If our joy rests on our circumstances, we do not have true joy. If your joy rests on things going the way we want, you do not have true joy. If joy rests on what you have and who you are with, this is not true joy. Circumstances change. Things don’t always go the way you want. We will not always have the same constant people in our lives. The things we have are temporary—they break, they are lost, their value is temporal.
In Habakkuk 3, we read about things not going well. The fig trees, vines, and fields aren’t producing. The livestock is not productive either. This is a big problem. No food. No money. Circumstances aren’t good at all. Even so, we read, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
How can there be joy? How can he take joy? The reason for joy is for knowing God—for trusting Him. When we rest in Him, when we know Him – truly know Him (requires a relationship)—then we can take joy in Him too. No matter what is going on today, take joy in Him. As John 16:22 says, the joy we have in Him, in our salvation, no one can take away.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18 [ESV]
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.
During the summer, I often give my dog Max some ice cubes. When we come inside from a walk, I give him one ice cube to munch on and I try to encourage him to drink his water as well. But first thing in the morning he does not want to accept the ice cube because he expects a bone. Every morning he gets a bone to help clean his teeth. He tosses the ice cube on the floor and sits in defiance waiting for me to give him his bone first. He is focused on getting what is better to him so he won’t budge.
At times we have our focus skewed and we have our eyes focused on something that isn’t actually better for us. Rather than taking the ice cube, we desire the bone. Our eyes light up when we see the bones in life, and we sometimes sacrifice the much needed ice cube for the bone. We do this in many areas of our life—with our family, with our jobs, with money and possessions, etc.
Today, ask God to help you with your focus. Ask Him what areas need adjusted. Seek His guidance and don’t just listen—follow.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” – Proverbs 4:25-26 [NIV]
This morning I passed by a dumpster filled with items from a house that is currently undergoing renovations. Out of the corner of my eye, I was able to spot a large box of books lying on top of the other discarded items. The books looked brand new and many of them were titles that were once found on the best sellers list. For a moment I thought of how those books and so many other items within the dumpster could have been used by someone instead of going to a landfill. I imagined if the items were donated to a church or another charity, the good that they could do for some lives. Then my mind started to focus on how we are all so guilty of getting things and tossing them out.
We have become a society that is so very good at getting rid of things. We toss out clothing because we have plenty of other items in our wardrobe. We toss out food because we had so much food, that we did not have time to eat it all and it went bad. We toss out relationships because it takes work and sacrifice for marriage and friendships to find success. We toss out opportunities because we do not desire taking risks on challenges. We toss out money with gambling or with purchases we don’t even want or need. We toss out pets because we bought them for their cuteness without thinking of the time investment. We toss out technology because something new came along. We toss and toss.
Then I thought of those who do not have anything to toss, those who are lacking the basic needs of life. There are people who are not able to eat tonight. There are people who have lost their family, their friends. There are people who do not have shoes or clothing. There are people who do not have all of the advantages and opportunities. There are those who do not have money to toss away. There are some who are sick, some dying. There are some who are slaves, yes slaves, on this very day in 2013. I could go on and on.
I cannot give any answers of how we can fix all of these things. I do not have the answers. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to tossing out things. All I can say is that I know Who has the answers. I know that all we can do is look to God for the answers of what we can do in our own lives to be His hands and feet, and to share His love with those around us and to be who He called us. We can start here. “He has told you, O man, what is good: And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB). Let us start there.
For exactly the last three months, I have lived a life with very little clutter. Three months ago, my family and I headed to the airport and we began our voyage to Australia. Our items were in storage. We stayed in Sydney for two and a half months, living out of suitcases. We really didn’t miss any of our belongings in the United States. When we returned back to the States, we ended up needing to wait for a home to rent. Therefore, we are staying with friends and still living out of suitcases.
This morning, I went to our storage center, a small 10 x 10 unit that stores all of our possessions. Most people could not store all of their things in such a small area; however, we barely fill half of the unit. As I passed a few other people with their doors open, I couldn’t help but notice their things pouring out of the unit. Some people are drowning in clutter.
The Bible tells us to not store up a bunch of possessions here on earth. The Apostle Paul was content with so little. Paul said,“ I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means” (Philippians 4:11b-12a NASB). Too often we tend to mix our wants and needs. We also fill the gaps in our lives with stuff in hope that we will feel better. The gap that needs filled can only be filled by our loving Father. This is why Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of heaven. If we truly do this with our entire heart, we wouldn’t feel such a void in our lives.
Clutter can cause stress. Clutter can cause a loss of focus in our lives. It can keep us from experiencing peace. It can require a lot of energy from us. Clutter can become such a burden, and yet sometimes even more clutter is added to cope with the stress of the burden. It’s okay to have things. It’s okay to like things. But it’s not okay to drown ourselves with things. God wants you to have peace. If you feel your environment is not peaceful, look around and see if you are drowning in clutter.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 [NASB]