CONTENTMENT: ARE YOU RICH TOWARD GOD?
March 26, 2012
By John Barnett
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Jesus taught more about money than any other topic. He once asked his audience, ‘What does it profit someone to gain the whole world—and yet lose their own soul?”
People have always been closely connected to their money. In the past week we have gone through a historic period for our generation. It seemed to many people this past week, that they were on the verge of losing their whole world. Jesus said gain the world and lose me, or:
Lose the World and Gain Christ
As we open to Luke 12, we are about to hear Jesus speak with absolute authority on money. We need to listen.
One of the financial world’s most respected news services, Bloomberg, tells us that in the past 12 months we in America have lost $6 Trillion dollars in real estate equity and over $8.3 Trillion dollars in market equity. For the three hundred million of us that live in America that translates into $20,000 per person in lost real estate values and $28,000 per person in lost stock market equity. That is the most money ever gained and lost in such a short time in all of modern history.
But one commodity has not changed, it has actually only gotten more precious by the day. God's Word points clearly to the only source of our hope in Christ.
The Bible reveals that:
• In uncertain times, we have a Immoveable Rock.
• In fearful times, we have a Fortress and Refuge.
• When the world is shaking, the financial markets quaking, and our trusted assets seem so fleeting—we have an anchor that can keep our souls.
Someone taped this poem, extolling God's Word, in the back of an old Bible I found.
Read it to be wise. Believe it to be safe. Practice it to be holy.
This book contains light to direct you, fruit to sustain you, comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff. It’s the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, it’s the Christian’s chart.
Here paradise is restored, heaven is open, the gates of hell are disclosed.
Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.
It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.
The Bible. The Book you can trust.
And that Book over-and-over warns us to:
Be Careful How You Build
Listen again to Christ's words in Luke 12:15-21 as we stand and I read them to you.
15 "Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16 "And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'"
18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
All week long, as the financial markets around the world unraveled, our text Sunday evening kept moving me deeply. Christ's words, through the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 3 that we studied in our look at Christ's Judgment seat should challenge us to think whether, “What we have built will survive.”
Remember what we saw last week? I Corinthians 3:14 says:
If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
How do we make sure that we are building something that will last forever? As a believer the Bible has given me an insider’s knowledge.
God's Word has already described a future time when all the valuables of this world—all money, possessions, fashions, and treasures--become worthless: at our death or Christ's return, both of which are ahead for each of us. This knowledge should utterly change our investment strategy.
As Jesus noted in Luke 12, for believers to use the majority of their precious time and energies building up more and more wealth and possessions is foolish. In face of the inevitable events God describes for us, the endless storing up of vast sums of money for some future day would be like the historic equivalent to hoarding Confederate money on the day before Sherman took the South.
Any believers who puts their hopes for life on earth in money, betrays a basic ignorance or unbelief in the Scriptures.
Investments made for Jesus, backed by the eternal deposit assurance promises, are the only currency recognized by our God, whose Kingdom lasts forever. The deposits to his Kingdom are made by our daily offering of our time in worship filled service; and by the sacrificial investment of our resources for Him.
Building for Eternity
I keep in my study a piece of one man’s dreams that was smashed into millions of pieces and did not survive. What am I talking about?
A year ago this week I stood on a low platform of rock that sticks out into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel. That platform was part of a city named Caesarea Maritima, built by one of the most incredible builders of all time named Herod the Great.
The rocks I stood on were the just foundation of one of the greatest cities ever built. In 4 BC when Herod died his city Caesarea by the Sea rivaled Rome and Athens as one of the grandest and most beautiful cities in the entire world. But one part of the city was the grandest; it was Herod’s personal palace. It was on a point that jutted far out into the Mediterranean Sea. There he lived a life of unrivaled opulence. Not even the Caesars of Rome had 33 years of life at the top. And Herod lived every one of those days for himself.
His palace, in which I stood that afternoon, had been built from the most expensive and exquisite materials money could buy. Only the best for Herod, he lived for Herod; and a person who lives for themself will always be surrounding themselves with more and more comforts, treasures and pleasures.
Herod’s hunger for pleasing himself was unimaginable and endless it seemed. One special part of his palace was varieties of marble he used to built with. All were imported and brought by ship to be used in his palace. Marble that was red, green, white, black, swirled and clear, all were brought, no cost was spared.
But on that day last year, all that I could find that was left of Herod’s huge palace he had built for himself -- were the scattered pieces of smashed marble that have been washing up on the shore for two thousand years since the Romans came and leveled the palace in 67AD. Herod lived for Herod, and people who live for themselves -- give to themselves all their best treasures, but not to God. And those people, and their treasures they have built do not survive!
Herod Lived For Herod
Jesus promised endless joys to all who live this way for Him. All this should give us cause for reflection.
Who are you and I living for? Herod like the Rich Fool in our text, both lived for themselves.
What kind of building materials are we producing? Are we using our lives making earthly palaces or are we sending our building materials ahead to heaven for our own dwelling place?
