The Treasure Principle – by Randy Alcorn

TheTreasurePrinciple This little book is deceptively powerful; easy to read but a hard hitting message. In 6 brief chapters Randy Alcorn unlocks the Treasure Principle (You can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead!) with key biblical truth that not only challenge our attitudes to giving but to money and wealth full stop.

  1. God owns everything. I am his money manager. We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted – not given – to us.
  2. My heart always goes where I put God’s money. Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.
  3. Heaven, not earth, is my home. We are citizens of “a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16)
  4. I should live not for the dot, but for the line. From the dot – our present life on earth – extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in heaven.
  5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones me and exalts Him.
  6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. God gives us more money than we need so we can give – generously.

Do you dare read this book and apply these principles? Can you afford not to?

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The Treasure Principle (Hook Focus)

I am sure that you are familiar with the proverb “Home is where the heart is”. We use it to convey the idea that a home is more than simply a place where we live; it is a place we share with people we love, a place that is filled with the memories that shape and define us as people, a place where we feel safe and secure. One of the large DIY furnishing chains tap into this desire with their catchphrase “make a house a home”. Sadly however, simply filling our houses with nice furnishings can never really make a home if it is not a place that accommodates our heart and so many people live with the ache for home that exists in their past, or even only in their imagination.

Jesus encouraged us not to become too attached to our present homes when he said “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 ESV). Despite the similarity between the two heart expressions, Jesus’ statement is radically different. Jesus’ treasure principle is rooted in the fact that our homes and possessions are vulnerable to deterioration and depreciation, they are at risk of theft or damage and, in the final analysis, cannot be taken with us when we die. The treasure principle is that we take an eternal perspective and store up treasure in heaven.  Jesus presents us with a choice to serve God or to serve possessions! You can live this life seeking to provide as much comfort and security as you can for yourself and your family in this life, or you can devote your energies to preparing for an eternity with him.

There is an old Negro spiritual that has the lines “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through; my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue” that expresses the attitude of someone who is living by Jesus’ treasure principle, someone who is holding loosely to the things of this life. People who have learned to live by Jesus’ treasure principle will find that they have real peace and true joy despite the ups and downs of this life because they are looking forward to a destiny that is eternally secure. Are you?

This blog post featured in the February 2013 edition of Hook Focus

Context changes everything

If you are the kind of person who likes scripture fridge magnets, then you will almost certainly have seen one with these words ’I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13) What an inspiring verse! Are you facing a challenge? Then this verse promises you Christ’s strength!

But what does Paul mean by ‘I can do all things’? Does it mean that I can decide to launch myself out of my office window aiming to fly down Lynwood Gardens in the ‘strength of the Lord’ and expect to defy the laws of gravity? I doubt anyone reading this would believe that this is an appropriate interpretation of the verse and would restrain me, or even have me sectioned , were I to attempt such a foolhardy feat. Yet is it so different to imagine that this verse guarantees us exam success, strength to carry the shopping, confidence to win the deal at work? Is it a promise that God will show up and help us do anything we want?

This is where context comes in. Someone has said that ‘a text without a context is a con!’ That is certainly true in this case, as would be proved by my cuts and bruises were I to attempt Christ empowered aviation. Fortunately we don’t have to look too far to see Paul’s context here. Read back a couple of verses and you will see he is thanking the Philippians for taking up a collection to help with his physical needs. Even as he is dictating the letter, he realises that his readers might be misled to think that his physical wellbeing was what was important to him, so he qualifies his thanks by reminding them that his contentment was not based upon circumstances. Verse 11: Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

How did Paul learn his contentment?  Verse 12 tells us: I know how both to make do with little and I know how to have an abundance. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to have an abundance and to go without. Time and again Paul faced shortages and plenty, hunger and abundance. Notice how he links these together with the phrase ‘In everything and all things’. Did you spot that the ‘all things’ in verse 12 and 13 both refer to the same thing – Paul’s contentment! He can be contented in all circumstances only because Christ empowers his contentment. Christian contentment is not a stoical, grin and bear tough times because someone somewhere else is worse off than us. Followers of Jesus can be truly contented through good or bad circumstances, whether or not they change because their hope and confidence is in Christ. When we are content to rely on Him, He is truly glorified, because His strength is on display.

This blog post featured in the February 2013 edition of Lifelines