I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I have wondered what God was up to. There have been times in my life when I have wondered if God cared at all. There have also been times in my life, when I questioned whether there was a God at all. Have you ever been there? You know what is really interesting about that? When I really stop and think about those moments of my life, I can see two things. One, things weren’t going all that well in my life at the time and two I was very focused on God in those moments. It is almost embarrassing to admit but I seem to really see my need of God, and focus on Him with much more passion when things aren’t going well. It bothers me to say it, but some of my most passionate prayers have come in my deepest hours of need. Whether that was hoping that a loved one would be healed or safe, or hoping that Mashawn and the children would come through childbirth ok…or even if it was just that we would get the home we are living in now. I am not proud of this, but it is amazing the laser like focus I can have for God, when I need Him to come through for me. Sadly, I end up extremely focused on Him when things aren’t going that great and you know what, there is a flip side to that. I typically am not too worried about whether there is a God when things are going well. Like when the bills are paid, and the old Suburban is running well, and the kids are healthy I can have an amazing ability to not think about God a whole lot. I am not too worried about God, when things are going smoothly. I mean seriously, in those moments why trust God? This becomes a major issue for us as a people…
Why trust God when you have all your bases covered?
Why pray when you have everything under control?
Why focus on Him when frankly I have more than enough?
These questions are often asked by people living in our culture because we live with more than enough. We have so much comfort in comparison to so much of the world. We live in the home of our dreams, well it could be bigger right? We have jobs that are paying us very well, with the bills all paid and the kids gliding along through life. When you think about our problems they are very different from the problems folks in third world countries are dealing with today. Our problems are things like how many sports camps and trainings should we send our children to. Or even worse, that our internet connection is taking too long to download the latest movie off of Netflix. Man when that things buffers I could just scream. While many in other areas of the world would kill to have our problems…frankly they would kill to have the food we throw in the garbage each week. They are trying not to die from diarria, in desperate need of clean water and we are trying not to over eat, and trying to drink anything but water. I think it is easy for us to take all that we have for granted but there is also a big danger here. The danger is when we get all our stuff, build the home we want, drive the care we want, and live the lives we want, we can easily begin to ask this question; “Why in the world do I need God?” Seriously, I’m doing pretty good on my own! We pride ourselves on our independence in a lot of ways don’t we? Now look it’s a good thing to grow up and leave your mother and father, and not mooch all the days of our lives but it is easy for us to lose sight of our need for God, when we are doing so well. The brutal thing is we can forget that God gave us all of it. So where in the world would we be without Him, you know since it’s all His?
Listen to what Jesus says here…
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” NIV
Jesus says “apart from me you can do nothing” which for our culture doesn’t seem to ring true does it? Many people are not walking through life connected to Jesus in a real way, and they seem to be doing ok right? What do you mean apart from you I can do nothing, I’m doing just fine on my own! Well maybe in a very worldly way it seems to be going well, but in the end, we have been learning through this series that when it comes to all of eternity to come, they aren’t living a life with the kind of depth that they could be living! Oh if we would see life through eternal eyes.
The reality is that God gives us everything. Every breath we breathe is a gift from Him. What is really tough is that when we have a lot we can forget just how much we need God. We can forget our desperate need of Him!
God warned His people before they entered The Promised Land of this very thing. Check this out…
Deuteronomy 31:20 For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. ESV
This is incredible! And a great example of what we are talking about today. These people have been led through wilderness, for YEARS and YEARS! They have leaned hard on God and He has provided. He has literally keeping them alive as they wander around and head towards the Promised Land. And now God is saying, that when they get there, they will all have more than enough, and forget there desperate need of Him. That is amazing isn’t it? How could someone forget there need of God when He brings them through the wilderness right? Well, we do this all the time. We lean on God in our hour of need, and then forget our own personal “wilderness” moments with Him as things get better.
