July 12

Ezekiel 25-27, Psalm 39

There are many true stories of those celebrities who have achieved everything they could have ever dreamed of. Their fame and money surrounded them with "friends", they have received the recognition and awards that have made them the top of their field. They have accumulated the best houses with the most extravagant furnishings. They have vacationed and had vacation homes beyond comprehension. Only to find themselves penniless and alone, oftentimes dying that way. These names are known from the world of acting with names like Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, etc; to legendary sports legends like Joe Louis, to many famous business tycoons. To a lesser extent the same often holds true with many of us. We mistakenly set our mind on what we must achieve to finally be comfortable and at peace. Maybe it is to have our dream house paid off, our kids college fully paid for or all married, getting the job or position we always dreamed of, or the retirement we feel we always deserved. Only to realize that we didn't know the illness would come, or our spouse would die, or there is a financial crisis (many suicides after the last one). The truth is whenever any of us trust in what the world offers and set that as our goal we will eventually be disillusioned and disgruntled. When we set our goal as a deepening relationship with Christ, nothing on earth can diminish it.

As we read the lament for Tyre in Ezekiel 27, we realize that from an earthly standpoint they had it all. We read in Ezekiel 27:3-4, "...O Tyre, you have said, 'I am perfect in beauty'. Your borders are in the midst of the seas. Your builders have perfected your beauty." They go on to describe in 27:5-11 how they spared no expense in perfecting their beauty using the most choice items from the surrounding area. Ezekiel 27:12-25 describes the wonderful respect and trade relations they had due to their one of a kind sea merchants. It explains what Tyre meant to the rest of the world in 27:33, "When your wares went out by the sea, You satisfied many people; You enriched the kings of the earth With your many luxury goods and your merchandise." Notice the response of the other nations at the collapse of Tyre, not because they cared at all for Tyre but because what this would mean to themselves in 27:30-31, "They will make their voice heard because of you; They will cry bitterly and cast dust on their heads; They will roll about in ashes; They will shave themselves completely bald because of you, Gird themselves with sackcloth, And weep for you With bitterness of heart and bitter wailing." The superficial nature and fair-weathered friendship is evidenced by the conclusion of this lament in 27:36, "The merchants among the peoples will hiss at you; You will become a horror, and be no more forever." There is a similar passage of Scripture concerning commercial Babylon in Revelation 18.

So many of us fall guilty of the same mentality of the people of Tyre. We yearn for the wealth, peace and security that the world has to offer. This is the hamster wheel that many find themselves on. The way to get off this hamster wheel is to set your goals onto something completely different. Jesus said it so clearly in Matthew 6:19-21, "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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." The Apostle Paul who had attained everything a person could desire from an earthly standpoint gave it all away in order to pursue Christ. We read what this meant to him in Philippians 4:11, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." Taken one step further we see the ultimate freedom of not being in bondage to this world in Paul's statement in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Paul no longer feared anything including death. The choice is ours and a choice must be made. We either pursue the riches of this world and the emptiness it offers or the incomparable riches of Christ and all that He offers.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster