Jesus on Money: How Do You Define Success?
“Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’” 
Success looms large in our estimate; but how do you define success? Most of us would likely consider an individual successful if she held a large portfolio or if he enjoyed a large income. Perhaps we consider the individual who enjoys popularity to be successful; but even in that instance we usually assume that popularity equates to wealth. Measures of success vary, but usually we think of people who are well-known, easily recognised and especially people who are independently wealthy as those who are successful. However, we who are Christians should ask what the measure of success is in the Kingdom of God.
In order to discover God’s criterion for success we must consult the Creator. He made us. Since by His mercies we live or die, ultimately, success depends upon His estimate and not upon what we might think. To discover God’s measure of success, I invite you to consider a pericope found in Luke’s account of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus related a parable illustrating precisely what is important in the divine economy.
Jesus had been engaged in conflict with the Pharisees and Lawyers. He had stripped away the thin veneer hiding the corruption of their souls. Enraged, the religious leaders were hoping to catch Him in some verbal faux pas so they could at the least embarrass Him before His followers. Jesus, however, refused to play their game.
He warned His disciples to watch out for the traps such religious leaders would lay, cautioning them that the secrets of the heart will at last be revealed. Consequently, those who will live fearlessly must fear God supremely. “The fear of man lays a snare” [PROVERBS 29:25] remains an excellent warning.
Jesus expanded this warning, encouraging all who profess His Name to consider carefully their actions and their words. Jesus said, “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” [LUKE 12:8-12].
You might think that someone hearing these words would soberly consider the implications for his or her own life. However, Jesus had not even finished speaking when one of his listeners interrupted complaining that the division of the family inheritance was unjust. In fact, the individual pleaded with Jesus to intervene, compelling the brother who had apparently received the larger portion to redress the supposed error.
Jesus brought the man up short, confronting him with a pointed question. “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Jesus did not come to judge earthly issues. The things of this earth must perish with their use. Consequently, wealth and efforts to accumulate wealth must ultimately perish. Money is simply a tool. Money itself is neutral, taking on character only as it is either employed to the glory of God, the betterment of the individual or as it is misused through being consumed on our desires. Jesus did not come to engage in mere material matters, but rather He came to bring salvation.
Note VERSE FIFTEEN, “…He said to them.” Who is “them?” I suppose it would be natural to conclude that Jesus turned His attention to the disciples, or even more naturally that He turned His attention to the crowd. However, I am certain that Jesus addressed the man who had cried out for judgement and the brother. Regardless of who was addressed, Jesus’ words will forever serve as a warning against greed. “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
This warning, likely addressed to the two combatants, was heard by all that were present on that day. Jesus’ warning serves to this day as a basis for instruction for all who will listen. Focus on the parable Jesus told in order to discover God’s measure of success.
MAN’S MEASURE OF SUCCESS — “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” I asked at the beginning of the message what you might consider the measure of success. For the most of our world—and I fear that I must include professing Christians in this number—success is measured by tangible criteria destined to perish with this world. For instance, we consider the well-known person to be successful. Whether they are recognised because of athletic ability or because of musical ability or simply because they are well proportioned and beautiful, we think of such people as successful.
An entire movement in the reality television industry has been formed around this aspect of success. Today, we watch “American Idol,” “Canadian Idol,” “Action Hero,” “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire,” and the list seems to go on ad infinitum. All these shows revolve around voice or looks and the winners are provided opportunities to be “successful.”
We consider an individual who possesses wealth to be a successful person. Some people are thought successful even though they have done nothing to enrich themselves other than being born into the right family. It is amazing what a large inheritance will do for one’s image of success! However, we rightly admire the entrepreneurial abilities of individuals such as Warren Buffet or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Each parlayed the ability to invest wisely or to develop and market either software or hardware, turning their abilities into fortunes beyond belief for the average person. Mark Zukerberg, Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Bezos each turned an idea into a fortune. Anyone who has heard of Facebook or EBay or Amazon Books recognises that these men are considered successful by the vast majority of people who know of their enterprise.
