In my research last week I ran across a little piece of verse called “if.”
If you can live without caffeine,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him or her,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender preference, or politics,
Then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as my dog!
1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.
In the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at the introduction of the book of Acts in chapters one and two and I’ve taken the time to explain who wrote the book, why he wrote it and who he wrote it to; and all these things are foundational to our understanding of the rest of the book.
And these first two chapters follow the pattern of several other books in the New Testament like the book of Matthew. Matthew begins with Jesus’ genealogy and His genealogy describes who He is in terms of history and who His forefathers were and how these things qualify Him to fulfill the prophecy of being the Son of David; the Son of God.
And then in the book of John it’s easy to pass over chapter one but I remember when I taught it in New Brunswick; I actually took six or seven weeks to preach through the first chapter because the first chapter lays the foundation to understanding that Jesus is the Son of God and then as you read the rest of the book; it proves the point.
And in the book of Revelation it begins by showing Jesus in His resurrected state in chapter one and He’s described as the beginning and end of everything and then in chapters two and three He addresses the seven churches, which are historical churches meaning they were actual churches of the first century and we can also see them perennial meaning they can represent various Bible believing churches worldwide and some even see these seven churches as being prophetical in that they describe certain ages of the church which begin with the first century and last until the end of time.
And it doesn’t matter if you agree with these views or not because you can still see that Jesus rebukes some churches while He encourages others and all this is meant to prepare the church for the horror of the judgment that’s going to be unleashed on a rebellious and unbelieving world.
So, in each of these books Matthew, John, Acts and Revelation God uses the same kind of format to introduce the subject matter of the books and the purpose of this was to allow help us to understand these books better.
We were also told many that signs and wonders were done through the apostles in Acts 2:43 and I believe this chapter and those to come give us specific examples of the many wonders to come.
Let me give you an outline here: we’ll see the miracle, the means of the miracle and the meaning of the miracle.
First, there’s the miracle.
And I want you to understand where this happened because this miracle took place at one of the temple gates which is called the Beautiful Gate and the reason it was called the Beautiful Gate was because it was extremely elaborate and was made of Corinthian brass and overlaid with gold and silver. They say that as the sun shone upon this gate the glow of its brightness could be seen for miles. The gate itself was huge; about 75 feet tall and 60 feet wide and it took twenty men to open and close it. They also called this the eastern gate.
So, it was huge and very expensive and yet it was only a gate. And when I think about the world criticizing the church for having what they consider to be elaborate buildings I wonder what they would have thought if they ever saw the temple in Solomon’s day.
Solomon extensively used gold and most of us know that pure gold is very soft but they used beaten gold and then they added an alloy to harden it. We’re told that David set aside 100,000 talents of gold for the building this temple. Since a talent was about 34 kilograms, this would be 3.4 million kg of gold -- or about 120 million ounces, which is about as much as is currently on deposit at Fort Knox.
2 Chronicles 4:22 says, ‘And the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entrance of the house, the inner doors for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold.’ In other words, everything was either made of gold or covered with gold and by today's prices, the amount of gold used would probably be around $50 billion. And listen, God didn’t think it was a waste.
T. S. Elliot said, ‘If this fallen world in all of its brokenness can be so wonderful, then what must heaven be like?’
And we have a glimpse into heaven in Revelation 21 and 22 and these passages describe the eternal city from which Jesus will rule and reign and it’s compared to a wonderful piece of jewelry and although commentators can’t agree on whether it’s a pyramid or a cube shape; we do know its 1,360 miles long, wide, and high.
And this city is described in Revelation 21:18 and 19 and it says, ‘And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.’ And then verse 21 says, ‘And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.’ And that tells us; nothing is ever going to ruin, rot, or rust.
Most of us or our wives have jewelry that’s made of gold and some even have diamonds. I remember when I first got Sally’s ring I was fascinated by the beauty of it and shocked by the cost but to think that someday we’re going to a city where the streets are gold and the walls are made of diamonds.
