August 10, 2008
The Treasure Principle
Pastor Brian Shimer
“Who owns this anyway?”|
Key #1: God Owns Everything—I’m His manager
Psalm 24:1, Deuteronomy 8:10-19; Haggai 2:8
- What a week! Back to back political conventions lining up Obama and McCain for the Nov 4 election. Hurricanes. Flooding. 108 degree temperatures in Phoenix as I attended the Board of Ordained Ministry training session. The beginning of school. In our family our daughter Susanna left for school on Wednesday and Grace has found an apartment and may be moving out. In addition gasoline prices which may be up to $6 per gallon by December, have dropped from above $4 to what feels cheap at 3.69.
At the Board of Ordained ministry conference which was excellent I was in one workshop when a woman from across the table said, “You aren’t by chance related to Roger Shimer, are you?”
“Actually, yes, he’s my brother,” I replied. And then I recognized her as his pastor from Elk Grove California. It was a fun moment of connection. I told her I was soundly jealous for she gets to see my brother so much more often than I do!
I met many others who I had known in California years ago. This along with the excellence of the content presented in the workshops and seminars, the connection times for our own team from this conference, and my daily swims in the hotel pool made for a great 3 day week in Phoenix.
In the midst of these moments of connection and learning, I have come back again and again to the fact that today we are beginning a new series of messages based upon the theme of “The Treasure Principle” explored by Randy Alcorn in his little book of the same title and more importantly expounded upon in the Scriptures.
What I continue to be struck with is that no matter what we have experienced personally this week – in the middle of all the national events – all of them touch upon the basics explored by Randy in the treasure principle – for no matter what else we have dealt with, one basic remains the same to all of us. We have had to deal with and use money during the week. I could not have reached the Board meeting without the expenditures of money. You could not have purchased groceries, enjoyed the news on internet or over the TV or Radio, unless you had paid your bill. Money is an integral part of all of our lives so this Treasure Principle speaks into my life and yours at the most basic level.
One thing that you and I both know is true about money and possessions is this: you cannot take them with you. I have been involved in lots of funerals, but never have I seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. We arrive in this world with nothing and leave with the same. We cannot take it with us. That is part of the treasure principle. You can’t take it with you. But the promise of the Word is that even though you cannot take it with you, treasure can be “sent on ahead”. How could that be possible? We will be exploring that.
- Today however, we just need to begin, to establish just one fact, one basic observation that is upheld throughout the Old and New Testaments and yet a fact that eludes us or that we ignore.
Imagine yourself among those standing on the shores of the Jordan River. You might be 40 years old or younger, but have known no other life than the life of wanderer. You have wandered in the desert and now your leader, Moses, stands before you recounting the events of the past 40 years. He has reminded you of the Law God gave at Mount Sinai. He has announced the Shema, the call of Israel that there is no other God but the living God; and you have been commanded to tell of this God to your children and grand children. Moses has reminded you that God has led you into the wilderness to test your heart, to see if you will follow him. He has reminded you how God has cared for you during these years – realities you would have been familiar with. During the 40 years your sandals and clothing had never worn out. And then he lays out to you this warning.
That prosperity can cause you to forget the Living God.
This is how he said it: “when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have multiples, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Did you hear that warning? Wealth – when you have house, and an increase of money, and you have food enough to eat and be satisfied, when all you have increases your heart can become proud, you will believe not that God has increased your wealth, but that you have had something to do with it.
Well, that was how God warned Israel.
Yet, none of us is homeless. None of us is without transportation. None of us is lacking in food and nourishment – and if you are hungry, wait until the snacks that follow worship.
Could this warning apply to us as well?
- Moses warns the Israelites saying that it was God who will have done all this for them. God had given them food! They may have said to themselves, “My power and strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” We especially have a tendency to say this for when we come into a place of greater financial prosperity, we can all look back to the days when we had much, much less. When we made less.
Yet, Moses tells Israel, “Remember the LORD your God, for it is HE WHO GIVES YOU THE ABILITY TO PRODUCE WEALTH…”
Then he warns them saying, “if you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed” (v. 19).
So what is the message – simply this. That everything in our lives – wealth, houses, possessions are given by God into our lives and we cannot put trust in them or we are forgetting God.
To say this another way, “Everything belongs to God”
And, to say this another way, “Everything comes from God.”
As the Israelites would be tempted to say, “My power and strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me,” So we might likewise be tempted.
What we need to remember is there is only one source of wealth and that is God. And that anything that we “have” or “own” is not truly ours, but God’s.
Listen to these Scriptures:
In Dt 10:14 we read: “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it”
In Lev 25:23.God says, “The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants”
In 1 Chronicles 29 Kind David recognized this, praying, “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 ”saying,“ Wealth and honor come from you…. indeed, David said, Everything comes from you and all of it belongs to you.”
Does this apply to the money in the bank, the car in your driveway, the furniture in your apartment or house, your house, your food in the pantry, etc, etc? Yes.
To Job God said, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” (Job 41:11)
In the Psalms we read: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for GOD founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2) and we read this: “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God… I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from you pens, 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… the world is mine, and all that is in it.” (50 :1-12)
The earth is the Lord’s and ALL that is in it. Could you repeat that phrase with me: “The earth is the LORD’s and ALL that is in it.”
This applies to everything, again, even our finances as we heard read from the Prophet Haggai to whom God said, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty” (2:8).
- Again, and again, without apology, the Bible declares this simple truth that God owns everything, gave all into our hands for us to be stewards of and to learn to share with others. This is stated in the New Testament as well by the apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians where he states that not only all belongings belong to God, but that your very body is owned by God, for it was “bought with a price.”
If everything is God’s, if that is the beginning place for how we look at belongings and money in our lives, then that will affect how we cling to those belongings.
If you read the first chapter this week in the Treasure Principle you may have come across how John Wesley, the great 18th century evangelist responded to a man who ran up to him and shouted:
“Mr Wesley, something terrible has happened. Your house burned to the ground!”
John Wesley did not panic, nor cry aloud in grief, but simply corrected the man: “No. The Lord’s house burned to the ground. That means one less responsibility for me.”
Your car, your house, your belongings, your bank account, your investments, they are God’s. You cannot take them with you, but you can learn to be a steward of them now in such a way as to make a difference while you are alive in this world.
That is what this study is all about.
Say it with me, God owns everything and I am his steward.
As we close today, ponder these questions:
“Am I treating You, God, as owner and CEO of ‘my” assets, or am I treating you merely as my financial consultant, to whom I pay a fee of 10% or greater?”
“When I make a list of all the assets you’ve entrusted to me and ask wht you want me to give away, is there anything I’m leaving off the list? Is there anything I’m treating as if it were untouchable, as if it were mine not yours? Do my retirement funds belong to you too? What doesn’t?”