Who have we influenced spiritually to the point that they would welcome us into their eternal dwelling places?
To what needy people have we sacrificially given our resources? Apparently those whom we have influenced for Christ, directly or indirectly, will know and appreciate us and desire our fellowship in heaven. What a thought! This is encouraging both in light of saved family members, friends, and others we have impacted, and for many we do not even know who have been touched by our prayers, by our service, and by our financial giving.
Jesus gives us a tremendous incentive to invest our lives and our assets in his kingdom while on earth. The greater our service and sacrifice for him and for others, the larger and more enthusiastic our welcoming committee in heaven, the more eternal residences we will have opportunity to visit, and the more substantial our own place in heaven.
One day money will be useless. While it is still useful, the believer with foresight will use it for eternal good. Why? Because, only God has given us the insight into how to prepare for eternity.
Our debt addicted, pleasure-seeking world says the exact opposite. Listen:
• Today, our lives are addictively intertwined in the economic system, and the credit-debt mentality has been fully normalized. Someone once described a modern American as a person:
“who drives a bank-financed car—
over a bond-financed highway –
on credit card gas—
to open a charge account at a department store—
so they can fill their Savings and Loan financed home—
with installment-purchased furniture.”
• After years of immersion in the materialism of our day, more and more people believe what the signs say in loan offices:
“We will loan you enough money to get you completely out of debt.”
• Yet we often forget that we are so extremely wealthy in comparison to the rest of the people who live with us here on Earth. Even today there are: More than a billion people around the world live on less than a dollar a day. – RON SIDER
We need to ponder Christ's words in Luke 12, about not being rich toward God. What makes a person RICH toward God?
They can be called A GOD-WEALTHY CHRISTIAN.
The God Wealthy Christian knows they are God’s Steward and live like it!
A GOD WEALTHY CHRISTIAN has a Correct View of ETERNITY.
Rewards make an eternal difference.
• Proverbs 24:11-12" Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, "Surely we did not know this," Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?"
• Daniel 12: 3 "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (KJV)
• Matthew 19:27-30 "Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" 28 So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (NKJV)
• Luke 14: 13 "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 "And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just." (NKJV)
A GOD WEALTHY CHRISTIAN has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT.
Discontentment equals IDOLATRY.
• Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV)
• Matthew 19:23-24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter* the kingdom of heaven. 24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (NKJV)
Why would it be hard for rich people to get to Heaven? Because we tend to hold on tightly to our possessions, and Christ warned that holding onto (loving) the things of this earth spells eternal disaster.
In America we are afflicted with a modern disease called: POSSESSION OVERLOAD; We have more ‘things per person’ than any other nation in history.
Our closets are full, our storage space is used up, and our cars can’t fit into garages.
Having first imprisoned us with debt, possessions then take over our houses and occupy our time. This begins to sound like an invasion.
Everything I own owns me. Why would I want more?
Jesus said care of things makes your heart grow cold, and so what is Christ's solution? He says to us through Paul in:
• Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (NKJV)
• 1 Timothy 6:9-10 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (NKJV)
Last week we sang a stanza of my favorite hymn, “Living for Jesus”.
I believe nothing would be more timely than to end today with a renewal of Christ's ownership of our lives.
A GOD WEALTHY CHRISTIAN has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT.
Discontentment halts spiritual growth.
• THINGS NEVER SATISFY
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?" (KJV)
Isaiah 55:2 "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." (KJV)
• GOD HATES WORLDLINESS
James 4:4-5 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (KJV)
1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (KJV)
Revelation 3:17-18 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- 18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (NKJV)
• DISCONTENT LEADS TO ANXIETY: Make a list of all the things you need and then start crossing things off. Remembering the One who said, in Matthew 6:25-34 :
LIFE IS MORE THAN EATING AND EXISTING v. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO GOD v. 26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
GOD TAKES CARE OF HIS OWN v. 27-31 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
GOD KNOWS YOUR NEEDS v. 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
GOD GIVES EACH OF US THE PRIORITY OF OUR LIVES v. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
GOD ASKS US TO GIVE OUR CARES TO HIM v. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)
A GOD WEALTHY CHRISTIAN has a Correct View of HEAVEN.
Life on Earth is for sending building materials to heaven.
• Heaven is a literal city with individual dwelling places.
John 14:2-3 "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (NIV)
Revelation 21:16 "The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long".
• The Carpenter from Galilee is constructing us individual dwelling places with the materials we send Him.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (NIV)
• Those we invest in here will welcome us there!
Luke 16:9 "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."
2 Peter 1:11 "and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (NIV)
• Life in Heaven will be EXCITING.
"We have an address where we live in heaven. We will invite folks there in our new bodies Luke 24:39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." (NIV)
We will recognize one another Matthew 17:3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (NIV).
• We will sit at meals with other saints
Matthew 8:11 "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." (NIV)
Revelation 19:9 " Then the angel said to me, "Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." (NIV)
• We will experience pleasure as much as the damned in Hell experience pain
Luke 16:22-31 "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."