What is true wealth? Is it gold that glitters under the sun? Or is it wealth that no one and nothing, not even death, can take away from you?
Let's consider material wealth for a moment. We can have absolutely everything we want in life: huge mansions, fancy cars, ever-expanding wardrobes, and a sailboat or two to boot--but should our lives be measured by monetary values? Is the worth of our lives so calculable that we can consider ourselves wealthy simply by adding up our material possessions? Even if we feel wealthy by owning great possessions, what good would such wealth do us when natural calamities take them away from us? And when we die, could we take our wealth to our graves? Thus, our lives shouldn't "consist of the abundance of the things [we possess].” (Luke 12:15, WEB)
What is True wealth then? Jesus our Messiah and future King once told a parable that answered this question:
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, "What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?" He said, "This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.'" But God said to him, "You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared--whose will they be?" So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
So true wealth is being rich toward Yahweh God Almighty, the very Creator who has given us the precious gift of life. Being rich toward God is establishing and maintaining a sacred and intimate relationship with Him and His Son. Such a relationship will last forever, for when we love God and His Son Jesus Christ, we will live with them in an everlasting paradisiacal world of sheer love, joy, peace, prosperity, and perfect health after our future resurrection in God's appointed time. A sacred relationship with our Creator will never grow old; it'll be "a treasure in the heavens that doesn't fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth destroys." (Luke 12:33) Indeed, such a treasure is not able to be measured--certainly not by the dollar sign as the measuring stick.
But how do we achieve this eternal wealth? Where do we even start to reap such gold?
Well, let's say someone who is interested in being your friend approaches you. How should you respond in order to accept the friendship invitation? The answer lies in the question, the key word: accept. Acceptance is the key.
1) Accept God's invitation to have a relationship with you. Yahweh said, "Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which doesn't satisfy? listen diligently to me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Isaiah 55:1-3)
Your Creator has graciously extended His open arms to you. He has initiated a potential relationship with you. He offers His riches to you freely. The only catch is for you to accept it! Once you accept His invitation, you will be fulfilled and satisfied immeasurably in an everlasting covenantal relationship, just as the sacred covenant He made with David, king of ancient Israel, promising him that his dynasty would be eternal. True to God's words, David's throne will last forever, for his descendent, Jesus our future King, will reign over us to time indefinite. You'd be a future resident of that Kingdom if you accept God's invitation today!
But exactly, how do you accept God's fellowship invitation? You do so by accepting and honoring His Son, Jesus as your Lord and Savior, for "whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him." (1 John 5:1) Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6) To know the Son is to know the Father, for Jesus is the image of God, having the same spiritual qualities as God such as enduring love, grace, righteousness, and justice (John 14:7; Colossians 1:15). It's only when you know Jesus will you have an understanding of the invisible God whom no one has ever seen or could see (John 1:18), and it's only through your trust and knowledge of Jesus can you become the child and rightful heir of God and co-heir with Jesus (John 1:12; Galatians 4:3-5). Therefore, without Jesus, you would not be a part of God's family or His Kingdom. So accept Jesus into your heart by repenting of your sins and trusting him for your eternal salvation. Once you do, you'll have both God and His Son, and for the first time, you will have the privilege of calling God your Father, for only those who believe in the Son will be adopted as the children of God! (Galatians 4:5)
2) Accept God's instruction manual for your life. Yahweh wrote a manual that introduces Himself to you, telling you of His likes and dislikes, His wishes, and deepest yearnings--and among His deepest yearnings are you--to have a sacred relationship with you! In His manual we call the Bible, you can understand how to maintain an everlasting friendship with your Heavenly Father.
The Bible is like God's Facebook or Myspace profile. It's where you get a glimpse into Yahweh's majestic personality, His awe-inspiring creativity, His almighty power, and His enduring lovingkindness. But unlike all the personal profiles we browse on the web, Yahweh's profile isn't just about Him--it's about what He desires for you, what His plans and purposes are for you. It's like a special letter a good friend writes to you, desiring your best in life.
3) Accept a godly lifestyle. Since the Bible is a life's manual on living a purposeful and godly life, don't just read it--apply its teachings and principles to your daily living to start reaping its full benefits today. God's Word promises: "Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to Yahweh's law. Blessed are those who keep his statutes, who seek him with their whole heart. [They] will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever [they do] shall prosper." (Psalm 119: 1-2; Psalm 1:3)
Jesus compared the person who merely listens to God's instructions without putting them into practice to a foolish builder: "Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:26-27) But the one who does what God instructs is akin to a wise builder: "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, for it was founded on the rock." (Matthew 7:24-25) And Jesus is our Rock, for he is God's Word incarnate (John 1:14).
