As Christians, we understand that we are each part of the body of Christ. We understand that the Church is comprised of many parts that each has a special function. The Church is people. Each of us are different. Each of us are part of the body of Christ. We also know that Jesus Christ spoke of unity and prayed for unity. This is important.
Paul wrote that “we all belong to each other,” as translated in the New Living Translation. I love this translation. We all belong to each other. I think this helps us to get a better picture of unity. If we belong to each other, it should mean that we care for those who belong to us. Don’t you care for your belongings? If we belong to each other, it should mean that we treasure those who belong to us. Don’t you treasure your belongings? Don’t you treat what you own nicely because it is of value to you? If we belong to each other, that means that not only does a person belong to you, but you belong to the person. This speaks of humility, connectivity, loyalty, and so much more.
One of the biggest areas we struggle with is unity. Jesus spoke a lot about unity because He knew of the struggles we would have with harmony as a body. When you take a group of imperfect people and join them together, there will be problems. But what links us together is the Holy Spirit. If we allow the Spirit to move freely and guide our steps, we can live as if we belong to each other. We can seek out the best interests for our brothers and sisters. We can think more of our fellow believers. We can treasure those God puts in our lives and ask Him how we can bless, encourage, and strengthen them on their walk. We can live within the unity instead of trying to break out on top. Remember today, we all belong to each other.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” – Romans 12:4-5 [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]
[The Loaned Money: Matthew 25:14-30]
- Also known as the Parable of the Talents
- A talent is a monetary unit worth about 20 years’ worth of wages.
- Talent is useless if it is not used.
- No one is without talent.
- Talents given according to ability – 5, 2, 1
Responsibility – Faithful over little, set you over much – Action is required
Time – Talent – Treasure
- We are to be RESPONSIBLE and CREATIVE
- We are all different but His expectations are always appropriate.
- Talents (Resources from God) + Action for God + Time (Gift from God)
= Profit for Kingdom
The third servant – the evil, lazy servant…
- Hid the talent because he was concerned with safety more than service
- To avoid not doing anything wrong, he ended up not doing anything right.
To be faithful, one must be:
- Focused on Jesus – All about Jesus, growing His Kingdom (Colossians 3:17)
- Founded in Jesus – Abide in Him (John 15)
- Fearless for Jesus – Hope in Jesus = Boldness/Courage (2 Corinthians 3:12)
Bible Study Questions:
1) What was the Master’s commendations for the two successful servants?
2) What did the Master do for the successful servants?
3) The unfaithful servant was described as three words. How was he described?
4) What happened to the unfaithful servant when the Master returned?
5) How do we bury the talents God has given us?
6) How can we discover our talents? How can we use them for God’s glory?
7) How can we encourage others with their talents?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
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.
Have you ever heard someone complain about the music in church? Have you ever heard someone say they didn’t want to go to a particular church because there was no air conditioning? I know some people who did not attend church because they did not like the music that was planned for that particular Sunday. I know people who skipped church during the hot summer months because the air conditioner was not working. Some people only attend church when it suits them, when it is comfortable, when it fits into the schedule.
Today’s passage talks about God’s kingdom being like a treasure hidden in a field, an awesome treasure that is found. The Message states that “the finder is ecstatic.” Ecstatic. What joy!?! How awesome!?! What a treasure!?!
How awesome it is to have a thirst for God, to want so badly to grow closer to Him. I know people who are so desperate to know Jesus, they risk their lives and travel miles barefoot to get to a church. They have to worry that people will attack them. Some people have their Bibles taken. But they want so badly to know Jesus. There are people who want God no matter what, and then there are people who want God, but do not really want to undergo what it might take to get to know Him. Remember this great treasure. What a beautiful, amazing treasure we each can find.
““God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.” – Matthew 13:44 [MSG]
“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.” – 1 Kings 14:25-27 [NIV]
We read that “Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (v. 21). Then the passage mentions high places, sacred stones, Asherah poles, and even male shrine prostitutes. The people were engaged in horrible, sinful acts. The people were committing idolatry. Then the judgment for their actions followed. The king of Egypt attacked and the treasures were taken. The gold shields that Solomon had made were carried away, and Solomon’s son has them replaced with bronze shields.
When we look at this replacement of the shields, it reminds me of something that a criminal does, replacing something real with something fake to pretend that the fake item is the real thing. At the end of the day, the deception is deception and can never be truth. Even if the shields were replaced, it was easy to see that they were not the original gold shields. Solomon made those gold shields when he was doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The shields were just one of many things that pointed to the splendor of Israel when following the Lord.
Today let this be a reminder of what truth is and what is not considered the truth. Let us remember that we have the option of having a true, real relationship with God. We can attempt to fake it by having a Bible on our bookshelf or attending church on Sunday, but there is no replacement for the real thing.
Everyday is filled with choices. When we wake up in the morning, we choose what clothing we will wear. We choose what breakfast we want to eat. We have so many choices that we make all day long. The Bible says that God chose us. We are His chosen people. Colossians 3 says that we “have been chosen of God, holy and beloved.” In 1 Peter 2, it says, “you are A CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION” (v. 9). So we are chosen. But it doesn’t end there. We must make a choice too. Now most people think our choice is to simply accept Christ, know and believe John 3:16, and we have done what was necessary.
It is important that we take the first step, pray to God and accept Jesus into our hearts. At the same time, it doesn’t end there. Each day we have a choice. Each day we are met with different options, difficult situations, and everything requires a choice to be made. You might not believe it, but even how you eat makes a statement. Are you eating properly and taking care of the body you were given, or are you just eating whatever comes your way?
Moses made a choice, a choice that some people would find difficulty in making considering his situation. He was at the very top, the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. Imagine being in such a high position. Even so, he stepped down and assumed the role God had for him. It was a greater role, but it was a hard path to take in life. He endured hardship, pain, suffering. It wasn’t the life that he could have lived had he not made the choice to follow God’s will.
Jesus also left His high position, was born as a vulnerable baby in poor conditions. He endured all of the world‘s sin out of love for His Father and to submit to the will of God. God made this great choice so that we could have life once again with Him. We may not have the strong faith like Moses. We may not see the value of each choice we make; however, the choices are there. Today, make the choice to live intentionally. Be intentional when you make decisions. You have the freedom of choice, such power to decide. Each decision has an outcome. Seek out God’s will and ask the Holy Spirit to help you be intentional with your choices. In doing so, you will see what a difference choices can make in life.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” – Hebrews 11:24-26 [NASB]
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]
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” – Ephesians 2:19 [NASB]
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:20-61 [NIV]
If you think about it, we are only here on earth with a spiritual green card. Our true home is in heaven. As children of God, we are members of God’s household. When we get caught up in building a kingdom here on earth, with our homes, cars, and gadgets, it’s important to remember our true household and our true home.