God Is…My Help

Sometimes life can take some painful twists and turns that cause great pain. It is especially painful when people who are close to us, like relatives, friends, teammates, or coworkers turn against us.

Let’s say you are close to getting a promotion at work. Some of your coworkers get wind of this and soon they begin to torpedo your chances for getting that promotion. Rumors start passing around the office, papers are missing from your desk, and soon you find yourself passed over for that promotion. You wonder to yourself, “Why did they do that? I thought they were my friends.” It hurts.

Perhaps you volunteered to coach your son’s baseball team. The parents of that team Ð many of whom you know and consider to be friends Ð are so grateful when the season begins. But by midseason, they are complaining about you: how much you play your own kid and how little you appreciate the talent of their kids. Then the emails and phone messages start coming your direction, criticizing you for your coaching. It hurts. You thought they were friends and supporters. And this really wounds you.

Perhaps your last parent has died, and things have been divided between the siblings. Your brother, or sister, or perhaps even the whole family, is resentful toward you regarding something they thought they should have. They verbally attack you in a fit of anger and soon have the rest of the family siding with them. You find yourself out of the loop in family communications, and they are beginning to leave you out of the family get-togethers. You can’t believe it, and it really hurts.

When those who are close to us cause us pain, we can lay awake at night, fretting and worrying about how we are going to get matters fixed. What do you do? Where do you turn for help?

We have a song before us today from the Bible. It is written by a broken-hearted father whose rebellious son was trying to do him in. The father is King David. His son, Absalom, raised a national rebellion against his father, which drove David from Jerusalem and the throne. Absalom wanted him dead and out of the way.

Faithful advisors sided with Absalom against David. For fear of his life, David left the city of Jerusalem along with some of his loyal followers. A man by the name of Shimei saw David and began to throw rocks, calling curses upon him, telling him that God had forsaken him and that he was being punished for his awful ways. David rode out into the wilderness and just took the abuse from Shimei.

This may be a little sanctified imagination, perhaps, but that night I believe David wrote a song, which we find in our Bible in the book of Psalms. It is Psalm 3, and it is labeled as a lament. If it were put to music, I am sure it would be in a minor key, as sad songs often are, for David was experiencing a wilderness time of the soul. Psalm 3 has four verses to the song.

In the first verse David writes, “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying to me, ÔThere is no help for you in God.'”

This is a verse of complaint. David is laying out his troubles. The key word here is many. “Many are my foes,” David wrote. Absalom, my supposed friends and followers, and Israel’s leadership have all become my enemies. And they are getting others to join this crusade against me. The opposition is growing against me being the king of Israel. Many are saying, “There is no help for you from God.” They are saying things like Shimei said, “God has forsaken you, David. He won’t help you.” David is spelling out that he is in deep trouble.

Notice who is being addressed: “O, Lord.” When you see that word Ð Lord Ð in the book of Psalms, it actually means in Hebrew, “Jahweh.” In English, people use the word “Jehovah.” It is an intimate term reminding those who use it that God is a God who keeps his promises. He is the God of the covenant. God had made a covenant with David that he would be the king of Israel and that God would bless him until his dying day as the king.

Referring to God as “Jahweh” is as intimate as when Jesus taught the disciples to address God as “Abba, Father” when he taught them to pray.

David, in this first verse, had a lot of troubles, so he turns to his Abba Father, his loving God.

In the second verse David goes on to say, “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. ” When David didn’t like the outlook, he began to use the “uplook.” He leaned on his theology. He put on his God-thinking cap and began to write of what he knew about God from his past experiences.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,” is military language. David was a warrior king. The shield was protection for the warrior. Lord, you have been my protection in all kinds of situations.

Perhaps David was remembering God’s protection while he was a shepherd, watching his sheep and protecting them from lions and bears. Or maybe he was thinking of when he took on the giant Goliath and God was his protector.

David also says, “You are my glory,” which is another military term. It means literally, my heaviness. When the soldiers of Israel would go out to battle, they went with just their weapons and came back heavy with the spoils of victory that God provided them. David was saying that God was not only his protector but also his provider. You have given me victory in the past and the spoils of victory.

