Tag Archives: possessions

Taking Joy

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: Responsiveness

[Great Feast: Luke 14:15-24]

In Luke 14 we see that Someone is hosting a dinner – the person is “a ruler of the Pharisees”

  • Verses 1-6 speak about healing of a person with dropsy on the Sabbath
  • Verses 7-11 speak about the place of honor [[PARABLE OF THE AMBITIOUS GUEST]]
    • This parable was told to the Pharisees and the lawyers
    • Seating rank & distinction / more important guests arrived later / those less important would be moved if no room – Pharisees loved the best seats – Lesson of humility
  • Verses 12-14 choice of guests [[PARABLE OF THE FEAST / BANQUET]]
    • This parable was told to the “ruler of the Pharisees” – Lesson of hospitality
  • Verses 15-24 heavenly banquet [[PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER / FEAST]]
    • The great feast is ALREADY PREPARED.
    • The INVITATIONS ISSUED BUT DECLINED.
    • House will be FILLED BUT NOT BY THOSE ORIGINALLY INVITED.

Way of invitation – the invitation went out earlier for people to accept and have time to prepare. Later they went out again to touch base with those invited and tell them it was almost time.

Excuses:

  • Bought a field & had to go see it (Livelihood / Career)
  • Bought 5 yoke of oxen & had to go examine them (Possessions / Property)
  • Got married (Social / Relationship)

The people were pleased to be invited but that’s it – the invitation did not result in attendance

The invitees did not desire fellowship

Excuses would have sounded pathetic to the group because of the way invitations worked

Truth – this is how they were treating God’s invitation – it had no influence on their daily lives

Lesson of self-examination – GOD’S INVITATION IS FULL AND FREE

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” – Revelation 22:17 [NKJV]

“If we give up and turn our backs on all we’ve learned, all we’ve been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ’s sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God’s Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter. God has warned us that he’ll hold us to account and make us pay. He was quite explicit: “Vengeance is mine, and I won’t overlook a thing” and “God will judge his people.” Nobody’s getting by with anything, believe me.” – Hebrews 10:26-31 [MSG]

Bible Study Questions:

1) The Jews were looking forward to the resurrection. They saw the resurrection as a great celebration in God’s presence. Read Isaiah 25:6-9.

What did the passage mention would be at the banquet? What does this mean?

What actions does this passage promise?

This passage ends by giving us a response. What should be our response?

How can we respond in this way?

2) Looking at tonight’s main parable, we read that there was a group invited first. These people initially accepted the invitation; however, they later did not join the banquet. Who were the people who rejected the invitation of God? They would have been on the receiving end of this message.

3) What did these people think about their salvation?

4) When the slave went out to get more people, he returned and said still there was room so he was sent out again. What does this say to us?

 5) Those originally invited made excuses for not attending. The excuses involved relationships, property / possessions, and livelihood. How can these things keep us from God’s invitation? What is your biggest road block?

6) God’s invitation is a daily invitation. How can you stop making excuses?

 

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

More Than a Story: Richness

More Than a Story is a 12 week study of the parables of Jesus. This is the first week: RICHNESS.

Message Outline:

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:

Discussion 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?

Download Message Outline

Download Bible Study Questions

Download Bible Study Leader Guide

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

Acts: Possessions

[[Acts 4:32-37 ]]

No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (v. 32b)

And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (v. 33b-35)

At this time people would sell some property – brought all proceeds – not told you have to sell everything (voluntary not mandatory) Barnabas sold a field he owned to support the ministry – sharing without considering repayment

[[Acts 5:1-11]]

Ananias & Sapphira – Sold property but kept back part of the money

“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” – Acts 5:3-5 [NIV] The Holy Spirit Peter replied, Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38 [ NLT]

Quench or Grieve It

  • Quench—1 Thessalonians 5:19Do not quench the Spirit. (NIV) Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. (NLT) [[Suppressive / Destructive / Non-Unifying]]
    • Holy Spirit – Fire – Purifying / Enlightening / Enlivening – Don’t despise Spiritual Gifts
    • NOT ALLOWING HIM TO MOVE FREELY
  • Grieve—Ephesians 4:30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (ESV) [[“Lupe” – To cause grief / To offend]]
    • Lying, angry, corrupt behavior – actions, behavior towards God and others
    • ACTING OUT IN SINFUL MANNER

