“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” ~ Yeshua (Matthew 16)
I took this portion from this morning's devotional encouragement, sent out by the Pastor of Resurrection Life, Jerry Snipes. Or perhaps I should say, it “took” me. I was quite taken by the words of our LORD, by His probing questions to His disciples, then and now.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works." Matthew 16:24-27...
“...Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” This is a valid question He is asking. And He is demanding an answer. What is it, that this temporary earthly existence has to offer, that is truly worth possibly losing one's soul for all of eternity to come?
First one must settle some basic, ground laying, questions – like – does one really believe that there will be an eternal existence? If this life is all there is, then perhaps my old mum was right in saying, “get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can!” BUT! What if there actually is another life, a world beyond this one? And a Great Creator, Who created this one to be eternal, but allowed man to “do that one in”, by selling out to a mere fleshly desire! BUT IF there IS an ETERNITY – in which WE must choose our direction – then – again – what is worth risking being separated from that Creator, and HIS wonderful ideas of LIFE, forever?
Is a bit of ease worth it? Is having our own way at the expense of others worth it? Or worse, at the expense of our relationship with God and others? Is a great fortune, supplying all the desires of our fleshly dreams and ambitions, even worth it – when one considers how short a time those are to be enjoyed, and how long one may have to suffer when that time is up?
I live for the eternal realm. In the meantime, I try to be a good steward over what I've been given here. The blessings bestowed on me by God – through friends, work, or whatever. I try to maintain order, that brings His Peace more readily. I try to maintain health, by following HIS recommendations, and using what HE has put into the earth for that purpose. But most of all, my focus is on HEARING HIM, and DOING WHAT HE SAYS, at any given moment!
Not because I am a suck up. Not because I fear His wrath if I don't. Not because I am “so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good”. All of which have been said about me. But because I don't want to miss one minute of His Good Pleasure. I sincerely love and trust Him that much. I have found, in being that devoted to Him, that HE is also that devoted to me. Rarely do I make a request that isn't answered. Sometimes the answer is no! Don't get me wrong. But there is always a good reason for that. He is bent toward achieving my good and His glory! And I have partnered with Him in that venture. It isn't wrong to want good for ourselves! It is quite ridiculous to pretend other wise! It is wrong, however, to put OUR GOOD ABOVE everyone else's! To be other-minded, to put the Glory of God, and the Good of others above our own selves is ironically, and surprisingly, the KEY to getting the best out of life, and staying in a place of emotional peace, physical health, and spiritual security!
So. Yeshua is asking us …. “What would YOU give in exchange for your soul?” Or put another way, “What would YOU sell your soul to get?” Fame? Fortune? Comfort? Ease? That plastic peace, which appeasing the ever grasping flesh seems to bring?
Listen to Sandra - if there is ANYTHING that has more of your attention than He does, it is best that you follow the advice He gave to the rich young ruler - “Quickly (without giving it too much thought), go and sell ALL you have, and come follow Me.”
The rich young ruler, we are told, went away sad, dejected and conflicted. For he had seen what Yeshua could do, Who He Was! He had been bitten by the spiritual desire, awakened to his own lack, he longed to follow this man, Who walked in so much authority and love! Yet, his riches & position as a nobleman had too much of a hold on him, so, sadly he chose poorly, and walked away – knowing he was making a mistake.
I am firmly convinced that NOTHING in this measly world is worth the risk of losing my hold on Yeshua. Or loosening HIS hold on me! HE IS my one true desire. One could say it was easier for me – since I had nothing worth having to begin with!!! And, that is true. But I had the same potential to sell my soul for some red bean stew, the same as Esau. I had the same energy, time, and potential to have “made it' in this world as anyone else. There are many “rags to riches” stories out there. Mine could have been one of them! I am, as most who know me have discovered, quite creative, ingenuous, and talented in many areas.
I have seen, and even personally encountered, the riches and comforts of this world. I have watched the elite live their lives of selfish ease, or even generous sharing! And, to be honest, I believe that the poverty I have endured was NOT the perfect will of God for me! Abraham, it is said, was BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING! (Not like some in our culture, to have a GOLD bathtub!) David rose to the highest level in the land – while doing the express will of YeHoVaH!!! So I don't reject success, wealth or blessing!!!! I'm not crazy about the idea of fame. Being a natural introvert. But I will do, go and be whatever The Father needs me to be!
My point is that I wouldn't risk any of those things pulling me away from HIM. HE Is the central goal of my existence! All else is but a vapor. Nothing else has the substance He has. Nothing else holds the promise of ETERNAL BLESSING. A FOREVER AFTER that is worth pursuing.
I would love nothing better than to have the money to give people a hand up when they need it. To help people struggle out of poverty and into a good living for themselves – to be part of God's mechanism to “Bless the WORK of our hands” - to be a conduit through which HIS oil can flow unobstructedly, unhindered, to others in need – has been a goal of mine, a much repeated request during intercession. I believe that I am repeating His will and desire for me, and for others, as I pray these things. But I also pray, though I may eventually have money in abundance, that it may never have me! I do not want a divided loyalty. I will have only ONE God. YeHoVaH Elohim! And will serve on under His appointed and anointed King, Yeshua, The Anointed One.
I have made up my mind. I have set my course. I have chosen my path. I have determined what is worthy of my attention, time and resources. I am Kingdom oriented. I live down here, on earth for now. And I am a very practical person with regard to temporal needs. But over time I have developed a boundary for myself (I used it on my kids when I was home educating them as well) – I still say to my flesh - “We're not doing WANTS today”. Which simply means, that I am NOT pleasing the flesh today! I am doing the WILL of GOD. I will do what is RIGHT. I will do what pleases HIM, what agrees with Scripture. And if I miss it – if I am tripped by the fleshly parts of me - I will repent. Change direction. Make a necessary adjustment. Do whatever it takes to make HIM happy with me again.
Because it is HIS SMILE that I live for. That is what guides my choices, and determines what my work will be each day. Some days are spent working on getting the house He has given me in order. Some days are spent on the phone, pouring out my time and His Word on people who are hurting, or lonely, or just needing prayer or a listening ear. Some days are spent in writing, and intercession. But HE is actually “THE LORD” of my life – which means that HE gets to dictate how I spend my time! It isn't just something to throw around in religious circles! As an old preacher once said, “If He isn't Lord OF all, then He isn't really Lord AT all!” I truly think it is time the vast majority of those who consider themselves to be “The Church”, finally got hold of that reality, and finally made some choices, stop being conflicted, double-minded and apathetic in their following of Him. He demands ALL. We can say that isn't fair. But then, HE GAVE ALL. So....? Today is the day of Yeshua (Salvation). Today is the day to choose. Again, the question is, “What would you give (or get) in exchange for YOUR soul?”
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