Note: The devotion for Jan 20-23 is based on the Parable of the Great Banquet; read it in its entirety today.
Lk. 14:15-23 (ESV): When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’  And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’”
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Lk. 14:18 (NASB): “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’”
Phil. 3:18-9 (NIV): “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”
My father (who died in 2007) had powerfully encountered God in his 30s, but drifted away from Him as he experienced success in the business world. So since our family lived a very wealthy life in Korea, coming to America was disadvantageous for us economically. When my aunt from Korea once visited us in the U.S., she was shocked and dismayed seeing that we were living a very simple, non-luxurious lifestyle.
After becoming a believer in 1981, I began praying for my father’s salvation, but he didn’t seem to respond at all. At that time, he was doing well financially operating a cafeteria in an affluent section of Washington D.C. Sensing that his god was his wealth and his mind was set on earthly things, I began praying, “Lord, allow his business to fail if that’s what it’ll take for him to come to You.” Fast forward to 1986, when my parents came to California for my engagement—grabbing my hand, my father said, “I’m so happy right now even though I lost my restaurant because Jesus is in my heart!” No sooner than I was reminded of my earlier prayer, my father added, “Your uncle gave you $1,000 as a gift but I can only give you $100; I need the rest for the engagement.” A bittersweet moment? No, it was all sweet!
In the parable, the first man rejected God’s offer of salvation on account of his business, saying, “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it.” Either he was lying or wasn’t a good businessman: who buys a field without first seeing it? Ultimately, “whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income” (Eccles. 5:10). Meanwhile, he neglects the things of God until the very day when God says, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself” (Lk. 12:20). Don’t be a fool by bartering away eternal life in Christ with the momentary enjoyment of earthly things. Take a pause and reflect: are you right with God? Confess. Repent.
Lord, thank You for richly providing everything for me so that I can enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17) it as well as serve You with it. Too often, however, I set my mind on earthly things, thereby neglecting to promote your Kingdom business. Forgive me; may the Spirit in me stir my heart to truly live for You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 23
Lunch Break Study
1 Tim. 6:9-10, 17-8 (NIV): “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. . . .  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
Question to Consider
- In what ways can money (wealth) entrap those who are consumed by it?
- What is the divine purpose behind God giving us wealth?
- Finding the right balance between enjoying the wealth and using it for good deeds is an issue that we all struggle with. Make an honest appraisal of yourself and if found lacking, take actions.
- The love of money elicits the following feelings: “I don’t have enough”; “Someone is going to steal it”; “They like me for my money”; “I’m better than anyone else”; “They’re looking down on me because I don’t have enough, so I better earn more,” etc. The result: Wandering from the faith.
- For us to enjoy; this means we shouldn’t feel guilty when we take vacations or buy things, hopefully to meet a real need, and to do good deeds with it (which many don’t).
- To break away from a life centered on money, an intentional act of generosity may release the grip the love of money has on us.
Did you make money today? How do you plan to spend it? Based on how you have spent money today, what does that tell you about your priorities? Reflect on this and make an appropriate prayer unto God.