to ceasarSo we have kind of gone right after it to start 2015 haven’t we?  We didn’t jump in to the typical launch the New Year series.  We didn’t jump into the Be-attitudes, or even a series on Grace…no, we have jumped head first into a sermon series on Money!  The one thing that no one wants to talk about.  I have to tell you the more we have engaged this series, and the more I have studied this topic the more excited I have gotten about it.  It is an incredibly important subject, and actually it is the subject that Jesus spoke on more than any other!  Why did Jesus do this?  Did God send Jesus on to this Earth because of his desperate need of our money?  Was God’s bank account getting a little low so He figured He would hit us up for money?  No, God doesn’t need your money, because it’s all His, so there must have been something even more significant going on when it comes to our money…and that is the fact that our money says a lot about our hearts and that is something God does want.  He wants our worship, our focus, and our love.  The amazing thing about God is that He won’t force you to love Him, He wants you to decide to love Him.  The thing about money is that we can easily choose to love that instead of Him.  So Ken did a great job kicking off the series letting us know that Jesus very clearly says we can’t worship two gods.  It won’t work, remember the words of Jesus…

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. NIV

It is not ironic that Jesus talked about money more than any other topic, it’s because money can very easily slide into the wrong seat in our lives.  You know, last week I felt like Ken and Kim did a great job getting to the very core of the money issue.  They talked to us about what happens when you are smashed by God’s grace.  When you are smashed by God’s grace God sits on the throne of your life and money does not.  See this is the very core of the money dilemma for us, when our hearts are truly changed by God, something will happen in your life.  There will be a reaction to the amazing love and grace that you are experiencing and that reaction is a complete realignment of your priorities.  For many they would say “yeah that is me Sam, been transformed by God’s amazing grace in my life,” and for the most part their actions show that.  They go to church.  They serve, they love others, but in this area of the pocket books, that isn’t touched, and they take care of that one, because giving God control in that area sounds risky and they need to stay in control of that one.  Well the reality is that if you have been touched by God in that powerful of a way there will be a reaction to His love, and it will be seen in your actions, in your loving, in your giving, and in your life’s actions much, much more than in your words.

Now today I want to talk to you about a perspective that can really help you when it comes to keeping your money and your finances in the spot that they belong in your life.  Really this perspective can be a game changer for you and I if we can begin to see money from this point of view…

Heaven, not earth is your home.  Really Sam, I came to church today to hear you tell me that my home isn’t my home, that heaven is my home.  Super, when is Ken preaching again right?  Well, yes that is what I want you to hear today.  Heaven not earth is your home.  I want to take you to a very key scripture here found in Colossians and listen to what Paul has to say…

Colossians 3:1-6 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. 2 Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ — that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. 3 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life — even though invisible to spectators — is with Christ in God. He is your life. 4 When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too — the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. 5 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. 6 It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger.  (MSG)

This is such a big deal.  Paul is saying that if we are serious about this Jesus thing we need to act like it and pursue the ways of God.  Then look at what he says in verse two, we need to see things from Jesus perspective.  Get your eyes off of the things right in front of you, and focus on the things of Jesus…eternal things!  He then goes on to say that the real fun begins when Jesus shows back up on this Earth, but until that happens we are to be content!  We are to stop doing whatever we feel like doing, we are to stop living for today, and live for the days of eternity to come!

That is easier said than done isn’t it?  We live in a world that is screaming for us to enjoy the day right?  Live for the now!  Do what feels good because tomorrow you may die right?  It is so hard for us to focus on anything other than today.  This is the world we live in, and it is a daily battle to be able to focus on God and get through the day.  I mean we have crazy schedules.  We have kids doing a million things, we have jobs that aren’t getting any easier.  I just want to keep my head above water for today, and if I can get to Friday I just want to enjoy my weekend, and now you are trying to tell me that God wants us focused on Eternity?  I can barely get the kids to all their activities let alone pull my eyes off of today long enough to think about eternity.  It’s hard to focus on anything but today and the idea of being content with what I have is very hard, when my friends keep buying nicer things, putting nicer clothes on their kids, and sending their kids to all the best camps, retreats, and putting really great pictures on their Instagram accounts.  How can I be thinking about eternity when I can’t keep up with all my friends stuff?