R.G. Lee said, ‘Heaven is the most marvelous place the wisdom of God could conceive and that the power of God could prepare.’
So, in spite of what the world says, our faith is in a God who was worshipped in a temple made of gold and we’re headed to a city with streets of gold and we have nothing to apologize for if we want to worship God in a building that honors Him by its style and cleanliness.
And yet, there are some so called believers who claim to believe the Bible but have a few weird ideas about heaven. A lady wrote to Dear Abby and said: "Dear Abby, I'm a middle-aged woman who is Baptist by faith. I believe when I die I will go to heaven. My problem is; if going to heaven means being reunited with my parents and other family members; then I don't want to go. The idea of spending eternity with them is more than I can stand, but then again; I don't want to go to hell either. Any thoughts?"
And Abby wrote back and said, ‘You should talk to your Pastor.’ But whenever people asked me these kinds of things; I always said, ‘You should write to Dear Abby.’
You see, her basic problem was; she thought that all the difficulties she had on earth were going to follow her beyond the grave. Heaven is not an extension of earth with all its sin.
But, if you listen to the world you’ll come to the conclusion that heaven is going to be a really boring place to spend eternity but that idea comes from two assumptions.
And the first is; that God is boring. I mean, if heaven is boring and heaven was made by God and God enjoys it then God would have to be boring. And that’s the craziest idea anyone could ever come up with.
Any desire or inclination we have for pleasure and the experience of any joy comes directly from God who made us. God made our taste buds, our adrenaline and the nerve endings in our bodies that communicate any sense of pleasure to our brains. I mean, are we so arrogant as to imagine that as human beings that we came up with the idea of having fun? Heaven is simply going to be beyond our imagination because our imaginations are finite; and God is infinite.
And then the second assumption is that life without sin is going to be dull. After all, ‘What are we going to do for fun and entertainment if there’s no such thing as sin?’
I think the fact that we even think this way demonstrates the extent to which we have been blinded by Satan. You see, the assumption is: sin is exciting and righteousness is boring and by thinking this way we’ve believed the devil’s lie because he wants us to believe that somehow sin brings fulfillment.
I remember as a kid watching TV and back then everybody smoked; from cowboys to talk show personalities and movie stars and everybody had their favorite brand; from Lucky Strike to Pall Mall. I couldn’t wait to try that still, smooth, cool taste and one day I did. I remember the joy of having my first cigarette; my eyes watered, my head hurt and I threw up; but I determined I was going to be as cool as everyone else and continued to smoke until I got used to it and then I was hooked.
And when I think about it now, it occurs to me that if I saw a horse eating a bale of hay that was burning on one end I’d think that was the stupidest animal I’d ever seen.
Listen, sin doesn’t bring fulfillment; it’s the very thing that robs us of fulfillment. Sin doesn’t make life interesting; its makes life empty and this emptiness leads to boredom. I think we’ll be amazed when we fully understand that temptation and sin were the greatest obstacles we ever had to enjoying our life on earth.
God is not boring; we are. It was God who invented our sense of humor and our love for adventure. And I guess the real question is; is God going to be bored with us?
So, heaven is God’s home and God is infinite in creativity, goodness, beauty, and power. So, how could His home possibly be anything less than exhilarating? I like how Randy Alcorn said, “The day I die is going to be the best day I’ve ever lived.”
Now, before I forget, here we are at the temple and as I said, the gate was worth a fortune and yet in spite of the wealth of the surroundings; there’s a crippled man on the ground begging and because of his physical condition he was considered to be both a social and spiritual outcast. I mean, he couldn’t work, so, everybody wrote him off as a beggar and he couldn’t worship because cripples weren’t allowed in the temple.
And they tell us there were three good places to beg back then. In Luke 16 we see Lazarus laying at the doorway of a rich man because not only is there a chance that either the owner or one of his guests might have pity on him but these people probably had the best garbage. And then there are the main roads where we see blind Bartemaeus begging as Jesus went by. And then there’s also the temple and let’s face it, if you were to leave church tonight feeling like you ought to do something for somebody and you saw someone who had a need just outside the door; well, you might feel like doing something you were meant to do.