The prophet Hosea watched as both the Northern and Southern kingdoms exploded in prosperity and wealth and imploded spiritually…
Hosea 8:14 Israel has forgotten his Maker and gotten busy making palaces. Judah has gone in for a lot of fortress cities. I’m sending fire on their cities to burn down their fortifications.” MSG
Hosea doesn’t stop there, listen to God speak through Him here. He reminds the people of all He has done for them. You can feel the emotion of God here…
Hosea 13:4 “I’m still your GOD, the God who saved you out of Egypt. I’m the only real God you’ve ever known. I’m the one and only God who delivers. 5 I took care of you during the wilderness hard times, those years when you had nothing. 6 I took care of you, took care of all your needs, gave you everything you needed. You were spoiled. You thought you didn’t need me. You forgot me. MSG
Let’s face it, there isn’t really any difference from the people all the way back in Biblical times, and us today. When things are going well, and we have more than enough, it is pretty easy for us to forget just how much we need God. And if you think about it, they were pumped up and distracted by milk and honey…you and I have much, much more than they ever had AND we have never seen God physically come in the form of a pillar of Fire at night to lead us around the Promised Land! So in many ways with all our wealth and distractions this is a serious problem for us in the culture we live in. It’s easy for us to seriously question why we would need God when we’re doing so well on our own.
So where do you come out on this? Think this through for yourself. When are you most aware of God? Is it when you need Him for something, or when things are going well? How often do you pray when things are going well compared to when something is happening in your life where you desperately need him to come through for you? If you aren’t liking where you are coming out on this, you are not alone. It frustrates me on a personal level. I seem to lose my focus in the good times, and find it in the bad times. The Bible tells us that we aren’t alone in this, it has happened since the beginning of time and it is something we need to see and expose, because God is responsible for all of our successes, blessings, and wealth. God is responsible for every breath that we take on this Earth which is easy to forget that at times.
So we need to find our dependence on God in all things. In the good times, and the bad. There is a great example of this found in a parable Jesus told about a farmer today, and what he does when things are going well. It’s found in Luke 12 and while most of us aren’t in the business of farming, we can all apply this to our lives. In this story we will see that the farmer has a challenge on his hands. He has a decision to make on what to do with that challenge, and he makes a pretty big mistake in the process by assuming a couple of things that didn’t quite happen the way he may have thought they would. Let’s check this out…
Luke 12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” NIV
So here we go, isn’t it interesting how this parable comes to be. It starts with someone coming to Jesus and tattle tailing on his brother! And Jesus goes right to the big warning we see over and over again in our scriptures! Be careful to guard against all kinds of greed and remember our lives don’t consist through our earthly treasures! Time and time again he goes there! Then Jesus tells his story…
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ NIV
So there it is, the big challenge for the farmer, and it’s a great problem to have. He has so much, that he doesn’t know what to do with it all! While you and I probably aren’t stressing over the size of our barns this is the type of problem that is very popular in our culture today. We have so much that we don’t know what to do with it. This is why I told you earlier, I like our problems in comparison to other cultures who are focused on clean water, and having enough food to survive! So Jesus continues with his story, and we see how the farmer decides he will solve his big issue…
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. NIV
So he has a problem. That problem is that he is doing so well that he doesn’t know what to do with it all, and here we see that the farmer has a plan on how to fix this issue. He is going to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. That seems like a reasonable thought right? He needs to figure out what to do with all this success and wealth, so he decides to build bigger barns and store it, I guess we could argue with why he tore them down and started over verses just putting additions on the old barns, but hey this seems to make sense right? Well here is where we see the big mistake…
19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘
This sounds like a great idea if you ask me…I will build bigger barns and I will kick back and live the good life from now on! Doesn’t this sound a lot like the American Dream? This dude has made it! He has arrived! He has so much wealth that He can just store it, and live off of it the rest of his life. But the problem is he is assuming something about the rest of his life. Jesus continues…
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
This farmer made a big mistake by assuming a couple of things. First he assumed he had years to enjoy this world, and he didn’t. He also assumed that his wealth would bring some sort of fulfillment. This man trusted in himself for living. He isn’t looking at things through eternal eyes, and like the snap of your fingers it’s all gone. It’s over. In many ways you can understand why he would look in the mirror and feel pretty good right? He has done well! He’s made it. He is very blessed, and is building wealth. He is a success by any standard we people would set for him. But if you notice pride started to push in a little bit and he sees what he has done and look at how Jesus ends this parable and as quick as he built it up, he is gone! He never enjoys his earthly success.