Do you find it ironic that you live in a world that is screaming for your attention?  Do you find it ironic that you have a hard time focusing on the things of eternity?  If you think that is just a coincidence you are being deceived.   This is the strategy of your enemy to keep you shuffling along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Paul challenges us to kill off everything that connects us to that old life, that life shaped by things and feelings instead of God.

So the reality is that our perspective on money needs to be eternal.  This is a long term investment strategy.  Now here is the challenge with a long term investment strategy.  We aren’t going to see the immediate return that we want and we live in a world that is all about the now!

Boy, oh boy isn’t this the key to everything though.  Can I put the work in now to enjoy tomorrow, or am I so caught up in today that I can’t plan for tomorrow.

I think one of the most powerful moments of my life was sitting in the Dave Ramsey class last year listening to Dave say over and over, “Are you willing to living like no one else now, to live like no one else later?”  Am I willing to work hard now to enjoy tomorrow?  Am I willing to sacrifice temporary things today so that I can really enjoy tomorrow.  Man do I wish I could have really embraced this idea in my teenage years and my twenties…but you couldn’t really tell me anything back then.  That is the challenge-Can I get my eyes off of today long enough to focus on what is to come?

Teenagers, can you go to school and work hard now so that you can engage a career later that you want to have or are you so worried about enjoying your high school years that you will spend the next 20 years doing something you don’t want to do?

Adults are you able to get your eyes off of today, and think of the days to come?  Can you sacrifice something that will make you feel good in the moment for something greater tomorrow?  Can you stay out of debt now to enjoy your golden years, or do you need to have everything everyone else has now?

Now the real challenge, can we realize how much longer eternity will be in comparison to the days we live on this earth?  Can we get our eyes off of today long enough to realize what really matters?  That is so hard to do in the world that we live in but we must find this eternal focus.

So let’s get into this eternal investment strategy.  So we need to kill our earthly desires and come to the realization that money only really carries temporary value.  That means that when you die you don’t get to take it with you.

In Randy Alcorn’s books The Treasure Principle and Managing God’s Money he tells a great story to drive this point home.  Do you know who John D. Rockefeller is?  He is one of the wealthiest men who has ever walked this earth.  When he died someone came up to his accountant and asked a really interesting question.  “How much money did John leave when he died?  The accountant looked at the man asking the question and replied, “He left…all of it.”

You just can’t take it with you.

Psalms 49:16 So don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune. 17 They can’t take it with them; fame and fortune all get left behind.18 Just when they think they’ve arrived and folks praise them because they’ve made good, 19 They enter the family burial plot where they’ll never see sunshine again.20 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.  Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die. (MSG)

Well that’s a little depressing isn’t it?  Here’s the deal, we can’t take it with us, but if we use the eternal investment strategy we can send it forward.  What I would like to do is look at the three parts of this strategy and the challenges and hang ups that comes with each.  If you notice some of these things are actually happening in today’s temporary world even as our focus stays on our real home which is eternity.  So we pull these three responsibilities right out of scripture.

We take care of our family with it.

We save it to pass it on.

We give to others.

So the first thing we see in the eternal investment strategy is that we are to take care of our family. This is actually written out for us in scripture check this out:

1 Timothy 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  NIV

Paul makes a very strong statement here, saying that if you don’t take care of family you are literally denying your faith!  Wow!

The Challenge:  Is to have your heart changed in such a way that you can be generous, that you can love others as God loves you.  This would mean loving someone that can get on your nerves, and taking care of someone who cannot pay you back.  Which is very much the situation you yourself are in with what God through Jesus did for you!  You are literally mirroring Jesus when you do this.