So, there he was; sitting there minding everybody else’s business when along comes Peter and John who were on their way to the temple for prayer which is something that every orthodox Jew would be doing during this time of year. There would have prayer times three different times a day and they were going to the afternoon session.
And they’d go there like we come to church, for the spiritual benefit of spending time in the presence of God and the fellowship of His people and for a testimony to both the saved and the unsaved that we believe the word of God.
I remember when I pastored in Sackville we had an old man who had been the boss of the foundry where everyone in town worked and when he retired at 65 he went to Bible School and became a pastor and then he pastored for 11 or 12 years. But by the time I got to Sackville he was retired from ministry and almost stone deaf but he never missed church. And every once in a while he’d drop in my office and as difficult as it was to talk to him he’d always encourage me to stay in the word and wait for God’s blessing. And then he’d pray for me and go.
One day, I asked him, ‘Why do you still come to church, considering the fact that you can’t enjoy the fellowship or hear the music or the message?’ And he said, ‘I want to be here as a testimony to both the saved and the unsaved that I love the Lord, I love His word and I love the church.’
So, while Peter and John were on their way into the temple they saw this man and I’m sure an awful lot of people saw him as well but most people probably looked away or pretended he wasn’t there. And I know I’ve done that too.
After all, there are some people who spend all day long with their hand stretched out because they’re too lazy to work and others look like they’re just trying to scrape enough together to get another drink but, there are also times when I looked away because I simply couldn’t be bothered with someone else’s problems.
And for every needy beggar there are probably ten more who are either too lazy to work or probably don’t need what you’re going to give them anyway.
In 2002 there was an elderly Toronto panhandler known as the "Shaky Lady" who claimed she trembled because of a medical condition and they say she collected about $2,500 a week by begging on a downtown street corner. She argued about how much she made and says she really suffered from sitting on the street because it’s wasn’t very comfortable because of the snow or rain. She wore ragged clothes and held a sign that said "Please help me. I am poor. I will pray for you." Speaking through her lawyer, she said she panhandles to supplement her disability pension of $900 a month.
A writer for the Toronto Sun said he recently watched her take in at least $500 in five hours and that her shaking stopped as soon as she walked to her waiting car at the end of the day. The writer also said she lives with her son and his three children in a one-bedroom apartment with leather furniture, a big screen TV and computer. Her lawyer also said people were being too hard on her and she doesn't deserve it. I found it interesting that a panhandler has a lawyer.
In verse 4 it says, ‘And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.’
And instantly, he was healed. Nobody had to teach him how to walk and he never had to go for any kind of rehabilitation. He just got up and everything that was paralyzed began working for the very first time.
And as he jumped to his feet and began to walk it says he went into the temple walking and leaping and praising God. Before he was crippled and had to be carried but now he couldn’t seem to keep his feet still.
And then, we see the means of this miracle.
We have a tendency to look him and think, ‘Wow, now he’s got everything he’s ever wanted.’ And I’m sure for the next couple of days he might have felt as though he did, because he could walk like everyone else and go places he couldn’t go before like to the temple where he hadn’t been welcome or to see anybody anytime he wanted.
But eventually, this guy would have to get a job and go to work. I mean, he certainly wouldn’t want to go back to begging for a living. And when the dust had cleared away he’d find he was just like everybody else. And I wondered if he might have experienced a sense of coming down from the high.
After all, there’s something in our flesh that’s never fully content because our hearts are sinful and we’ll never feel completely at home as long as we’re living in these bodies.
I mean, look at David, a man who was called, ‘A man after God’s own heart’ and David had seventeen wives and several concubines and one day he committed adultery with another man’s wife. And listen, he was one of the good guys.
And then his son Solomon who the scripture says was, ‘The wisest man who ever lived’ had 900 wives. (Personally, I’d hate to have to walk into his bathroom because that means there was probably nine hundred pairs of panty house hanging in the shower.) But, here were two great men who enjoyed the blessings of God but still wrestled with the flesh.