21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
Jesus is right back to trying hard to get us to stop focusing on the days of today, but all of eternity to come! This is such a hard thing to do because the farmer seems to have done everything right doesn’t he. I mean we look at what he has done and it is the American Dream. Build up wealth, and live the good life! Enjoy today right? This looks right! You know as I read that, it really reminds me of something Solomon talks to us about with this idea of what look’s right to you and I…
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. NIV
This is the wisest man that has ever lived and he is trying to help us here. There is a way that looks right to us, but in it doesn’t lead to life! We live in a world where we are very self-sufficient. We take a lot of pride in our independence and pulling ourselves up by our boot straps and making something of ourselves. That looks really good, but when we aren’t leaning on or looking to God for every aspect of our life, this way that looks so right in our eyes can actually lead to death.
This farmer in Jesus’ story was wealthy, he was living the dream but he wasn’t focused on all of eternity to come and eternity came quicker than he assumed that it would. So all of his success was for not.
We have got to learn to depend on God, and never lose sight of the fact that all of this creation we live in is His! Every breath we take is given to us by Him! Yes, our way does look right but Solomon is telling us here that in the end it leads to death. Now think this through, Solomon would know just how much earthly treasures are worth because He was the wealthiest King there ever was! He had it all, more of everything than anyone has ever had before or after him! And he knew it wasn’t enough. That wealth just wasn’t getting it done for him.
I know what you’re thinking because I am thinking it too. “Sure is easy for Solomon to say that, when he had it all!” Easy for him to say right? This guy had huge TV’s the best cars, private jets, and all the fame and money that he could dream of, such an easy thing for him to say right? He is telling me, who is trying to pay bills and get the kids around and keep my cars running, that the way he lived is not for me…well maybe I should get to determine that one! Solomon knows from experience, that his stuff and some serious lust issues really led to a lot of pain at the end of this blessed man’s life. He knows what he is warning you about first hand.
Our need is not for more stuff, our need has to be for God who gives us every breath on this earth and that my friends is so hard to remember when things are going well for us. It is just so hard to see our desperate need of God when we feel like we are doing well on our own. This farmer had it all, and in the end he actually had nothing.
Today I really wanted to hit some stories from the Bible that really should grip our hearts. It almost sounds crazy that the Children of Israel who God led through the wilderness for decades could ever lose sight of him. I mean he fed them. He led them with a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. They have seen him do amazing things, yet the moment they found wealth and comfort they forgot him. Not only did they forget him, He literally told them that they would and they did anyway! Doesn’t that sound nuts! Well I can tell you from experience that when I am brutally honest with my own personal walk, I am not nearly as focused on God when things are going well, and my loved ones are healthy, and my bank accounts are looking good. This isn’t a new problem. It is hard to recognize our desperate need of God as we snuggle up in a world of more than enough and comfort.
This famer Jesus talked about, he was living the dream wasn’t he? He was, but he had no focus on all of eternity to come, and through his wealth and his stuff he didn’t really see any need for God focus. When he stepped back and looked at all he had, he had to think, “What in the world do I need God for?” He built those barns, with no thought of eternity and then God showed up, much, much sooner than he assumed that he would. Once that happened all the wealth in the world didn’t matter anymore.
Is it really any different today? I want you asking yourself this question as we leave here today. When times are good do I really see my need of God? Do you see your need of God or are you doing ok on your own?
We must learn focus and depend on Him. Every breath is a gift from God. It is so easy to look at our wealth, and all our stuff that we are acquiring and forget this, but in the end, it isn’t ours…it is all His. We must find our dependency in God and lean on Him for all things! And not just when we need him…it sure is easy to focus on Him in those moments of need, but we must focus on Him in the good times too.