David then says, And God, you are the one who lifts my head. You’ve always lifted my head. The picture is of someone whose chin is practically dragging on the ground and needs his spirit lifted. David is feeling quite humiliated at this time, and he needs God to lift him up and raise his spirits.

In the book of II Samuel, David welcomed his son, Absalom, back into the home after another situation in which Absalom had caused great pain. Absalom put his face to the ground before his father, who leaned down and kissed his son. David had to lift Absalom’s head to welcome him home and let him know he was still loved.

David says, God you are the One who lifts my head and lets me know that you love me. You raise my spirits. And you answered my cries from your holy hill. David remembers that God has been a God who answers his prayers.

David put on his theology cap, and it made all the difference. It can for us as well! When we’re not liking the outlook in our lives, when we feel like nobody likes us and everybody hates us, we can look up and know we have a heavenly Father who is a protector and a provider, who will lift our head with his love and answer our prayers for help.

David goes on to the next verse. He says this is what looking up has done for him: “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.”

This is another way of saying, I am sleeping at night peacefully, because I have learned I can hand it over to God who cares for me. He’s the one who sustains me through all of life’s situations, and now I am not afraid. Even if ten thousand set themselves against me, I have the Lord to support me. The Lord’s protection is all around me. I am doing okay. David says that he has a God who gives him peace that passes all understanding as he hands over his troubles to Him in his cry for help.

And here is David’s prayer (verse four of the song): “Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people!”

Rise up is a battle cry the Israelites would use as they went into battle against their enemies, following the ark of the Lord. Rise up, O Lord, against those who are rising up against me (verse 1). David asks God to deliver him from those who say that God has forsaken him and will not deliver him because He doesn’t even like David anymore. Show them, Father; slap their cheek and break their teeth. Slapping the cheek is a Hebrewism that really means to humiliate them, put them in their place. And break their teeth means to disable them, take away the bite of their attacks.

And then David proclaims, “Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” This is a statement of faith. It means help, salvation.

Finally, David prays for his people: “May your blessing, Lord, be upon your people.” David knew that his restoration as king was for the good of the people of Israel, for God had given him that promise.

The song ends with David leaving everything in God’s hands. He didn’t like the outlook so he took to the “uplook.” He believed in the promises God had made to help him. And so he handed it all over, even though he was still on the run from his son, Absalom, who wanted to get rid of him.

This is a song of faith, even in a bad time. It leads us to wonder what happened to David? How did it turn out?

You can read this story in II Samuel 15 and 16. The story turned out well, for David was delivered from that rebellion. However, it was painful for him because Absalom was killed in battle, and David wept for him. The throne was restored to David, and the kingdom was restored. Peace once again reigned in the land as the rebellion came to an end. David’s prayer was answered.

Now, I am not a king, but I am a child of God. And like David, I have some promises in my back pocket. Therefore, this psalm, Psalm 3, is mine to use in faith, knowing that there is just One to whom I can turn when everyone else seems to be turned against me: God, my help.

The human mind, though, is a curious thing. We sometimes find ourselves questioning if God can really help. Maybe you are at that place in your life. Let me pass on another story.

This story is about another king who could well have sung the same song with a lot of

feeling. He lived it, you see. He had conspirators plotting against him who did not like him or want him around. Many even said God was against him. However, if he did in fact pray this song, he did not receive a positive answer to the petitions for God to rise up and deliver him. You see, God did not protect him. Instead this King was nailed to a cross. He suffered and died with a mocking sign over his head that said, “King of the Jews.”

However, it was for your sake that he was not helped. It was so you and I could be helped. He was unblessed so that we might be blessed with forgiveness and a restored eternal relationship with our heavenly Father. God raised that King up on the third day and gave him victory over sin, death, and the devil; and in that victory we share all the blessings.

So, as you find yourself wondering at times if this God, the God David is writing about, is your help, remember King Jesus hanging on the cross for you. That is how much your Father cares about you.

