When the Crystal Palace exhibition opened in the year 1851 people flocked to London's Hyde Park. They wanted to behold the marvels. One of the greatest sensations back then was steam. They had steam plows that were displayed, as were steam locomotives. There were steam looms, steam engines, steam tractors, steam organs, even a steam cannon. Of all the great exhibits that year the first prize went to this magnificent, huge machine with 7000 moving parts, and when it was turned on, its pulleys and whistles and belts and bells and gears made a lot of noise but ironically, the thing didn't do anything. It was a wonderful contraption. 7000 moving parts making a lot of commotion but having absolutely zero practical value. And it got the first prize. Now isn't that amazing?
You know, it's easy to confuse activity with accomplishment. Just because you're moving doesn't mean you're accomplishing anything. We are fooled into thinking that the sound of gears, the sound of pulleys is the sound of something very important being done.
Occasionally I go to an old tractor show or an old engine show and there's one of those contraptions there at a lot of the shows. It's moving all sorts of ways, a pilot is going up and down and water moving but it doesn't do anything. The crowds flock to that thing and they stand there and look at it and it's not doing anything. Why are we like that? What are we actually accomplishing in our life that will make a difference for eternity? Now that's a serious question. In your life, are you doing something that's actually going to make a difference. Not just today, but for eternity. That's why I became a minister instead of being in some other major that I could've chosen.
Your contraption may win the prize at the state fair but God is the final judge and God is going to figure out who the real first prize winner is. Your life may produce a lot of steam. It may produce a lot of smoke and make lots of racket. Crowds may come to watch all the ruckus and the dust that you are raising but only what is done for Jesus Christ is of lasting value. Keep that in mind. You can do all this stuff but make sure that Jesus is the front primary target of your life.
Now let's think seriously about life today. What is the real true treasure of life? Let's think about your life. When it's all said and done what is going to happen to all those awards that you got? I went into somebody's office not long ago and they had all these plaques and awards and certificates and things framed there. The wall was covered with them. Well that's great. That's a lot of accomplishments. Wonderful. I would like for you to think down the road what's going to happen to those things. Where will those things be if time should last 100 years from now? They'll be in the landfill. What do you bet? Almost all of them will be in the landfill unless there's some gold or some valuable metal in it or something. They will all be gone.
Friends, we can't take our collection of stuff with us. One lady told me, you know I don't collect anything. The house is already chock-full of stuff but my husband is a pack rat. What do I do? She told me that this week. I said well just keep on the right track yourself and try not to be critical. Maybe something will happen. I don't know. Where we're going we're not going to need all that stuff anyway.
Look at First Timothy in your Bible. First Timothy 6:7. It says this. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. Very simple statement. You can't carry anything out of it.
Now Andrew Carnegie was a very wealthy wealthy man. He had it all. Andrew Carnegie believed that it was a disgrace to die wealthy. If you die wealthy you've done something wrong. I must agree with that. I hope that by the time I die it will all be spent. It will all be given to help somebody. To help my church that I love. To help my Jesus and His cause. I hope that by the time I die people won't be fighting over all that money. The $10,000 or hundred thousand dollars or whatever it might be. I hope it will all be gone. And by the time I die the last check will bounce. Well not really. I don't want to die in debt, but I don't want to leave it laying there. I want to spend it. I'm not spending my children's inheritance. I am spending what Jesus gave me and investing it for eternity. That's what I want to do.
A visitor came to the home of a little girl and the visitor pulled something out of his pocket. He had a shiny brand-new $.50 piece. In those days it was made out of pure silver. He said would you like this $.50 piece? She said wow, I would. Thank you and she had that half-dollar. She had never had so much money in her entire life. Finally after supper and after the evening was spent her mother tucked her into bed and turned off the light and was about to leave the room and she could hear her little girl crying. She thought what's wrong sweetheart? She went back into the room and there was her daughter crying and she said oh mommy if Jesus comes to night I don't want to be caught with all this money. If Jesus comes do you want to be caught with all that money? Spend it. Spend it for eternity.