4) Accept God's help to help you maintain a deep fellowship with Him. Achieving true wealth--richness toward God--will be your lifelong goal, a goal that cannot be accomplished overnight. It can be achieved only through team work: your Heavenly Father empowering you with the strength and courage to be faithful to His commandments, and you cooperating with Him by trusting Him for your every need and want and by seeking His Kingdom and righteousness first. And when you seek His will first, all other things will be added unto you, and with Him will your heart be, for "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12:34)
To sum it all up: Acceptance is love: love for your Father, love for your Savior, and love for God's commandments. If we love God and His Son, we would love their commandments. If we don't love their commandments, that proves we don't love God. The two go together; we can't love one without loving the other. Jesus said, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. He who doesn't love me doesn't keep my words. The word which you hear isn't mine, but the Father's who sent me." (John 14:23-24)
When you have love for both the Father and the Son, you will be in complete harmony and spiritual union with them, as Jesus said, "I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him." (John 14:20, 21) Now that's true richness!
Once you achieve your mission of being an immeasurably wealthy person, all glory, praise, and honor will go to your Heavenly Father and Savior for motivating you, empowering you, and cheering you on!
~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley~*~
This month's question is from Tucker Lieberman, editor of Moral Relativism Magazine - www.moralrelativism.com
Question: Christians consider the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) to be part of their sacred scriptures. However, in the New Testament, Jesus seems to rebel against some of the traditional Jewish laws laid out in the Hebrew Bible. For example, Jesus seems to disregard dietary laws. How do you think a Christian should decide which laws of the Hebrew Bible should still be followed and which are unnecessary for Christians?
Answer: First, we must understand that the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Covenant given to the nation of Israel were for Israel only, not for Christians or any other people group or nation (unless other ethnic groups lived among the Israelites). Since the human creation, Yahweh God has established several covenants with people during various time periods, and the Mosaic Covenant was one such covenant. When we, Christians, speak of the "old covenant" in the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), we are specifically referring to the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant was a sacred agreement between God and Israel only. Its code of laws was to govern them for a certain period of time, not forever (Jeremiah 31:31-34). All the laws God gave to the Israelites were used as a way to show that people cannot obtain righteousness or receive eternal life on their own--they needed a Savior to save them from their sins and provide eternal life. All the daily religious rituals in the Mosaic Covenant pointed to the Son of God, Jesus Christ; they were simply a foreshadow of what was to come.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus said, "Don't think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn't come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17, WEB.) He fulfilled the Law (Mosaic Covenant) in two ways:
a) Obeying every single commandment without failing and without committing any sin. He correctly understood the principles behind the Law, not just the precepts themselves, and perfectly obeyed it. The only "laws" that Jesus "rebelled" against were the false interpretations of the Law and manmade traditions set by the scribes and Pharisees (i.e., Mark 7:13; Matthew 5:21-48). For example, he understood that the Sabbath law was established for the benefit of humanity, not to be a burden to them (Mark 2:25-27). He also understood that eating certain food doesn't make you morally unclean (Mat. 15:10-11; Mark 7:14-23). Contrary to what many believe, Jesus never rebelled against God's dietary regulation; what he refuted was people's understanding of the dietary law: they followed God's laws superficially and externally while their hearts were far from God, just as Yahweh Himself said, "This people draws near with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but they have removed their heart far from me." (Isaiah 29:13)
b) Being the final sacrifice that was needed for all humankind. All previous animal sacrifices required in the Mosaic Covenant pointed to Jesus' final sacrifice as a prototype. Sacrifices in the Mosaic Covenant required unblemished animals, those without any physical defects, to wash away the sins of people. This demonstrated that only the shed blood of a perfect and innocent substitution could wash away people's sins. Why was animal sacrifice necessary? Because the penalty for sin is death, so instead of people dying for every sin committed, an animal died in that person's place. Yet, animal sacrifices could merely forgive a person's sin temporarily; when a sin was committed again, another sacrifice was needed, so animals had to be sacrificed day after day. But this all changed when Jesus came. Only a perfect human being could permanently wash away people's sins, sins from the past, present, and future, so that's why Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for all eternity. No human being is ever perfect, so that's why Jesus became a person so he could die for us and wash our sins away. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God who died once and for all for the sins of everyone, nullifying the daily animal sacrifices. (Animal sacrifices seem offensive to us today, because we don't comprehend the seriousness of sins and how our sins offend God. Sins separate us from God permanently; with sins, we can never have fellowship with God nor approach Him. But when Jesus died for us in our place, that enables us to have permanent fellowship with God. For more information about Jesus' sacrifice and why it was necessary, please read my article:
Salvation through Jesus Christ Alon)
After Jesus' death and sacrifice, the Mosaic Covenant was terminated and a new covenant was established between God and people of all nations, including Israel (Hebrews 8:13, 9:15, 12:24). Jesus' own fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant terminated its governance. Think of it this way: when we write out a contract and establish specific terms for all binding parties to fulfill within a specific time frame, and when each party has fulfilled its duties on time, that fulfillment in turn automatically terminates the contract.
