Jesus said that we could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We know it’s true. Time and time again we find ourselves with divided loyalty. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an indecisive man… unstable in all his ways.” Other translations say “double-minded.” That wasn’t even a word until it appeared in the Bible!
All of us have a divided loyalty. We can say we are devout Christians and that we have placed God first, however, we are still in this world and we are still in the flesh. Romans 7:15 says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (NLT). This is the Apostle Paul saying that he wants to do what is right, but yet he doesn’t do it. He recognizes that we have a sinful nature. The struggle is real. We keep on doing evil.
As we are living in this world, trying to live for Jesus, we need to keep in mind that our loyalties are divided a times. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His Word. When the world tries to pull you closer, remember that we are not of this world. God has a bigger plan for you and I, and it requires a desire for Him. Always aim to take steps toward Him, and the loyalty will become less and less divided, and more and more God-centered.
“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:8 [NLT]
Recently, someone told me that they “cannot afford to tithe.” I remember those days—the days when I thought I could not part with the money or the bills wouldn’t get paid. But I also remember the moment I got my finances in order, when I started to take a serious look at where the money was going. The Bible speaks about where the treasure is located, that’s where your heart will also be found (see Matthew 6:21). Take a look at your checking account register. Review it and you will see what has value to you. Recognize that if God is first place in your life, He shouldn’t be getting the leftovers.
You might be included in the likely 90% + readers who know I am a pastor. Perhaps you are saying, “Oh here’s a pastor asking for money again.” Please understand, I am NOT asking you for money. God does NOT need your money. He is the God of the universe. He is our Creator. But He has blessed us with what we have in our possession. It’s HIS! ALL OF IT!! Maybe you worked for it, but He blessed you with that job. Behind it all, before it all, you will find God. He is the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, the End. He is in all, above all, through all. Bottom line (see 1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, Colossians 1:17, Revelation 22:13). And tithing is a BLESSING to you! Yes, you read that right. Giving some of the money that God blessed you with to your local church to continue God’s kingdom building is an amazing opportunity you are blessed to be able to take part in. It’s a blessing to be a steward, and we are to be generous givers (see 1 Timothy 6:18). Tithing is not an obligation; it’s a loving response, a willing response to the grace of God.
God doesn’t want you trapped. He wants you free. Sometimes we are trapped by lies. Sometimes we are trapped by sin. Sometimes we are trapped by possessions. When you are trapped by your possessions, you cling to them so tightly that your possessions actually possess you. Today, look at your budget. Jot down different categories. Look to see where your money goes. Then pray about your finances. Consider what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NLT). You do this and you will learn to be a better steward. You will start to loosen your grip on what God has blessed you with, and be the generous, cheerful giver you were meant to be.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
ctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
This morning was a foggy one. As we ventured out on our normal walk, it was difficult to see up ahead. This would not be such an issue; however, Max has post-traumatic stress disorder. If he encounters another dog, he sometimes gets very fearful and the situation escalates. This is not normally an issue on morning walks as no one else is crazy enough to walk their dogs so early. However, every so often there is a chance encounter. Being able to see, allows me to prevent Max from having to undergo a stressful situation. It is hard to properly prepare for something you cannot see.
As believers, we are commanded to be prepared. Paul tells us to, “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers” (Ephesians 6:18). Peter warns us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This coming week, I will be preaching about the devil and his demons. Some people believe it’s unnecessary to discuss this topic. Whether it be fear, disinterest, or something else—the truth is we need to stay alert, and we need to know what we need to stay alert against.
The devil has been defeated. He has already been condemned (John 16:11). Victory is with Jesus. Even so, the devil is the prince of this world and he is still out and about trying to spread his lies, because he is the father of lies (John 14:30, John 8:44). We need to remember our battle is not of this world (Ephesians 6:12). In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). Put on your full armor of God and pray continually. Do not let the fog prevent you from knowing what is Truth and what is a lie.
Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.
The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.
Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]
We are Valuable. Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? [NLT]
We are God’s Creation. Only part of Creation made with God’s hands. Remember, He took the dirt and formed Adam. He took Adam’s bone and made Eve. He gave us breath (the breath of God). Other parts of Creation were spoken into existence but humans He handmade. (Genesis 1 & 2)
We are His Masterpiece. He continues to mold us. We are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
Ephesians 5:11 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [ESV]
Proverbs 24:11-12 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? [ESV]
We each have responsibility to shine the light in this dark world – to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
REMEMBER: Where sin abounds, grace abounds more. (Romans 5:20)
If you have had an abortion and you asked for forgiveness, you have already been forgiven.
So what does the Bible say?
In the Bible, some were known in the womb. Some were sanctified in the womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 – “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” [NLT]
Isaiah 49:1 – “Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” [NLT]
Galatians 1:15 – “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased” [NIV]
The word for prenatal and postnatal beings in the Bible – CHILDREN.
We also read about:
- Jacob & Esau struggling in the womb
- John the Baptist leaping for joy while in the womb and recognizing Jesus in Mary’s womb.