Is it wrong to have money? What do you think? No. Is it wrong to have a lot of money? No, that's not wrong. The true question is, what are you doing with what you have? However much you have or however little you have, what are you doing with it? Do you remember your hard-working brother who despite his best efforts is in poverty and is hungry? Could God have placed you in a position of security so that you might become an extension of His hand? We need to think about these things. Maybe God has placed us in this world to help lighten the load of our brother or our church when our church is in a crisis. Maybe to help our neighbor or to help our community. Do you have an extra portion of this world's goods because God thinks He can trust you with it? Don't consume it all on yourself.
Americans in 1950 spent 10% of their income on luxuries. By 1980 it increased to 30%. Occasionally I get a magazine and it has a picture, a full page picture of a Rolex watch, or some fancy watch that some aviator used to have or something and I don't know what the price of those watches would be, but if it's a full-page ad it's definitely not going to be cheap. I think who could be buying all this stuff with the great recession that we're in? But apparently some people are still spending money on luxuries. We spend $20 billion on ice cream every year. 15 billion on bottled water and at the same time one dollar will provide a person in Africa with pure water for one year. Something is wrong there. Are we emulating the celebrities that we see on television? Are we trying to keep up with the Joneses? Don't try to keep up with the Joneses. Let the Joneses win. It's okay. You will be better off. we will all be better off if we forget the Joneses. The stark facts are that much of what we spend our money for is not bread or clothing or shelter. When your money ceases to be your servant it begins to be your master.
Look at Proverbs 11:4 I know that the end of the world is coming and this talks about the day of wrath. Proverbs 11:4 says, wealth is worthless in the day of wrath but righteousness delivers from death. Riches profit not in the day of wrath. Pleasure will not profit in the day of wrath. A good reputation is of unparalleled value. A life that is well lived and a respect that is well earned is a treasure that very few people have. That is true treasure. Don't blow it by some selfish act or some rash act. Let Jesus be in charge of your life.
Do you know what disenfranchisement is? It is the loss of voting. One out of every 50 people you see on the streets of America has a loss of voting because of a felony. If you have a felony you cannot vote until that is either expunged from the record or in some way removed.
A teenager was stopped for a minor traffic violation and this youngster rolled the window down and the policeman said please step out after the policeman smelled a familiar odor. The policeman discovered an illegal drug in the car of this teenager. Suddenly everything changed. All of those worldly pleasures became expensive when he was convicted of a felony. He lost his right to vote or run for public office or own a gun. He lost his right to be a doctor or a teacher or a dentist or a barber or a mortician or a pilot. He lost his right ever be bonded or work for the city, county, state or federal government and he was barred from West Point, from the West Air Force Academy. He lost all that and much more forever, according to this article that I read unless it is somehow removed from his record and he's cleared They say, have you ever been a felon? It's hard to get a job.
Are drugs one of the true treasures of life. Illegal drugs. What do you think. Not for me. They are too expensive and they cause too much long-term loss for the short moments of exhilaration you get out of them. I don't have to get high by such costly things. I get my highs on the worthwhile things in life. Out of things that aren't illegal. Does money produce happiness? What do you think? Well, you can say yes, especially if you have too little money and too many bills. A little bit of money would be something that would make me a lot happier.
Whoever said live within your means did all of us a great disfavor. Don't ever live within your means. That is not wisdom. It's not wise advice. it's not wise stewardship. Your goal should be to live below your means. Don't live within it. live below your means. Then when you spend 10 or 20% less than you take in you're living below your means and then suddenly you have the opportunity to build a shock absorber into your life by having a savings account. You can build a cushion into your life. You're not living from hand to mouth anymore. Live below your means. Then you will be prepared for the sudden unexpected crisis that will come. Be assured that a crisis will come to your life. You say well I'm recession proof. My job is very secure. Don't think so. Things can happen. Then you can accumulate some funds for the rainy day, and the rainy day is just over the horizon. Remember the ant. The ant lived below his means. Remember the grasshopper. The grasshopper lived within his means. The ant saved for the future. Be wise.