In our text, Jesus relates a story about a man whom the hearers would have immediately considered to have been wildly successful. For a moment, think about another man who lived much later than Jesus in the days of His flesh. Clarence Jordan was a pioneer in the realm of race relations in the southern United States. He earned a Ph.D. in New Testament Greek from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and could no doubt have pastored any of a number of great churches in the South, yet he braved violence and legal and economic reprisals to found Koinonia Farm, an interracial farming community in the deep South.
One thing Jordan did in his far too short life was to translate almost the entire New Testament into the vernacular of the South. That “translation”—the Cotton Patch Version of the Bible—reset the Bible into the Twentieth Century South, forcing an entire culture to look at itself through the divine mirror of the Word. I want to read a portion of today’s text from Jordan’s Cotton Patch Version of Luke.
“Somebody in the crowd said to [Jesus], ‘Preacher, speak to my brother about dividing the inheritance with me.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Say, fellow, who appointed me as a judge or arbitrator between you two?’
“Then he said to them, ‘You all be careful and stay on your guard against all kinds of greediness. For a person’s life is not for the piling up of possessions.’
“He then gave them a Comparison: ‘A certain rich fellow’s farm produced well. And he held a meeting with himself and he said, “What shall I do? I don’t have room enough to store my crops.” Then he said, “Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my old barns and build some bigger ones in which I’ll store all my wheat and produce. And I will say to myself, ‘Self, you’ve got enough stuff stashed away to do you a long time. Recline, dine, wine, and shine!’”’” 
I suppose that to our mind the essence of success is recline, dine, wine and shine. Success is measured by our ability to engage in leisure and to exercise power. In short, success is measured by the ability to do whatever one may wish to do. However, if this truly is the measure of success, one must wonder why we settle for so little and why “success” fails to bring satisfaction. Here is what I mean. When we have set a goal and at last attained that goal, or when we have laboured toward a particular achievement or sought to attain a particular position, it is almost inevitable that we discover that our achievement, our attainment fails to satisfy. What we at first consider to be the one thing that will surely give us the greatest pleasure so very often leaves us empty and desolate at the last. The promise is greater than the performance. That is because the things associated with this life can never satisfy permanently. Since all that is associated with this life is temporary, the accoutrements of this life are similarly temporary and the satisfactions of this life are transient and ephemeral.
Family members were unable to understand my reluctance to attend graduation ceremonies following completion of doctoral studies. To me, the ceremony seemed a meaningless act. It seemed vapid, illusory, pointless, hollow. The investigations were complete and the appropriate conclusions already drawn. Now life loomed large before me. The ceremonies were something like strawberries without the berries—all that remained was the straw. I had no desire to participate in the ceremonies and hear hollow platitudes about what an accomplishment the studies had proven to be. I was already facing the next challenge and the past was receding into mere memory.
Academic achievement fails to satisfy for long. Ultimately, our performance in the workplace is what really matters. Apparently, beauty fails to satisfy since people we consider to be “beautiful”—Hollywood stars and starlets or television personalities—seem to be engaged in a perpetual attempt to change their looks or they are constantly striving to seek to regain their youth through what is essentially serial adultery as they constantly marry and remarry.
An adoring public and great wealth is obviously insufficient to satisfy permanently. Ask Kurt Cobain or Howard Hughes. Both were wealthy and fawned over by many people. One of these men, in desperation took his own life, and the other lived out his days as a recluse—fearful, paranoid and virtually entombed in his own bedroom.
While on the faculty at the Criswell College, I became acquainted with a man named Rick Stanley. Rick Stanley was the half-brother of Elvis Presley. After the death of Gladys Presley, Vernon Presley had remarried a woman with two sons—Rick and David Stanley. Rick Stanley had come to faith and Doctor Criswell had arranged for him to attend the school, encouraging him to prepare for a life of ministry. Rick Stanley served as a youth evangelist at the First Baptist Church of Dallas; his brother, David, was for a time an Assembly of God preacher. On one occasion I arranged my schedule to attend a service as Rick Stanley spoke. One thing stands out in my memory of that particular message. I recall him stating of Elvis Presley that he often bemoaned his loneliness. “I’m so damned lonely I could die,” were words that Elvis spoke on more than one occasion in the presence of his younger half-brother. That loneliness led to overeating and abuse of drugs which ultimately led to his death. Though successful beyond all imagination, success was unfulfilling for this talented performer.