The message of this Psalm today is simply this: when you feel like nobody likes you and you’re standing all alone, remember that God is your help, child of God. Trust him. Hand over your worries to him, because he cares about you. Amen.

Rev. Steve Kramer

Christian Crusaders

The Value of a Human Being

The influence of the Christian faith has taught us in western civilization the value of a human being. If we lose the power of this teaching, we see how cheap life can be. Slavery, the Holocaust and suicide bombers are three examples of how insignificant people can be in the minds of infidels.

Today’s text, recorded in the 13th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, verses ten to seventeen, describes the importance Jesus placed on the human being who is created in the image of God. He had been teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been a cripple for eighteen years. Today we would describe her as having a severe case of osteoporosis. Seeing the woman suffering, Jesus healed her.

This angered the ruler of the synagogue, and so he said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

But Jesus had an answer for him. “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

He was pointing out that, in their thinking, an animal was deserving of better treatment on the Sabbath day than was this poor, suffering woman. It shows how our legalism lacks mercy and kindness. He taught the value of a human being in a powerful way.

Let me tell you an important happening in my life. I have shared this story many times and share it now over Christian Crusaders once more.

Some 30 years ago a group from our congregation was invited to be the guests of a church in Tennessee. The purpose was to learn how they were sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a weekend that I will never forget.

Although I don’t recall much of what was said in the lectures and small group discussions, one sentence that we heard many times that weekend continues to ring in my ears. “In God’s eyes you are precious and important people!”

Through the years this statement has shaped my whole ministry. Hundreds of times I have heard God’s voice saying to me, “Remember, these people are precious and important to me. I died for them. Treat them this way.”

During that weekend we were guests in the home of an influential businessman in that city. When my roommate on the trip and I came down for breakfast, our host set before us a big, southern breakfast. He apologized and said, “You will have to excuse the cooking. That’s my job today. We don’t ask our help to work on Sundays.”

We responded by thanking him and adding that he should not have gone to all of this work.

To this remark he said, “Why not? You are precious and important people in God’s eyes and we are honored to have you as our guests.”

At this point in the conversation I asked him, “Since coming here on Saturday morning, many people have told us that we are precious and important. What is the explanation for so many saying this to us?”

“Well,” he replied, “we want to remind you that’s who you are in God’s eyes.”

He revealed that in a Bible study their pastor had pointed out this very important teaching in the Scriptures. I can’t recall all that he shared with us, but I do remember the three Scripture passages he used, and I share them with you in this sermon.

In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

We are created in the image of God with not only a body, but also a soul that is eternal. We are the rulers over the universe. He has given us this beautiful world to enjoy, but not to destroy. We are the crowning work of His creation.

Yet we were not satisfied with all God had given to us. We wanted more and broke His Law. This brought sin into the world and separation from God. However, God loved us, in spite of our sinfulness, and sent his only Son into the world to pay the price for our sins. If we confess our sins and receive him as our Savior, our sins are forgiven, and we will stand before our Creator as spotless and clean. To assure us of this promise, He has said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

As believers in Christ, God has commissioned us to be his witnesses or servants. St. Paul writes, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (II Corinthians 5:20).

He created us; he saved us when we sinned; and he uses us as his ambassadors. That is who we are Ð precious and important in God’s eyes.

Live the rest of your life with this Word from the Lord Ð that in his eyes you are precious and important Ð and see if it makes a difference in the way you see yourself and other people. See also if it makes a difference in how you view your own relationship with God and how you feel about issues such as these:

1. Letting people die without sharing the Gospel with them.

2. Using abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

3. Believing the only way to solve the world’s problems is by engaging in wars that take the lives of our own people as well as the enemy who would do us harm. Sometimes war is the only way, but at other times there might be a better way under God’s guidance.

I pray the story I have shared with you today will make some lifelong changes in your life. Whether you believe it or not, in God’s eyes you are precious and important.

Making Christ Fit

As humans we seek to develop a lifestyle that will satisfy our desires. We know where we want to live in this country. Is it the South, Midwest, North or East? We train to do certain types of work. And we have dreams of the kind of person we hope to marry. Do you want to be a stay-at-home mom or a career woman and how many children do you want?

