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Sunday, May 30, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and Our Stuff"

“Jesus and Our Stuff”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
May 30, 2010
Luke 12:13-34

Last week, Jesus was talking to a huge crowd.  They were trampling each other.  And He was talking about being real.  Not a fake like the Pharisees.  Not afraid of other people.  Not ashamed to talk about Him.  But real.

And in verse 13, Jesus gets interrupted by a request from a man in the crowd.  I don’t think that he’s been listening to Jesus very closely at all.  He’s got his mind on something else.  And it comes out.  Luke 12 verse 13.

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’”

You can tell that this guy is fixated on this problem he has.

He’s got a dispute going on with his brother over an inheritance–who gets the stuff?

And Jesus won’t play that game.  V.14

“Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’”

“That’s not what I’m here for right now.

Someday, I will judge all things and all people. But, right now, I’m not getting caught up in a petty little dispute that you have with your brother over — stuff!”

Jesus takes this opportunity, right now, as a teachable moment to teach on stuff.

On money, possessions, things, riches, treasures.  Our Stuff.

“Jesus and Our Stuff.”

It was just about a year ago that we had a Summer Sermon Series on Stuff.

We called it “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.”

The Bible has a LOT to say about money and possession–our stuff.

We learned last year to say, “Money is [...what?] profoundly spiritual.”

And God owns all of the money in the world.  We are just stewards.

And we spent a few months unpacking those truths and others.

Well, here, Jesus goes on to say two main things about our stuff.

#1.  DON’T BE GREEDY.  Look at verse 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.’”

Last week, Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

This week, He has another warning.  “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

Greed is a craving, a love, a worship, an inordinate desire for money and things.

“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

Why?

“[Because] a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Life is not stuff.
Stuff is not life.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Jesus could see through this man’s request.  It sounds like a simple request for help.

Actually, it sounds little a like a demand.  “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  Give me my share of the stuff!  It’s only fair!

But Jesus says,

Life is not stuff.
Stuff is not life.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Don’t be greedy.

And He illustrates this truth with a parable.  We call it the Parable of the Rich Fool.

Let’s look at it again.

There is rich man who has a problem.  It’s the kind of problem that we all like to have.  V.16

“And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.  [That’s his problem!]  He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'”

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that this man had a bumper crop?

Good, right?

Is he wrong to think about the problem of storage?

No, that could be good planning, right?

Jesus lets us listen in to his thoughts.  V.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.  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.’'”

Now, is there anything wrong with this plan?

Are big barns bad?
Is storage bad?
Is retirement bad?

There is something wrong here.  Listen to verse 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?'”

What was wrong with this rich fool?

What was wrong with his thinking?

Anybody?

Two things stand out to me.

First, he only thought about himself.

If you read over his thought process, his favorite three people are “me, myself, and I.”  Right?  I’ll do this.  I’ll do that.  I’ll get to take life easy: eat, drink, and be merry!

But no one else figures in.  No other people. 

What else could he have done with some of that extra grain?  Give it away, right?

No other people.  And especially not God.

And other thing he did wrong was that he only thought about this life.

He thought he had so many more years to enjoy.

But he only had one evening left.

And that changes everything, doesn’t it?

Life is short, and it’s not about stuff.  V.21

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Be Rich Toward God!

The one thing I don’t want to hear on the night I go to be with God is “You fool!”

Yikes!

I want to be rich toward God.

Now, that doesn’t mean to bribe God.

As we know, that can’t be done.  He already owns it all.  And we’re just stewards.

But it does mean to be aware of God and that our relationship with Him is the most important thing–much more important than getting more stuff.

You’ve heard the bumper sticker, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.”

But the truth is the bumper sticker, “The one who dies with the most toys still dies.”

And then what?

You can’t take it with you.

Hearses don’t pull U-Hauls!

Jesus says, “Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

Don’t be greedy.  Life is not about stuff.

Our society just doesn’t get that.  We are on a mad dash to accumulate stuff, stuff, stuff.

We think Jesus is a heretic.  “A man’s life DOES consist in the abundance of his possessions!”  That’s how we Americans live.  It’s our American dream!

But the truth is:

Life is short, and it’s not about stuff.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Do you need to hear that today?

So often our possessions possess us.

Yesterday, the kids and I cleaned out our storage shed.

Ugh.  What a job.   Where does all that stuff come from?

I know where it comes from.

And it’s not where real life.

It’s not in your shed, in your garage, in your freezer, in your house, in your land, in your bank account, in your 401K.

Life is not stuff.
Stuff is not life.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Don’t be greedy.

What changes do you need to make be rich toward God?

For some of us, it’s simplifying.  For some of it’s just plain giving.

For some of us, it will mean a change in priorities because your in the rat race trying hard to get a bigger piece of the cheese, and it’s got your life out of whack.

