Wise Investing

In today’s world there are many strategies and options for investing in your future. You can pick from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bank products, options, annuities, ETFs and more. Within my limited knowledge of investing, I know a little bit about dividend reinvestment plans. They allow the investor to reinvest cash dividends into additional shares of the “parent” stock when dividends are paid out. 

Recently as I was working through a portion of scripture, I was reminded that there is another type of investing that reaches far beyond our desire for “physical” or material gain. While the responsible use of what God provides for us is important, our real investment portfolio should be filled with strategies and options to help equip others with the truth of the Gospel message. 

The book of Titus is a short yet carefully penned letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus as he prepared to minister and lead the people as the church in Crete. There is a real connection between believing in what is right and acting in a manner that shows others what it means to live in the light of truth and godliness. 

Chapter 2 of Titus lays out a different type of reinvestment plan that guides us through a proven strategy for investing in the lives of others, one that makes a lasting impact. 

Paul instructs Titus in chapter 2:2-3 to “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way that they live, not be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”

Paul’s strategy begins by making an investment of time and energy into teaching “older” men and women to live in a way that first honors God and second sets a good example of living right for those who follow. This first, or initial investment into the lives of the older generation becomes the initial point of re-investment for future generations. 

Paul continues to give instruction in the following verses using terms like, “urge the younger women” and “encourage the young men”. What he does here for the older men and women is this: he sets up the terms of re-investment into the lives of the younger generation. Their learning and growing in temperament, respect, self-control, sound faith, love, endurance, reverence are the dividends that pay forward into the lives of the younger men and women. 

Paul reminds us in verse eleven of chapter two that by the grace of God, salvation is for everyone. While we may live in a different time and space culturally from Paul’s original audience, the truths that these words speak should continue to be a guide to investing into the lives of our younger generations. 

Held in-between these words of instruction to Titus and to us is a message of living out our faith in a way that inspires others. How does your life inspire others? Will people see Jesus in your life through your actions and not just your words? As we live and lead by example it is my hope and prayer that we are all investing into the lives of those who will one day fill our shoes and follow in our footsteps. 

Shedding Some Light on the Subject.

What-is-Darkness-1024x507If you are a photographer, light is a big deal. In order for a camera to record the perfect picture, the light has to be just right. Astronomers can find and focus in on a pinpoint of light from hundreds of  thousands of miles away and discover the intense beauty if its origins. The soft glow of a night light can bring an incredible sense of comfort to a young child struggling to sleep in the middle of the night. Science has studied the effects of light on almost every aspect of life and continue to discover its incredible power. Simply put, light provides life.

In the Bible, light is synonymous with life, both in the physical and spiritual sense. From the very first verses in scripture, we see how God created light to pierce the formless and empty darkness. Throughout scripture, writers make use of this incredibly vivid image, to symbolize the contrast between good and evil. John records these words of Jesus in his gospel, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (8:12). It is important to take note of Jesus’ first statement, “I am the light of the world”. Jesus floods the darkness of our souls, our sinful nature with light that cannot be overcome. John 1:5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is a promise. As believers, when we walk in the light and life of Christ he has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6)

This symbolic statement used by Jesus himself contrasts the significance of life with Him and life without Him. Life in Christ equals light, (salvation and eternal life); life without Christ equals darkness or separation. John suggests in a matter of fact way that the solution to the problem of darkness is as plain as night and day. He uses the word or concept of light over twenty times in his gospel trying to make the point that Jesus is the light that guides our lives, both physically and spiritually.. When we walk in the footsteps of Jesus (the light of life) we can walk with the full assurance and promise of salvation from the darkness of this world. Are you wandering in the darkness? Step into the light, experience a transformed life today.

 

Light in the Darkness

pinhole cameraHave you ever used a pinhole camera? The pinhole camera is one of the most basic cameras you can construct with only a few materials. This simple camera works on a basic principle of light and dark, how a small amount of light shining into a dark box through a hole made by a pin can create an image, an image of something much larger. The pinhole acts as a lens similar to that of a regular camera only on a much smaller scale.

The book of Lamentations is not an easy read. It is filled with passionate expressions of grief and sorrow. The author of Lamentations voices his deep concern and disappointment for the sinful acts committed by the people of Jerusalem. Their direct and open acts of disobedience to God’s word has unleashed the promised destruction of their city. God brings the gavel down and serves the people with his mighty hand of justice. The author records the destruction of the temple and the suffering of the people, “The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary” (the Babylonians ransacked the temple before burning it down). “In fierce anger he has cut off every horn (power) of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand (his presence, power and protection) at the approach of the enemy. There was a darkness and feeling of torment that fell over all of those who disobeyed God.

Lamentations 3:22-24 reveals the “pinhole” that casts a light of hope into the darkness of the fervent laments of the author. In the middle of his discourse he changes his perspective by focusing on the hope that he still has in the Lord. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” Through the “pinhole of light” we have the picture of God’s everlasting promise of goodness and compassion. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail.” (3:22). This pinhole of light (salvation) comes from God. As hard as it is to read through the deserved sorrow and despair of those before us, we can learn from their actions and suffering. Today, with the same hope (because we serve the same God), we have to wait patiently through our own suffering and expectantly look forward to the salvation that we have been promised in Christ.