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March 3, 2019 - How the Gospel should make us Generous

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Luke 12:13-34 - How the Gospel should make us Generous



I. Wealth Management
    A. Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees who insisted upon tithing even the smallest sources of income while not using any of that tithe money to help the poor.
    B. Christ’s teaching on this specific area of wealth management sets the stage for our text today.

Text: Luke 12:13-34
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.
17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.
19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[fn]?
26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!
29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.
30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

II. Demand
    A.  "...tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.
    B. Deuteronomy 21:17 - the “right of the firstborn”. The firstborn inherits double the rest of his siblings.
        1. Ancient Israel was by in large an agrarian culture with most people making a living through farms.
        2. If a farm gets cut up too much it becomes useless for everybody and so the oldest sibling got double in order to better hold the farm together.

III.  Response is interesting on several levels.
    A.   Jesus isn’t saying He isn’t a judge or an arbitrator, because He is.
        1.Man probably did not understand that none other than God the Father Himself made Jesus His judge and arbitrator which is part of the reason why Jesus said what said).
        2. All we know for sure about this man is he wants more inheritance money.
    B. Christ’s response is basically a non-answer because He sees a  bigger issue.  The  big issue is covetousness -wanting something that isn’t right for you to have.

IV. Parable about the rich man and his plans for "his" things.
    A. "It’s my life and I can do what I want with it.”
        1.   It’s completely selfish.
        2. It totally disregards the two greatest commandments which are first to love the Lord your God with all your being and second to love your neighbor as yourself.
    B.  This guy never prayed or sought God as to what he should do with the wealth that God gave him.
    C. When we understand this man’s sheer selfishness and utter lack of love for both God and neighbor suddenly verse 20 doesn’t sound as jarring as it might have at first when we read, But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?
    D. Indeed the fact God called this man a fool is proof positive that he never considered love of God in his thoughts because by Biblical definition a fool is someone who says in their heart there is no God according to passages such as Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1.

V. lesson of parable
  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”  
    A. The lesson is not: don’t lay up treasure or don’t acquire wealth.
    B. The lesson is instead: when you lay up treasure or acquire wealth remember where it really comes from and then use it in a way that honors the God who graciously gave it to you. Be generous.
    C. The man in Luke 12:13 wasn’t asking Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance for generous reasons but for selfish reasons which is why Jesus rebuffed his request.

VI. Verses to help us be generous.
    A. You can be generous if you “do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.
    B. Food and clothing is important, but if all we do is worry about food and clothing we’re missing out on what life is really all about.

VII. Illustration - Birds
    A. Ravens and crows need to find new food on a regular basis and so God causes them to migrate to where they can find it.
    B. The pacific golden plover travels about 3,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii with no islands in between and they can’t swim.
        1. Scientists discovered these birds couldn’t make this non-stop 3-4 day journey without flying in v-formation to reduce energy consumption.
        2. So how did the first golden plovers figure all that out because if they don’t know how much fat to store up, or they don’t know how to fly in formation, or they don’t know where Hawaii is all of them drop into the water and die on the first try.
        3. Evolution can’t explain it, but God shows the birds when, where, and how they should go. And since you are more valuable than the birds (because unlike them human beings are created in the image and likeness of God), don’t you think God will take care of you too?
    C. Jesus isn’t endorsing laziness here, because birds are very diligent and therefore like them we should work hard to meet the needs that we have.
The point is that if we do then God will provide and therefore we shouldn’t worry about our needs; which in turn frees us up to be generous.

VIII. Illustration - adding height to stature or length to lifespan.
    A. The Greek words used in verse 25 can refer to either one which explains why different translations say different things.
    B. How tall you are and how long you live is largely outside of your control.
    C. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:8 that “bodily exercise profits a little” but it’s not like health nuts are getting taller and living longer than everybody else because they’re not.
    D. You should do what you can to live and long and as productively as you can, but don’t worry about it too much because there’s only so much you can do.
    E. Paul says your time will be much better spent if it’s focused on godliness because “godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”And this includes living generously.

IX. Illustration - lilies and by extrapolation how all the flowers of the field both clothe and beautify the grass.
    A. The God-given beauty of flowers exceeds even Solomon in all of his royal regalia. And yet as beautiful as flowers are they are nothing compared to you.
    B. In ancient Israel, flowers were plucked up along with the grass and burned to cook bread in small clay ovens because wood was relatively scarce in Israel compared to other places.
    C. But if God so beautifully clothes His creation in flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow “how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

X. Summing it up
    A. We all have need of food, water, clothing, and shelter and all the nations of the world not only anxiously seek after these things we anxiously seek after these things in ever greater abundance. We want better food. We want a dream house.
    B. God knows the difference between needs and wants and He will give you what you need so long as you seek the kingdom of God first.

XI. The kingdom of God
    A. In general The kingdom of God refers to God’s sovereign rule over the universe in all times and all places even after we messed things up through sin.
    B. More specifically the kingdom of God refers to God’s reign in a renewed and perfect creation in the future.
    C. For you to seek the kingdom of God is to seek entrance into the future new heaven and new earth.
    D. The only way to enter the kingdom of God according to Jesus in Mark 1:15 is to “Repent, and believe in the gospel.
    E. You must turn away from your sins and believe that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
    F. If you seek the kingdom of God first as Jesus calls it (or godliness first as Paul calls it) then God will give you the food and drink you need.
    G. If you repent and trust in Christ, God will take care of you both now and in the future.
    H. This great hope frees us up to be generous!

XII. Being generous vs socialism/communism
Acts 4:34-35 (NIV)
34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
    A.  Members  of the early church only sold either land or houses “from time to time” as needs arose.
    B. In Acts 2:46 we are told that the early church met in houses (that obviously their members must have still owned) and so the early church didn’t understand these commands from Jesus as completely getting rid of the concept of private property.
    C. Instead they understood that they were to be very generous with the property they did own for the gospel’s sake.
    D. Sinfully the default position of our heart treasures earthly things for selfish benefit, but when our heart is transformed by the gospel we will treasure things that help people get to heaven and that makes us generous.

Are you generous for the sake of the gospel?
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Do you feel an emptiness in your life? Are you seeking answers but don't know where to look? Have you ever wondered if you are good enough? Please read the summary of the gospel message, "Four Things You Need to Know About God"

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Tags: generous, giving, heart, treasure, wealth

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