Derek Perry - Walla Walla, Washington Convention - 2018

“It pays to serve Jesus. It pays to lay up treasure. It pays to die daily.” “Help us sing along the pathway when the deeper cost we meet.” It pays because God is with us! The deeper cost – when it costs, God will help us! The days between – how are we going to spend them?

Proverbs 21:17-20, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich…There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”

My thoughts were not about earthly treasure but treasure as oil and wine being stored up. If we use it for our own pleasure, we won’t be rich. The wise man saves it – stores it up! I’ve been thinking of treasure in our storehouse of spiritual maturity. God gives us all a certain measure of strength and health. All of us get time. Some have more time to spare than others. The way we lay up treasure is putting a little bit up to store day by day – not living just paycheck to paycheck, meeting to meeting. (If we do that, we’re just surviving – not prospering).

We don’t just read our Bible to get something to share in meetings. One Worker read his Bible for pleasure. How do we read our Bible and pray? What is the quality of it? The quality is more precious than the quantity. What helps the quality is meditation. What is meditating? When we’re reading, maybe we could even be hindered by reading a whole lot at once. Read a little and then stop and think about it. Clear our minds of other things that creep in. When praying, spend more time being quiet and waiting on the voice of God. Wait until our mind stops going to other things, and we can focus on talking with God. Sometimes I’ll be trying to talk with someone and they keep checking their phone or they turn and greet everyone that walks by. It doesn’t make me feel very good. Think of the way God would feel when trying to talk to us when every thought that goes by we greet it. Focus on God! It gives our prayer more quality. Even if I pause during my prayer, something else comes to mind to thank God for, or that I can ask for help about. It’s good just to become quiet. Then at the end of our prayer, when we close our prayer, it’s nice to not get up right away but just wait a while for God’s voice. In the Garden, after Jesus prayed, He came back and found His disciples asleep. He most likely took a long time praying. Maybe Jesus even waited during prayer for that victory – to get that settled!

Luke 16:1, “And He said also unto His disciples, 'There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, "How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward." Then the steward said within himself, "What shall I do? For my lord taketh away from me the stewardship. I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses." So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, "How much owest thou unto my lord?" And he said, "An hundred measures of oil." And he said unto him, "Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty." Then said he to another, "And how much owest thou?" And he said, "An hundred measures of wheat." And he said unto him, "Take thy bill, and write fourscore." And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.'”

This steward did wisely. Before, I thought that Jesus commended that steward but Jesus said that lord he worked for commended the steward. The steward had defrauded him but he said the unjust steward did wisely. What did he do that was wise? He saw his future was in danger – his position wasn’t secure. Second, he prepared something for his future. That’s a great lesson we can learn.

Luke 16:9, “And I say unto you, 'Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.'”

Those are natural things in this life. They can’t buy us eternal life but we can make friends of them to help us obtain the help of God. Jesus walked about the villages and cities with 12 disciples. Some women He’d healed went with Him, ministering of Him with their substance. They were making the mammon of unrighteousness friends of Jesus. Martha was preparing a meal and Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the better part.” Mary understood the opportunity she had. Martha saw an opportunity to serve but she had Jesus and could have made use of her time in the most profitable way. Later Jesus was in their house again, and Mary took an alabaster box of ointment and poured it on Jesus’ feet. Jesus recognized what she’d done. She knew He was going to His burial, and she was anointing Him for it! It was something she’d stored up so she could use it for her Master.

In John 19 when Jesus died on the cross, they begged the body of Jesus for burying. They took some spices and buried Him in a new tomb. So we can use the mammon of unrighteousness to make use of opportunities to lay up treasure.

There were 3 of the apostles that had some special privileges. One time Jesus took them up the Mountain of Transfiguration, and then told them not to tell anyone what they’d seen. Another time Jesus took those 3 into the Garden. James and John wanted to sit on the left hand and right hand of Jesus in eternity. Jesus said, “Can you be baptized with the same baptism as I am?” They said, “We are able.” These experiences were some things Jesus used to build them up in their spiritual maturity, so when experiences came, they would be more ready. It wasn’t just that He was showing favoritism towards them. When your ear has an itch, your hand reaches up and scratches there. It’s not getting special treatment but there’s a need there. I like to think that’s how it was with Peter, James and John. Jesus saw there was a need there.

II Corinthians 4:15, “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

How do we spend what God gives us day by day? We can spend it laying up spiritual treasure! Sometimes I like to make a list – not of things to do – but of what kind of growth I can see in my life. It’s encouraging to look back on things God has been able to do in our life – different milestones along the way. You ask a little child what he learned at school today, and they usually answer, “Nothing.” Compared to yesterday, it doesn’t seem we’re learning much but little by little, we can add to our storehouse of spiritual maturity.

We don’t walk the way of God alone. Of course we have God but also we have one another. What we share in meetings – if God has laid it on our heart, maybe it can be a help to another. Often we leave meeting corrected by God by what another has shared.

In Matthew 25 in the parable, Jesus told about the 5 wise and 5 foolish, there was something called oil that we cannot give another – the Spirit of God, salvation, the fruit of the Spirit – but we can give one another things to help or encourage them. In Luke 16 in the parable, Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, laying up wine and oil I thought of being like riches in our spiritual storehouse. The Samaritan poured in wine and oil. We can be a comfort and help to one another. We don’t know what wounds they have but God knows when He gives us bread to share with one another.

In the Old Testament is an example of a man faithful in prayer – Daniel. He was faithful in the common days, praying 3 times daily. When there was jealousy of others that arose, a decree was made to not pray to any other than the king. Daniel continued to pray 3 times a day as he did aforetime. Then when Daniel was accused, the king was sorry but Daniel was put in the lions’ den. That wasn’t a common day. It was a day of testing! He trusted God in the lions’ den just as he did in the place of prayer, and God kept him. If we’re just living, meeting to meeting, will we have enough in our storehouse to seek bread from God, in the days we’re tested? The bread from yesterday doesn’t see us through today. But we can from our daily reading and praying have stored up treasure – a stronger relationship with Him! May God bless us in our efforts to do that.