Some people have strong spiritual convictions that need to be a part of the overall lifestyle. I have made many calls in the homes of people who have attended one of our worship services and have asked that a pastor visit them. This would be a typical conversation:

We are new in town and visiting churches in the hopes of finding a church home that fits our lifestyle. Tell us the advantages and disadvantages of a large congregation. Both my husband and I were raised in small, rural churches. How would you describe the average member of the congregation? What is the emphasis of the congregation’s ministry? We are traditional Lutherans, but listening to your sermon you sounded more like a Baptist with an evangelistic appeal to the lost. Can you adjust your ministry to make it more acceptable to present-day culture? Is your Sunday school fun for children? We do not want our children turned off to religion at an early age.

Evidently, these people are looking for a Christ who will fit into their lifestyle.

I would like to address this person’s questions by reading two passages of Scripture that were spoken by our Lord. The first one is John 10:11-16 Ð beautiful and so comforting.

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me Ð just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

The second is the text for this day, Luke 12:49-50 Ð frightening and very repulsive.

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!”

Let us look at three statements Jesus makes in our text.

1. “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” In those days fire was the symbol of judgment. William Barclay in his commentary says, “No matter how much we want to eliminate the element of judgment from the message of Jesus Christ, it remains stubbornly and unalterably there.”

2. “I have a baptism to undergo.” Barclay says Jesus is referring to the terrible experience that He has to pass through, meaning His suffering and death on the cross, and how stressed He is until it is over. Christ’s suffering was a part of God’s redemptive plan, and all who follow Christ will experience what it means to suffer for him. Suffering is a part of the Christian experience.

3. His coming would ultimately bring divisions even within the family circle.

These are hard words. How different from the words of Jesus as he likened himself to the Good Shepherd who loved his flock. How do I fit these words into my lifestyle where everything has to be positive and comforting?

What do preachers do with these words as they face the congregation Sunday morning? Well, I know. I have been there. I can ignore this text and move on to another part of the Bible. However, this is the assigned text for the day. Not to use it, I believe, is being unfaithful to the promise of preaching the whole counsel of God.

A second possibility is for the preacher to adjust the text so that it is not out of harmony with our culture. How offensive this text might be to a visitor looking for a new church in the community.

A third possibility is to accept it as a part of God’s inspired Word and preach on it, come what may.

Now let us be realistic and look at what Jesus is saying in our assigned text.

How might God’s Word be the cause of division in our family?

Mary and her husband seem very compatible in their lives together until their spiritual life becomes involved.

She has strong Christian convictions, and her faith must be fed at the worship service on Sunday where the Word is preached in the presence of the believers. Her husband is not that excited about worship each Sunday, especially when the weather is pleasant. The division does not come to blows. However, disunity in the family goes deep in their relationship as husband and wife, and it affects their children. Remember what Jesus says in our text, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

I draw this next illustration from the cover story of Time magazine’s, July 19 issue. This is the opening statement, “The economy is sluggish. Expenses are up, and raising kids costs a bundle. What better time to abandon the stereotypes and embrace the possibilities of the only child?”

Lauren Sandler, the writer of the article, says, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average child in the U.S. costs his or her parents about $286,050 before college. The milk I am buying adds up to $50 a month, and we are pushing toilet training just to drop the cost of diapers Ð about $100 a month from our monthly budget. It is a marvel to me these days that anyone can manage a second kid Ð forget a third.”

One wonders what part abortions have in the popular trend of having only one child in a family. Imagine if the wife accidentally becomes pregnant. The wife who has been raised in a more liberal home decides she will have an abortion. The husband rebels at the thought because the Bible says, “Thou shall not kill.” He is convinced that abortion, taking a life that God has created in His image, is sin. Now this text becomes very personal and could well mar the marriage for years.

Jesus can be the Good Shepherd to his flock only because he has defeated the enemy Ð Satan Ð through his death and resurrection. Therefore, he presents himself not only as the Shepherd, but also as the Warrior against the tempter. He speaks out of love for his people through both the Law and the Gospel.

If we shape our Christianity to meet our preferred lifestyle, we will soon not have a biblical Christianity, but a club where friends of like minds meet to share the events of the day and a faith that not even Jesus would recognize as Christianity.

So what is God teaching us today? Stop trying to make Christ fit into our lifestyle. Instead, we should let our lifestyle be shaped by God’s Word. Let him be the one who builds strong convictions within us, even though being faithful to our Lord’s teachings might cause us some suffering. God’s Word does not change, even if our convictions do.

We Shape Our Eternal Destiny

A lady recently asked me, “Do you believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ?”

I replied, “Each Sunday morning at our worship service I confess in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, ÔAnd he shall come again to judge the living and the dead.'”

“But that isn’t what I asked you. For many years I made this same confession but gave little thought to what I was saying. Then I began attending another church that put a great deal of emphasis on Christ’s return and encouraged the worshipers to read some books explaining the details of how his return was going to happen.”

When I expressed my appreciation for her belief, I told her that Christians believe in the second coming of our Lord, but have little agreement on the details of how this would happen. This was a great disappointment to her.

Later I shared the words of our text with this friend and assured her that all Christians believe Christ will come again.

God’s Word clearly teaches that no man knows the time of Christ’s coming. St. Mark writes, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:32-33).

God delays this day of Christ’s return so that people will have an opportunity to repent and believe in him. God has provided salvation for all people and through the Word of God they receive power to believe it. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” These words clearly teach that we shape our own eternal destiny.

While this text speaks about Christ’s second coming, it also confronts us with the hour when God will summon us from this world in death and talks about the need of being ready to meet him.

In verse 32, God says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

We live in different kingdoms that bring us comfort and security. We are a part of the United States, which we might call a kingdom. We love our country and pray to God that we may truly mean it when we sing God Bless America. It gives us concern that our leaders give little evidence that, as a group, they ask God for forgiveness, direction, and strength to lead this blessed land. History teaches us that many of the world’s greatest empires have gone down in defeat, and without God’s grace this could happen to our land.

The company for which we work is a kingdom for us. When the company is strong, we feel quite secure. When it shows signs of weakening, the employees express concern. Many of us remember the days when the Packard automobile was one of the finest cars in America. It was a car built pretty much for the affluent. From 1899 – 1958 it sold many automobiles, and its employees benefitted financially from its employer. But then it was no more. Another kingdom had fallen.

It was a shocking day when once a brother pastor said to me when our congregation was growing rapidly and we were constructing a large building in the center of our town, “Just remember that the day may come when this congregation will no longer exist.” They were stinging words, and I questioned his motive for saying this to me. However, through the years I have seen how they needed to be said, and I needed to hear them. If the Gospel is not proclaimed every Sunday and the primary mission of the congregation is not to reach out to the lost and to feed the saved, our little kingdom will cease to be blessed by God and could cease to be.

Christ talks about his kingdom in our text today. He assured his disciples and us that he would build his church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). This is the kingdom that God has given to us, and it cannot be destroyed. This kingdom is ours when we have received Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, as our Savior and King. We enter the kingdom here on earth, and we live in this kingdom for all eternity.

We read in our papers a few weeks ago that even Senator Bird from West Virginia had to leave us at 92 years of age. It is important that we live with the reality of this truth. This is not negative thinking. It is realistic. We know that we are going to die, and yet believing that it is really true is hard for us. Only the Holy Spirit can convince us that this is true.

And so Jesus has spoken clearly to us when he says:

¥ The end is coming. We are going to die.

¥ Be ready to meet him by receiving Jesus as our Savior.

¥ Then we will meet our Lord clothed in his righteousness as spotless and clean.

Some of you might ask, “Is there nothing that I do in getting ready to die? All I need to do is to trust Jesus and claim him as my Savior and Lord.” That is true. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. However, when that faith is in our hearts, God will create a will and desire to free ourselves from those things that are contrary to his will. Following are a few examples. If you need more help on this subject, seek out your pastor or a friend who lives in a personal relationship with God.