In the New Covenant, God established a new code of laws to govern all people, and these laws are found in the New Testament of the Bible. This code of laws include the underlying principles of the laws in the Mosaic Covenant; therefore, the "old" laws are not dead and gone--God's high standards stand forever.
All the laws set in the New Testament govern Christians. Christians are, and never have been, under the Mosaic Covenant. Israel is no longer under the Mosaic Covenant, either, since it was terminated (Galatians 3:23-28). Both groups of people--Israel and the gentiles (all other people other than Israel) are now under the New Covenant.
However, the Old Testament portion of the Bible (the Hebrew Scriptures that contain the Mosaic Covenant) is not obsolete for Christians. For example, by reading and studying the Mosaic Covenant, Christians will be able to understand why Jesus' death and sacrifice was necessary in order to give us eternal life. Moreover, there are other covenants in the Old Testament that still apply to everyone on Earth: the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:15-19) and the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:3-16). For example, the Noahic Covenant was established by God after the great flood in Noah's day. This covenant governs all of Noah's descendents, which includes every person alive today. In this unconditional covenant, 1) we are permitted to eat all meat as long as we do not eat the blood, 2) the death penalty for murder is established, and 3) God promises not to destroy the Earth with a global flood again.
Thus, in order to know and understand which laws and which covenants govern Christians today, we must study the entire Bible, both the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) and the New Testament (Greek Scriptures). We need to understand which covenants are still binding, and with whom they are binding. We cannot accept the New Testament and ignore the Old Testament.
~*~Dr. Shirley's Corner~*~
My life's story is featured in Entro, the magazine of Mom's Choice Awards, of which my books, "Do You Love Jehovah?" and "Waking Spirit" are its Gold and Silver winners, respectively. Read the article at http://issuu.com/entromagazine/docs/entro_winter_2010_2011
In the "Search this publication" box, enter in my name to go directly to my feature. (Note: The magazine may not be compatible with screen readers, as it's the case with me.)
Do you want personal, one-on-one guidance or help in better understanding the Bible and what I've written in this newsletter? Then be my Bible buddy and e-mail me! I'd be more than happy to study the Bible with you via e-mail, without any cost to you. Our study will be in your own pace, in your style, at the comfort of your home. I'll answer Bible questions you may have, or help you better understand specific passages. You name it, and we'll do it! Just see me as your friend/guide/answer lady. I look forward to our journey together. Thank you.
~*~A Biblical Wisdom Nugget~*~
"We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us." (II Corinthians 4:7, NCV)
Through the hardships I have endured, God has taught me that I am powerless without Him; He is the power in me, and friends, God is the power in you, too, if only you'd seek His help to help you overcome your pain and troubles in your life.
You see, with each challenge in my life, God has taught me that I can trust Him. He has helped me through problems of all kinds and of every size. He has also taught me that small challenges in life are to strengthen our spirits and faith in Him, and to prepare us for larger battles ahead.
Remember the young shepherd boy, David, who defeated the giant Goliath? How was he able to conquer a fierce warrior thrice his size when he had never even had any experience in warfare? Well, before he went on the solo battle, David said, "When a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after him, and struck him, and rescued it out of his mouth. When he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and struck him, and killed him. Yahweh who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:34-35, 37) Yes, it was God who helped David conquer the giant!
Likewise, God will strengthened your faith as He had David, using little guys so you can be prepared to face the giants in the future! Just have faith in God to deliver you, or to give you the strength to endure your troubles if He chooses not to physically deliver you. Ensure that your faith remains strong by reading and studying the Bible, applying its teachings to your everyday living, and developing and maintaining an intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father. And when you succeed, all praise, glory, and honor will go to your Father in heaven, for it's His power in you, not your own, that has enabled you to prosper!
May the grace and peace from Yahweh God and Jesus Christ be with you.!
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Dr. Shirley Cheng
Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards
Proclaimer of Yahweh God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate
Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club
"Although I'm blind, I can see far and wide; even though I'm disabled, I can climb high mountains. Let the ropes of hope in Yahweh God haul you high!"
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