February 28, Saturday
“Probably one of the biggest areas where God’s kingdom contrasts with our normal thinking has to do with money. What you treasure will run your life, so don’t waste it piling up all kinds of earthly possessions. There is a way to stockpile treasures in Heaven where they can’t get stolen or lose their value. Do that instead.
“Don’t you see that what you think is most important will color all the rest of your desires? If you’re focused on earthly delights, your whole life will be characterized by darkness. If you look at things the way God designed you to, then your whole body will be full of light.
“So when it comes to money, you can’t love money and God. You’ll always end up loving one and hating the other because it interferes with what you want.
“In practical terms, this means you should never worry about temporal things like food, clothing, or housing. Instead, if you really believe God is your Source and that He cares for you, focus your desires on the things He loves and He’ll take care of the details. Look how well He provides for the birds. Look how magnificently He clothes the flowers which are ‘here today and gone tomorrow.’ Keep reminding yourself how much more valuable you are to Him than these things. The pagans who don’t know the Father fuss over these things. But what profit is there in worrying about the future — especially when we know the God who has everything under control.
“Be careful, too, how you think and talk about others. On the one hand you dare not be judgmental because you realize how many flaws there are in your own character. Deal honestly with your own issues first, then you can help others with theirs. Treat others the way you want to be treated. On the other hand, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be discerning. Some people are simply not ready for kingdom truth; and if you waste your time trying to convince them, they’ll make you sorry you did. They are like pigs trampling precious pearls and then turning to attack you.
“The great thing about living in the Kingdom is that your Heavenly Father is so much better than the very best dad this world can imagine. No loving father would let his son down by giving him a stone to eat when he asked for bread or by handing him a snake when he wanted fish, would he? So when you come to the Father, ask and you will receive. Lacking wisdom? Seek it from Him and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Needing doors to be opened? Knock on His door and watch what He opens.
“My final point is that life will offer you many choices and lots of decisions. Don’t go with the crowd. They’re taking the easy way, not realizing that it leads to disaster. Choose the right path even though it may be lonely and hard going at times.
“Along the way you’ll find plenty of folks ready to tell you which way to go. There are a lot of greedy wolves out there who cover themselves in sheepskin and try to make you think they are like you. Watch their lives; you can tell a tree by the fruit it produces. Evil people can only hope to produce trouble because of what they store in their hearts. They could no more produce good works than a clump of thistles can sprout figs. Listening to people’s words will reveal what is in their heart. Upright men have a lot to offer because of the good treasure they’ve invested in their hearts. If a person consistently exhibits good character, you can be sure he or she is a “good tree.”
“How is it that you call me ‘Lord’ but aren’t interested in doing the things I say to do? You see, it’s not what someone says that matters. On the Day of Judgment a whole lot of folks will claim to have served me, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we do all these things in Your name?’ I’ll have to tell them outright, ’Away from Me. I never knew you. You were actually working against Me.’ It makes sense, doesn’t it, that only those who live the way My Heavenly Father wants them to will enter His kingdom?
“You can picture it like this: Everyone who hears what I’ve just said and takes action on it is like a sensible man who builds his house on a rock. No matter what storms come against that house, it can’t be destroyed because it’s attached to a secure foundation.
“On the other hand, if you listen to my teaching and go on living life the way you always have, you’re building your life on sand. When the hard times come, you’ll come crashing down.”
As Jesus finished speaking, the people just sat there in awe. In all their lives they hadn’t heard anyone teach with such authority, like He knew what He was talking about and meant every word.