Rich in the Things That Count the Most

Rich in the Things That Count the Most

by James W. Moore


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While we may or may not be wealthy when it comes to material things, James W. Moore says, every one of us can be rich in the things that count the most. True happiness, fulfillment, and wealth come from knowing that God is with us, and from being grateful for all of the blessings God has given us. Through Scripture and compelling stories of faith, Moore invites us to explore the real riches in our lives, those things “that will last and endure, that won’t rust or corrode or become boring or go out of style.”

Each chapter of the book features a key passage of Scripture and focuses on a key theme. A study guide is included.

Chapter titles include “Rich in the Scriptures”; “Rich in Soul”; “Rich in Church”; “Rich in the Power of Life-Changing Words”; “Rich in Christian Freedom”; “Rich in Gratitude”; “Rich in Generosity”; “Rich in Friendship”; “Rich in Real Life”; “Rich in ‘Because Of’ Faith”; “Rich in Mind, Body, and Spirit”; “Rich in the Risen Christ”; “Rich in Easter Faith”; and “Rich in Commitment to Christ.”

JAMES W. MOORE, popular speaker and preacher, is the author of Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned, But I Have Several Excellent Excuses; God Was Here and I Was Out to Lunch; When Grief Breaks Your Heart; There's a Hole in Your Soul That Only God Can Fill; and many other books. He and his wife, June, live in Fairview, Texas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780687490103
Publisher: Dimensions for Living
Publication date: 09/01/2006
Edition description: Paperback
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.36(d)

About the Author

John D. Schroeder is a freelance writer and has written more than fifteen study guides for small groups, including the Leader s Guides for Sisters: Bible Study for Women. He has also coauthored four books, including How to Start and Sustain a Faith-Based Small Group, How to Start and Sustain a Faith-Based Young Adult Group, Dear Lord! They Want Me to Give the Devotions, and Dear Lord! They Want Me to Give the Devotion Again. John has been a newspaper reporter, and a copy editor and director of communications for several corporations. He currently lives in Minneapolis.

James W. Moore (1938–2019) was an acclaimed pastor and ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. He led congregations in Jackson, TN; Shreveport, LA; and Houston, TX. The best-selling author of over 40 books, including Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned, But I Have Several Excellent Excuses, he also served as minister-in-residence at Highland Park United Methodist Church.

Read an Excerpt

Rich in the Things That Count the Most

By James W. Moore

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2006 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-687-49010-3

Chapter One

Rich in the Scriptures What the Bible Teaches Us

* * *

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

On November 4, 1879, in Oologah Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma), a baby boy was born. He was the youngest of eight children. His name was Will Rogers (

While growing up on the family ranch, Will Rogers worked with the cattle and learned to ride and lasso from a young age. He became so talented with a rope that he was placed in the Guinness Book of World Records for throwing three lassos at the same time: one went around the horse's neck, another circled the rider, and the third flew under the horse, looping all four legs together.

Will Rogers dropped out of school in the tenth grade and became a show business performer, first with a wild west show, then a circus, then vaudeville, and then the Ziegfeld Follies.

Will Rogers loved talking to people and reading; and these two interests groomed him to become a humorist. His intelligent and amusing observations about people, life, the country, and the government, expressed in simple down-home language that his audience could understand and relate to, caused people to love his humor even more than his roping tricks. He became a movie star, appeared in seventy-one films and several Broadway productions, and in 1934 was voted the most popular male actor in Hollywood. Then, Will Rogers's career took a different turn that endeared him to even more people. He became a writer. He wrote four thousand syndicated columns and six books and became a radio broadcaster and a political commentator. His folksy humor and honest, intelligent observations about life, the government, and America earned the respect of the nation.

Will Rogers died in a plane crash in 1935. And to this day, he is still regarded as the greatest political sage and humorist our country has ever known. Here are some of his famous quotes:

* "Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco."

* "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

* "There are two theories to arguing with a woman; neither works."

* "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

* "The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket."

* "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip."

* "Lettin' the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back."

Wise sayings like these of Will Rogers have been with us since the beginning of time. They are a part of every language and every people's heritage. The Old Testament contains an entire book of proverbs, or wise sayings, and additional wisdom literature with fascinating sayings, which have been handed down from generation to generation. Sayings such as these:

* A soft answer turns away wrath. (15:1)

* The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. (1:7)

* A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. (22:1)

Also, some years before the time of Christ, Cicero was giving us some words that have been repeated millions of times since he first spoke them: "One does not have to believe everything he hears," and "Virtue is its own reward." And when we really stop to think about it, we see that the Ten Commandments were in a sense wise sayings that Moses and the early Israelites felt were worth repeating, worth saying again and again.

