Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Money (page 1 of 2)

What Has Christ Cost You?

The Big Question

It’s a personal question, but it’s one that must be asked: What has it cost you to follow Jesus?

This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching Luke 6.12-26. There Jesus considers those who are poor, hungry, weeping, and rejected as ‘blessed.’ They are to be happy. He even commands them to rejoice!

Why would that be blessed? Doesn’t all of human history testify to our striving as a race to get away from poverty, hunger, weeping, and rejection? Why should these people be happy?

Jesus answers: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Their future reward is greater in eternity which will never end. They will be comforted, they will laugh, they will be accepted. You see, it’s not the mere notion of poverty that Jesus prizes, but rather the reason for the poverty:

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

These people are not blessed because they have nothing; they’re blessed because following Jesus has cost them everything. See the difference? They valued Jesus so much and this world so little that they gave up this world and its passing comforts for the next world and its unfading riches.
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What’s Most Important to You?

Recently I saw a poll by Angus Reid, asking the question, ‘What’s most important to you in life?’ Here’s the answer they got:

What's Most Important?

What's Most Important?

I disagree. I disagree not so much with the results (which are subjective… and I believe it’s how people honestly feel), but I disagree with the premise of the question itself.

The problem is that the proposed answers are in totally different categories–and if people were honest, and thought hard enough about it, then 100% of the answers would be ‘happiness.’ That’s what’s most important to people. Everyone. Without exception. As Blaise Pascal said,

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

The question should not be, ‘What is most important to you?’ because the answer is always ‘Happiness.’

Rather, the question should be, ‘What do you believe will bring you happiness?’

I think people don’t pick the answer ‘money’ because they would feel bad. It makes them feel much better about themselves to pick something more noble and honourable like ‘family,’ ‘happiness,’ or ‘health.’ And of course, even this proves they are motivated by happiness. Even though they believe money will bring them happiness, they believe that in this situation it would bring them more happiness to answer ‘family’ because then they will feel much better about themselves, which will bring happiness. (But really, how many times have you heard about people ruining their careers for the sake of their family? Yet, we hear all the time of people ruining families for their careers. Also, people ruin their families for the sake of getting ahead in their career for the sake of getting money, which they believe will bring them more happiness than the family they already have. There’s no way people actually believe family will bring them more happiness… otherwise, why are we as a society full of beautiful houses and broken homes?)

As Jeremiah said, so long ago, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ Here is more proof. We all search for happiness… just no one can really seem to find it in this world. And then we lie about where we try to find it.

Proverbs 11 on Money

The book of Proverbs is full of timely and ever-practical wisdom. Today as I was meditating on Proverbs 11, one thing that stuck out to me was the counsel of Solomon on money.

How timely this advice is for the fast-approaching Christmas season.

How are you spending your money? What types of things is your heart valuing / desiring / delighting in? 

Here is some eternal perspective warning against seeking earthly treasure and wealth.

Prov 11.4  — Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Prov 11.7 — When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too.

Prov 11.18 — The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

And here is some counsel on how to go about investing your earthly treasures for true, spiritual good.

Prov 11.24-26 — One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.

Prov 11.28 — Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

How will you spend this Christmas? How will you give this Christmas? Will you do so with a view to receiving in return, even if it’s just some warm fuzzies? Even the biggest hypocrites around can do that (Matt 5.46-47).

Or will you give to those who can’t give back? Will you give anonymously? Will you find those in need in your local church and seek to be a blessing to them–because you know it’s pleasing to God?

Here’s an encouraging thought to end with. Those who walk in blameless ways (like giving freely to those in need) are God’s ‘delight’ (Prov 11.20) As you seek to reflect Christ to the glory of God, ministering to the needs of those around you, you have this assurance: God himself takes delight in you.

What could be a more joyful thought than that?

This Week’s Fighter Verse

I’ve been re-impressed over the last few weeks in particular by how important it is to be memorizing Scripture. Our Fighter Verse programme at Grace Fellowship Church has been a huge help to me in my own walk. This week’s verse is one each of us would do really well to memorize as we seek to live other-worldly in a culture of materialism, that finds life, joy, peace, and security in credit cards and chequing accounts.