Listen, This man was healed physically but he wasn’t perfect and he probably did and said the same dumb things that you and I do. So, even though he was healed and beginning life all over again at 40 he was still a sinner living in a sin-cursed world. The poet Henry David Thoreau once said, ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.’
I read someone’s prayer for the day and it went like this. ‘Dear God, so far today, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, I haven’t lost my temper, I haven’t been grumpy, nasty or selfish and I’m really glad about all that! But in a few minutes, I’m going to get out of bed, and I’m probably going to need a lot of help. Thank you! Amen.’
Let’s see how this miracle actually happened. Verse 6 says, ‘Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.’
And notice Peter says, ‘In the name of Jesus’ and in eastern thinking, ‘in the name of’ expresses the very nature of someone’s being which means the power and presence of the one being named is available. So, what he’s saying is, ‘I’m saying this but it’s as though Jesus Christ Himself were saying it.’
And when we ask something in Jesus name we are assuming it’s something that He’d ask for and so it’s as though He were doing the asking. And if anyone was asking for something in Jesus name they wouldn’t selfish but the goal of their prayer would be to ask for the very things that Jesus would ask for.
I John 3:22 says, ‘And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.’
And there are prayers He promises to answer like Philippians 4:19, ‘But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’
And we know we can pray confidently for the salvation of souls because that’s why we’re here and God’s plan is for us to reach people until He calls us home.
So, Peter says, I’ve got no money but here is a miracle and grabs him and pulls him to his feet.
And when you can’t sleep at night and you turn the TV on to see the news and you find someone screaming that they have the power, what are you supposed to think? Are miracles still happening today? I‘d say yes, some of us or our friends have experienced things we can’t humanly explain but miracles are very rare, otherwise they wouldn’t be called miracles.
We have all probably seen or heard about healings and healing ministries but how often do you hear that a specific healing didn’t happen because a person's 'faith' wasn’t strong enough. You see, what they meant was; that the person who needed to be healed didn’t believe enough or they would have been healed. So, we have to ask, does healing depend on the strength of someone’s belief they are going to be healed because if that’s what’s happening then this is nothing more than having faith in faith. In other words it’s simply positive thinking and if I just believe hard enough then I will be healed. But listen, this is not the faith Peter is talking about. This is not the Christian faith at all.
The miracles at the hands of the apostles were God’s stamp of approval on both their ministry and their message. We see the same thing with Jesus’ miracles. In John 10:25 it says, ‘Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.’ And then down in 37 and 38 He said, ‘If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him.’ And then John 14:11, He said, ‘Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.’ So, His miracles confirmed that Jesus was doing the work of the Father.
And when Jesus chose the twelve to be His apostles He gave them the ability to perform these miracles. So, their healing was real but it was also limited to the extent of their lives.
Let me make four quick points here about false miracles.
First, many of the supposed miracles or healings never really happen because they are simply the result of mind manipulation or some kind of hypnosis. Many of these so-called healings are known as psychosomatic illnesses; which means the people were never really sick to begin with and they were healed from thinking they were sick. Listen, Jesus and His disciples healed people of things like blindness, deafness, paralysis and even death. And I’ll guarantee; you’ll never see a faith healer either hanging around a hospital and least of all, a funeral home.
And then second, Satan and his demons can produce counterfeit healings. Mark 13:22 says, ‘For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.’ And then in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 when Paul was speaking of the anti-christ he said, ‘Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.’ And in Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus warned us when He said, ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’
God is not involved in everything that people claim to be doing in His name. Look at Luke 4:41 where it says, ‘And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.”
And then we see Paul’s confrontation with a false spirit in Acts 16:16-18, ‘And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.’ So, there always were and always will be phonies pretending to be the real thing.
And then third, we’re given the impression that the early church was a miracle working church but it wasn’t; it was the apostles. And when they left the scene, the miracles went with them.