Now, with all this in mind, let's look closer at riches of the Bible. The Bible is full of wise sayings, strong commandments, great lessons, thoughtful parables, excellent examples, and powerful events that serve to teach us God's way, God's truth, God's will for us in this life.

Remember how the apostle Paul expressed it in his second letter to his close friend Timothy. He said, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Recently, I had the privilege of giving Bibles to the third graders in our church. In anticipation of that significant event, I tried to think of how to express to our children, and all of us, in three simple sentences, or three wise sayings, what the Bible teaches us. And here's what I came up with. I'm sure that you will think of other ideas (there are so many), but for now look with me at these three basic sentences that remind us what the Bible teaches us.

First, the Bible Teaches Us to Love God Because He First Loves Us

Again and again, Jesus says this: God is a loving Father (not an angry, hostile, vengeful deity who must be appeased), a loving Father who cannot rest until he finds his lost children.

This is the recurring theme of Jesus' teaching and we see this especially in Luke 15 in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.

Interestingly, there are three different kinds of lostness depicted here: (1) the coin is lost by accident through no fault of its own; (2) the sheep is lost from wandering off, drifting away, going off on its own; (3) the son loses himself on purpose. He willfully, arrogantly, and pridefully runs away to the far country. But, in each case, the search is intense and victorious. And when the lost is found, there is great joy and celebration. Over and over the Bible teaches us this. We see it especially in the teachings of Jesus, the seeking, gracious, forgiving love of God! We love God because he first loves us.

His name was Ray. He had come to ask me a favor. His daughter (who was sixteen years old) was a teenage runaway, and someone had seen her in Dallas. He wanted me to go to Dallas with him. So, we went to Dallas in search of her. All day, one place after another, we looked. I'll never forget the intensity in Ray's face, the sense of urgency, the conscientious, dedicated manner of the search, the hopefulness in his eyes as we went into arcades and discothèques and coffeehouses and teenage hangouts. "Maybe she'll be here," he would say. We looked and looked all day long and into the night, but we didn't find her that day.

On the trip back home, we rode along in disappointed silence. I'll never forget Ray's slumped shoulders and misty eyes, his agonizing unrest, because he was separated from his daughter. His child was lost, and he was heartsick. He wanted to find her and bring her home.

She surfaced a few days later in Washington, D.C. She had heard somehow that her dad was in Dallas looking for her urgently. She was touched by his love. She called Ray crying. She wanted to come home. Ray was on the first plane to go get her and bring her back.

I learned something of what God is like that day with Ray—something of what Jesus taught in his parables about God's seeking love. God is a loving Father who desperately wants his children back. He wants to find them and bring them home. Nowhere is this more powerfully expressed than on the Cross at Calvary. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16).

That's why we love God, because he first loves us. When we understand that and accept that and celebrate that, then we can't sit still; we want to thank him and serve him and love him back.

Some years ago, Karl Barth, the noted theologian, was on a speaking tour in the United States. A student said to him, "Dr. Barth, you are one of the greatest theologians of all time. You have written volumes and volumes of theology, but can you sum up your faith in a single sentence?" Dr. Barth said: "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so." That's number one: the Bible teaches us to love God because he first loves us.

Second, the Bible Teaches Us to Love Other People for God's Sake

Some years ago when we were living in Shreveport, Louisiana, a young man came down and joined the church at the end of our worship service one Sunday morning. His name was Tommy. He lived in a church-sponsored home just two blocks from the church. Tommy decided that I would be his friend, and we did indeed become good friends.

Tommy was quite a character. He had a sweet spirit, but he frightened some people because he looked different and talked really loud; and sometimes in his innocence, he would say embarrassing things or ask me embarrassing questions. He didn't mean to say things that most people would not say in public. He was curious and we were friends and he felt like he could ask me anything, and often he did ask me in the most public places in a booming voice.

He worked at a nearby hospital. He put the linens in the supply closets and could do his job well as long as nobody changed the routine. If the routine changed, however, he would become lost and confused and frustrated. If the door always opened toward him, no problem. But if someone changed the door so that it opened away from him, he could not figure that out. It would never occur to him to try it the other way. But Tommy was a good guy and a special child of God. He needed a friend, and I decided that I would be a friend to him.

Tommy's afternoon off work was Tuesday. He got off at 1:00 P.M., and he always came straight to my office. It was a standing appointment that he set. Every Tuesday afternoon at 1:15 he would show up at my office with pictures from a trip he had made with his parents, and he would show me his pictures.

