Daily Devotions

Lost and Found

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Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

“Finding Yourself Won’t Make You Happy.” This is a wonderful article title by Niklas Goke. Goke is a great writer and even better at preparing titles. I intentionally did not read his article, because this title alone inspired me. If you are like me, you have any number of friends who spent years trying to find themselves. I had friends who thought they could find themselves through illegal drug use. I had friends who thought they could find themselves through running away from responsibility and living in a home in the woods without indoor plumbing. I had friends who thought they could find themselves making more money than everyone else they know. Sadly, each one of those seekers failed to find their long-sought-after happiness.

Personally, I believe you cannot find yourself on a mountain, in the woods, or through psychedelic drugs. God is the one who helps you find your happiness, and like so much God does; God turns it upside-down. In order to find yourself, you have to give yourself away. The more you look for yourself, the more elusive you will be to yourself. Like most things God does, you have to turn it upside-down. In order to find yourself, you have to give yourself away.

Giving yourself away isn’t as hard as it sounds. My call, in part, as a pastor, is to develop disciples. You know you’ve become a disciple of Jesus Christ when you give yourself away. The mission of our congregation is to give ourselves away. We give ourselves away when we spend time with children and their parents at Monroe Elementary School. We give ourselves away when we spend our vacation traveling to El Salvador and helping our sister church with their farming. We give ourselves away when we teach preschool age Sunday school, or visit a shut-in. There are any number of ways our church provides opportunities for our church family to give themselves away at any given time.

Jesus gave himself away on the cross. We, too, are called to sacrifice. In the sacrifice, we find ourselves. When I sacrificed my time, energy, and sleep, as a new parent, I found myself. When I spent a week with the High Schoolers on their mission trip to Alabama, I found myself. When I stayed overnight, visiting with Family Promise parents, I found myself. Today, think about ways you can find yourself, by losing yourself. If it was good enough for Jesus, it is probably a good plan for you and me.

Rich, yet Poor

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The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

The news outlets shared a story about a man who won the lottery, to the tune of over $270 million. For many years he was married to a woman who was the primary breadwinner, while he sat on his lazy rear-end. Finally, she realized he would never change, and divorced him. Five months after the divorce was finalized, he goes into a convenience store and buys the winning lottery ticket. She said she wouldn’t go back to him, and he is now refusing to give her a dime. He may be rich in dollars, but poor in the many ways that truly matter.

While I am against the lottery for ethical reasons, I sometimes wonder what I would do with that kind of money. It would be a relief to be freed from the burden of financial worries. That would be a life-changer. Yet, not all would be positive. I would have to give up the ministry I was called to by God.  Can you imagine the line of people waiting to ask for money? It wouldn’t only be the poor asking for a hand out – it would be universities, hospitals, denominations, and untold not-for-profits. Even if I, somehow, kept those asking for money from interrupting the daily ministry of our church, I wonder if the congregation members would treat me the same?

I would probably consider the money a gift, and it would become a full-time job to figure out how to sustain it, while spending the interest on important projects. It would be nearly a full-time job just listening to different groups giving me the pitch, and studying up on where the need is, in this world of ours. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great fun, and meaningful to make such a difference, but it would come with a cost.

Today, think about what you would do with a check for $270 million. What would you buy for yourself and those you love? Yet, even after a great deal of selfish spending, you would have a ton of money left over. Would you be a hoarder? How much would you share?

Several years ago, I knew someone who had a lot of money, they sat on a church finance committee and pridefully demanded that everyone tithe a tenth of their income. After she gave her large tenth, she still had a huge amount left over for herself. When a poor person gives ten percent of his/her income, they may not have enough left over to feed the family. Money is a challenging subject. Today, pray for God to guide your financial decisions and motivations, so you do not end up like the poor, rich lottery winner.

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