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       “The worst punishment God could inflict on the world would be to give people everything they wished for.”

                          --Elmer Kelton  (Other Men's Horses)

       "Yes, the LORD will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase."
                          --Psalm 85:12 (NKJV)
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       There is a saying that money isn't everything, but it's way ahead of whatever is in second place.  Now, first of all, that is a bold-face lie.  The problem is that many people think that or strive to prove it true and in doing so lose all that is truly valuable.  I knew of a man who made $50,000 a week.  Wealthy?  Maybe in the eyes of the world, but he lost his wife, and his children to drugs.  
       Solomon wrote, "There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:  Riches kept for their owner to his hurt." (Ecclesiastes 5:13, NKJV).  What are those "severe evils"?  Mention already is the loss of a family.  But many of these men live in fear waiting for the next crash.  Some, like Howard Hughes, become a recluse, others spend their money to bring more evil upon the land like Soros.  We remember in this season the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who hoarded his wealth not caring about others until...  Look at verses 16-17, "And this also is a severe evil--just exactly as he came, so shall he go.  And what profit has he who labored for the wind?  All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and sickness and anger." (NKJV)
       That is not to say that you should not enjoy the blessings of work.  In fact, Solomon in the next verse states, "Here is what I have seen:  It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage."  Labor and its fruits are a gift for man to enjoy.  The dollar will not satisfy; therefore, we need to find pleasure in the simple things.  Walter C. Kaiser wrote, "The man who has learned the secret of enjoyment as a gift from God will not become anxious over the length of his life.  He has too much joy living to brood over the impermanence of his mortal being.  Rather, each day is taken as it comes, as a gift from God."
       Moreover, blessings given to you are to be shared in one form or another.  We need to invest in the vertical dimension of life and less in the horizontal.  Where are your treasures stored up?  The man to whom God has been generous is expected then to be generous.  To whom much is given, much is expected.  I like the words of John Wesley, "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can."  There needs to be more men like Wannamaker, LeTourneau, and Penny in this world who understood the value of living for the kingdom of God.  True, there are great philanthropists in the world, but why do they give?  Is it to ease conscience, or to meet the needs of others?  How many give to organizations that have a truly Biblical worldview of giving and helping?  Hmmm, think on that.
       God wants you to have the gift of contentment in your heart and this comes not from hoarding or in spending your life working for the American dream and dollar.  My Mom had a saying, "have to go to work--have to make a dollar."  Mom liked to make money, but I saw her in the last years of life living not joyously, but in regret.  She never under-stood what true contentment was.  Her idea was to make money, and sure she would give it away, share it, but she had the wrong motives.  Man should enjoy life, not possessions.  Think of this, man, including the wealthy man, must return to his Maker devoid of riches, not even having a cloak.  Nevertheless, there still are men who will spend all their days in great sorrow and distressing labor for such an empty goal as this.
       In the Christmas season, learn the gift of giving, but with the right purpose.  Don't give to get, don't give to manipulate, don't give because of guilt--but give out of a joyous heart and from the blessings of God.  Remember, what is the value of giving if you have nothing at the end and there is no treasure in heaven.  "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  I might add--the important things.
                 "If we focus more on the gifts than on the Giver, we are guilty of idolatry.  If we accept His gifts, but complain about them, we are guilty of ingratitude.  If we hoard His gifts and will not share them with others, we are guilty of indulgence.  But if we yield to His will and use what He gives us for His glory, then we can enjoy life and be satisfied."
                            --Warren W. Wiersbe
D.C. Adkisson
        

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