Tag Archives: material possessions

March 12; A Small Share

Numbers 34-36

The Israelites were on the verge of receiving what God had promised Abraham centuries before. The Promised Land! Here in Numbers we are given the actual square footage this massive congregation would occupy. I was a bit surprised.

Matthew Henry, on page 175 of “Commentary in One Volume,” tells us it was 160 miles long, and about 50 miles wide, or 8,000 square miles. (The US state of New Hampshire is a little over 9,000 square miles). But that tiny piece of real estate in the Middle East was the part of the world where God “was known, and His name was great.” (Psalm 76:1)

God, who created everything there is, who has dominion over billions and trillions of square miles of real estate, could have given His people so much more land. Instead, He gave them 8,000 square miles. Does that say anything to me today in 2019?

I had to stop and think about something else Matthew Henry said:  “How small a share of the world God often gives to his own people.” (Commentary in One Volume; Zondervan; 1961; page 175) But so many of us put so much emphasis on that tiny bit of the world God gives us.

So many of us spend an inordinate amount of time pruning, expanding, enjoying our own material possessions, while that which lasts for eternity suffers from neglect. We have heard, and most of us agree, that this world is not our home. But do we live like it is?

Today God is asking me to check my priorities. I believe He wants me to be a good steward of the material blessings which are mine. But I need to put it in perspective. God could give me the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine. But He hasn’t. What He has given me is the Truth, the Gospel, Himself, riches beyond the material. How much time to I spend pruning, expanding, and enjoying those?

The small share of this world which has been given me, is enough. I thank God for it. But if I lost it all today, I’d still have the most precious thing of all. I pray you can say the same.

 

June 7

I Kings 11; Ecclesiastes 1-2

The wisest, richest, most productive, and most popular king that ever lived hated life. But before we talk about how Solomon was feeling, let’s look at some of the choices he had made.

I Kings 11 tells us Solomon had a weakness. He loved women. He married 700 of them and had sex with 300 more. And instead of insisting that these women worship Solomon’s God, he allowed them to continue to worship their idols. 

I can almost hear a Moabite wife, whispering to Solomon in a private moment saying: If you really loved me you’d join me as I pray to Chemosh.

And gradually Solomon began to take part in the worship of these false Gods. Verse six says Solomon did evil in God’s sight.

So Solomon did what mankind has been doing since the Garden. He tried to replace God. Ecclesiastes says he went on a mission to find happiness and spared no expense. 

The king started with what he already had… wisdom. And he tried to learn everything he could about everything he could think of. He hired the best science teachers, philosophers, historians. He studied hard. But in the end he had to admit that intellect, all the knowledge in the world is like chasing after the wind.

So he went on to something else. Fun. Solomon had the means to throw the best parties. And he did. He hired the best entertainment. He served the best food. He invited the rich and famous. He owned more gold, silver, livestock, land than anyone. He built gardens and parks and reservoirs. He denied himself nothing. If material gain and living to please yourself could bring happiness, Solomon would have been the happiest man ever.

But he wasn’t happy. He found out that “things” can’t satisfy  no matter how lavish. What does he say about his experiment with pleasures?

This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

We’re not done looking at Solomon’s quest for happiness and fulfillment. But I think God would ask us all to check our own pursuits. What is it I am working toward? What is it I am using to replace God in my life? Is it education or science? Is it living for the weekend, having things, being caught up in material possessions? If we are honest we will agree with Solomon. None of that is eternal. None of that can last. 

If we are pursuing education or pleasure as means of fulfillment we might as well try to case the wind.

Dear God, as we look at the book of Ecclesiastes I pray that we will do so with open hearts and minds. Some who read this may hate life like Solomon did. May each of us be ready to take inventory, to recognize those things we think are so important in our lives, and to measure them according to your standards. I pray you will use Solomon’s words to help us know where true happiness lies.