Don’t Settle for Short-term Gains                                 Have Plans for the Long-term

Opportunity sometimes knocks but once. So when that happens you may be in a good position to seize the day and go for it. Some gains are for the short term and if you don’t act quickly, you may lose in the long run.

But as much as this is true, often times, settling for short-term gains is costly. I remember becoming very excited when I saw the stock I bought at NT$16 per share climb to NT$26 per share within only a month. I had 22,000 shares, so that would be a windfall for me if I sold, so I thought. I called my agent and asked her to sell more than half of my stock, and she did it that same day. I made NT$10 for every share traded. Wowee!

The following day, the stock was trading at NT$29 per share. If I had only waited a day, I’d be NT$3 richer for every stock sold. Again, I called my agent and sold the remaining stock. The stock continued its upstream climb. A month or so later, it was trading at NT$50+ per share, climbing to NT$80 a couple of months on.

I’d made my profit, which was good, but if I had only watched the signs of the time, if I had only asked the people in-the-know, I’d have been much richer and much more philanthropic. But I was so short-sighted, so concerned about immediate gains that I lost sight of the prospects.

A lot of people today are so immersed in short-term gains, they are so enmeshed in the here and now that they lose sight of the long term benefits and their destiny is in ruins. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It’s that simple. It’s that straightforward. All you have to do is believe in Jesus and you have your ticket to Heaven. In Taiwan, there are toll stations on the highway. If you want to go from one major city to another, and want to use the highway, be prepared to pay the toll. To go to some scenic spots, there’s only one way. If you want to witness the spectacle the tourist site has on offer, the only way to do so is to use that road. God has only one Son and saves people only through Him. Salvation is by no other name but the name of Jesus. Jesus Himself said that He is the way, the truth and the life through whom we go to the Father. Salvation is free, as we read in Isaiah and several other passages of Scripture. "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Isaiah 55:1.

One thing is for sure, you can’t earn your way to Heaven, but that in itself constitutes an entire sermon. Let’s go back to our topic for today. Don’t settle for short-term gains, but how many people are doing just that? Who hasn’t heard of God’s salvation? Who doesn’t know that it’s free for all? Yet, how many people are taking advantage of this free offer? They think it’s too far-fetched. They prefer short-term gains, the here and now instead.

This attitude is not knew. Matthew 19:17-30 and Mark 10:17-31 tell the story of the young rich ruler who came up to Jesus and asked how he could inherit eternal life. He told Jesus that he’d obeyed every commandment since childhood; for which Jesus commended him. But he did not stop there. "One thing you lack," Jesus said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you’ll have treasure in Heaven".

You know the rest of the story. The young ruler walked away sad. He would and could not part with his possessions. The Bible tells us to lay up our treasures in Heaven where rust and moth won’t touch it. Personally, I do not think the Lord demands for us to sell everything we have and give to the poor. In fact, if you think of it, when you sell everything you have and give to the poor, you become poor yourself. You know as much I do that if you want to help the poor, if you want to get rid of poverty, you create wealth and opportunity for everyone. You teach the beggar how to fish so that he can catch fish on his own and not have to rely on you all the time. The Bible tells us in John 10:10 that the thief comes to steal and destroy but that Jesus came so that we may have abundant life. Somewhere else we read that the Lord wants us to prosper and be in good health. In Deuteronomy 28, we read of all the blessings that will come our way if we obey; if we seek the Lord, love Him and keep His commandments, we’ll prosper. We’ll be the head and not the tail. We’ll be blessed in everything we do. Are these spiritual blessings only? No, they are material blessings, too. That’s quite clear.

But what’s the point I’m trying to make? We’re still talking about not settling for short-term gains, are we not? Yes, indeed.

The fact of the matter is that so many people today are so carried away  with the pursuit of material wealth that they forget to aim for things that bring eternal dividends. When will they know that earthly wealth is all vanity? When will they learn that we came to this world naked and will go back naked? When will they realize that death and judgment await us all? When will they ever embrace the free offer that comes through Jesus and Jesus alone? When?

