Be Rich: Partner with God (Deuteronomy 8)

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A healthy family helps their own, even the Bible commands such (1Tim 5:8). Our family hosted family (two different aunts), and friends at various times. I remember one of my cousins looked at the fact we had two refrigerators with items in each and said, “Mom, look at all the food in this house. They’re rich!”

How many of you are two fridge families? How many are one fridge family? The fact that you have a fridge makes part of an elite few in the world. Seriously, 80% of the world lives on < $10/day, and income differentials are only widening.[1] In fact, if you make $32,400/year, you are in the top 1% of global wage earners.[2]

But in our perspective, “being rich/wealthy” is always the other person. Being wealthy is often viewed as having more than we currently possess; it’s always a little bit more because we lack financial contentment. Therefore, one’s definition of being rich is always a moving target.

Yet, here’s an example of our circumstances:

–        How many of you have a coin jar in your home? Do you know precisely how much?-        How many of you have a coin tray in your car? Do you know precisely how much?-        How many of you have coins/cash in your pocket/purse? Do you know precisely how much?

You see, we are people who have the luxury of having money we don’t even count or consider in our living need expenses. If we have extra money in our home or car, or even our pockets that we don’t truly need to pay bills/debts, then we have more than many/most. We can be rich and not know it, act like it, or feel it; and that is the issue at hand.[3]how to be rich_schdule

So, today we are starting a series on “How To Be Rich.” Please be careful to realize that this series is not about how to get rich, but about how to be rich. As Andy Stanley says, “It’s not what you have that matters. It’s what you do with what you have that will count either for you or against you in the kingdom of heaven.”[4] In other words,

–        our focus is Godward and not greed,

–        our primary topic is about stewardship and not schemes,

–        our target audience is the fortunate and not the underprivileged,

–        our church’s aim is not intended to develop donors but disciples.

Randy Alcorn “It is impossible to become a fully developed follower of Jesus without also becoming a fully developed steward of your resources.” Possessing money doesn’t make us good at managing it, we must have a framework for overseeing our finances.

–        Proverbs 3:9 “Honor the Lord with your wealth…”

–        Luke 16:11, 13 “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches… You cannot serve God and money.”

–        Acts 2:45 “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

–        Acts 4:36-37, 9:36, 11:29, compassion and charity were common among early church

–        1Timothy 5:10, 17-19 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils… As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

Wealth side effects:

–        Hope substitutes. Shifting hope to things and idols for security and provision rather than God. Proverbs 11:4 “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” Ecclesiastes 5:10 “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” Proverbs 30:8-9 “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

–        Helping shortfall. Shifting from generosity and helping others to hoarding our time, talents, and treasures. We settle into modes of protection and self-preservation rather than intentionally other-centered.

With this as our introduction to what & why of this series, let us lay a foundation on what it means that we are partners with God for what it means to be rich.

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EXAMINE           Deuteronomy 8
Deuteronomy records the history of Israel doubting and disobeying God’s command to enter the Promised Land. However, the book is also a retelling of God’s unfailing promises to those who trust and obey. One generation of Israelites rebelled, and missed out on entering the Promised Land. However, Moses gave God’s Law to the next generation of Israelites who would enter the richness of God’s promise. Deuteronomy is a second giving of the Law through Moses’ teaching to Israel.

Take hope, today’s sermon is not going to be like Moses with 34 chapters of Deuteronomy. Instead, we will engage with one chapter Deut 8 and how it relates to our topic at hand on riches and wealth. Specifically, we will affirm 3 principles for how God’s people should view wealth.

We are worshipers of our treasure.
Here Moses instructs Israel with a singular commandment, which refers to the collective body of God’s Law.[5]  Moses’ teaching was to convict and compel the people to put all their significance and security in God alone.

Numerous times Moses refers to the plurality of God’s commandments. The curiosity of a single command has intrigued the Jews and religious leaders alike (cf. Matt 19:16; 22:36-37). For Moses, and many theological observers, all the commands are summed up in loving God alone and in contrast not worshiping other gods or making idols. Likewise, Martin Luther noted that to obey this command was to follow all the others.[6] Throughout the Law, God, through Moses, is instilling in the Israelites that they were made to worship and only God is worthy of worship.

We cannot miss the importance of this first and primary principle of life and the topic of wealth. Our eyes are enticed by beauty and our hearts are captivated by glory. In terms of wealth, we view it as human significance and security. When money is a person’s significance, they flaunt their net worth, parade their possessions, chase upgrades for newer and nicer, and cost of items mean very little; these people are known as “spenders.” However, when money is a person’s security, they are not impressed with materialism but instead their money is a protection and safety net. These people fear uncertainty and the future, and are commonly known as “savers.” Both have the same issue in that they value wealth more than they trust God. Wealth becomes an identity and treasure in the place of God.

è What/who is your identity and treasure? When something, even a good thing, becomes an ultimate thing, then it has become an idol.

è Ask God to give you clarity of priority. “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Psalm 119:37

We are recipients of God’s provision.

Moses preaches of God’s commandments and provisions. He reflects on God’s past faithfulness and future promises to Israel.

Remembering God’s past faithfulness

–        God led Israel away from Egyptian slavery and through the wilderness (Deut 8:2, 14-15).

