Sermons

Summary: What are your priorities? Is God first?

The New Year has already jumped upon us and time has already begun to fly. Many of us have made New Year resolutions and decided that weight watchers may be our only hope. Many years have passed and many resolutions have failed and passed into obscurity with our over crowded schedules. Don’t you just wish there were a magical key to unlock all of life with? Instead of worrying about finances, you could really enjoy the money you have. Instead of worrying about what and how you will eat, you could just enjoy the flavors of life. Instead of worrying about what you will wear, you could be happy just wearing the clothes you have. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a magical key existed to unlock a worry free life?

There is one set of words that work as a magical key; “open sesame”. I always thought only kids do that at doors. I still walk up to the Wal-mart doors and say, “Open sesame” and the doors open. It’s incredible. I had tried using the force for so long and it never seemed to open the doors but sure enough the magical words work every time. I am not exactly sure why but I do know that I sometimes get funny looks from people. It’s even more fun to say you’ll open the door for someone and just stand there saying “Open sesame.” At McDonalds you can say, “Open sesame seed buns.”

On a more serious note, I think I have found the “magical” key to living in the 21st century. It simultaneously gives meaning and worth to everyday living, can give a feeling of accomplishment, and may actually be the first New Year’s resolution you’ll ever truly want to keep. You may be thinking, “How is this even possible?” Well, in your Bible God speaks quite a bit not only about fulfillment in how you live your life but also about how to deal with living your life. He speaks about all the many concerns we have about money, housing, clothes, and food among many other areas of our interest. In Luke 12, Jesus directly speaks to our most deep seated physical needs and desperate attachment to them. If you want all those needs to fall into place, you must put God first. Luke 12:31 and Matthew 6:33 say, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Luke 12 divides easily into three distinguishable sections. The first is a story describing the problem. The second is the set of principles behind the story and the third the prize which is what I call the key. Let’s investigate each of these to help us better understand God’s principle for living.

The Parable: A story of foolishness

You will find this story in Luke 12:16-21. The man is given no name and we only know what is told in this parable. A parable is an earthly story, most likely about a real person or persons, with a heavenly meaning. “And Jesus told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’” This may be 2000 years old but it sounds pretty familiar to me.

I’ve never heard anyone who spent their entire life chasing after money say that it was a well spent life. Most of them have incredibly deep regrets and no one to share all their wealth with in the end. Have you ever read the stories about top CEO being asked about how they lived their life? The reporters always ask, “Do you regret the way you’ve lived?” Are you guys familiar with Leona Helmsley a.k.a. “The Queen of Mean?” This woman was born into a poor home with two older sisters and one younger brother. As far as we know, she loved her father and brother very much but had bitter rivalries with the women in her family. She got so bitter that she even refused to attend their funerals. She became a skinflint to the point of defrauding the government. She ended up going to jail for eighteen months out of a 16 year jail sentence. “On Monday, August 20, 2007, Leona’s legal troubles abruptly ended when she suddenly died of heart failure at the age of 87, while at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut. At the time of her death, she was considered to be one of America’s wealthiest women, worth around $8 billion. She wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. What she didn’t want was for her reputation as one of America’s meanest women to survive her in death, which is precisely what happened.” (http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal_mind/scams/leona_helmsley/16.html) She even gave her dog the majority of her money. She was so angry at her own children that she declared they deserved nothing.

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