1. A different understanding of the importance of our material possessions.

2. Godless, carousing, profane, immoral, dishonest social groups. Our friends have a strong influence on us. Can this group help us grow in our relationship with Christ? If they will not take heed to our witness, we should find another group who will build us up in the faith or listen to our witness for Christ.

3. Our silence when we have the opportunity to point people to Christ.

4. Our ill will toward others.

5. Unfaithfulness to our spouse.

We shape our eternal destiny.

Beware of Greed! It Can Destroy You!

Beware of greed! It can destroy you!

How often we have been given this advice by the media, and rightly so. Greed in big business and government brought our nation into a financial condition where some of our strongest banks were closing their doors, while millions of Americans were losing their homes and investments.

Who said, “Beware of greed”? King David, Israel’s greatest king, said, “Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it” (Psalm 39:6).

The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19).

Jesus’ words in today’s text from Luke 12 about the Parable of the Rich Fool present some questions that need to be raised.

1. Wasn’t the rich man to be commended for being a good farmer?

2. Was his neighbor, who was not as successful, more God-pleasing?

3. Doesn’t money offer us security?

The rich man was to be commended for being a good farmer. He used his talents and provided a good life for his family. Jesus would have commended him for being ambitious and aggressive.

His neighbor, who had not painted his buildings for years and had a messy farm yard, but neglected his work while having fun, would not be praised by Jesus, even if he were highly involved in the activities of his congregation. Nowhere in Scripture does God applaud mediocrity.

Money can provide us with some security and peace. When I was a young husband and father, I bought enough term life insurance so that if I were taken from this life by death, my wife would have had sufficient money to care for our children and herself for three years. This was my responsibility.

What I need today is not term life insurance, but to be a responsible provider for wife and myself in case failing health sends us to a nursing home where the costs are exorbitant.

The text does not speak against being a good provider for our family and a responsible citizen of the community. What Jesus is telling us is very clearly stated. Material possessions are not adequate security for life. This is a biblical teaching that people, more often than not, do not understand. It seems more natural for people to be desirous of having a greater amount of possessions, reasoning that the more you have the better off you will be. While people have to agree that money cannot buy everything, they live as though it can.

Covetousness and greed are plaguing sins that can destroy us. Therefore, the words of Jesus must be heard: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed: a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

We are concerned about the poor, as we should be. However, we should not forget the wealthy who are some of the most needy people walking this earth.

The security we need continues after the last breath in our bodies has been drawn and we have entered eternity. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14). True wealth comes from having a Savior who is Christ Jesus. He died at the cross for our transgressions and has been raised to win victory over sin, death, and the devil, which he offers to us. He brings those who trust him as Savior and Lord into the kingdom of heaven to live forever.

I think of my old friend, Al, who now lives in his heavenly home. At 91 years of age, he loved to talk about the day when we would live with the Lord. One day, as we walked into the dining hall together and sat down to eat at the same table, we saw that something was wrong with Al. He slouched over in his chair and his right arm had no strength. He was taken to the hospital suffering from a severe stroke. A few days later, we gathered at the church where he worshiped for his funeral service. It was a day of victory for a spiritually wealthy man who passed from life into eternity before our very eyes.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theological scholar teaching at Union Seminary in New York City. Many came to hear his scholarly lectures. However, Bonhoeffer was more than a brilliant theologian with great insights into the gospel. He confessed Christ as Savior and Lord. His love for his country was so great that he left his position at the seminary and returned to Germany to fight Nazism. Only hours before he was to die on the gallows at Flossenberg as a martyr for the faith, and only days before the Germans surrendered, Bonhoeffer led his fellow prisoners in a brief service using Isaiah 53:5 as his text: “. . . by his wounds we are healed.” Dietrich had a security that brought him to his eternal home with Christ.

When greed robs us of our eternal security, we are among the world’s poorest citizens. Therefore, we say with Jesus, beware of greed. It can make us very unhappy people in this life. But more than that, it can rob us of our eternal security.

The only way to fight greed is to live in a strong, personal relationship with Jesus.