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13. And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15. And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18. And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
22. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25. And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26. If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27. Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
32. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I really believe in my heart that the Lord Jesus in His teachings outlines here a special formula for helping us to overcome anxiety and worry about our daily life in this world. He warns us, first of all, of this thing of covetousness, of greed reaching out with grasping for everything that we might be able to get and keep and hold onto in this world. He says very clearly a man’s life, a person’s life, is not made up of the things that he possesses. This is not what makes like, Jesus is saying. This is very difficult teaching for us to grasp and to receive, I think, because we are so oriented to this earth. We are indeed earthlings. We are a part of this world. It is very difficult for us to focus our attention on the spiritual reality that is beyond where we live and what we can see and experience through our natural senses. Perhaps one of the hardest things for us to understand as we look at the Word of God is the reality of the spiritual world and what is beyond this life and this earth. It is so difficult for us to look away from it, yet the Bible is filled with all kinds of injunctions and instructions that would teach us not to become adjusted to this world. This world is not our home. We are on a pilgrimage. We are travelling. We are walking. We are following the Lord Jesus Christ. Anywhere you look in the Scripture the life of the Christian is portrayed as a pilgrimage, as a journey. We are passing along. We are moving. We do not stay here.
The apostle Paul would indicate that we just camp out temporarily in our earthly house. He describes it in 2 Corinthians 5, we know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle, this body that we live in were to dissolve, we have a building of God that is reserved for us in the heavens. Do you know? Do you realize? Can you rejoice over the fact that once you fold up this tent of this body that you really become released to go and receive the building that God has reserved and prepared for you? That is what the transformed, resurrected life is like over there. It is taking on a building. I think I would rather live anytime in a building that God has made than a tent as Paul mentioned it that folds up, concerning this earthly body. Jesus, in His teachings, is reaching out to us so that someway, somehow we draw our hearts and our faith and our attention away from so many things that people clamor after in this world. We come to face the facts of the reality of what’s beyond. The dying testimonies of people in Scripture and our own loved ones indicate what it’s like over there and the glory and the beauty. To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. The Lord Jesus tries desperately to get us to understand that so that we will not become so in love with this world. He said your life is not made up of just things that you possess and things you have, not even the physical body that you possess. That is not life. It is something else, far beyond that.
Then He gives us this illustration that we’ve heard about so many times and talked about. We’ve taught about it and preached about it, the rich man. The man who was greatly blessed by God and he had an abundance of harvest. So much so that he had no place to store them. That’s wonderful. That’s marvelous. I think about this man who got to the place that he had such a harvest, such an abundance he didn’t have places to contain it. In my lifetime, I have built huge grain bins and had crews that built grain bins to store beans and wheat and barley and corn. I’ve seen people with bumper crops and it is a marvelous thing how God blesses. This man is wonderfully blessed of God, but he says that he has to do something to take care of everything. He says I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and build bigger graineries so that I can keep it. He is perfectly in order to this point. There is not a thing wrong with what he has said up until this point. But then he said, ‘Then I will say to my soul, soul thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Take it easy now. Eat and drink and be merry.’ I think sometimes we need to talk to ourselves. I used to preach and refer to old man self. Here is this man and he is saying, ‘Self, you are going to feed yourself with the material things you’ve got. You can do almost anything you want to.’ Here is where he made his dreadful mistake, thinking that he could satisfy his soul on the material abundance that he was being blessed with. People have shown us that riches cannot buy happiness, cannot buy health, cannot buy life, cannot satisfy the inward spiritually. Now I cannot testify to all of that personally because I’ve never been rich enough to know how to experience that kind of thing, but there are some who have and they give testimony to the fact that you cannot your soul with the things of this world.
Then God spoke to him, ‘Thou fool.’ Look at this. Here is a person that God refers to as a fool. Somebody who tries to satisfy his inner self on outward things that he possesses, the Lord refers to that person as a fool. He doesn’t say a thing that it is sinful to be rich and make a lot of money. He does say if you try to feed your life, your soul, on this, then He says ‘Thou fool.’ And then He said, ‘Your soul, your life is going to be required of you this night and then whose will these things be?’ I think probably the greatest worry about being rich would be having to die and leave it all. Don’t you think? Seems like it would worry you to death. In this case, God says, ‘Tonight you are going, and then who is going to be?’
So then, after giving this great illustration, He launches in about the danger of anxiety and worry over how you are going to live and the material things in this life. He says some words that are difficult for me to grasp. I have confessed to you time and time again that it is harder to preach the teachings of Jesus than anybody else in the Bible. I can wax strong with the prophets and the apostles and what they say. But when you start talking about what Jesus said, that is a whole different kind of weighty teaching that cuts deep into our hearts and minds and thinking. I don’t know if I can practice this or not, when He says ‘Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, neither for the body what you shall put on because your life is more than meat and the body is more than raiment.’ It is right at this place that some preachers would launch out into meddling about how some people look and what they pay for clothes and everything, but He said, ‘I want you to consider the ravens. They don’t sow. They don’t reap. They don’t have storehouses and barns and God feeds them. If he takes care of the ravens, how much more are you better than the fowls?’ He said if God looks after them and even the little birds and the flowers and they grow and are beautiful and healthy, God knows how to clothe you. He knows how to take care of you. He knows how to really cover everything you need in your life. And then He says, ‘Oh ye of little faith.’ What Jesus wants us to do is to understand that we put top priorities in first place of trusting God, relying upon Him and He takes care of the rest. That is difficult to do. But some way, somehow when we come to that place where we can take the managing of our own lives out of our own hands and put it in His hands then He knows how to take care of us.
