We have come to know and love many brothers and sisters who have come from the beautiful land of Romania to the soil of America. And we have heard the same story, the same hope and the same concerns expressed by many of these brothers and sisters. Time and again, we have heard how the move to America has not strengthened the church. Rather, the love of Jesus Christ that flourished and stood so strong under persecution, has grown cold (or lukewarm) when faced with the temptations of economic prosperity.
So, today, we call you to examine and evaluate your walk with God during the time that you have learned to call America your "homeland." We urge you, beloved, as a matter of life and death, to honestly examine yourself this day.
Remember Lot's WifeIf you knew that God would set on fire the city that you live in and, just like Lot's wife, you must run out empty handed, forbidden to look back, what would it be that would make your head turn? Would it be your beautiful house that you have built with much sacrifice, the new car in the garage, or maybe the life insurance certificate or your 401K folder? And if your heart would be stirred by the loss of these things, then you testify that your heart is there with the things you can't just leave behind. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:34).
The Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:11-12 "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" The Lord Jesus Himself exhorts us to seek first the kingdom of heaven and God's righteousness and all "these things" shall be added unto us. "All these things" are the necessities of everyday life, but we are not to take thought or think or worry about them, because "Our Father knows that we need these things." He also tells us that the gentiles or the Godless are those who seek for these things.
Beloved, we are called to examine ourselves. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." (1 Corinthians 11:31). Let us now do so. Consider whether you have grown closer to the Lord, or has your love of the Lord been replaced, in part, by worldly pursuits? Are you now driven by concern for what you eat, drink or put on, like the gentiles or the Godless? Do you now work hard from dusk to dawn to earn more money to buy more houses, lands, and expensive cars? And look inside the church. Has not this pursuit, this race with the world, even entered the church (building)? Our brothers and sisters, we are called to redeem the time, to press on and to run in His race to obtain that imperishable crown. We can take none of the world's goods with us. But the crown will be waiting for the righteous.
If the Lord has revealed to us that our heart is seeking after worldly treasures, we must repent and seek His mercy and forgiveness. It is poison to our soul. If we let this poison remain, we are like those who say to ourselves "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" because we do not know that we are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked." (Revelation 3:17). If we are slow to repent we will hear Him say "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."(Revelation 3:16).
Does the Flesh Rule?My precious brothers and sisters, have you, like Esau, maybe sold "your birthright for a morsel of food?" Have you forgotten that your citizenship is from Heaven. Do they speak evil of you because you are still renting or dressing from the "second-hand" stores? Or do they envy you trying to figure out how you acquired so much in such a little time? Our flesh is not interested in birthrights, holiness, heavenly races and "second-hand" goods. No, our flesh desires riches, comforts and conveniences. But the Bible warns us to make "not provision for the flesh." (Romans 13:14).
Brothers and sisters, we will never satisfy this flesh no matter how much we try to please it. And we don't owe anything to our flesh. If we live our lives led by the flesh it is death and enmity against God. But if we live our lives led by the Spirit, it is life and peace. (Romans 5:8). "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."(Romans 12:2). Are we being transformed by the will of God or are we being conformed to the ways of the world in America, seeking after our own riches, comforts and conveniences?
Do We Love Our Neighbors?Has our flesh somehow convinced us to close our ears to the cries of the poor, the orphans, the widows? Can we so easily close our eyes and forget about the conditions endured by our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the world where the greatest dream of a believer may be to hold a Bible in one hand and a blanket in the other. Can we close our eyes and just go on accumulating?
What about our brothers and sisters in Romania and especially Moldova? Consider the severe economic conditions of many of the elderly, their great poverty, their basic needs. DO YOU HEAR THEIR CRIES? A Holy God hears their cries and will one day wipe away all of their tears. What response will you give to them when on that day you see them in the Kingdom of Heaven?
Beloved, add up your wealth, and then consider those in poverty left behind in Romania and Moldova. Do you not personally know many of them? We have all heard the reports of mothers with many children who cannot afford to send them to school because they have no clothes nor shoes to put on, widows without wood for heat or cooking, even those who are crying out in hunger! And all the while we continue to collect more and more material goods. Is this for our neighbors or ourselves?
Deceitfulness of RichesScripture is full of warnings about the snares of riches. Jesus warned us of the "deceitfulness of riches." We may attempt to justify ourselves, believing that it is not wrong to acquire riches as long as our heart is not with them. But is that honestly so in our lives?
We need to acknowledge that the riches of this world are made by their nature to stick to our heart. We must be so careful. For this very reason the Lord Jesus warned "For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:25). "And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful." (Mark 4:19). Indeed, it was the riches of this world that hindered the young rich man to enter God's kingdom.
Do you know why Paul was exhorting the Ephesians to work? ". . . that he may have to give to him that needeth." (Ephesians 4:28). Is this why so many in the Romanian churches work such long hours? Is this your purpose in working? Honestly ponder - do you work and accumulate for others - or have you possibly been deceived by the deceitfulness of riches?
The Apostle Paul led by the Holy Spirit wrote to Timothy: "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."(1Tim. 6:9-10)
Love in Deed and TruthCan you continue to chase after the pleasures and riches of this world, while you have brothers, sisters and family in Romania enduring such great needs, crying out to God day and night to send someone to help them? "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:17-18). Do these words not pierce your heart?
The Bible says: "He who hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord. And that which he hath given will He pay him again." (Proverbs 19:17). Beloved, it is time to seek the Lord. Let us lay up treasures in heaven, rather than treasures upon the earth. Let our lives declare plainly that we seek a homeland (Hebrews 11:14) and that this world is not our home. Let us not be ensnared by riches, now, when we are so close to the finish line. Let us carry our salvation in fear and trembling.
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Hebrews 10:37-38). "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12). "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22:20).