Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taste Great? Certainly less filling!

Today’s devotion drove my thoughts to the death of Oral Roberts. His passing made a number of headlines including, USA Today whose headline summed up his contributions this way: "Oral Roberts brought health-and-wealth Gospel mainstream." The Los Angeles Times headlines read: "Oral Roberts dies at 91; televangelist was pioneering preacher of the 'prosperity gospel'"

As I worked my way through my passage this morning my heart was grieved and a bit of fear gripped my heart. Today’s passage was Luke 12:13-21 which sets forth the account of whom we designate as “the rich fool.” You know the story well, a man had an abundant crop one year and mused that he had no place to store it. So he devised a plan that was hatched upon four “I will” statements. He determined to tear down his existing barns, build new ones, store everything including this bumper crop, and then retire. He was going to take it easy which he depicted by eating, drinking, and making merry.

Of course, man makes his plans but God is still sovereign. In the parable that Christ taught, God said to him you are a fool. Tonight you will die and will give an account of your life. Who will take possession of all that you worked to possess?

The lesson of course is a warning against covetousness and greed. God promises to give us what we need for our daily livelihood. Many times God graciously gives us more than what we need. We must guard our hearts very carefully over covetousness and greed will take over our hearts and influence how we handle the abundance that we have been blessed with. God intends us for us to use the abundance for the betterment of others who are less fortunate than ourselves. God clearly makes the point that He does not intend for us to accumulate possessions merely for the sake of ourselves. Otherwise, He would not have stated, “…that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Covetousness and greed are a major distraction to Spiritual growth and the Christian life. Covetousness and greed kills stewardship, compassion, and giving. God expects us to work and take care of ourselves and our families, but He also expects us to take the extra and help others. The first question that should come to us when we experience a “blessing” or wind fall is not what else can I buy, but how can we use this extra to bless someone less fortunate than ourselves.

This rich fool was blind toward the discernment of the priorities of life. He ended up with nothing. He had nothing remaining from all his accumulation – since he didn’t even have control over who would take possession over his things; he didn’t have anything prepared for his spiritual life. He ended up an empty soul with an empty life.

You say how did this drive your attention to Oral Robert’s passing? It brought me up sort. Where is Oral Roberts today? First, let me say I will not judge his motives, we are forbidden from judging the motives of men. Second, I am not saying I have any inclination about his eternal destiny.

I am however reminded of Mathew 7:21 which states, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

If Oral Roberts was the “god-father” of the health, wealth, and prosperity movement was he any different than this rich fool? Did he fail in discerning life’s priorities? Did his pursuit of wealth leave him with an empty soul and an empty life? Was he distracted and did he cause many others to be distracted toward true spirituality by renaming covetousness and greed?

I take no joy nor pleasure in asking these questions. I hope for Christ’s sake, the glory of God, and for Mr. Robert’s sake that he in fact became a believer in this life time. I take no thought of pleasure that he might have missed heaven for the empty pursuit of wealth in this life time.

I make these observations as a sober warning to myself and to you. Do I have a covetous heart? Am I influenced, controlled, or motivated by greed? Am I guarding against covetousness and greed from deceiving me into a pursuit of an empty soul and an empty life? What safeguards do I have in place?

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