The Hang Up:  When our focus is on today, and the things that we want.  (Remember Colossians)  When we are grabbing at the things that make us feel good in the moment we often find our finances in disorder.  We have debt, we have money issues, and we don’t have the ability to be generous.  We become very selfish both through the greed in our hearts, and the need to keep our heads above water financially so we can’t bless others.

  1. The second thing we see in the eternal investment strategy is that we are to save money to pass on. So again we turn to scripture and see the importance of passing on something to our loved ones.

Proverbs 13:22 If you obey God, you will have something to leave your grandchildren.  If you don’t obey God, those who live right will get what you leave. CEV

This is Solomon talking here…and he says we are to leave something to our children’s, children.  This is another way that your money transcends time.  If you notice the wisest man that ever lives here is helping you see, that if you don’t obey God and leave money to your children’s, children someone else gets it…because again, you don’t take it with you.

The Challenge:  Can I have the kind of contentment in my life to be ok with what I have to a level where I can save money for someone other than myself to enjoy someday?  This only happens when we begin to view money from the eternal perspective.  It is not coming with me, but it can become part of my legacy.  I can bless others with my money, or when I die someone else can take it.

The Hang Up:  If my focus is not eternal, and my eyes stay focused on today.  I am not able to save, because I am too busy enjoying today to ever focus on tomorrow.  How could I ever worry about what my kids, kids will get from me when I need to have the best of everything right now?  When we live with a focus on today, we cannot be generous, and we cannot leave this type of legacy to anyone, because we are busy enjoying it today.

  1. The last part of the eternal investment strategy is to give our money to those in need. Jesus tells a lot of stories but I’m not sure there is any one story that should hit you harder than what he says in Matthew 25.  He has just finished telling a story about investment, and then He goes into this story:

Matthew 25:31 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. 32 Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, 33 putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. 35 And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 40 Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. 42 And why? Because — I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ 44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ 45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me — you failed to do it to me.’ 46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”  (MSG)

This story is so powerful, and really should hit each of us hard.  Jesus is saying that in the end those that take care of people, love on people, and give to those in need will be heading to heaven, and those that do not are heading towards a different eternal destination.  If you want to engage the eternal investment strategy you must give to those in need.  That is storing up treasures in heaven.

The Challenge:  When my focus is on God I see the hurts, the needs, and I operate out of a consuming love to help people in need and to show the love of Jesus to those in need.

The Hang Up:  If you heart has not been changed.  If you are focused on yourself and living for today, you won’t love those in need and you won’t even have the ability to be generous because you are living for you.  Without true heart change you may help someone but you will do it out of obligation, not out of love.  Isn’t it interesting that the sheep didn’t know they were helping Jesus?  The sheep were just loving on others not looking for kudos from Jesus.  The goats didn’t know it was Jesus they weren’t helping, sadly they probably act different if they know that it is Jesus!  That is the problem.  The heart behind the act!

This whole series is going to have a recurring theme, and that theme is that your finances are more about your heart than your 401k and bank account numbers.  This is why this series is such a big deal.  We can give you all the instructions in the world and you can go out and robotically follow what we are saying and still not get this.  This is about your heart being changed.  This is about being smashed by God’s grace, and acting differently moving forward.

So it really feels like I am trying to push the ocean back with a broom today.  I am asking you to focus on God, and the things of eternity rather than the things of today.  Yes this world is screaming at you for your attention, screaming at you to live in the now, but as the world screams your loving God whispers to you the truth about what really matters.  Which won’t happen without true life change.  This isn’t about not going hell, this is all about engaging your real life in a real way for all of eternity, which is a much, much longer time than today.  Please leave here thinking about this…your money isn’t going with you when you die.  So what are you going to do with it?  How can your money transcend time?  It transcends time when we use the eternal investment strategy.  We take care of family.  We save it to pass it on, and we give to those in need.

It’s when we can look past the fun of today, and realize that through this life change we experience joy in a whole new way.  This isn’t about hating life, right now.  This isn’t about being irresponsible with our money today.  This is not about the get out of hell free card…this is all about having your life truly changed by God.  Heaven not earth is your home when you get that, your money can transcend time.