Faithlife Sermons

HG108b Luke 12:13-34

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:10
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Luke 12:13–34 NIV
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? 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.
Many years ago a major American company had trouble keeping employees working in their assembly plant in Panama. The workers lived in a generally agrarian, barter economy, but the company paid them in cash. Since the average employee had more cash after a week’s work than they ever had ever seen, they would periodically quit working, satisfied with what they had made.
What was the solution? Company executives gave all their employees the equivalent of an Argos catalogue. No one quit then, because they all wanted the previously undreamed-of things they saw in that book.
What possessed this man, in the crowd, to ask Jesus to tell his brother to share the wealth? It must have been central to his heart and mind. Jesus’ response was hardly surprising. But what He said next was.
Watch out! Be very careful! Danger! Be warned! What about? All kinds of greed. You, Jesus said, have to sort out your covetous hearts. You, being the plural ‘you’ meaning both his brother and him. One is holding onto the money and the other covets it.
Oh how easy it is to fall into this trap. Greed. One of the so-called deadly sins. After all “we are in a material, material world! And I am material man!” But ever since time memorial money has been the centre of lives. Not surprising for Jesus says that the pagan world that runs after these things.
It is interesting that Jesus says that we are to warned about all kinds of greed. What can be meant by this? Is there not only one kind of greed? Well, it turns out that there is more than that.
1.There is the desire to gain great possessions through our own work.
2.Then there is the desire to gain great possessions off the backs of others whether by stealing or by inheritance or by the thoroughly modern idea: our rights.
Gone are the days when one must work to earn a living. We have the right to benefits. We have a right to a pension. We have a right to free healthcare. We have a right to have what other people have. We have a right to rebel, to strike, to protest. We have a right to free education. We have a right to not pay taxes. We have a right to a comfortable life. We have the right to stay in our homes provided by the council. We have the right to live in peace. We have the right to human rights. We have a right to have a TV in jail. We have the right to privacy. We have the right to not do national service. We have the right to drugs. We have the right to do whatever we want. We have the right to…and there are many a blank to fill in here...
I fear for our future where the rights of people to have is revealing just how selfish we are and also just how privileged we have all become. Paul said that if you do not work you do not eat. Sounds like a very a good statement to me. Yes, we should look after those who are sick, those who are fatherless and those who are, for whatever reason, destitute.
We have moved on so far from how things were in the past where there was no expectation of government to give and give where the main job of government was to keep the peace and enforce the law, charities and churches were to do the rest. This is actually biblical. However, we are grateful when government does fulfil social obligations but the rest, my friends, is greed. I am no apologist for any political party, let me be clear, but my point is to show that those things which we take for granted have their basis in greed. So much so that if, God forbid, anything should happen to our rights in any of these areas we take to the streets.
We have to be aware of all kinds of greed. When there were riots in Croydon and people were stealing from Curry’s and other retail outlets, those who were doing such things said that they have the right to have the things other people have. Our rights trump what is right and what is wrong. Today the movement of rights will take away the rightful rights of law-abiding citizens especially Christians. The movement for rights is about greed. The movement for the LGBT+ movement is about greed for power, not only to be accepted in society but to force society to say that what they do is good; to give them approval. It is shocking just how fast this movement is spreading across the western nations. Even nations like Serbia where most people oppose Pride marches where homosexuality is loathed it is being enforced as a right to be as sexually deviant as one can be, to enforce their acceptance into society in direct opposition to God. All debate is shut down yet we have the right to believe what we believe in law and even under the UN charter. Greed. In this case not for possessions but greed to have acceptance that should only be given to those who do good.
And indeed in our story today it seems mild by comparison. A man gets wealthy through his work, wants to build bigger barns, take it easy, enjoy life. Who cannot understand such a sentiment? Well, actually, most of us want this. We work hard all of life to have an easier retirement. Of course, for someone like me I have to wait until I am 68 now! And the goalposts might just move again before then. But there was a problem with the harvest. Not how you think. No, the harvest was plentiful. It was just that he wasn’t going to enjoy it. The focus of this man was totally upon this life and had no sense of the next. His focus was totally upon himself with no thought of God.
Life is short and we don’t know when it will end. Things happen. No one wakes up and thinks that today is the day. Today I will have a car accident that will kill me. Yet everyday this happens. Today 151,600 people will breathe their last which means that already today over 72,000 people have died. One day we will make up that number. In poorer nations there could be a natural disaster or disease like malaria or lack of food or water. Here we die of rich-peoples’ diseases whether heart attacks, liver failure, diabetes, and cancer.
The man in this story had no idea this was going to be it. But it was his last. Who will get what he stored up for himself? That’s the point that Jesus was making to this man who wanted the inheritance shared by his brother. But, what of those things we leave behind? Those things we consider precious. Those things that we cannot do without.
Just how willing are we to get rid of our reliance upon possessions and money in the bank? Would we be willing to sell all that we have and give to the poor? The treasure we will have in Heaven will outstrip anything we can gain here. Is this not the test of where our heart is? Are we set more in this world than the next. Are we willing to be radical disciples? Or is our life bundled up in our possessions?
The man who had the great harvest was self-reliant, a self-made man, the kind people praise, the Richard Branson of the time, but there was a fatal fault: he was not rich towards God. In fact, he was about as poor as one can be. Spiritually he was dead and impoverished.
But for the one who is rich towards God he or she may gain wealth in this life but their focus will not be upon these things but about how to live for God. God shows his care for those who are His whether we have or have not. Though I think it will be more evident to those who have not. Our faith is built when we trust in God for our necessities.
I am reminded of George Mueller who among other things founded Bristol Orphanages totally based on faith:
The Messianic Bible Study Collection (3) Gift Number Fourteen: The Gift of Faith

