I’d like to begin today by asking a few difficult questions. Which is more valuable, property that is freehold or leasehold? Which is more desirable, a market that gives short term returns or a market that gives recurring income? Which would you pay more for, the golden egg or the goose that lays golden eggs?

Yes, I jest; because we all know the answers to all those questions, don’t we? Permanent is better than temporary. Security is better than risk. Long term trumps short term, pun not intended.

But let’s be honest for a moment and ask ourselves; of the things that we are chasing every day, of the things that occupy our minds every moment, of the things that take up the largest part of our time; how much of those things are permanent, give us security and will last for the long term? And how much attention do we pay to the things that really do?

I walked past a makeshift Buddhist/Taoist prayer altar the other day and next to it, I saw a rack full of Buddhist/Taoist religious books, with a sign saying ‘Free. Please help yourself’.

Now, in my neck of the woods, labelling anything as ‘free’ is tantamount to inviting hordes of people to plunder and pillage. Queues will form for miles around just so that they can take advantage of the giveaway.

But strangely enough, for this rack of books, there was no one there. And judging from the amount of dust that had gathered on the books, very few have wondered over to have a look.

You are probably wondering what a Christian minister is doing talking about a rack of Buddhist/Taoist books. Well, the books are not the point; man’s sense of priorities is. You see, Jesus said,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20

And to illustrate His point, Jesus told us a story.

“The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’” Luke 12:16-19 [MSG]

Sound guiltily familiar does it not? Isn’t that what we are all chasing after? Aren’t we all working hard to fill our ‘barns’ with ‘harvest’? But what happens if

“Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’” Luke 12:20 [MSG]

Makes it all seem rather pointless, doesn’t it? Well, in the words of Jesus,

“That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” Luke 12:21 [MSG]

National Geographic did a series once on what the world would look like if humans died out. After consulting scientists, engineers, and a plethora of other experts, they reckon that nature will take over. The buildings will decay, the works of man will disintegrate and eventually, the flora and fauna will take over the landscape, leaving no trace that man ever existed.

And if we take a good look at the things that we surround ourselves with, isn’t that true? Go on, look around you, look at those things that are nearest and dearest to you. How many of those things will continue to function if you didn’t maintain them? How many of them will last? It is no wonder then that the writer of Ecclesiastes says,

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 [NIV]

Indeed, “What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.” Ecclesiastes 1:3-4

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the house, the car, the salary or even the career, are not important. Of course they are. But while we need to work, put in effort and spend energy on those pursuits; we sometimes needlessly tire ourselves out in pursuing those things.

For those of us who are blessed to be in a line of work which we enjoy, you will understand what I mean. When we enjoy what we do, work ceases to be duty and toil. Work becomes pleasurable, a hobby, something that gets us up in the morning. We derive meaning from our work and we see the greater good that we are doing, a good that is beyond merely putting food on the table and a roof over our heads.

And you know, beloved, that is the kind of life that our Father wants us to lead; for He did say,

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.” Isaiah 55:1-3

Why DO we spend money for what is not bread? Why DO we spend our wages for what does not satisfy? And what are the sure mercies, the kindness, the goodwill and the compassion promised to David?

Well, when David was a boy, he was looking after sheep, “and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.” 1 Samuel 17:34-35

But it wasn’t that David was a mountain of a man, not at all. In fact, this was what Saul thought of David when he first saw him.

“And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”” 1 Samuel 17:33

But this was how David was able to come out tops over those animals, as he told Saul,

“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37

And history records for us all those times when David was blessed. Victory after victory had he over his enemies because the Lord had delivered him from them. In fact, even when David sinned, the consequence was always muted, tempered, never more than what was necessary to socially right the situation.

So in the same vein, our Father wants to make a covenant with us, one that promises us the very same mercies promised to David, one that makes sure we are protected and provided for, one that is available to us even and especially when we are broke and thirsty. In this covenant, we can buy wine and milk without money and price, and our souls will delight itself in abundance. Will you incline your ear and come to Him?

But you know what the best bit is? This covenant was already in force the moment you accepted Jesus into your life. For you see, when you accepted Jesus, you also accepted this new covenant,

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28

And because you have been made sinless, washed white as snow,

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

And that means that we can “…fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” Hebrews 4:16 [AMP]

Now here’s a difficult question for you. Why toil on your own when you can get God to help?

So how do we activate this covenant? How do we

“Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

This is how.

“Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing].” Isaiah 55:1 [AMPC]

Or in another words,

“Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost [simply accept it as a gift from God].” Isaiah 55:1 [AMP]

You may find it strange but learning to accept a gift is an art. For you see, when you accept a gift, you are not only saying that you don’t need to work for it, but that you accept the goodwill that is behind it. And that means that while you may not always be able to see it immediately, you agree that whatever has been given, is good for you. And like vegetables to children, that is a difficult thing for many of us.

We like to dictate, don’t we? Even on wedding invitations, we specify what gifts we would like to receive, suggesting that the giver doesn’t know any better. And while that may be true of some of us humans, that cannot be true of our Father; we cannot possibly know better than He does.

And so we toil, not accepting the gifts that He is trying to give us, because we can’t see how they can be good for us. And when we do, we get caught in this meaningless cycle, because the fact is, we know no better. But there really is no need for that, because “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

So beloved, if you find that life is getting a little too overwhelming; if you are finding it difficult to see the point of all that is around you; start looking at the things that matter. Focus your eyes on the love of Christ, and how His love will last, more than long enough, to get you through any and all troubles that this world has to offer. Then set your heart on your treasures in heaven, and let Jesus take care of all the treasures here on earth.

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