Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sermon Oct. 20-21, 2012

Title: Life requires money but death requires Christ!

Text: Mark 10:31

31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

John G. Wendel and his sisters were some of the most miserly people of all time. Although they had received a huge inheritance from their parents, they spent very little of it and did all they could to keep their wealth for themselves. John was able to influence five of his six sisters never to marry, and they lived in the same house in New York City for 50 years. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. Her only dress was one that she had made herself, and she had worn it for 25 years.

The Wendels had such a compulsion to hold on to their possessions that they lived like paupers. Even worse, they were like the kind of person Jesus referred to "who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

But, how we handle money reveals much about the depth of our commitment to Christ. That's why Jesus often talked about money. One-sixth of the gospels, including one out of every three parables touch on money and Jesus dealt with money matters … because: 

Daily Walk, June 2, 1993.

Life requires money but death requires Christ!

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Money is important and it was important in Jesus’ day. In speaking to His disciples in this way Jesus wasn’t making light of money or the concerns that people have regarding it. He was focusing on wealth and specifically the wealth of a certain young man.
If you were here last Sunday and remember the Gospel reading … Jesus had been approached by a man who asked Him:

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

And, after going through the commandments with Him and showing him what God requires in the law, the man said:

20 … “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”

21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Here Jesus gets to the heart of the problem. Who is your God? The disciples aren’t quite sure where Jesus is going with this after this man of wealth just left the presence of Jesus disheartened … and they are amazed at His words. So, sensing their lack of understanding Jesus makes this statement:

…“Children; Oh how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 

How difficult indeed.

One just left who had great wealth we are told. Many others probably would do the same. Wealth enabled people then as it does today. Wealth prohibited people too. Jesus answers His statement with this follow up:

25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Life requires money but death requires Christ! 

The last four years have been hard for many. The trials of this economy, business climate or job market as it is called have been really hard for some people and murder for others. Too many of our friends and many of our members here at Peace have been devastated. Young and old alike have seen either the prospect of a job fade to nothing or have seen the job they’ve had for year’s disappear. Many have moved out of state and some have even lost their homes. 

Those of us who are still working have seen the value of what we earn and take home not go as far as we’d like and we’ve all had to tighten our belts to coin a phrase. The value of wealth and the need for money is understood by you and me, as well as our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Jesus is not in our text diminishing the need for work, money, food, home and the like. But He is pointing out what can blind you from the kingdom of God.

Idol worship is not very far removed for any of us. Just as the man in last week’s lesson …left Jesus and went away … we too fall away. Many members who have fallen on hard times are worried and embarrassed at their situation. Some have resorted to drinking, drugs or other vices. Some lie and steal as a means to hide or mask the problem. And, too many of our loved ones have to live with and fight against illness in a world corrupted by sin, that it’s easy to understand their frustration when they turn away and  blame God for their condition in this sinful world.  We all look for blessings … and when they don’t appear we blame the one who loves us the most.

And it’s not just the young who fall away.


I was speaking to a man I know through work who is in his early 80’s and lives near the church. He had called to talk to me about some music and a musician that he found that had excited him and wanted to share it with me.

After we spoke for a while, I told him to stop by the store as I’d love to hear the music and I’d introduce him to the new management in the store. He said, “What, you’re not managing the store anymore?” I took the opportunity to tell him about this wonderful change in my life … that I was leaving the music business that I loved and that has blessed me for over 30 years and going into ministry and getting to serve my Lord and Savior and His flock here at Peace. I said, you should stop by we’re having Oktoberfest and you’ll meet some nice people.

“No!” He said, “I have been too hurt over my life.” He told me of being hungry as a child of losing his wife of many years to illness and death and now his lady friend has broken up with him. He is angry with God. I think we can all understand his loss.

So, as I was saying good bye he said, “I’ll stop by and see you. Even though I live alone, I’m still in the same house in Waterford that I’ve lived in for 50 years. I have three cars that I drive and have 5 IPads so when I leave the house I have all my music with me wherever I go” 

… 5 IPads?

Life requires money but death, salvation and newness of life requires Christ!

26 The disciples were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 

And then He closed with this:

31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

It can cause us all to think. Paul Brand writes this little note to the Lord in his book, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made:

Dear Lord,

I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking. No matter how much wealth he had, he could not-- ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, talk on the phone, or own 5 IPADs

If he was rich, then what am I?

P. Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, p. 61.

Life requires money but death requires Christ! 

Rejoice! Christ has called you to be in Him! Rejoice! Your name is written in the book of life! You who have to endure trials for a little while will receive countless blessing for eternity!

God, who was rich in every way, humbled himself and took on the form of a servant for you. If you have needs in this life the greatest need you have has been fulfilled and given to you. Your sins have been taken away and laid on Christ. He paid the price of sin for the whole world with His Holy precious blood as a sacrifice for you. He covers you with the pure white robes of His righteousness because He loves you more than His own life. He made Himself poor so that you might be rich for eternity!

Yes, life requires money but God in Christ has given you and me so much more.

Remember the question from the rich young ruler?

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

When you inherit something it is something that you are given; it is something that you receive, not because of your desire or effort but because of God’s mercy. (Rom 9:16 NIV)

Believe in Him whom God has sent and you receive eternal life given to you. The riches of this life pale compared to the glorious riches in Christ.

9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

Life requires money but death requires Christ!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.