Monday, January 25, 2016

Reckless Treasure Hunters

Listen to this sermon here

What is your treasure?  What is it that you pursue above all else?  What your treasure is will determine how you live and give.  When we talk about The kingdom of God, giving looks a little different than what we tend to think. 

We often talk about giving in the church we always jump first to the principle of tithe, which is 10 percent. But Jesus seems to suggest that he wants more from us.  I believe the principle of a tithe is a wonderful, and good truth, derived from the teaching in scriptures.  But the question becomes does this mean 10% belongs to God and the rest, the 90%, belongs to me? Let us look to the teaching of Jesus and see.  Let us look to the teaching of real treasure and find out. 

Working backwards through the book of Matthew.  Starting from the rich young ruler working to the sermon on the mound I want to show you that the idea of true treasure is throughout the book of Mathew.  The true treasure is something costly and wonderful worth every sacrifice.  The true treasure is God’s glory in his eternal kingdom.  We should be reckless treasure seekers, seeking the true treasure of the kingdom of heaven. 

I hope you saw what just happened in this passage.  This young man with considerable fortunes was excited to approach Jesus.  He wanted to partake in eternal life.  But did you see the question, “what must I do to inherit?”  This man was a man building his own kingdom.  He did all the right stuff.  He looked the part.  Frankly, most churches in the nation would be jockeying to have this person join their ranks.  So what is the problem?!

The problem is this young man does not treasure the correct kingdom.  This man treasures his kingdom.  He looks at his wealth and is eager to grow it into eternity.  Do you hear his question? “What must I do to inherit…?”  He doesn’t understand that the person standing before him is moments from dying on a cross, for him.  The answer is almost laughable.  You cannot inherit eternal life because you treasure the wrong kingdom. 

But Jesus lovingly gives him a chance, “Sell all you have and give to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  The rich man is so stuck in his own question that he doesn’t hear the wonderful reward dangling in front of him.  Sell all that you have that can be rob, rusted, or removed and then I will give you Treasure in the Eternal Kingdom.  He misses the promise because his wealth has blinded him. 

I don’t care how rich or poor you think yourself you can allow a sinful vision of worldly wealth blind you, and like the man here, you will walk away sad because of your possessions (or lack thereof).  When we try to gain for ourselves lucre we are asking the question of this man what must I do.  What you must do is recognize that it all belongs to God. 

God created gold. God created steel.  God created the physics that make an internal combustion engine work.  So even my motorcycle is His created thing that I use for His glory and pleasure.  Do you see the difference here.  Do you view your wealth or your pursuit of wealth as an opportunity to expand your wealth, or an opportunity to bring glory to God? 

You see when God is offering you the greatest thing ever, Himself(!), do you want it?  The rich ruler heard sell all you have.  He did not hear, you will have treasure in heaven.  This is what happens when we get consumed with our own wealth in this world we forfeit true wealth in the Kingdom of God.  We trade the mansions of heaven for the shacks of this fallen, world destined for destruction.  This is what the rich ruler did that day, he walked away and chose poverty because he had a great many things

This idea of a treasure and reward that is worth everything permeates the gospel of Matthew.  And as we walk the book backwards I hope you see the value of the treasure offered.  Because what Jesus will do in the sermon on the mound is show the type of people who will truly find the kingdom’s reward. 

In this passage there were three parables.  Did you see what happened in these three parables?  The value of the treasure was greater than its cost.  What was its cost?  EVERYTHING.  God wasn’t looking for people who give him 10%, God is looking for people who give everything.  And the prize is worth it.  The treasure is worth it. 

This forces us to ask the question, what then should I do with my wealth?  I consider myself a person of opulent wealth. so I ask: what do I do with my wealth?  Actually, the question is wrong and if I ask this question I will go away like the young ruler not laying a hold of the greatest treasure.  It is not my wealth (or your wealth) in the first place.  What do I do with God’s things he has given me to steward?  Even my two beautiful girls are his, they are not mine.  I steward them for His mission and glory.  Even my couch cushions, they are not mine they are God’s. 

Now I ask: what do you do with God’s wealth?  Do you use it for his glory? Do you need that thing you are about to purchase? Are you buying it for your own purposes?  Do you hope it grows your nest egg? Do you hope it brings people into the Kingdom of Heaven? 

Now here is the most important part.  We must have eyes for the kingdom of heaven.  Our desire must be for more of the greatest Treasure, God’s presence.  This is the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount.  As we look at it we will see that this is a sermon about treasure, a sermon about reward, and a sermon about the kingdom of heaven. 

