Weekly Devotional

Each week a devotional is sent to recipients around the country.  It begins with a story taken from my personal life, history, news media, or a current trend in society.  The story then connects with relevant passages from the Bible, and concludes with a challenge to consider personal applications.  These devotionals are intended to present the truth of the Bible to a non-christian, enlighten a new believer, as well as provide scriptural insight to the mature Christian.  This week's devotional  is provided below; don't forget to check this page when you return.  Anyone can join the list of recipients by contacting me at know.doubt.268@gmail.com .  There is no charge.  Your address is not shared with anyone.  And you can drop off the mailing list at any time.

Boating with Billionaires  (June 24, 2022)

The United States and its allies are determined to punish Russia for its ruthless invasion of Ukraine. Among the sanctions are seizing very expensive yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs who have close ties with Vladmir Putin.

One of the largest yachts in the world is owned by Alisher Usmanov, the 67th richest person in the world ($20.5 billion net worth)1. It was seized by Germany in March. The 512-foot vessel cost about $1.5 million per foot. Named after his mother, the Dilbar has an indoor pool, 2 helipads, and a garden. In an effort to protect his asset, Mr. Usmanov titled the yacht in his sister’s name; she was not under sanctions at the time the vessel was confiscated.

There are other ways Russian oligarchs try to hold on to their treasures.

Alexei Mordashov had his 215-foot yacht taken by the Italian government2. As the 59th richest person ($21.5 billion net worth), he wasn’t too concerned about this little boat. His 464-foot superyacht, the Nord ($500 million), which boasts a waterfall, was safely anchored in the Seychelles, where American and European sanctions do not apply.

Andrey Melnichenko, had his 469-foot vessel impounded in Trieste, Italy. Ranked #108 by wealth ($15.4 billion), he safely hid his smaller 367-foot Motor Yacht A ($300 million) in a creek in the United Arab Emirates. Since the UAE is neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, other Russian oligarchs are flying the UAE flag to avoid seizure of assets.

Even Mr. Putin, who is not ranked among the 500 richest people in the world, had his $700 million yacht investigated while moored in Tuscany, Italy for repairs. Proof of ownership is hard because of registration through multiple offshore accounts, even though the vessel has anchored for years at Putin’s summer home on the Black Sea.

These sanctions, although troublesome, are probably not catastrophic events. Each yacht represents only 2-4% of an oligarch’s net worth. In perspective, it would be like the government confiscating one of our cars; although I would not want President Biden to be the recipient of Kathie’s wrath if it were her car!

From a Christian perspective, we know you can’t take this stuff with you when you die. No sense even trying to take your yacht with you if you are going to heaven; there is no sea (Revelation 21:1). A river flows within heaven, originating from the throne of God; this “water of life” is for nourishment and healing (Revelation 22:1-4). No boats. Lest you have interest in other things, let me remind you the Bible does not mention heavenly ATMs, golf courses, fishing ponds, hunting grounds, designer jeans, or diamond necklaces.  

If you are headed in the other direction when you die, a yacht will provide no relief; nor will money, golf clubs, fishing rods, guns, clothing, or jewelry.  

Godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6-8) is how we are to live on earth. We brought nothing into this world and we will take nothing out of it, regardless of our final destination. Jesus summarized the basis of how to live: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. … Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). Divine sanctions come when we reverse these commands and love ourselves with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Whether a pauper or a billionaire, you cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24b). Smooth sailing is serving the Lord.

1 https://www.bloomerg.com/billionaires/

2 https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/ March 16, 2022