Matthew 16:24-27 “Soul First”
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.’”
This was the sermon at church today, and I was frustrated with the way it was presented as a painful sacrifice instead of a wonderful joy. In much of my reading and study of the Bible, it is amazing how people misread what God was saying about God’s perception of wealth and a godly life. If you read the Bible, it is clear God is not saying, “Don’t be wealthy and live like a monk.” Yet, that’s how many preachers misinterpret and miscommunicate to Christians. God repeatedly says in the Bible He wants Christians to prosper, to have blessings and to be joyous. He goes further to say that our source of that prosperity, blessing and joy is by staying focused on God’s Word, trusting the Father’s rules, accepting the Son’s sacrifice and gift of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s place in our heart to help us do right by God all the time!
When God says “deny himself,” He’s not saying live like a monk! He’s saying be SURE GOD STAYS FIRST PRIORITY IN YOUR HEART. Don’t let sinful stuff like greed, envy, lust and things of this world become your priority. If you stay focused on God, or deny yourself worldly excesses, God WANTS you to be prosperous and blessed. What He won’t accept is if God’s blessings become “your success” and “your priority focus.” We’re here on earth to glorify God. So when God blesses you with prosperity, remember the source, keep your heart on God’s priorities, and don’t feel guilty because you’re not acting like a monk!!
If the world were all monks, no one would be able to pay the bills. God wants us each to use our God given talents to the best of our ability, and then use the results of our talents for God’s good and God’s purpose. The amazing part is the more you put your focus on God’s way, the easier it is to be happy, productive and prosperous. Remember, God’s Word, God’s sacrifice and God’s priority place in your heart. If you keep that focus, money, success or fame can’t mess you up. You have the right priorities, and that’s what God is saying, “Hey kid! Keep your priorities straight!!” Your soul comes first, the rest is details.
A personal message...
“These devotions were written to my four children, Christian, Mike, Allison and Alex. By the kids allowing these to be shared publicly, our hope is that the devotions will make a positive and eternal difference in the lives of other young people as they mature. Enjoy. Rick Isaacson”