Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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7. The Poverty and Prosperity Test – Part 3

Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

After the heart test comes to the head and the third test:

  1. The Mind Test.

The third test asks the question, “Where is your focus?” and is found in verses 22-23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Jesus is saying that there are only two possible ways to look at things, through the lens of light and darkness. If our minds focus only on earthly things life will become cloudy and dark. When money becomes our #1 obsession, it will put blinders on our eyes and ruin our spiritual life. But when our mind is focused on how we can deposit treasures in heaven it will light up our life. We will start to look for opportunities to serve instead of being selfish.  Are you letting cash or Christ consume your thoughts? Is your thinking clear or cloudy? Are you focused on giving or on getting? Last but not least is:

  1. The Master Test.

The fourth and final test focuses on our will and asks the question: “Whom do you serve?” Verse 24: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” To “serve” means that we’ve made a choice to engage our wills. If we’re not careful our emotions will affect our minds, which in turn can cause our wills to focus on money more than the Master. The word Jesus uses here for money is the word, “Mammon,” which is a proper noun, or a name. Jesus viewed Money as a rival for preeminence. An attachment to money leads to a detachment from God. Money fights for supremacy in our lives. One of the reasons we turn to and trust in money especially in trying times is because money has many of the characteristics of a deity. It promises security, freedom and power. But only one master can win out, and the master that wins will be the One we serve. Money is a wonderful servant but a lousy master, and it will be one or the other in your life, either you will serve money or it will serve you. To be a committed follower of Christ is not merely a matter of the emotions but also of our minds and wills. We are not following by feeling but by faith. To love God requires service and even sacrifice and this type of allegiance cannot be rendered to two parties. Whatever we devote ourselves to will become our God. How we manage money reveals where our loyalties lie. Jesus reminds us that money is not just a neutral medium of exchange, but a “power” with a life of its own which seeks to control, and even consume us. The goal of this Money Master is total domination of your value system. Jesus doesn’t say “you better not” He says, “you cannot serve both God and money.” Jesus words are disturbing for He says, if you love money, you will end up hating God. If you are devoted to the pursuit of possessions, you will find yourself despising the things of God. While we want to make it about the amount, how much we have, Jesus focuses on our attitude. Do you have a right attitude or a rotten attitude, a giving attitude or a grabbing one? How do you know when you have a Right Attitude, you see Giving as:

A Priority Not a Problem… A matter of Willingness not Wealth…A matter of Opportunity not Obligation. You see there are 3 Types of Givers –

Little – You ought to (obligation)

Legal – You have to (law)

Liberal – You want to (grace)

Are you a little, legal or liberal giver? The goal is not grabbing as much as we can but giving God all the glory we can. Where are you investing His possessions so that it points people to God? We need to take this four-part test on a regular basis:

  1. The Durability Test. How long will my things last? Are they temporary or will they last forever in heaven?
  2. The Heart Test. Where am I investing my time and money? What excites me the most, earth or heaven? Which place makes my heart beat faster?
  3. The Mind Test. Where do I focus my goals? Am I committed to materialism or spirituality? Do I operate according to God’s priorities, or my own?
  4. The Master Test. Is Jesus my master or is something, or someone, else? Will I serve money on earth and allow it to be my god, or will I serve God in heaven with my treasures, which are really His in the first place?

 

 

 


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6. The Poverty and Prosperity Test – Part 2

Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Jesus, James half-brother also talked about our struggle with money in the most famous sermon of all time, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7, Jesus dealt with money matters because money matters. This is what I like to call the sermon on the amount, where Jesus challenges us with the question, “Where is your treasure?” and helps us find the answer by giving four tests.

  1. The Durability Test.

The first test is found in verses 19-20 and asks the question, “How long will it last?” Verse 19 is a negative command: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Where verse 20 is the positive: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Jesus talks about treasures because while not everyone may have a lot of money, we all have things that we treasure. Our treasure could be a possession like a car, clothes, or even a position that we hold or seek after. Jesus is not saying that it is wrong to have treasures, He is telling us that our focus should be on laying up treasures in heaven, not on earth. The first life-skill that Jesus wants us to develop is to stop living just for today. This command is in the present tense. It literally means to “stop storing up.” Jesus knows that our natural, inborn desire is to accumulate things. That doesn’t mean possessions, or property are a problem. The key lies in the little phrase, “for yourselves.” Jesus is forbidding the selfish, self-centered accumulating of goods as the major end of life. Satisfaction is not found in stuff but in serving the Savior. Two things happen to the things we own. First, they decay. In ancient times, wealth was often measured by what you wore, and moths could chew holes in people’s precious possessions. Also rust could corrode and consume. Not only would possessions decay but second, they could disappear. Stuff could be stolen. Jesus is teaching us that earthly wealth is not secure. It either decays or disappears, earthly treasures do not stand the test of time. Job 27:16, 20 provides a vivid description of this process: “Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay…he lays down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone.” While earthly treasures are short lived eternal treasures are secure. 1 Peter 1:4 says: “And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you.” Treasures that we send on ahead are mothproof, rustproof, and burglarproof. The issue is not whether we will store up wealth, that’s a given. The question is where we will do our banking. Are you making short term investments that are insecure or long-term ones that God guarantees? Which leads us to the question: How do we make deposits on earth that yield dividends in heaven? The only way is to invest our time, talents, and treasures in that which lasts for eternity. And only two things will stand the test of time. Scripture and souls, God’s Word and people. Stuff will decay and disappear, that’s the way God set it up. 1 John 2:17: “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” When we give of our resources and riches to people in need, we are making a difference. Today many of us have a messed-up mentality when it comes to money. We see it as ours instead of God’s, and so we start looking at it through the lens of self instead of stewardship. Why do we need a proper mentality when it comes to money, because nothing muddies up ministry quicker than a messed up money mentality. When the church closes its doors to the hurting what message does it communicate, not the message of the cross which is a message of mercy. How open are the doors of your heart, many of us are living miserable lives because when it comes to money they are locked. The ultimate investment you can make is to give so that people hear the Word of God. As Jim Eliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim was killed sharing his faith on the mission field. James reminds us that not only are our treasures limited but so is our time here on earth. We are managers of God’s money for a brief moment in time. Are you investing in the temporary or the eternal? The second test is the:

  1. Heart Test.

The second test asks the question, “Where are you investing your time and money?” and is found in verse 21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus teaches us a powerful truth, that your heart follows your money. Most of us tend to think that our money follows our heart, but our heart always follows our treasure. Whatever you invest your time and money in will become very important to you. Too many of us spend all that we have on the things of this world and then we wonder why we have trouble concentrating on the things of God. Our money has kept our heart tethered to the world instead of tied to the Word. Many of us think we own our possessions but because we have allowed our heart to be tied to our treasures our possessions own us. Your heart will be wrapped up in what you treasure. So let me ask you, does your life revolve around the Lord or around your riches?