If we turn it into a sermon about laws, without the understanding of the kingdom, we will only hurt ourselves.  We will turn into the rich young man saying what must I do.  Nothing, you can do nothing! What you must BE is important.  What you must treasure is important. 

When you treasure God correctly the law becomes a joy not a burden.  (That is why I am hesitant to answer the question “is (fill in the blank) a sin?”  It is clear the person asking this question doesn’t even know the right question to ask.  The right question is will this help me to know and enjoy God better?)

The sermon on the mount is not a series of independent statements but a holistic sermon that points our desires and affections to a greater Treasure.  Before we jump into this text I want to show how the overall sermon is a cohesive unit.  The sermon is written in such a way that all the parts build off of one anther and the over arching theme of the sermon is treasuring Kingdom of Heaven.  

The Sermon on the Mount, in many ways, sets the foundation for the Matthew narrative.  What happens in the gospel of Mathew starts here with Jesus preaching this sermon.  The parable of the pearl and the Rich young ruler are both demonstrations of the themes and messages set in this text.  So let us look at a broad outline of the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:
2-16     The text – the beatitudes and the big idea (esp. v. 12)
Jesus begins what some commentators refer to as the “text of the sermon”.  The first section vs.1-16 in many ways sets the tone and attitudes that the remainder of the sermon is to be addressed in.  They are call the beatitudes.  And the beatitudes state how a person should be when approaching God.  What I find interesting is any other call to participate in any other kingdom is call looking for the best and brightest to fight along side.  Jesus is looking for the poor and broken to be his champions.

17-48   The Law – Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness 
Next, Jesus does the most remarkable thing.  He re writes the law.  Moses received the law from God on Mount Sinai and Jesus is rewriting it in the Sermon on the Mount .  But you will notice the way Jesus rewrites the law is not making it easier.

When we rewrite laws we always make them easier.  Oh 65 MPH in a 55 MPH zone is good because I need to get to my destination faster than most people.  For Jesus this is not the case. Jesus will intensify the law.  He will demonstrate that the law wasn’t to just be this thing we do but point us to the holiness of God the Father.  Jesus will say at the end, “Be perfect as the heavenly father is perfect.”  In the end you will have little wiggle room for building your own righteousness. 

Now our tendency will be to say, Jesus didn’t really mean what he said he was talking about another time and place.  I will argue yes Jesus meant exactly what he said and it applies to us today.  But if we get the beatitudes wrong we will look at the intensification of the law and say it is hopeless.  If we get them right we will say, “what a wonderful truth teach me to follow Lord.”

Matthew 6:
1-18     Seeking the reward
In chapter 6:1-18 (if we get the beatitudes correct) we begin to see the joy of our future treasure.  The intensification of the law becomes worth it because we get to see the access that we have to the reward in this new kingdom.  Access such that we get to call the King, “Father”.  We get to approach him with our praise, confession, and day to day requests.   We will have Joy if have a profound desire for real treasure and real reward.

19-34   Real treasure
Then Jesus gives us the scope of the real treasure.  Real treasure does not rust, it is not robbed, it cannot be removed.  When we know real treasure our anxieties are calmed our hearts are softened and we begin to live differently.  We have a security in our security in heaven. 

Matthew 7:
1-14     The humble confidence of those who are rich in His Kingdom
Someone who pursues correctly the things of heaven. Will have a confidence in seeking God.  How you approach God and how you treat others will look tremendously different.  You can love those who hate you because you are secure in your treasure.  You can love those who might steal from you because they cannot take your real reward.  There is a confidence that when you approach the king he will hear from you.  In fact he wants you to persistently approach him because you are his heir. 

15-27   Identifying Members of the kingdom
Finally Jesus tells his disciples in 7:15-27 how they know when someone is pursuing the kingdom of heaven.  How do you know when you come across a true heir verses a pretender.  You can know God’s true heir by the fruit they produce.  The problem is not everyone will enter the kingdom.  People who thought they were won’t be because their desire was elsewhere.  They did things in his name but their hearts were not producing fruit.  Their externals looked good but their desire was off.  So let us be people who are marked by the fruit of the spirit (if you need help look up Galatians 5:22-24
Read:  Matthew 5-7

My final question for you is this: If Jesus stood before you today and said give me everything would you think it worth it?  What would you do if Jesus came to you and asked you to give up everything? In this Jesus Practiced what he preached.

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