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This is the fifth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money. In Reformed circles we don’t like to talk much about rewards in the Christian life. The word “reward” conjures up ideas of merit and works and seems to be the opposite of grace. And yet, the Gospels are saturated with Jesus speaking about reward. Here’s a sampling: Commanded to lay up treasure in heaven (i.e. reward): Matthew 6:20, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Commanded to sell possession to have treasure in heaven (i.e. reward): Matthew 19:21, “sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Promise of reward in heaven for sacrifice: Matthew 19:29, “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” Reward is secured by kind acts: Matthew 10:42, “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." ... Keep Reading

This is the fourth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money. One of the most difficult parables of Jesus to make sense of is the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16:1-9. Jesus tells the story of a wealthy man who discovers that his property manager (whatever form the “property” took) was “wasting his possessions” (v. 1). Upon learning of his imminent termination, this manager shrewdly refinances the accounts of several of his master’s debtors (perhaps reducing the interest rate or limiting his own commission). The master then commends the manager for his shrewdness. How does this example of a corrupt, manipulative manager apply to the followers of Christ? Let’s look at Jesus’ application in verses 8-9: ... Keep Reading

This is the third in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money. In our first two weeks of considering what Jesus teaches about money and wealth we saw that Jesus warns about the power money holds as a satisfying treasure. As such, money becomes poisonous to our spiritual well-being by cultivating our prideful self-reliance (“it’s my money!”) and a delight in this lesser pleasure. Perhaps, after this initial survey, you may be wondering if Jesus has any positive perspectives on money. Let’s take a couple of weeks to consider how Jesus understands money as a tool to maximize our delight in God as our superior treasure. Last week we looked at the story of the rich young ruler walking away from Christ sorrowful. His sorrow was evidence that his heart was poisoned by the power money has as a satisfying treasure. Let’s look at another story of a rich man in the gospels: Zacchaeus. Many of us are familiar with this popular Sunday school story of a “wee little man” in Luke 19:1-10. Let me contrast Jesus’ concluding remarks to these two encounters with rich men.... Keep Reading

Jesus & Your His Money, Part 2: Money as Poison

February 8, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is the second in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude and use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money. Last week, we began our exploration of Jesus’ teaching on money by considering his understanding that money easily becomes a treasure of the heart. We will never understand Jesus’ warnings and instructions about money unless we understand the power money holds as a satisfying treasure. This leads us to our second observation from Jesus’ teaching. Money, as a treasure of the heart, is poison. We see this most clearly in Matthew 19 where Jesus interacts with a rich young man. The young man is a seeker of eternal life (v. 16). With his understanding of the power of money as a treasure, and with his ability to discern the human heart, Jesus confronts the young man’s idolatry of money. Their interaction concludes with, “The young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22). This leads Jesus to make one of his most astonishing statements in all of the gospels about money and wealth: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 24)... Keep Reading

Jesus & Your His Money, Part 1: Money as Treasure

February 1, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is the first in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 8). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward and use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money. I would like us to start by considering the foundational principle for Jesus’ understanding on money. The greatest danger of money is that it easily becomes a treasure of the heart. Money is valuable or can acquire valuable items. The value of money, or the items it acquires, is contingent upon how much it satisfies the longings of the heart, such as the longing for security or significance. To the extent that we perceive that money can satisfy the longings of our hearts is the extent that it becomes a treasure of our hearts. Hear Jesus’ teaching: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21) ... Keep Reading

Your First Love

January 25, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Do you remember when you first realized you loved Jesus? It may have been when you first placed your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Or, it may have been later, connected with some circumstances that awakened in you a love for Jesus. I grew up going to church and placed my faith in Jesus as my Savior as a child. While I believe that Jesus died for my sins, I would not have said I loved Jesus at that point. That came later when I was in high school. During the summer after my freshman year, I went on a missions trip to Jamaica. We served with an organization that built schools for deaf children. Since Jamaica frequently is in the path of hurricanes, all the construction was with concrete block. A bunch of high schoolers, with their youth ministers, don’t know much about construction with concrete. Wisely, the organization provided a concrete expert to work with our team and direct our mortar mixing and block laying. This expert went by the name of Brother T. He grew up in Jamaica. ... Keep Reading