One day the orphanage was totally out of food; nevertheless, he believed God would provide the food when mealtime came. But when mealtime came, no food had yet arrived. In spite of this, he had the children sit down at the table and proceeded to say grace. No sooner had he finished praying than there was a knock on the door, and there stood a farmer with an abundance of food for the orphanage.

Stories like this abound such as when a milk truck broke down outside and all the milk was given to them otherwise it would have gone off.
This is the daily life of someone who has put their trust so completely in God. Isn’t this the kind of life we want? Is this not the kind of life the disciples had? Do you think that the harvest of the man in today’s story can compare to the harvest of good things God provides to those who are His?
We have to hold onto this world’s possessions with light hands. Only this week I was in the home of someone who had not thrown anything away. But when we die who will get our things? Will they use them wisely? Will they simply throw them out? Phil told me the story of a neighbour who died and whilst I do not know all the details all his stuff ended up on the kerb to be taken away to the tip. Other people saw no value in what this person had hoarded. I think that the person who died would have been shocked that these things happened to his stuff.
We are to be grateful for what we have but life is not in our possessions but our life is in God. Wouldn’t we rather be a George Mueller who gave himself to the work of God looking after over 10,000 children and educating 120,000 others right up until his death at 92 years of age? He never asked for a penny except through prayer to God and he raised the equivalent of over £90 million!
And herein is the antidote to greed: it is in giving. Not simply the 10% we should give as a biblical principle but abundantly. Of course we should be giving to the Church but also in looking out for one another, for missionaries and so on. This is what Jesus was saying. In giving we are showing our lack of greed. We are showing that our eyes are not on the things of this world but of the next.
God is more than capable of looking after us just as He looks after the birds and as He looks after flowers. It is all too easy to be anxious about material things but if our hearts are set on God rather than to simply enjoy life, have fun, have wonderful holidays as I am sure many of you will have in 8 days time! However, let us be careful that these do not become our life but find our joy in God who has pleasures at His right hand forevermore. And God will happily bless us with all these other things. It is where we set our heart that matters most. We can either build treasure here or there in Heaven where we will have the longest, most pleasurable, most fun holiday ever! After all isn’t that the basis of our word ‘holiday’? It is made up of two words: Holy day. I pray that if you go away or if you stay you will seek God and that He will restore your strength for the work He has prepared for you all to do.
It is only a life filled with God that gives true satisfaction. If we are only satisfied with what money can buy we will lose the things that money cannot buy.
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Eleven: Believer, Beware! (Luke 12)

We must look at earth from heaven’s point of view and make sure that we put God’s kingdom first in everything. The main question is, “Where is your heart?” If our hearts are fixed on the transient things of earth, then we will always worry. But if we are fixed on the eternal, then God’s peace will guard our minds and hearts

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