–        God provided necessities with manna food, water from the rock, clothing that didn’t wear out in 40 years, and healthy feet that didn’t swell from walking in the hot and rocky dessert (Deut 8:3-4, 15-16).

o   Daily bread that required trust in God and not storing up food. Likewise, Jesus tells us to observe God’s care for the birds in trusting His provision for us (Mat 6:28).

o   Water from the rock was God’s sustaining their rescue from Egypt.

o   Clothing that lasts must have been pre-historic UA.

–        God brought Israel into a good land. The language in Deut 8:7-10 is a poetic structure and “perhaps quoted from a hymn.”[7] A quick count of descriptions of the good land is 15, which is one more than double completion (7 + 7).  They are listed as follows: 1) of brooks of water, 2) of fountains, 3) springs, 4) valleys, 5) hills, 6) of wheat, 7) barley, 8) of figs, 9) pomengrates, 10) olive trees, 11) honey, 12) bread without scarcity, 13) abundant resources lacking nothing, 14) iron, 15) copper… And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

In life, we have nothing apart from God’s provision (Ps 16:2). He is the Creator and Owner of all things, with us as His tenants and beneficiaries.

ü  The land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants” (Lev. 25:23).

ü  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.” (1 Chron. 29:11-12).

ü  Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11).

ü  The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Ps. 24:1-2).

ü  For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Ps. 50:10-12).

ü  The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Hag. 2:8).

And while God seeks to capture our attention we are constantly chasing contentment apart from Him. Our discontentment exists because we haven’t understood that stuff does not satisfy, only Christ can. NFL athlete Tom Brady displays this reality when he says, “There has got to be more than this!”[8]

When we lack contentment, it is not due to bad circumstances but having the wrong center. God desires to bless us beyond material to the deeper core of life spiritually. The next message in this sermon series will discuss the principle of contentment more, but for now it is sufficient to remind us that God is our source and satisfier. He alone provides and pleases.

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

è Last week’s message in reference to our prayer lives I mentioned about praying before meals as a means to grow in prayer relationship with God. This application can be echoed again, reminding us of ways to daily and devotionally pause to express gratitude to God. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

“gratitude truly is the foremost quality of a believing disciple precisely because gratitude is what births trust”[9]

We are stewards of God’s gifts.

God’s aim for Israel was to “live and multiply in the land” (8:1). The expectation of multiplication meant God’s blessings were beyond what earthly eyes could see and minds could comprehend (Isa 64:4; Ps 16:11; 1Cor 2:9; Eph 3:20). There was more than gifts, there was God.

God warned Israel that they would be tempted to forget God (8:2, 11, 17-19). They would be tempted seek God’s hands but not His face; to seek Him only in problems and not with praise. The fortunate can be tempted to forget God is their provider. Full bellies and fine houses can easily lull persons into self-sufficiency and complacency. We become “grace-amnesiacs.”[10]

o   We forget days, dates, events, to return calls & emails, tasks, item placement… sometimes people forget us, and sometimes we forget others. But God is saying we must never forget God. The way we can remember is through consistent contact; with God, frequency of interaction determines our faith or forgetfulness.

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God… Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you…” (Deuteronomy 8:11, 17-19)

God’s blessing was based according to the covenant to Abraham, to be a blessing to all the nations (Gen 12:2; 17:4-6; 18:18; Gal 3:28-29). For Israel, their material blessings often led to them drift and disobey God. Material prosperity often leads to spiritual poverty, where the earthly material overrules eternal mission.

God has blessed us to bless others in His name. We are to live as Jesus to others.

o   1Jn 2:6 “whoever says he abides in him out to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

o   Matt 5:13-16 “salt and light”

 

è Be good and being rich by being generous

o   Who is one person (outside primary family & friend network) that you will be generous to pray for?

o   Where is one place you will be generous to serve with your time and talents in the next 4 months?

o   How is God calling you to be generous with your finances… start with regular giving to the Lord and work toward generosity

APPLY/THINK

Evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie tells the story about an older lady who was determined to be prepared if someday she felt threatened. Then one day she finished shopping and returned to her car. She found four men inside the car. She dropped her shopping bags, drew her handgun, and screamed, “I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car.” The men got out and ran like crazy.

Somewhat shaken, she loaded her bags and got in the car. But she could not get her key into the ignition. Then it dawned on her: her similar car was parked four or five spaces away! So she did what she had to do. She loaded her bags into her own car and drove to the police station to turn herself in. The desk sergeant nearly fell off his chair laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four men were reporting a carjacking by an old woman with thick glasses and curly white hair, less than five feet tall, and carrying a large handgun. No charges were filed.

You see, she thought it was her car, but it really belonged to someone else.

Sometimes we get all bent out of shape trying to keep and defend what we think is ours. People ruin their lives over financial rights, inheritance squabbles, and suing people they think cheated them. But God is calling us to think different – to be stewards – to just faithfully manage what God gives us.

 

[1] http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

[2] http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/050615/are-you-top-one-percent-world.asp

[3] This entire series has been inspired by Andy Stanley, How To Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have (2013), p.14.

[4] Ibid. p.17.

[5] Thompson, J. A. (1974). Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 5, p. 151). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Martin Luther, Treatise Concerning Good Works (Part X. XI) (1520).

[7] WBC Deuteronomy 8:7-10.

[8] youtube video link

[9] Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are, 2010, p.153.

[10] Paul Tripp, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-nowism-of-the-gospel

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