HE IS THE GIVER OF LIFE
Psalm 139:13-16 [NIV] – GOD KNITS TOGETHER; IT’S GOD’S WORK – NOT OURS
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
HE MADE US IN HIS IMAGE
- Genesis 1:26-27 – Man is made in God’s image
- Genesis 5:3 – When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. [NIV]
- Seth was created in likeness of Adam.
- Adam was created in likeness of….. GOD
Imago Dei (EE-ma-go Day) – Image of God is stamped on each of us.
HE VALUES LIFE
Genesis 9 – Capital punishment – murder in 1st degree
And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God. (v. 5-6 NIV)
Exodus 21:22-25 speaks about punishment when pregnant woman is accidentally injured while people are fighting and a life is lost.
- The Didache (Di-dah-kay) – Jewish instruction manual held that abortion was murder
- Early church, Calvin, Luther, Edwards held that abortion was murder.
God values life so much that He sent His one and only Son to die on the Cross so we could live forever with Him.
More Than a Story is a 12 week study of the parables of Jesus. This is the first week: RICHNESS.
More Than a Story: Richness
[The Rich Fool: Luke 12:13-21]
BE ON GUARD AGAINST COVETOUSNESS
Covetousness – desire to have more than you have
LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST OF ABUNDANCE OF POSSESSIONS
Possessions are useless when life is gone
Cannot truly live when fixated on possessions
- Focused on protecting what you have
- Focused on getting more – never enough
- Focus is idolatry – God doesn’t have 1st place in life
Rich man called a fool. Jesus says, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (v. 21 ESV). He’s not called fool for being productive or profitable.
Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [NIV]
Notice that the rich fool is not just called a fool; he’s a fool who loses his soul.
Our possessions: Time – Treasure – Talents
These can be hazardous or helpful. You decide.
Hazardous = It becomes your life <<OR>> Helpful = 1 Timothy 6:17-19
“Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.” [MSG]
True Life — Eternal Life Life is knowing God
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3 NIV).
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NLT).
Bible Study Questions:
1) The brother who approached Jesus at the beginning of the passage was covetous. The “rich fool” in the parable told by Jesus was also covetous. Jesus said to “be on your guard against all covetousness” (v. 15).
What are some instances when we are covetous?
How can we be on guard against this covetousness?
2) When reading verses 17-19, what words stick out to you?
3) What was the focus of both the brother and the “rich fool”?
4) Can one be “rich” in possessions (“treasure” – money) and still be rich toward God? If so, how?
5) How can we be rich toward God?
6) John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God and Jesus Christ. What does that mean? What is the difference between knowing of God, knowing about God, or truly knowing God? How does that look in our lives?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
We often keep our Father waiting. We don’t spend time with Him. We go through our entire day and don’t even speak to Him or even think of Him. Sometimes we walk away. And as the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, our Father waits. He’s always reaching out, always wanting us to just speak to Him—to have a relationship with Him.
In Psalm 90:12, Moses said, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (ESV). He understood time was our most valuable possession. As such, we must always be reviewing how we spend our time because that’s our priority in life. Is God your top priority—your number one priority?
Matthew 13:45-46 speaks of the pearl of great value. This pearl was found and because of the great value, the merchant sold ALL that he had just so he could buy it. But what do we do? Sometimes we do not consider our pearl of great value – Jesus, our prized possession. Instead we choose lesser pearls in life (possessions, power, pleasures).
You need to make room for God’s presence. In 2 Kings 4:8 we read about Elisha going to Shunem. A wealthy woman there fed Elisha when he passed through. She spoke with her husband about building a room for him—she wanted that man of God to come whenever he passed through and stay at her place. Do you have a place where you go to read your Bible or pray? A special place to push away the noise of the world and fix your eyes on Him? In Matthew 6:6, before Jesus tells the disciples how to pray, he tells them to “go into your room and shut the door” (ESV). Why? To shut out the worldly noise.
Routine – Not Routine
Routines are great. They help you to get a better night’s sleep. They help you to have less stress in life. But the issue is that sometimes routines are like traditions. The Bible doesn’t speak about too many traditions we are to keep. Most of the traditions we have are man-made traditions. I love traditions but sometimes we find our hearts not ii them because it’s simply routine. Like this man I met once. He sang the words, “Jesus loves me, the silo.” Yes, that’s not how the song goes, but he didn’t know that. He heard it wrong and continued to sing it wrong for over a decade. He didn’t know the truth—his life was built around tradition. Only when he was an adult did he learn what those words truly were and what the song truly meant.
In Luke 18, we read of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee was all about tradition. He was going to the Temple to pray. He was fasting twice a week. He was tithing from all that he got. Yes, he was going through the motions, but his heart was proud. He didn’t have his heart fixed on God. The Tax Collector, he stood before God as a humble man, emotionally beating his chest. He recognized his need for God. He truly was baring his heart before God. That’s what God wants. He wants honest, raw, truth. He wants you to open up and pour out your heart. And He wants your ears to listen when He responds.