In First Timothy there is little guide to help you achieve the goal of living on less than you make. Here's how to do it. First Timothy 6:8. It says if we have food and clothing we should be what?Be content. If you've got food, if you've got clothing be content. We were in meetings in Florida this week. My wife and I. A lot of other Seventh-day Adventist leaders were down there and we were walking between our hotel and a place to eat across the street, Burger King, breakfast was only $2.34. Frugality will get you everywhere. I noticed all these homeless people. They have to carry everything they have on their back, and they're dragging these sleeping bags and coats and all this other stuff. Drag it wherever they go. All those homeless people. I have food. I have clothing. I need to be content and I need to share with some of them. I need to forgo those non-food and non-clothing expenditures until I have a healthy levelheaded crisis fund in my life, then I can help people. I can reduce my spending or I can get a second part-time job. That's the way to get out of debt. Reduce your spending, which might mean selling the house and increase your income. Get that job. Sell some costly assets. Get out from underneath those huge payments. Pare down and begin saving.
Then once you do have money the Bible has further advise in verse 18 of First Timothy 6:18 and 19. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need. Always be ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life. That's what we want to do. That's such good advice. The Bible is full of good advice.
When there is powerful little money we tend to fight over it. I don't know why that is but we do. The number one cause of divorce, they claim, is either a lack of communication or lack of money. It's a big cause of fighting in marriage.
There was a beautiful girl who was invited on a date with her boyfriend. He said let's go to a football game. He said I've never taken you and she said I've never been to one. This was her very first football game. they sat there through the whole game, and as they walked out of the Stadium several hours later he asked how she liked the game and she said well I really don't understand why they were fighting each other. The men in the tight pants were trying to kill each other over a quarter. He said what do you mean. She said 25 cents. I saw them flip the coin and one group got it and the rest of the game they yelled get the quarterback. Why are we so money hungry? We do crave materialism I think.
Eight sailors walked down a gang-plank after their months long ocean voyage and they disembarked onto a strange unknown land. They had never seen it before, any of them. Noah was one of them. The Bible says that soon they began to build a city for themselves. Come back here to Genesis 11. One of the first things they did was to build a city. Genesis 11:4. They said, come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth and so they wanted to make this city. They built in fear. They were afraid that God would send another flood. They were afraid of what God would do to them and so instead of trusting in God they began to trust in there stuff. We don't do that, I know. You don't trust in your materialism, but they put all their stuff in a tall tower and they stacked it up. They stacked up bricks. They stacked up post-flood stuff. they stacked up gold and stocks and bonds and annuities and some of the slogans on the numerous flags that were around this big tower said the taller the pile the greater the style. The higher the stack, the less we lack. The more we store the higher we soar. You should've seen those flags around there. I'm just making this up but I'm sure they were proud of this tower.
Jesus speaks about people like that over here in Luke. Luke 12 in your Bible. Luke 12:15. Jesus says watch out. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Be careful that your possessions don't possess you, because your life doesn't consist in an abundance of possessions. If you go in the house and there is a path through all that stuff, you have too much stuff. You need to get rid of it.
Jesus gave His life for the church. He gave His life for His bride; same thing. The church was His bride. Jesus gave His life for what He loved and what He believed in. Are you willing to give lavishly for what you believe in? Do you love the church? Does your checkbook show what you love? Do you think it does? Does your tithe and offering receipt show it. Does your schedule show your love? Does your life show your love?
Christians must be cautious about the size of their nest egg. I heard somebody the other day say my nest egg in so many hundred thousand dollars. We have to be cautious about the size of our nest egg. We need a nest egg but be cautious about the size of it, or about the depths of your debt, because debt can kill you, or a big nest egg can kill you. If either becomes extreme it will bring a train of problems into your life.