Why won’t they turn from their ungodliness and embrace the Father of light who loves them so much, died for them and creates a new heart and a new home for them?

When will they come to the realization that the grave is not the end of life? Haven’t they heard that Jesus, after He was crucified, was buried and rose again on the third day, proving that there’s life after death? Haven’t they heard these things? When will they ever accept the truth that sets them free?

Has someone not told them that the opposite of accepting God’s free gift is rejection? Have they not heard that those who reject Jesus will never ever go to Heaven and that their final destination is Hell?

In Luke 16:19-31 we read the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus died and went to Heaven while the rich man also died but went to Hell. Some people think that Heaven is for the poor. No way. I know some people who desire to be rich. It’s the poor, or at least their advocates, who overthrew the Russian monarchy and instituted communism in its place. We all know that communism preaches ungodliness. The poor are not saints. Some poor people are some of the most jealous, envious and evil people I have ever met and how many of you know that the Bible preaches against such sins? In some parts of Africa, mainly in villages, if suddenly you become richer than your neighbor, then you’d better watch out. You might not be alive in the next couple of days as witches and sorcerers are intent on finishing you. Some poor people are some of the most reactionary my eyes have ever seen. Some of them are thieves and how many of us know that there’s no room for thieves in Heaven?

No, the Bible doesn’t exalt poverty. The bottom line is Where is your heart? Is your treasure only of this world? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. The Bible tells us to work, just as God Himself worked and then to set one day aside to rest. This day is Sunday. It has been so for centuries. We should spend this day in Church to give to God what is His: worship and adoration.

Some people are put off when someone tells them Christians give one-tenth of their earnings to God. Does God need your money? In fact, do you think that God would be lonely if you never made it to Heaven? I asked a sister this question the other day and she said God would be lonely. What? I exclaimed. She was absolutely wrong. How can God be lonely just because Paul LeJOY doesn’t make it to Heaven? My, there are going to be thousands of people there! Even if everyone in the world decided not to follow God, still God won’t be lonely in Heaven. There are several angels there. Also, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are there. How can God be lonely? Besides, He can create a whole new race of people to worship Him. Jesus told Peter that if the people shut up, the rocks would cry out.

No, God would not be lonely if you ended up not showing up in Heaven. He’d be saddened by your absence but certainly not lonely. So, would God be poorer if we did not give money to the Church? Not at all. The money we give goes to pay for the facilities we use and other things such as missions, ministries, helping the poor, etc.

Isn’t it strange how we get derailed, sidetracked! How can giving a tenth of what one makes stop them from making a lifetime investment that brings eternal dividends?

All of us have sometime in the past made some decisions for which we regret. I have made mine and these come back to haunt me quite often. If only I had persevered, I’d be a PhD. today; I’d be teaching at a fine university in some fine city in a fine country. If only I’d pursued my studies in computer science, I’d be nearly as knowledgeable as Bill Gates and one-hundredth as rich as him.

Regrets, regrets. Let your regrets be of this world only. Just make sure that when this life is over, you do not regret your choice of whether or not you followed Jesus. What will happen when you die, which is as certain as night and day, and you meet Jesus on the other side, then He looks at you with a stern face and not with a smile? What have you been doing in this world? Are you investing your time, skills and other resources for your life after death? Pensions serve us in our retirement. Your faith in Jesus is your ticket through Heaven’s gate and your pension for all eternity.

Lay up your treasure in Heaven, my friend. Don’t settle for what will not last forever. Only fools do that. Don’t be a fool. Be wise. Accept Jesus today and let Him become your treasure. In this present life, your life will be full and abundant. You'll have peace, joy, hope and love and when you leave this world, you’ll live forever in Bliss with the angels, the saints and Creator of all things. Seek the truth today, welcome Jesus into your heart right now and you will never regret this great choice. Thousands, even millions, have done it before you and so can you. You've got nothing to lose but everything to gain. So do it NOW!

Paul LeJOY, Taipei,  March 17th , 1999