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Being rich toward God

The Sunday Times Rich List 2019 has been published which identifies the 1000 richest people in Britain. The richest people on the list have an estimated fortune of £22bn, (that’s £22,000, 000,000), which has increased by £1.3bn in the past year. Those on the list have built their fortunes in different ways including through inheritances, oil and chemical industries, designing and making vacuum cleaners, gambling, finance and banking, media and internet. Some very rich people are generous in helping others and have set up charitable trust to help the poorest people in the world.

A man once came to Jesus with a request, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus said to him, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” It is easy for us to assume that if we were very rich, we would be very happy. The sad experience of many people who have won large amounts of money on a lottery shows us that this is not always the case. Marriages and family relationships have been destroyed, long-standing friendships broken, and lives damaged through drugs and alcohol abuse.

Jesus went on to tell a story to illustrate what he had said. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Jesus himself is the supreme example of a someone who was rich making a great personal sacrifice so that those who were poor might become rich. He left the amazing riches of heaven, which were his by right as God’s Son, and came to this earth to live an ordinary life and to die on the cross to pay the price of our sins. Whether we are rich or poor he offers us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade and which is kept in heaven for us.

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Thought

Everybody’s got a past

The Internet has changed our lives both positively and negatively. One negative factor is the ease with which pornography can be accessed by both adults and children. Many men and women regularly view pornography online and some are addicted. Pornography corrupts our minds and can wreck marriages and relationships. There is a growing concern about its influence on children and young people and the long-term effects on their lives.

The story of Crystal Bassette shows how God can change our lives and set us free from the things of which we are ashamed. Crystal is married to David and is a mother of 3 children. She lives in upstate New York where she and David lead New Beginnings Christian Life Church. Until 2014 Crystal’s life was very different. She suffered abuse as a child and had her first child when she was 16. In order to earn money, she started working in the sex industry and starred in many pornographic films. She earned a lot of money, owned a luxury house in Malibu in California and drove a Ferrari; but she wasn’t happy.

From the very beginning she had been uneasy with what she was doing. “The first shoot was horrible,” she said. “I was scared and afterwards, I sat in a shower, and I was bawling my eyes out crying for, like, two hours. I just felt so gross and just dirty, but I went back for money.” Then in 2014, Crystal was driving home drunk and had a serious car accident. Her car was a write-off and she had a broken nose and cuts to her face. This was a wake-up call for her.

Crystal began going to church with her sister and decided to leave the porn industry for good. As she read the Bible she realized that through Jesus Christ she could find forgiveness and a new life. As she put her trust in Jesus as her Saviour, she knew that God had forgiven all her sins. She and David are now committed to reaching out to people who are broken and lost, and telling them the good news about Jesus. Crystal says, “There’s a big heroin addiction in our city, we want to get people out of porn or dancing, I believe money is the root of all evil. With us there is no judgment on people; people feel free. It doesn’t matter if you came through the doors with full body piercings and tattoos and stuff. We don’t judge you. Everybody’s got a past.”

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Thought

A Nation Mourns

The tragic death of Gary Speed has touched the nation. All over the country football fans have stood in silence and spontaneously broken out into applause to express their great respect for Gary and their heartfelt sympathy for his wife and family. He had an exemplary playing career and had been enjoying great success as the manager of the Welsh national team. The news of his death stunned us all. Our daughter was in the same class in school as Gary and his wife. Many of his friends had no idea of the dark struggle he was experiencing. On the surface everything seemed fine but, tragically, it was not.

We are living in sad times when many people are depressed and some are in despair. Many feel alone and vulnerable. Our secular, materialistic culture has no soul, no deep spiritual values and certainties. There is an emptiness in the hearts of many people. Success and wealth cannot satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. Living in the public eye is not easy and the pressures are very great. Popular opinion is fickle. Celebrities may be lavishly praised or savagely destroyed.

The response of fans at many football grounds affirm that Gary was widely loved and respected, yet he still felt alone and overwhelmed. In the darkness of the night and the darkness in his heart he felt unable to go on and to face the future. The most important thing in life is our relationships. Yet sometimes we do not realise the love with which we are surrounded by our family and friends. It is so important now for Gary’s wife and family to experience the love of those around them as they struggle with the devastating consequences of his death.

We can also know a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He came into the world to reveal God to us and to give us a living hope. One Christmas carol, says, “Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace, hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, glory to the new-born King.” Beyond the glittering Christmas lights we all need to experience God’s amazing love in Jesus, who came that we might have a rich and satisfying life.