The Holy Spirit…

Counsels You (John 14:16)

Cleanses you (Romans 15:16)

Comforts you (2 Corinthians 1:3)

Empowers you (Romans 15:13)

Helps you when weak (Romans 8:26)

Gives you confidence (2 Corinthians 5:5-6)

Assures adoption in God’s family (Galatians 4:6-7)

Encourages you (Acts 9:31)

Gives you new life (Romans 8:11)

Gives you wisdom & revelation (Eph. 1:17)

Leads you to all truth (John 16:13)

Helps you pray (Romans 8:26)

Convicts you (John 16:8)

Strengthens & renews you (Ephesians 3:16)

Brings you reassurance (Romans 8:16)

Sanctifies you (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

Fills you (Ephesians 5:18)

Gives you joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

Helps you remember (John 14:26)

Dispenses God’s love in hearts (Romans 5:5)

 

Spirit leads into the Wilderness

“I suggest that many Christians… have never allowed them to be led by that selfsame Spirit into the wilderness. But those who would know the Spirit’s power and not just His presence must be tempted, tried, tested, and tempered, so that they might learn to live dependent on God and not on themselves.” – Oswald Chambers

1) Wilderness is a place of Separation Stripped down, out of comfort zone

2) Wilderness is a place of Grace God provides despite our sinfulness – Pillar of fire, Manna, Quail

3) Wilderness is a place of Revelation Opens your eyes to greater knowledge and understanding of God and His Word

4) Wilderness is a place of Preparation Correction, pruning, discipline

5) Wilderness is place of Choice With God – without God – a choice must be made

Download Outline PDF

This is one of the 4 part Acts series:

Acts: Prayer

Acts: Possessions

Acts: Persecution

Acts: Proclamation

Keeping the Father Waiting

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.

Make Time

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).

Make Room

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.

Plain and Simple

I very much enjoy having a plain and simple life. There was a time when I wanted to show off what I had because that is how the world works. You buy things. You tell people what you bought. You shove it right in their face because then you look good. But really, are you good? Is this thing bringing value to your life? Not one bit. I am so grateful that I learned the true value of life. I am so thankful God has shown me how to have a full life.

In today’s verse we read that a “showy life is an empty life.” To have a lot of things to boast about really won’t get you very far and one day it will all disappear. You can fight long and hard to keep these things that never are YOUR things in the first place, but what a waste of life, what “an empty life” it will be for you. Today people enter my home and they comment about how little I have in my home. They comment about how small the place is and how plain it looks. I tell them it suits me. You see, I don’t want to get too comfortable here. This is not my home. As I downsized my things and focused more on God, my life became simpler and I can say it is a much fuller life. I can spend time with my kids more. I can read God’s Word more. I can do things rather than work overtime. I can live rather than walk like a zombie through life. I can be active in the world, minster to many, rather than pretend to have it all together because I have a lot of stuff.

Don’t get me wrong—it is okay to own things; just don’t let those things own you. I pray that if your life is currently empty, that you will allow the Holy Spirit to show you how to fill it up. It’s possible—only through Him.

“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life;
a plain and simple life is a full life.”

-Proverbs 13:7 [MSG]

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Skewed Focus

1069972_10152056984878776_654235217_nDuring 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]

Within the Trash

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.

Enough is Enough

20121226_151930 My son opened up the fortune cookie and pulled out the small slip of paper. The paper read: “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” That is very true. During this time of year, it seems we spend so much time making Christmas lists, gift purchases and giving presents to each other, some of which is excessive. I heard in a news report the large amount of money that is spent on items people never wanted or needed. For each person, there is a different definition of what is enough.

The reality is that if we have God, we have enough. It is only when you have God in your life that you can say you have enough. If you don’t have God, there is always a void—always this desire to find something to fill this hole that cannot be filled except by God alone. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “[His] grace is all you need.” I personally know what it is like to be blessed with provisions from God. I know what it is like to have enough. Enough is not having every latest technological gadget, the newest sneakers, the most valuable jewelry, and the extra zeros at the end of the bank account balance… Enough is having God and His promises. They are promises like no other—promises that always are Truth. So the one question I have for you— do YOU have enough?

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
they exult in your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength,
and by your favor you exalt our horn.
Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.”

– Psalm 89:15-18 [NIV]

Drowning in Clutter

    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]