Jesus says in Matthew 12:30 “whoever is not with me is against me.”
That means if we want to be a disciple of Jesus we have to make a choice. No more middle of the road faith.
We have to decide we want to be on Jesus’ team and choose up sides or we may as well join the enemy. Because a half hearted effort to please God avails us nothing.
Revelation 3;16 says: “because you are “lukewarm” neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
In today’s text Jesus tells us some very important things about making choices.. If we want to see the kingdom and be a part of the kingdom we need to start thinking about getting our lives in line with what the scriptures tell us and forget about what the world has taught us.
The world has taught us that money is power.
That it will solve all f our problems if we can only accumulate enough.
That Money is to made and stored in a bank account so we will have enough to live on in our old age.
The world has taught us that it is more beneficial to seek after money and that it is more important than God—and that is evidenced by the way we use the money that God has allowed us to make.
For example: We will spend any amount of money to get what we want to satisfy our human fleshly desires.
We will go into years of debt to fulfill some lifelong dream of owning a second or third home, or a twin engine boat that we simply can’t live without.
we will gladly shell out hundreds of dollars to purchase season tickets to our favorite sports team and then feel proud that we were able to do so.
On the other hand, if we are asked to give just 10% of all we make back to the one who enabled us to make the other 90% in the first place- we turn our backs and say, “That’s too much.”
I’ve heard many stories about people who begin tithing when the chips are down. They begin giving to the work of the Lord out of desperation. But soon afterwards things begin to turn around for them.
Their income increases,
Blessing start flowing in and they start to praise God for his blessings.
But then after a while, after they have been on their feet for a while, they decide that 10% is a little too much and they start to cut back. Some stop giving all together. One reason is because the more they make the more they spend and after we satisfy our flesh there is very little left for the things of the spirit.
Pretty soon things begin to change for the worse and they wonder why.
A gentleman came to see me one day after I preached a sermon on tithing and he said if you can show me where tithing is in the New Testament I will begin tithing. Obviously he knew the scriptures because tithing is not in the New Testament.
As a matter of fact we are no longer under any of the laws of the Old Testament because that is why Jesus died.
We have new covenant and that is in the blood of Jesus.
Tithing is something we do because we love the Lord and want to see his word spread throughout the world.
I tithe well over the 10% level mentioned in the Old Testament. That’s not to brag, but I feel a leader should ask no more of his or her people than he or she is willing to do.
It is my job to set the example, whether or not you follow that example is between you and God.
I tithe simple because I love Jesus and I want everyone to get to know him as I do.
I tithe because I know it take money to do ministry.
I tithe because I know that whatever I give to the Lord I will never miss or regret.
When Gloria became the receiver of my paycheck a little over 10 years ago, and she started taking care of our finances- there was only one stipulation.
Pay the tithes first. If you want my check to come to you- you have to promise me that before you pay anyone or anything you will PAY our TITHES FIRST!
I don’t care how short we are..
I don’t care if we can’t pay the mortgage., or car note.
I don’t care how important something else may seem..
Even if we are threatened with the shut off of utilities..
Even if there is no food in the house.
Regardless of the situation—Pay the tithes first!
And she is to pay tithes on the gross, not after taxes.
In our home, God comes before the government.
I tithes because I know that if I am to be allowed entry into the kingdom, I have to abide by all of God’s will, not just the part that I like or the part that is easy.
It is true that we may no longer be under the laws of the Old Testament but we have to remember why those laws were given in the first place.
They were given to show us how God wanted us to live.
They were given to Moses so he could teach his people what “Thus sayeth the Lord.”
God promises us many things throughout the scriptures but the greatest promise of all time is the promise of spending eternity in heaven where we can rest from all our troubles and the pains of this short human life.
God’s promise of entering his place of rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to get there. (2) For this Good News –that God has prepared a place of rest---has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t believe what God told them. Do you believe….
Do you believe the bible?
Do you believe it in Hebrews 10:38 when it says, “A righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in one who turns away.”
Do you believe that without Faith it is impossible to please God?
Do you believe Paul when he says in Galatians 1:4 that Jesus dies for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live?
Do you believe John 3:16? For God so loved the world that he gave his only, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Do you believe it when Jesus says, “You have to be born again before you can enter into the kingdom of God?
You know the promises of God are so awesome , and one of the questions that I wrestle with on a daily basis is:
If what God offers is do awesome –then why do we have to be motivated and re-motivated?
Why do we have to be pushed and shoved in the right direction?