Tommy's favorite thing to do was to sit in my chair behind my desk. He would pretend that he was the minister and that I had come to see him. He loved to sit in my chair and put his feet up on my desk and show me the pictures from his latest trip. His parents were well-to-do and took him to a lot of wonderful places.

Tommy and I had been friends for some five or six years when one day I heard that Walter Underwood had been elected bishop and that the church he had been serving (St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas) was open and that I was being considered along with many others to be appointed its minister. A few weeks later, the bishop called me to tell me that some folks from St. Luke's were coming to hear me preach the very next Sunday morning, and he said, "I want you to do three things: (1) don't tell anybody they are coming; (2) don't call attention to them in any way; and (3) preach a good sermon."

Well, I went to work on that sermon and when Sunday morning arrived, I was ready. After the 8:30 service, after everybody left the sanctuary, I was cleaning up the church and straightening things to get ready for the next service and looked up and saw this distinguished group of people walking down the aisle. I thought, "That's got to be the group from St. Luke's," and it was. We spoke, introduced ourselves, and one of them said, "We liked your sermon." I was surprised because I didn't even realize they had been there. I was expecting them in the 11:00 service. At least the pressure was off. So we just stood there having a nice visit, when all of a sudden, the sanctuary door flew open, and I heard somebody loudly call my name: "JIM!"

I recognized that booming voice—my worst nightmare. It was Tommy, just back from a trip to New Orleans. I was always glad to see Tommy, but not at that moment, because I had no idea what he was going to do or say as I was trying to put my best foot forward. He ran down the aisle and hugged me. I introduced him: "Tommy, these are some friends of mine from Houston. Have you ever been to Houston?" "Oh, yes," he said, "to the Astrodome and Astroworld and the Galleria. Once I got lost there, and my parents had to get the police to find me." Then he said, "Can I come and see you Tuesday like I always do at 1:15?"


"Can I sit at your desk and play like I'm the minister like I always do?"

"Absolutely. And Tommy, bring your pictures from your New Orleans trip and we'll look at them together."

While all this was going on, I was praying, "O God, please, please don't let Tommy say something embarrassing." Well, God must have heard my prayer because, amazingly, Tommy said, "Jim, I'll see you Tuesday, but now I'm going to get my seat on the front row and get ready for the worship service."

The St. Luke's group and I visited a while longer, and then they left. I breathed a sigh of relief. The next day, the bishop called me and said, "Jim, you must have done a good job because they liked you." And I thought, "I'm going to go home and frame that sermon!" But was I ever in for a surprise. Some weeks later, when I was sent to St. Luke's, I discovered that it wasn't my sermon at all. That group of people who came to hear me preach said, "Jim, do you know when we decided that we wanted you to be our minister?"

"Was it my sermon?" I asked.

"No," they said. "It was when Tommy came in!"

I learned a great lesson that day, namely this: The greatest sermons don't happen in a pulpit. They happen when we love other people. They happen when we love other people for God's sake. First, the Bible teaches us to love God because he first loves us. Second, the Bible teaches us to love other people for God's sake.

Third and Finally, the Bible Teaches Us to Love Life Because It's God's Gift to Us

Life is not an endurance test. It is a gift from God to be celebrated day in and day out. The scriptures put it like this: "This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). At home we have a plaque with these words: "Today is God's gift to us; that's why we call it the Present."

Fred Craddock tells about an old red mule with which his family used to plow their garden. The mule would often get out of the fence, and it was Fred's job to find the mule and bring him home. Fred was just a young boy at the time, and he would have to go through the woods and across an old family cemetery to find the old red mule. It was scary for Fred to go through the old cemetery, and on top of that, his mother would always say, "Make sure you don't step on graves. Graves are sacred ground, and don't step on the graves." And young Fred would protest because he couldn't tell where the graves were. The cemetery ground was level, the markers were leaning over, and pine needles covered the ground. He said: "Mama, I can't tell what part is sacred." His mother answered, "Well, I know it all looks the same. But if you'll just treat it all as sacred, you'll never miss" (Fred B. Craddock, Craddock Stories [St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 2001], 91).

What a great lesson that is! Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, if we will learn to treat it all as a sacred gift from God, then we'll never miss. We will do well in this life. This is what the Bible teaches us.

* To love God because he first loves us.

* To love other people for God's sake.

* To love life because it's God's gift to us.

When we understand this and build our lives around these great biblical lessons, then we are rich in the things that count the most. We are rich in the scriptures.


Excerpted from Rich in the Things That Count the Most by James W. Moore Copyright © 2006 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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