Summary: Money has the power to shackle us to this present world. Our tithes and offerings have the power to power to shackle us to God in faith.
OPEN: A preacher named Ray Stedman traveled across the country for a week of meetings. The only problem was, his baggage didn’t make it. He needed a couple of suits so he went down to the local thrift shop.
When he told the salesman, "I’d like to get a couple of suits," the man smiled, led him to a whole rack of them and said, "Good, we’ve got several. But you need to know they came from the local mortuary. They’ve all been cleaned and pressed, but they were used on stiffs. Not a thing wrong with ’em. I just didn’t want that to bother you."
Stedman said, "No, that’s fine." He tried a few of the suits on and finally bought two of them for about $25 dollars each.
When he got back to this his room, he began to get dressed for the evening’s meetings. As he put one on, he tried to put his hands in the pockets, but couldn’t. Both sides were all sewn up! The suits looked as if they had pockets, but they were just flaps on the coat. He thought about that for a second. “Of course! Dead people don’t carry stuff with ’em when they die.”
He later admitted: "I spent all week trying to stick my hands in my pockets. I had to hang my keys on my belt." Charles R. Swindoll, “Living Above The Level of Mediocrity”
APPLY: There’s an old song I love to sing – "This World Is Not My Home"
“This World Is Not My Home, I’m Just a Passing Thru
My Treasures Are Laid Up, Somewhere Beyond the Blue
The Angels Beckon Me From Heaven’s Open Door
And I Can’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.”
That song was based on the Scripture we’re looking at today. The writer of Hebrews lists 4 of the greatest heroes of the Old Testament and then in vs.13 (look there with me):
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”
This world was not their home.
They were strangers in this world
Aliens in this land
And their behavior was dictated by the fact that this world had no hold on them. Their treasure was banked someplace else because their eyes were fixed on a heavenly destination.
Or as Hebrews 11:16 says:
“… they were longing for a better country— a heavenly one.”
That’s an echo of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
You see, their’s was the kind of mindset that impresses God.
Because of how they lived, Hebrews 11:16 says:
“… God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
I. So, what did these 4 men do - that was so impressive?
Answer: They invested in God
1st there was Abel
Scripture tells us that God asked for a sacrifice, and Genesis tell us:
“Cain (Abel’s bro.) brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.” Gen. 4:3
But by contrast,
Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.” Genesis 4:4
Do you remember what happened then?
Do you remember how God responded to Cain’s sacrifice?
That’s right, He rejected Cain’s offering, but He accepted Abel’s.
Now look at what Hebrews 11:4 says: “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”
What’s that mean?
It means Abel invested in God when he offered up his sacrifice. His sacrifice was offered in faith because Abel believed that “God existed and that He was the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
By contrast, Cain was just going thru the motions.
He was just being religious.
He wasn’t investing in God.
How do I know that?
Well … do you remember how Cain reacted when God rejected his sacrifice? (He was angry, bitter, sullen.)
I looked that passage in Genesis over pretty closely and I noticed that Cain didn’t even bother to ASK God why He didn’t like the sacrifice. Because he didn’t care. Cain wasn’t interested in investing in God… he was more focused on himself.