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Worship Series: I’m In
Worship Theme: I’m Invested
Lesson: Malachi 3:10-12 (EHV)
Gospel & Sermon Text: Luke 12:13-34 (NIV)
Music: CW 367 Christ Be My Leader, CWS 757 Where Your Treasure Is, Lamb of God, Aaron’s Blessing (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
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Message: I’m Invested
Are you in? Over the past 4 weeks we’ve been promoting growth groups within our church. As part of that we’ve been doing a month long sermon series labeled “I’m in.” First, we started off with the message that I’m invited. Say it with me now. “I’m invited.” That means that God has invited you specifically to come be a part of the kingdom of God and receive all the benefits that come with. This invitation is for you regardless of what you’ve done in the past. The next week we looked at how I’m invaluable. Say it with me please. “I’m invaluable.” In this message, God displayed how you have been given gifts and talents and he wants you to use them for the benefit of the body of Christ. We are a team and it matters if you pitch in and help. Last week, Pastor Enter told us the message of I’m influential. You know the drill. Say it with me. “I’m influential.” We saw how we can each have a strong effect on one another, especially through visible prayer. Now, hopefully you’ve been paying attention because each of these messages help us understand how interesting, how instrumental, how indivisible, how international, how indescribable, how intelligent, how indefatigable, how indefinite, and how interesting the kingdom of God is. It’s where God works his saving acts among his people. This kingdom is the most wonderful thing we could possibly ever be a part of and so today we are going to talk about how you can invest in God’s kingdom. Say “I’m invested.” “I’m invested.” I sincerely hope you are because it’s worth every penny and moment of time you put into it.
In our text today, the crowds are following Jesus around as usual. Suddenly a man’s voice carries above the crowd as he shouts to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” What is Jesus going to do? We immediately want to know who’s right, the man or his brother. But Jesus doesn’t tell us who is right because he looks deeper than we do. Jesus refuses to be drawn into this dispute, not because he doesn’t care, but because he sees the underlying problem with this particular man’s heart: greed. Just like a brilliant parent, Jesus turns this opportunity into a teachable moment for the entire crowd.
Jesus tells the parable of a rich man. This man has everything. In fact, he has so much grain he doesn’t even know what to do with it. He’s not going to eat it. He just enjoys staring at it because it makes him feel good about how much he has. He’s probably even showing off to his friends. Greed isn’t just about you having something. Often it’s about having more of something than someone else. This man has so much, he has to put up a new giant facility just to store it all. He has so much, he’ll never have to work again. What do you call a man like this? Blessed? Lucky? Talented? Intelligent? Powerful? God doesn’t call him any of these things. He calls this man who has everything a “fool!” God says to him, “You fool, this night your soul will be demanded from you. Now who will get what you have prepared? (v. 20)” It’s not going to go to the rich man. He’s going to have to leave it all because “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. (v. 15)” Even though the man stored up treasure for himself on earth, he was not rich toward God.
Have you ever invested in something that didn’t quite pan out? That you thought might one day be worth a lot, but ended up not being so. My example is beanie babies. Anyone remember those? I guess the generation before me was crazy about those little animals and spending inconceivable amounts of money on them. As a young child I vaguely remember them being in McDonalds Happy Meals and people were coming in and buying like 20 Happy Meals hoping those toys would be worth millions. Most of them are not. Now you see them at garage sales. “Please take these beanie babies. 40 for $5. Just take em.” Anyone here today have any other examples of investments that didn’t turn out or things they bought to make themselves look cool, but no longer do that (Take answers- ex. vhs tapes, fidget spinners)?
You can put so much into these things, but often they don’t pay off. They are not good investments. That’s like the rich man in the parable. He was invested in this world and this life, but he hadn’t invested anything in the next life. He had stored up no spiritual treasure and so when his life was taken from him, he was left with no wealth whatsoever. He thought he needed earthly treasures and yet they were worthless. He had invested in the wrong things.
I’m going to take a wild guess here. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m guessing that most of you don’t need me to explain to you the finer details of the greed this rich man felt because all of you have felt the exact same way. Maybe not to the same degree, but you’ve felt it. Where you want more of something. And even if you get what you want, there’s something better than it or something you want to go with it. I call this the home makeover principle. There is nothing wrong with giving your house a makeover, but whenever I see someone watching something like that on TV, I always hear, “I wish I had more room to work with.” Then a little later, “I wish I had more money to work with.” Then, “I wish I had more stuff to work with.” And finally back to “I wish I had a bigger house to work with.” Now there is nothing wrong with being rich or having all that stuff, but in our text, Jesus is condemning a wrong attitude toward riches. He is condemning the attitude as if riches are the most important thing in life. Where is your heart? Would you be more distressed if someone stopped you from reading your Bible or if someone stopped you from watching TV? Do you more often ponder the gracious things Jesus had done for you or do you constantly freak out about the things you have? Will the house be ok if you leave? Will thieves come in and steal your money? Are your possessions stopping you from having a happy heart, joy, rest, a chance to enjoy what you have either by day or by night? Are you telling God you want a bigger house or do you tell God you want a bigger faith? I was thinking about this the other day and while I’ve heard so many people say how they want a bigger house, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ever say, “I want a better faith” or “I want a faith like that.”