Now I believe that the Bible teaches some laws and rules, laws of God that if you live by, ordinarily you would prosper and be in health, God would bless you. There is a tremendous foundation for a powerful prosperity gospel in the Bible, especially in the wisdom literature. I think of the first Psalm which is a wisdom Psalm and it talks about that man how blessed he is and it goes on to say that in everything he will prosper. That’s the idea that if you live in harmony with God and His Word and His will, things will go better for you. If you try to break the laws of God, you will break yourself. There are some great teaching in that regard, but where the trouble comes in is when you start trusting in those things instead of keeping your trust in God and your focus there.
Jesus is talking to disciples who live in a time worse than any recession we’ve ever know, I suppose. He is talking to people who are dominated by cruel and wicked government, the Roman Empire. They have very little hope of tomorrow. Some of them will soon be killed for their testimony. Some of them worry about how they are going to get along in their families. He wants them to cut loose and trust in Him some way, somehow. It is very difficult for them to grasp this. But He said for them not to seek about what they are going to eat and drink and neither be of a doubtful mind. Here is part of the bottom line of this message; this idea of a doubtful mind. The Bible is quite clear that when you approach God with doubt, you automatically limit yourself as to what God will do for you. When you approach Him with fearfulness and anxiety and worry after He has said so much about fear not and don’t worry and don’t be of a doubtful mind. He said in verse 30 that your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. Now that leaped out at me as I was studying for this message. I don’t think I had seen that just like that before. But God knows, your Heavenly Father knows what you need. He knows you have need of the things that you need. He is aware of it. Whatever you need, He is aware of it. He wants us to come to Him in trust.
I heard one of our chaplains speak this week in our chapel service and it just set my soul on fire as he talked a little bit about being totally dedicated to the will of God. He said something I never had thought of quite like he said it. He said the Lord wants a whole lot out of you. When he got through talking about that, just how much God wants out of us and he explained. His sermon touched me deeply. He said God wants unconditional love from us and God wants absolute obedience from us and God wants us to be servants one to another to serve in love. That cuts across all ambitions and desires because he is saying God wants this condition in our hearts where we trust Him completely and give Him first place. Our faith and our trust in Him is number one. Our obedience to Him is unquestioned. He can lay any claim upon us and we don’t argue. There have been some times that I argued at His leading and His direction. Some of those times I suffered because I didn’t obey. I want to tell you that every time I have obeyed Him and responded in obedience to the leading of God and what He wanted out me, He rewarded me greatly and wonderfully. There is nothing so wonderful and real as simply being at the place where you give yourself to the will of God in obedience.
He says, ‘Your Father knows you have need of these things.’ That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to tell Him about it. Jesus said in His great prayer to pray and say, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Just say it to Him. The Father knows.
I want to ask you to think with me for a moment, what is it you need tonight? I mean a real need in your life. Will you think about that? Once you have settled on the main thing, would you raise your hand as a testimony that there is a need? The Father knows you have needs. And then He said – and this is the heart of this entire message tonight, in verse 31, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Putting the kingdom of God first, saying ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done’ is the assurance that He takes care of the things. He says, ‘Fear not, little flock; for it is y our Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ The kingdom which is not of this world. He puts eternity in our lives now. He gives us the absolute guarantee of a tremendous inheritance that is to come. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of the inheritance to come. He says, ‘Build up treasures in heaven because where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'
I’m asking you tonight. Where is your heart? I have to ask myself, where is my heart? Is it bound up in my children, in my family, in whatever things of the work I do, the ministry I have? Where is my heart? It is wherever your treasure is. Wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart is, He says. I think Jesus said a whole lot about this life, about money, about worry, about all our cares because He knew of the dangers that would come to us because of greed or worry and anxiety over our concerns for wealth or for things in this world. We have just seen in our voting a demonstration across this country of the tremendous amount of people, the vast majority of people in the United States who perhaps are more concerned with the economy and have hopes that it will change for the better with the new administration. They are more concerned about that than they are about the kingdom of God. As a matter of fact, some of them are fighting desperately hard against the kingdom of God. Regardless of what comes and goes with nations in this world, the kingdom of God still stands. As was said earlier, regardless of what happens to the economy, the laws of God still stand. What Jesus said is, ‘Your Father knows what you need and if you put God first, He will take care of the rest.’ You seek first His kingdom and all things will be added unto you.
If you believe that, I want you to stand to your feet and let’s worship God together. I want you to thank Him because of His great blessings and let us see if we can seek first the kingdom of God. Let’s pray.
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