And fourth, in every case of healing in the book of Acts these healings were performed on non-believers. There are only six healings in the book of Acts and they in chapters 3, 5, 8, 9, 19 and 28 and these are all unsaved people. But, who’s going to all these healing meetings today? They’re supposedly believers but if they went in the first century church then nothing would have happened anyway.
Listen, this miracle was done in Jesus name in a way and it brought honor and glory to Him.
I also see the miracle was unexpected in the sense that he was asking for money and nothing else. And when you think about him, he might have seen Jesus or even heard Him preach but he probably figured he was too far gone to experience any miracle.
So, this was not only was it unexpected but it was also instantaneous. There was none of this go home and let us know how you’re doing kind of stuff. This guy was healed! And needless to say, it was complete because he walked and leaped and used his limbs like they were new toys.
And then, there’s something here that I never noticed before but John was with Peter the whole time and he never says a word. As a matter of fact John shows up three times in the book of Acts with Peter; here, when he and Peter were thrown into prison in chapter 4 and then when he and Peter went to see the results of Philips ministry in chapter 8 and in all three situations Peter does all the talking and it gives me the impression that everything John witnessed in Jesus life, death and resurrection had such a phenomenal effect on him that he only said something when he had something to say.
And you’ve got to think about where he came from because he and his brother James were Jesus’ cousins and most likely they had known Jesus when they were younger and Jesus actually gave them a nickname when He called them, ‘The Sons of Thunder’ which gives us the impression they had somewhat of a fiery personality.
And we see three things about John that were different before Jesus’ death. First, he and it would seem his mother were overly ambitious. In Mark 10:35-45 we see him and his brother asking for the chief seats in the kingdom and in Matthew 20:20-28 we see their mother asking for the same thing. And maybe, because they were cousins they felt like they deserved it more than the rest and they felt blood is thicker than water and since somebody had to occupy these positions it might as well be family.
And not only were overly ambitious but John and James were also intolerant of anyone who wasn’t part of their inner circle. In Mark 9:38 John said, ‘Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followed not us: and we forbad him, because he followed not us.’ As far as John was concerned, he and the other disciples had exclusive rights in the area of deliverance so he told the guy to knock it off. And obviously, he thought Jesus was going to compliment him for his quick thinking but Jesus straightened him out instead.
And then third, in Luke 9:54 Jesus wanted to book a room in Samaria on His way to Jerusalem but the Samaritans said they didn’t want anything to do with anyone who was going to Jerusalem and when James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?’ but Jesus, 'turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.’
No wonder Jesus called them the ‘Sons of Thunder.’ Thunder is a phenomenal energy that makes a lot of noise but it never really does anything. The Aramaic equivalent is, ‘Sons of Tumult’ and this tells us these guys were always stirring things up and always shooting off their mouths when they should have been quiet. But listen, there’s an important lesson here. If Jesus could use John and James; which He did, then He can use the rest of us as well.
And then third, I want to see the meaning of this miracle as a parable.
Listen carefully, I don’t mean that this is just a parable because this man was really crippled and God really did heal him but I also believe this miracle illustrates the power of God that exceeds the world’s resources. After all Peter said in verse 6, ‘Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give to thee.’ In other words, all the silver and gold isn’t going to do you one bit of good but God can do for you what no one and nothing in this world can do.
And then Peter moves very quickly from the subject of healing to the message of salvation as he preaches the gospel to those who were gathered there. But, that’s for another day.
1. So, first we see God doing something b an of evangelism, it’s simply one person telling another; what Jesus did for them. So, one person gets saved and tells another who tells another who tells another but if someone quits, then we have to assume that a whole succession of people will not hear.
The greatest miracle of all; will always be the miracle of salvation; because when Jesus died and shed His blood to forgive our sin; that was a miracle of divine love.
