Treasures of a Pastor’s Heart -- Luke 12:13-34 -- Preached UBC AM service 10.9.11
Intro: Did Jesus really mean what He said that day? Of course He did!
This morning I am preaching to myself, and you get to listen in! The changes in the Southern Baptist Convention are already affecting the work that I do and my life, and will affect them even more greatly in the next few years. E.g., we have received word that our medical insurance will be phased out over the next five years. Should I worry? My job title has been changed from NAMB missionary to Church Planting Catalyst. I will learn in Las Vegas on Oct. 27th and 28th exactly what that will mean, and what will be expected of me IF I accept the new job assignment, along with my still being the Director of Missions of Long Beach Harbor Association. I really have no choice; I have to accept the new job assignment. Why? Because otherwise I will lose the partial funding I am now getting from the North American Mission Board as part of being the associational DOM. That was the previous agreement under which I became your Director of Missions. One-third of my salary comes from NAMB, and we cannot afford to give it up. Could you give up one-fourth of your total family income? Neither can we. All changes were without our input.
How should Marian and I respond? Should we be fearful? Angry? Worried? Where is God in all this? He doesn’t get caught by surprise. God knew in advance, even before Marian and I were called by Him to come to southern California, that all of these changes were going to happen! What exactly does He want to accomplish in our lives? How does He want us to look to Him in all of this, and to the work which He has called us to do?
Here are some of the questions I have to ask myself when I consider how God wants us to respond to these changes.
1. Am I being on guard against greed? Because life does not consist in possessions. v. 15 Ask this Q of congregation. I know exactly how much Steve Jobs left when he died this past week! Do you? He left every penny! Every house! Every car! Every office building owned by his companies! Every microchip! He left everything! So will I! So will you!
2. When my soul is required of me, who will own what I have prepared or stored up? v. 20 Ask this Q of congregation.
3. Am I storing up treasures for myself, or am I rich towards God? v. 21 Ask this Q of congregation.
4. How am I to not worry about what I wear or eat? Can I trust God to provide? vv. 28-30 Ask this Q of congregation.
What if God doesn’t provide? There have been times in our lives when God did not provide basic things, and we had to ask our families for help. That was embarrassing! Once we had to live with Marian’s parents for one month. Yuck! Once we had to live with my parents for six months, and my Dad was in the hospital the entire time! It was awful! Could it be that God will require that of us again? I certainly hope not.
Did Jesus really mean what He said here? He never owned anything beyond the clothes on His back and the sandals on His feet, and I think those were probably given to Him. Yet He looked to God His Father, and His Father provided everything He needed to do what God had called Him to do! Will God do that for Marian and I?
Yes, He will! Does that mean we will own a house someday? I don’t know. I hope so. Husbands, you know how that feels! One of the biggest regrets I have as a husband is that I am not able to provide a house of our own for my wife. She says it doesn’t matter, because we have given ourselves to God’s service. Anyone have a nice, paid-for house they would like to give away??!! But what if God says owning our own home is not important in His plans for us? So far He has. Will we still serve Him? What if I have to give up other dreams I have asked God to give me? Who knows what BHAGS are? BHAGS are Big Hairy Audacious Goals! I have asked God for some tremendously big things! I have asked Him for BHAGS! (3.5 million lost people in our area) The worst He can do is to say no. What if He does says no? Will I still serve Him?
We are committed to God. We will serve Him no matter what, no matter what it costs, no matter how hard I have to struggle in prayer to accept God’s will for us. We will serve God, period! I tease Marian sometimes and tell her that our street in heaven won’t be paved with gold; it will be paved with platinum with diamond clusters, because we have given up so much of the American dream in our lives! Actually, for heaven I have asked God for an entire galaxy, because I have some ideas for the development of entire star systems. If you think I am joking, you don’t know me very well. I have, and I am serious! If God says no to my BHAGS, will we still serve Him? Yes, we will! Jesus did not die on the cross to give us the American dream. He did not die on the cross to give you the American dream.
Do not feel sorry for us! Why? Because this are the lives God has chosen for us, and I would not change them if I could! (Well, maybe I could be more handsome and smart-er!--for Marian’s sake!) We get to serve God in ways none of you can understand, unless if you get called to our type of work. We get to see things you will never see, except when you get to heaven and see the results. I guarantee you that you will drop your jaws in amazement when you hear the stories of our lives. Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to be believable, and our lives are not believable! As God is my witness, our lives are not believable! And no, I won’t tell you what I am talking about. It is rude for you to even think about asking! You’ll have to wait till heaven to hear about them. So you better make sure you go there! Otherwise, you’ll never know!
Did Jesus really mean what He said here? YES, He did! Why? Because you and I were never created to live forever in this world! We were created for the world to come! We were created to be the rulers of another world, a world with no sin, no selfishness, no evil of any kind. To be ready for that rulership, we must have the character of the heart developed here!
That is why Jesus expects and orders His followers to seek God’s kingdom, and not their own. He is getting us ready for that world, not this one. Our treasure is not to be stored up here, because we will not be living here! Why would you want to put your treasure in a place where you won’t be living?! We are legal aliens in a foreign land, and that foreign land is called the Earth! One day we will go to our native land, called the New World and the New Heavens, and we will rule there as sons and daughters of God!
Verse 31 says, “Seek His kingdom, and these earthly things--food, clothing, shelter--will be added to you, but only as you need them to accomplish what God wants you to accomplish!” And tithing is the test! Will you give back to God one-tenth of all He has given to you? If you do, you pass the test! If you don’t, you fail the test! The average Christian give 2% of their income to the Lord. What if your faith is not enough to do 10% right now? Then take my challenge: for the next two months, give 2%. The next two months, give 4%. The next two months, give 6%. The next two months, give 8%. The next two months and the rest of your life, give 10%! Your life does not consist in your possessions! So, turn them over to God, and ask Him how He wants you to use them! They belong to God, and you are the care-taker of them. That’s all!