Here’s our Fighter Verse for this week. You should memorize it too:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’
— Hebrews 13:5-6 

I Love My God

This morning I was reading from Leviticus 19. In the midst of a long string of commands, where God’s people are told what they must either do or not do in order to be holy as their God is holy, God gives these instructions.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. 

In these books of Law we find all kinds of laws that we would expect: Don’t murder; don’t steal; don’t take someone else’s wife; if you’re a judge, don’t take a bribe; if you kill an unborn baby, you are guilty before God; all kinds of laws like that. But then there are times when we come across passages like this one that can just seem totally unexpected.

Our God’s justice is not like our justice. Intrinsic to the founding of ‘the City of God’ is this notion that the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sojourner must find a home. They must be taken care of. Why? Because it is a reflection of God’s heart for the downtrodden. If God’s people are to be holy, as he is holy, they must reflect the same heart as him: the poor must be comforted.

So how does that translate into the new covenant? I would suggest that we see this fulfilled in no less than three ways as we live in the current ‘City of God’.

  1. Jesus’ message could be summarized this way: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt 4.17). This call to repentance is filled out a little more in this way: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 5.3). In other words, the kingdom of heaven has come, and is possessed by those who are poor–in spirit. These are the ones who are broken over their sin before a holy God (Matt 5.4); the ones who realize they are not perfect as God is perfect (Matt 5.48). They are therefore quick to show mercy, as God has shown them mercy (Matt 5.7; 39-47; 6.14-15; 7.1-5). This is the exact same calling as those citizens of the City of God in the OT received (Lev 19.33-34).
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  3. Just as the thrust of the commands throughout the OT were to be kind to the poor in their midst, so in the NT, kingdom citizens are to be abundantly merciful and generous to meet the needs of other kingdom citizens. The early church did not miss this at all, but saw it quite clearly (Acts 2.44-45). The emphasis must be placed here: the first place we must give and look after the poor is in our own midst–this was so in the OT, just as it is in the NT (see also Gal 6.9-10).
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  5. The Christian must be known as one who does not withhold the wages of the labourer, but gives to each what is due. The cries of even the unbeliever, when he is oppressed, will reach the ears of the Lord and the one who has withheld good from him, will bear his guilt (Jas 5:1-6). The Christian must never be known as one who values his money more than he values people; this would not reflect the character of our God at all.

I love my God because he cares for the spiritually poor (broken) and the destitute. He is a God of mercy, compassion, and grace–this is clearly revealed in both testaments. If we are to be his ‘City’ then we must reflect his character, his person, his passions. We must show mercy to others, as he has shown mercy to us.

On Being a Christian in the Workplace

My brother (Ryan) and my brother-in-Christ (Jim) are hard at work building an SEO (search engine optimization) company. I thank our Lord for putting Christians in every sphere of work and society today. I want Christ to be honoured from every type of job, from every level of employment in our city, country, and world. These guys are doing their part, by the grace of God.

Last week Jim wrote an excellent post on what it means to be a Christian SEO. He gives nine answers, and all of them are great. While some are specific aspects are specific to being an SEO, there is much application there for any Christian in any line of work.

Here’s an excerpt:

1. It means that we do everything whole-heartedly. Whatever work we have to do, Christ has given to us. As we enthusiastically and faithfully review websites and write lines of HTML code, we bring honour to Him. 

2. It does not mean that we are automatically the best SEO’s in the world. God has given talent and abilities to all men, not just Christians. Some are gifted more than us.

Those are the first two… you’ll have to go here to read the rest…

Matthew Henry didn’t love his ‘stuff’


I love Matthew Henry for so many reasons. Here’s one of them: He wasn’t like us. He wasn’t materialistic like we all are these days.

One day when Mr Henry was robbed while journeying, he returned home to write this in his diary:

Lord, I thank you
that I have never been robbed before;
that although they took my money, they spared my life;
that although they took everything, it wasn’t very much;
that it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.

Not sure that would be my response.

Praise the Lord for men who like this who have continued to form ‘so great a cloud of witnesses’ before us. God give us grace to run as they did!

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