There are any number of obstacles in life which may keep a disciple from being a faithful witness to Jesus. A most serious temptation is to become attached to worldly possessions because it’s so easy to do. I know it’s important to talk about greed, because just in the book of Luke alone, the dangers of riches and the need of giving are addressed in 3:11; 6:30; 11:41; 14:13-14; 16:9; 18:22; and 19:8, besides our passages for today. It’s too easy for us to push God away and convince ourselves we’ll make up for it later. “Just this one last thing with my time. Just this one last thing with my money. Then I will follow God.” We cannot afford to put earthly riches and true life in Jesus on the same level. That would be foolishness because death will rob us of all earthly possessions. Life does not depend upon the abundance of our earthly possessions, but in being rich toward God.
Everyone is invested in something. Everyone has something they enjoy or feel passionate about. The problem is many of us are invested in things that won’t last. Let’s see what Jesus tells us about an investment that will last. In verses 32-34, he says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not become old, a treasure in the heavens that will not fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Investing in the kingdom of heaven is like having treasure that never becomes too old, never fails, no one can take it from you, and it never decays. It’s value never dwindles. It’s richness is beyond comparison. When you invest in other things, you fear you don’t have enough. You believe you need more and more and more and you can keep what you have for a limited time. When you invest in God and the work he does through churches, through believers, through the body of Christ, God multiplies everything you give. You can’t outgive God! Let’s just look at some of the things you get when you invest in God. You take hold of the forgiveness of all sins through faith. You gain a family of believers. You get to immerse yourself in the love of God. You grow in knowledge of God’s salvation plan for you. You recognize how your Savior Jesus is constantly caring for you and acting on your behalf. You become firm in your identity as a child of God. You have a joy and peace of knowing there is a place in heaven for you, earned by Jesus' pure life and sacrifice and proven by his resurrection. You have the satisfaction of knowing and sharing the knowledge that saves others. You get to be part of the process of saving souls. Those are just some of the blessings of investing in God. The list of blessings God gives goes on and on, but I promised myself I wouldn’t turn this into a 10 hour sermon today. In short, when you invest in God, the payout is overwhelming. Accept the invitation. You are invaluable to the effort. You are influential to the team. Are you invested?
As far as the Bible is concerned you have two choices. You can invest in God and his work or you can choose to invest in something else that will not last. You know the options, but the Bible also shows us what these options look like and how the attitude of our hearts guide our words and actions. Let’s take a look. In John chapter 12, a sinful woman named Mary comes to Jesus while he is having dinner. It’s a similar story to the one we heard about a month ago in a sermon from Pastor Brohn. Mary unveils this expensive bottle of perfume and pours it over Jesus feet and wipes it with her hair. She wipes his feet which are probably smelly and dirty from walking, with her beautiful hair!
Judas immediately shows what he’s invested in when he states this perfume should have been used for something else, not on Jesus. “What a waste?!,” He exclaims. That type of thinking would be wrong enough, but the Bible also adds Judas wanted the money in the treasury so he could help himself to what was in it. This is the attitude of someone invested in the world. Judas is missing the treasure of God’s kingdom because he is so concerned with treasure on this earth. The woman, on the other hand, is praised. She is giving her best to Jesus and doing a beautiful thing. The perfume was worth a year’s wages and she doesn’t hesitate for a second on who to give it to. This is the attitude of someone storing up treasure in heaven. She was literally pouring out her earthly treasure at the feet of Christ to gain spiritual treasure.
You have the same choice before you. But how do you invest yourself? What can you do? We don’t often give step-by-step practical advice in sermons, but I’m going to do that right now. Step 1. Get connected to God’s Word. How do you do that? You can join a growth group to hold you accountable and give you a ready-made planned time to spend in God’s Word and grow. That’s a time where the sermon becomes more than just nice and enjoyable words that are quickly forgotten. It allows you to dig into God’s Word and make it memorable in your own life. 2. Give to God your money. I’m not saying dump everything you own into the church coffers. What I am saying is that your money helps and when your heart is in the right place, you are going to want to make it a priority to make sure others can hear the good news of Jesus. Step 3: Look for ways to serve others and create heavenly treasure. You are not earning your way into heaven or anything like that. Jesus did that for you. But, you are bringing God’s Word to others and drawing near to it yourself as you show the message with your words and actions.
I was tempted at the end of the sermon to ask you to say I’m invested with me one last time. But I’m not going to because I don’t actually know if you are invested or not. Only you and God know that. But it might be a good question to ask yourself today before leaving. Are you invested? And if you are, how are you investing in the kingdom of God?
I want to leave you with one last thing. It’s verse ten from Malachi chapter three. In this passage God says. “Bring the complete tithe to the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Just test me in this, says the Lord of Armies. See whether I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour down blessings on you, until there is more than enough.” What a great thought to end on. Basically God is saying, “Bring it on! Invest in me and just watch what I do in your own life. Be amazed as I give you far more in return!” Invest in him and you will surely be blessed. Amen