Someone said, ‘Longfellow could take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it, and instantly make it worth thousands of dollars –they called that genius. Rockefeller could sign his name to a piece of paper and make it worth millions of dollars -- and they called that wealth. A metal worker can take five dollars’ worth of brass and make it worth five hundred – and they call that skill. An artist can take a fifty-cent piece of canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it worth thousands -- and they call that art. But Jesus can take a worthless, sinful life, wash it in His blood, put His Holy Spirit in it, and make it eternally valuable to God -- and that's called salvation.
And then notice the last verse because it says, ‘all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.’ And this was a sign they had entered the Messianic age because Isaiah 35:6 says, ‘Then will thy lame leap like a deer.’ And when God has set someone free who’s been crippled since birth and if he isn’t allowed to leap like a deer and be happy then who on earth should be?
A well-known Greek philosopher once said, ‘This is our predicament. Over and over again, we tend to lose sight of what is important and what isn't.’
Let me close by telling you a famous story about a man who made a lot of money and then died.
Once upon a time there was a certain small business owner who was very dedicated. He worked 10 or 12 hour days and most weekends. He joined organizations to expand his contacts and carried a Blackberry, so he could always stay in touch with clients and check his investments.
His wife tried to get him to get him to slow down and spend more time with the family. And even though he knew that he wasn’t as close to her and the kids as he used to be and even though he realized he was missing out on a few important things; he wasn’t planning to keep this up forever. And besides, he thought, he was doing it all for them.
His doctor tried to tell him he ought to take better care of himself. His blood pressure and cholesterol were higher than they should be and he needed to start a regular exercise program. Of course, he knew all that and thought, there’ll be time for that later…after things ‘settled down’ a bit.
Well one day, he got a call from one of the largest corporations in the country. They were launching a major expansion in his area and because of his expertise and connections; they wanted to hire him to lead their project; at a salary far beyond anything he’d ever made before.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime! Of course, it also meant—that for several months—he was going to have to work even harder than he did before. There’d be property to lease and staff to train and networks to put in place. But as he told his wife, “Honey, once this is over, we’ll be set for life. When this project is done, I can retire and we can start doing all those things we’ve always dreamed about.”
It was a great plan…except for one small detail. Every day a few stray molecules of high density lipids had been building a blockage in one of arteries. Every irritating commute, every fast-food dinner, every self-preoccupied thought had been quietly doing its work. Eventually; inevitably, his body was preparing to do him in.
It was his wife who found him. She woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that he wasn’t in bed. She thought, he must have fallen asleep in front of his computer again! But when she went downstairs to get him, there he was: slumped over his desk. And even though she called the ambulance right away…when they got there, they told her—he’d been gone for hours.
Naturally, his death was a big story in the local business community. His obituary appeared in all the papers. And when it came time for the memorial service, everyone had something good to say about him. “He was an innovator,” one said. “A classic entrepreneur,” said another. A former client took the podium and said, “He knew everyone in this town…he was a networker if there ever was one.”
And when the service was over, they placed his body beneath a beautiful marble stone and at the top of the stone, “they wrote this word…the man’s favorite word…the word he’d given his soul for: Success.”
But later that night, “when it was dark…and no one was around…an angel of God was sent to this cemetery. Unseen and unheard, the angel made his way past all the other tombstones until he came to this impressive, marble memorial. And there the angel traced with a finger the single word God had chosen to summarize this wealthy, busy, respectable, successful man…he wrote … Fool.”
God said, “You fool, this very night your soul will be required of you. And the things you’ve stored up—whose will they be?”
It seems like a harsh verdict, doesn’t it? After all, this guy wasn’t evil or wicked. He didn’t make his money dishonestly. I doubt he made it his goal to become greedy or self-indulgent. He probably never intended to defy God or to miss out on the fullness of everything that God desired for him.
He just got busy and distracted and almost by accident, he devoted his life to the wrong things…and somewhere along the way—he forgot what life was all about because he thought “getting more” was the goal of life. And to make sure that people understood this message Jesus said, “This is how it will be…with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” And in the end, we have to ask ourselves, who is really rich? The one who has it all or the one who’s given it all to get His all?