What should be clear from this brief reminder is that man’s criteria for success are flawed. So long as an individual remains focused on accumulating the elements identified with this dying world in an effort to authenticate his existence or to validate his life, he will never find satisfaction or contentment. Wealth and popularity and pleasure are will-‘o-the-wisps, promising far more than they can ever deliver, for these things can never bring lasting satisfaction or joy. Wealth, popularity and pleasure are destined for dust because they are identified with this earth and all that exists here must perish.
In no small measure the failure of “things” of or “positions” in this dying world to provide satisfaction is precisely because we have no real control over the next moment. Jesus demonstrates this failure to satisfy by relating the parable of our text. The very fact that the rich man thought he controlled the future is demonstration that he was a fool. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of James, half-brother of our Lord.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” [JAMES 4:13-15].
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you” [JAMES 5:1-6].
“If the Lord wills” is an excellent preface for every plan we make. When we do this we can submit our lives to Him in order to discover what is eternally beneficial. Our youth who have completed their education and those young men and women who will continue their studies will do well to learn this lesson early. These thoughts lead us to consider the next point of the parable.
GOD’S MEASURE OF SUCCESS — “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
God always has the last word. If you are focused on things and positions and pursuits that ultimately lead to the grave, you need to hear God’s final word to you. “Fool!” This is not merely saying that you are acting in a stupid, obtuse or dim-witted manner; rather, it is saying that you are acting without thought to the moral and ethical consequences of your actions. To be a fool is to exalt yourself over God. Old fashioned black preachers used to warn, “Little man, your arms are too short to box with God.”
I appreciate Eugene Peterson’s translation of God’s commentary on this particular issue. “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”  The rich man had not reckoned with God. He had not prepared for the possibility that God would have something to say about the manner in which he used his wealth. Each of us lives in light of the knowledge that we must stand before the Living God to give an account of what we have done with His precious gift—the life we now enjoy. We shall either stand before the Bema—the Judgement seat of Christ—where we shall witness the revelation of all that is good accomplished to His glory through our lives, or we must stand before the Great White Throne where it will be revealed that we have nothing to offer except weak apologies in defence of a wasted life.
Success is less dependent upon what others think of us—and even less dependent upon what we may think of ourselves—than it is dependent upon what God thinks of us. Whether we are ultimately considered wise or whether we are thought foolish depends upon what we have done to prepare for the day when we face God. If the whole of our existence is identified with accumulation of the trifles associated with this dying world, then God can rightly accuse us of being fools. If, on the other hand, we have made the effort to find out what pleases God and we have done those things, we will receive His commendation.
Whenever I have referred to Paul’s teaching found in 1 CORINTHIANS 3:10-15 I have emphasised the fact that ultimately only that which honours God will remain. In this I find great comfort because I know that all associated with this dying age will be forever gone. However, that does not negate the fact that some “things” will be burned up.
Listen to the Apostle’s words. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
Again, notice the contrast between living while focused on what is passing and living while focused on what is permanent. The contrast is revealed in a passage in Peter’s Second Letter. The Apostle to the Jews cautioned, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” [2 PETER 3:10-13].
Either we are accumulating what will be burned up, or we are storing up treasures that cannot be destroyed. Of course, this is the real reason that laying by treasures on earth is foolish, even as Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” [MATTHEW 6:19-21].
I know there will be some extremists who, reading this message or remembering the words I speak, will insist that the Pastor is opposed to RSPs or insurance policies or savings accounts. If that is what you think I have said, you have misheard. We are enjoined in Scripture to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” [see MATTHEW 10:16]. We are responsible to provide for those who are dependent upon us. We are responsible to provide for the future in so far as we are able to do so.
The wise person will know that death is inevitable and that at the very least we must be prepared to provide for the expenses associated with burial. Husbands who assume responsibility to provide for the family will seek to ensure that there are funds to care for his wife and children should he suddenly be removed before old age.