Do you know that the American economy here is similar to Titanic. We are in the greatest economic crisis of our nation. Titanic just before it hit the iceberg was in a real bad problem similar to what we are in today. Over 1500 people died and there were many reasons that they died. First of all the were not enough lifeboats. Secondly the only flares that they had on board Titanic were white phosphorus. White phosphorus flares would call no one to come for help. It had to be a red flare. They did not have one red flare on board that boat. There was a large ship just 10 miles away. A red flare would have called the ship to come but they didn't have any. Number three, they had no binoculars. There wasn't one pair of binoculars that the crew had and so had they had binoculars they could have seen further ahead and they would have seen these icebergs. But there wasn't one pair of binoculars. That would've given them a chance. Number four, their stupidity made their thermometer malfunction. You understand that a ship in the North Sea, in northern waters, must have a thermometer. You dip the thermometer down into the water and you take the temperature of the water and if the temperature of the water is 32° thereabouts you know that icebergs are in the vicinity. you know that because you are an experienced sailor and so they had a thermometer. It was an expensive, accurate thermometer and this thermometer was placed in a small canvas bag and lowered over the side of Titanic but because Titanic was the biggest ship in the world the rope wasn't long enough and the thermometer never made it to the water. So the sailor in charge poured tapwater into the canvas bag and they never knew how cold the ocean was. Stupidity.
Do you know that America is in serious danger of capsizing because of our Titanic debt that we have here in America? Our nation has stockpiled goods like the Tower of Babel builders and lightning strikes of debt are bleeding off our money. America is in the worst financial nightmare of its existence. We have $13.7 trillion of visible debt, and just the interest on this monster debt is $41 million an hour. $41 million an hour. this comes at a time when the interest rates are down around zero. If inflation ever hits America, and it probably will, it always has, the feds have to raise the interest rate to control inflation. If they raise the interest rates it's we who are in debt, and the debt payments will increase substantially. Just one percentage point of interest rate increase would increase our debt payments $80 billion. Do you realize that our debt today, that the debt that we have today equals the entire United States budget in the year 1993. And it's only gaining. To control inflation the Feds raise the interest rates. If they do that at a time like this they will sink Titanic in an ocean of debt payments, and so we've been printing money which brings on inflation and when inflation begins we can't afford to raise those interest rates and so we're going to be in trouble and we may even have hyperinflation which will eat us alive. Remember 2008 in Zimbabwe inflation rate hit 231,000,000%. 231,000,000% two years ago, Zimbabwe.
Luke 12:16-20 Jesus told a parable. The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop and he thought to himself, What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops and then he said this is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and there I will store all of my grain and my goods and I will say to myself you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy. Eat, drink and be merry. But what did God say in verse 20? God said to him, you fool this very night your life will be demanded of you and then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? Verse 21. This is how it will the with anyone, and this includes the year 2010, anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. God wants us to be rich toward Him.
Why was the rich man here in these verses called a fool? Is it because he was rich? No. It was because he was not rich toward God. Because he placed his trust in his wealth and not in God. Someday our money will evaporate and the only thing that will last is what we do for Jesus and you have that knowledge. You know what's going to be happening. The great judgment day is coming, and how do you lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven? How do you do that? Well you give of your dollars for God's service. You build your character into something of eternal value. Because the only thing that you can take to heaven with you someday is your character. So you allow Jesus to come into your heart. You invite Jesus to be in charge of your heart which is your mind, which is your thoughts. You allow him to captivate your thoughts. You make Jesus the treasure of your life. Ask Christ to use you and your income, your means to help in God's work. First Timothy 6:18. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously.
The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all of our money. That's the true measure of your wealth. The greatest treasure that you can have is Jesus Christ. I'd rather have Jesus, wouldn't you, than all the silver and gold in the entire world.
Hymn of Praise: #565, For the Beauty of the Earth Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21 Hymn of Response: #327, I'd Rather Have Jesus Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 11/29/10