In our family everyone knows what the “Cardboard Chapel Motto” is.
My father was a prisoner of war for 23 months. Conditions were severe; and he had survived over a dozen missions against Nazi Germany.
He served on the escape committee. It doesn’t surprise me, because he always did things by the book. Planning to escape was one of his duties. Prisoners of war were required to try to escape. If they were were risks to attempt escape, they required more guards, which helped their comrades in the overall war effort.
If you were doing things by the book, you would try to escape.
So my father served on the escape committee.
But my father was also doing things by another book.
Before the war he had been preparing to be a pastor.
I don’t know if it was out of his sense of duty for his fellow prisoners or out of his own sense of need for spiritual encouragement during this harrowing time of his life that he was part of the cardboard chapel.
Whatever his reasons my father was part of a group of men who built a cardboard chapel. They wanted a motto for the chapel; something that would encourage everyone to not give up.
They chose part of Hebrews 13:5 – “I will never leave thee or forsake thee.” That is from the King James Translation. I love how the New International Version translates it.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
This translations emphasizes that God will NEVER leave or forsake you.
But wait a minute. Here is the whole verse:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV
There are two thoughts in this one verse. The overall message is don’t love money; instead be content with what ever you have. You can do that because God will never leave you or forsake you.
I don’t know about you but when the Bible says that I am to be content with what I have, it challenges my idea of building a business.
But is God really saying don’t build a business?
I don’t think so.
The key to understanding this verse is to consider all the other verses that talk about riches.
For instance, God chose to honor Jabez’ request to increase his territory. He wanted more land so he could raise more livestock and crops. He wanted to be more successful so that he would not cause pain. In other words, to benefit others.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10 NIV
God wants to bless you. In a big way. He wants you know that He will never leave you or forsake you.
It is God’s enemy that wants you to believe that God is a supernatural meany who wants to withhold blessings.
As a matter of fact, it is God who is the giver of good things.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV
Just as God wants us to be blessed, He does not give us money to indulge our desires. We are to love God and others, not riches.
In Matthew, Jesus was challenged by religious leaders. This exchange gives insight into His priorities.
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
All the commandments are based upon these two commandments to love God and others.
Clearly, if God wants to bless you materially, it is not just to meet your needs. God intends to enable you to share with others out of the love you have for them.
I do not believe that this is a form of communism. It is capitalism that is not tarnished by human selfishness.
Consider the billionaires in our world who are generous givers.
Consider most of the network marketing companies who give to a charity.
I believe that we are hardwired to give. Giving to others makes us feel blessed. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We enjoy giving to others; and we hate to ask for help from others.
The Apostle Paul quoted Jesus in the following verse:
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35 NIV
Whatever the challenge or hardship you are facing know this: God will never leave you or forsake you.
I want to remember that you will never leave me; you will never forsake me. I reject doubts and lies that come from your enemy that tell me you want me to fail and not be blessed. I also reject the enemy’s idea that money is for indulging selfish desires. I embrace the purpose of money as a means of meeting my family’s needs and to bless others with our abundance. I recognize that you have designed me to be happiest when I am sharing with others.
In Jesus Name, Amen
I am empowered by God to earn money to provide for myself and my family and to meet the needs of others.
When I feel helpless or hopeless, I am encouraged by God’s promise to never leave me or forsake me.
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