Likewise, the wise person will know that if Christ tarries and the normal course of life applies, she or he will grow old and find it difficult to continue working. Such people will know that governments squander our moneys at an irresponsible rate and that we cannot depend upon the government to return even a portion of what they have confiscated as “pensionable earnings.” Wise people will do whatever is possible to set aside moneys against the day when wages can no longer be earned. They will have availed themselves of the various opportunities to set aside moneys for retirement.
Uncertainty is one major characteristic of this dying age. We are frequently surprised by the events of the day and our wealth is subject to being lost momentarily. An airliner flying into a building can cause the stock markets to tumble and plunge the world into war. Weird fanatics with rags tied around their heads can bomb innocent people and destroy institutions that devalue our holdings. There is nothing certain in this sin-wracked world except for uncertainty. The wise person will have some moneys set aside for immediate needs. I counsel young families to set aside ten percent of their earnings in a savings account or to invest a similar amount so that they will have something in the day of disaster with which to provide their needs.
However, having said this, I also caution all who hear my words to understand that wisdom dictates that each of us hold the things of this life loosely. Those who seek to honour God will wisely invest in those things that are eternal. While setting aside ten percent for a rainy day, it is the mark of wisdom to set aside at least ten percent for that which is inevitable and eternal—the cause of Christ the Lord.
In the eyes of God, the successful individual is the one who is wise toward God. Wise individuals know that they must stand before God and they will have made provision for that inevitable accounting. They will have accepted the righteousness of Christ the Lord and the forgiveness of sin that comes with submission to Christ Jesus as Master of life. They will have thought ahead to the inevitable day when God shall call all men to account and they will have endeavoured to do those things that glorify the True and Living God.
A CALL TO CONSIDER GOD’S RIGHTEOUS EXPECTATIONS —– What does God expect of me? What does He consider necessary if I am to honour Him and to please Him? In the brief moments left the message is history, I must address God’s righteous expectations. Our Lord continued speaking on that day so many years past with the words that follow in LUKE 12:22-33.
“[Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
“‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.’”
God tells us what is expected of disciples; Jesus expressly addressed these words to His “disciples,” explaining His expectation. As disciples of the True and Living God, we are called to live a fearless life, knowing that our Father is prepared to provide all that we need. Anxiety will not characterise our lives, because we trust in a loving God who knows what we need and has richly provided all that we may want. A line of clothing that is popular with youth in this day is called “No Fear.” Consequently, the words appear frequently in contemporary youth culture. However, it is only those who follow the Christ who truly live with no fear.
Disciples will not spend undue time thinking of how to earn more money. Instead, God’s Kingdom will be paramount in every consideration. Disciples will not engage in an activity without thinking of how the considered action will advance the Kingdom of God. Disciples will watch their speech, knowing that what is said and the manner of speaking must have an impact on how others perceive the Kingdom of God.
Knowing that God intends for me to inherit His Kingdom, I am called to make every effort to lay up treasures calculated in the coin of the heavenly Kingdom. The wealth of this earthly realm is assessed by its relationship to precious metals and precious stones. Since the streets of my heavenly home are paved with gold and the gates are pearl, precious metal and precious stones associated with this world are meaningless. The foundations of that city are comprised of every sort of precious stone, the walls are of jasper and the city itself is made from gold such as never witnessed on this earth.
The economy of that city is not dependent upon the strength of our arms, but rather the strength of our devotion to the Son of God drives the heavenly economy. Here, we earn our bread by the sweat of our brow, but there we shall be eternally engaged in the highest endeavour entrusted to any mortal being—worshipping God. Worship is never work; if it has become work for you, you are no longer worshipping.
The coin of the heavenly realm is measured by compassion toward those in need and in devotion to the Living God. If we truly lived as God has called us to live, would we not be richer for it? At issue is God’s righteous expectations arrayed against our personal ambitions. This is the challenge of the Christian life.
What would it be if each of us were to commit ourselves to seek His Kingdom? You will notice that I did not ask us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” as is required in Matthew’s Gospel [see MATTHEW 6:33]. It is enough that we seek the Kingdom of God through a life of devotion. The remainder follows the commitment.