What changes do you need to make to be rich toward God?

Jesus doesn’t just take on greed here, though.

We can mess up with stuff without trying to get more and more and more.

We can also mess up by worrying about our stuff.

#2.  DON’T BE WORRIED.  V.22

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

Don’t be worried.

I find this one harder to keep from doing that being greedy.

I can be content and not need bigger barns, but it’s hard for me to turn off the worry switch.

Jesus says that “life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

Now, I don’t care about clothes a lot, but I do like food.  And if I lived in the situation these people lived in, where finding the next meal was a life or death business, I would be prone to worry!

I worry and I have a full freezer.

But Jesus says there are more important things than food and clothes. Don’t worry about them. Don’t worry about your stuff.

And He goes to nature for illustrations.  V.24

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

Sounds like last week, doesn’t it?

Last week it was sparrows.  Here it’s ravens.

Jesus isn’t saying that we shouldn’t work.

He saying that we shouldn’t worry.

We are more valuable than birds–and God feeds them!  V.25

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

What’s the answer to that one?  None of us can!

Worrying doesn’t work!

And alternative translation asks who can add 18" to their height (a cubit) by worrying?

Can anyone do that here?  I’d like to see that trick.

Worrying doesn’t work!  So why do it?  V.26

“Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Worry is ineffectual.

And, in fact, it dishonors God.  V.27

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!”

Now, this picture up here is not a lily.  It’s a daisy, I think.

It was taken by my lovely photographer wife.

I think it looks professional.

But as great a job as Heather did of taking the picture, she didn’t make the flower look beautiful.

It just is.  And the flower didn’t labor or spin.  And Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these.

If God does this every day for little flowers, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?

Don’t be worried.

Do you see how Jesus equates worry with unbelief?

“O you of little faith” equals worry-warts.

We dishonor God when we worry.

When we worry, we are setting our hearts on the wrong things.  V.29

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”

Of course, unbelievers will run after STUFF.

What else could they do?  What else seems important?

Of course, the world will worry!  They are orphans.

But we have a Father.

Christ-followers have a Father.  A Heavenly Father.  And He knows what you need.

He knows.

He knows.  Trust Him.

Worry is the opposite of faith.

Trust your Father and seek His kingdom. V.31

“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Seek His Kingdom.

It’s a matter of focus.

What are you focused on?

If you are focused on STUFF, you’ll either get greedy or worried.

But if you are focused on the Lord and His Kingdom, then the other stuff you need will be there when you need it.

Our economy is shaky.  We’ve been going through what some are calling the Great Recession.

And it’s to be afraid.  But we belong to God.  V.32

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

We don’t have to buy the kingdom!

The kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world, and God is pleased to give it to us!

He’s happy to give it to us.

It’s grace!

It’s free.

It comes to us through what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

He paid the whole thing!

And we get the whole thing.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

So make it your focus.

Seek His Kingdom.

What does that look like?  Well, one thing is GENEROUS GIVING.  V.33

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

He’s talking about investing in the kingdom which always means giving of some sort.

Randy Alcorn says, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead!”

When you give, somehow in the amazing, mysterious ways of our gracious God, you store up a treasure in heaven for yourself that can’t be taken away.

Seek His Kingdom.

How are you doing at that?

I know that we have a church full of generous givers.

I am constantly learning about giving from watching many of you.

But Jesus’ words call for us to examine ourselves again. 

How are we each doing at investing in the Kingdom?

Family Bible Week begins in just 21 days.

And I want to tell you a little bit in advance about this year’s FBW Missions Project.

We’re participating in something called “The Red Backpack Project.”

The EFCA is trying to raise $50,000 to buy, sew, and ship 5,000 red backpacks to the Congo.

Each backpack costs $10.

At the Challenge Conference that Lucas Kristofits is going to, there will be teams of  sewing these Red Backpacks together to go to the Congo.

Why a Red Backpack?

“A red backpack is given to every sponsored child in our EFCA GlobalFingerprints program. All of the children that benefit from GlobalFingerprints have suffered in some way through war, poverty, HIV/Aids, or malnutrition and have lost one or both of their parents. The red backpack project helps solve this problem by providing children with the things they need. It is filled with basic hygiene and school supplies and a Bible. It is a treasured possession that stores all their worldly possessions.”

For some of these kids, all of their STUFF fits in this backpack.

I’m excited about participating in this project this year.

For where my treasure is, there my heart will be also.

Where my stuff is, there my heart will be also.

And I want my heart to be in the Kingdom!

I don’t want to be characterized by greed.  By making my life about more and more stuff.

And I don’t want my life to be characterized by worry. By faithlessly setting my heart on what I’ll eat or drink or wear.

But I want to seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to me, as well.

And I’ll bet that’s how you feel, too!

Being Real with Jesus

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