Trading Treasure for Junk


Most of us have received those emails that start out with a sad story of someone who needs to transfer money and needs our help to do it. If we will just send them our bank information, they promise to let us keep a percentage of the transfer for our kindness.

What should be an obvious scam somehow becomes believable when greed overwhelms common sense. We like to think we are smart enough to avoid those scams that are so numerous in our digital age but millions of dollars are lost to con men every day. Their smooth talk and appeal to fear or greed manages to convince some people to believe a lie.

Paul’s letter to the Romans opens with a celebration of God’s gift of grace through Christ, the Gospel. Then, in 1:18, there is a jarring shift to his description of the tragedy of spiritual deception. He explains that God, who trumpets His existence in the world through Natural revelation, is ignored by people who prefer not to know that there is Someone to Whom they owe their existence and their worship. And, in that ignorance, a deception sets in that leads to a terrible exchange of treasure for junk, with awful consequence.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. . . . . For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. . . .   They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25, NIV)

Are you ready to trade away a rich relationship with the eternal God for some lesser god, for what you think will bring you happiness, or for a moment’s pleasure?   Don’t say it cannot happen to you!   If we linger long enough near temptation, gazing at the trinkets offered by the Swindler, they can take on the gleam of fool’s gold, appearing to be things of great value. If we refuse to acknowledge God, we leave ourselves wide open to becoming fools with confused values that lead to our destruction, similar to those who let greed overwhelm their good sense in a world of scams!

So, how do we avoid the swindle?  The Word tells us to make two choices.

First, glorify God.   What does that mean?  Worship Him.  Acknowledge His supremacy.  Make His Name great.

Second, give thanks.  Thankfulness reinforces contentment.  A contented person knows an inner peace that keeps the lies of the swindler from taking hold.

There is an example to be found in the experience of the ancient people of God, those who knew His Presence in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They had seen His power when they were miraculously brought out of slavery in Egypt.  They were fed by His hand each day. But, fatigue set in and they complained about the Lord’s provisions. They fought with the leadership that God appointed to lead them.

In their resistance, deception set in. In a night of self-indulgence and revelry, they exchanged God’s glory for a gleaming golden calf!  That generation of people died in the desert blocked from the Promised Land by their faithlessness to the God who had called them.

We need not live in fear of the devil’s scams!  Why? Because we have a great Savior, a wonderful salvation, and a right relationship with God available through grace, by faith. Let’s lean hard on Him, confessing our need, giving His true praise. He is able to keep our sight clear and our minds alert.

There is this warning of the word from the Word. May the Lord keep us.
“Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt.  You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless.
Cultivate God-confidence.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  
All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.”  (1 Corinthians 10:12-14, The Message)

How I Need You

(A new song of faith)

Every day in Your hands
You were there before time began
Sovereign one I rest in Your plan
From the depths to the dawn
You are there Your promise is strong
I will trust with all that I am

 Jesus Jesus oh how I need You
You stay the same
You are good in Your ways
Jesus Jesus oh how I need You
You are enough
All my trust is in You Lord

 You fashioned me formed my heart
Search my soul and know every thought
Love so great but never too far
And through the storm You’re the calm
And every war You’ve already won
Life secure in Your loving arms

 You are powerful God above it all
I believe in You I believe in You
You do miracles the impossible
I believe in You I believe in You

Bethany Phillips | Chris Griffin | Micah Massey | Nicole McLean © 2018 Highlands Creative Publishing (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) CCLI License # 810055

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