War’s history. My love for history began with learning about the Civil War. It had to, as I lived where it happened. Growing up, we were just as likely to find a mini-ball as a prized arrowhead.

There is nothing civil about war.

When you are in New England, the war that you are surrounded by, mostly, is the Revolutionary War, and therefore, much of what you see and learn about is about that war. Again, you are surrounded by that history, much like you would be surrounded by the history of whatever area you lived in.

Yes, I’m proud of my Southern heritage, for many reasons, including because of my family, and the way we were raised. It is “just different” being in the South, just like it is different being in the North, or the West, or the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, or … well, you get the idea.

And, yes, I got yelled at … in Virginia … in the Shenandoah Valley, at a concert, when the lead singer answered my cry for a particular song … He yelled, “No! No Free Bird!!!” But, the band did break into another Lynyrd Skynyrd classic …

Please allow me to say this: Every place that I have ever lived, every place that I have ever visited, regardless of how close or far, everywhere I’ve been, it was a “different world” there.
Think about this: Everywhere I’ve ever worked, regardless of what state or city or region, that place was its own, different world. I’ve worked at fast food places and large retail chains. Plus, it seems that everyone that I’ve ever talked with about their job, they all say pretty much the same thing:
“It’s its own world.”

Something else: Every place, every town, every city, every “where ever” that I’ve ever lived in, I have heard the same, exact thing: “If you’re not born and raised here …”
I hate to break the news, but, individually, we really don’t have any control over where we are born. And, if I’m not mistaken, individually, we also don’t have any control over who our parents are …
Yet, I still see it all the time, and so have most of you. There was a lady who ran for a public office for a city which we had moved to. Now, I love this lady, and she was really the first person we met when we visited that particular town, when we were just “looking around.” We all hit it off immediately, and I report this only for the example, as I still highly respect her: In the ads she ran to get people to vote for her, this was her platform, and the only statement she made to inform the voting populace of her qualifications for high office, and I quote it as closely to exact as I can. Here was her advertised qualifications:
“Born and raised in ________.”

That was it. In her mind, she felt she had to say what would get her the most votes. That’s what a political ad is for, right? I don’t know if it says more about her, or the mind of the voters. Anyway, I use that as an example.
I was even watching the movie “Jaws” recently. And, the sheriff’s wife was having a discussion on the beach, with one of the business ladies from town. Remember that Amityville was an island. The discussion was directed to Ellen Brody to explain that, if you weren’t born and raised on the Island … “Ellen … you’re just not an Islander.”

I am even tempted, to mumble this on occasion, when accosted “up here” by the fact that I wasn’t born or raised here. I fire back something about the Pilgrims … that it was amazing … they weren’t born here either … yet they chose to come here … to this country … for freedom …to live how … and, where … they wished … without persecution …

For some reason, I have always felt that it was more of an honor bestowed upon a town, if a person and family decided to move there. That it would place more emphasis on the fact that they were there by choice … rather than being “bound there” for the rest of their lives ….

Guess I’m not going to get to that list … for now …




Success Quotes: Michael Jordan

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.

MJ looking at basketball
If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.

If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.

The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals and you can’t let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.

My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said, ‘You never know what you can accomplish until you try.’

If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you.

Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.

I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.

I’ve never been afraid to fail.

I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent.

There is no 'i' in team but there is in win.
There is no ‘i’ in team but there is in win.

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.

Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.

Sometimes you need to get hit in the head to realize that you’re in a fight.

I never thought a role model should be negative.

I will not quit this game because of what the media has done to me.

I'm not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.
I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.

I think the players win the championship, and the organization has something to do with it, don’t get me wrong. But don’t try to put the organization above the players.

My body could stand the crutches but my mind couldn’t stand the sideline.

If you quit ONCE it becomes a habit. Never quit!!!

Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.

To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.

Winning isn't always championships.
Winning isn’t always championships.

The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether its proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.

The key to success is failure.

The best come from the worst.

If I had been playing for money I would have complained a long time ago that I was underpaid.

If you do the work you get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life.
If you do the work you get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life.

“If it turns out that my best wasn’t good enough, at least I won’t look back and say that I was afraid to try.”

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

Success isn’t something you chase. It is something you have to put forth the effort for constantly; then maybe it’ll come when you least expect it.

The good part about being famous is being able to help people.

I want to win.
I want to win.