This, then, is the appeal of the message—that each of us who name the Name of Christ, each of us who lay claim to faith in the Risen Son of God, each of us who professes to be twice born—seeks the Kingdom of God. What this seeking of the Kingdom will mean is that we deliberately endeavour to reflect the compassion and gentleness of Christ toward the needy. It will mean that we weigh our words and our actions to ensure that they advance the cause of His eternal Kingdom. It will mean that we surrender anxiety as we ensure that He assumes first place in every facet of life. It will mean that we will deliberately renounce dependence upon the perishing trinkets of this dying world.
As children of God, I challenge you to commit yourself to live for just one month in such a manner that the Kingdom of God assumes first priority in your life. I acknowledge that this may create difficulty for some of us as we discover that we have promoted our desires over the will of God—adjustment is always difficult. Some of us will be inconvenienced—needs are never convenient. There may even be a radical or two among us who will dare take Scripture seriously. Such people may even sell those accumulated goods that are not required for a godly life. Regardless, I now call on each one who is a disciple to make this commitment to seek God’s Kingdom in his or in her life.
I know what the outcome will be for all who dare accept this challenge. Christ will be more real to each of us. We who seek His Kingdom will begin to live without anxiety, enjoying the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. We will find that our needs are met and that our wants will diminish. We will have sufficient goods to permit us to share with those in need and the cause of Christ will prosper in our lives and in the work of our church. We will walk in power, witnessing unbelievable power in our words as the Spirit of God motivates us in word and deed. Our immediate world will be changed and others will ask us how they may know the Christ we follow.
In order to draw this message to a close, permit me to contrast two lifestyles. Sitting under the ministry of W. A. Criswell, I heard many powerful illustrations which served to illuminate the teaching of the word. One such illustration came from the days when he served a student pastorate among rural churches in Kentucky.
In one church there was in membership a hog farmer. He earned a good income and had plenty of money with which to live. However, he would sell his hogs and use the profits from those hogs to buy more hogs, so he could feed them out and sell them to make more money to buy more hogs, so he could feed them out.
His wife asked for some money so she could buy some gingham to make herself a dress so she would be presentable for church.
However, that hog farmer refused to give her any money for something as frivolous as gingham. He had to make more money so he could buy more hogs and feed them out so he could make more money in order to buy more hogs.
In the course of time, that farmer’s wife died. She was far too young, but she died, nevertheless. That hog farmer was grief stricken, inconsolable in his enforced separation from the wife of his youth. People did not know, however, how deep his grief was until one day he was found at the cemetery.
Kneeling before his wife’s grave, he had purchased bolts of brightly coloured gingham that he was draping around and around the tombstone. He discovered that there was plenty of money to buy multiple bolts of bright gingham after it was too late to benefit the one who truly mattered to him.
Contrast that penurious farmer to the generosity of John Wesley. When John Wesley died in 1791, at the age of 87, the only money mentioned in his will was the coins found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds—a considerable fortune in that day—he had earned in his life had been given away. He wrote, “I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.” In other words, Wesley himself put a control on his spending and he invested the rest in the cause of Christ. 
Child of God, how will you be remembered? Will you be remembered before God as one who wisely distributed what He entrusted to your care? Or will you accumulate and accumulate only to rue that all you have must be left behind?
To any who are outside the Kingdom of Heaven this day, the message concludes with a call to consider that you must one day stand before Holy God. Either you shall face His wrath and hear those frightful words, “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels” [MATTHEW 25:41b]!  Or you shall be welcomed with those glorious words, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” [MATTHEW 25:34b]. 
To receive the welcome promised, you need but seek Christ, receiving Him as Master of your life. God’s Word is quite clear in promising this life to all who believe. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” [ROMANS 10:9-13].
Believe and be saved. When you are saved, come follow hard after Christ. Seek the Kingdom of God that He may be glorified in your life and that may you be blessed. Amen.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Clarence Jordan, The Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts: Jesus’ Doings and the Happenings (New Win Publishing, In., Clinton, NJ, 1969) 53
 Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary English (NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO 1993)
 Mission Frontiers, Sept-Oct., 1994, No. 9-10, pp. 23-24 cited by John Piper, Toward the Tithe and Beyond: How God Funds His Work, http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper95/09-10-95.htm
 Holman Christian Standard Bible (Broadman & Holman, Nashville, TN 2003)
 HCSB, ibid