Why do we have to be encourages, and corrected on a daily basis to follow Jesus?
Why can’t we live with the excitement of the early disciples and followers of Jesus?
I believe the biggest reason is: “It requires faith!”
It requires that we live by faith in God, trusting and believing him to live up to the promises he makes for those who love and are obedient to him.
It requires that we put all of our trust in something we cannot see, feel or touch!
Getting excited about the kingdom requires that we turn away from the sinful culture we have created and turn back to God.
In 1 John 2:15-16 we are admonished to stop loving this evil world and all that it offers us, for when we love the world, we show that we do not have the love of the Father in us.
(16)For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the father. They are from this evil world.
Getting excited about the kingdom requires that we resist the lure of the flesh and live by the spirit—which is not the easies thing to do. As matter of fact until we surrender our will 100% to the will of God we won’t be able to do it. It is absolutely impossible without the power of Holy Spirit.
Paul tells us in Galatians 5: the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:17)
To put it another way: our old sinful nature loves to do evil, it loves to seek after the material and ungodly treasures of this world—our sinful human nature loves everything that is opposite of what the Holy Spirit wants!
But the Holy Spirit gives us the desires that are the opposite of what our sinful nature wants.
These two opposing forces are constantly fighting each other, and the choices we make are never free from the conflict.
I believe deep down inside every believer want to do what is pleasing to God. But I also believe that few are doing it because of this constant struggle between the Flesh and the Spirit.
As human being our natural desires are not toward holiness, but rather toward self-indulgence and self-sufficiency.
Therefore, what the Spirit desires and what our flesh craves are set against each other. "These are contrary to one another."
The consequence of this internal conflict is "that we do not do the things that we would like to do—or the things that are pleasing to God."
Even though when we become Christians and we start to develop new godly desires toward life, we find ourselves unable to implement these new longings simply by our good intentions or will power.
The Apostle Paul gave testimony to his own failure in this battle. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:19). The problem was that Paul's personal resources (the flesh) his human capabilities were not adequate to produce the desired results.
And neither are ours.
Without the power of the Holy Spirit living in us..
Without the power of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us, we will forever be trying to serve God and the world!
Jesus knew how difficult it would be for humankind to live as the Holy Spirit wants us to.
He saw first hand all of the evil and corruption that was in the world.
He knew what mankind would do to get what he wants and how far he would go to get it.
Whenever Jesus spoke to crowds like this one and taught on things that were near and dear to the peoples heart –many in the crowd left him because these were hard teachings to accept.
This was a very hard teaching for the people in the crowd that day because many of them were very wealthy. And their wealth was coming between them and their devotion to God.
If I were to name this passage I would call it “Your Money or your Life.” Because that’s what it is.
Which will it be?
Will you try and hold on to something that only has benefit while you live on this earth?
Will you strive to put aside enough money to take care of you in your old age- (by the way which is not guaranteed)—remember the rich man who built larger and bigger barns to hoard his wealth only to be required to surrender his soul that same night?
Will you give in to the flesh and seek after the temporary pleasures of the world to satisfy the flesh live a happy and contented life here on earth –only to find out too late that it cost you your salvation?
Or will you seek after the Kingdom of God and live by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Listen to verse 31-33 again: “ So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Is this saying that we live life haphazardly squandering everything we get our hands on with no regard for the future. I don’t think so.
What it is saying is that if we seek after building our relationship with God with all the tenacity and intensity that we seek after building the treasures of the earth- everything we need will be there for us when we need it. We will have nothing to worry about.
Its saying that we are to put God First and then trust him to deliver.
When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now futile and ridiculous.
For instance, success in all of its various guises;
being known and being praised,
ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women,
or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, exploring and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer.
In retrospect all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called "licking the earth."
They are diversions designed to distract our attention from the true purpose of our existence in this world, which is, quite simply,
to look for God,
and, in looking, to find Him, and, having found Him, to love Him, thereby establishing a harmonious relationship with His purposes for His creation. Sound like something I could truthfully say- but it is not this was a quote from --Malcom Muggeridge, "A Twentieth Century Christian Testimony"
As Joshua put it centuries ago: Choose ye this day whom you will serve but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Amen
Dear Jesus, Mighty Deliverer, We humbly admit that we are not able to implement by our best efforts the godly desires that are developing in us. We need You, Lord.
So many times we have had holy intentions that ended up in carnal defeat. So, Lord, we cry out to You to deliver us from our present struggles, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Amen.