Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Luke 12: Seeking God's Kingdom First

http://www.colindye.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Look-at-the-birds-of-the-air-they-do-not-sow-or-reap-or-store-away-in-barns-and-yet-your-heavenly-Father-feeds-them.1.jpg Luke 12:13-31 Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?"  And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."  And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully,  and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'  And he said, 'I will do this: 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 ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'  But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."
 

And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?  Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

When someone came to Jesus to ask Him to judge between him and his brother over some inheritance dispute, He retorted, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" (v.14). Instead, he gave this warning: "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (v.15). In other words, life is not about getting more and more of earthly goods, because covetousness (greed) cannot be satisfied. Those who already have are wanting more. Materialism a bottomless pit.

Then he went on to tell a parable about this rich fool, who probably had earned so much from his farmland that he could retire and enjoy his wealth for the rest of his life. So his philosophy was: "relax, eat, drink, be merry." But he forgot the ultimate reality--that we will all die. So, God said to him, "'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' When God calls someone a fool, He does not mean the man is unintelligent--He means that the person lacks wisdom. We have been reading in the newspaper in recent months and years the fall of many people with high IQ people whom God would call "fools" because they have very low MQ (moral quotient). Their lives crashed because of lust (sex) and greed (gambling).

Jesus warns us not to be like this rich fool "who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." Life is more than just acquiring more and more earthly goods for ourselves. One day, we will die and will have to give account of our lives to God.

He exhorts us not to be "anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." He reminds us if God can feed the birds of the air even though they do not work and toil like humans, how much more will He take care of His children here on earth? Worrying will not get us very far. Instead, we should focus on the really important things of life--and they are usually invisible to the physical eyes: "Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you" (v.31). When we get our priorities right, then the rest "will be added to you."

So, instead of focusing our lives on what we can see with our eyes, we should focus on what we cannot see. God's kingdom is invisible but it is what gives purpose and meaning to this life. To seek God's kingdom means to experience His "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). When we have the Kingdom, we have moral health (righteousness), relational health (peace), and emotional health (joy). All these life experiences cannot be priced because they are priceless. We don't need to be materially rich to be rich in God. In fact, all these invisible treasures are free for Christ has paid the full price for them at the Cross.

So, what are we focusing our lives on? Acquiring more and more earthly treasures which we cannot bring along with us when we die? Or laying up treasures in heaven that we can enjoy after our life on earth is over?

It has been said there are only two things that can last beyond death: human souls and God's Word. So, if these are the only things that can outlast death, how much of our time is invested in them? Have we found peace with God through Jesus Christ? If we have, are we now investing our time to help others also enjoy His Kingdom blessings by getting to know Him and His Word?

Lord, You have told us to seek for treasures in heaven so we can bring with us after we die. Grant us opportunities today to help others experience God's love through our words and actions. Amen.

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