My Favorite Places on Planet Earth

January 18, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

During my years of sojourning on this planet, I have come to value particular locations over others. As I have reflected on why these locations hold a special place in my heart over others, I have come to understand that these locations have directed my heart and mind to the wonders and majesty of God. The psalmist declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (19:1-12). The apostle Paul affirms, “[God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). God’s fingerprints are all over creation. And he has intended that his creation would direct our minds to his “invisible attributes.” Not to diminish the wonder of any part of God’s creation, I want to highlight three of my favorite places on planet Earth. I will share these in the chronological order that I encountered them. ... Keep Reading

You Are a Minister

January 11, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

If you have placed your faith Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a minister. No seminary degree required. No ordination. No prior examination (except for making a public profession of faith). No special talents or gifts separate the “minister” and “non-minister” Christians. Every Christian is a minister. That’s God’s design. It doesn’t mean every Christian ministers as God desires. Some deny that they have a ministry. Some question whether God could use them for ministry. Others are caught up in looking after their own needs that they overlook serving others. Either you are a Christian seeking to faithfully steward the gifts and resources God has given you to serve the church and those outside of the church or you are a Christian disobeying God’s desire to use you to bless others. Once again, this is not my design; it is God’s design. Consider these Scriptures: ... Keep Reading

Times of Refreshing

January 4, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Are you weary as this new year begins? I consistently hear from people that they are busy, tired, spread-thin, needing a break, and, even, weary. Perhaps this is just the post-holiday malaise, but for most people, this sense of weariness is ongoing. For some it stems from personal circumstances; for others, it is the events of our nation and world that weigh heavy on one’s soul; for most, it is the “normal” life that just naturally fills every spare moment of our calendars. So, how do we restore and maintain healthy energy? We are called to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength; we don’t want to be too weary to love God, do we? Therefore, how one renews his strength is one of the most important tasks for a Christian. The apostle Peter gives a beautiful promise in Acts 3. He speaks of “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” This is the only place in the New Testament that the noun “refreshing” is used. Peter uses it as a blessing that comes from Christ. Peter knows that it has been the universal experience of humans since the Fall to be weary. It is only in Christ that “times of refreshing” may come to us. Consider Peter’s full statement in Acts 3:19-20, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” The logical structure is fairly simple. Peter gives two, parallel commands: repent and turn back. Then he specifies three results that come from obedience to the commands: 1. Sins are blotted out; 2. Times of refreshing come; and 3. Christ may be sent (speaking of the promised Second Coming). The Greek grammar clarifies that the two results in verse 20 flow subsequently from the result of verse 19. To make this explicit, Peter calls the crowd in Jerusalem to repent their sins. As a result of repentance, the people can be assured that their sins will be blotted out, that is, forgiven. Once their sin is forgiven, they can be assured that they will enjoy times of refreshing and can look forward to the Second Coming of Christ with joy. ... Keep Reading

As we find ourselves at the close of another year and at the entrance of a new one, many of us may be filled with a mixture of emotions. The last year for many has been filled with both great joys and sorrows. For some, this past year has been the hardest year you have faced and for others, a year marked with great growth and joy. In all of this we do well to cast our gaze unto the Lord, who is our never-failing, never-changing and always present-in-times-of-trouble shepherd. The Lord is the strong and kind shepherd to His people regardless of what the landscape of our lives looked like this past year or what the next year will look like. I’d like to draw our attention briefly to Psalm 23 and to the wonderful good news that we have a perfect shepherd who leads, protects, and brings his people home safely. ... Keep Reading

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