6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: A warning against the dangers of riches; they are temporal and instead of hoarding them, we need to use them in furthering God’s kingdom.


James 5:1-6

This past week I was reminded of what I shared with you last week about making plans and not consulting God. It’s important to remember that if God wills our plans will come to pass. And we need to trust Him to bring them to pass and if our plans are not His will then to trust Him with His other plans for us. We need to remember that our lives our temporary…as James said they are like a vapor that is here then is gone. Can you tell me what your life will be like tomorrow? I can think of 2 examples this past week that brought this home.

First, many of you know of a crash of an airplane Thursday night landing in Buffalo, New York. Most of us take air travel for granted and think nothing of it, expecting that we will make it to our destination OK. I’m sure those aboard the plane thought the same thing. But the plane crashed as it was getting ready to land at Buffalo killing all 48 passengers on board and 2 on the ground. For me it does affect me personally having worked for AA and having also been on the CARE Team which assists family members of those who have lost their lives in an incident like this one. It is the most emotionally draining thing I have ever done.

Friday afternoon, while looking at the alumni website for Dallas Theological Seminary I saw a picture of one of my seminary professors; Dr Harold Hoehner. I clicked on it and saw that he died Thursday at 74. He went out for his morning run and that afternoon was going to fly to SFO to attend the Jews for Jesus board meeting, which he was a member of. Instead, he collapsed after returning home and he died. This was totally unexpected and I am grieving over the loss of a professor and a friend. Dr Hoehner was a scholarly man. He was also a man who modeled grace. I never forgot what he told us in our course, Exegesis of Romans; “the goal of this is a changed life.” Something I always think about when working on a message…not to instruct people who know less than I do, or not to prove how smart I am, but to encourage them to allow God to work in their lives. It starts with me.

These 2 examples should remind us to live each day fully as if it might be our last, because we don’t know how much longer we have here.

Have any of you seen the play or movie “Fiddler on the Roof” about Tevye, a Jewish man who was married and had 5 daughters. He worked in a small town as a milkman, and often dreamed about what it would be like if he were rich. And he sings a song, “If I were a rich man,” in which he sings, or laments about what wealth would buy him. It would buy him a bigger house with it’s luxuries and he wouldn’t have to work so hard. He could spend more time in the synagogue praying and studying Torah if he didn’t have to work so many hours.

Can any of you identify with Tevye in saying, “if I were a rich man?” If only I had more money, if only I didn’t have to work, if only….

Most of us, including your truly, would be happier if we had more. Do you know what happens when we do get more? We want still more. Read about the lives of some of the richest people in the world. Ask yourself if they truly are happy. Because most of them aren’t. I’ve heard the story of one of the world’s wealthiest men being asked if there is anything else that would make him happy. He replied, “just a little more.”

See what happens? Riches don’t make you happy because you’re still wanting more. What’s the answer to this? I think Paul addressed this best in Philippians, learn to be content.

Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

This didn’t come naturally to Paul. He had to learn it. If you read the context you will see he went through times of both having abundance and suffering need.

Let me start by saying that this passage we are going to look at does not condemn the rich. There is nothing wrong with being rich. What is wrong is having the world’s attitude. There are dangers and we are going to look at them as a warning to us.

We’re going to look at 2 aspects of the rich in reverse order; what the rich get and what the rich do. We’ll look first at the misery that you can expect if you’re rich and second we’ll look at what you do to make this happen.

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