George Beatty of Cleveland, Ohio, had a wonderful jewelry store, remarkable for its window displays. Over the years, Mr. Beatty had bought a stock of small precious stones that he kept in pint cups. He had a cup of small rubies, a cup of topazes, and a cup of diamonds—all sparkling brilliance. Some of them were small stones and chips that were worth very little. Early in the morning, before the customers came, he made pictures by placing the stones on black velvet squares; a magnificent peacock with its tail spread out was on one. He put these portraits in stone in the window, and many people stopped to look.

A wealthy customer wrote Mr. Beatty that his dearest granddaughter was going to have a birthday; he wanted something distinctive of real beauty. Five times in the letter, the customer spoke of the granddaughter as “dearest.” The old man looked at me and said, “I prayed and asked the Lord to give me an idea. I noticed how many times ‘dearest’ appeared, so I underlined it. When I sent my customer the sketch and told him what I proposed to do, he was greatly pleased and thought my idea was wonderful.”

Mr. Beatty sent him a ring with baguettes so beautifully cut that the light scintillated from them. Across the top of the ring, the first stone was a diamond; the next, an emerald, then an amethyst, a ruby, a second emerald, a sapphire, and then a topaz. I looked at it and asked, “Buy why do you have two emeralds?” He smiled and said, “Because there are two e’s in ‘dearest.’ If you take the initials of those stones, it spells the word ‘dearest.'”

Before the Lord God Almighty created the sun, the moon and the stars, He chose us, and—as it were—He put us in a ring to be worn as a signet upon His hand. Spelled out in the heart of God, we are his dearest.

Source: “Timeless Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching” by Donald Grey Barnhouse.

The Perfect Investment

Graceway MediaI remember a few years ago when the stock market crashed.  Regardless of how much power, prestige, or prominence you possessed, it wasn’t going to help protect your investments. Each month I would get a statement showing what was happening with the small nest egg I had been putting back for my retirement.  It is not a lot of money, but it is my money, which I would like to see grow and not disappear. Everyone I talked to told me that I could move it into different accounts that would prevent or minimize the losses; however, they also warned that when the market rebounded the initial jump would get me the biggest gains on my investments, and that waiting it out would be best. As most of you remember, those where difficult months to just lose years of savings.

I have a great desire to be a good steward of all God has entrusted to me.  I want to take care of and properly use all that I have.  I want to make wise investments now that enable me to help others after I retire in ways which are not possible today. In order to do that, I have to be disciplined to dream of the future and not just live for today’s pleasures.

I think this principle was instilled in me way back in Sunday School. I still remember Jesus’ saying in Matthew 6:19-20, “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” (ESV).

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” is a concept most people struggle with.  We want our best life NOW! We want a new car and a bigger house every couple of years. We want fancier toys (boats, camper, Jet Ski, golf clubs, guns, video games, electronic devices, etc.) to play with. We even want an annual raise so we can get more toys, but if we don’t get the raise we can always count on VISA, MasterCard, Discover Card, or American Express to get us our wants. We have a strong desire to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, right?

There are many problems with this mentality, but the biggest is we only have a few years to enjoy these toys. Our life is but a vapor. We have maybe seventy years to enjoy these things, and we definitely can’t take them with us. How many times have you seen a hearse on the way to the cemetery with a U-Haul trailer in tow? The treasures of this life have to be protected, repaired, maintained, and insured. We worry about whether they will last, be stolen, break, or even fulfill our desire for fun.

This should make Jesus’ statement to store up treasure in heaven where they last for eternity much more desirable. You see, we may not be able to take our stuff with us, but we can send it on ahead! We can make investments that will last beyond time and throughout eternity. Personally, I have found that investing my God-given gifts according to His commands have resulted in greater joy than any material possession I could have purchased. I have seen families blessed with a car to get to work, groceries to get through another week, a meal after the loss of another family member, and training for job. I know missionaries who are taken care of so they can share the gospel in other countries, I know of villages that have received chicks, ducks, goats, cattle, and even had a fresh water well dug for them.  All these things happened because a group of people decided to think about storing up treasure in heaven. What is their gift in this life? Joy! Unspeakable JOY! Joy in knowing a child will get a meal, joy in knowing that a family has a roof over their head, joy from watching a soul come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of things I could do with the money I give to the church each year, but none of them would bring me the eternal joy and satisfaction which I have found by investing in the treasures of heaven!